percept + literature

percept + literature
  ---- by John Marks
  Deleuze is particularly struck by the way in which the great English and American novelists write in percepts, claiming by comparison that authors such as Heinrich von Kleist and Franz Kafka write in affects. The 'percept' is at the heart of Deleuze's impersonal conception of literature, whereby conventional literary categories like character, milieu and landscape are read in new ways. In order to explore how the percept works in literature it is necessary to understand how Deleuze is preoccupied with all that leads to the dissolution of the ego in art. This might manifest itself in the capacity of Virginia Woolf 's characters to merge with the world, in T. E. Lawrence's devastation of his own ego, or even Bartleby's persistent refusal to be 'particular'. The percept also has something of childhood perception in it, given that small children are unable to distinguish between themselves and the outside world. By means of the percept, literature becomes a way of exploring not how we exist in the world, but rather how we become with the world. It has the capacity to explore our existence as haecceities on the plane of consistency; to remind us that we ourselves are part of these compounds of sensation. The percept makes visible the invisible forces of the world, and it is the literary expression of the things that the writer has seen and heard that overwhelm her or him. Consequently, it has a visionary potential. The percept challenges conventional notions of forms and subjects. It also has a political significance, in that it enables us to explore an impersonal and pre-individual collectivity that might be the basis for a particular sort of ethical community.
  The authors that Deleuze initially refers to in order to illustrate the function of the percept in literature are Herman Melville and Virgina Woolf. Moby Dick is a particularly important reference point for Deleuze. Through his perceptions of the whale, Ahab passes into the landscape, which in turn becomes a plane of pure expression that escapes form. Ahab enters into a relationship of becoming with the whale, and the ocean emerges as a pure percept, a compound of sensations. Another important reference point is Virginia Woolf, who talks of 'moments of the world', in which a character such as Mrs Dalloway 'passes into' the town. Similarly, Deleuze alludes to the way in which the moor functions as a percept for Thomas Hardy, as does the steppe for Anton Chekhov and the desert for T. E. Lawrence. It can be seen, then, that the percept implies a particular relationship between character and landscape. Essentially, the landscape is no longer an environment that either mirrors, mocks or forms the character. Nor is it the case that the character perceives the landscape by directing a gaze at it. Rather, Deleuze feels that the percept in literature shows us how the mind is a sort of membrane that is both in contact with, and is actually part of, the external world. The self is not a thing that is distinct from the external world, but something more like a 'fold' of the external world, a membrane that captures other things. The intimate contact between the outside and inside means that literature can explore the 'private desert' (T. E. Lawrence), or the 'private ocean' (Melville) that results from this contact. As Deleuze puts it, every bomb that T. E. Lawrence explodes is a bomb that explodes in himself. He cannot stop himself from projecting intense images of himself and others into the desert, with the result that these images take on a life of their own.
  Given this emphasis on impersonality and the dissolution of the ego, it is not surprising that the literary hero of the percept is the 'man without qualities'. This sort of character - closely related to what Deleuze calls the 'seer' (le voyeur) in his books on cinema - ultimately has the tendency, at once modest but also crazy, to 'become' everyone and everything. He might be a character who is literally 'on the road', and an obvious example from popular literature would be the openness to experience of Jack Kerouac's narrator in On the Road. In 'taking to the road' and being open to all contacts, Deleuze talks about how a particular, pragmatic notion of democracy is expressed in the way the soul in American literature seeks fulfilment, rather than salvation. The percept is primarily a literary form of experimentation, but it has something to contribute to politics. In simple terms, the percept has the effect of drawing us out of ourselves and into the world, and of challenging the individualising and infantilising tendency of much contemporary culture. It is not enough, Deleuze and Guattari argue, to turn our own perceptions and affections into a novel, to embark upon a journey in search of the father who ultimately turns out to be oneself.

The Deleuze dictionary. . 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • percept + literature —    by John Marks   Deleuze is particularly struck by the way in which the great English and American novelists write in percepts, claiming by comparison that authors such as Heinrich von Kleist and Franz Kafka write in affects. The percept is at… …   The Deleuze dictionary

  • Perception — For other uses, see Perception (disambiguation). Perceptual redirects here. For the Brian Blade album, see Perceptual (album). Robert Fludd s depiction of perception (1619) …   Wikipedia

  • Multimodal integration — Multimodal integration, also known as multisensory integration, is the study of how information from the different sensory modalities, such as sight, sound, touch, smell, self motion and taste, may be integrated by the nervous system. A coherent… …   Wikipedia

  • Ethics in religion — Most religions have an ethical component, often derived from purported supernatural revelation or guidance. For many people, ethics is not only tied up with religion, but is completely settled by it. Such people do not need to think too much… …   Wikipedia

  • Hag — For other uses, see Hag (disambiguation). A hag is a wizened old woman, or a kind of fairy or goddess having the appearance of such a woman, often found in folklore and children s tales such as Hansel and Gretel.[1] Hags are often seen as… …   Wikipedia

  • Vijñāna — Translations of vijñāna English: consciousness, mind, life force, discernment Pali …   Wikipedia

  • Gilles Deleuze — Full name Gilles Deleuze Born 18 January 1925 Paris, France Died 4 November 1995(1995 11 04) (aged 70) Paris, France …   Wikipedia

  • List of philosophy topics (I-Q) — II and thou I Ching I Ching I proposition I Thou I Thou relationshipIaIamblichus (philosopher)IbYahya Ibn Adi Yahya Ibn Adi Ibn al Arabi Muhyi al Din Ibn al Arabi Abu Bakr Ibn Bajja Abu Bakr Ibn Bājja Abu Bakr Muhammad Ibn Yahya Ibn as Say igh… …   Wikipedia

  • Intelligent agent — In artificial intelligence, an intelligent agent (IA) is an entity which observes, reason and acts upon an environment (i.e. it is an agent) and directs its activity towards achieving goals (i.e. it is usualy software rational… …   Wikipedia

  • Flash lag illusion — The flash lag illusion or flash lag effect is a visual illusion wherein a flash and a moving object that appear in the same location are perceived to be displaced from one another (MacKay, 1958; Nijhawan, 1994). Several explanations for this… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.