---- by Claire Colebrook
  'Expression' is one of Deleuze's most intense concepts. If we take Deleuze's definition of a concept - that it is a philosophical creation that produces an intensive set of ordinates - then expression can be understood as truly conceptual. Indeed, the concept of expression is tied to Deleuze's understanding of conceptuality. It is not that we have a world of set terms and relations, which thought would then have to structure, organise or name - producing organised sets of what exists. Rather, life is an expressive and open whole, nothing more than the possibility for the creation of new relations; and so a concept, or the thought of this life, must try to grasp movements and potential, rather than collections of generalities. A structure is a set of coordinates, a fixed set of points that one might then move among to establish relations, and is extensive, with its points already laid out or set apart from each other. So a simple mechanism takes the form of a structure; if we read a poem as a set of words that might be linked in meaning, with the meaning governing the proper relation and order of the words, then we are governed by a structure. If however, we approach a poem as expressive, we see the words as having unfolded from a potential, a potential that will produce further relations - all the readings or thoughts produced by the poem. Thus, expression is tied to a commitment to the creation of concepts; for expression is the power of life to unfold itself differently, and one would create a concept in trying to grasp these different unfoldings.
  Concepts are not structures because although they establish differences, the differences are intensive. An extensive term - such as 'all the cats in the world that are black' - is a closed set, whereas an intensive concept is infinite in its possible movements. In the case of expression, this concept covers the potential for movements; it is not that there are points or potentials in life which then undergo an expression. Rather, there are expressions, with the unfolding of life in all its difference being exceeded by expressive and excessive potential. The concept of expression therefore refers to intensity, for it allows us to think a type of relation but not any concluded set of relations. And it is an ordinate field, establishing a temporality rather than a set of terms. The concept of expression is a style or possibility of thinking. We cannot understand this concept of expression without bringing in a new approach to what it is for something to be, and what it is to think that being. With expression, we no longer imagine a world of substance - that which remains in itself, remains the same, and then has predicates added to it accidentally. There is not a substance that then expresses itself in various different styles. Rather, there are stylistic variations or expressions, and substance is the thought of the open whole of all these expressions. With the concept of expression we begin with a relation, rather than a being that then relates, but the relation is also external: nothing determines in advance how potentiality will be expressed, for it is the nature of expressive substance to unfold itself infinitely, in an open series of productive relations.
  In his conclusion to his book on Baruch Spinoza, a book which is avowedly dedicated to expressionism in philosophy, Deleuze distinguishes the expressionism of Spinoza from that of Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz. For Leibniz there is not a world that is then expressed or perceived by separate subjects. Rather, the world is made up of monads or points of perception. A being is just its specific perception of the world, and each perceiving monad is an expression of one being. God is the only being who perceives the world perfectly and completely; each finite being grasps infinite being only dimly. For Spinoza, a more radical and immanent expression is possible, one which allows Deleuze to imagine divergent expressions or planes of life. While there is still not a self-present world that precedes expression, Spinoza's immanence precludes any point of perfect expression that would ground particular expressions. A being just is its expression, its power to act. The world is not an object to be known, observed or represented, so much as a plane of powers to unfold or express different potentials of life.

The Deleuze dictionary. . 2010.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • expression — [ ɛkspresjɔ̃ ] n. f. • 1547; méd. 1314 ; lat. expressio, de exprimere → exprimer I ♦ Action ou manière d exprimer, de s exprimer. L expression d un sentiment, d une sensation, d un événement vécu. ⇒ extériorisation. Le langage a deux fonctions… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Expression — Ex*pres sion ([e^]ks*pr[e^]sh [u^]n), n. [L. expressio: cf. F. expression.] 1. The act of expressing; the act of forcing out by pressure; as, the expression of juices or oils; also, of extorting or eliciting; as, a forcible expression of truth.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • expression — Expression. s. f. Action par laquelle on exprime le suc, le jus de quelque chose. Le suc des herbes se tire en trois manieres, par expression, par infusion, par decoction. une expression de citron. Expression, signifie aussi, Les termes & la… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • Expression — may refer to:* Idiom * Facial expression * Artificial discharge of breast milk; see breastfeeding * Expression (mathematics) * Expression (programming), an instruction to execute something that will return a value. * Microsoft Expression Studio,… …   Wikipedia

  • expression — ex·pres·sion n 1: an act, process, or instance of representing or conveying in words or some other medium: speech protected expression under the First Amendment 2: a mode or means of expressing an idea, opinion, or thought ◇ An expression is… …   Law dictionary

  • expression — [ek spresh′ən, ikspresh′ən] n. [ME expressioun < L expressio < expressus: see EXPRESS] 1. a pressing out or squeezing out, as of juice 2. a putting into words or representing in language 3. a picturing, representing, or symbolizing in art,… …   English World dictionary

  • Expression — [ɛksprɛˈsjoːn] (lat. expressio „Ausdruck“) bedeutet: Realisieren der Information, die in der DNA eines Gens gespeichert ist, siehe Genexpression Zellfreie Genexpression Verfahren zur Gewinnung von ätherischen Ölen ein Intonationsmittel bei… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • expression — early 15c., action of pressing out; later (mid 15c.) action of manifesting a feeling; (late 15c.) a putting into words, from M.Fr. expression (14c.), from L.L. expressionem (nom. expressio), noun of action from pp. stem of exprimere (see EXPRESS… …   Etymology dictionary

  • expression — [n1] verbalization announcement, argument, articulation, assertion, asseveration, choice of words, commentary, communication, declaration, definition, delivery, diction, elucidation, emphasis, enunciation, execution, explanation, exposition,… …   New thesaurus

  • Expression — (lat.), Ausdruck; beim Harmonium ein Zug, der den Wind ganz frei zu den Zungen zuströmen läßt und daher die Stärke der Tongebung von der Behandlung der Bälge (durch die Füße) abhängig macht …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • expression — *phrase, locution, idiom …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

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