Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Dynamics of Interruption, Part V

I tend to look at philosophy as literature in the Nietzschean sense of "la gaya scienza", and to read philosophers as troubadours, singers, knights, and free spirits. They entertain our mental playfulness, make us sing along, erect systems only to leave them (often too long) after they have atrophied into ruins, and search for new territories and tongues.

I am not a philosopher. I don’t do philosophy.

But I spend a lot of time listening in (through osmosis, diffusion, inspiration, etc) on those who are and do, trying to free my own thinking from “the formidable school of intimidation which manufactures specialists in thought”.

When Yusef asks,

Did you intend to recommend disturbances be thought of as curves, and if so, why? (Also, how?) Was the point that our image of thought is angular, and if so, what does that mean, exactly? Rectilinear, grid-like, as in the Cartesian plane? Do you think the Cartesian plane--the image of this we have from school--conditions our image of thought? Is that what you wish us to avoid?

I would continue this line of thought by expanding on what to avoid or break away from through my own Houdini acrobatics (most often unsuccessfully) to wrestle my thinking away from “rectilinear, grid-like, as in the Cartesian plane” entities. I try to think in “curves”, not “angles” (= in the sense of positivism and structuralism.) The metaphors of “curves” or “waves” are probably too trite, but they are meant to convey an attempt at liberation from “fixed images of thought” as traditionally used. When describing these escapes it’s difficult not to bathe in “new age” concepts like “flows”, “affirmation”, “process”, “creation”, etc. But trying to thaw up frozen ways of thinking demands enormous discipline and continuous struggle. Often I fail miserably. And yet the joyful striving beckons, intellectually and aesthetically.

I don’t really care where the voices in my head come from (insert psychiatric joke here!), how they connect, how they stammer, what are quotes, assimilations, copies or originals - or both. The whole collage is of course rhizomatic, filled with in-betweens, dynamic interruptions, and noisy pauses.

In this spirit, here’s a montage of utterances the author of which could be Deleuze, myself, both or neither. Have I adopted them, been adopted or orphaned by them? However, the text is us. (thanks Derrida!)

”The history of philosophy has always been the agent of power in philosophy, and even in thought. It has played the represser’s role: how can you think without having read Plato, Descartes, Kant and Heidegger, and so-and-so’s book about them? A formidable school of intimidation which manufactures specialists in thought – but which also makes those who stay outside conform all the more to this specialism which they despise.

An image of thought called philosophy has been formed historically and it effectively stops people from thinking.

Philosophy’s relationship with the State is not solely due to the fact that recently most philosophers have been “public professors”…The relationship goes further back. For thought borrows its properly philosophical image from the state as beautiful, substantial or subjective interiority. It invents a properly spiritual State, as an absolute State, which is by no means a dream, since it operates effectively in the mind. Hence the importance of notions such as universality, method, question and answer, judgment, or recognition, of just correct, always correct ideas…

Philosophy is shot through with the project of becoming the official language of a Pure State…Everything which belongs to a thought without image – nomadism, the war-machine, becomings, nuptials against nature, capture and thefts, interregnums, minor languages or stammering of language, etc – is crushed and denounced as a nuisance…

The art of constructing a problem is very important: you invent a problem. Problem-position before finding a solution. None of this happens in an interview, a conversation, a discussion. Even reflection, whether it is alone, or between two or more, is not enough. Above all, not reflection. Objections are even worse. Every time someone puts an objection to me, I want to say: “OK, OK, let’s go on to something else.” Objections have never contributed anything. It’s the same when I am asked a general question. The aim is not to answer questions, it’s to get out, to get out of it. Many people think that it is only by going back over the question that it’s possible to get out of it…

But getting out never happens. Movement always happens behind the thinker’s back, or in the moment he blinks. Getting out is already achieved, or else it never will be…During the time while you turn in circles among questions, there are becomings which are silently at work, which are almost imperceptible…

Whatever the tone, the process of question and answer is made to nourish dualisms…There is always a binary machine which governs the distribution of roles and which means that all the answers must go through preformed questions, since the questions are already worked out on the basis of the answers assumed to be probable according to the dominant meanings…

…the conjunction AND is neither a union, nor a juxtaposition, but the birth of stammering, the outline of a broken line which always sets off at right angles, a sort of active and creative line of flight? AND…AND…AND

(Deleuze: Dialogues II, pages 1-15 in no particular order (Continuum, 2006)
Picture: Rob Day 'Illustration for 'Don't Tell a Soul' 1998, Indianapolis Art Center, Indianapolis, Indiana. – I like the Nietzschean mustache (from his younger days). I'm not so sure about the flower-bed in the skull, though. More here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"…the conjunction AND is neither a union, nor a juxtaposition, but the birth of stammering, the outline of a broken line which always sets off at right angles, a sort of active and creative line of flight? AND…AND…AND"

At a right angle?

Aha, gotcha!

6:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, you-yo-YOU-go-got-gott-GOT-me!


6:44 PM  

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