space


space
  ---- by Tom Conley
  In a view of a port seen at night at the beginning of Jean-Luc Godard's Pierrot le fou (1965), one of Deleuze's model films in his work on the timeimage, a voice quotes a passage from Elie Faure on Velasquez: 'Space reigns'. The remark could apply to all of Deleuze's writings. For the philosopher, space is what is at once created and exhausted or annihilated in the creation of an event. Wherever philosophy creates events, it recoups literature and the arts in general. In an important essay on Samuel Beckett, Deleuze notes that space is rich in potentiality because it makes possible the realisation of events. A given image or concept, when it is seen or engaged, creates and dissipates space in the time of its perception. Space is something that is at the edges of language. Deleuze calls the apprehension of space an 'exhaustion' of meaning. The artist dissipates meaning in order to make space palpable at the moment it is both created and annihilated. For both Godard and Beckett it could be said that the stakes are those of 'exhausting space' (D 1997b: 163). Only then can it be seen and felt in an event, in a sudden disjunction, that scatters what we take to be the reality in which we live.
  The almost mystical tenor of Deleuze's work on space and the event (especially in 'The Exhausted' in Essays Critical and Clinical) is explained by what the historian of religion Michel de Certeau writes in a 1984 study of the invention of everyday life: Space is a discursive practice of a place. A place is a given area, named and mapped, that can be measured in terms of surface or volume. It becomes space only when it becomes a site of existential engagement among living agents who mark it with their activities or affiliate with dialogue and active perception. Place in this sense is equivalent to Deleuze's concept of an espace quelconque, 'any-space-whatsoever', that is determined and given to be what it is without being inflected by a user or a traveller. The task of the philosopher and artist is to take the most innocuous or ineffectual of all places and to fragment (even atomise or molecularise) or strip them of their potential. The task of the filmmaker is to make visible these non-places before fracturing and dispersing them through creative manipulation. Roberto Rossellini, in Paisan (1947) or Germany, Year Zero (1948) extends before the eyes of the spectator proliferations of any-spaces-whatsoever, 'an urban cancer, an indifferent surface, a wasteland' (D 1986: 212) that have as their counterparts the clichés of everyday life, that his camera makes untenable and inhuman. Accordingly, the task of the philosopher is to turn 'commonplaces' into matter for more exhaustive speculation. Therein are engendered other spaces that can be hypothetical and utopian or even virtual.
  Space is elsewhere measured in Deleuze's political writings according to degrees of smoothness and striation. A 'smooth space' is one that is boundless and possibly oceanic, a space that is without border or distinction that would privilege one site or place over another. It does not belong to a prelapsarian world from which humans have fallen (as Rousseau might argue), nor is it utopian unless it can be thought of in conjunction with its 'striated' counterpart, a space drawn and riddled with lines of divide and demarcation that name, measure, appropriate and distribute space according to inherited political designs, history or economic conflict. Without boundaries or measure, smooth space is frequently affiliated with the unconscious. It is 'occupied by events or haecceities more than by formed and perceived things', and thus it is more a space of affects or sensations than properties (D&G 1987: 479). It is defined by a flow of forces and hence is perceived haptically instead of optically. It is 'intensive' where striated space is 'extensive'. A Body without Organs (BwO) bears a surface of smooth space that lacks zones or organs that have affective privilege over others. Striated space is one where lines and points designate itineraries and trajectories. Smooth space can be perceived in and through striated space, indeed what is seen and experienced in the world at large, in order to deterritorialise given places. In Deleuze's lexicon that pertains to space and place, deterritorialisation and reterritorialisation are at the basis of most biological and philosophical activity. In this respect the nomad is the person or thinker who constantly creates space by moving from place to place. The nomad, the philosopher, and the scientist and artist alike are capable of creating spaces through the trajectories of their passages that move from one territory to another and from given striations on the surface of the world to smooth and intensive areas, areas that are tantamount to the folds and creases of events that vibrate in the body, itself a place that can be affectively spatialised in infinite ways.
  Connectives
   § deterritorialisation / reterritorialisation
   § nomadicism
   § smooth space
   § utopia
   § virtual / virtuality

The Deleuze dictionary. . 2010.

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