---- by John Marks
  In his earlier work, and in particular Difference and Repetition, Deleuze talks of a dominant 'Image of thought' that he sets out to challenge, exploring the possibility of a 'thought without image'. The image that Deleuze challenges is essentially dogmatic and moral. In this sense, it is representational in nature, in that it presupposes that 'everyone knows' what it means to think, and that the only prerequisite for 'thought' is an individual in possession of goodwill and a 'natural capacity' for thought. René Descartes, for example, presumes that everybody knows what is meant by self, thinking and being. For Deleuze, this image of thought as cognito natura is extraordinarily complacent. Instead, he claims that we think rarely and more often under the impulse of a shock than in the excitement of a taste for thinking. Genuine thinking is necessarily antagonistic towards the combination of good sense and common sense that form the doxa of received wisdom, and it frequently requires something more than the formulations of common language. In general terms, Deleuze challenges the assumption that thought has a natural affinity with the 'true'. Instead, he claims that thought is an act of problematisation. Thought may, in this way, have a prophetic role in anticipating the forces of the future. It is, moreover, able to bring out the 'new', as opposed to established values. Deleuze also argues that there is something that he calls an 'image of thought' that changes through history. Works such as The Logic of Sense, Proust and Signs and A Thousand Plateaus all contribute to the study of images of thought, or 'noology' as Deleuze calls it. Noology is different from a history of thought, in that it does not subscribe to the notion that there is a narrative development in thought. It is not the case that there is a sort of long-term debate in the course of which either some ideas and concepts win the day, or disagreements are eventually turned into consensus. This would be a history of thought as the uncovering or construction of universals. Deleuze talks instead in terms of 'geophilosophy'; the superimposition of layers of thought. Drawing on Friedrich Nietzsche's concept of the 'untimely', Deleuze suggests that what is new in a philosopher's work remains new, and the reactivation of these untimely elements is an important component of Deleuze's work.
  As far as noology is concerned, an image of thought is a system of coordinates or dynamics: a sort of map that shows how we orientate ourselves within thought. One of Deleuze's influences here is Martin Heidegger, who claims that to think is to be under way, to be on a path that one must clear for oneself, although one can have no certain destination in mind. For Deleuze, we must initially make a decision as to our orientation in relation to the vertical and horizontal axes. Should we stretch out, and follow the 'line of flight' on the horizontal axis, or should we erect vertical axes? In other words, this constitutes a choice between immanence and transcendence. If we choose transcendence, this entails a further choice to be made between three types of 'universal': contemplation, reflection and communication. Immanuel Kant seemed equipped to overturn the Image of thought, but ultimately he was committed to an orientation in which thought would have an upright nature.
  Deleuze claims that philosophers tend to invent 'conceptual personae' who will help the philosopher in question to negotiate and establish a new image of thought that springs from a series of intuitions. The conceptual persona functions something like the detective in crime fiction. He is the everyman who must orientate himself within the image of thought. So, for example, Deleuze shows how the 'rational' man of scholastic thought is replaced by the Cartesian 'idiot', who is later replaced by the Russian 'idiot'. This 'underground man' has what Deleuze calls in a characteristically wry statement, the 'necessary modesty' not to manage to know what everybody knows. He is like a character in a Russian novel, paralysed and stupefied by the coordinates of problems that do not correspond to representational presuppositions. Thought may not have a history, but it does have a dramatis personae.
  This approach to thought leads Deleuze to value and promote the 'private thinker', as opposed to the 'public professor'. The model for this sort of thinker is Baruch Spinoza, who pursues a frugal and itinerant lifestyle, and is in this way able to avoid the pitfall of confusing his purpose with that of the State or religion. Rather than a model of opinion and consensus, Deleuze prefers what he calls a 'nomadic' or 'clandestine' form of thinking. The only form of 'communication' that is suitable to the contemporary world is the Nietzschean arrow or Adorno's 'message in a bottle'. Thought is fired like an arrow, in the hope that another thinker - a 'friend' - may pick up the arrow and fire it in turn.
   § nomadicism
   § noology

The Deleuze dictionary. . 2010.


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