- ---- by Jonathan RoffeDeleuze mobilises the concept of variation in order to insist on what is perhaps his most fundamental theme, that existence is not characterised primarily by unities, but rather by a continual sense of movement and change. That is, to recall the philosopher Heraclitus as Deleuze does on occasion, being is becoming. In turn, the unities and structures that we find in life are therefore the result of organising this fundamental movement, and not the other way around.Deleuze offers a number of examples for the concept of 'variation' in his work, one of which is music. Music is traditionally understood on the basis of scales that are fixed moments of pitch extracted from the whole range of frequencies. In western music, there is also the concept of the octave that divides sound up into repeatable scalar units. For Deleuze, we must consider these structures to be secondary in relation to the movement of sound itself, which has no intrinsic notes or scales. There is, fundamentally, only the continuous variation of pitch - a pure movement of difference without identity. Likewise, for Deleuze, if we examine language use, we do not find the fixed categories of a logical grammar or innate structure. Rather, the use of words is always shifting around, depending on the context of its use. In A Thousand Plateaus, Deleuze and Guattari describe this as the inherent variability of language. The fact that language use does not remain fixed but is ﬂuid is the very nature of language itself.We can also consider the important example of space. Deleuze and Guattari offer the opposition between smooth and striated space. Smooth space is the type of space in which there are no fixed points or boundaries, and in which movement is uninhibited. In smooth space,movement is therefore continuous variation. In contrast, striated space is structured and organised, creating fixed points and limits between what movements can be undertaken. As a result, there is a sense as a result that the nature and construction of certain spaces forms one of the primary concerns of politics, since smooth space is by definition the space of freedom. On a more fundamental level, nature itself for Deleuze is continuous variation. Even animal species must be understood in terms of a movement of life which has been structured into localised patterns of stability.Perhaps the fundamental point with regard to variation in Deleuze's work comes in connection to the theme of difference-in-itself, pursued most systematically in Difference and Repetition. Rather than seeing difference as a difference between two things, difference must be thought of as the continual movement of self-differing, like the continual variation of a sound rising and lowering in pitch without stopping at notes in a scale. In other words, difference is continuous variation. This is in contrast to the bulk of the western tradition of philosophy since Parmenides that from the outset postulates a primary identity. The whole of Deleuze's thought is in this sense based upon the primary value he gives to continuous variation. As a result, Deleuze's books and concepts must also be considered according to the principle of continuous variation. No one on its own can be considered to be definitive, but each works best when placed alongside his other texts and concepts, that vary from each other, outlining the movement of his thought rather than the doctrines that he espouses along the way.Connectives§ freedom§ space
The Deleuze dictionary. Revised Edition Edited by Adrian Parr . 2010.