---- by Inna Semetsky
  Deleuze considered himself an empiricist, yet not in the reductive, tabula rasa-like, passive sense. Experience is that milieu which provides the capacity to affect and be affected; it is a-subjective and impersonal. Experience is not an individual property; rather subjects are constituted in relations within experience itself, that is, by means of individuation via haecceity. The exteriority of relations presents 'a vital protest against principles' (D 1987: 55). Experience is rendered meaningful not by grounding empirical particulars in abstract universals but by experimentation. Something in the experiential world forces us to think. This something is an object not of recognition but a fundamental encounter that can be 'grasped in a range of affective tones' (D 1994: 139). In fact, novel concepts are to be invented or created in order to make sense out of singular experiences and, ultimately, to affirm this sense.
  Experience is qualitative, multidimensional, and inclusive; it includes 'a draft, a wind, a day, a time of day, a stream, a place, a battle, an illness' (D 1995: 141): yet, an experiential event is subjectless. We are made up of relations, says Deleuze (2000), and experience makes sense to us only if we understand the relations in practice between conflicting schemes of the said experience. The difference embedded in real experience makes thought encounter a shock or crisis, which is embedded in the objective structure of an event per se, thereby transcending the faculties of perception beyond the 'given' data of sense-impressions. Difference is an ontological category, 'the noumenon closest to phenomenon' (D 1994: 222), which, however, is never beyond experience because every phenomenon is in fact conditioned by difference. Transcendental empiricism is what Deleuze called his philosophical method: thinking is not a natural exercise but always a second power of thought, born under the constraint of experience as a material power, a force. The intensity of difference is a function of desire, the latter embedded in experience because its object is 'the entire surrounding which it traverses' (D&G 1987: 30).
  If relations are irreducible to their terms, then the whole dualistic split between thought and world, the inside and the outside, becomes invalid, and relational logic is the logic of experimentation not 'subordinate to the verb to be' (D 1987: 57). This logic is inspired by empiricism because 'only empiricism knows how to transcend the experiential dimension of the visible' (D 1990: 20) without recourse to Ideas, moral universals, or value judgements. The experiential world is folded, the fold being 'the inside of the outside' (D 1988a: 96), where the outside is virtual yet real by virtue of its pragmatics. It unfolds in an unpredictable manner, and it is impossible to know ahead of time what the body (both physical and mental) can do.
  Because the body, acting within experience, is defined by its affective capacity, it is equally impossible to know 'the affects one is capable of ' (D 1988b: 125): life becomes an experimental and experiential affair that requires, for Deleuze, practical wisdom in a Spinozian sense by means of immanent evaluations of experience, or modes of existence. As affective, experience is as yet a-conceptual, and Deleuze emphasises the passionate quality of such an experience: 'perhaps passion, the State of passion, is actually what folding the line outside, making it endurable . . . is about' (D 1995: 116).
  The Deleuzian object of experience, being un-thought, is presented only in its tendency to exist, or rather to subsist, in a virtual, sub-representative state. It actualises itself through multiple different/ciations. Deleuze's method, compatible with Henri Bergson's intuition, enables the reading of the signs, symbols and symptoms that lay down the dynamical structure of experience. Experience, in contrast to analytic philosophy, is not limited to what is immediately perceived: the line of flight or becoming is real even if 'we don't see it, because it's the least perceptible of things' (D 1995: 45). Thinking, enriched with desire, is experimental and experiential: experience therefore is future-oriented, lengthened and enfolded, representing an experiment with what is new, or coming into being. Experience constitutes a complex place, and our experimentation on ourselves is, for Deleuze, the only reality. By virtue of experimentation, philosophy-becoming, like a witch's flight, escapes the old frame of reference within which this flight seems like an immaterial vanishing through some imaginary event-horizon, and creates its own terms of actualisation thereby leading to the 'intensification of life' (D&G 1994: 74) by revaluating experience.
   § difference
   § force
   § power

The Deleuze dictionary. . 2010.


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