Introduction


Introduction
  by Claire Colebrook
  Why a Deleuze dictionary? It might seem a particularly craven, disrespectful, literal-minded and reactive project to form a Deleuze dictionary. Not only did Deleuze strategically change his lexicon to avoid the notion that his texts consisted of terms that might simply name extra-textual truths, he also rejected the idea that art, science or philosophy could be understood without a sense of their quite specific creative problem. A philosopher's concepts produce connections and styles of thinking. Concepts are intensive: they do not gather together an already existing set of things (extension); they allow for movements and connection. (The concept of 'structure' in the twentieth century, for example, could not be isolated from the problem of explaining the categories of thinking and the image of an impersonal social subject who is the effect of a conceptual system; similarly, the concept of the 'cogito' relates the mind to a movement of doubt, to a world of mathematically measurable matter, and to a distinction between thought and the body.) To translate a term or to define any point in a philosopher's corpus involves an understanding of a more general orientation, problem or milieu. This does not mean that one reduces a philosophy to its context - say, explaining Deleuze's 'nomadism' as a reaction against a rigid structuralism or linguistics. On the contrary, to understand a philosophy as the creation of a plane, or as a way of creating some orientation by establishing points and relations, means that any philosophy is more than its manifest terms, more than its context. In addition to the produced texts and terms, and in addition to the explicit historical presuppositions, there is an unthought or outside - the problem, desire or life of a philosophy. For Deleuze, then, reading a philosopher requires going beyond his or her produced lexicon to the deeper logic of production from which the relations or sense of the text emerge. This sense itself can never be said; in repeating or recreating the milieu of a philosopher all we can do is produce another sense, another said. Even so, it is this striving for sense that is the creative drive of reading a philosopher. So, when Deleuze reads Bergson he allows each term and move of Bergson's philosophy to revolve around a problem: the problem of intuition, of how the human observer can think from beyond its own constituted, habituated and all too human world.
  It would seem, then, that offering definitions of terms in the form of a dictionary - as though a word could be detached from its philosophical life and problem - would not only be at odds with the creative role of philosophy; it would also sustain an illusion that the philosophical text is nothing more than its 'said' and that becoming-Deleuzian would be nothing more than the adoption of a certain vocabulary. Do we, in systematising Deleuze's thought, reduce an event and untimely provocation to one more doxa?
  If Deleuze's writings are difficult and resistant this cannot be dismissed as stylistically unfortunate, as though he really ought to have just sat down and told us in so many words what 'difference in itself ' or 'immanence' really meant. Why the difficulty of style and vocabulary if there is more to Deleuze than a way of speaking? A preliminary answer lies in the nexus of concepts of 'life', 'immanence' and 'desire'. The one distinction that Deleuze insists upon, both when he speaks in his own voice in Difference and Repetition and when he creates his sense of the history of philosophy, is the 'image of thought'. Philosophy begins from an image of what it is to think, whether that be the grasp of ideal forms, the orderly reception of sense impressions, or the social construction of the world through language. The concepts of a philosophy both build, and build upon, that image. But if the history of philosophy is a gallery of such images of thought - from the conversing Socrates and mathematical Plato, to the doubting Descartes and logical Russell - some philosophers have done more than stroll through this gallery to add their own image. Some have, in 'schizo' fashion, refused to add one more proper relation between thinker and truth, and have pulled thinking apart. One no longer makes one more step within thought - tidying up a definition, or correcting a seeming contradiction. Only when this happens does philosophy realise its power or potential.
  Philosophy is neither correct nor incorrect in relation to what currently counts as thinking; it creates new modes or styles of thinking. But if all philosophy is creation, rather than endorsement, of an image of thought, some philosophers have tried to give a sense or concept to this creation of thinking: not one more image of thought but 'thought without an image'. Deleuze's celebrated philosophers of univocity confront the genesis, rupture or violence of thinking: not man who thinks, but a life or unthought within which thinking might happen. When Spinoza imagines one expressive substance, when Nietzsche imagines one will or desire, and when Bergson creates the concept of life, they go some way to towards really asking about the emergence of thinking. This is no longer the emergence of the thinker, or one who thinks, but the emergence of something like a minimal relation, event or perception of thinking, from which 'thinkers' are then effected. This means that the real history of philosophy requires understanding the way philosophers produce singular points, or the orientations within which subjects, objects, perceivers and images are ordered.
  Any assemblage such as a philosophical vocabulary (or an artistic style, or a set of scientific functions) faces in two directions. It both gives some sort of order or consistency to a life which bears a much greater complexity and dynamism, but it also enables - from that order - the creation of further and more elaborate orderings. A philosophical vocabulary such as Deleuze's gives sense or orientation to our world, but it also allows us to produce further differences and further worlds. On the one hand, then, a Deleuzian concept such as the 'plane of immanence' or 'life' or 'desire' establishes a possible relation between thinker and what is to be thought, giving us some sort of logic or order. On the other hand, by coupling this concept with other concepts, such as 'affect' 'concept' and 'function', or 'plane of transcendence' and 'image of thought', we can think not just about life or the plane of immanence but also of how the brain imagines, relates to, styles, pictures, represents and orders that plane. This is the problem of how life differs from itself, in itself. The role of a dictionary is only one side of a philosophy. It looks at the way a philosophy stratifies or distinguishes its world, but once we have seen how 'a' philosophy thinks and moves this should then allow us to look to other philosophies and other worlds.
  There is then a necessary fidelity and infidelity, not only in any dictionary or any reading, but also in any experience or any life. Life is both effected through relations, such that there is no individual or text in itself; at the same time, life is not reducible to effected or actual relations. There are singularities or 'powers to relate' that exceed what is already given. This is the sense or the singularity of a text. Sense is not what is manifestly said or denoted; it is what is opened through denotation. So, we might say that we need to understand the meaning of Deleuze's terminology - how 'territorialisation' is defined alongside 'deterritorialisation', 'assemblage', 'Body without Organs' and so on - and then how these denoted terms express what Deleuze wants to say, the intention of the Deleuzian corpus. But this should ultimately then lead us to the sense of Deleuze, which can only be given through the production of another text. I can say, here, that the sense of Deleuze's works is the problem of how thinking emerges from life, and how life is not a being that is given but a power to give various senses of itself (what Deleuze refers to as '?being'). But in saying this I have produced another sense. Each definition of each term is a different path from a text, a different production of sense that itself opens further paths for definition. So, far from definitions or dictionaries reducing the force of an author or a philosophy, they create further distinctions.
  This does not mean, as certain popular versions of French poststructuralism might indicate, that texts have no meanings and that one can make anything mean what one wants it to mean. On the contrary, the life or problem of Deleuze's philosophy lay in the event: both the event of philosophical texts and the event of works of art. The event is a disruption, violence or dislocation of thinking. To read is not to recreate oneself, using the text as a mirror or medium through which one repeats already habitual orientations. Just as life can only be lived by risking connections with other powers or potentials, so thinking can only occur if there is an encounter with relations, potentials and powers not our own. If we take Deleuze's definition of life seriously - that it is not a given whole with potentials that necessarily unfold through time, but is a virtual power to create potentials through contingent and productive encounters - then this will relate directly to an ethics of reading. We cannot read a thinker in order to find what he is saying 'to us', as though texts were vehicles for exchanging information from one being to another. A text is immanent to life; it creates new connections, new styles for thinking and new images and ways of seeing. To read a text is to understand the problem that motivated its assemblage. The more faithful we are to a text - not the text's ultimate message but its construction, or the way in which it produces relations among concepts, images, affects, neologisms and already existing vocabularies - the more we will have an experience of a style of thought not our own, an experience of the power to think in creative styles as such.
  One of the most consistent and productive contributions of Deleuze's thought is his theory and practice of reading, both of which are grounded in a specific conception of life. If there is one understanding of philosophy and good reading as grounded in consistency and doxa, which would return a text to an assimilable logic and allow thought to remain the same, Deleuze places himself in a counter-tradition of distinction and paradox. Neither philosophy nor thinking flows inevitably and continuously from life; reason is not the actualisation of what life in its potential was always striving to be. More than any other thinker of his time Deleuze works against vitalism or the idea that reason, thinking and concepts somehow serve a function or purpose of life, a life that is nothing more than change or alteration for the sake of efficiency or self-furthering. If there is a concept of life in Deleuze it is a life at odds with itself, a potential or power to create divergent potentials. Admittedly, it is possible to imagine thinking, with its concepts, dictionaries and organon, as shoring 'man' against the forces of chaos and dissolution, but we can also - when we extend this potential - see thinking as a confrontation with chaos, as allowing more of what is not ourselves to transform what we take ourselves to be. In this sense thought has 'majoritarian' and 'minoritarian' tendencies, both a movement towards reducing chaotic difference to uniformity and sameness and a tendency towards opening those same unities to a 'stuttering' or incomprehension. Deleuze, far from believing that one might return thought to life and overcome the submission to system, recognises that the creation of a system is the only way one can really live non-systemically. One creates a minimal or dynamic order, both to avoid absolute deterritorialisation on the one hand and reactive repetition of the already-ordered on the other. In this sense, Deleuze is a child of the Enlightenment. Not only does he inhabit the performative self-contradiction, 'Live in such a way that one's life diverges from any given principle,' he also deduces this 'principle that is not one' from life. If one is to live, there must both be a minimal connection or exposure to the outside alongside a creation or perception of that outside, with perception being a difference.
  Deleuze's ontology - that relations are external to terms - is a commitment to perceiving life; life is connection and relation, but the outcome or event of those relations is not determined in advance by intrinsic properties. Life is not, therefore, the ground or foundation differentiated by a set of terms, such that a dictionary might provide us with one schema of order among others. The production or creation of a system is both an exposure to those powers of difference not already constituted as proper categories of recognising 'man' and a radical enlightenment. Enlightenment is, defined dutifully, freedom from imposed tutelage - the destruction of masters. Deleuze's destruction of mastery is an eternal, rather than perpetual, paradox. Rather than defining thought and liberation against another system, with a continual creation and subsequent destruction, the challenge of Deleuze's thought is to create a system that contains its own aleatory or paradoxical elements, elements that are both inside and outside, ordering and disordering. This is just what Deleuze's great concepts serve to do; life is both that which requires some form of order and system (giving itself through differences that are perceived and synthesised) and that which also opens the system, for life is just that power to differ from which concepts emerge but that can never be included in the extension of any concept.
  We can only begin to think and live when we lose faith in the world, when we no longer expect a world to answer to and mirror ourselves and our already constituted desires. Thinking is paradox, not because it is simple disobedience or negation of orthodoxy, but because if thinking has any force or distinction it has to work against inertia. If a body were only to connect with what allowed it to remain relatively stable and self contained - in image of the autopoietic system that takes only what it can master and assimilate - then the very power of life for change and creation would be stalled or exhausted by self involved life forms that lived in order to remain the same. Despite first appearances a dictionary can be the opening of a self-enclosed system. If we are faithful to the life of Deleuze's thought - recognising it as a creation rather than destined effect of life - then we can relive the production of this system and this response as an image of production in general.
  'I must create a system or be enslaved by another man's' - so declares Blake's ideal poet in the highly contested and chaotic agonistics of his great poem Jerusalem. Blake's aphorisms were indebted to an enlightenment liberationism that found itself in a seemingly paradoxical structure. If we are condemned to live in some form of system then we can either inhabit it passively and reactively, or we can embrace our seeming submission to a system of relations not our own and respond creatively. Blake's early response provided an alternative to the inescapability of the categorical imperative which still haunts us today: if I am to speak and act as a moral being then I can neither say nor do what is particular or contingent for me; living with others demands that I decide what to do from the point of view of 'humanity in general'. To speak or to live is already to be other than oneself, and so morality demands a necessary recognition of an initial submission. Such a final consensus or intersubjectivity may never arrive, but it haunts all life nevertheless. By contrast, Deleuze's paradoxical and eternal affirmation of creation begins from the inescapability of a minimal system - to perceive or live is already to be connected, to be other - but far from this requiring a striving for a system of consensus or ideal closure, this produces an infinite opening. It might seem that the Enlightenment imperative - abandon all external authority - comes to function as yet one more authority, and it might also seem that a fidelity to Deleuze is a crime against the thinker of difference. But the problem of Deleuze's thought is just this passage from contradiction to paradox. To not be oneself is contradictory if one must be either this or that, if life must decide or stabilise itself (form a narrative or image of itself). 'Becoming-imperceptible', by contrast, is an enabling and productive paradox. One connects or perceives in order to live, in order to be, but this very tendency is also at the same time a becoming-other: not a nonbeing but a? being. A Deleuzian dictionary comes into being only in its use, only when the thoughts that it enables open the system of thought to the very outside and life that made it possible.

The Deleuze dictionary. . 2010.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • introduction — [ ɛ̃trɔdyksjɔ̃ ] n. f. • XIIIe « enseignement »; lat. introductio I ♦ 1 ♦ (XVIe) Action d introduire, de faire entrer (qqn). L introduction d un visiteur dans un salon d attente. L introduction de qqn dans un groupe, un parti. ⇒ admission, entrée …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Introduction — (abbreviated intro) can refer to: *Introduction (music), an opening section of a piece of music. *Introduction (essay), beginning section which states the purpose and goals of the following writing. *Foreword, beginning secton of a book, commonly …   Wikipedia

  • introduction — introduction, prologue, prelude, preface, foreword, exordium, preamble are comparable when denoting something that serves as a preliminary or as an antecedent to an extended treatment, development, discussion, or presentation (as in an exposition …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • introduction — Introduction. s. f. v. Action par laquelle on introduit. Il ne se dit guere des personnes qu en cette phrase. L Introduction des Ambassadeurs, Ny des choses au propre qu en cette phrase. Introduction de la sonde. On reconnut par l introduction de …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • introduction — Introduction, f. acu. Est composé de deux mots Latins, Intro et ductio (le dernier usité en composition) et signifie proprement, acconduicte au dedans de quelque lieu, Introductio, Cic. ad Attic. Il se prend aussi pour Institution et… …   Thresor de la langue françoyse

  • introduction — [in΄trəduk′shən] n. [ME introduccion < MFr introduction < L introductio] 1. an introducing or being introduced 2. anything introduced, or brought into use, knowledge, or fashion 3. anything that introduces, or prepares the way for; specif …   English World dictionary

  • Introduction — In tro*duc tion, n. [L. introductio: cf. F. introduction. See {Introduce}.] [1913 Webster] 1. The act of introducing, or bringing to notice. [1913 Webster] 2. The act of formally making persons known to each other; a presentation or making known… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Introduction — «Introduction» Canción de Panic! at the Disco álbum A Fever You Can t Sweat Out Publicación 0:37 Género …   Wikipedia Español

  • introduction — I noun act of bringing in, admittance, formal presentation, inductio, induction, interposition, introductio, invectio, offering, offering as an exhibit, placing, presentation associated concepts: introduction of evidence II index …   Law dictionary

  • introduction — INTRODUCTION: Mot obscène …   Dictionnaire des idées reçues

  • introduction — фр. [энтродюксьо/н], англ. [интрэда/кшн] Introduktion нем. [интродукцио/н] introduzione ит. [интродуцио/нэ] вступление, интродукция …   Словарь иностранных музыкальных терминов


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.