- ---- by Cliff StagollTogether with 'difference', 'becoming' is an important component of Deleuze's corpus. In so far as Deleuze champions a particular ontology, these two concepts are its cornerstones, serving as antidotes to what he considers to be the western tradition's predominant and unjustifiable focus upon being and identity. This focus is replicated, Deleuze argues, in our everyday thinking, such that the extent of the variety and change of the experienced world has been diluted by a limited conception of difference: difference-from-the-same. Deleuze works at two levels to rectify such habitual thinking. Philosophically, he develops theories of difference, repetition and becoming. For the world of practice, he provides challenging writings designed to upset our thinking, together with a range of 'tools' for conceiving the world anew. At both levels, becoming is critical, for if the primacy of identity is what defines a world of re-presentation (presenting the same world once again), then becoming (by which Deleuze means 'becoming different') defines a world of presentation anew.Taking his lead from Friedrich Nietzsche's early notes, Deleuze uses the term 'becoming' (devenir) to describe the continual production (or 'return') of difference immanent within the constitution of events, whether physical or otherwise. Becoming is the pure movement evident in changes between particular events. This is not to say that becoming represents a phase between two states, or a range of terms or states through which something might pass on its journey to another state. Rather than a product, final or interim, becoming is the very dynamism of change, situated between heterogeneous terms and tending towards no particular goal or end-state.Becoming is most often conceived by deducing the differences between a start-point and end-point. On Deleuze's account, this approach means first subtracting movement from the field of action or thinking in which the states are conceived, and then somehow reintroducing it as the means by which another static state has 'become'. For Deleuze, this approach is an abstract exercise that detracts from the richness of our experiences. For him, becoming is neither merely an attribute of, nor an intermediary between events, but a characteristic of the very production of events. It is not that the time of change exists between one event and another, but that every event is but a unique instant of production in a continual ﬂow of changes evident in the cosmos. The only thing 'shared' by events is their having become different in the course of their production.The continual production of unique events entails a special kind of continuity: they are unified in their very becoming. It is not that becoming 'envelops' them (since their production is wholly immanent) but that becoming 'moves through' every event, such that each is simultaneously start-point, end-point and mid-point of an ongoing cycle of production. Deleuze theorises this productive cycle using Nietzsche's concept of 'eternal return'. If each moment represents a unique conﬂuence of forces, and if the nature of the cosmos is to move continually through states without heading towards any particular outcome, then becoming might be conceived as the eternal, productive return of difference.Deleuze believes that each change or becoming has its own duration, a measure of the relative stability of the construct, and the relationship between forces at work in defining it. Becoming must be conceived neither in terms of a 'deeper' or transcendental time, nor as a kind of 'temporal backdrop' against which change occurs. Becoming-different is its own time, the real time in which changes occur, and in which all changes unfold. This is not the Kantian a priori form of time that depends upon attributes of a particular kind of consciousness. Rather it is the time of production, founded in difference and becoming and consequent to relations between internal and external differences. For Deleuze, the present is merely the productive moment of becoming, the moment correlating to the productive threshold of forces. As such, it represents the disjunction between a past in which forces have had some effect and a future in which new arrangements of forces will constitute new events. In other words, becoming per se is Deleuze's version of pure and empty time.Such a view of the world has important implications for concepts traditionally considered central to philosophy. It undercuts any Platonic theory that privileges being, originality and essence. For Deleuze, there is no world 'behind appearances', as it were. Instead of being about transitions that something initiates or goes through, things and states are now viewed as products of becoming. The human subject, for example, ought not to be conceived as a stable, rational individual, experiencing changes but remaining, principally, the same person. Rather, for Deleuze, one's self must be conceived as a constantly changing assemblage of forces, an epiphenomenon arising from chance conﬂuences of languages, organisms, societies, expectations, laws and so on.Connectives§ duration
The Deleuze dictionary. Revised Edition Edited by Adrian Parr . 2010.