One Flat Thing Reproduced by Choreographer William Forsythe (2008) /// Photograph by Michel Cavalca
A few months ago, I presented the work of dancer/philosopher Erin Manning and her book, Relationscape (MIT Press, 2009) through a Bergsonian interpretation of movement. Her most recent book, Always More Than One: Individuation’s Dance (Duke University Press, 2013) indicates twice in its very title its credit to Gilbert Simondon‘s philosophy. This volume continues to construct a philosophy of the dancing body, continuously “taking form” in relation of its environment. Dance is not necessarily on stage and does not necessarily requires music (at least, not music that knows that it is music) in the case of individuation’s dance. “There are techniques for hoeing, for standing at a bus stop, for reading a philosophical text, for taking a seat in a restaurant, for being in line at a grocery store,” says Manning (p33) using the Simondonian terminology.
Interpreting this last passage in terms of normativity would be completely misunderstanding Manning’s dicourse. The techniques she describes do not involve a normalized body on which these techniques would be layered: they are proper to each body’s specificity. In fact, what Simondon brings to the concept of body according to her consists in the refusal of thinking a predetermined form for the body, which brings us back to the first episode of this week in critique of the hylomorphic scheme:
The third volume of The Funambulist Pamphlets that gathers and edits past articles of the blog about Deleuze, is now officially published by Punctum Books in collaboration with the Center for Transformative Media at Parsons The New School. You can either download the book as a PDF for free or order it online for the price of $7.00 or €6.00. Next volume to be published will be dedicated to Legal Theory. Click here to see the other volumes of The Funambulist Pamphlets
Official page of The Funambulist Pamphlets Volume 03: DELEUZE on Punctum Books’ website.
Index of the Book
Introduction: Becoming Deleuzian
01/ Minor Architects and Funambulists: A Shared Architectural Manifesto
03/ What Is It to Be “From the Left”
04/ The Ritournelle (refrain) as a Territorial Song Invoking the Power of the Cosmos
05/ The Body as a Desiring Machine
06/ Minor Literature
07/ What Remains from Francis Bacon
08/ Transpierce the Mountains: Indian Medieval Art History by Élie Faure
09/ Processes of Smoothing and Striation of Space in Urban Warfare
10/ A Thousand Machines by Gerald Raunig
11/ Foucault and the Society of Control
12/ Control and Becoming: A Conversation Between Negri and Deleuze
13/ “I Leave it to You to Find Your Own Instrument of Combat”: Deleuze Quotes Proust
14/ “A Sunflower Seed Lost in a Wall is Capable of Shattering that Wall”
15/ Deleuze’s Wave: About Spinoza
16/ Power (Potentia) vs. Power (Potestas): The Story of a Joyful Typhoon
17/ The World of Affects or Why Adam Got Poisoned by the Apple
18/ The Spinozist “Scream”: What Can a Body Do?
19/ “Comment disposer mes tribus? Le délire est géographico-politique”
20/ The Hypochondriac Body
21/ A Short Political Reading of Leibniz’s Small Sensations
22/ The Infinite Worlds Folded in the Dresses of Yiqing Yin
23/ The Two Architectures of the Infinite Possible Worlds: Leibniz’s Pyramid & Borges’s Garden of Forking Paths
24/ Lecture by Gilles Deleuze About the Act of Creation (May 1987)
Chronophotography of dancer Ami Shulman walking, (Montreal 2009) by Joseph Butch Rovan
I have not mentioned the work of Henri Bergson very often in the past. I actually can remember of having used his work only once through Deleuze’s seminar about cinema when I was attempting to explain the essence of Spinoza’s work about the body. In this article, I therefore want to interpret Bergson directly through his writings and, more particularly, by studying the fourth chapter of Matter and Memory (1896) that is entitled “The Delimiting and Fixing of Images. Perception and Matter. Soul and Body.” In this chapter, Bergson pedagogically works in steps to dissolve the illusion we have when considering any movement. For him, such an illusion is explicited by what is known as the paradox of Zeno of Elea, which considers the movement as infinitely divisible into moments of immobility, just like a mathematician would describe a line as an infinite array of points. Bergson does not discuss the nature of the paradox, but rather its premisses: the error is to divide movement:
Today’s article, like the previous one, starts from a Deleuzian concept, but may drift apart from it. Someone who is hypochondriac is someone who keeps asking Why do I have? “Why do I have a spleen, why do I have a liver, why do I have organs?” (Abécédaire, J for Joy). In his seminar about Cinema in 1985 at the University of Vincennes, Deleuze evokes the microscopic death of thousands of cells that occurs at the same time and that the hypochondriac could theoretically feel. The state of hypochondria would be an acute perception of one’s body micro-deterioration. Of course, there are limits to conscious perception but, just like Deleuze explains the concept of micro-perception in Leibniz’s philosophy (see past article) by describing the macro-perception of the wave as the totality of micro-perceptions provoked by the quasi-infinity of water droplets, he seems to attribute the feeling of hypochondria to a macro-perception including the totality of micro-perceptions caused by the simultaneous death of all these cells.
Being a little bit of a hypochondriac myself (the luxury of the healthy man), I have the intuition that we should go further than this analysis Deleuze – who was far from being healthy himself – gives us. We experience our body on an absolutely continuous basis, and yet we are used not to conscientiously feel it. I can feel my legs crossing each other – such a gesture already provoke a conflict of perception if you pay attention to it – I can feel my nose scratching a little, I can feel the pressure of my fingers against my keyboard but, ultimately I don’t really feel my body and the trillions of microscopic operations that allows the maintaining of vitality. When I do feel something more, the “event” that it manifests makes me think that something “in me” is dysfuntionning. In those moments, I am wrong twice. Firstly, there is no “inside” of the body. The skin is not a wall protecting a fortress; it is fully part of an assemblage of matter that forms a body. Talking of an event “inside the body” is therefore one more way to dissociate our self from our body when these two things are only one. Secondly, and that is why hypochondriac are often mocked for the illusionary status of their pain, the feeling that one experiences is not the symptom of a dysfunction but rather, the acute perception of the body actually functioning.
Man at the Crossroads by Diego Rivera (1934)
The French word délire, turned into a concept by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari in Anti-Oedipus (1972) has something that its English equivalent, delirium, does not have: its status to be simultaneously a noun and a verb. As we will see in this article, this is an important shade of difference and I will use the French verb délirer instead of its imperfect English version ‘to go into delirium”. Deleuze summarizes the argument of Anti-Oedipus as the fundamental distinction between the unconscious interpreted as a representative form (Sigmund Freud’s argument) and the unconscious interpreted as a production of desire. In other words, this distinction is the same there is between a theater and a factory. This changes anything as the realms of representation involves a phenomenology that activates itself through symbols and a sort of cultural semiotics whereas, the notion of production involves universal operations of material manipulation and transformation. This is why Freudian psychoanalysis tends to focus (or at least to start from) the familial realms as the Oedipus complex suggests and why an anti-oedipus argument starts from the universal. In the second part of Anti-Oedipus calls the Freudian totalitarian obsession for the family, familialism and talk about The Imperialism of Oedipus:
Oedipus restrained is the figure of the daddy-mommy-me triangle, the familial constellation in person. But when psychoanalysis makes of Oedipus its dogma, it is not unaware of the existence of relations said to be pre-oedipal in the child, exo-oedipal in the psychotic, para-oedipal in others.
The ‘Spinoza Week” continues with its Deleuzian terminology to address the philosophy of Spinoza. The “scream” evoked in the title refers indeed to the concept of philosophical scream that Deleuze invents to define a phrase written or pronounced by a philosopher that contains the essence of his life work. The scream has to be understood in two senses here (at least, that is the way I interpret it): the absolute, almost physical, necessity for a philosopher to “scream” this phrase, and the trouble caused within the normative way of thinking by this same phrase. In the case of Spinoza, according to Deleuze, this scream is expressed in the Proposition II of the Part III of the Ethics:
However, no one has hitherto laid down the limits to the powers of the body, that is, no one has as yet been taught by experience what the body can accomplish solely by the laws of nature, in so far as she is regarded as extension. No one hitherto has gained such an accurate knowledge of the bodily mechanism, that he can explain all its functions; nor need I call attention to the fact that many actions are observed in the lower animals, which far transcend human sagacity, and that somnambulists do many things in their sleep, which they would not venture to do when awake: these instances are enough to show, that the body can by the sole laws of its nature do many things which the mind wonders at.
Again, no one knows how or by what means the mind moves the body, nor how many various degrees of motion it can impart to the body, nor how quickly it can move it.
Today is the fourth episode of the ‘Spinoza week’ (which will last a bit longer than a week as you probably already understood) and the third article dedicated to the exploration of Spinoza’s conceptology. Today’s text will be (once again) very influenced by the interpretation that Gilles Deleuze makes of Spinoza’s writings. In this regard, it might be important to observe that Deleuze spent the first part of his life by creating his own philosophy through the interpretations of others (Hume, Nietzsche, Bergson etc.) and that each of those interpretations he makes are very personal. There are therefore other way of approaching the philosophy of Spinoza but I am not as familiar with them as I am with the Deleuzian one.
During this week, we have not explored so much the concept of substance which is for Spinoza the only and necessarily perfect thing that exists and that can be considered as a whole under the name ‘God’. Expressed in a very simple way (maybe too much), and to somehow borrow Leibniz’s concept of monad, we need to see the world as a gigantic assemblage of infinitely small pieces of matter (calling them atoms would be erroneous but useful to make it understandable) that are all involved in more or less fast movement. These small elements of matter composes bodies that are perpetually striv[ing] to persevere in its being (Ethics, part 3, prop. 6). This property is called conatus and we will explore it in the final episode of this week. Those bodies are continuously interacting with each other and thus systematically affect each other. What it means in a very simple way, is that when you cut a piece of butter with a knife, of course, the knife affects the butter since you can see that the latter is being cut; however, the knife as well is affected by the butter and has to ‘resist’ the butter’s characteristics that attempt to make it persevering in its being.
First of all, I would like to share with my readers the story of this article that first took me three hours to write and disappeared when I pressed ‘publish’! According to yesterday’s article however, it did occurred as the result of the ensemble of circumstances that preceded it in world history, so I suppose that I should not regret it!
Let’s continue to explore the Spinozist ‘conceptology’ with, today, a contrast that is difficult to be made in English as the word power includes two meanings whose difference is fundamental in the philosophy of Spinoza. For the purpose of this article I will therefore differentiate the two latin terms of potentia and potestas both contained in the English word of power (in French we would use the notion of puissance for the former and pouvoir for the latter). The referent and complex book examining this question is the Savage Anomaly written by Antonio Negri in 1981 when he was in prison. The original subtitle of this book is saggio su potere e potenza in Baruch Spinoza (essay on the potestas and potential in Baruch Spinoza’s work). Unfortunately, Michael Hardt, Negri’s friend and translator of the English version did not find a way to reconcile this problem and added a different subtitle, The Power of Spinoza’s Metaphysics and Politics.
I might first try to explain the difference between potestas and potentia in a simple way by defining the former as a relationship to another body while the latter as a capacity or an intensity to use a Deleuzian terminology. The potestas needs indeed a referent to dominate or to be dominated by to effectuate itself. On the contrary, the potentia is a relationship to the whole world (Spinoza might say God but since his god is immanent, this is the same thing) in the composition of a form of “harmony”. In the Abécédaire (J for Joy), Gilles Deleuze helps us to understand this difference while explaining the concept of joy and sadness (my translation, the original French transcript is at the end of the article):
The following text is something I wrote few weeks ago, after two years of quasi-beatitude in front of the beautiful work developed by young French fashion designer Yiqing Yin. Many of my readers won’t miss the strong Deleuzian influence in that text both in the content and in the style. Probably for that reason, I first wrote the text in French (read it at the end of the article), then translated into English as follows:
The Dresses of Yiqing Yin
by Léopold Lambert
The proper characteristics of a work of art is to enter into a universal relationship with the world. What it means is that this work exists as itself, independently, or rather beyond the intentions of its author. As far as Yiqing Yin’s dresses are concerned, that would not be diminishing them than to say that they are beautiful, beautiful in the deep sense of the word. Nevertheless, the vertigo I feel when I see them deserves to be questioned about its existence. What is this turmoil? My answer to this question is located in the thousands of folds of Yiqing Yin’s dresses.
Each of these folds seems to correspond to a small perception of the wearer’s body. The body is dressed, yet it seems somehow stripped and offering an epidermic relationship to the world surrounding it. The latter, in its softness and its violence, would then imprint itself in the negative space of each of those sensitive folds, and thus acting on the body in its whole intensity. Through these folds, the body invented by Yiqing Yin is a body whose skin saw its surface – and through it, its sensitive perceptions – get multiplied by a thousand. The body is a fragile and delicate receptacle of the microscopic world. But the body is not only receiving; it also reacts to the world. Here again, the almost infinite multiplication of the epidermic surface allows the body to irradiate its emotions and its desires as expressed at a molecular level.
In the 48th issue (Spring 2012) of the excellent journal Multitudes dedicated to the notion of “political counter-fiction”, Belgium sociologist Frédéric Claisse publishes an article entitled Contr(ôl)efiction: de l’Empire à l’Interzone (Control/Counter Fiction: From the Empire to the Interzone) that I propose to translate some excerpts here. As the title suggests, this article is mostly revolving around William Burroughs. His work is put within a Foucauldian perspective analyzing the society of control (see Deleuze’s text about it in a previous post). The first paragraph of the article introduces perfectly what is as stake within it: the systematic suggestion of desire as an apparatus of control (original French version of the text is at the end of the article, all translations are mine):
« How long does it take a man to learn that he does not, cannot want what he ‘wants’ » (William S. Burroughs, The Western Lands). We have to understand the importance of the suspicion that Burroughs puts in these quotation marks: I am not the author of my desire; this desire is someone else’s fiction. The autonomy that I have been graciously granted, through the means of mass communication systems among others, is nothing else than a “trick” used by a control authority to make me think that my desires are actually mine when, really, they belong to it. Words carried by this authority are words of orders whose action program is simple: contagion and dependency. The experience of addiction gave the author of the Naked Lunch a particular sensitivity to observe those processes that make us accomplice to our own slavery. Drug gives him the general scheme of human relationships in the information era. Language itself is a virus. We are all intoxicated of injunctions that colonize our conscience and use us as vehicle to go from one body to another.
‘It must be the case that I have some perception of the movement of each wave on the shore if I am to be able to apperceive that which results from the movements of all the waves put together, namely the mighty roar which we hear by the sea.’
Leibniz, Gottfried, Correspondence with Arnauld, 1686.
The world exists only in its representatives as long as they are included in each monad. It is a lapping of waves, a rumor, a fog, or a mass of dancing particles of dust. It is a state of death or catalepsy, of sleep, drowsiness, or of numbness. It is as if the depths of every monad were made from an infinity of tiny folds (inlfections) endlessly furling and unfurling in every direction.
Deleuze, Gilles, The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque, London: Continuum, 1993.
Panopticon plan by Jeremy Bentham (1791)
In the last ‘episode’, I was evoking the will of Michel Foucault to be considered as a cartographer. In a text written for the journal Critique (dec 1975), Gilles Deleuze proposes an analysis of the book Surveiller et Punir: Naissance de la prison (Discipline and Punish: The birth of the prison) under the title: Un Nouveau Cartographe (A new cartographer). Through this text, Deleuze introduces Foucault’s method to map the mechanisms of power (which legitimizes somehow the fact that he has been called a structuralist) as well as his very definition of power: (French original version is at the end of this article)
[Power] is less a property than a strategy, and its effects cannot be attributed to an appropriation ‘but to dispositions, manoeuvres, tactics, techniques, functionings’; ‘it is exercised rather than possessed; it is not the “privilege”, acquired or preserved, of the dominant class, but the overall effect of its strategic positions.’
Power has no essence; it is simply operational. It is not an attribute but a relation: the power-relation is the set of possible relations between forces, which passes through the dominated forces no less than through the dominating, as both these forces constitute unique elements
Potere Operaio (Worker Power) in the late 60′s Italy
In 1977, Anti-Oedipus -written by Félix Guattari and Gilles Deleuze in 1971- is released in its translated American version with a preface written by Michel Foucault. Through this short text, Foucault praises Anti-Oedipus, calling it “a book of ethics” as it proposes a non-totalizing subjectivity to interpret the human body and its social involvement. As always, he is interested in the relations of power implied in Deleuze and Guattari’s writings and he finishes his text by describing how they managed to “to neutralize the effects of power linked to their own discourse.” In this dimension, lies an important aspect of Foucault’s analysis of the mechanisms of power. Even resistance to a dominant power carries its own logic of power and, in this regard, requires to be thought and acted with awareness and precaution. That is how, in this text, Foucault comes up with a sort of invective to each ‘resistant’ in the form of a manifesto:
The book The Architecture of Failure (Winchester: Zero Books, 2012) written by Douglas Murphy is a reading of architecture history from Crystal Palace (1851) to our contemporary ‘parametricism’ through a very corrosive filter as the title could suggest. However, what this same title fails to describe is what is being really criticized by D.Murphy between his lines, not so much the architecture that creates a new paradigm by its very existence and narrative, but rather the movement that emerges consecutively to the birth of this new model. The first part of the book is dedicated to the second part of the 19th century’s reign of iron and glass engaged in a technological progressism along the various spectacular World Exhibitions hosted in Europe. He then skip the first part of the 20th century, probably acknowledging the multitude of discourses critical of modernism already existing, and write our contemporary architectural history starting from the 1960s and what he calls ‘solutionism’.
Although critical of the manifesto architecture that the Pompidou Center embodied, he is more waspish towards the movement that followed its creation including one of its architect, Richard Rogers, and his alter-ego, Norman Foster as their own self-caricature that offered a new architectural embodiment for capitalism when it was originally though in opposition of it:
Jill Stoner‘s new book, Toward a Minor Architecture (MIT Press, 2012.) could constitute an excellent manifesto for The Funambulist as it uses a very important number of common references (Kafka, Borges, Ballard, Guattari, Deleuze, Bataille, Foucault, Robbe Grillet, Torre de David etc.) in order to express the political power of architecture and draw a strategy of resistive architectural processes, that she calls minor architecture. The title of the book, as well as its object, is, of course, a direct homage to Deleuze and Guattari’s book: Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature (see previous article).
Minor, in both books, has to be understood in its double meaning that French and English allow. Minor in opposition, of course, but also minor as a discipline that digs within the matter of a dominant order. Kafka is indeed the author to look at to analyze these processes of resistance. Although he was Czech, he was writing in German and thus develops, through the language, what Deleuze and Guattari calls, an exercise of detteritorialization proper to any form of resistance against the dominant power (whichever this power is) over a territory (whichever this territory is). He is also the author of a short story entitled The Burrough, which literalizes the action of undermining; and for Deleuze and Guattari, he indeed writes like a dog digging a hole, a rat digging its burrow.
Kafka is therefore also the starting point of Jill Stoner’s book. In her opinion, the spaces of The Trial are the most expressive example of architecture’s oppression on the bodies. Each room is a prison in which the main character Josef K. can feel a strong claustrophobia increasing his endless delirium.
Ajanta Caves in Maharashtra
In their Treatise on Nomadology, Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari introduce their concept of Holey Space (see previous article) by the following injunction:
Metallurgical India. Transpierce the mountains instead of scaling them, excavate the land instead of striating it, bore holes in space instead of keeping it smooth, turn the earth into Swiss cheese.
Deleuze Gilles & Guattari Felix, Treatise of Nomadology – The War Machine in A Thousand Plateaus. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987.
This evocation of India comes directly from an excerpt of French historian Élie Faure‘s Medieval Art History which dedicates a chapter to seven civilizations (India, China, Japan, Tropics, Byzantine, Islam and Christianity) during Middle Age. The excerpt that Deleuze and Guattari are referring to is therefore extracted from the first chapter about India in which Élie Faure describe splendidly the birth of Indian caves carved within the granite:
First of all, I would like to apologize for not having being able to write on daily basis during these last days, I will try to make it work this week.
The Centre for Advanced Research in European Philosophy, King’s University College, along with the McIntosh Gallery at the University of Western Ontario are calling for papers for a conference from May 4th to 6th 2012. The latter is trying to approach the influence that Philosophers Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari had had and still have on arts and design.
I am sure that some of my readers would be interested to submit an abstract before December 15th in order to potentially be able to present a paper or a performance at this conference, Intensities and Lines of Flight: Deleuze, Guattari and the Arts.
See more about it by following this link.
I recently “ran into” (via Manifest Decay) the very short film Magnetic Void (see below) by James Miller which shows a reconstruction of the British United Shoe Machinery Company building in Leicester by running its actual destruction backwards. The result is very aesthetic and we could stop the description here and let the images talk for themselves (like they often do!).
However, watching this short film forcing myself to forget that this is just the result of a “trick” which consisted in going backwards rather than forwards, and rather accepting (somehow naively) what I was looking at for what it was. It got me to think of this film as a representation of an architecture that is constructed in a counter-hylomorphism. Hylomorphism (in ancient Greek, Matter + Form) is an Aristotle’s concept that was re-defined centuries later by Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari (see the quote below) in a materialist and political reading. To keep it simple, hylomorphism is the process for which a body/object has a form that is constraint by the means of its production. The example of the brick is helpful, especially here as the concerned building is built in bricks: a brick is a body of matter whose shape has been transcendentally determined by its mold.
A whole building is almost always submitted to this same process of hylomorphism, its form reveals the constraints it was submitted to during its production, both physically during its actual construction and conceptually during its phase of design.
The Trial by Orson Welles (adapted from Franz Kafka’s novel) 1962
The structuralist descriptions established by Michel Foucault about discipline are thought to be well known, especially by architects for who the book has been simplified with images that they can understand. The architectual paradigm of the panopticon (see previous essay) is quoted everywhere and became indissoluble from Foucault’s work despite its very large extents. What most people did not understand is that the panopticon as it has been thought by Jeremy Bentham is interpreted by Foucault as the paradigm of a society of discipline which does not apply anymore to the current organizational scheme of the Western world.
In the following text, Gilles Deleuze, his friend -and admirer-, summarizes the current paradigm as interpreted by Foucault as a society of control. His short essay, which is more developed in his book dedicated about Foucault’s work, insists on this shift from discipline to control. He uses The Trial (see previous essay) by Franz Kafka as a perfect example of this change of paradigm. In fact, Kafka introduced the choice to his charged character K between an apparent acquittal (between two incarcerations), symbol of the discipline, and limitless postponements that are proper to the society of control. As Deleuze puts it:
In the disciplinary societies one was always starting again (from school to the barracks, from the barracks to the factory), while in the societies of control one is never finished with anything–the corporation, the educational system, the armed services being metastable states coexisting in one and the same modulation, like a universal system of deformation.
In his class at the Universite de Vincennes in 1983-84, Gilles Deleuze approaches cinema by what he calls la puissance du faux (power of the false) which intermingles (and not confuses) imaginary and reality to create the false and by extension, fiction. The notion of truth is therefore fundamental for his class and in his December 6th 1983 session, he exposes two visions of the world of truths of existence (in opposition to truths of essence) affiliated with each other. The first one comes from 17th century philosopher Gottfried Leibniz who imagined an infinite pyramid composed by the infinite possible worlds in which, each variations of circumstances brings each world to be what it is (see excerpt 1 after this text). To end up with a truth of existence, Leibniz has to bring in the notion of moral -and even of theology- for that he states that at the top of the pyramid, stands the world that God has chosen as it is unmistakably the best one.
The second vision, born from Leibniz’s narrative, occurs two centuries and half later, in 1941 with the short story El Jardin de Senderos que se Bifurcan (The Garden of Forking Path) written by Jorge Luis Borges. In this story, Borges introduces a book in which all the possible world are contained, simultaneous and equally real (see excerpt 2).
To this two visions brought-up by Deleuze, I would like to add the one proposed by Philip K. Dick in 1977 for the Metz’s (France) Science-Fiction Festival in a lecture entitled If you find this World bad, you should see some of the others. In fact, this vision has less to do with architecture and more with fashion design (!) as he suggests that each world is a coat owned by God who decides “in the morning” which one to wear. One obvious novel in which he developed this theory is The Man in the High Castle (1962) in which P.K. Dick introduces a parallel world (one might say an uchronia) that saw the Axis Powers (Germany, Japan and Italy) won the second world war three decades before the plot.