Frame of Mind

It is exceedingly rare to find any firsts in Deleuze. Or seconds, or thirds for that matter. Some concepts have ‘priority’ in thought, such as the articulable before the visible, but the relationship is otherwise dialectical. Deleuze cites Peirce’s theory of firstness, secondness and thirdness, but even Peirce admits that each folds into the other levels. It came as a surprise, then, to read Deleuze’s categorical assertion, “Art begins not with flesh but with the house. That is why architecture is the first of the arts” (WIP 186). Architecture is both a beginning and a first–that’s a first. Deleuze’s concepts typically evade any teleological or causal capture: concepts, images, affects and percepts are diffusely distributed along undulating and laminated planes of immanence, composition and reference; sections cut across these planes, revealing bursts or snap-shots of momentary interpenetration amongst images/concepts/affects traversing space-time. Such a dynamic cosmos is paradigmatically a-centric. The rhizome has no beginning nor end, just perpetual middleness. The closest Deleuze otherwise comes to an origin is in chaos, the outside, which always intrudes not in the beginning of something, but in the interstice outside and between frames. Deleuze would not agree, “in the beginning there was only chaos,” he would contend that “in the middle there is only chaos,” and it is the spirit of Art to ‘take a bit’ of that chaos and inscribe it, freeze it, into a “frame of order to form a composed chaos that becomes sensory” (WIP 206). Philosophy and Science also biopsy chaos, capture it in their own epistemological glass slide and, through the frames of their respective planes of thought, conjecture a chaosmos out of ordering concepts, affects and functions.

Why does architecture enjoy such primacy in Art for Deleuze? Deleuze explains that because “it endlessly produces and joins up planes and sections” (186) architecture is defined by ‘frames’: windows, doors, ground, roof, and walls, all of which have provided frames for the installation, application or hanging of art. Frames within frames. Yet, Deleuze also values cinema for its frames, its movement of frames and the relations it catalyzes amongst its many rapidly sequenced frames. Architecture frames inside the frames of the cinematic image too, as in the films of Ozu or Wong Kar Wai. For that matter, however, as mentioned in a preceding quote, all art frames samplings of chaos, as does Philosophy and Science. Perceptions, affections and sensations are themselves, frames, too. What explains Deleuze’s frame of mind? How can architecture assume primacy in this art of framing? And, if it indeed does, why is it that Deleuze seldom considers the “out-of-frame” of the picture frame, the movie frame, or the window frame that is always constituted by larger volumes of architectural framing and the relationships this fosters between the art-frame and the cosmos beyond and between?  Architecture provides nested and laminated framings: not like the proximate borders of a triptych, but the choir, cathedral, gallery or showroom delineating a diagram with it and all the other human and nonhuman actors its contours enframe. I argue Deleuze’s frame of mindset fixates on the relational, and that, for Deleuze, what is important is less that frames circumscribe paintings, surfaces, video projections, perceptions and desktops, than that such misleading discreteness negatively frames a universal space of betweenness and interstice, opening up figures and contents to the admission of immanent relationality, and thus the changing of the whole.

Deleuze’s analysis of the out-of-field provides an indirect analytical framework for contemplating the work of frames in architecture. Deleuze argues that cinema proves that “the frame ensures a deterritorialisation of the image” (MI 15). Any phenomenon that can be captured within a cinematic frame, be it a cascading tear-drop rippling across gigantically magnified pores or the largest entity on earth, the pacific ocean, as seen through a lens on an Apollo spacecraft, will share a common datum of measurement that will invite relations that otherwise do not share a “denominator of distance, relief or light” (MI 15): the screen. Such images are deterritorialized from their original contexts and scale, and reterritorialized into the framing of the screen and the montaged sequence of shots. Just as Deleuze and Guattari, in A Thousand Plateuas, explain how a wasp and an orchid deterritorialize and reterritorialize each other as the wasp extracts sustenance from the orchid and the orchid replicates through the wasp’s deposits, forming a rhizome or a body without organs, so do the cinematic images and the montaged film deterritorialize in the frame of the screen and then reterritorialiaze in the screen-frame that pollinates the movie palace and its spectators. Deleuze tells us “doors, windows, box office windows, skylights, car windows, mirrors, are all frames in frames” (MI 14) and it is by “this dovetailing of frames that the parts of the set…are separated, but also converge and are reunited.” Framing determines an out-of-field, and this out-of-field determines yet a larger frame, or a larger set. And thus, Deleuze identifies two types of the out-of-field: one is that which exists outside the frame between proximal or emanating frames, and the other is the virtual relation to a whole that is always open.

Returning to the possible architecture that exists before and around the screen, let us consider the first out-of-field scenario. How does the out-of-field of the screen deteritorrialize the film in the frame and visa versa? Consider the same film in two architectural frames: the 2006 film Snakes on a Plane projected in the Pantages Movie Palace in Hollywood and the same film projected in-flight on a plane. Both Snakes-on-a-Plane hybrid space would become differently: the first would likely add legitimacy to an otherwise inscrutably awful film, provoking an affective flow across the human observers and the rococo-revival, gilt ornamental proscenium framing the screen, while no airline would agree to show the film in transit. When Fight Club was aired on Virgin Atlantic, the airline included a separate inset disclaimer at every seat warning passengers that the film contained “a brief but graphic plane crash.” Just as a sugar cube dissolving into a glass of ice tea illustrates, for Deleuze, the nature of a whole, that is constantly changing throughout the relational dynamics of its constituent parts, we can imagine two very different bodies-without-organs emerging from the flow of affects across frames within a screen and the screen within the framing architecture and constituent human and nonhuman agents in this example. The rhizome of these two architectural framings of the frames-within-frames would flow through the imaginary of an entire Snakes-on-a-Plane public, immanently contingent upon the other framing architectures and constituents agents (themselves frames) that comprise the Snakes-on-a-Plane-Plane. As Paul Klee observed, in Art “the people are always missing” because they will always emerge out-of-field, outside the art-frame and immanently depend upon the context of the architecture and other bodies that will deteritorrialize and reterritorialize the art figures.  

In What is Philosophy?, Deleuze describes flesh, the house and the cosmos  as frames within frames, passing from the finite to the infinite. Flesh is a framing organ through which sensation passes and becomes. Sensation is the process of becoming of a plant or animal as it becomes-other, as a force or movement passes across bodies, transferring a rhythm through the ‘vibration’ of sensation. Flesh only reads this becoming, or acts as its “thermometer” (179), but never actually constitutes sensation, which is always a flowing bloc of affects and percepts made ‘visible’ through the flesh. The forces of sensation moving across bodies, making a human-nonhuman becoming of the subject in an environment, and visa versa, is captured in Bacon’s blurred and spasmodic figures. In these distorted swirls or ‘fused’ and “broken tones” (179), the pigments of the depicted figure flow and blend into those of the contour, the house and the field. Herein lies painting’s “eternal object” (180), the rendering visible of invisible forces, like sensation. But, as Deleuze sees in Bacon’s paintings, these sensational forces are expressed in the smeared streaks of flesh as becomings of figure, field and contour, or in other words, flesh, house and cosmos in a “zone of indiscernibility, that is common to several forms, irreducible to any of them” (LOS 50). The figure and the contour are not transforming into each other but deforming into each other as they become by ‘escaping’ their respective forms, just as the image of a wasp-territory is deterritorialized into the wasp-orchid rhizome, or how the cinematic image is deterritorialiazed in the screen-frame. In short, the architecture of the frame — as contour, as house, as screen, as picture frame — mediates between the figure, flesh or image within it and the cosmos, or chaosmos, beyond it but, despite its appearance, does not delineate an intransigent boundary. Sensation — blocs of affects and percepts — act as forces that flow among cosmos, house and flesh as man’s ‘nonhuman becomings,’ where the “ambiguous house” architecture “exchanges and adjusts them, makes them whirl around like winds” ( WIP 183). To return to a previous example by way of illustration, the framing of Snakes-on-a-Plane on-a-plane, both deforms the images within it to the framing headrest before you, which as they pass beyond to the subsequent frame of the plane’s interior, the clouds streaking through yet other framing windows at 700mph, begins to deform all the bodies together into a body without organs whose anatomy consists of cinematic plane images, and plane images, cinematic images of snakes in overhead compartments, and overhead compartments with virtual contents, the screaming face of Samuel L Jackson and the raised pores and flushed pigments of the passenger gripping an armrest as the force of sensation courses through the rhizome.

bacon 50


To conclude with a final illustration of architecture as the frame around dovetailing frames, let’s briefly consider the curation of Bacon’s Figure with Meat in gallery 389. Following Deleuze’s analysis, we can see how the seated figure and the flanking flanks of beef that are its attendants have a triptych-like relation of form, hue and geometry together. The figure is seated between the attendant meat and is framed by the white outline of a room’s edges, whose surfaces disappear into a field of black. The hues of the flesh and fat in the attending meat, the hues of the black field, the white of the architecture’s outline all converge, fuse and confuse into a zone of indeterminacy at the exact center of the painting, where the figures head dissolves into the meat and the shadowy field between the two slabs. If we zoom out of the painting, we find ourselves in gallery 389, a third floor corridor at the modern wing of the Art Institute. There are no shadows here. Renzo Piano’s “cloud,” the large brise soleil filtering northern light into the gallery from above neutralizes all shadow. But the whites of the rooms contours, of the meat’s ribs, of the figure’s dissolving, screaming face transmit a rhythm beyond the picture-frame. Further down the hallway, immediately to the left of the painting, a wall of glazing frames another figure: Frank Gehry’s Pritzker


Pavilion. Seen at night, the bending, layered, fragmented petals of stainless steel comprising the bandshell are illuminated with reds and purples. The stage walls within the frame of the bandshell are wood, however, and illuminated with an intense magenta, which make the entire composition appear like a giant screaming mouth, the red tongue belting the evening’s music as the face explodes into the bandshell’s confetti-like form. The resemblance could be called uncanny, but Deleuze does not dally in the uncanny. This is a body without organs, where each component is a framed organ and yet not “organised” into discrete entities because the frames fold into each other and harmonize with figure and flesh, color and cosmos. In this “haptic vision,” seen through the framing spectacles of architecture, the “armature, Figure, and contour” of the Bacon painting as well as of the AIC and Pritzker Pavilion “communicate and converge in color” (LOS 122).

 gehry 1 p3

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.

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

‘Stumbling’ through Hyde Park

I am a sensible anthropologist-architect thinking about the built environment in Hyde Park, generally, at the University of Chicago, specifically. This paper will parse this banal encapsulation of my virtual self — which is a non-body — into its differnciated incarnation, both in matter and, now, language. This first journal entry will hold up a mirror representing myself as architect-anthropologist-in-Hyde-Park, standing before another mirror reflecting this reflection; this second mirror is Deleuze’s theories, the one that distributes a singular form across infinite virtual forms (reflections on virtual mirrors), simulating a multiplicity that exists behind Cartesian space and time. “There is more in heaven and earth,” and Hyde Park, “than is dreamt of in our Philosophy,” to repeat, differentially, Hamlet’s musing to Horatio. This essay plucks several of Deleuze’s arrow from the midway and, pointing it the general direction of the University’s architecture, fires questions and thoughts regarding novelty, translation, the involuntary, and erotics at its sundry forms. To what plane of architectonic thinking do these structures extend from? How is space-time folded in the indexical and mnemonic relations amongst these structures, and through my experience of them? How are projects under construction and those only anticipated correspond with this plane of immanence?

Two central concerns addressed in this course (in Hyde Park) thus far are: one, Deleuze’s exploration of the immanent relationship between art and philosophy and, two, his exposition of philosophical morphogenesis, or the study of how forms come into being. Our discussions have unfolded in Cobb Hall, a renovated Gothic Revival building constructed early in the University’s history when its administrators and benefactors decided to repeat, with some key differences, the Gothic forms of Oxbridge and Ivy League architecture. Since the 11th century, Gothic forms have been commonly associated with the scholastic and the ecclesiastical; it is an image of the architecture within which thought — in ‘the west’ — is doxically expected to occur. Almost equidistant from Cobb hall, but in opposite directions, stand two more contemporary structures separated in (machine) time by a generation: Mies van der Rohe’s 1965 School of Social Services building, to the South, and Studio Gang’s design for the new residence halls, under construction precisely six blocks to the north. The former is a three story edifice clad in a series of identical, repetitive vertical elements that alternate consistently between column and mullion, in between which spans large panes of glass. This is a modernized classical form: like that of the Stoa of

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School of Social Service, by Mies van der Rohe

Atalos or other Greek trabeated colonnades, which repeat a consistent interval of columns and bays around the perimeter of a building. However, it is flamboyantly (second Chicago school) modernist in its minimalization of the structural elements and expression of its steel structure. Studio Gang’s design is a dramatically larger complex of low and mid rise structures the facades of which are, similarly, articulated in repeated columns and bays, extending between 5 and 14 stories in height. Again, the ‘image’ of an Agora with serial colonnade surfaces reappears, but in noticeably transformed iterations that both reference and differentiate themselves from the Stoa and Mies’s building. All columns (which are in fact identical to the to the others) are clad in panels of varying widths that appear to twist 180 degrees along their vertical axes. The bays between each column along each structure also appear different: a repetition of difference. This columnar cladding provides the illusion that each column undulates up and down the facade, serially, creating irregular shaped bays when, in fact, each window is actually square. Both Mies and Gang were and are, like the best of their contemporaries, impelled towards morphological innovation, the mandate to create a recognizably ‘new’ architecture for a ‘new’ context that the existing neo-Gothic fabric of the campus only enunciates through contrast. What “nonphilosophical understanding,” which Deleuze gleans from Art, can this formal juxtapositioning and temporal interconnectedness reveal?

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University of Chicago Residence Halls, Studio Gang

The emergence of the Mies – Cobb – Gang triad differnciates ideas into incarnate form. I hesitate to bracket or presume to recognize any single idea, because, as Deleuze argues, ideas are themselves tripartite, distributed across the vertices of extension, intension and the virtual. The buildings are instantiations, or extensivities, of underlying thought, and their singular formal articulations are outbursts of something pre-image, pre-architectonic that is virtual. In their extensive, materially constructed forms that we now experience, they are generative in our thoughts and embodied experience as we move through and around them. I, as an architect- anthropologist, am obviously more consciously biased to what Benjamin would describe as the temporal constellations of the “dialectical image” that the University is continually populating, a cosmos linking the intensions that manifest in such repeated yet different extensions:

It’s not that what is past casts its light on what is present, or what is present its light on the past; rather, image is that wherein what has been comes together in a flash with the now to form a constellation. In other words, image is dialectics at a standstill. For while the relation of the present to the past is a purely temporal, continuous one, the relation of what-has-been to the now is dialectical: is not progression but image, suddenly emergent.  

Deleuze would resist the bracketing of such interactive dynamics across space time in the form of the dialectic. And, conscious or no, the potentiality of these relations across space-time ‘fold’ through the triadic structure of the concept. “Affects, percepts and concepts are three inseparable forces, running from art into philosophy and from philosophy into art.” Percepts and affects are two dimensions of the concept, the former are “packets of perception that live beyond whoever experiences them” and the latter “becomings that spill over beyond whoever lives through them.” The Mies | Cobb | Gang buildings are points along a differential equation, to use Deleuze’s choice calculus imagery, or architectural knots on the fold of a deeper plane that pass through our perceptions and experiences of them in the forms of affects and percepts.

I am trepidatious about making too strong an association with Deleuze’s ontological claims on difference and repetition and the manifestation of difference and repetition amongst, first, buildings defined by repetitive colonnaded facades and, second, within even a single facade, like the Gang complex. Deleuze’s concept of ‘the fold’ has been directly transduced into many folding, continuous architectural surfaces by the architectural progeny of the 1968 coterie of thinkers and artists, of which UN Studio’s Mercedes Museum, the ‘Changing Room’ for the Venice Biennale, and Villa NM are the most exemplary instances. And yet, Deleuze himself refers to artistic work of the Baroque that shares a common, almost metaphorical formal similitude to his and Leibniz’s conceptualization of folding. “Everything folds, unfolds, enfolds in Leibniz; it’s in the folds of things that one perceives, and the world is enfolded in each soul, which unfolds this or that region of it according to the order of space and time.” This folding happens through percept and

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UN Studio, “Changing Room” at the Venice Biennale for Architecture

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UN Studio, House NM

affect as we circulate among the Mies | Cobb | Gang structures. Deleuze argues that “the baroque carries folding to infinity, as in El Greco’s paintings and Bernini’s sculptures, and so opens the way to a nonphilosophical understanding through percepts and affects.” El Greco’s figures stretch, taper and torque across the canvas, manipulating perspectival space into a more fluid image of space. Oddly, Deleuze’s reference to Bernini’s sculptures, and not his architecture (!), seems like a surprisingly, frozen-image transduction of folding in extension. His sculptures are exquisite: their physical contortions and supple rendering of flesh are masterful copies of their models, and action is frozen in the arrested billowing of flowing and folding garments. Yet, classical space, unlike in El Greco, is preserved. Bernini’s architecture, however, is revolutionary for how it bends, stretches and folds classical architectural conventions. His design for Sant Andrea Al Quirinale, for instance, bends what would otherwise be a flat wall below the entablature, as well as the portico’s entablature itself into a concave curve, and the compound walls that extend beyond this facade he then reverses, folding the lines backwards into a convex curve that envelops any passersby along the street it faces. The lines of the concave armature extend and visually connect with the stringcourses and geometries of what was the neighboring palazzos. Deleuze, without knowing it, describes the effect performed spatially by Bernini but in

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Bernini, Sant Andrea Al Quirinale

another article, “What is an Event,” analyzing Leibniz and Baroque music: “In short, the Baroque universe witnesses the blurring of its melodic lines, but what it appears to lose it also regains in and through harmony. Confronted by the power of dissonance, it discovers a florescence of extraordinary accords, at a distance, that are resolved in a chosen world.” Folding together Deleuze’s descriptions of the morphological qualities of Baroque painting, sculpture and music — and inadvertently, architecture — a common virtual idea diffenciates itself in the bending, coalescing transformations of pictorial, sonic and architectural extensivities. Bending, torquing, stretching and folding are read against classical and renaissance conventions of balance, symmetry and order; this difference of formal and spatial relations are repeated across artistic media in Baroque space-time. Perhaps, then, it is not a stretch to entertain such thoughts as I encounter when walking up Woodlawn avenue, witnessing the repetition of repetition (columns) becoming increasingly expressive of internal difference (as in Gang’s twisted, somewhat Baroque columns).

If my prose or accompanying images fail to conjure a clear image of such complex Baroque geometry, no worries, we live in Hyde Park! Just walk along Blackstone between 56th and 57th street, just four blocks west of the axis between Mies | Gang,  and stand in front of the

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St Stephens Church, Hyde Park

shuttered doors of St Stephen’s church. Here you will find a distinct repetition of the Baroque bending of the facade into a concave embrace that Bernini created in Rome at Sant Andrea. The form has, what Peirce would call, an indexically iconic relation to the sign of Sant Andrea, which itself iconcially and indexically related to the neoclassical Renaissance conventions it was distorting. Each instance is a translation, literally across space, time and form, of the other, induced by the encounter of a day’s dog-walking itinerary from my home, down Blackstone, across the midway and up Woodlawn Ave. The resulting psycho-geographical map would have to plot these four buildings within a complex four dimensional model of space and time connected one to the other and to the signs they are repeating differentially from ancient Greece to the present. This, and the ruminations clumsily unfolded in this journal entry, are my thoughts ensuing from encounters with these interconnected sign systems. According to Deleuze,

what forces us to think is the sign. The sign is the object of an encounter, but it is precisely the contingency of the encounter that guarantees the necessity of what it leads us to think. The act of thinking does not proceed from a  simple natural possibility; on the contrary, it is the only true creation. Creation is the genesis of the act of thinking that does violence to thought, which wrests it from its natural stupor and its merely abstract possibilities. To think is always to interpret — to explicate, to develop, to decipher, to translate a sign. Translating, deciphering, developing are the form of pure creation.

The St Stephens | Mies | Cobb | Gang constellation are themselves extensivities of architectonic thought, translations of orthodox conventions, and developments into new formal iterations. All are interconnected, using Deleuzian thought and parlance, across space time both in their physical instantiation, and in my own intellectual extension unfolding on this digital page.

But there are hundreds of buildings dispersed between this quadrad of neo baroque, neo gothic, modernist, and ‘parametric’ post modernist structures that were not absorbed into this intertextual and intertemporal network. Why these? Deleuze does not recognize the thought of the cogito as real thought, only the form presupposed by classical philosophy. For Deleuze, thought must be forced, as in a force must act upon the sensibilities of a subject, activating that subject and the plane of affects and percepts flowing through her, to “arouse” thought. Again, why are my thoughts “aroused” by these structures? One, we have an assignment, a second-hand conjuration of thought first, from Deleuze, and second, from you, Professor Rodowick, delineating a framework within which we must confront the former’s theories (thank you for this). But, why amongst the universe of possible applications, or to revive the metaphor, of directions to point the drawn bow of my inquiry, should the Deleuzian arrow pass through these structures? As a concluding hazard, which will hopefully unfold in later journal entries, I would argue they share an underlying idea of intensity. Neo-gothic architecture was prescribed against the ennui and corporeal degradation of mechanized industrialization; in the irregular, erroneous ornamentation of gothic forms, according to John Ruskin and AWN Pugin, the industrial man could see humanity’s trace. Mies’s modernism attempted to capture “the will of the epoch” in “almost nothing,” to use his aphorisms. The Baroque, both in its original and differentially repeated forms, pitted Catholic Counter-Reformation affect against Protestant rationalism and reserve. The architecture of Bernini, and even more so of Francesco Borromini and Guarino Guarini, abandoned the rigid symbolism of pious fidelity to classical Vitruvian principles in


Francesco Borromini’s San Carlo Alle Quatro Fontane


Guarino Guarini’s Palazzo Carignano


favor of flamboyantly, decidedly sublime formal and spatial distortions both of their respective buildings and those insinuated from their surrounding contexts.  “The leitmotif of Time regained,” and as it happens these structures, “is the word force: impressions that force us to look, encounters that force us to interpret, expressions that force us to think.” Each project sought to arrest the passive commuter and awe the incoming visitor. Whether it’s my professional indoctrination or intentional resonance with these extensivities (or both because of each other), I will end this entry by repeating Deleuze’s own words: “I was not free to choose them, that they were given to me as they were…I had not gone looking for the two cobblestones of the courtyard where I had stumbled.