- ---- by Tom ConleyBiology infuses much of Deleuze's philosophy, especially in the domain of sensation. It remains at the basis of perception, perception in turn being what brings about the creation of events, the very matter common to philosophy, art, and science. Sensation opens at the threshold of sense, at those moments prior to when a subject discovers the meaning of something or enters into a process of reasoned cognition. Sensation takes place before cognition and thus pertains to signifiance. In film it is grasped in what takes place before words and images are grasped, as in Jean-Luc Godard's title, Prénom: Carmen, in which the field of sensation inheres in what comes prior to the name, before the naming of 'Carmen', in what is felt and experienced before the name is understood in a common way (D 1989: 154). In aesthetics, which Deleuze takes up through his study of Francis Bacon in The Logic of Sensation, sensation is what strikes a viewer of a painting or the reader of a poem before meaning is discerned in figuration or a thematic design. It has the productively deformative power of defacing the representations that cause it to be felt. It is also what vibrates at the threshold of a given form; in other words, what causes the 'appleness' of the painter Paul Cézanne's apples to be felt as the geometric and painterly abstractions that they become in the field of his still lifes.One of Deleuze's most famous figures, the Body without Organs (BwO), is conceived as a surface of sensations, of a texture and elasticity of equal force and intensity over the entirety of its mass. Sensation passes over and through the body in waves and rhythms that meld its perceptible sites or organisation of parts into vibrations and spasms. Borrowing from Wilhelm Worringer's writings on the generativity of 'gothic' linearity, Deleuze and Guattari's concept of BwO is in continuous and autonomous movement, endlessly emanating sensation less in its design than in its process. The line is continually becoming of itself, exuding force; what Deleuze calls the 'condition of sensation'. Of animal and vegetal character, it has the capacity of turning inward and outward, into the body and along different trajectories, making palpable what otherwise could be sensed in sensation itself. Deleuze explains the point through Cézanne, whom he champions for having made visible the folding character of the MontSaint-Victoire, the germinating forces within seeds, or the convection and heat transpiring in a landscape. These elements are within sensation prior to becoming felt or visualised.Deleuze uses Bacon's distinction between two types of violence to refine his 'logic' of sensation. A violence of public spectacle, seen in athletic and political arenas and in traditional 'theatres of torture' must be refused in order to reach a kind of sensation that the British painter calls a 'declaration of faith in life'. Many of the paintings place deformed bodies in arenas so that their abstraction can embody invisible forces; forces that accordingly condition the uncanny sensation the spectator feels in view of both familiar and monstrous human forms. When seen in series (many are diptychs and triptychs), the paintings exude rhythms that are tied to what Bacon calls 'figures', which are neither figurative nor beyond figuration but accumulations and coagulations of sensation. In another context he links composite units of percepts and affects to blocks of sensation, in themselves beings that exist autonomously, as much in paintings as in the spectators who look at them. The artist finds in the area between the perceiver and the work a field of sensation, one that is 'sculpting, composing, writing sensations. As percepts, sensations are not perceptions referring to an object' (D&G 1994: 166) but something that inheres in its being and its duration. The task of the artist, as he shows with Bacon and Cézanne, is to extract from a 'block of sensations, a pure being of sensation' (D&G 1994: 167).In this respect, in his unique gallery of natural history, two of Deleuze's totems of sensation are the tick and the dog. The tick is a creature that feels rhythmic sensations that inspire it to fall onto the skin of the animal it covets. A melody or 'block' of sensation causes it to leap. The dog that is eating at its food bowl senses the arrival of the master that will ﬂog it, prior to the ﬂogging, with thousands of sensations that anticipate the event itself: a hostile odour, the sound of footsteps, or the sight of a raised stick, that 'subtend the conversion of pleasure into pain'. Sensations are mixed with 'tiny perceptions' that are 'the passage from one perception to another', and they constitute 'the animal condition par excellence' (D 1993a: 87).Readers of Deleuze note that sensation acquires increasing resonance in the works written after 1980. It becomes a common term of speculation on aesthetics, biology and philosophy at the same time as it retrieves the vitalism and intuition of Henri Bergson's formative work written from the early 1950s. Sensation becomes a decisive element in the style and texture of Deleuze's writing, for in its rhythms, its 'blocks' of reﬂection and its own conceptual figures, conceived in a manner akin to those of his favourite painters, the writing exudes the forces that it describes.Connectives§ art
The Deleuze dictionary. Revised Edition Edited by Adrian Parr . 2010.