- Foucault + fold
- ---- by Tom ConleyThe most terse and telling formulation of the fold is found in 'Foldings, or the Inside of Thought (Subjectivation)', the last chapter of Deleuze's Foucault that examines Foucault's three-volume study of the history of sexuality. Michel Foucualt, says Deleuze, took sexuality to be a mirror of subjectivity and subjectivation. Deleuze broadens the scope by subsuming sexuality in a matrix of subjectivity. Every human being thinks as a result of an ongoing process of living in the world and by gaining consciousness and agency through a constant give-and-take of perception, affect and cognition. Subjectivity becomes an ongoing negotiation of things perceived, both consciously and unconsciously, within and outside the body. He builds a diagram, principally from The History of Sexuality: Volume One (1976) and The Use of Pleasure (1984), on the foundation of the earlier writings to sketch a taxonomy and a history of the project. In The Archaeology of Knowledge (1972), Foucault had contended that the 'self ', the 'I', is always defined by the ways it is doubled by another, not a single or commanding 'other' or Doppelgänger, but simply any of a number of possible forces. 'It is I who live my life as the double of the other,' and when I find the other in myself the discovery 'resembles exactly the invagination of a tissue in embryology, or the act of doubling in sewing: twist, fold, stop, and so on' (D 1988b: 105). For Foucault, history was the 'doubling of an emergence' (D 1988b: 98). By that he meant that what was past or in an archive was also passed - as might a speeding car overtaken or doubled by another on a highway - but also mirrored or folded into a diagram. History was shown to be what sums up the past but that can be marshalled for the shaping of configurations that will determine how people live and act in the present and future. Whether forgotten or remembered, history is one of the formative doubles or others vital to the process of subjectivation.Therein begins Deleuze's rhapsody of folds and foldings. When a doubling produces an inner and an outer surface - a doublure in French, meaning at once a lining stitched into a piece of clothing, a stand-in in a cinematic production, and even a double as Antonin Artaud had used the term in his writings on theatre - a new relation with 'being' is born. An inside and an outside and a past (memory) and a present (subjectivity) are two sides of a single surface. A person's relation with his or her body becomes both an archive and a diagram, a collection of subjectivations and a mental map charted on the basis of the past and drawn from events and elements in the ambient world. Deleuze asserts that four folds, 'like the four rivers of Hell' (D 1988b: 104), affect the subject's relation to itself. The first is the fold of the body, what is surrounded or taken within corporeal folds; the second is 'the fold of the relation between forces', or social conﬂict; the third is the 'fold of knowledge, or the fold of truth in so far as it constitutes a relation of truth to our being' (D 1988b: 104), and viceversa; the fourth is the fold of 'the outside itself, the ultimate' (D 1988b: 104) fold of the limit of life and death. Each of these folds refers to Aristotelian causes (material, efficient, formal and final) of subjectivity and has a variable rhythm of its own. We behoove ourselves, Deleuze reminds us, to inquire of the nature of the four folds before we reﬂect on how subjectivity in our time is highly internalised, individualised and isolated. The struggle for subjectivity is a battle to win the right to have access to difference, variation and metamorphosis.The human subject can only be understood under the condition (the formula, it will be shown, is a crucial one) of the fold and through the filters of knowledge, power, and affect. The fold, a form said to obsess Foucault, is shown as something creased between things stated or said and things visible or seen. The distinction opened between visible and discursive formations is put forward in order to be drawn away from intentionality (as understood in Martin Heidegger and Maurice Merleau-Ponty) that would ally subjectivity with phenomenology. Things spoken do not refer to an original or individual subject but to a 'being-language', and things visible point to a 'being-light' that illuminates 'forms, proportions, perspectives' that would be free of any intentional gaze. Anticipating his work on Leibniz, Deleuze notes that Foucault causes intentionality to be collapsed in the gap between 'the two monads' (D 1988b: 109) of seeing and speaking. Thus, phenomenology is converted into epistemology. To see and to speak is to know, 'but we don't see what we are speaking of, and we don't speak of what we are seeing'. Nothing can precede or antedate knowledge (savoir), even though knowledge or knowing is 'irremediably double' - hence folded - as speaking and seeing, as language and light, which are independent of intending subjects who would be speakers and seers.At this juncture the fold becomes the very fabric of ontology, the area of philosophy with which Deleuze claims staunch affiliation. The folds of being (as a gerund) and of being (as a noun) are found in Foucault's Heidegger and that of an outside is twisted, folded and doubled by an inside in the philosopher's reading of Merleau-Ponty. Surely, Deleuze observes, Foucault finds theoretical inspiration in the themes of the fold, the double that haunts the archaeologist of knowledge. As a doubling or a lining the fold separates speech from sight and keeps each register in a state of isolation from the other. The gap finds an analogue in the hermetic difference of the sound and image track of cinema. From such a division knowledge is divided into pieces or 'tracks' and thus can never be recuperated in any intentional form (D 1988b: 111). The divided nature of communication has as its common metaphor the crease or fold between visibility and orality. It is no wonder that in his studies of difference and resemblance Foucault begins at the end of the sixteenth century, at the moment when writing evacuates its force of visual analogy from its printed form. At that point, when print-culture becomes standardised and schematic reasoning replaces memory in manuals of rhetoric, or when words are no longer analogous to the things they seem to embody or resemble, signs begin to stand in for their referents and to be autonomous doubles with respect to what they represent.To demonstrate how the fold is a figure of subjectivation Deleuze calls history into the philosophical arena. He asks in bold and simple language: 'What can I do? What do I know? What am I?' (D 1988b: 115). The events of May 1968 rehearsed these questions by inquiring of the limits of visibility, of language, and of power. They brought forward thoughts about utopia, and hence about modes of being that would enable resistance in repressive political conditions and foster the birth of ideas vital for new subjectivities. In a historical configuration 'being' is charted along an axis of knowing. 'Being' is determined by what is deemed visible and utterable; by the exercise of power, itself determined by relation of force and singularities at a given moment in time; and by subjectivity, shown to be a process or the places where the fold of the self passes through. A grid or a new diagram makes clear the opposition by setting forward variations of power, knowledge and subjectivity (in French as savoir, pouvoir, soi). The last is conceived as a fold. Foucault, Deleuze advances, does not divide a history of institutions or of subjectivations but of their conditions and of their processes within creases and foldings that operate in both ontological and social fields.There is opened a dramatic reﬂection on the character of thinking which belongs as much to Deleuze as to Foucault. Historical formations are doubled and thus define as such the epistemic traits of knowledge, power and subjectivity: in terms of knowledge, to think is to see and to speak; in other words, thinking takes place in the interstices of visibility and discourse. When we think we cause lightning bolts to ﬂash and ﬂicker 'in the midst of words, or unleash a cry in the midst of visible things' (D 1988b: 116). Thinking makes seeing and speaking reach their own limits. In what concerns power, thinking is equivalent to 'emitting singularities', to a gambler's act of tossing a pair of dice onto a table, or to a person engaging relations of force or even conﬂict in order to prepare new mutations and singularities. In terms of subjectivation thinking means 'to fold to double the Outside with a coextensive inside' (D 1988b: 118). Created is a topology by which inner and outer spaces are in contact with each other.History is taken to be an archive or series of strata from which thinking, a diagram replete with strategies, draws its force and virtue. To make the point clear Deleuze alludes indirectly to 'A New Cartographer' (D 1988b: 23-47), an earlier chapter that anticipates much of the spatial dynamics of The Fold. When we 'think' we cross all kinds of thresholds and strata. Following a fissure in order to reach, as the poet Herman Melville calls it, a 'central room' where we fear no one will be and where 'man's soul will reveal nothing but an immense and terrifying void' (D 1988b: 121). Ultimately, following a line of 1,000 aberrations and moving at molecular speed leads life into the folds and a central room where there is no longer any need to fear emptiness because the self (a fold) is found inside. These ideas arch back to how Deleuze once described the history of forms or an archive as 'doubled' (passed or folded over) by a becoming of forces where any number of diagrams - or folded surfaces of thought - plied over each other. He calls it the torsion of the 'line of the Outside' that Melville described, an oceanic line without beginning or end, an oceanic line that turns and bumps about diagrams. The form of the line was 1968, the line 'with a thousand aberrations' (D 1988b: 44).
The Deleuze dictionary. Revised Edition Edited by Adrian Parr . 2010.