‘Perhaps one day, this century will be known as Deleuzian.’ — Michel Foucault
‘Gilles Deleuze was one of the most influential and prolific French philosophers of the second half of the twentieth century. Deleuze conceived of philosophy as the production of concepts, and he characterized himself as a “pure metaphysician.” In his magnum opus Difference and Repetition, he tries to develop a metaphysics adequate to contemporary mathematics and science — a metaphysics in which the concept of multiplicity replaces that of substance, event replaces essence and virtuality replaces possibility. Deleuze also produced studies in the history of philosophy (on Hume, Nietzsche, Kant, Bergson, Spinoza, Foucault, and Leibniz), and on the arts (a two-volume study of the cinema, books on Proust and Sacher-Masoch, a work on the painter Francis Bacon, and a collection of essays on literature.) Deleuze considered these latter works as pure philosophy, and not criticism, since he sought to create the concepts that correspond to the artistic practices of painters, filmmakers, and writers. In 1968, he met Félix Guattari, a political activist and radical psychoanalyst, with whom he wrote several works, among them the two-volume Capitalism and Schizophrenia, comprised of Anti-Oedipus (1972) and A Thousand Plateaus (1980). Their final collaboration was What is Philosophy? (1991).
‘Deleuze is noteworthy for his rejection of the Heideggerian notion of the “end of metaphysics.” In an interview, he once offered this self-assessment: “I feel myself to be a pure metaphysician…. Bergson says that modern science hasn’t found its metaphysics, the metaphysics it would need. It is this metaphysics that interests me.” We should also point to the extent of his non-philosophical references (inter alia, differential calculus, thermodynamics, geology, molecular biology, population genetics, ethology, embryology, anthropology, psychoanalysis, economics, linguistics, and even esoteric thought); his colleague Jean-François Lyotard spoke of him as a “library of Babel.” Although it remains to be seen whether the 20th century will be “Deleuzean,” as his friend Michel Foucault once quipped, Deleuze’s influence reaches beyond philosophy; his work is approvingly cited by, and his concepts put to use by, researchers in architecture, urban studies, geography, film studies, musicology, anthropology, gender studies, literary studies and other fields.
‘One of the barriers to Deleuze’s being better read among mainstream philosophers is the difficulty of his writing style in his original works (as opposed to his historical works, which are often models of clarity and concision). Deleuze’s prose can be highly allusive, as well as peppered with neologisms; to make matters even more complex, these terminological innovations shift from one work to the other. While claims of intentional obscurantism are not warranted, Deleuze did mean for his style to keep readers on their toes, or even to “force” them to rethink their philosophical assumptions.
‘While Difference and Repetition ranges over a wide field of philosophical topics, Logic of Sense focuses on two aspects of a single issue, the structure and genesis of sense. The genius of Frege and Russell was to have discovered that the condition of truth (denotation) lies in the domain of sense. In order for a proposition to be true (or false) it must have a sense; a nonsensical proposition can be neither true nor false. Yet they betrayed this insight, Deleuze argues, because they — like Kant before them — remained content with establishing the condition of truth rather than its genesis. In Logic of Sense, Deleuze attacks this problem, first developing the paradoxes that result from the structure of sense and then sketching a theory of its genesis. He does this using resources from analytic philosophy and the Stoics in the course of a reading of Lewis Carroll — a typically innovative, if not quirky, set of Deleuzean references.
‘In the second half of Logic of Sense, Deleuze analyzes what he calls the dynamic genesis of language, drawing in part from texts in developmental psychology and psychoanalysis. “What renders language possible,” he writes, “is that which separates sounds from bodies and organizes them into propositions, freeing them for the expressive function”. Deleuze distinguishes three stages in the dynamic genesis, which at the same time constitute three dimensions of language: (1) the primary order is the noise produced in the depths of the body; (2) the secondary organization constitutes the surface of sense (and non-sense); and (3) the tertiary arrangement [ordonnance] is found in fully-formed propositions, with their functions of denotation, manifestation, and signification.’ — Daniel Smith, John Protevi
Gilles Deleuze @ Wikipedia
‘The Logic of Sense’ @ goodreads
Reading The Logic of Sense as a Psychological Novel
Deleuze and The logic of sense: structure as a problem.
Deleuze on Sense, Series, Structures, Signifiers and Snarks
The Ontological Priority of Events in Gilles Deleuze’s The Logic of Sense
The Logic of Sense incorporated to the notion of Inquiry as an Orientation for Learning
Exploring Deleuze’s Theory of Time in Logic of Sense
(Lonely) The Last Metaphysician (Gilles Deleuze and The Logic Of Sense)
Deleuze and the Enaction of Non-Sense
The Paradox of Sense, or On the Event of Thought in Gilles Deleuze’s Philosophy
THE EVENT IN DELEUZE, by Alain Badiou
Logic of Sense: Series 2 on the Paradox of Surface Effects: Dialectics as the Art of Conjugation
The Art of the Possible
Gilles Deleuze Logic of Sense: Pure Becoming
A bit of help with Deleuze’s ontology in *Logic of Sense*
Buy ‘The Logic of Sense’
Deleuze – The Logic of Sense (Ch 1 & 2)
Gilles Deleuze sur Leibniz (1986)
Gilles Deleuze’s alphabet book: C as Culture
Antonio Negri: The problem of politics seems to have always been present in your intellectual life. Your involvement in various movements (prisoners, homosexuals, Italian autonomists, Palestinians), on the one hand, and the constant problematizing of institutions, on the other, follow on from one another and interact with one another in your work, from the book on Hume through to the one on Foucault. What are the roots of this sustained concern with the question of politics, and how has it remained so persistent within your developing work? Why is the relation between movement and institution always problematic?
Gilles Deleuze: What I’ve been interested in are collective creations rather than representations. There’s a whole order of movement in “institutions” that’s independent of both laws and contracts. What I found in Hume was a very creative conception of institutions and law. I was initially more interested in law than politics. Even with Masoch and Sade what I liked was the thoroughly twisted conception of contracts in Masoch, and of institutions in Sade, as these come out in relation to sexuality. And in the present day, I see Francois Ewald’s work to reestablish a philosophy of law as quite fundamental. What interests me isn’t the law or laws1 (the former being an empty notion, the latter uncritical notions), nor even law or rights, but jurisprudence. It’s jurisprudence, ultimately, that creates law, and we mustn’t go on leaving this to judges. Writers ought to read law reports rather than the Civil Code. People are already thinking about establishing a system of law for modern biology; but everything in modern biology and the new situations it creates, the new courses of events it makes possible, is a matter for jurisprudence. We don’t need an ethical committee of supposedly well-qualified wise men, but user-groups. This is where we move from law into politics. I, for my own part, made a sort of move into politics around May 68, as I came into contact with specific problems, through Guattari, through Foucault, through Elie Sambar. Anti-Oedipus was from beginning to end a book of political philosophy.
Negri: You took the events of ’68 to be the triumph of the Untimely, the dawn of counteractualization. Already in the years leading up to ’68, in your work on Nietzsche and a bit later in Coldness and Cruelty, you ‘d given a new meaning to politics—as possibility, event, singularity. You ‘d found short-circuits where the future breaks through into the present, modifying institutions in its wake. But then after ’68 you take a slightly different approach: nomadic thought always takes the temporal form of instantaneous counteractualization, while spatially only “minority becoming is universal.” How should we understand this universality of the untimely?
Deleuze: The thing is, I became more and more aware of the possibility of distinguishing between becoming and history. It was Nietzsche who said that nothing important is ever free from a “nonhistorical cloud.” This isn’t to oppose eternal and historical, or contemplation and action: Nietzsche is talking about the way things happen, about events themselves or becoming. What history grasps in an event is the way it’s actualized in particular circumstances; the event’s becoming is beyond the scope of history. History isn’t experimental, it’s just the set of more or less negative preconditions that make it possible to experiment with something beyond history. Without history the experimentation would remain indeterminate, lacking any initial conditions, but experimentation isn’t historical. In a major philosophical work, Clio, Peguy explained that there are two ways of considering events, one being to follow the course of the event, gathering how it comes about historically, how it’s prepared and then decomposes in history, while the other way is to go back into the event, to take one’s place in it as in a becoming, to grow both young and old in it at once, going through all its components or singularities. Becoming isn’t part of history; history amounts only the set of preconditions, however recent, that one leaves behind in order to “become,” that is, to create something new. This is precisely what Nietzsche calls the Untimely. May 68 was a demonstration, an irruption, of a becoming in its pure state. It’s fashionable these days to condemn the horrors of revolution. It’s nothing new; English Romanticism is permeated by reflections on Cromwell very similar to present-day reflections on Stalin. They say revolutions turn out badly. But they’re constantly confusing two different things, the way revolutions turn out historically and people’s revolutionary becoming. These relate to two different sets of people. Men’s only hope lies in a revolutionary becoming: the only way of casting off their shame or responding to what is intolerable.
Negri: A Thousand Plateaus, which I regard as a major philosophical work, seems to me at the same time a catalogue of unsolved problems, most particularly in the field of political philosophy. Its pairs of contrasting terms—process and project, singularity and subject, composition and organization, lines of flight and apparatuses/strategies, micro and macro, and so on—all this not only remains forever open but it’s constantly being reopened, through an amazing will to theorize, and with a violence reminiscent of heretical proclamations. I’ve nothing against such subversion, quite the reverse . . . But I seem sometimes to hear a tragic note, at points where it’s not clear where the “war-machine” is going.
Deleuze: I’m moved by what you say. I think Felix Guattari and I have remained Marxists, in our two different ways, perhaps, but both of us. You see, we think any political philosophy must turn on the analysis of capitalism and the ways it has developed. What we find most interesting in Marx is his analysis of capitalism as an immanent system that’s constantly overcoming its own limitations, and then coming up against them once more in a broader form, because its fundamental limit is Capital itself. A Thousand Plateaus sets out in many different directions, but these are the three main ones: first, we think any society is defined not so much by its contradictions as by its lines of flight, it flees all over the place, and it’s very interesting to try and follow the lines of flight taking shape at some particular moment or other. Look at Europe now, for instance: western politicians have spent a great deal of effort setting it all up, the technocrats have spent a lot of effort getting uniform administration and rules, but then on the one hand there may be surprises in store in the form of upsurges of young people, of women, that become possible simply because certain restrictions are removed (with “untechnocratizable” consequences); and on the other hand it’s rather comic when one considers that this Europe has already been completely superseded before being inaugurated, superseded by movements coming from the East. These are major lines of flight. There’s another direction in A Thousand Plateaus, which amounts to considering not just lines of flight rather than contradictions, but minorities rather than classes. Then finally, a third direction, which amounts to finding a characterization of “war machines” that’s nothing to do with war but to do with a particular way of occupying, taking up, space-time, or inventing new space-times: revolutionary movements (people don’t take enough account, for instance, of how the PLO has had to invent a space-time in the Arab world), but artistic movements too, are war-machines in this sense.
You say there’s a certain tragic or melancholic tone in all this. I think I can see why. I was very struck by all the passages in Primo Levi where he explains that Nazi camps have given us “a shame at being human.” Not, he says, that we’re all responsible for Nazism, as some would have us believe, but that we’ve all been tainted by it: even the survivors of the camps had to make compromises with it, if only to survive. There’s the shame of there being men who became Nazis; the shame of being unable, not seeing how, to stop it; the shame of having compromised with it; there’s the whole of what Primo Levi calls this “gray area.” And we can feel shame at being human in utterly trivial situations, too: in the face of too great a vulgarization of thinking, in the face of tv entertainment, of a ministerial speech, of “jolly people” gossiping. This is one of the most powerful incentives toward philosophy, and it’s what makes all philosophy political. In capitalism only one thing is universal, the market. There’s no universal state, precisely because there’s a universal market of which states are the centers, the trading floors. But the market’s not universalizing, homogenizing, it’s an extraordinary generator of both wealth and misery. A concern for human rights shouldn’t lead us to extol the “joys” of the liberal capitalism of which they’re an integral part. There’s no democratic state that’s not compromised to the very core by its part in generating human misery. What’s so shameful is that we’ve no sure way of maintaining becomings, or still more of arousing them, even within ourselves. How any group will turn out, how it will fall back into history, presents a constant “concern.” There’s no longer any image of proletarians around of which it’s just a matter of becoming conscious.
Negri: How can minority becoming be powerful? How can resistance become an insurrection ? Reading you, I’m never sure how to answer such questions, even though I always find in your works an impetus that forces me to reformulate the questions theoretically and practically. And yet when I read what you ‘ve written about the imagination, or on common notions in Spinoza, or when I follow your description in The Time-Image of the rise of revolutionary cinema in third-world countries, and with you grasp the passage from image into fabulation, into political praxis, I almost feel I’ve found an answer. . . Or am I mistaken ? Is there then, some way for the resistance of the oppressed to become effective, and for what’s intolerable to be definitively removed? Is there some way for the mass of singularities and atoms that we all are to come forward as a constitutive power, or must we rather accept the juridical paradox that constitutive power can be defined only by constituted power?
Deleuze: The difference between minorities and majorities isn’t their size. A minority may be bigger than a majority. What defines the majority is a model you have to conform to: the average European adult male city-dweller, for example … A minority, on the other hand, has no model, it’s a becoming, a process. One might say the majority is nobody. Everybody’s caught, one way or another, in a minority becoming that would lead them info unknown paths if they opted to follow it through. When a ‘minority creates models for itself, it’s because it wants to become a majority, and probably has to, to survive or prosper (to have a state, be recognized, establish its rights, for example). But its power comes from what it’s managed to create, which to some extent goes into the model, but doesn’t depend on it. A people is always a creative minority, and remains one even when it acquires a majority^ it can be both at once because the two things aren’t lived out on the same plane. It’s the greatest artists (rather than populist artists) who invoke a people, and find they “lack a people”: Mallarme, Rimbaud, Klee, Berg. The Straubs in cinema. Artists can only invoke a people, their need for one goes to the very heart of what they’re doing, it’s not their job to create one, and they can’t. Art is resistance: it resists death, slavery, infamy, shame. But a people can’t worry about art. How is a people created, through what terrible suffering? When a people’s created, it’s through its own resources, but in away that links up with something in art (Garrel says there’s a mass of terrible suffering in the Louvre, too) or links up art to what it lacked. Utopia isn’t the right concept: it’s more a question of a “tabulation” in which a people and art both share. We ought to take up Bergson’s notion of tabulation and give it a political meaning.
Negri: In your book on Foucault, and then again in your TV interview at INA,6 you suggest we should look in more detail at three kinds of power: sovereign power, disciplinary power, and above all the control of “communication” that’s on the way to becoming hegemonic. On the one hand this third scenario relates to the most perfect form of domination, extending even to speech and imagination, but on the other hand any man, any minority, any singularity, is more than ever before potentially able to speak out and thereby recover a greater degree of freedom. In the Marxist Utopia of the Grundrisse, communism takes precisely the form of a transversal organization of free individuals built on a technology that makes it possible. Is communism still a viable option? Maybe in a communication society it’s less Utopian than it used to be?
Deleuze: We’re definitely moving toward “control” societies that are no longer exactly disciplinary. Foucault’s often taken as the theorist of disciplinary societies and of their principal technology, confinement (not just in hospitals and prisons, but in schools, factories, and barracks). But he was actually one of the first to say that we’re moving away from disciplinary societies, we’ve already left them behind. We’re moving toward control societies that no longer operate by confining people but through continuous control and instant communication. Burroughs was the first to address this. People are of course constantly talking about prisons, schools, hospitals: the institutions are breaking down. But they’re breaking down because they’re fighting a losing battle. New kinds of punishment, education, health care are being stealthily introduced. Open hospitals and teams providing home care have been around for some time. One can envisage education becoming less and less a closed site differentiated from the workspace as another closed site, but both disappearing and giving way to frightful continual training, to continual monitoring of worker-schoolkids or bureaucrat-students. They try to present this as a reform of the school system, but it’s really its dismantling. In a control-based system nothing’s left alone for long. You yourself long ago suggested how work in Italy was being transformed by forms of part-time work done at home, which have spread since you wrote (and by new forms of circulation and distribution of products). One can of course see how each kind of society corresponds to a particular kind of machine—with simple mechanical machines corresponding to sovereign societies, thermo-dynamic machines to disciplinary societies, cybernetic machines and computers to control societies. But the machines don’t explain anything, you have to analyze the collective arrangements of which the machines are just one component. Compared with the approaching forms of ceaseless control in open sites, we may come to see the harshest confinement as part of a wonderful happy past. The quest for “universals of communication” ought to make us shudder. It’s true that, even before control societies are fully in place, forms of delinquency or resistance (two different things) are also appearing. Computer piracy and viruses, for example, will replace strikes and what the nineteenth century called “sabotage” (“clogging” the machinery). You ask whether control or communication societies will lead to forms of resistance that might reopen the way for a communism understood as the “transversal organization of free individuals.” Maybe, I don’t know. But it would be nothing to do with minorities speaking out. Maybe speech and communication have been corrupted. They’re thoroughly permeated by money—and not by accident but by their very nature. We’ve got to hijack speech. Creating has always been something different from communicating. The key thing may be to create vacuoles of noncommunication, circuit breakers, so we can elude control.
Negri: In Foucault and in The Fold, processes of subjectification seem to be studied more closely than in some of your other works. The subject’s the boundary of a continuous movement between an inside and outside. What are the political consequences of this conception of the subject? If the subject can’t be reduced to an externalized citizenship, can it invest citizenship with force and life? Can it make possible a new militant pragmatism, at once a pietas toward the world and a very radical construct. What politics can carry into history the splendor of events and subjectivity. How can we conceive a community that has real force but no base, that isn’t a totality but is, as in Spinoza, absolute?
Deleuze: It definitely makes sense to look at the various ways individuals and groups constitute themselves as subjects through processes of subjec-tification: what counts in such processes is the extent to which, as they take shape, they elude both established forms of knowledge and the dominant forms of power. Even if they in turn engender new forms of power or become assimilated into new forms of knowledge. For a while, though, they have a real rebellious spontaneity. This is nothing to do with going back to “the subject,” that is, to something invested with duties, power, and knowledge. One might equally well speak of new kinds of event, rather than processes of subjectification: events that can’t be explained by the situations that give rise to them, or into which they lead. They appear for a moment, and it’s that moment that matters, it’s the chance we must seize. Or we can simply talk about the brain: the brain’s precisely this boundary of a continuous two-way movement between an Inside and Outside, this membrane between them. New cerebral pathways, new ways of thinking, aren’t explicable in terms of microsurgery; it’s for science, rather, to try and discover what might have happened in the brain for one to start thinking this way or that. I think subjectification, events, and brains are more or less the same thing. What we most lack is a belief in the world, we’ve quite lost the world, it’s been taken from us. If you believe in the world you precipitate events, however inconspicuous, that elude control, you engender new space-times, however small their surface or volume. It’s what you call pietas. Our ability to resist control, or our submission to it, has to be assessed at the level of our every move. We need both creativity and a people.
Gilles Deleuze The Logic of Sense
Columbia University Press
‘Considered one of the most important works of one of France’s foremost philosophers, and long-awaited in English, The Logic of Sense begins with an extended exegesis of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Considering stoicism, language, games, sexuality, schizophrenia, and literature, Deleuze determines the status of meaning and meaninglessness, and seeks the ‘place’ where sense and nonsense collide.
‘Written in an innovative form and witty style, The Logic of Sense is an essay in literary and psychoanalytic theory as well as philosophy, and helps to illuminate such works as Anti-Oedipus.’ — Columbia University Press
p.s. Hey. ** Ian, Hi, Ian. Thanks for the commiseration. I read ‘Perfume’ way back in, like, 1985 or something, and I barely remember it other than liking it. I didn’t like the movie, again as I recall. Hm, that’s a novel that might well be worth revisiting, now that you mention it. Thanks. You good in general? ** Ferdinand, Hi. Jamie magically returned to the fold yesterday. Happy day. Those ‘Idols’ poems, I mean, I was a teenager when I wrote a lot of them, and they really feel like that to me, but I do kind of get the charming aspect of them. In my arr. we got about, oh, 10 minutes of extremely vague, light snow. But in other areas of Paris, not even very far from me, they got a fair amount. Strange. ** Dominik, Hi! Happily the post pulled Jamie himself out of the ether so he got to get your thanks in person. Interesting, a clone of you or me who looks like a person we’d love to feast our eyes on 24/7. Now I’m going to spend the day trying to figure out who that would be. Hmmm. Ah, the days when Poppy wrote novels in which pretty guys were endangered. I wonder if he’ll ever go back to writing those kinds of books again. Love in the form of this Siouxsie and the Banshees song because I fell back in love with it yesterday, G. ** Misanthrope, Oh, yeah, about Cindy and photos? I missed them. That house had its charms. And its horrors. Back in the days when I dreamed that I would one day be able to afford a custom-built giant mansion I used to design the perfect mansion, which always ended up having so much secret, hidden space in it that the actual living quarters were only about the size of a small apartment. Oh, shit, man. About the scan. Fingers so violently crossed. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Mr. E’s FaBlog has a new entry atop it entitled ‘The Second Amendment Solution Strikes Again!’ What does that mean? Well, … find out. ** Tosh Berman, Hm, has there not been a big museum survey show about Manga? How very strange, if so. Especially since it would be a guaranteed coffers-filling blockbuster. ** T, Hi, T. I don’t think I’ve ever read a yaoi manga that wasn’t contrived and merely smutty (but never smutty enough, in fact) and charming for all of that. Three of my novels were adapted into Japanese yaoi mangas a long time ago, but I don’t have copies here. Manga/graphic novels are a big weakness in my history of reading. I’ve read very few ever, for no good reason at all, I don’t know why. Them and scifi fiction are the gaping holes in my reading. Although I did make a graphic novel with the artist Keith Mayerson (‘Horror Hospital Unplugged’) that I’m actually really proud of, but Keith was the graphic novel expert. What are your favorites? I’m always wanting to break that ice. Thank you for sending me some deleting-related patience. I need it, dude. xo. ** Jamie, Holy moly, Jamie! The post magnetised you! Man, it is so very, very good to see you, my friend. And how cool that you’re still looking at this place. Never any need to feel shy. Time is weirdly relative here, and d.l. is an eternal designation. I’m good except for, yeah, the exhausting deleting assignment that is eating everything. I think the last time we interacted you were planning to move to Brussels. You did! And you have a kid, wow! How is that? Well, I mean, I’m sure it’s totally amazing and huge. What are you up to? How’s Hannah’s work and writing and life? Dude, come visit Paris again once Paris is fun to be inside again. God knows when that will be. Yeah, obviously, do come inside here and hang out and etc. anytime you like, man, but no pressure, of course. Sweet! Much love to you too, man! ** Steve Erickson, I did like the ice cube sound. Well, I mean I’m not a big Koons fan, but he’s a real artist with ideas and stuff whereas KAWS is just a brand and not even an original or smart one. My host asks/demands that I do the deletions for fours years’ worth (2017 – 2020), at which point they say they will try to help me find out why the blog is doing the excessive uploading (Malware is the best guess) and will try to stop that. So … it’ll be a while yet. Thanks. ** Bill, Hi Bill! There’re worse weeks to have, at least in theory. I got kind of re-obsessed with the first five Siouxsie and the Banshees albums yesterday. I’m not sure if that counts since I guess they were more pissed off than depressed? ** Right. I haven’t turned the blog’s spotlight on Deleuze in at least a couple of years, so it seemed to be high time. And today’s spotlight is aimed at one of his greatest books, IMO. So hang out in the big guy’s head maybe, no? See you tomorrow.