- ---- by Constantin V.Boundas'Intensity' is a key notion in Deleuze's philosophical project: it manifests itself as the intensive virtual of his ontology; as the affirmative and creative desire of his ethics and politics; as the affect of his aesthetic theory; as the motivation for his methodological decision to opt for transcendental empiricism; and as the guarantor of a theory of difference (different/ ciation).Deleuze's ontology of becoming denounces the error we commit when we think exclusively in terms of things and their qualities, because by privileging extension and extended magnitudes we bypass the intensive genesis of the extended (transcendental illusion). In an ontology of forces like Deleuze's, force refers to the relation between forces. Forces are experienced only through the results they render; and the results of forcefields are extensive and qualitative. Transcendental empiricism, therefore, demands that the intensities that constitute an extensive being be sensed - the famous Deleuzian 'sentiendum'. It needs to be noted that this sensing cannot be achieved through the ordinary exercise of our sensibility. Intensity can be remembered, imagined, thought and said. Intensities are not entities, they are virtual yet real events whose mode of existence is to actualise themselves in states of affairs.The following cave ats that punctuate Deleuze's writings must be heeded. First, a virtual intensity exists nowhere else but in the extended that it constitutes. Despite the fact that it is not identical with the extended, a virtual intensity does not entail ontological separation. Second, the imperatives that help us grasp intensity no longer circumscribe the deontology of pure reason alone; they enlarge the scope of this deontology so that it encompasses all faculties: from sensibility, to memory, and to thought. Nevertheless, the encounter of intensity - being the task of sensibility - is the first necessary link in the interaction of all faculties striving to generate the differentiated virtual within thought. Third, intensity is not an Idea/ paradigm for particular instantiations or for screening out false pretenders. Intensity is a singularity capable of generating actual cases, none of which will ever come to resemble it.Deleuze's ontology is built around a notion of difference that is not contained in the 'from' of the 'x is different from y', but rather he aims at difference in itself. Consequently, Deleuze gives weight to intensity because unlike extended magnitudes whose partes extra partes permit their division without any corresponding change in their nature, intensities cannot be subdivided without a corresponding change in their nature. Therefore, intensities are incommensurable and their 'distance' from one another makes each one of them a veritable difference in itself. Intensive magnitudes do not add up; instead they average. Placed in the context of the two sides of the Deleuzian ontology - the virtual and the actual - intensities catalyse the actualisation of the virtual, generating extension, linear, successive time, extended bodies and their qualities. The relation of reversibility that obtains between the virtual and actual guarantees intensities will not suffer the fate of negentropic death.The role of intensity in Deleuze's ethics, politics and aesthetics is also pivotal. Deleuze's ethics revolves around two axes. The first is the Stoic/ Nietzschean imperative that we become worthy of the virtual event. The second is the Spinozist admonition to live a life of joy and to multiply powerenhancing 'good encounters'. The ethics of joy and the preference for good encounters increasing our power could belong to a 'feel good', self-help type of psychology if it were not for the intensity of the virtual. Becoming worthy of the event, however, requires the ascesis of the counter-actualisation of the accidents that fill our lives, and as a result, our participation in the intensive, virtual event. Similarly, Deleuze's politics would be a banal celebration of multitudes, if it were not for the fact that the multiple is not the same as 'the many'. In the counter-actualisation of the revolution that befalls us, the revolution that never comes and yet never ceases to pass is grasped as the untimely, virtual, intensive event; the affirmation of which renders us worthy of our fate. Finally, when in his aesthetics Deleuze substitutes sensation for form, intensity is what is given priority. What the artist aims towards is indeed sensation. Sensation is intimately related to the intensity of the forces that it does not represent. Sensation is the affect, which is neither subjective nor objective; rather it is both at once: we become in sensation and at the same time something happens because of it.Connectives§ differentiation / differenciation
The Deleuze dictionary. Revised Edition Edited by Adrian Parr . 2010.