Saturday, April 21, 2007

Patching Up The Broken Umbrella And Hugging The Trees: Deleuze's Wanderings In The Forest

In a passage in What Is Philosophy? Deleuze and Guattari (admiringly) quote D. H. Lawrence,

In a violently poetic text, Lawrence describes what produces poetry: People are constantly putting up an umbrella that shelters them and on the underside of which they draw a firmament and write their conventions and opinions. But poets, artists, make a slit in the umbrella, they tear open the firmament itself, to let in a bit of free and windy chaos and to frame in a sudden light a vision that appears through the rent – Wordsworth’s spring or Cézanne’s apple, the silhouettes of Macbeth and Ahab. The come the crowd of imitators who repair the umbrella with something vaguely resembling the vision, and the crowds of commentators who patch over the rent with opinions: communication. (p. 203f)

This is also a definition of Deleuze’s own philosophy of becoming, even if he is always careful in his traditional and bourgeois categorizations to adhere to the triad of Art, Science and Philosophy.

As he writes (in op. cit.) philosophy is likewise in labor,

Philosophy (thus) lives in a permanent crisis. The plane takes effect through shocks, concepts proceed in bursts, and personae by spasms. The relationship among the three instances is problematic by nature (p. 82)

In his celebration of rhizomatic thought, concept creation, vitalistic and constructivist thinking, the generative chaos on the plane of immanence, and life-affirming expansion he is actually hiding under the umbrella of traditionalist Western philosophical binary thought. He is, in other words, hugging the tree of 'arborescent' thinking that he so opposes.

Arbolic thought is said to be linear, hierarchic, sedentary, and full of segmentation and striation. Arbolic thought is State philosophy. It is the force behind the major sciences. Arbolic thought is represented by the tree-like structure of genealogy, branches that continue to subdivide into smaller and lesser categories. Arbolic thought is vertical and stiff.

Deleuze’s own philosophy is a virtual rain forest of binary thinking. There are trees everywhere:

Different planes, strata, virtual / real, chaos / order, molar / molecular, deterritorialization / dedeterritorialization, lines of flight (presupposing enslavement), micro / macropolitics, plateaus (presupposing valleys), concepts / opinions, difference (presupposing sameness), control society (presupposing free ditto), segmentation (presupposing space), multiplicities (presupposing oneness), identity (presupposing individuation) etc.

Is Deleuze really “desiring his own suppression”?

(more to come)


Anonymous Mr. Impossible said...

It is premature for me to say whether the observations made in this post are true. But they are certainly interesting! And all the more so if they pan out as true.

6:06 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home