- ---- by Ronald BogueFabulation is the artistic practice of fostering the invention of a people to come. The concept of fabulation first appears late in Deleuze's career in Cinema 2 (D 1989: 150-5; note: the term fabulation here is translated as 'story-telling'), where it is linked to the 'powers of the false', but the concept has related antecedents in Deleuze's discussion of the Nietzschean artist as cultural physician (D 1983: 75), his analyses of Sade and SacherMasoch as great symptomatologists (D 1971), and the comments in Kafka on the writer's relationship to the people (D & G 1986: 84). (See Smith's Introduction to D 1997b for a detailed treatment of this line of development.) Deleuze takes the term from Bergson, who in The Two Sources of Morality and Religion (1936) identifies fabulation ('myth-making' in the English translation) as the instinctive tendency of humans to anthropomorphise and attribute intentionality to natural phenomena, such as lightning and earthquakes. This innate tendency, Bergson claims, leads humans to invent the gods, religion, and the social rules that enforce group obedience within traditional societies. For Bergson, fabulation ultimately is a negative faculty, in that it reinforces 'closed societies' of 'us versus them', as opposed to 'open societies', which promote the universal love of humankind. Deleuze finds a positive potential in the concept, however, arguing that we should abandon the notion of 'utopia' and instead 'take up Bergson's notion of fabulation and give it a political meaning' (D 1995: 174).Modern artists often want to create for 'the people', but no viable collectivity exists. 'It's the greatest artists (rather than populist artists) who invoke a people, and find they "lack a people": Mallarmé, Rimbaud, Klee, Berg' (D 1995: 174). Hence, artists must invent a collectivity that does not yet exist, a 'people to come' (D 1989: 223). Yet they cannot do so alone; they 'can only invoke a people' (D 1995: 174) and work with others to further the task of inventing a people to come. As Deleuze shows in Cinema 2, the documentary filmmakers Jean Rouch and Pierre Perrault invite the subjects of their films to collaborate in the construction of the films, in Rouch's case as contributors to 'ethnofictions' that explore creative means of reconceiving community and tradition (D 1989: 151-2), and in Perrault's as participants in an effort to '"legend in ﬂagrante delicto"' (D 1989: 150; translation modified). In T. E. Lawrence' Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Deleuze finds a similar collaborative process, in this instance one that goes beyond art and directly into political action. Lawrence is often accused of mythomania, but Deleuze insists that Lawrence's effort is not to aggrandise himself but to project 'an image of himself and others so intense that it takes on a life of its own' (D 1997b: 118). That image is one of himself and the Bedouin tribes as a people to come, an empowering, larger-than-life image that is a product of 'a machine for manufacturing giants, what Bergson calls a fabulatory function' (D 1997b: 118). Deleuze argues further that even when artists appear to work alone, if their art is genuine, it is collective and oriented toward the invention of a people to come. Hence, when Kafka writes, he does so neither as an isolated individual, nor as the magical, unmediated voice of a 'collectivity that is not yet constituted'; rather, Kafka, as actual writer, and 'the virtual community - both of them real - are the components of a collective assemblage' (D & G 1986: 84), and it is the process of fabulation that brings them together in that collective assemblage.In What Is Philosophy?, Deleuze and Guattari reiterate the notion that 'all fabulation is the fabrication of giants' (D & G 1994: 171), but they also extend the concept of fabulation by tying it to the fundamental aim of the arts - that of capturing the affects and percepts of sensation. Percepts are like landscapes in which the human being as subject no longer exists and yet remains diffused throughout the landscape; affects are intensities that traverse individuals and go beyond ordinary emotions and sensations. Percepts and affects exceed lived experience and our recollections of that experience. Thus, art's domain is 'not memory but fabulation' (D & G 1994: 168). 'Creative fabulation has nothing to do with memory [. . .] In fact, the artist, including the novelist, goes beyond the perceptual states and the affective transitions of the lived. The artist is a seer, a becomer' (D & G 1994: 171). Fabulation, then, is one with the general artistic project of capturing percepts and affects via a general 'becoming'. Fabulation's specific mode of becoming is that of fashioning larger-thanlife images that transform and metamorphose conventional representations and conceptions of collectivities, thereby enabling the invention of a people to come.
The Deleuze dictionary. Revised Edition Edited by Adrian Parr . 2010.