Monday, February 18, 2008

Deleuze on mediators

The work of Gilles Deleuze is incendiary, even inspiring. His concepts draw no distinctions between scholars, artists, and scientists. He doesn't play to a particular discipline or crowd, especially not an intellectual one. If he is seen as inaccessible, it's likely because he harnesses language and theory in manners that are seen as incongruous to their predetermined function. One of his most profound statements is that we should all become multilingual with our own language, and even foreigners to our own language. For Deleuze, the plane of experience is about motion, movement, and images. There is no subject, and no ideology. There are no "correct" ideas or images, just ideas and images.

Although he has written just two books on cinema, a great focus of his writing is on the cinema. And his unique perspective about it is unlike any other I've seen or encountered. Both an empiricist and a poet, Deleuze locates the lines and spaces in between the binary machines and hetergeneous assemblages which call for experiences to be interpreted. For Deleuze, the pouring out of experience and the dually transient yet eternal plane of perception and experience is what we ought to be examining, and what he thinks writers like Kafka, Kerouac, and Fitzgerald tap into in an almost empirical way. Within these relations, the production of meaning, desire, and multiplicities developed – in the lines and particles of images and movements.

I've been reading quite a bit more about Deleuze's concepts over the last month, and the experience is both daunting and illuminating. I'm convinced that he may be our most relevant and significant thinker (although he died in 1995) with respect to art, science, and philosophy, three schools one would ordinarily think are so different from each other. For Deleuze, however, this is not the case. One book I've recently read of his, "Negotiations" contains his theoretical positions in a nutshell and is indispensable concerning how see media, how to analyze information, and how to critique art. Ahead I will highlight excerpts:

On Truth: "This idea that truth isn't something already out there we have to discover, but has to be created in every domain, is obvious in the sciences, for instance. Even in physics, there's no truth that doesn't pre-suppose a system of symbols, be they only coordinates. There's no truth that doesn't "falsify" established ideas. To say that "truth is created" implies that the production of truth involves a series of operative that amount to working on a material -- stricktly speaking, a series of falsifications."

"Truth, in other words, doesn't imply some method for discovering it but procedures, proceedings, and processes for willing it. We always get the truths we deserve, depending on the procedures of knowledge (linguistic procedures in particular), the proceedings of power, and the processes of subjectification or individuation available to us."

On the death of literature: "People who haven't properly read or understood McLuhan may think it's only natural for audiovisual media to replace books, since they actually contain all the creative possibilities of the literature or other modes of expression they supersede. It's not true. For if audiovisual media ever replace literature, it won't be as competing means of expression, but as a monopoloy of structures that also stifle creative possibilities in those media themselves. If literature dies, it will be a violent death, a political assassination. It's not a matter of comparing different sorts of medium. The choice isn't between written literature and audiovisual media. It's between creative forces and domesticating forces. It's highly unlikely that audiovisual mediawill find the conditions for creation once they've been lost in literature. Different modes of expression may have different creative possibilities, but they're all related insofar as they must counter the introduction of a cultural space of markets and conformity -- that is, a space of "producing a market" -- together."

On Creating Concepts/Images: "Philosophy, art, and science come into relation of mutual resonance and exchange, but always for internal reasons. The way they improge on one another depends on their own evolution. So in this sense we really have to see philosophy, art, and science as sorts of separate melodic lines in constant interplay with one another. With philosophy having in this no reflective pseudoprimacy nor, equally, any creative inferiority. Creating concepts is no less difficult than creating new visual or aural combinations, or creating scientific functions. What we have to recognize is that the inreplay between the different lines isn't a matter of one monitoring or reflecting another. A discipline that set out to follow a creative movement coming from outside would itself relinquish any creative role. You'll get nowhere by latching onto some parallel movement, you have to make a move yourself. If nobody make a move, nobody gets anywhere. Nor is interplany an exchange: it all turns on giving or taking."


Ed Hardy, Jr. said...

Are you familiar with the work of Steven Shaviro, who uses Deleuze and Guattari's work to discuss cinema (and the rest of life) in a late-capitalist framework?

Anonymous said...