- ---- by Tom ConleyDeleuze pairs the adjective 'molecular' with 'molar'. Informed by atomistic philosophy and biology that runs from Lucretius to Gabriel Tarde, Deleuze studies objects not as they seem to be before the naked eye but as dynamic masses of molecules. The chemical definition is broadened to include subjectivity. In a psychoanalytical sense molecularity relates to individual (as opposed to collective) responses to phenomena or types of behaviour. Hence any perceived object, organic or inorganic, has a life of its own and is felt through the tension of its moral mass and molecular parts and pieces. Deleuze uses molecularity to counter the orthogonal and massive pensive - seemingly heavy and unwieldy - system of Cartesian philosophy to arrive, by way of Leibniz, at a sensibility touching on the chemical animism of all things, 'the action of fire, those of waters and winds on the earth,' in various systems 'of complex interactions' (D 1993a: 9).Molecular action becomes a vital element in what Deleuze uses to describe the processes of things and of creation. At a decisive moment in his presentation of Bergson's theses on movement in relation to cinema, Deleuze uses molecularity to illustrate how wholes (worlds or spatial aggregates) are related to duration. When a teaspoon of sugar is dissolved in a glass of water the 'whole' is not the container and its contents but the action of creation taking place in the ionisation of the molecules of sugar, a sort of 'pure ceaseless becoming which passes through states' (D 1986: 10). Molecularity goes with the perception of wholes (such as molar masses) that are open and disperse themselves in a continuum of duration. Surely the most compelling correlative to the Bergsonian thesis, not mentioned in either of the books on cinema, is the sequence in Jean-Luc Godard's 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her (1965), a film in which a man in a Parisian café, in the midst of the clatter of porcelain and glasses striking the zinc surface of the bar in the background, contemplates a cup of coffee. He drops a cube of sugar into the brown liquid, stirs it with a teaspoon, and watches. In an extreme close-up galaxies seem to grow from the swirl of bubbles just as Godard's own voice-off speaks in the name of the man's thoughts about the end of the world and time. Before a puff of cigarette smoke wafts over the cup, an endless moment of pure duration is felt in the sight of a cosmos becoming molecular.The molecular sensibility is found in Deleuze's appreciation of microscopic things, in the tiny perceptions or inclinations that destabilise perception as a whole. They function, he says, to 'pulverize the world' and, in the same blow, 'to spiritualize dust' (D 1993a: 87). The microscopic perspective has a political dimension as well. All societies are rent through by molar and molecular segmentarities. They are interrelated to the degree that all action is conceivably political if politics are understood to be of both molar and molecular orders. The former, a governmental superstructure, does not disallow the presence of the latter, 'a whole world of unconscious micropercepts, unconscious affects, rarefied divisions' that operate differently from civic and political arenas. Molecularity is tied to a 'micropolitics' of perception, affect, and even errant conversation (D&G 1987: 220).The molecular enables Deleuze to move from philosophy of relation (or difference and repetition) to chemistries of being, and then on to delicate issues of perception in cinema, music, literature and painting. As in the dyad of the 'root' and the 'rhizome', that of molar and molecular forms bears no privileged term. In Deleuze's reading of subjectivation and predication in Leibniz, both terms are in and of each other. Each is used heuristically to test and to determine sensation beyond and within the limits of perception and cognition. The molecular attests to a creative process at work in Deleuze's concepts, and it also indicates the manner in which he uses concepts in the context of philosophy, science and aesthetics.Connectives§ deterritorialisation / reterritorialisation§ molar§ rhizome
The Deleuze dictionary. Revised Edition Edited by Adrian Parr . 2010.