Of Hooks and Unhookings

Throughout much of the time we have spent reading about the time image, its workings have appeared as a particular kind of break—to the sensory-motor schema, to the relation between the image and the Whole, and to the re/presentation of time, to name a few of the points of impact. What has been difficult, at times, to imagine, is what may come of such a break. There have been moments when it seems that, were it not for Deleuze’s assertion of the presence of pure time, there would be nothing at all in the fold of the time image, that it would be pure absence or aporia. Of course, one bears in mind the constant unthought of the virtual, the unceasing multiplication of becomings and mutations, but to phrase it rather pedantically: so what? What impact does this have on the way we, Deleuze’s readers, move through the world? If I’ve asked a non-philosophical question here, it’s only because I was emboldened by the fact that Deleuze, in the later chapters of Cinema 2, in Foucault, and in A Thousand Plateaus, gives his readers something of an answer as to what the ethical stakes of such a shift are. Of the many political and ethical implications Deleuze lays out, it is worth mentioning at least a few: the speech act that refuses a distinction between public and private, addressing a people who are missing and are thus yet to come; the interstice as the site of radical potential for thought in excess of a particular diagram of power; and the rhizome as the shape and action of such thought, as an act of cartography. In this blog, I hope to address as many of these as possible.

Each of the above elements of Deleuze’s thought depends particularly on the operation of relinkage, the perilous passage between incommensurable, irrational cuts or interstices. This is true of the cinematic time image most explicitly: there is, Deleuze writes, “no longer association through metaphor or metonymy, but relinkage on the literal image; there is no longer linkage of associated images, but only relinkages of independent images” (C2 214). It is also true of the relation between forms and forces, the visible and the articulable: “the problem is that of the coadaptation of the two forms or two sorts of conditions, which differ in nature […] determinable visibilities and determining statements” that are, in the end, irreducible to one another, and thus disjunctive (F 52). Finally, it is true of the rhizome in the oscillation between territorialization and deterritorialization: “there is neither imitation nor resemblance, only an exploding of two heterogeneous series on the line of flight composed by a common rhizome that can no longer be attributed to or subjugated by anything signifying” (ATP 10). Indeed, we can see echoes of this concern throughout Deleuze’s work, back to “Proust and Signs” and Difference and Repetition, where the act of relinking reveals the terminal point of each faculty, the farthest extension of its ability and the domain that is unique to it: “between sensibility and imagination, between imagination and memory, between memory and thought – when each disjointed faculty communicates to another the violence which carries it to its own limit, every time it is a free form of difference which awakens the faculty, and awakens it as the different within that difference” (D&R 145). To summarize, it is the mode of connection between irreducible, heterogeneous forms/forces/images/faculties that is of the utmost importance to Deleuze. It is here that power, as the relations between forces, exerts its pull, but also here that the potential for new, radical connections exists. This process of linking occurs all the time, it is continuous; but, it seems, it is rare that thought participates in this process. Instead it is habit, repetition, resemblance, representation, and all those tools we use to mitigate the risks we face as we leap across the interstice. “A concept’s power,” says Deleuze, “comes from the way it’s repeated, as one area links up with another. And this linkage is an essential, ceaseless activity: the world as a patch­ work” (Negotiations 147). The task is to not shut ourselves off from mutation, change, and difference during this leap, but to hold fast to them, and see where they may lead.

One of the most fascinating threads that can be followed in this leap is Deleuze’s assertion that, in the case of modern political cinema, “the people no longer exist, or not yet… the people are missing” (C2 216). Deleuze claims that this knowledge is borne of third world cinema, where colonization both imposes the myths of the colonizer and abstracts and repurposes the myths of the colonized. The result is that such cinema cannot ‘return to the well’ of a private, mythic past that might point toward a revolutionary future, because the sense of continuity and unity that might enable such a gesture is always already unavailable: “the death-knell for becoming conscious was precisely the consciousness that there were no people, but always several peoples, an infinity of peoples, who remained to be united, or should not be united, in order for the problem to change” (C2 220). In black American cinema, Deleuze writes, this results in “shattered states of emotions or drives, expressible in pure images and sounds…” (C2 220). It is this state, however, that enables a confrontation with the fractured I that Deleuze writes of in Difference and Repetition, and the now-shattered ground of a pure or immemorial past. Thrown up into this space of indeterminacy, it is only the utterance that relinks the shattered states, a pre-personal utterance (because I-less and groundless), “which are already collective, which are like the seeds of the people to come, and whose political impact is immediate and inescapable” (C2 221).

To explore this a bit, I want to return to the Kanye West song I referenced in class, “Blood on the Leaves,” from the 2013 album Yeezus. Of course, here we’re talking about a song instead of cinema, but the incommensurable relation between sonsigns, as opposed to sonsigns and opsigns, still performs the same function, and just as effectively. There is a tripartite layering of sounds in West’s song wherein the mode of relinkage is as problematic, and as evocative of the virtual, as the pure optical and sound image in cinema. In class, I mentioned that “Blood on the Leaves” contains a sample of Nina Simone’s “Strange Fruit,” recorded in 1965. The song, most famously sung by Billie Holiday in 1939, was written as a response to a 1930 lynching in Indiana. Its use in a 2013 hip-hop track, then, might be seen as drawing parallels between the Black American experience in the late 30s, mid 60s, and 21st century. And typically, when rap songs contain traces of work by politically motivated singers of the civil rights era, it’s done with a reverence and sense of continuity with the past, as a lament that so much of the same work seems left to be performed, or as a contrite analysis of violence in the black community. West, however, offers none of these, but rather a song/rap that is almost horrifying in its disjunction from Simone’s lyrics: a story of a failed, unfaithful relationship, and unwanted pregnancy, and the high cost of alimony and child support. The song is iconoclastic in the literal sense, smashing the icons of civil rights-era culture and the history of black America without even an acknowledgment of its impropriety. The listener hears Simone sing, “black bodies, swinging in the summer breeze,” as West raps about the social and emotional fallout of a break up, saying, “Now you sittin’ courtside, wifey on the other side/Gotta keep ‘em separated, I call that apartheid.” At the same time, West layers in a blasting horn section lifted from the 1999 C-Murder and Snoop Dogg song “Down 4 my N****,” an uninspired track celebrating male loyalty and violence from the very tail end of the gangsta rap decade. While the horn layer works with the overall production of the song, the subject matter it alludes to is as alien to the circumstances West describes as that of “Strange Fruit.” The horror of “Blood on the Leaves” is not the heretical misappropriation of “Strange Fruit,” but the fragmentation of ‘sheets of the past’—60s civil rights song, 90s gangsta rap song, 2010s lost love pop song—that are coexistent yet incommensurable parts of (for West) the black American cultural experience. Each of these three sheets—sound images, I would call them—attempts to speak for and of a people, but there is an irrational cut between them. The irony, given West’s reputation in the press as an egomaniac, is that there is no I in the song, no “beautiful interiority” that unites these sheets, but instead a non-personal relinkage on the order of the sound itself.

“Blood on the Leaves,” I would argue, is more effectively imagined as a map that points to the disconnect between certain stratigraphic layers, certain sheets of the past. If the diagram is composed of “the superimposing of coexistent sheets” (C2 121), a particular organization of space-time (F 34), West’s disturbing song is disturbing precisely because of the violent lines it draws through these strata. But a question remains: is there anything rhizomatic in West’s song, any sign of becoming, of territorialization and deterritorialization? Yes, I will (briefly) argue, and strangely enough it takes the form of a tree—the magnolia. The magnolia tree is an almost entirely invisible element of all three sheets in “Blood on the Leaves,” and it is rhizomatic precisely in its radical reach across each sheet. The magnolia tree sends off lines in all directions in the three songs that compose West’s track, but not as any kind of central figure, more as a mobile, a-centered element that reaches out toward the unspoken. At the end of the third verse, West sings “How you gon’ lie to the lawyer?/ It’s like I don’t even know ya/ I gotta bring it back to the ‘Nolia…” To what magnolia is West referring? He does not mention it again in the song, yet it links in certain ways to both “Strange Fruit” and “Down 4 my N*****.” Simone’s song contains the lyric “scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh/ then the sudden smell of burning flesh,” but West’s reference wouldn’t make sense given the context. More likely he is referring to the Magnolia projects in New Orleans, where No Limit Records (Snoop and C-Murder’s record label) was based, and the center of the 90s/00s New Orleans rap boom. But here, another problem emerges: the Magnolia projects were severely flooded during Hurricane Katrina, and were shuttered and razed by the time West’s song was released. As such, the magnolia forms a rhizomatic territory with each sheet of “Blood on the Leaves,” as a sweet smell that disappears amidst the horror of lynched bodies, as a neighborhood and cultural center, and as a depopulated and destroyed part of black history, a place to which West can never really “bring it back.” Why? Because the people are missing.

Images of Thought Without Image

The Kantian and Bergsonian concepts we have been tracking in relation to Deleuze’s Image of Thought make their expected returns in Foucault and in the chapter on the rhizome. Especially important are the various incarnations of the interstice, whose guises involve the outside and forgetting. Despite Foucault’s reputation as one of Deleuze’s most accessible books, I found it at times very abstract, and so I would like to take this space to map out its concepts to get a sense of their lines and points of assembly, to better to account for the relation between these two exciting but rather abstruse texts.

Deleuze emphasizes Foucault’s cartographic presentation of power, in which he maps its forces into “spacio-temporal multiplicities” he calls diagrams (Foucault, 42 in the Minuit edition). Power is constituted by relations between forces and, like in his earlier description of problems and their solutions in Difference and Repetition, Deleuze insists that the powers to affect and to be affected are simultaneously originary and derivative. In contrast to Idealist or, say, Marxist theories, which would credit a transcendental Idea or economic base as the ultimate cause for every effect, power is instead a reciprocal function of its relations, an “abstract machine” which acts as a “non-unifying immanent cause, coextensive with the entire social field…it is the cause of concrete social arrangements which carries out their relations; and these relations of forces happen ‘not above’ but in the very tissue of the arrangements they produce.” (F, 44)

The diagram in a way marks the frontiers of thought: knowledge is circumscribed within. “There is no model of truth which does not refer to a type of power, no knowledge or even science which does not express or imply an act of power being exercised” (F, 46). However, such a closing off in turn refers to an outside. Deleuze cites Blanchot on Foucault: “The closing refers to the outside, and that which is closed is the outside” (F, 50). Blanchot’s thought leads the way to Deleuze’s preferred interpretation of Foucault. His reading of Madness and Civilization emphasizes the circular relationship of l’enfermement with banishment to the outside: “The demand to shut up the outside, that is, to constitute it as an interiority of anticipation or exception, is the exigency that leads society—or momentary reason—to make madness exist, that is, to make it possible” (Blanchot, The Infinite Conversation, 196). This vicious circle provides, as it were, the possibility of meeting the outside. “…we have to ask ourselves if it is true that literature and art might be able to entertain these limit-experiences and thus, beyond culture, pave the way for a relation with what culture rejects: a speech of borders, the outside of writing” (ibid.). These “limit-experiences” are the crises which force a society to change its diagrams, its relations of forces. Deleuze insists that “it is from the “struggles” of each epoch, the style of struggles, that one can understand the succession of diagrams, or their re-linkage above their discontinuities” (F, 51).

There is an imperative, then, to face these discontinuities without subsuming them into ever-reacting diagrams. The culmination of Deleuze’s chapter “Strategies or the Non-Stratified” is the concern for how thought can resist power by its relation to the outside, that is, by a fracturing or discontinuity that cannot add up or be incorporated into a unifying whole.

“This is Foucault’s second point of contact with Blanchot: thinking belongs to the outside insofar as the latter, an “abstract storm”, is swallowed up by the interstice between seeing and thinking. The appeal to the outside is a constant theme in Foucault and signifies that thinking is not the innate exercise of a faculty but must become thought. Thinking does not depend on a beautiful interiority that reunites the visible and enunciable, but is made under the intrusion of an outside which hollows out the interval, and forces or dismembers the interior” (F, 93).

Blanchot’s writings on Foucault are especially interesting as a link between Deleuze’s monograph and his and Guattari’s earlier chapter on the rhizome. Blanchot locates thought’s relation to the outside in the act of forgetting:

“When we perceive that we speak because we are able to forget, we perceive that this ability-to-forget does not belong solely to the realm of possibility. On the one hand, forgetting is a capacity: we are able to forget and, thanks to this, able to live, to act, to work, and to remember—to be present: we are thus able to speak usefully. On the other hand, forgetting gets away. It escapes. This does not simply mean that through forgetting a possibility is taken from us and a certain impotency revealed, but rather that the possibility that is forgetting is a slipping outside of possibility.” (Blanchot, IC, 195)

By slipping outside of possibility, I take him to mean outside the possibilities circumscribed by the relations of forces that make up the diagram. Forgetting introduces to thought an interstice, a relation to the outside. It introduces an aleatory non-relation between contiguous images; it is “a spacing which means that each image is plucked from the void and falls back into it,” as Deleuze puts it in Cinema 2. The outside of thought is thus approached by these irrational cuts: “…when there are only milieux and in-betweens, when words and things are opened up by the milieu without ever coinciding, it is in order to liberate the forces that come from the outside, and which only exist in a state of agitation, of mixing and restructuring, of mutation. In truth, a throw of the dice, because to think is to cast the dice.” (F, 93)

All of these images of a thought without image are condensed into Deleuze and Guattari’s essay on the rhizome. They echo Blanchot in a passage distinguishing short-term from long-term memory. “Short-term memory is in no way subject to a law of contiguity or immediacy to its object; it can act at a distance, come or return a long time after, but always under conditions of discontinuity, rupture, and multiplicity” (A Thousand Plateaus, 16). Short-term memory is thus the embrace of forgetting; it “includes forgetting as a process; it merges not with the instant but instead with the nervous, temporal, and collective rhizome” (ibid.). They are careful not to confuse this concept with the metaphysical principle of the fractured I: “the difference between two kinds of memory is not that of two temporal modes of apprehending the same things; they do not grasp the same thing, memory, idea.” It is instead a category of practice, under which falls the creative endeavors of art and philosophy. “The splendor of the short-term Idea: one writes using short-term memory, and thus short-term ideas, even if one reads or rereads using long-term memory of long-term concepts” (ibid.).

The chapter on the rhizome feels like the conclusion toward which Deleuze’s other texts reach, regardless of whether this is forward or backwards in time. The concept is itself an assemblage of the various lines that run through his work: it is an image of a thought without image. They propose a book of plateaus, a book only of middles without beginnings or ends, in other words, frontiers. A book that is thus without an interior, that is permeated by the outside. “We will never ask what a book means, as signified or signifier; we will not look for anything to understand in it. We will ask what it functions with, in connection with what other things it does or does not transmit intensities, in which other multiplicities its own are inserted and metamorphosed, and with what bodies without organs it makes its own converge. A book exists only through the outside and on the outside” (TP, 4).  The imperative I spoke of earlier was implicit in Foucault; it comes to the surface with the rhizome. “In short, we think that one cannot write sufficiently in the name of an outside,” D&G conclude. “The outside has no image, no signification, no subjectivity. The book as assemblage with the outside, against the book as image of the world. A rhizomebook, not a dichotomous, pivotal, or fascicular book” (TP, 23). To open the rhizomebook, the book as assemblage with the outside, is to peer into the interstice. It is the non-representation of the non-representable.

free indirect speech-acts

“Pasolini had a profound insight about modern cinema when he characterized it by a sliding of ground, breaking the uniformity of the internal monologue to replace it by the diversity, the deformity, the otherness of a free indirect discourse” (Cinema 2, 183-184)

“If the filmmaker assimilates himself to his character and, through him, tells a story, or represents the world, he cannot have recourse to that formidable instrument of differentiation which is language. His operation cannot be linguistic, but stylistic…The fundamental characteristic of the “free indirect subjective” is therefore not of a linguistic nature, but of a stylistic one.” (Pasolini, “The Cinema of Poetry”)

That the question of “who speaks” in film remains irreducible to linguistic models of identification makes transpositions of “free indirect discourse” onto the cinematic particularly awkward. In its literary incarnation, free indirect discourse hinges predominantly on the idiosyncracies of personalized speech, staging the slippage between distinct voices by performing one from the vantage point of an other. Particularly effective as an admixture of commentary and description, free indirect discourse represents another’s idiom just enough to conjure a position outside it: think, perhaps, of the several times the Austenian narrator dips momentarily into Mr. Woodhouse’s consciousness to poke fun at his dietary eccentricities or inefficacy as a patriarch. Ventriloquy here shows its own hand: we are not meant to take the reported thought for its actual enunciation, but to recognize the oscillation between the thought itself and its representation, reproduction, or parody. The indirectness of free indirect discourse—“representation of thought rather than an expression of it” Frances Ferguson writes—references the misalignment of speaker and utterance, carving out a zone of indistinction from which the narratorial voice briefly dons the perspectival coordinates of another subjectivity.

Central to analysis of FID, then, is an ear for the multiplicity of voices in a single enunciation, the ability to register in this enunciation one voice (or several voices) too many. The absence of discriminating markers for enunciatory personalities in cinema seems to complicate such recognition: to the extent that linguistic indices of specific (and distinct) subjectivities remain unavailable, the challenge of cinematic FID becomes that of inserting the subjective, the notion of distinct subjectivities, at all, of alerting viewers to the presence of an intervening consciousness or intercessor. Because premodern(?) takes the interchangeability of author and character for granted (what Deleuze refers to as the “unity of the author, the characters and the world guaranteed by the internal monologue”), making the question of who is speaking (or, more accurately, whose consciousness images are filtered through) apprehensible as a question at all becomes the first hurdle. How and when does the subjective, as rupture in the author-character-world continuum Deleuze locates under the regime of the internal monologue, enter without being conveyed discursively?

Pasolini’s answer, it seems, bears little attachment to the discursive. Having established the filmmaker’s lack of recourse to that “formidable instrument of differentiation which is language” (7), he effectively substitutes for free indirect discourse what he terms “free indirect subjectivity”—FID minus the discourse. Stylistic rather than linguistic, free indirect subjectivity is FID without recourse to codified sign systems, FID in a more inchoate, and thus stylistically flexible, form. Ultimately, this turn from the linguistic to the stylistic enables a reading of free indirect subjectivity that folds back into internal monologue, capitalizing on an indiscernability between author and the alternate subject position she has taken up in order subsume the latter under the former. If free indirect discourse in Ann Banfield’s formulation (Unspeakable Sentences) refers specifically to utterances that are neither communicative nor expressive (neither addressed to a “you” nor tethered to a speaking “I”), the techniques cultivating “free indirect subjectivity” ultimately become in Pasolini radically expressive. Free indirect subjectivity affords the author “poetic liberty”—the author avails herself of characterological perspectivalism/the free indirect subjective in order to take this “stylistic exercise as inspiration.” For Pasolini, the emergence of an intervening or alien consciousness becomes mere “pretext,” “enabling the author to speak indirectly — through some narrative alibi — in the first person.”

But the free indirect remains a lurking potentiality in Deleuze—defamiliarization, or rather, subjectivization, can infiltrate any moment of seeming internal monologue, such that instances of direct style preserve kernels of an “indirect origin and does not allow itself to be fixed with the first person” (Cinema 2, 248) For Deleuze, the coherence of internal monologue is not recovered in free indirect discourse’s cinematic analogue, but “shatters into anonymous debris.” “Stereotypes, clichés, ready-made visions and formulas took away the outside world and the interiority of characters in the same decomposition.” (Cinema 2, 187) Whereas Pasolini collapses free indirect subjectivity back into a first person that subsumes all under authorial, Deleuze maintains the irreducibility of incompossible subject positions—the interstice at the heart of FID. “The author takes a step towards his characters, but the characters take a step towards the author: double becoming” The disassociative force of free indirect discourse no longer begs the question how one voice will be reconciled the other, but the disjuncture between utterance and the position from which it is uttered.

In fact, preservation of the disjuncture seems in keeping with a larger set of concerns in the last chapters of Cinema 2: the problem of accounting for non-totalizing relation, of contact without the assurance of organic totality or integration into a whole that is always elsewhere, out-of-field. “The Whole is outside.” What is banished with the break in the sensory-motor link is not just a correspondence between images seen and read/heard, but the very enterprise of linkage–of rendering visible interaction between components belonging to a single set. The speech-act moves, with the collapse of continuity between action/reaction, from the realm of sensory-motor links into the “regime of free-indirect.”

If, for Pasolini, the possibility of relinkage remains, and free indirect subjectivity can ultimately be repurposed to bolster the first person—such that the organizing consciousness escapes into another only to fold this back into an elasticized but ultimately all-encompassing version of self-sovereignty (alterity thus framed as “inspiration” rather than shock or forced thought), Deleuze’s account of free indirect discourse stages an expropriation of voice that echoes expropriation of thought—the “theft of thought of which thought is a constant agent and victim.” Insofar as represented internal monologue becomes internal monologue suddenly encountered from outside, dispossessed of thought also becomes thought turned inside out to reveal the unthought immanent in thought. FID is never coincident with represented thought, but it is also remarkable for how close it is: it does not simply offer dispassionate, clinically detached reportage, but, as Anne Lise Francois writes in Open Secrets, “makes available experiences that may entirely elude their subjects.”

Whereas the first person of internal monologue, the alignment of speaker and utterance that allows “I” to be spoken, posits a consummate and ultimately self-identical whole—“open” and evolving precisely because its incorporative power links together what is only seemingly discontinuous— FID posits the fractured I. Though the irreconcilable heterogeneity that surfaces in FID is framed as the crowding out of the first person through the insertion of a third party—“either the author expresses himself though the intercession of an autonomous, independent character other than the author or any role fixed by the author, or the character acts and speaks himself as if his own gestures and his own words were already reported by a third party”—it features, more importantly, as internal fissure within the first person. FID, in precluding total identification, becomes not so much the imposition of an external POV on thought as the excavation of noncoincidence from within. Deleuze’s insistence on free indirect discourse (choice, perhaps, to foreground Pasolini’s conception of FID rather than that of free indirect subjectivity) mines the potentiality of FID speech-act—as an act of storytelling, of resistance—to enact splitting. The notion of FID as speech-act refocuses on what is created, generated at moment of impossible enunciation—the performative possibilities of inhabiting both the multiple (proliferation of mutually exclusive and incompossible positions) and the double-bind (the evacuation of possibility, the no-place or impasse).

The sense in which one can speak in an language that does not belong to one, and, inversely, that an idiom can be spoken by one that does not belong to it, makes FID particularly useful in Deleuze’s discussion of the colonized’s relation to language. That speaker and utterance do not belong to one another, but remain suspended in mutual disarticulation, puts FID’s theoretical impossibility to political use. (Important that it features as speech-act: “Daney observed that African cinema (but this applies to the whole third world) is not, as the West would like, a cinema which dances, but a cinema which talks, a cinema of the speech-act.” (229)

In Deleuze’s conception of “minorness,” the refrain the “whole is outside” takes on new valence when placed alongside “the people are missing”: insofar as FID is inevitably collective (or non-individualistic/nonsingular) in its enunciation, this collectivity remains far from resolved or consolidated in the speaking subject. The minor will always be speaking on behalf, or as representative, but in a tongue not their own—even as there is a sense that to speak/write is to be dispossessed in some way, one is driven by the necessity of speaking. As response to the refrain of the “the people are missing,” free indirect discourse performs both proliferation and impasse. The question of who is speaking becomes particularly charged, even as it remains undeterminable. FID’s impossibility as utterance is here twofold: (1) speaking requires a position that doesn’t exist yet—the people are missing; the free indiscursive mode is merely a prefiguration (2) the position that does exist is compromised—utterance and speaker do not belong to one another; dispossession becomes the very condition of speaking, because one can only ever speak in another’s voice.

A Shell without a Yolk

255px-Humpty_Dumpty_1_-_WW_Denslow_-_Project_Gutenberg_etext_18546Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men

Couldn’t put Humpty-Dumpty together again

Humpty’s body was fractured by a great fall that multiplied his lovely ovoid wholeness into a field of fragments interspersed with intervals of non-shell, non-Humpty, earth. The movement of gravity, extending from the revolving motion of the earth’s body, transmitted through Humpty’s body, and the Humpty-gravity-body then encountered the body of the earth’s surface at 9.8 m/s2, becoming the shattered Humpty-earth multiplicity that baffled both the king’s men and horses alike. They never read Deleuze, because if they had they never would have bothered reassembling a body that was never whole, a body that was always already an assemblage. They assumed Humpty was once unified and thus distressed enough at the sight of his evident dissolution to invest hoof and hand in cross-species camaraderie toward his impossible repair, never ‘seeing’ that it is not the amalgamated shell fragments but what lies in between and outside them that is the whole (outside). On the one hand, continuing the thread of my last journal entry, the “I” of Humpty Dumpty was already fragmented (I would argue fractal) at least, according to Kant, by the subject’s “Fall” from edenic wholeness, when the perceiving “I” recognized also the object that is a desiring “I,” an external subject longing for an external object, an in-itself and a for-itself. Eve shattered before she touched the apple of wisdom, when it was only the generator of a virtual other “I” that desired and, in so doing, dissected the “I.” Deleuze, of course, sees the postlapsarian Eve less as a divided entity than as a shattered subject, like Humpty-Dumpty, distributed along the plane of immanence in discrete but connectible shards of conceptual “I’s” that couldn’t possibly be ‘put together again.’ The king’s men and horses glimpsed only the visibilities of a unified whole emergent from a plane of immanence that shares contours with a sovereign individual king, a monotheistic deity, and a cartesian cogito. They did not see a multiplicitous body, nor the field and fragments folding into a body without organs (or yolk), because this was neither visible nor articulable to them. We see the “we” in Humpty-Dumpty, and this journal entry will consider the art of seeing the Deleuzian-Humpty-Dumpty fractal “I” and body, and the politics entailed therein.

How and why did Humpty-Dumpty fall? Was it accident or eggicide? Revealingly, there is no indexical sign pointing to a cause. All we know is that he fell and fractured, arbitrarily. Who or what was Humpty-Dumpty? Historians have speculated he was not necessarily an egg: in the 17th century he could have been a caricature of the hunchbacked King Richard II; or a “tortoise siege” machine mobilized in the siege of Gloucester in 1643; or a military cannon used in the same civil war; or as a 20th century topological illustration of the second law of thermodynamics, entropy, which theorizes the multiplicity of assemblages that a given system can unfold. He is an egg, a tank, a cannon, a king, and entropy, or rather, a body without organs that is deterritorialized and reterritorialized across space-time, things, humans, animals and concepts. He is a metaphor and a metamorphosis. For our purposes, Deleuze pushed the proverbial Humpty-Dumpty in his campaign to ‘break up’ the body by “opening up” words, things and the chaosmos-filled interval between perception and action. Humpty-Dumpty as a multiplicity of avatars and shards is essential if eggcentric: he/they demonstrate that bodies are matter, “the matter of force,” and have thus made visible the movement from sovereign power to disciplinary power, from body politic of the state to bio-politics of subjected bodies, from a King (Richard) to an egg/machine emblem of systemic disorder (entropy).

For Deleuze, while power has become ever more embodied and capillary, it has at the same time colonized a territory that is always in flux, always potentially deterritorializing itself through the virtual vicissitudes emerging in the gap-between bodies, perception and action, the visible and the articulable. As we will revisit, it is a shock or an intensity that we encounter through our bodies’ sensorium that induces thought. Art, shocking affective and particularly cinematic art, we can infer, can do just this. Again, Humpty-Dumpty reveals the radical possibilities of shock and art. After citing Klee’s axiom that “the people are missing in art,” Deleuze suggests that third world cinema aspires to “constitute an assemblage which brings real parties together in order to make them produce collective utterances as the prefiguration of the people who are missing” (TI 224). The ‘shock’ of a deconstructed Humpty-Dumpty ‘induces’ an assemblage of humans and horses, masters and subjects, to work collectively in the futile art of collectively putting Humpty-Dumpty back together again. Though they inevitably fail to synthesize the already multiplicitous Humpty-Dumpty, their human-equine assembled agency prefigures yet new and possibly more unpredictable assemblages of actors in future encounters. Is this contingent strata of both the body as a sensing machine and a body of actors as an always unfolding assemblage that resists the powers of biopolitics what Deleuze means by “life”? How does the body mediate thought, life, art and resistance in the many conceptual shards that Deleuze has strewn over his oeuvre’s theoretical plane of immanence? Rather than put the pieces back together again into a Humpty-Dumpty-whole of a coherent underlying unity in Deleuze’s thoughts on the body, what possible relations and combinations can we contemplate about the body from his conceptual field?

Movement is always rendered visible through relations amongst bodies, as Deleuze demonstrates with the concepts of anamorphosis, metamorphosis, metaphor and montage. Anamorphosis is a distorted representation that relies upon an external object or position to disambiguate it. Deleuze argues that dream images are anamorphoses that mediate irrational but relational connections amongst perception and recollection images, and thus along the movement from virtual to actual images. Deleuze provides the example of a dream image sequence that connects a recollection image of a green field studded with wildflowers once perceived, with a billiards table also a recollection of what was once perceived. This is not a metaphor, we are told. A metaphor refers to the “harmonics of the image” (TI 160), that unites two scenes with entirely different bodies enacting a ‘harmonically’ similar scenario or movement, the non-human counterpart implying a symbolically iconic relation to the human scenario. When the movement of one body is transmuted into the movements of another body, or when a single movement courses through two different and possibly ontologically distinct bodies, the movement undergoes metamorphoses. Deleuze observes that in cinema, “depersonalized and pronominalized movements, with their slow motion or rushing, with their inversions, pass just as much through nature as through artifice and the manufactured object” (TI 60). Dancing, in cinematic musicals, often entails this viral movement. The cadence of Gene Kelly’s dance in Singing in the Rain, for instance, transmutes the unevenness of the pavement into a rhythm of movements in the dancer’s body. Deleuze also describes this process of metamorphoses from the “personal motivity” of a “dancer’s individual genius, his subjectivity” into “a supra-personal element” as a “movement of world that the dance will outline” (TI 61).  In fact, Metaphor, anamorphosis, and metamorphosis all describe variations of “movements of world,” where movements are “depersonalized and pronominalized” across image types, formal affinities, symbolic resonances, transmuted motions. The movement of world, in effect, captures the transference of movement between worlds, the world of one object or subject to another, that “breaks” the sensory-motor links between perceptions extending into actions, entailing instead “circuits” of “pure optical and sound situations” that fold upon themselves and transmit into other circuits. Deleuze claims that the exaggerated sounds and gestures Jerry Lewis initiate a movement of world that “travels from one world to another, in a pulverizing of colours, a metamorphosis of forms and a mutation of sounds” (TI 65). Bodies, gestures, sounds, forms and colors effectively lose their definition and become “deterritorialized” instances along a more resonant and circuitous movement.

Deleuze and Guattari provide an image of a deterritorialized body in their concept of “a body without organs.” A body implies a territory in that it suggests discrete and stable boundaries, a skin, and all compartmentalization within, or its organs and their organ-ization. A body without organs is immediately contradictory if we imagine it as such an actual body rather than a virtual one of constantly flowing potentialities. Discrete as the material corpus of a paving stone and a dancer’s tendons are, they transmit a virtual current of movement that transcends all formal and material boundaries. Bodies within the movement, or rather organs within the virtual body of a movement of world — a seamless movement from one world to another — no longer exist, they have been bypassed in the movement’s circuit or, in Deleuze and Guattari’s terms, they have been “de-organ-ized.”  A body without organs “is continually dismantling the organism, causing asignifying particles or pure intensities to pass or circulate, and attributing to itself subjects that it leaves with nothing more than a name as the trace of an intensity” (TP 4). A body, an entity or an organism is but a visibility of an underlying fluid body without organs, much like a perceived image is but a refracted flash of a luminous plane of immanence that bursts in seemingly discrete visible flashes that are merely “traces” of a circulating intensity. We glimpse the shadow of a body without organs in processes of metaphor, metamorphosis and anamorphosis, or movements of worlds, that, like the cinematographic shot within a montage, reveal changes of a whole.

For Foucault a diagram captures this evolving relational movement of forces that constitute power, and for Deleuze the diagram is a map, not of a territory but of a deterritorialization, not of a geographic body but a topological body without organs. Deleuze and Guattari provide a mapping of the deterritorialization and reterritorialization of an orchid and a wasp as an example of a rhizome, an illustration reminiscent of Deleuze’s illustration of a fluctuating whole iced tea that is always ‘dismantling’ its discrete organs and ‘transmitting intensities’ across its constituent elements.

The orchid deterritorializes by forming an image, a tracing of a wasp; but the wasp reterritorializes on that image. The wasp is nevertheless deterritorialized, becoming a piece in the orchid’s reproductive apparatus. But it reterritorializes the orchid by transporting its pollen. Wasp and orchid, as heterogeneous elements, form a rhizome. (TP 10)

Two seemingly discrete bodies are folded into each other through a shared movement of world expressed in the ongoing and interchanging process of deterritorialization and reterritorialization upon a previous deterritorialization, and so on. The rhizome formed between the wasp and orchid is a map, a diagram of relations, that “fosters connections between fields, the removal of blockages of bodies without organs, the maximum opening of bodies without organs onto a plane of consistency” (TP 12). Jerry Lewis’s body and the set are a rhizome; Gene Kelly’s gait and the pavement’s character form a rhizome; the egg, king, machine Humpty Dumpty that is a shattered body fallen from a wall or a shattered wall felled by Humpty-Dumpty’s body is a rhizome. Each forms a map with the other in their respective rhizome, removing organs from the body of a movement of world.

If bodies are at once ‘worlds’ of receptivity and visibility but, as such, necessarily organ-ic, reductive and obstructive compared to bodies without organs, how can Deleuze claim that “what is certain is that believing is no longer believing in another world, or in a transformed world. It is only, it is simply believing in the body” (TI 172)? The concept of the “body without organs” and the rhizome configure the contemplation of a body-with-organs, the body we are asked now to believe in, as a limited actualization or a node of a much greater dynamic field flowing across worlds. Despairingly, Deleuze believes that “the link between man and the world is broken,” and yet metamorphosis, anamorphosis, metaphor, movement of world, rhizomes, wholes, montage all suggest the complete opposite. Is this the despair of the king’s men and horses, who see in the entropy of Humpty-Dumpty’s demise the shattering of not only a whole world-body, but also its connection with the whole world? Yes, the terror of the shattered link and the shattered whole is that of the king’s men and horses, but not of Humpty-Dumpty and Deleuze, both of whom lept from the wall and shattered the imago of a whole body to see the shell shards and earthy rhizome, the (literal) deterritorialization of the body and reterritorialization of the world within it — a mapping of the relations of force between bodies and worlds that would restore this belief through the fractal body. As for the hapless horses and humans, the fall was an intensity, and as we can recall from Difference and Repetition, “it is true that on the path which leads to that which is to be thought, all begins with sensibility. Between the intensive and thought, it is always by means of an intensity that thought comes to us” (DR 144). Bodies without organs transmit intensities, and this intensity was transmitted across the bodies of Humpty Dumpty, its many human and non human avatars, the earth and the assemblage of humans and horses forced to contemplate the body as multiplicity. “Contemplating is creating, the mystery of passive creation, sensation” (WIP 212), and sensation takes place in the body Deleuze asks us to believe in, the body that senses shocks and intensities, pushing our faculties to the limit, and thereby precipitating thought. “When the diagram of power abandons the model of sovereignty in favour of a disciplinary model, when it becomes the ‘bio-power’ or ‘bio-poitics’ of populations, controlling and administering life,” Deleuze tells us in his reading of Foucault, “it is in man himself that we must liberate life, since man himself is a form of imprisonment for man” (F 92). WIth one final return to our well-whipped egg parable, the only thinking subjects of the Humpty-Dumpty tale are the frustrated inter-species fellowship of man and horse, contemplating the shock of a shattered body without organs or yolk in which they believe, just as Deleuze and Humpty-Dumpty would have them do.

More Power, Virtuality, Thought

So I’ve been spending some time with the Power (Strategies or the Non-stratified) chapter of Foucault, and I keep going back and forth between feeling like the debate that we got embroiled in last class (or at least my persistence in it) was super helpful, and thinking it might have been more off-base. On the one hand, I think we touched on some questions that seem exceptionally important, at least to me—in particular some of the nitty-gritty of the relationship of power to knowledge and power’s virtuality/actuality axis. On the other hand, the question of primacy seems relatively secondary, and there are several points at which Deleuze seems almost tempted to back off of it. There’s even a remarkable passage in which he might be ditching it all together, in his discussion of the way in which Foucault’s dualism (in this case between the visible and the articulable) is in fact a “preliminary distribution operating at the heart of a pluralism (83).” Either way, I think part of why our debate was paradoxically useful is because it did an excellent job articulating why it felt so uncomfortable to have primacy and an even heuristic dualism within Deleuze’s thought! Square peg in a round hole indeed!

Anyhow, I do want to discuss a bit more of virtuality and power, because in my reread I think there’s a lot of nuance but also a great amount of detail in Deleuze’s discussion of power and its forces, relations, and affects. There are two bits that come early in the chapter that I want to look at and start to unpack a bit. The first is the relation of power to function, and the second is power’s relationship to the state. “the power to affect is like a function of force.” writes Deleuze, “But it is a pure function, that is to say a non-formalized function, independent of the concrete forms it assumes, the aims it serves, and the means it employs.” Further down the page, discussing the Panopticon, he writes “No account is taken either of the forms which give the function ends and means…or of the formed substances acted upon by the function.”

This seems crucial to understanding the role of power in Deleuze’s work. A few pages earlier, Deleuze says that “power is not a form.” So when power becomes pure function, it is already akin to the Panopticon (and for the record, to the diagram) in the sense that it exists as a structure without particular effects, that is, as Foucault has it, ‘detached from any specific use’ and ‘specified substance. So when power exists in the form of a pure function, it has already begun to pull away from virtuality – it has begun to assume shape, in the abstract terms of the diagram, or the abstract machine itself. It would seem that power does exist without the structure the diagram or pure function gives it, but it is only through the diagram that it can begin to affect.

On the other hand, it is not as though power has become fully actualized. It still remains within the realm of the diagram. Within the diagram “power relations…simultaneously local, unstable, and diffuse, do not emanate form a central point or unique locus of sovereignty, but at each moment move ‘from one point to another’ in a field of forces…they evade all stable forms of the visible and articulable (73).” Later in this same paragraph, Deleuze indicates that these characteristics of power are due to its reference to ‘microphysics,’ cautioning that this means a wholly different dimension or realm, “irreducible to knowledge (74).”

Power, then, is a funny beast. It shares the domain of its existence with concepts like Deleuze’s expanded definition of the Image—both potentially virtual and partially actualized, power is like the two halves of the symbol: one half dipped in the virtual, the other flowing, unstable, into the actual. Finally, like the image, power is always constituted relationally. Power lacks form or essence of it own, but is instead defined by the forces or situations through which it flows.

This relationality is brought out a bit more clearly in Deleuze’s analysis of how power can become integrated, in particular by institutions. For Delueze, relations of force remain without their full power unless they are “carried out” by forms of knowledge. These forms of knowledge participate in a process of integration: “an operation which consists of tracing a ‘line of general force,’ linking, aligning, and homogenizing particular features (75).” This process of integration involved not only forms of knowledge, but institutions, such as the State, the Family, Art and Morality, who are the “agents of stratification.” However, what’s so crucial about these integrating factors is that they are not sources or essences—they are only the networks that “fix” power, not the structures from which power issues. “There is no State, only state power,” writes Deleuze; power is presupposed by the state, and power exceeds it and all institutions.

If we’re going to talk about primacy here, then we can at least say that power has primacy over the institutions that fix it, as power runs through all institutions and, just as importantly, also bubbles up beneath them. Although without institutions of any kind and without forms of knowledge and knowledge relations, power would remain “embryonic,” it is this very lack of structure that gives it the ability to power structures themselves. As Deleuze has it, power is blind and deaf, but robbed of sight and hearing, it is the only thing that can make us see and hear. The power of power, then, comes from its nature to exceed the structures it requires to become influence and actualization, to always flow back out, against, and through the inflexibility of specific structures like the Panopticon or the State.

To give this a little concreteness, there are a lot of analogies that occur to me here, but actually the first one that comes to mind is maybe a little lame, but also kind of satisfying. In the Harry Potter series, Voldemort spends much of his time in an ethereal, bodiless form. He is pure power, that is to say, continually weak, until he finds a structure (actually a few structures) that can give him shape. These structures have varying levels of ability to affect, until Voldemort reaches his final form sometime in the last few books, in which his ethereal form finds a structure that can handle/fix quite a bit of power flowing through it. Structures, institutions and forms of knowledge in the world can fix varying sets of forces and capacities to affect—in large historical terms, Religion is perhaps a structure that has a waning capacity to affect, whereas capitalism has only an ever-increasing influence.

Finally, this links up with the one thing we didn’t end up talking about much in class, which is the Outside. Personally, I was so overwhelmed by the first half of the chapter that I didn’t read the second half near closely enough before our class discussion. But on my re-read, it struck me as perhaps some of the most radical material we’ve seen from Deleuze so far. It reminds me quite a bit of the section on Artuad from Cinema 2, i.e. section 2 of chapter 7, where Deleuze articulates the power of being powerless to think. I don’t have a ton of space left in this journal to gloss the section, but I think the crucial point is that the Outside, like, in a way, the virtual, is the dimension from which mutation and change emerge.

The diagram “stems from the outside,” but is not coextensive with it. Nor does the diagram structurally maintain a connection with the Outside. Instead, it is the forces that traverse the diagram that maintain a connection with the outside. The outside is the realm of Force, and all forces that traverse the diagram maintain a connection with the outside, an irreducible realm in which all forces share. Because the outside lacks stable definition, it appears to be always in flux, and the forces that emerge from it, the composing forces that make up other structures or articulations, are what shift within structures. Structures, according to Deleuze, do not themselves shift, but their composing forces, retaining a connection to the Outside, rearrange, recompose, and reorganize themselves, which in turns alters the composition of the structures. As Deleuze has it: “Emergence, change and mutation affect composing forces, not composed forms.” The “death of Man” occurs because the forces that composed the historical structure of “Man,” have begun to rearrange, giving the forces previously contained by the structure the freedom to find a new arrangement.

This radical potentiality, this freedom of the Outside, is what I find most exciting about this chapter. In particular, the way in which Deleuze defines the Outside in relation to thought is, frankly incredible: “Thinking does not depend on a beautiful interiority that would reunite the visible and the articulable elements, but is carried under the intrusion of an outside that eats into the interval and forces or dismembers the internal.” This seems to me to be the most radical yet detailed and clear conception of the power of Thought that we’ve come across so far. Thought, true thought, the difficult thinking, thought-without-image, etc. is a form of contact with an outside that is uncontained, irreducible, limitless and eternal, and therefore a dimension of radical potentiality, difference and newness. Thought’s power is its contact with that which can reconfigure structures, can reorganize the compositions of forces that are the State or the Panopticon. Thought is contact with a dimension that is unbounded—forms of knowledge or institutions may constitute power and force’s actualization, but the Outside touches thought to the possibility of remaking all that has ever been actualized.

Vitalism and Affection in Foucault’s Method and Power


For Foucault, power does not simply emerge from the top-down, commonly attributed to a sovereign wielding authority over its subjects. Instead, as Deleuze writes in Foucault, power is “less a property than a strategy, and its effects cannot be attributed to an appropriation ‘but to dispositions, manoeuvres, tactics, techniques, and functionings’; ‘it is exercised rather than possessed; it is not the ‘privilege’, acquired or preserved . . . but the overall effect of its strategic positions.” F, 25. Because power is the result of strategic positions and relations, Deleuze and Foucault uses a functional microanalysis to analyze the “possible relations between forces” that constitute power. F, 27. This analysis reveals two key ideas, amongst many. First, power cannot be ‘known,’ it can only be exercised and practiced. Second, because resistance is essential to power, it is possible to develop strategies to resist force. Interestingly, both Foucault’s method and conception of power contain a certain vitalism.

1.  Foucault’s Diagrammic Method

Deleuze identifies two characteristics of Foucault’s thinking and writing. First, Foucault imbues his writing with a unique sense of “gaiety in horror” or a “great joy which is not the ambivalent joy of hatred, but the joy of wanting to destroy whatever mutilates life.” F, 23. Deleuze notes that “Foucault’s book [Disicpline and Punish] is full of a joy and jubilation that blends in with the splendor of its style and the politics of its content.” F, 23 (emphasis added). Here Deleuze implies that the political aim of Foucault is filled with joy and affirmation, a theme reiterated in Deleuze’s other works on Spinoza and Nietzsche. This sheds some light on Foucault’s goals in writing. Second, Foucault “is not content to say that we must rethink certain notions; he does not even say it; he just does it, and in this way proposes new co-ordinates for praxis.” F, 30. Foucault is not just concerned with what or how we think, but how we act or practice. Foucault’s functional microanalysis could be understood within these two aims, a joyous attitude and an emphasis on practice.

Deleuze’s description of Foucault’s methodology is far from formal and rote. Deleuze characterizes Foucault’s methodology as theatrical: “Analysis and illustration go hand in hand, offering us a microphysics of power and a political investment of the body. These illustrations are coloured in on a minutely drawn map.” F, 24. Usually, people understand illustrations and analysis as serving two different goals. Illustrations are creative or interpretive, while analysis is rigorous and objective. Illustrations serve analysis by analogizing or illustrating a principle. For Foucault, illustrations express the effects of analysis. Id. Foucault understands each historical strata as being composed of “visible and articulable features unique to each age which goes beyond any behavior, mentality or set of ideas, since it makes these things possible.” F, 48-49. Foucault’s analysis is meant to show the very functions of power. F, 25 (“Foucault shows that . . . the State itself appears as the overall effect or result of a series of interacting wheels or structures which are located at a completely different level, and which constitute a ‘microphysics of power’”). But how precisely does Foucault show or illustrate power-relations?

Foucault gives us a “new topology [that] no longer locates the origin of power in a privileged place.” F, 26. Foucault describes particular social phenomena in terms of a diagram or a “display of the relations between forces which constitute power . . . .” F, 36. Diagrams also show the distribution of the power to affect and the power to be affected and are the combination of the non-formalized pure functions and unformed pure matter. F, 72-73. The diagram is a map of the various relationships between forces or intensities, which plot out specific points where power circulates and moves through. Id. Both Discipline and Punish and The History of Sexuality discuss two different functions of force. In Discipline and Punish, the Panopticon is a diagram which shows power operating as a function of force aimed at “imposing a particular taste or conduct on a multiplicity of particular individuals” located in a discrete space (like in schools or prison). F, 72. The History of Sexuality discusses the function of administering and controlling life across broader populations. Id. In both diagrams, Foucault illustrates a general form of power or an abstract machine, a machine that is “blind and mute, even though it makes others see and speak.” F, 34.

2.  Power, Knowledge, and Resistance

Foucault defines power as “a relation between forces.” F, 70. Forces are never singular and exist in relation with other forces. Id. (“[F]orce has no other object or subject than force”). Forces imply power relations, insofar that each force has the power to affect others and the capacity to be affected by others. F, 71. Foucault contrasts power with knowledge, which primarily deals with forms. F, 72. Power, on the other hand, passes only through forces. F, 73. But here Foucault is not attempting to argue that there is no relationship between power and knowledge. Instead, Foucault is attempting to show that both power and knowledge are irreducible to the other. Power and knowledge are never free in relation to the other and are linked on “the basis of their difference.” F, 75. The difference between the two depend on their specific roles. Id.   The fundamental difference between knowledge and power constitutes a type of mutual immanence: “[K]nowledge never refers to a subject who is free in relation to a diagram of power, but neither is the latter ever free in relation to the forces of knowledge which actualize it.” F, 74.

Power determines particular features and affects. F, 75. Power is able to both integrate and stabilize relations or particular points, as well as separating or dividing these relationships. Knowledge, on the other hand, creates forms and practices that emerge from the difference between the articulable and the visible. F, 51. Knowledge deals with “formed substances and formalized functions by using the receptive kind of visible element, or the spontaneous kind of articulable element.” F, 77. Power establishes contact “between unformed matter (receptivity) and unformalized functions (spontaneity).” Id. Deleuze terms this space between matter and unformalized functions the outside, or the unformed element of forces, which “stirs up their relations and draws out their diagrams.” F, 43. In contrast to knowledge, the Deleuzian-Foucauldian conception of power seems to be generative, since power seems to be the source of affection as the contact between receptivity and spontaneity.

Power’s emphasis on the affective or embodied is what, in part, allows for resistance. The paradox of power is that “resistance comes first , to the extent that power relations operate completely within the diagram, while resistances necessarily operate in a direct relation with the outside from which the diagrams emerge.” F, 89. The social field, the domain where power relations emerge, creates more resistances than strategies of power. F, 90. This occurs because the diagram of power abandons the “model of sovereignty in favour of a disciplinary model, when it becomes the ‘bio-power’ or ‘bio-politics’ of populations, controlling and administering life. . . .” F, 92. Here life is the new object of power; the sovereign privilege of force is administered in the name of race, space, and population.

But contrary to the Marxian models of power, there is no need to “uphold man in order to resist.” F, 92. Both Foucault and Deleuze do not understand resistance as something men and women wield to overthrow a sovereign power. Resistance means something both deeper and broader: “When power becomes bio-power resistance becomes the power of life, a vital power that cannot be confined within species, environment or the paths of a particular diagram.” Id. Resistance, as a force from outside power, emerges from a certain vitalism that is present in both Foucault’s style of writing and politics. F, 93. Power is necessarily incomplete, according to Foucault, since it depends on the dominated. According to Foucault, power invests in the dominated, “passes through them and with the help of them, relying on them just as they, in their struggle against power, rely on the hold it exerts on them.” F, 28. This is why Foucault believes that every diagram also contains the relatively free and unbounded points of creativity, along with its points of power relationships. F, 44. Similarly, because now power has invested itself into life, life can in turn produce resisting forces to power.

Snarls, Squeaks, Stammers

I am haunted by a rather strange paragraph in What Is Philosophy?, which I find to be the most beautiful passage in the book, but also the most cryptic and mysterious. It is towards the beginning of  “The Plane of Immanence”, and seems to interrupt the continuity of the chapter. At the risk of straying from our seminar’s focus on the Image, I would like to take this chance to meditate on the distinctiveness of this passage, and if not wrest from it any useful meanings, at least marvel at its  crystalline abundance. It follows:

Thinking provokes general indifference. It is a dangerous exercise nevertheless. Indeed, it is only when the dangers become obvious that indifference ceases, but they often remain hidden and barely perceptible, inherent in the enterprise. Precisely because the plane of immanence is prephilosophical and does not immediately take effect with concepts, it implies a sort of groping experimentation and its layout resorts to measures that are not very respectable, rational, or reasonable. These measures belong to the order of dreams, of pathological processes, esoteric experiences, drunkenness, and excess. We head for the horizon, on the plane of immanence, and we return with bloodshot eyes, yet they are the eyes of the mind. Even Descartes had his dream. To think is always to follow the witch’s flight. Take Michaux’s plane if immanence, for example, with its infinite, wild movements and speeds. Usually these measures do not appear in the result, which must be grasped solely in itself and calmly. But the “danger” takes on another meaning: it becomes a case of obvious consequences when pure immanence provokes a strong instinctive disapproval in public opinion, and the nature of the created concepts strengthens this disapproval. This is because one does not think without becoming something else, something that does not think—an animal, a molecule, a particle—and that comes back to thought and revives it. (WIP, 41-42)

The first sentence is the most ambiguous: in whom is indifference provoked, and towards what? In the preceding paragraph, Deleuze and Guattari posit the plane of immanence as pre- or nonphilosophical, which proves to be one of the most important passages in regards to their answer to the title question. As they put it:

Prephilophical does not mean something preexistent but rather something that does not exist outside of philosophy, although philosophy presupposes it. These are its internal conditions. The nonphilosphical is perhaps closer to the heart of philosophy than philosophy itself, and this means that philosophy cannot be content to be understood only philosophically or conceptually, but is addressed essentially to nonphilosophers as well. (ibid., 41)

This introduces to their definition an element which is not reducible to identity (which could thus far be summarized positively as the creation of concepts and the institution of a plane of immanence, and negatively as not contemplation, not reflexion, and not communication). It locates in philosophy an internal difference, a differenciation that leaves it obscure despite having a distinct shape and frontier. Philosophy has an “essential relationship” (ibid., 218) with the chaos through which it cuts.

So what then does it mean to be indifferent, and why is this provoked by thinking? It is interesting that D&G do not find it necessary to qualify ‘thinking” in this instance. I infer, however, that they mean something along the lines of thinking under a dogmatic Image, a thinking that invests itself in finding a refuge from the imposing instability of a world in flux. “We require just a little order to protect us from chaos. Nothing is more distressing than a thought that escapes itself, than ideas that fly off, that disappear hardly formed, already eroded by forgetfulness or precipitated into others that we no longer master” (ibid., 201). Such refuges D&G call “fixed opinions”, attempts to fashion “a little ‘umbrella,’ which protects us from the chaos” (ibid., 202).

Avoiding this indifference can be thought of as the another articulation of project Deleuze laid out in Difference and Repetition: the embrace of difference in itself and repetition for itself, the act of thinking without image. This risks exposure to the aforementioned distress: “It is as if the struggle against chaos does not take place without an affinity with the enemy, because another struggle develops and takes on more importance—the struggle against opinion, which claims to protect us from chaos itself” (ibid., 203).

This brings us to the “groping experimentation” of thinking. D&G go for the grotesque when they try to describe it: “measures that are not very respectable, rational, or reasonable” which “belong to the order of dreams, of pathological processes, esoteric experiences, drunkenness, and excess.” This corresponds to a description later in the chapter of the modern, Nietzchean image of thought. They speak of its “Incapacity…If thought searches, it is less in the manner of someone who searches than a dog that seems to be making uncoordinated leaps” (ibid., 55). Here they reference Artaud and Kleist, for whom “thought begins to exhibit screams, snarls, stammers; it talks in tongues and screams, which leads it to create, or try to” (ibid.).

The reference to Kleist is apposite; a very Deleuzian account of such thinking is given in his two wonderful short texts, “On the Gradual Formation of Thoughts While Speaking” and “On the Theater of the Marionettes”. They crystalize the junction between Deleuze, Bergson, and Kant, seeking to intuit the fractured self. The former begins, “If you want to know something and can’t find it out through meditation, then I advise you, my dear, quick-witted friend, to talk it over with the next acquaintance you happen to meet” (Kleist, Selected Prose of Heinrich von Kleist, 255). Such stimulation provides the necessary start to the process of thought (perception, affection, impulse, action, reflection…), and Kleist describes it so:

…because I have some kind of an obscure inkling that harbors a distant relation to that which I am seeking, if I only utter a first bold beginning, as the words tumble out, the mind will, of necessity, strain to find the fitting ending, to prod that muddled inkling into absolute clarity, such that, to my surprise, before I know it the process of cognition is complete. (ibid., 257)

Kleist concludes, “…it is not we who know, but rather a certain state of mind in us that knows” (ibid., 262).

As an illustration, he recites an anecdote from the French revolution, in which the orator and statesman Mirabeau defied the King’s order for the Estates General to disperse. Kleist comments:

I am convinced that in uttering [his] ordinary opening words, he had not yet conceived of the verbal bayonet thrust…we can see that he does not yet rightly know what he means to say…he went on, and then, suddenly, a rush of heretofore inconceivable concepts rolls off his tongue…and only now does he find the words to express the act of resistance to which his soul stands ready: ‘You can tell your king that we will not leave our seats , save at the point of a bayonet.’ (ibid., 258)

Here we come to what makes thinking dangerous. If we take Kleist’s story at its word, even such an unscrupulous, opinionated politician as the infamous Mirabeau is capable of uncovering from beneath the sheltering Urdoxa the hidden chaos, that is, the virtual potentialities for difference. The “obvious consequences when pure immanence provokes a strong instinctive disapproval in public opinion” becomes something of an understatement.

The last sentence of our paragraph is, in my opinion, the most poetic formulation of Deleuze’s fundamental metaphysical principle of the I fractured by the form of time. It took me quite a long time to appreciate just what Deleuze was getting at, and I found help through an encounter with the latter of the above-mentioned Kleist texts. This essay recounts a dialogue with a famed dancer who enthuses over a makeshift marionette theater. The dancer envies the extraordinarily graceful movements of the puppets, which to him seem to have an advantage over the living.

‘The advantage? First of all, a negative one, my friend, namely that it never strikes an attitude. For attitude, as you well know, arises when the soul (vis motrix) finds itself twisted in a motion other than the one prescribed by its center of gravity. Since, wielding the wire or thread, the machinist simply has no other point at his disposal than this one, all the other bodily articulations are as they should be, dead, pure pendulums, and merely follow the law of gravity; an admirable quality that one may seek in vain among the vast majority of our dancers.

‘…missteps,’ he added as an aside, ‘are unavoidable ever since we ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. But Paradise is bolted shut and the cherub is on our tail; we are obliged to circle the globe and go around to the other side to see if there’s a way back in.’

I laughed—Indeed, I thought to myself, the spirit can’t go wrong if there’s no spirit to begin with. (ibid., 268-269)

We can see in this again the fractured I: a desire of the passive Ego to maintain contact with the I which affects it, the “entire machine of determination and the indeterminate” (Difference and Repetition, 276). To think, I must be an Other, an unthinking other. I will give the last word to Kleist, who writes with the bloodshot eyes of the mind:

‘…just as two lines intersect at one point, and after passing through infinity, suddenly come together again on the other side; or the image on a concave mirror suddenly reappears before us after drawing away into the infinite distance, so, too, does grace return once perception, as it were, has traversed the infinite—such that it simultaneously appears purest in human bodily structures that are either devoid of consciousness or which possess an infinite consciousness, such as the jointed manikin or the god.’ (Kleist, 273)


That there is, ultimately, nothing but images of time for Deleuze necessitates closer attention to the varieties the time-image comes in. If the cinema books seem to map an evolutionary trajectory from “indirect” to “direct” images of time, detailing the movement-image’s supersession by its more temporally-sensitive counterpart—any rubric for hierarchization crumbles once we recognize in movement-image the image of time all along. Insofar as directness and its obverse serve more as generic distinction than metrics for representational accuracy, how might we attend instead to “directness” without connotations of immediacy and privileged access? This is, more than anything, an opportunity for me to revisit the intricacies of D’s argument, to recount for myself what directness means for Deleuze, and to trace it through different aspects of his constellation of concepts.

1. Directness and sensation: “directness” as a way of talking about the sensational in Deleuze

If “what is specific to the image…is to make perceptible, to make visible, relationships of time which cannot be seen in the represented object,” the “pure optical and sound situation” characteristic of the direct time-image intensifies this perceptibility into sensation. Once the motor falls away in the sensory-motor circuit, it is the sensory that remains, an uncoupling that radically changes the nature of perception. No longer, in Bergsonian sense, inseparable from its extension into action, perception is given over to the sensory, the interface with intensity and pure difference that does not congeal into action.

This altered mode of perception (lingering in the excitative, vibrative and energetic—interminable, unceasing excitation) precipitates a “new dimension of subjectivity.” In place of a perceiving living image, we are given a sensing one, a subjectivity that “takes on a new sense, which is no longer motor or material, but temporal and spiritual: that which ‘is added’ to matter, not what distends it.” No longer is the interface between the two systems of images (living image vs universal variation) that of mutual distortion and accomodation, at least in the sense of a curvature in universal variation to accommodate the perspectivalism of living image. Instead, sensing subjectivity, the new “living image,” is both overpresent—added to matter (without diminishing?)—and markedly absent—no longer capable of distending the fabric of universal variation or leaving its previous material mark.

Directness, then, becomes a way of characterizing the tension between these two systems of images, brought into closer but irreconcilable proximity under the regime of the time-image. With the loss of the action-image, the living image is made even more to resemble one image among others, receiving and executing movement in all directions (movement unrecognizable as “action”). (Could the sense of miredness and immobilization in the time-image might be traced back to the fundamental incompatibility between this “double regime of reference of images”? Rendering the tension between Bergson’s two regimes of images sensible, such that those who encounter the time-image are made to inhabit this incompatibility, might account for collapse of sensory-motor.) Yet, as I will argue later, there is also an insistence in second cinema book on this amorphousness being narrated from within——a radical empiricism that seeks an experience of time/distended duration from inside (an opsign, for instance). Deleuze’s radical empiricism becomes an answer to, or complication of, phenomenology’s , an experiment in how to talk about the sense experience of a subject after the dissolution of these subjective contours (“subject” as merely one image among others—operating in a receptive rather than animating capacity). This is the experience of discovering “self” as little more than an accident of position, an epiphenomenon of “the phenomenon of the gap, or interval between a received and an executed movement.”

I haven’t quite figured out how to read sensation across the cinema books and Deleuze’s other works, though I think I can say his preoccupation with the intersection of art and philosophy (and the imagistic?) takes direction from a curiosity in the shape philosophical projects take when they use sensation as a departure point. Deleuze’s preoccupation with thought’s origination in sensation seems to take an empiricist turn, retracing the origination of thought to sense-experience. If thought’s genesis in a chain of transmission of violence between faculties otherwise uncoordinated, the ripple of intensity passes from sensibility (brought to its limit) onwards, to imagination to memory and then to understanding. “The privilege of sensibility as origin (of thought) appears in the fact that, in an encounter, what forces sensation and that which can only be sensed are one and the same thing, whereas in the other two cases (imagination and memory) the two instances are distinct. In effect, the intensive or difference in intensity is at once both the object of the encounter and the object to which the encounter raises sensibility.” (D&R, 145) Whereas imagination and memory, each carried to their constitutive limit, must ultimately take recourse to consolidated forms (the “forgotten thing appears in person,” for instance, to the memorandum), such that the object that precipitates the break/encounter and the object that intervenes on the faculty’s behalf are never one and the same, sensation’s empirical and transcendent functions are much closer in kind. Sensation becomes an exceptional case of a faculty’s transcendental exercise, “which insists that what can only be (recalled, imagined) should also be empirically impossible to (recall, imagine).” (D&R, 140) The [opposition] of the transcendental to the empirical—transcendent exercise of faculties intervenes where the empirical encounters its own limit—begins to break down when everything feels like a limit case.

Perhaps a reckless but potentially useful overstatement of this: any sensation bears the potential for disruption (and thus transcendent exercise) of faculties because sensation itself is always a limit case, an encounter with intensity as pure difference. Whereas the model of subtractive perception/translation of sensory into motor makes certain assumptions about the cooperation of faculties responsible for apprehending an object—such that there will be consensus regarding the utility of certain bits of sensory data as opposed to others—sensibility at its most transcendent thwarts recognition, representation.

Immersive sensation makes available a conception and experience of temporality different from the one that inheres in movement/action executed in space. Insofar as each temporal trajectory is traced out by extension of perception into an action-version of time subordinated to movement, sensation is remains gravid with the possibilities prior to perception’s diminishment of sensory data. Herein lies the potentiality of sensation: its condensation of multiple and infinitely proliferating temporalities, its cultivation of mutually exclusive timelines/realities (fracturing of causality into incompossible)

As both counterpoint and complement to the proliferative temporality of sensation, Deleuze also deploys th elanguage of return and preservation when talking about sensation. Post-action-image, we find ourselves in the realm of protracted intervals and recursive beginnings—sensory data that cannot be pared down into blueprints for movement, energy that can no longer be efficiently displaced onto/rerouted into action. “Sensation contracts the vibrations of the stimulant on a nervous system or in a cerebral volume: what comes before has not yet disappeared when what follows appears.” (WIP 211) The syncopated rhythm of sensation, which elicits a response that is always overtaking/rebounding onto the excitation that occasions it, forms a feedback loop that the sensory-motor schema’s orderly extension of perception into action precludes. The language of preservation, of retention and persistence, running throughout the treatment of sensation as contraction (in WIP) frames sensibility as an endless return to an originary(?) impulse, each time with a different outcome. The interminable cycle of contractive “enjoyment” and “self-enjoyment,” then, necessarily brings into conjunction multiple temporal layers. “Contraction is not an action, but a pure passion, a contemplation that preserves the before in the after.” (WIP 212) If perception>action might be considered fundamentally entropic (the taming and dissipation of energy into discrete actions), sensation’s perdurability and preservative power(?) lasts by turning inward, “contracting that which matter dissipates, or radiates, furthers, reflects, refracts, or converts.”

2. Directness and identification: “directness” as a way of talking about the identificatory? in Deleuze

In the movement-image regime, subjecthood at its most attenuated—centers of indetermination, in which “living images” become distinct from other images—surface in the fleeting interval between received movement and its execution. The movement-image leaves little room for even this watered down “subject”: when montage is accelerated (the efficiency of the sensory-motor schema to produce linkages is dialed up), the first thing to go is the “interval between actions.” In this sense, centers of indetermination are always already under erasure in the universe of movement-images.

I would argue that there is a return of sorts to the living image, the intermediary between received and executed movement, in the wake of the sensory motor schema’s collapse. Insofar as the time-image might be analogized to an expansion of the interval, such that there is nothing left but affection-image and the hesitation between perception and action, [subjectivity] becomes all there is. The paradox, of course, is that it is precisely this re-privileging of the living image that [sets up the] conditions for the “fractured I” and that makes impossible the image’s relation to an encompassing “whole.” If the subject under the regime of movement-image, as “center of indetermination in an acentered universe of movement-images,” could still have some semblance of internal consistency spatially understood in relation to other acting/reacting bodies around it (and as part of an all-encompassing, if constantly evolving, whole), the turn to sensation in the opsign precludes this sense of belonging to a set. Sensation cannot be deduced from outside or between images the way totality though montage can—must be encountered (position in whole relinquished to immersive interiority—no extensity).

Insofar as Deleuze’s treatment of the time-image inherits a set of empiricist concerns, the unit of analysis remains experience as filtered through subject, however attenuated. Deleuze identifies a new paradigm of identification in his turn to the time-image. In the cinema of movement-images, “the characters themselves reacted to situations…what the viewer perceived therefore was a sensory-motor image in which he took a greater or lesser part by identification with the characters. But now that the identification is actually inverted: the character has become a kind of viewer.” (A few pages later: “The important thing is always that the character or the viewer, and the two together, become visionaries.”) The conceit of actants become voyeurs, characters unable to act or immersed im situations that have suddenly become sensorially overwhelming and unbearable, strangely translates the time-image and Deleuze’s metaphysics of time into a lived experience within the diegetic fabric of films. The distintegration of the sensory-motor schema not only [informs] the film’s formal aesthetics, but becomes literalized/thematized, as though this “new dimension of subjectivity”—the fractured I—were somehow being modeled on screen. If the movement image’s capacity for extracting movement from its constituent elements (“the movement of movement”) depended on identification with the camera’s movement (the filmic mechanism), here identification with the human, the embodied onscreen seems strangely foregrounded.

That viewer and character must inhabit the sensorial in the time-image in tandem is an aspect I find puzzling in Deleuze’s account of the time-image. I will say that it is properly Deleuzian in the sense that it does not so much [model] identification (retaining sense of distinctiveness of between self and other one is aligning oneself with) as a version of over-identification (self and character collapsed into one viewer, indiscernable from one another). This may be the closest we’ve come to an account of the viewer/film dynamic.

The Refracted and Fractal “I”


Between Cinema I: The Movement Image, Cinema 2: The Time Image, and What is Philosophy, Deleuze elaborates an image of time, which he articulates through a variety of spatial metaphors encompassing facets, holes, contours, peaks and planes that inevitably not only connect but flow fluidly through each other. Generally speaking, Deleuze arrives at a formulation by literally ascribing a multi-dimensional and processually evolving form to relationships of concepts across, or rather, through time. To perpetuate Deleuze’s spatializing metaphor of time, we can imagine the movement-image as an inclinator (a type of elevator that can move horizontally and diagonally) that travels along the ‘contours’ of a plane of immanence, opening its sensory-motor doors onto minute ‘shots’ of a virtual plane of related images that we perceive and actuate through perception-images and action-images. With the time-image, however, the sensory-motor inclinator operates more like Willy Wonka’s glass elevator, or “Wonkavator,” that can move “up and down, sidways, slantways, and any other way you can think of” across layered planes of immanence, along the infinitely variable shafts of time. Recollection-images are the buttons that mobilize our movements across planes, and each ‘floor’ is a layer of a concept that connects all past images of said concept with their present and parallel peaks. As Deleuze explains in his repeated critiques of the cogito’s “I think therefore I am” rendering of the self, an “I” is always a concept and as such, according to Deleuze’s own architecture of concepts penetrating across sheets of time, this “I” is always a multiplicity. Or, in cinematic terms, a conceptual “I” is always a montage of laminated shots and component images. His elaboration of an “I” that projects onto multiple sheets of time – like an image projected onto multiply layered diaphanous screens superimposed upon one another – can only be conceived as a whole that is open, and without end.

Why, then, when describing “the dissimilar in the pure form of time” that constitutes “transcendent memory” in Difference and Repetition, does Deleuze delineate “an I fractured by this form of time” (DR 144)? How does the “fractured I” gel with the conceptual “I” that spreads across the time-image, that undergoes “metamorphosis” across concepts, people and things in the movement of world? Does not the idea of an “I” that is capable of being “fractured” either presuppose or entail a whole “I” that was or will be discrete? How does this differ or repeat the post-lapsarian fantasy of a whole “I” much contemplated by his intellectual forbears, along other planes of immanence? Shouldn’t Deleuze describe a fractal ‘I’ not a fractured ‘I’?

The “fractured I” that Deleuze describes evokes what I would call a “post lapsarian fantasy” of a once coherent whole riven by a fall from purity. In the case of social theory and philosophy, particularly of Kant, Hegel (see footnote 1), Lukács, and Lacan (see footnote 2), the whole constitutes the conceptually cohesive conceptualized “I” that is fragmented, fractured and fissured as it becomes social. Desire – for a thing, for recognition, for illusory and impossible wholeness, for communicative commensuration, in other words, for belonging – is always ecstatic, both emotionally and in its external orientation towards that which is outside, or Other. Deleuze describes this Other “not as another subject but rather the subject who becomes an other” (WIP 32). This first gap between a subject-self and subject-other maps onto the gap of necessity and desire, our original ‘lack’ (in Hegel and Kant’s formulation), that provoked our earliest agency and, in retribution for our profane insurrection, the (spiritual and philosophical) gods responded to by reifying our acts of violating wholes into the shattering of the respective unified world-bodies. This is true of the Eden and Aristophanes parables the aforementioned theorists mobilize and metaphorize into their theories of sociality-as-whole-splitters. The postlapsarian worlds that ensue are fated to unfulfilled nostalgia writ in the discrepancy between total and partial, ideal and actual, necessity and desire, monad and dyad, subject and object, and are rectifiable only in the telos-myth of reintegration. How, whether and by what poignant means we put the pieces back together, how we manage the agony of ecstasy (in all senses of the words) comprises the theoretical genome pervading the aforementioned authors’ respective projects. Deleuze’s designation of his conceptual “I” as a “fractured” one runs the risk of imputing an original or teleogical closable one-ness: only something once whole can be fractured, and fracturing implies potential reintegration. Continue reading

Reading Deleuze from the Ground Up

In these journals, I would like to continue the work that I began in my initial discussion post dealing with the work of the cartoonist Chris Ware as it pertains to Deleuze’s writing on time, thought, and the image. I do not know, precisely, that I am using Ware to explain Deleuze, or, conversely, that I am using Deleuze to explain Ware. Either method would likely be reductive. Rather, I hope that these journals will generate a new understanding of comics as a medium, its structure and, more importantly, its possibilities, particularly in the modes of the ethical and the political. At the same time, I hope that the application of Deleuzian models of thought will enhance my personal understanding of his work. With these twin goals in mind, I will use Ware’s Building Stories (2011) as my primary testing ground, with occasional recourse to Ware’s other works, like Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (2000), and perhaps older experimental comics such as George Herriman’s Krazy Kat (1913-1944).

The question that concerns me most, in relating Difference and Representation to Cinema 2, is the question of how the Image of Thought (and, necessarily, the Thought without Image) relates to Deleuze’s metaphysics of Time. What is the structure of time, such as it relates to the production of real difference—a difference that also seems to be a repetition that appears, in an illusory form, only as resemblance, identity, analogy, representation, and the negative (Difference and Repetition 265-267)? It is through thought, it seems, that difference is grasped, or sensed, but in a form that exceeds ‘faculties’ like memory, imagination, and intelligence—or, rather, thought is born of the instant when the encounter tears apart any unity between the faculties, and takes each to the edge of its ability. How does this happen? It must, it seems, be related to how time is conceived (or preconceived), because each of the faculties seem to correspond with an attempt to locate the self within time. Memory represents to the self the I of the past, while intelligence is applied to grasp at the present, and imagination produces possible futures. But in all these conceptions, the unity of the self is presupposed, as is the ability of the self to order itself within time. Deleuze, rather, is pursuing something else, a kind of something that does not presume an ordered and unitary self that moves through an ordered and unitary time—whether circular or linear—but that is fragmented, fractured, and only comes into being through its contingent, chaotic encounters throughout space and time.

“We seek the truth only within time, constrained and forced,” Deleuze writes in Proust and Signs (97). But we know time only by presupposing the I that moves through it. In the case of both the Platonic (or Viconian) circular time, and the Kantian linear time, we maintain our stability through representation, analogy, identity, and similarity. These elements form the “ground” that covers over difference and buries it within its own substance. The ground, Deleuze writes in Difference and Repetition, is a tripartite structure formed of Identity, Resemblance, and Simulacra. The same or identical is that which is the only thing that possesses itself: “What it is, and what it possesses, it is and it possesses primarily, in the utmost. What, apart from Courage, would be courageous, or virtuous apart from Virtue?” (272). In other words, courage and virtue are among those things that are identical only to themselves, that are inhabited and can be claimed only by themselves. When a person says, “I am virtuous,” or “I am courageous,” it is an appeal to the second part of the structure, Resemblance. This claim of resemblance “is always a claim or an ‘image’ that requires a ground or appeals to a ground […] Each well-grounded image or claim is called a representation, since the first in the order of claims is still second in itself in relation to the foundation. It is in this sense that Ideas inaugurate or ground the world of representation” (272). Resemblance is thus one step removed from its transcendental ground, the unified idea of courage upon which it stakes its claim, yet it can be claimed only because of that presupposed and inaccessible ground. Finally, there are also Simulacra, “the rebellious images which lack resemblance” (272). These, Deleuze writes, “are eliminated, rejected and denounced as ungrounded, false claimants” (272). It seems, however, that this is precisely the sign of difference, of the ungrounded that destabilizes the image(s) of thought that cannot account for it. This is also why Deleuze says that stupidity, not error, is the enemy of learning; because error is productive, and marks the return of difference. Deleuze rails against a philosophy that finds in the simulacra only the negative, or an antithesis to be incorporated into a Whole, because they encounter difference only as an obstacle to be surmounted, to be subsumed by repetition. Rather, it is not difference in repetition but the repetition of difference that seems to give form to history and time. “It is as if repetition were never the repetition of the ‘same’ but always of the Different as such, and the object of difference in itself were repetition” (256).

Yet the question remains: how does this bear upon time and its image? Deleuze gives the ground a temporal as well as an ideal dimension: To ground is “to represent the present—in other words, to make the present arrive and pass within representation (finite or infinite). The ground then appears as an immemorial Memory or pure past, a past which itself was never present but which causes the present to pass, and in relation to which all the presents coexist in a circle” (273-74). This image is particularly intriguing when one thinks of the work of Chris Ware, but I want to bypass that for now and continue along this line of thought. The point is that such a conception of time still invokes representation, still covers over difference because it proceeds along points, in memory, or in a mythical circling, that precede the encounter itself, and denies the division between the I that has happened and the I that is happening. To grasp hold, somehow, of this fracture, which is not an absence but a site of productive difference, seems to be the location, or the temporality, of the image without thought:

It is this form of time which distributes throughout itself an I fractured by the abstract line, a passive self produced by a groundlessness that it contemplates. It is this which engenders thought within thought, for thought thinks only by means of difference, around this point of ungrounding (276).

For Deleuze, it is not representation that orients us within time but his interpretation of Nietzsche’s eternal return: a repetition that is only the repetition of difference. “Time,” he writes, “must be understood and lived as out of joint” (298). This pure form of time is structured only by the singular intensities and multiplicities that emerge within it; it is the only guarantee of time itself.

As it turns out, I have left myself without the space or time necessary to include anything but a cursory mention of comics in this journal entry.  Nor have I been able to find the ethical implications of this investigation, so far as it stands. I hope, in future entries, to return to those subjects. They are, I think, integral to my development as a scholar. So, at this point I would like to simply end with a question rather than an assertion. The question I want to end with: Deleuze seeks the ungrounded thought without image, a mode of inquiry that begins with something like the interrogative: is-God rather than God-is or God-being. Deleuze himself describes a thought without image as “solipsistic” and “an essentially amnesiac narcissistic ego.” Yet he also writes of a plane of immanence that is always becoming, always growing with intensities and mutations. But if this is so, if every presupposition must be resisted, how can any structure be built upon, or any seed germinate? Deleuze says, “it’s multiplicities that fill the field of immanence, rather as tribes fill the desert without it ceasing to be a desert” (Negotiations 146), but are these to be nomadic tribes, constantly scrounging for a meager subsistence, always on the move and without any permanent shelter, any way to organize their own existence? If so, it’s a bleak proposition, though perhaps this fear and disorientation I feel at such an idea says more about my own image of thought than it does about Deleuze’s. Or, maybe, it is less a matter of abandoning any permanent structure than it is of historicizing it, of bearing in mind its contingency and the particular forms of deviant simulacra it has denounced in order to appear as it does. If this is the case, it seems to indicate a sort of tactical philosophy, which may indeed be a philosophy of life and affirmation.