---- by Jonathan Roffe
  Deleuze mobilises the concept of variation in order to insist on what is perhaps his most fundamental theme, that existence is not characterised primarily by unities, but rather by a continual sense of movement and change. That is, to recall the philosopher Heraclitus as Deleuze does on occasion, being is becoming. In turn, the unities and structures that we find in life are therefore the result of organising this fundamental movement, and not the other way around.
  Deleuze offers a number of examples for the concept of 'variation' in his work, one of which is music. Music is traditionally understood on the basis of scales that are fixed moments of pitch extracted from the whole range of frequencies. In western music, there is also the concept of the octave that divides sound up into repeatable scalar units. For Deleuze, we must consider these structures to be secondary in relation to the movement of sound itself, which has no intrinsic notes or scales. There is, fundamentally, only the continuous variation of pitch - a pure movement of difference without identity. Likewise, for Deleuze, if we examine language use, we do not find the fixed categories of a logical grammar or innate structure. Rather, the use of words is always shifting around, depending on the context of its use. In A Thousand Plateaus, Deleuze and Guattari describe this as the inherent variability of language. The fact that language use does not remain fixed but is fluid is the very nature of language itself.We can also consider the important example of space. Deleuze and Guattari offer the opposition between smooth and striated space. Smooth space is the type of space in which there are no fixed points or boundaries, and in which movement is uninhibited. In smooth space,movement is therefore continuous variation. In contrast, striated space is structured and organised, creating fixed points and limits between what movements can be undertaken. As a result, there is a sense as a result that the nature and construction of certain spaces forms one of the primary concerns of politics, since smooth space is by definition the space of freedom. On a more fundamental level, nature itself for Deleuze is continuous variation. Even animal species must be understood in terms of a movement of life which has been structured into localised patterns of stability.
  Perhaps the fundamental point with regard to variation in Deleuze's work comes in connection to the theme of difference-in-itself, pursued most systematically in Difference and Repetition. Rather than seeing difference as a difference between two things, difference must be thought of as the continual movement of self-differing, like the continual variation of a sound rising and lowering in pitch without stopping at notes in a scale. In other words, difference is continuous variation. This is in contrast to the bulk of the western tradition of philosophy since Parmenides that from the outset postulates a primary identity. The whole of Deleuze's thought is in this sense based upon the primary value he gives to continuous variation. As a result, Deleuze's books and concepts must also be considered according to the principle of continuous variation. No one on its own can be considered to be definitive, but each works best when placed alongside his other texts and concepts, that vary from each other, outlining the movement of his thought rather than the doctrines that he espouses along the way.
   § difference
   § freedom
   § space

The Deleuze dictionary. . 2010.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • variation — [ varjasjɔ̃ ] n. f. • 1314; lat. variatio 1 ♦ État de ce qui varie au cours d une durée; suite des changements qui affectent ce qui varie. ⇒ changement, évolution. « La variation du regard en vitesse, en direction, en durée » (Valéry). « La… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Variation — means a change within population* Biodiversity * Genetic diversity, differences within a speciesPhysics: * Magnetic variation, difference between magnetic north and true north, measured as an angle * Variation (astronomy), any perturbation of the …   Wikipedia

  • variation — Variation. s. f. v. Changement. La variation des tesmoins. il y a beaucoup de variation dans ses depositions. la variation des heretiques rend leur doctrine suspecte. la variation du temps. la variation des vents. On dit sur Mer, La variation de… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • Variation — Va ri*a tion, n. [OE. variatioun, F. variation, L. variatio. See {Vary}.] [1913 Webster] 1. The act of varying; a partial change in the form, position, state, or qualities of a thing; modification; alternation; mutation; diversity; deviation; as …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • variation — var‧i‧a‧tion [ˌveəriˈeɪʆn ǁ ˌver ] noun [countable, uncountable] a difference or change in the normal amount or appearance of something: • Labor figures in both reports are adjusted for seasonal variation (= variation that depends on the time of …   Financial and business terms

  • Variation — (lat. variare „verändern“), die spontane oder gewollte Abänderung von Informationsfolgen oder Eigenschaften: Variation (Musik), eine Komposition, die ein Thema nacheinander durch vielfältige melodische, harmonische und rhythmische Abwandlungen… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • variation — late 14c., from O.Fr. variation, from L. variationem (nom. variatio) a difference, variation, change, from pp. stem of variare to change (see VARY (Cf. vary)). The musical sense is attested from 1801 …   Etymology dictionary

  • variation — variation. См. изменчивость. (Источник: «Англо русский толковый словарь генетических терминов». Арефьев В.А., Лисовенко Л.А., Москва: Изд во ВНИРО, 1995 г.) …   Молекулярная биология и генетика. Толковый словарь.

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  • Variation — Variation, die Bildung aller Anordnungen von je p Gliedern, in welche n Elemente gebracht werden können. Solche Anordnungen heißen Variationen p ter Klasse; variieren heißt: solche Anordnungen bilden. Die Variationen von a, b, c zur zweiten… …   Lexikon der gesamten Technik

  • Variation — (lat.), Veränderung, in der Mathematik eine Kombination (s.d.) mit Umkehrung der Reihenfolge …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

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