johannesk.com > files > other > deleuze-abecedaire
apologies for this mess and i can't remember where i found it but it is useful no?
**L'Abécédaire de Gilles Deleuze, avec Claire Parnet <Gilles Deleuze's ABC Primer, with Claire Parnet> Directed by Pierre-André Boutang (1996)
Overview prepared by Charles J. Stivale, Romance Languages & Literatures, Wayne State University
A as in Animal, B as in 'Boire'
<The following is an overview of the eight-hour series of interviews between Gilles Deleuze and Claire Parnet that were filmed by Pierre-André Boutang in 1988-1989. Destined to be broadcast only after Deleuze's death, these interviews were shown with his permission on the Arte channel between November 1994 and spring 1995, i.e. during the year prior to his death.
Rather than provide a transcription and translation into English, I try to provide the main points of the questions posed by Parnet and Deleuze's responses, and all infelicities and omissions are entirely my responsibility.
A short description of the interview "set": Deleuze is seated in front of a fireplace over which there is a mirror, and opposite him is Parnet. The camera is located behind Parnet's left shoulder so that, depending on the camera focus, she is partially visible from behind and, with a wider focus, visible in the mirror as well. The production quality is quite good, and in the three-cassette collection now commercially available, Boutang has chosen not to remove by editing the jumps between reel changes; rather, Deleuze cooperates quite patiently with the small breaks in the movement of the production.>
Prior to starting to discuss the first "letter" of his ABC primer, Deleuze mentions the premises of this series of interviews: that Parnet and Boutang have selected the ABC primer format and had indicated to Deleuze what the themes would be, but not specific questions. He states that answering questions without having thought about them beforehand is something inconceivable for him, but that he takes solace in the precondition that the tapes would be used only after his death. So, this somehow makes him feel great relief, as if he were a sheet of paper, even some state of pure spirit. But he also wonders about the value of all this since everyone knows that a pure spirit is not someone that gives very profound or intelligent answers to questions posed.
Parnet starts by reading a quote from W.C. Fields that she applies to Deleuze: "A man who doesn't like animals or children can't be all bad." She leaves the children aside to ask about Deleuze's relationship to animals. She knows that he does not care for domestic animals, but she notes that he has quite a bestiary, rather repugnant, in fact -- of ticks, of fleas -- in his writings, and that he and Guattari have developed the animal in their concept of "animal-becomings." So she wonders what his relationship to animals is.
Deleuze is rather slow to respond to this, stating that it's not so much about cats and dogs, or animals as such. He indicates that he is sensitive to something in animals, but what bothers him are familial and familiar, domestic animals. He recalls the "fatal moment" when a child brings a stray cat home with the result that there was always an animal in his house. What he finds displeasing is that he doesn't like "things that rub" (les frotteurs); and he particularly reproaches dogs for barking, what he calls the very stupidest cry, the shame of the animal kingdom. He says he can better stand (although not for too long) the wolf howling at the moon than barking.
Moreover, he notes that people who really like cats and dogs do not have with them a human relationship, for example, children who have a infantile relationship with animals. What is essential, claims Deleuze, is to have an animal relationship with animals. Deleuze draws his conclusions from watching people walking their dogs down his isolated street, observing them talking to their dogs in a way that he considers "frightening" [effarant]. He reproaches psychoanalysis for turning animal images into mere symbols of family members, as in dream interpretation. Deleuze concludes by asking what relation one should or could have with an animal and speculates that it would be better to have an animal relation (not a human one) with an animal. Even hunters have this kind of relation with their prey.
About his bestiary, Deleuze admits his fascination with spiders, ticks and fleas, indicating that even his hatred for certain animals is nourished by his fascination. The first thing that fascinates him, and distinguishes what makes an "animal", is that every animal has an extraordinary, limited world, reacting to very few stimuli (he discusses the restricted world of ticks in some detail), and Deleuze is fascinated by the power of these worlds. Then a second thing that distinguishes an animal is that it also has a territory (Deleuze indicates that with Guattari, he developed a nearly philosophical concept about territory). Constituting a territory is nearly the birth of art: in making a territory, it is not merely a matter of defecatory and urinary markings, but also a series of postures (standing/sitting for an animal), a series of colors (that an animal takes on), a song [un chant]. These are the three determinants of art: colors, lines, song --, says Deleuze, art in its pure state.
Moreover, one must consider behavior in the territory as the domain of property and ownership, territory as "my properties" in the manner of Beckett or Michaux. Deleuze here digresses slightly to discuss the occasional need in philosophy to create "mots barbares", barbaric words, even if the word might exist in other languages, some terms that he and Guattari created together. In order to reflect on territory, he and Guattari created "deterritorialization" (Deleuze says that he has found an English equivalent of "the deterritorialized" in Melville, with "outlandish"). In philosophy, he says, the invention of a barbaric word is sometimes necessary to take account of a new notion: so there would be no territorialization without a vector of leaving the territory, deterritorialization, and there's no leaving the territory, no deterritorialization, without a vector of reterritorialization elsewhere. In animals, these territories are expressed and delimited by an endless emission of signs, reacting to signs (e.g. a spider and its web) and producing signs (e.g. a wolf track or something else), recognized by hunters and trackers in a kind of animal relationship.
Here Parnet wonders if there is a connection between this emission of signs, territory, and writing. Deleuze says that they are connected by living an existence "aux aguets", "être aux aguets," always being on the lookout, like an animal, like a writer, a philosopher, never tranquil, always looking back over one's shoulder. One writes for readers, "for" meaning "à l'attention de," toward them, to their attention. But also, one writes for non-readers, that is, "for" meaning "in the place of," as did Artaud in saying he wrote for the illiterate, for idiots, in their place. Deleuze argues that thinking that writing is some tiny little private affair is shameful; rather, writing means throwing oneself into a universal affair, be it a novel or philosophy. Parnet refers parenthetically to Deleuze and Guattari's discussion of Lord Chandos by Hoffmanstahl in A Thousand Plateaus. Deleuze says that writing means pushing the language, the syntax, all the way to a particular limit, a limit that can be a language of silence, or a language of music, or a language that's, for example, a painful wailing (cf. Kafka's Metamorphosis). Deleuze argues that it's not men, but animals, who know how to die, and he returns to cats, how a cat seeks a corner to die in, a territory for death. Thus, the writer pushes language to the limit of the cry, of the chant, and a writer is responsible for writing "for", in the place of, animals who die, even by doing philosophy. Here, he says, one is on the border that separates thought from the non-thought.
Parnet asks what it meant for Deleuze to drink when he used to drink. Deleuze muses that he used to drink a lot, but had to stop for health reasons. Drinking, he says, is a question of quantity. People make fun of addicts and alcoholics who pretend to be able to stop. But what they want, says Deleuze, is to reach the last drink/glass. An alcoholic never ceases to stop drinking, never ceases reaching the last drink. The last here means that he cannot stand to drink one more glass that particular day. It's the last in his power, versus the last beyond his power which would cause him to collapse. So the search is for the penultimate drink, the final drink... before starting the next day.
Parnet asks how one stops drinking, and Deleuze states that Michaux has said everything on that topic. Drinking is connected to working; drink and drugs can represent an absolute danger that prevents one from working. Drink and drugs are not required in order to work, but their only justification would be if they did help one to work, even at the risk of one's health. Deleuze refers to American writers, cites Thomas Wolfe, Fitzgerald, as a "série d'alcoolique" (alcoholic series). Drinking helped them to perceive that something which is too strong in life. Deleuze says he used to think that drinking helped him create philosophical concepts, but then he realized it didn't help him at all. To Parnet's remark about French alcoholic writers, Deleuze responds of course, there are many, but that there is a difference of vision in French writers than in American writers. He ends by referring to Verlaine who used to walk up Deleuze's street on the way to his glass of absinthe, "one of the greatest French poets."
[As Parnet reads this title, Deleuze answers laconically, "oui, pourquoi pas?" (Sure, why not?)]
Parnet asks what it means for Deleuze to "être cultivé" (be cultivated, cultured). She reminds him that he has said that he is not "cultivé", that he usually reads, sees movies, observes things only as a function of a particular ongoing project. Yet she points out that he always has made a visible effort to go out, to movies, to art exhibitions, as if there is some kind of practice in this effort of culture, as if he had some kind of systematic cultural practice. So she wonders what he understands by this paradox, and by "culture" more generally.
Deleuze says that he does not live as an "intellectual" or sees himself as "cultivé" because when he sees someone "cultivé," he quite simply is "effaré," terrified, and not necessarily with admiration. He sees "cultured people" (gens de culture) as possessing a "savoir effarant", a frightening body of knowledge, knowing everything, able to talk about everything. So, in saying that he's neither an intellectual, nor "cultivé," Deleuze understands this in that he claims to have no "reserve knowledge" (aucun savoir de réserve), no provisional knowledge. Everything that he learns, he does so for a particular task, and once that task is completed, then he forgets everything and has to start again from zero, except in certain rare cases (e.g. Spinoza, who is in his heart and mind).
So why, he asks, doesn't he admire this "frightening knowledge"? Parnet asks if he thinks that this kind of knowledge is erudition, or just an opinion, and Deleuze says, no, not erudition. He says he can name someone like this since he is full of admiration for him: Umberto Eco, who is astonishing, it's like pushing on a button, he can talk about anything, and he even knows he does this. Deleuze says this frightens him, and he does not envy it at all.
He continues by musing about something he has realized since retiring, since no longer teaching. Talking is a bit dirty, he says, while writing is cleaner. Talking is to be charming (faire du charme), and Deleuze links this to attending conferences, something he never could stand. He no longer travels for health reasons, but to him, intellectuals traveling is nonsense, their displacements to go talk, even during meals, they talk with the local intellectuals. "I can't stand talk, talk, talk," and it's in this sense, seeing culture linked to the spoken word, that makes him hate culture [Deleuze uses the very strong French verb "hair" to express this].
Parent adds parenthetically that this very separation between writing and spoken word will return under the letter "P", when they talk about seduction of the word in Deleuze's teaching. Then she returns to the effort, discipline even, that Deleuze imposes on himself, nonetheless, to go out, to see exhibitions or films. She asks what this practice corresponds to for him, this effort, whether it's a form of pleasure for him.
Deleuze indicates yes, certainly pleasure, although not always. He says that he sees this as part of his investment in being "on the lookout" (être aux aguets; cf. "A comme Animal"). He adds that he doesn't believe in culture, rather he believes in encounters (rencontres), but these encounters don't occur with people. People think that it's with other people that encounters take place, like among intellectuals at colloquia. Encounters occur, rather, with things, with a painting, a piece of music. With people, however, these meetings are not at all encounters; these kind of encounters are usually so disappointing, catastrophic. On Saturday or Sunday, when he goes out, he isn't certain to have an encounter; he just goes out, on the lookout for encounters, to see if there might be encounter material, in a film, in a painting.
He insists that whenever one does something, it is also a question of moving on from it, getting out of or beyond it (d'en sortir). When one does philosophy, for instance, remaining "in" philosophy is also to get out of philosophy. This doesn't mean to do something else, but to get out while remaining within, not necessarily by writing a novel. Deleuze says he'd be unable to, in any event, but even if he could, it would be completely useless. Deleuze says that he gets out of or beyond philosophy by means of philosophy. Parnet asks what he means, so Deleuze says that since this will be heard after his death, he can speak without modesty. He refers to his (then) recent book on Leibniz, in which he insisted on the notion of "the fold", a philosophy book on this bizarre little notion of the fold. As a result, he received a lot of letters, some from intellectuals, and two other letters that were quite distinct. One was from an association of paper folders who said they agreed completely; what Deleuze was doing, they were doing it too! Then he received another letter in which the writer said something exactly the same: the fold is us!
Deleuze found this marvelous, all the more so since it reminded him of a story in Plato, since for Deleuze, great philosophers are not writing abstractions, but are great writers of very concrete things. So, Deleuze suggests that Plato will suggest a definition, e.g. what is a politician? A politician is the pastor of men (pasteur des hommes). And with that definition, lots of people arrive to say: we are politicians! The shepherd, who provides clothes for humankind; the butcher, who feeds humankind. So these rivals arrive, and Deleuze feels like he's been through this a bit: here come the paper folders who say, we are the fold! And the others who wrote were surfers, we understand, we agree completely. We never stop inserting ourselves in the folds of nature. For them, nature is a kind of mobile fold, and they see their task as living in the folds of waves.
So with such encounters, one can get beyond philosophy through philosophy, and Deleuze has had these encounters with paper folders, with surfers without needing to go see them: literally, with these encounters with the surf, the paper folders, he got out of philosophy by means of philosophy. So when Deleuze goes out to an exhibition, he is on the lookout for a painting that might touch him, affect him. Theater does not present such an opportunity for encounters, he says, since he has trouble remaining seated so long, with certain exceptions (like Bob Wilson, Carmelo Bene). Parnet asks if going to the movies is always work, if there is no cinema for distraction. Deleuze says it's not culture, and Parnet asks if everything he does is inscribed within his work. Deleuze says it's not work, that he is simply being alert, on the lookout for something that "passes", something troubling, amusing. [Here Parnet says Deleuze only watches Benny Hill, and Deleuze agrees, saying that there are reasons why Benny Hill interests him.]
What Deleuze looks for in going out is to see if there is an idea that he can draw out of his encounters, in movies, for example. He refers to Minelli, to Joseph Losey, and indicates that he discovers what there is in their works that affects him: that these artists are overwhelmed by an idea, that's what Deleuze considers to be an encounter. Parnet interrupts Deleuze, saying that he is already encroaching on the letter "I", so he should stop. Deleuze says he only wanted to indicate what an encounter is for him, and not encounters with intellectuals. He says that even when he has an encounter with an intellectual, it's with the charm of a person, with the work he is doing, that he has an encounter, but not with people in themselves. "Je n'ai rien à foutre avec les gens, rien du tout" <I don't have anything to do with people, not at all>. Parnet says that they perhaps rub against him like cats, and Deleuze laughs, agrees that it might be their rubbing or their barking!
Parnet asks about Deleuze having lived through culturally rich and culturally poor periods, and asks about now, is it rich or poor? Deleuze starts laughing; at his age, he says, after all he has lived through, it's not the first time he has seen a poor period. The Liberation and after was among the richest one could imagine, when he and others were discovering things all the time, Kafka, the Americans, Sartre, in painting, all kinds of polemics that might appear infantile today, but it was a very stimulating, creative atmosphere. And the period before and after May '68 as well, very rich. And then there are impoverished periods, but it's not the poverty that Deleuze finds disturbing, but rather the insolence and arrogance of people who occupy the impoverished periods. The stupider they are, he says, the happier they are, like saying that literature is now a tiny little private affair.
However, he turns to something he considers more serious in this regard. He recently saw a Russian film, Le Commissaire, that he found admirable, perfect. But it reminded him of a film like the ones the Russians used to make before the war, in the time of Eisenstein, as if nothing had happened since the war, as if the director were someone who had been so isolated in his work that he created a film that way, like films were made 20 years ago, since he had grown up in a desert. What is awful, Deleuze says, is being born in this desert, and growing up in it, especially for 18-year olds now.
Moreover, when something disappears, no one notices because nobody misses it when it disappears. For example, under Stalin, Russian literature in the nineteenth century style just disappeared, and no one noticed. Today, there are ingenious people, new Becketts perhaps, but if they don't get published, nothing would seem to be missing, such new creation would be missed by no one. Deleuze says the most impudent declaration he ever heard was: Today we no longer risk making mistakes like Gallimard did when he refused initially to publish Proust since we have the means today to locate and recognize new Prousts and Becketts. Deleuze says that's like saying they have some sort of Geiger counter that helps them identify a new Beckett through some kind of sound or emiting some kind of glow!
Deleuze says he attributes the current crisis, the period of the desert, to three things: 1) that journalists have conquered the book form, that journalist now find it quite normal to write a book that would hardly require a newspaper article. 2) A general idea has spread that anyone can write since writing has become the tiny little affair of the individual, family archives, archives in one's head. People have all kinds of personal experiences, so they decide to write a novel. 3) The real customers have changed: the television customers are not the viewers, but rather the announcers, the advertisers; in publishing, the customers are not the potential readers, but rather the distributors. The result is the rapid turnover, the regime of the best seller. All literature a la Beckett, creative literature, is crushed by it. That's what defines a drought period, one of Bernard Pivot [former host of the literary chat show, Apostrophes, now of Bouillon de culture (Cultural Boiling Pot), nullity, the disappearance of all literary criticism outside commercial promotion.
However, Deleuze concludes that it's not all that serious, since there will always be either a parallel circuit for expression, or a black market of some sort. The Russians lost their literature, but managed to reconquer it somehow. Parnet states that for a number of years, it seems that nothing really new has developed, so she asks how that something new emerges, and if Deleuze has lived through that. Deleuze responds, yes, like he already said, the period between the Liberation and the "New Wave", the early 1960s, was extremely rich. It's a little like Nietzsche said, Deleuze concludes, an arrow is shot forth in space, so a period or a collectivity shoots an arrow, and eventually it falls, so literary creation passes through its periods of desert.
Parnet begins by citing the biographical entry on Deleuze in the Petit Larousse dictionary (1988 edition), that refers to his work with Guattari on (among other topics) desire, citing Anti-Oedipus (1972). Since Deleuze is considered to be, says Parnet, a philosopher of desire, so what is it?
Deleuze starts by saying that "it's not what peole thought it was, even then. It was a big ambiguity and a big misunderstanding, or rather a little one." However, he then addresses the question in great, and often moving detail. First, like most people in writing a book, they thought that they would say something new, specifically that people who wrote before them didn't understand what desire meant. So as philosophers, Deleuze with Guattari saw their task as that of proposing a new concept of desire. And concepts, despite what some people think, refer to things that are extremely simple and concrete.
What they meant to express was the simplest thing in the word: until now, you speak abstractly about desire because you extract an object supposed to be the object of desire. Deleuze emphasizes that one never desires something or someone, but rather always desires an aggregate (ensemble). So they asked what was the nature of relations between elements in order for there to be desire, for these elements to become desirable. Deleuze refers to Proust when he says that desire for a woman is not so much desire for the woman as for a paysage, a landscape, that is enveloped in this woman. Or in desiring an object, a dress for example, the desire is not for the object, but for the whole context, the aggregate, "I desire in an aggregate." Deleuze refers back to the letter "B", on drinking, alcohol, and the desire not just for drink, but for whatever aggregate into which one situates the desire for drinking (with people, in a café, etc.).
So, there is no desire, says Deleuze, that does not flow into an assemblage, and for him, desire has always been a constructivism, constructing an assemblage (agencement), an aggregate: the aggregate of the skirt, of a sun ray, of a street, of a woman, of a vista, of a color... constructing an assemblage, constructing a region, assembling. Deleuze emphasizes that desire is constructivism. Parent asks if it's because desire is an assemblage that Deleuze needed to be two, with Guattari, in order to create. Deleuze agrees that with Felix, they created an assemblage, but that there can be assemblages all alone as well as with two, or something passing between two. All of this, he continues, concerns physical phenomena, and for an event to occur, some differences of potential must arise, like a flash or a stream, so that the domain of desire is constructed. So every time someone says, I desire this or that, that person is in the process of constructing an assemblage, nothing else, desire is nothing else.
Parnet links this to Anti-Oedipus in asking that it's the first book in which he discussed desire, so the first he wrote with another. Deleuze agrees; they had to enter into what was a new assemblage for them, writing à deux, so that something might "pass". And this something was a fundamental hostility toward dominant conceptions of delirium (délire), particularly against psychoanalysis. Since Guattari had been through psychoanalysis and Deleuze was interested in it, they found common ground to develop a constructivist conception of desire. So Parnet asks him to define better how he sees the difference between this constructivism and analytical interpretation. Deleuze sees it as quite simple, with psychoanalysts speaking of desire just like priests, under the guise of the great wailing about castration, which for Deleuze is a kind of enormous and frightening curse on desire.
In Anti-Oedipus, they tried to oppose psychoanalysis on three main points, none of which he would change at all:
1) Opposing the psychoanalytical concept of the unconscious as a theater, with its constant representation of Hamlet and Oedipus, they see the unconscious as a factory, as production. The unconscious produces, like a factory, exactly the opposite of the psychoanalytical vision.
2) Delirium, linked to desire, is the contrary of delirium linked solely to the father or mother; rather we "délire" about everything, the whole world, history, geography, tribes, deserts, peoples, races, climates, what Rimbaud referred to (in "Mauvais Sang," Une Saison en enfer) as "I am an animal, a Negro": where are my tribes, how are my tribes arranged, surviving in the desert? Delirium, says Deleuze, is geographical-political, whereas psychoanalysis links it always to familial determinants. Psychoanalysis never understood anything at all, says Deleuze, about phenomena of delirium. We "délire" the world and not one's little family. And all this intersects, he continues: when he referred to literature not being someone's little private affair, it's not a delirium focused on the father and mother.
3) Desire is established and constructs in an assemblage always putting several factors into play, whereas psychoanalysis reduces desire to a single factor (father, mother, phallus), completely ignorant of the multiple, of constructivism, of assemblages. Deleuze refers to the animal, the image of the father, and then to the Little Hans example he and Guattari used, but also to a second example, how the animal (horse, in Little Hans) can never be the image of the father, since animals proceed usually in a pack. Deleuze refers to Freud's reduction of a dream that Jung told him, Freud insisting on "the bone", singular, that he believes he heard Jung say, when Jung actually said he dreamed of an ossuary, a multiplicity of bones. So desire constructs in the collective, the multiple, the pack, and one asks what is one's position in relation to the pack, outside, alongside, inside, at the center? All phenomena of desire.
Parnet sums up by asking if Anti-Oedipus as a post-May '68 text was a reflection of the collective assemblages of that period. Exactly, Deleuze responds, the attack against psychoanalysis and the concept of delirium of races, of tribes, of peoples, of history, of geography -- all conformed to '68, trying to create an "air sain", a healthy region, inside all that was blocked off and fetid. A delirium that was cosmic, delirium on the end of the world and on particles and on electrons. Parnet continues with a reference to these "collective assemblages" by asking if Deleuze could recount some of the amusing or not so amusing anecdotes about misunderstandings that occurred, for example at Vincennes, around putting these concepts into practice. She recalls that when they undertook their schizoanalysis against psychoanalysis, lots of students thought it meant that it was cool to be crazy. Rather than recount funny stories, Deleuze links the misunderstandings generally to two points, which were more or less the same: some people thought that desire was a form of spontaneity, others thought it was an occasion for partying (la fête). For D&G, it was neither, but it mattered little since assemblages got created, even those that Parnet (and Deleuze) refer to as "the crazies" (les fous) who had their own discourse and constructed their own assemblages.
So, Deleuze continues, on the level of theory, these misunderstandings -- spontaneity or la fête -- were not the so-called philosophy of desire, which was rather: don't go get psychoanalyzed, stop interpreting, go construct and experience/ experiment with assemblages, search out the assemblages that suit you. What is an assemblage, he asks? It's not what they thought it was, but for Deleuze, an assemblage has four components or dimensions:
1) Assemblages referred to "states of things", so that each of us might find the "state of things" that suit us (he gives the example of drinking, even just drinking coffee, and that we find that "coffee drinking" that suits us as a "state of thing").
2) "Les énoncés", little statements, as kinds of style, each of us finding a kind of style of enunciation (he refers again to the Russian revolution's aftermath, with again finding a style of cinema; or new types or styles of enunciation following of May '68).
3) An assemblage implicates territories, each of us chooses or creates a territory, even just walking into a room.
4) An assemblage also implicates processes of deterritorialization, movements of deterritorialization.
It's within these components that desire flows, says Deleuze.
Parnet wonders if Deleuze feels at all responsible for people who took drugs, who might have read Anti-Oedipus a bit too literally, as if he might have incited youths to commit stupid acts (conneries), and Deleuze's response is quite moving. He says that they always felt quite responsible for anyone for whom things went badly, and he personally always tried to do what he could for things to go well. He said he never played around with things like that; his only point of honor being never having told anyone to go on, it's ok, go get stoned, but always trying to help people make it through. He continues, saying that he is too sensitive to the smallest detail that might cause someone suddenly to slide over into complete blankness (état de blanc). He never cast blame on anyone, said anyone was doing anything wrong, but he felt the enormous weight of the directions some lives could take, people and especially young people who would take drugs to the point of collapse, or drinking to the point of falling into some "wild" state (état sauvage). He wasn't there to prevent anyone from doing anything, was not serving as a cop or a parent, but tried nonetheless to keep them from being reduced to pulp (état de loque). The moment there was a risk of someone cracking up, "je ne le supporte pas," I can't stand it. An old man who cracks up, Deleuze says, who commits suicide, he at least has already lived his life, but a young person who cracks up, Deleuze says it is insupportable. He was always divided, he concludes, between the impossibility of casting blame on anyone and the absolute refusal that anyone might be reduced to pulp. He admits that it is difficult to figure out what principles apply, one just deals with each case, and the least one can do is to prevent them from veering toward being reduced to pulp.
Parnet pushes this direction by asking about the effects of Anti-Oedipus, and Deleuze continues saying that Anti-Oedipus was meant to keep people from turning into this pulp state, the clinically schizo state. Parnet points out that the book's enemies criticized it for seeming to be an apology for permissivity. Deleuze says that if one reads it closely, one will see that it always marked out an extreme prudence. The book's lesson: don't become a tattered rag; to oppose processes of schizophrenization of the repressive hospital type. For D&G, he says, their terror was in producing a "hospital creature". The value of what the anti-psychiatrists called the "trip" of the schizophrenic process was precisely to avoid conjuring the production of "loques d'hôpital", pulp-like hospital creatures.
Parnet asks if Anti-Oedipus still has effects today, and Deleuze says yes, it's a beautiful book, the only book in which that concept of the unconscious was posed, with the three points of multiplicities of the unconscious and of delirium, the world/cosmic delirium and not the family delirium, and the unconscious as a machine/factory, not a theater. He says he has nothing to change in these points, and he hopes that it's a book still to be discovered.
Parnet recalls that Deleuze spent his entire life in the 17th arrondissement of Paris, so asks him if he grew up in a bourgeois family with politically conservative (de droite) tendencies.
Deleuze speaks with a certain amusement of his early life, saying that his life in the 17th has been something of a "chute," a fall from the rather chic quartier near the Arc de Triomphe where he was born, to various apartments during the war, to the rue d'Aubigny for a number of years with his mother, and then, as an adult, to his quartier rue de Bizerte, a 17th artisanal, "prolo". Deleuze says he's not sure at this rate where he'll end up in a few years.
As for his family, yes, they were bourgeois "de droite," on the right, but he says he has few memories from his childhood (he points out that it seems that his earliest memories disappear, and that's he's not an archive). He does recall certain crises, lack of money that saved him from going to study "chez les Jesuites" (with the Jesuit priests), since he had to go the public high school rather than to the private, Catholic one due to the family money difficulties; also, the period before the war and the terror in the conservative bourgeoisie of the [Socialist] Popular Front, which for them represented the arrival of total chaos. They were anti-Semite, and particularly against Leon Blum [Socialist and Jewish, leader of the Popular Front government] who was for them worse than the devil. Deleuze insists that one cannot understand how Pétain could seize power without understanding the pre-war hatred of Blum's government.
So he recalls coming from a completely uncultivated bourgeois family "de droite", with a father (Deleuze recalls him fondly, also recalling the atmosphere of crisis and his father's violent feelings against the left, as a veteran of WWI). He was engineer, inventor whose first business failed just before the war, then worked in a factory making dirigibles, taken over by the Germans to make rubber rafts.
Deleuze recalls that when the Germans arrived, invading from Belgium, he was in Deauville (in Normandy, where his family spent summers), so he was put in high school for a year there. He recalls how an image from Deauville illustrates the immense social change of the Popular Front. With the introduction of paid vacations, people who never traveled could go to the beach and see the sea for the first time. Deleuze recalls the vision of a young girl from the Limousin standing for five hours in rapt attention before the extraordinary spectacle of the sea. And this had been a private beach, for the bourgeois property owners. He also recalls the class hatred translated by a sentence pronounced by his mother -- "hélas" (alas), says Deleuze -- about the impossibility of frequenting beaches where people "like that" would be coming. For the bourgeois like his parents, giving vacations to the workers was the loss of privilege as well as the loss of territory, even worse than the Germans occupying the beaches with their tanks.
Deleuze says that it was there in Deauville, without his parents and his younger brother, where he was completely nil in his studies, until something happened, such that Deleuze ceased being an idiot. Until Deauville, and the year in the lycee there that he spent during the "funny war," he had been null in class, but at Deauville, he met a young teacher, Pierre Halwachs (son of a famous sociologist), with fragile health, only one eye, so deferred from military duty. For Deleuze, this encounter was an awakening, and he became something of a disciple to this young "maître". Halwachs would take him out to the beach in winter, on the dunes, and introduced him, for example, to Gide's Les Nourritures terrestres, to Anatole France, Baudelaire, other works by Gide, and Deleuze was completely transformed. But since they spent so much time together, people began to talk, and the lady in whose pension Deleuze and his brother were staying warned Deleuze about Halwachs, then wrote to his parents about it. The brothers were to return to Paris, but then the Germans invaded, and so they took off on their bicycles to meet their parents in Rochefort... and en route, they ran into Halwachs with his father! Later in life, Deleuze met Halwachs, without the same admiration, but at age 14, Deleuze feels he was completely right.
Parnet asks about his return to Paris, attending lycée Carnot. Deleuze was placed in a class with a philosophy professor named Vialle, while he could have been in one taught by Merleau-Ponty. Deleuze says that he doesn't recall exactly why, but Halwachs had helped him feel something important in literature; yet from his very first classes in philosophy, he knew this was something important, that he would do this for the rest of his life. (Deleuze recalls that this was right when the German massacre of the French village of Oradour was announced, and that there quite a politicized atmosphere). He recalls Merleau-Ponty as being rather melancholic, whereas Vialle, who was at the end of his career, was someone that Deleuze liked enormously. Learning about philosophical concepts struck him with the same force as, for some people, encountering striking literary characters, Vautrin or Eugenie Grandet, that philosophy was entirely as animated as any literary work. Henceforth, he no longer had any scholastic problems, did quite well as a student. Parnet asks about the political atmosphere, and Deleuze says that there were people of all political stripes, but it was not the same political awareness or activity as in peacetime. His class members had a certain political consciousness due to the presence of the classmate Guy Moquet, a student participating in the Resistance and killed by the Germans a year later. But Deleuze recalls that politics were something rather secretive during the Occupation since there were classmates of all political stripes, from the Resistance to Vichy sympathizers.
Parnet says that it seems that, for Deleuze, his childhood really has little importance. Deleuze responds, yes, necessarily so. He considers the writing activity to have nothing to do with an individual affair, not something personal or a small private affair. Writing is becoming, he says, becoming-animal, becoming child, and one writes for life, to become something, whatever one wants except becoming a writer and except an archive. Although he does respect the archive, but it has importance for doing something else. He insists that speaking of his own personal life has no interest, nor does being a personal archive. Deleuze takes a book he has at hand by a great Russian poet Ossip Mandelstam, and reads a passage in which the author speaks about how little importance memory has and especially for writing. Deleuze agrees fully, and takes from Mandelstam the idea that one learns not to speak, but to stutter <Deleuze cites Mandelstam in his essay "Begaya-t-il" in Critique et clinique; cf. Deleuze and the Theater of Philosophy and Essays Critical and Clinical). That's what writing is, says Deleuze, stuttering in language, pushing language to the limit, stuttering, becoming an animal, becoming a child, not from one's own childhood, but rather "the childhood of the world." A writer does not appeal directly to his private life -- what Deleuze calls totally disgusting, truly shit (une dégoutation, la vraie merde) -- does not dig through family archives, but rather remains a child of the world. A writer becomes, but not a writer, nor his own memorialist.
Parnet plays the devil's advocate role (a "very dangerous role," Deleuze chides her) by asking if Nathalie Sarraute's Enfance constitutes an exception, if her work indicates some sort of weakness in her concept of childhood, and Deleuze disagrees. He says that Enfance is not at all about her childhood, but that she invents a child of the world, drawing from set formulae and expressions to invent a world language. [Deleuze's reference here is also to Sarraute's essay "Ich strebe" in L'Usage de la parole -- thanks to Veronique Flambard-Weisbart for these references]. Parnet asks him if he had to undergo some kind of strict exercise to limit this interest in childhood, that somehow it must burst forth, and Deleuze suggests that this kind of thing happens all by itself. He goes on to ask what is there of interest in childhood? Perhaps relations with one parents, siblings, but that's of only personal interest, to the individual, but not to writing. Rather what's interesting is to find the emotion of a child, not the child that one once was, but also the sense of being a child, any child whatsoever ("un enfant quelconque"). Deleuze refers to someone recounting seeing a horse die in the street before the age of the automobile, and he translates this into the task of becoming a writer: Deleuze cites Dostoyevski, the dancer Nijinksi, Nietzsche, all of whom witnessed a horse dying in the street. Parnet says, and Deleuze agrees, that for him it was the Popular Front demonstrations, and watching his father struggle between his honesty and his anti-Semitism. But Deleuze insists, "I was a child," and the importance of this indefinite article is the multiplicity of a child. "Un enfant: l'article indefini est d'une richesse extreme", he concludes: The indefinite article has an extreme richness.
It is clear from Parnet's introduction that since the letter `A' was taken up with "animal," she could not use it for "amitié"/friendship, so she chose "fidelity" for friendship. She evokes a number of Deleuze's close friends with whom he shared many years of "fidelity" in his friendships. Parnet asks if fidelity and friendship are necessarily linked, and Deleuze says immediately that it's not a question of fidelity. Rather, friendship for him is a matter of perception. What does it mean to have something in common with someone? Not ideas in common, but to have a language and even a pre-language in common. There are people that one can never understand or speak to even on the simplest matters, and others with whom one might disagree completely, but can understand deeply and profoundly even in the most abstract things, based on this indeterminate basis that is so mysterious.
Deleuze's hypothesis is that each of us is apt to seize a certain type of charm, a perception of charm, i.e. in a gesture, a thought, even before the thought is signifying, a modesty, a charm that goes to the roots of perception, to the vital roots, and this constitutes a friendship. He gives the example of a phrase one might hear from someone, a vulgar, disgusting phrase that leaves an indelible impression about that person, no matter what he/she can ever do. The same is for charm, only opposite, the indelible effect of charm as a question of perception, perceiving someone who suits us, who teaches us something, opens us, awakens us, emits signs, and we become sensitive to that emission of signs, one receives them or not, but one can become open to them. And then one can spend time with someone else saying things that are absolutely unimportant.
Deleuze laughs as he says that he finds friendship extremely comical, and Parnet reminds him of how he sees friendship in terms of couples. Deleuze discusses one very close friend, Jean-Pierre, with whom he has had a long friendship, and they constitute one kind of couple that he likens to the characters in Beckett's Mercier and Camier, whereas with Guattari, it's more a couple of the Bouvard and Pecuchet sort, trying to create their huge encyclopedia that touches on all fields of knowledge. It's not a question, he says, of imitating these grand couples, but friendship is made of these kinds of relations, even when one disagrees.
But Deleuze says then that in the question of friendship, there is a mystery that is connected directly to philosophy. He here turns to the concept of the friend as developed by the Greeks. The philosopher is a friend of wisdom, a concept that the Greeks invented: as someone tending toward wisdom without being wise, with a number of pretendents functioning in a rivalry of free men in all domains, with eloquence, trials that they pursue (the pretendent is what he calls "the Greek phenomenon par excellence"). Philosophy is a rivalry toward something, and in looking at the history of philosophy, one sees that for some writers, philosophy is precisely this connection to friendship, and for others, a connection to fiançailles (engagement), e.g. Kierkegaard (fiançailles rompues, broken engagement). Parnet cites Blanchot and his concept of friendship, and Deleuze says both Blanchot and Mascolo are the two current writers who give the greatest importance to friendship as the very category or condition of the exercise of thought. Not an actual friend, but friendship as a category or condition for thinking [cf. Qu'est-ce que la philosophie?/What Is Philosophy? for their development of this concept].
Deleuze concludes that he adores distrusting the friend. Deleuze refers to a German poet, between dog and wolf, there is an hour at which one must distrust the friend, and he says that he distrusts his friend Jean-Pierre, but he does so with such gaiety, that it does no harm. There is a great community of friendship so that it works out. But Deleuze insists that these are not all events, not tiny little private matters; when one says "friend" or "lost engagement," one has to know under what conditions thought can occur (s'exercer). Proust said that friendship is zero, personally and for thought, no thought in friendship, but rather in jealous love, as the condition of thought for Proust.
Parnet asks a final question about his friendship with Foucault which was not a friendship of the couple, was deep but distant. Deleuze says that Foucault was someone of the greatest mystery for him, perhaps because they knew each other too late in life. Deleuze says he feels a great regret toward Foucault, while having respected him enormously. He says that Foucault was the rare case of a man who entered a room and everything changed. Foucault, like all of us, was not simply a person, but rather it was like another gust of air or something atmospheric occurred, an emanation. Foucault corresponds, says Deleuze, to what he mentioned earlier, about not needing to speak to appreciate and understand each other. Deleuze's memory is particularly of Foucault's gestures, dry, strange, fascinating, like gestures of metal and wood.
Finally, Deleuze says that all people only have charm through their madness (folie). What is charming is the side of someone that shows that they're a bit unhinged (où ils perdent un peu les pédales). If you can't grasp the small trace of madness in someone, you can't be their friend. But if you grasp that small point of insanity, "démence," of someone, the point where they are afraid or even happy, that point of madness is the very source of his/her charm. He then pauses, smiles, and says: "D'où 'G'" (Which leads us to 'G')...
Parnet reminds Deleuze that although he comes from a bourgeois family with 'right' political leanings, he has since the Liberation in 1945 been a 'homme de gauche' (leftist), and she reminds him also that while so many of his friends joined the French Communist Party (PC), he never did. Why?
Deleuze says, yes, they all went through the PC, and what prevented him from doing so was that he was always so hard-working
Parnet asks if Deleuze nonetheless felt close to the Party's commitments, and he says no, that they never concerned him, something else that saved him from all these discussions about Stalin, and about the revolution going wrong. Deleuze chortles at this point, says who are they trying to kid
That revolution failed, all revolutions do, and now people are pretending to "rediscover" that. You really have to be dimwitted, Deleuze repeats... Everyone is getting lost in this current revisionism. There is François Furet who discovered that the French Revolution wasn't as great as had been thought, that it failed. But everybody knows that, the French Revolution gave us Napoleon! People are making "discoveries" that, for Deleuze, are not very impressive through their novelty <on fait des découvertes qui ne sont pas très émouvantes par leur nouveauté>. The British Revolution resulted in Cromwell, the American Revolution had worse results, the political parties, Reagan, which don't seem any better.
Deleuze pursues this farther: people are in such a state of confusion about revolutions failing, going bad. Yet that never prevented people from becoming revolutionary. Deleuze argues that people are confusing two absolutely different things: the situation in which the only outcome for man is to become revolutionary, it's the confusion between becoming and history, and if people become revolutionary, that's historians' confusion. Historians, says Deleuze, speak of the future of the revolution, but that is not at all the question.
The concrete problem is how and why people become revolutionary, and fortunately historians can't prevent them from doing so. It's obvious, Deleuze says, that the South Africans are caught up in a becoming-revolutionary, the Palestinians as well. Then, Deleuze says, if someone tells him after that, even if their revolution succeeds, it will go badly, Deleuze responds: first of all, they will not be the same kinds of problems, but new situations will exist, becomings-revolutionary will be unleashed. The business of people in situations of oppression and tyranny, argues Deleuze, is to enter into becomings-revolutionary, and when someone says, "oh, it's not working out," we aren't talking about the same thing, it's as if we were speaking two different languages -- the future of history and the future of becomings are not at all the same thing, he concludes.
* [TRANSLATED SECTION] [TRANSCRIBED SECTION, IN FRENCH]
Parnet picks up another current issue (in 1988), the respect for the"rights of man" <les droits de l'homme> which is so fashionable, but is not revolutionary, quite the opposite. Deleuze replies softly, even wearily, that he thinks the respect for the "rights of man" belongs to this weak thinking <pensée molle> of the impoverished intellectual period that they discussed earlier (under "C as in Culture"). It's purely abstract, says Deleuze, these "rights of man", purely abstract, completely empty. It's like what he was trying to say about desire: desire does not consist of erecting an object, of saying I desire this... we don't desire an object, it's zero; rather, we find ourselves in situations.
Deleuze takes an example from the news, the Armenian situation: an enclave in another Armenian Soviet republic, a first step; then there is a massacre by some sort of Turkish group, so the Armenians retreat into their republic, and right then, there is an earthquake. You'd think you were in something written by the Marquis de Sade, Deleuze says, these poor people in these awful circumstances. (Deleuze gives this example as a set of situations).
He continues that when people say "the rights of man," it's just intellectual discourse, odious intellectuals at that, who have no ideas. Deleuze insists that these declarations are never made as a function of the people that are directly concerned, the Armenians, for example. Their problem is not the "rights of man." This is what Deleuze calls an "assemblage"
All the abominations that humans undergo, says Deleuze, are cases, not elements of abstract law. These are abominable cases, just as the Armenian problem is an extremely complex problem of jurisprudence, to save the Armenians or help them save themselves. Then, an earthquake occurs to confuse everything . To act for freedom, becoming revolutionary, is to operate in jurisprudence when one turns to the justice system. So it's not a question of applying the "rights of man," but rather of inventing forms of jurisprudence, so that for each case, this would no longer be possible.
Deleuze offers an example to help explain what jurisprudence is: he recalls when smoking in taxis was forbidden. At first, some refused, and the whole matter became quite public because of smokers. In an aside, Deleuze mentions that if he hadn't studied philosophy, he would have studied law, but not the "rights of man." Rather he'd have studied jurisprudence, it's life; there are no "rights of man," says Deleuze, only rights of life, case by case. He returns to the taxi example: one day, some guy does not want to stop smoking, so he sues the cab, the cab loses the case on the grounds that when someone takes a taxi, he is renting it, and the renter has the right to smoke in his rented location. The taxi is assimilated to being a rolling apartment, and the customer is the renter. Ten years later, the taxi is no longer assimilated in this way, it becomes assimilated instead to being a form of public service, and no one has the right any more to smoke.
So it's a question of situations that evolve, and fighting for freedom is to engage in jurisprudence. In Armenia, what are the "rights of man"? The Turks don't have the right to massacre Armenians: how far does that really get us? It's the dimwitted or hypocrites really, Deleuze argues, who have this idea of the "rights of man." The creation of rights is the creation of jurisprudence and fighting for it. That's what the left is, creating rights.
*** [END of TRANSLATED SECTION, see above]
Parnet affirms that this demand for the "rights of man" is like a denial of May '68 and a denial of Marxism as well. Yet Deleuze was never a Communist, and still he makes use of Marx who continues to be a referent for him. And Deleuze, says Parnet, is one of the last persons who has not said that May '68 was nil, schoolroom pranks; and ,everyone changes. She asks him to talk a bit about May '68. Deleuze chides her, says she is too harsh, he is not one of the last people, lots of people think well of May '68. Parnet counters that these are his friends. Deleuze says still, lots of people have not denied or recanted on May '68.
For Deleuze, May '68 is simple: it's an intrusion of the real. People often have wanted to view it as the reign of the imaginary, but it's really, says Deleuze, a gust of the real in its pure state <une bouffée du réel dans l'état pur>. It's the real, he repeats, and people don't understand that, it was prodigious! People in reality, that's what a becoming is. There can be bad becomings, and it's almost required for historians not to have understood that, Deleuze believes, because at such moments, the difference between history and becomings is revealed, and May '68 was a becoming-revolutionary without a revolutionary future. People can always make fun of it after the fact, but becomings took hold of people, even becomings-animal, even becomings-children, becomings-women for men, becomings-men for women. All these aspects are in this very special domain that Deleuze and Parnet have been pouring over since the start of her questions.
Parnet asks Deleuze if he had becomings-revolutionary himself at that moment, and he says that her smile tells him it's a question not devoid of mockery. So she rephrases it: Between Deleuze's cynicism as a "homme de gauche"/leftist and his becoming-revolutionary as a leftist, how does he unravel, explain all that <se débrouiller>, and what does it mean for Deleuze to be "de gauche", on the left? Deleuze pauses here before answering. Then he says he does not believe that a leftist government exists, which is not astonishing. The best one can hope for, he believes, is a government favorable to certain demands from the left. But a leftist government does not exist since being on the left has nothing to do with governments <n'est pas une affaire de gouvernement>.
So how to define being on the left, he continues? In two ways: first, it's a matter of perception, which means this: what would not being on the left mean? It's a little like an address, extending outward from a person: the street where you are, the city, the country, other countries farther and farther away
Parnet understandably objects that the Japanese aren't really so leftist, and Deleuze gestures at her dismissively, her objection isn't adequate <c'est pas une raison>, on the basis of that
So, he continues, women will make their mark either by intervening in this majority, or in the minorities according to groupings in which they are placed according to this standard. Deleuze clarifies this: being a woman is not a given by nature, women have their own becomings-woman; and so, if women have a becoming-woman, men have a becoming-woman as well. Deleuze reminds Parnet of talking earlier about becomings-animal, about children having their own becomings, not being children naturally. Parnet wonders that men cannot become men, and that's tough! Deleuze says, no, that's a majoritarian standard, virile, adult, male... they can become women, and then they enter into minoritarian practices. The Left, Deleuze concludes, is the aggregate of processes of minoritarian becomings. So, says Deleuze, quite literally, the majority is no one, the minority is everyone, and that's what being on the left is: knowing that the minority is everyone and that it's there that phenomena of becomings occur. That's why however great they think are, they still have doubts about the outcome of elections.
Parnet lists Deleuze's early works, the first phase on the history of philosophy -- on Hume, Nietzsche, Kant, Bergson, Spinoza --, then says that someone encountering his later works -- Difference and Repetition, Logic of Sense, and works with Guattari -- might think he had a Jekyll/Hyde personality. Then, she remarks, he returned in 1988 to Leibniz, so asks what he enjoyed and still enjoys in the history of philosophy?
Deleuze pauses, then says it's a complicated matter because this history of philosophy encompasses philosophy itself. He assumes that a lot of people think of philosophy as being quite abstract and mostly for specialists, but in his view, it has nothing to do with specialists, or is so only in the way that music or painting are. So he indicates that he tries to pose the problem differently._
Deleuze says that, conventionally, the history of philosophy is abstract in the second degree since it does not consist of talking about abstract ideas, but of forming abstract ideas about abstract ideas. But he has always seen it differently, comparing it to painting. He refers to letters by Van Gogh on the distinctions between portraiture or landscapes <see Logique de la sensation XV, for more extensive discussion of Van Gogh's correspondence>. For Deleuze, the history of philosophy is, as in painting, a kind of art of the portrait, creating a philosopher's portrait, but a philosophical portrait of a philosopher, a mental or spiritual portrait such that it's an activity that belongs fully within philosophy itself, just as a portraiture belongs to painting.
Deleuze wonders if he's going a bit fast with this comparison with painting, though, and says that if he invokes painters like Van Gogh or Gauguin, it's because something in their works has an enormous effect on him, the kind of immense respect or rather fear and even panic they evince when faced with getting in
So, it's not that he is particularly modest, Deleuze says, but it strikes him as being quite shocking were there philosophers who simply said, hey, I'm going into philosophy now, going to do my own philosophy. These are feeble statements, argues Deleuze, because philosophy is like [painting with] colors, before entering into it, one has to take so many precautions, before conquering the "philosophical color"
Parnet says that the usefulness of the history of philosophy for Deleuze is clear in this explanation. But the usefulness of history of philosophy for people in general, what is that, she asks, since Deleuze says that he does not want to see it as a kind of specialization?
For Deleuze, this is very simple. You can understand what philosophy is, he says -- that is, the extent to which it is no more an abstract thing than a painting or a musical work -- only through the history of philosophy, provided that you conceive of it in the proper manner
Deleuze admits that this still remains abstract, and asks why? If we proceed to read through Plato, everything becomes concrete, Deleuze insists. Plato didn't create this concept of Idea by chance; he said that whatever happens in this concrete situation, whatever might be a given therein, there are rivals <prétendents>, i.e. people who say: for this thing, I'm the best example of it. Plato gave an example of the politician with an initial definition as the pastor of men, who takes care of people. As a result, people step forward to say, I'm the true pastor of men (the merchant, the shepherd, the doctor), i.e. different levels. In other words, there are rivals, and so with that, things starts to appear a bit more concrete.
Deleuze insists that a philosopher creates concepts, e.g. the Idea, the thing in so far as it is pure
Deleuze sees this allows the discussion to move forward a bit since every concept, e.g. the Idea, refers to a problem, in this case, how to select the claimant. If you do philosophy abstractly, he insists, you do not even see the problem, but if one reaches this problem... One might wonder why the problem isn't stated clearly by a philosopher since it certainly exists in his work, and Deleuze maintains that it's because one can't do everything at once. The philosopher's task is already that of exposing the concepts that s/he's in the process of creating, so s/he can't expose the problems on top of that, or at least one can discover these problems only through the concepts being created. Deleuze insists: if you haven't found the problem to which a concept corresponds, everything stays abstract. If you've found the problem, everything becomes concrete. That's why in Plato, there are constantly these claimants, these rivals.
Deleuze goes on to ask, why does this occur in the Greek city, and in Plato? The concept is the Idea as means of selecting the suitors, but why did this concept and this problem take form in the Greek milieu?
He gives another example: people usually don't see problems, these usually stay hidden, but to engage in the history of philosophy is to restore these problems and, through this, to discover what's innovative in these concepts. The history of philosophy links up concepts as if they seemed to go without saying, as if they weren't created, so there tends to be total ignorance about problems.
Deleuze offers a final example: much later, Leibniz arrived and invented an extraordinary concept to which he gave the name, monad. There is always something a bit crazy in a concept. Leibniz's monad, Deleuze continues, designated a subject, somebody, you or me, in so far as it expresses the totality of the world, and in expressing the totality of the world, it only expresses clearly a tiny region of the world, its territory, or what Leibniz calls his "department". So a subjective unity that expresses the entire world, but that only clearly expresses a region of the world -- this is called a monad. It's a concept Leibniz created, but why state it this way? One has to find the problem, that's the charm of reading philosophy, as charming as reading a good book. Leibniz poses a problem, specifically that everything only exists as folded... He saw the world as an aggregate of things folded within each other. Deleuze here suggests stepping back a bit: why did he see the world like this? What was happening back then? What counts, Deleuze argues, is the idea of the fold, everything is folded, and everything is a fold of a fold, you can never reach something that is completely unfolded. Matter is constituted of folds overlapping back onto it, and things of the mind, perceptions, feelings, ideas, are folded into the soul. It's precisely because perceptions, feeling, ideas are folded into a soul that Leibniz constructed this concept of a soul that expresses the entire world, i.e. in which he discovers the entire world to be folded.
Deleuze asks abruptly, what is a bad philosopher, or a great philosopher? The bad one, he answers, creates no concepts, uses ready-made ideas, thus puts forth opinions, and does not do philosophy, and poses no problems. So, to do history of philosophy is this long apprenticeship in which one learns, or one is truly an apprentice in this domain, the constitution of problems and the creation of concepts. And how is it that thought can be idiotic, moronic? Some people talk, don't create concepts, put forth opinions, but moreover, we don't know what problems they're talking about. At most, one knows the questions, but not the problems behind certain questions (e.g. Does God exist? doesn't pose any problem, what might be behind that...) If you have neither a concept nor a problem, says Deleuze, you aren't doing philosophy. All this is to say, Deleuze insists, the extent to which philosophy is amusing. So doing history of philosophy is to discover nothing different than what one finds while looking at a painting or listening to a musical work.
Parnet asks, since Deleuze evoked Gauguin's and Van Gogh's quaking and hesitation from fear before taking on color, what happened to him, Deleuze, when he passed from history of philosophy to doing his own philosophy? Deleuze answers swiftly, this is what happened: history of philosophy gave him the chance to learn things, made him more capable of moving toward what color is in philosophy. And he asks, why does philosophy not cease to exist, why do we still have philosophy today? Because there is always an occasion to create concepts. But today, he continues, this notion of creation of concepts is taken over by the media, publicity; with computers, they say you can create concepts, an entire language stolen from philosophy for "communication." But what they call concepts, creating, Deleuze says dismissively, is truly comic, no need to insist on it. That still remains philosophy's task.
Deleuze states that he never was affected by people who proclaim the death of philosophy, getting <dépasser> beyond philosophy, etc., since he always wondered what that could mean. As long as there's a need to create concepts, there will be philosophy since that's the definition of philosophy, we have to create them, and we create them as a function of problems, and problems evolve. Certainly, one can be Platonician, Leibnizian, Kantian today, that is, one judges that certain problems -- not all -- posed by Plato remain valid provided one makes certain transformations, and so one is Platonician since one still has use for Platonic concepts. If we pose problems of a completely different nature, doing philosophy is creating new concepts as a function of problems posed today.
The final aspect, Deleuze continues, is what is the evolution of problems? We might say historical, social forces, but there is something deeper. It's all very mysterious, Deleuze admits, maybe they don't have time in the interview to pursue it, but Deleuze sees us reaching a kind of becoming of thought, evolution of thought that results not only in no longer posing the same problems, they are no longer posed in the same way. There is an urgent appeal, a necessity even to create and re-create new concepts. So history of philosophy cannot be reduced to sociological influence, he argues. There is a becoming of thought, something very mysterious that causes us perhaps no longer to think in the same way as a hundred years ago, new thought processes, ellipses of thought. Deleuze maintains that there is a history of pure thought, and that's what history of philosophy is, it has always had only one function, so there's no need to get beyond it, as it has its sole function.
Parnet asks how a problem evolves through time, and Deleuze offers another example: what, for most of the great philosophers in the 17th century, was their negative worry? It was a matter of warding off the dangers of error, i.e. the negative of thought, to prevent the mind from falling into error. There was a long, gradual slide and in the 18th century, a different problem emerges, not at all the same: no longer denouncing error, but denouncing illusions, the idea that the mind is not only surrounded by illusions, but could even produce them itself. So this is the movement in the 18th century, the denunciation of superstitions, and while it appears similar to the 17th century, something completely new is being born in the 18th century. One might say that it's due to social causes, but Deleuze maintains that there is also a secret history of thought that would be a passionate subject to pursue.
Then, in the 19th century -- here, Deleuze admits that he is stating things in an extremely simple and rudimentary way -- things have slid . It's no longer how to avoid illusion; no, as spiritual creatures, men ceaselessly emit inanities <bêtises>, which is not the same thing as falling into illusion: how to ward off "bêtises", inanities? That appears clearly in people on the border of philosophy, Flaubert, Baudelaire, the problem of "bêtises". And there again, social evolution, the evolution of the bourgeoisie, made the problem of "bêtises" an urgent problem. But there is also something deeper in this kind of history of problems that thought confronts. Every time one poses a problem, new concepts appear such that, if we understand the history of philosophy this way -- creation of concepts, constitution of problems, problems being more or less hidden, so we have to discover them --, we see that philosophy has strictly nothing to do with the true or the false. Looking for the truth means nothing. Creating concepts and constituting problems is a matter of meaning, not truth or falsity... a problem with meaning, so doing philosophy is to constitute problems that have a sense and to create concepts that cause us to move toward the understanding and solution of problems.
Parnet returns to two special questions for Deleuze: when he returned to doing history of philosophy in the Leibniz book (The Fold) the previous year, was it in the same way as 20 years earlier, i.e. before he had produced his own philosophy? Deleuze answers, certainly not. Before, he used history of philosophy as this kind of indispensable apprenticeship in order to look for the concepts of others, of great philosophers, and problems for which their concepts provided answers. Whereas, in the book on Leibniz -- and Deleuze says, there's nothing vain in what he is about to say --, he mixed in problems from the 20th century, that might be his own problems, with those posed by Leibniz, since Deleuze is persuaded of the actuality of great philosophers. So, what does it mean to act as
Parnet continues by asking about his work on Spinoza and Nietzsche, about which Deleuze had said that he focused therein on the rather accursed and hidden area of philosophy. What did he mean? Deleuze says that, for him, this hidden area referred to thinkers who rejected all transcendence, all universals, the idea or concepts having universal values, any instance that goes beyond the earth and men... authors of immanence.
Parnet pursues this by observing that his books on Nietzsche and Spinoza were real events, books that he is known for, yet one cannot say that he is a Nietzschean or a Spinozian. Deleuze passed through all that, even during his apprenticeship, and Parnet says that he was already Deleuzean. Deleuze appears slightly embarrassed, saying that she has given him an enormous compliment, if it's true. What he always hoped for, he says, whether his work was good or bad, and he knew he could fail, was trying to pose problems for his own purposes
Parnet's final question on this topic: during the period around 1968, and before, when everyone was involved in reading Marx and Reich, wasn't Deleuze rather deliberately provocative in turning toward Nietzsche, suspected of fascism, and toward Spinoza and the body, when everyone was preaching about Reich? Didn't history of philosophy serve a bit as a dare, a provocation for him?
Deleuze responds by saying that this is connected to what they've been discussing all along, the same question. What he was looking for, even with Guattari, was this kind of truly immanent dimension of the unconscious. Psychoanalysis is entirely full of transcendental elements -- the law, the father, the mother -- whereas a field of immanence that would allow him to define the unconscious was the domain into which Spinoza went the farthest, and Nietzsche as well, farther than anyone before them. So there was no provocation, but Spinoza and Nietzsche form in philosophy perhaps the greatest liberation of thought, almost explosive in nature, and the most unusual concepts, because their problems were somewhat condemned problems, that people did not dare pose during their eras.
<Deleuze stops, smiling at Parnet, and she responds quite oddly, saying (almost in the tone of scolding parent): "We'll go on then since you don't want to answer ." Deleuze simply makes a soft questioning "eh?" as Parnet announces):
Parnet begins by saying that this "idea" is no longer in the Platonic domain. Rather, she says, Deleuze always spoke passionately about philosophers' ideas, but also ideas of thinkers in cinema (directors), artists' and painters' ideas. He always preferred an "idea" to explications and commentary. So why, for Deleuze, does the "idea" take precedence over everything else?
Deleuze admits that this is quite correct: the "idea" as he uses it traverses all creative activities, since creating means having an idea. But there are people -- not at all to be scorned for this -- who go through life without ever having an idea. Deleuze insists that it is usually quite rare to have an idea, it doesn't happen every day. And a painter is no less likely to have ideas than a philosopher, just not the same kind of ideas. So, Deleuze asks, in what form does an idea occur in a particular case? In philosophy, at least, in two ways: the idea occurs in the form of concepts and of creation of concepts.
Deleuze is struck by filmmakers: while some have no ideas, some have quite a few, since ideas are quite haunting, coming and going, and taking diverse forms. Deleuze gives an example of the film director, Minelli. In his works, one sees that he asks himself: what does it mean to be caught up in someone's dreaming? It goes from the comic to the tragic and even to the abominable. So from getting caught in another's dreaming can result awful things, it's possibly horror in its pure state. So, in Minelli's work, one can get caught in the nightmare of war, and that produces the admirable Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, not war viewed as war, but as a nightmare. What would it mean to be caught in a young girl's dream? That results in musical comedies, in which Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly -- Deleuze indicates he's not quite sure of the names -- escape from tigresses and black panthers. That's an idea. Deleuze is quick to point out that it's not a concept though, and Minelli is not doing philosophy, but creating cinema <il fait du cinéma>.
Deleuze continues by suggesting that we almost have to distinguish three dimensions, which is his future work <that he and Guattari develop in What is Philosophy?>:
1) in the first, there are concepts that are invented in philosophy;
2) in the second, there are percepts in the domain of art. An artist creates percepts, a word required to distinguish these from perceptions. What does a novelist want? He wants to be able to construct aggregates of perceptions and sensations that survive those who read the novel. Deleuze gives examples in Tolstoy or Chekhov, each in his own way, who are able to write like a painter manages to paint. So, to try to give to this complex web of sensations a radical independence in relation to he/she who experiences them: Tolstoy described atmospheres; Faulkner, and another great American novelist, Thomas Wolfe who nearly stated this in his short stories: someone goes out in the morning, smells toast, sees a bird flying, and feels a complex web of sensations.
So, what happens when someone who experiences the sensations goes on to do something else? This, says Deleuze, is a bit like in art, where we find an answer. It's to give a duration or an eternity to this complex web of sensations that are no longer grasped as being experienced by someone, or at the outside, might be grasped as experienced by a fictional character. What does a painter do? He gives consistency to percepts, he tears percepts out of perception.
Deleuze points to the Impressionists who utterly twisted perception. A concept, Deleuze says, creates a crack in the skull
3) A third order of things, a kind of connection among them all, are affects. Deleuze says that, of course, there are no percepts without affects, but that these are specific as well: these are becomings that exceed him or her who goes through them, exceed the strength of those who go through them. Doesn't music lead us into these forces
Parnet notes that Deleuze is always very interested in the ideas of painters, artists, philosophers, but she asks why he never seems interested in looking at or reading something that would simply be amusing or something merely diverting with having an idea. Isn't that an idea possible there as well? Deleuze says that, in the sense that he defines "idea," he has difficulty seeing how that would be possible. If you show him a painting that has no percepts or play for him some music without affect, Deleuze says he almost cannot understand what that would mean. And a stupid book of philosophy, he says he would have trouble understanding what kind of pleasure he would derive from it, other than an extremely sickly pleasure. Parnet says that one might simply pick up a deliberately amusing book, and Deleuze says that such a book could well be full of ideas, it all depends. He says that no one has ever made him laugh more than Beckett and Kafka, and he considers himself to be sensitive to humor, but that it's true that he does not like comedy on television very much. Parnet says that the exception for Deleuze is Benny Hill (!), and Deleuze says yes, because he [Benny Hill] "has an idea," but that even in this domain, the great American comics
Parnet asks if it ever happens that Deleuze sits down to his writing table without an idea of what he's going to do, that is, without having any ideas at all. Deleuze says of course not, if he has no ideas, he doesn't sit down to write. But what happens is that the idea hasn't developed enough, the idea escapes him, the idea disappears, there might be holes. He has these painful experiences, he admits, and it doesn't go smoothly since ideas are not ready-made, there are terrible moments, even desperate moments of this sort. Parnet brings up an expression: the idea that makes a hole that is missing <l'idée qui fait un trou qui manque>, and Deleuze responds by saying that's impossible to distinguish. Do I have an idea that I am just unable to express, or do I just not have any ideas at all? For Deleuze, it's quite the same thing: if he cannot express it, he doesn't have the idea, or a piece of it is missing since ideas don't arrive in a completely formed block, there are things that come in from diverse horizons, and if you are missing a piece, then it is unusable.
J as in Joy
Parnet begins by saying that this is a concept that Deleuze is particularly attached to since it's a Spinozaist concept and Spinoza turned joy into a concept of resistance and life: let us avoid sad passions, let us live with joy in order to be at the maximum of our force
Deleuze says yes, these texts are the most extraordinarily charged with affect. In Spinoza that means -- to simplify -- that joy is everything that consists in fulfilling a force
Deleuze ask first, what about the opposite, what is sadness? It occurs when one is separated from a force of which I believed myself, rightly or wrongly, to be capable: I could have done that, but circumstances didn't allow, or it was forbidden, etc. All sadness is the effect of power
Deleuze continues by suggesting that the confusion between force and powers is quite costly because power always separates people who are subjected to it from what they are able to do. Spinoza started from this point, Deleuze says, and he returns to something Parnet said in asking her question, that sadness is linked to priests, to tyrants, to judges, and these are perpetually the people who separate their subjects from what they are able to do, forbid them from realizing forces. Deleuze recalls something that Parnet said under "I as in Idea," referring to Nietzsche's anti-Semitism. Deleuze sees this as an important question, since there are texts of Nietzsche that one can find quite disturbing if they are read in the manner mentioned earlier, reading philosophers too quickly. What strikes Deleuze as curious is that in all the texts in which Nietzsche lashes out against the Jewish people, what does he reproach them for, and what has contributed to his anti-Semitic reputation? Nietzsche reproaches them in quite specific conditions for having invented a character that had never existed before the Jewish people, the character of the priest. Deleuze argues that, to his knowledge, in no text of Nietzsche is there the least reference to Jews in a general attack mode, but strictly an attack against the Jewish people-inventors of the priest. Deleuze says that Nietzsche does point out that in other social formations, there can be sorcerers, scribes, but these are not at all the same as the priest.
Deleuze maintains that one source of Nietzsche's greatness as a philosopher is that he never ceases to admire that which he attacks, for he sees the priest as a truly incredible invention, something quite astounding. And this results in an immediate connection with Christians, but not the same type of priest. So the Christians will conceive of another type of priest and will continue in the same path of the priestly character. This shows, Deleuze argues, the extent to which philosophy is concrete, for Deleuze insists that Nietzsche is, to his knowledge, the first philosopher to have invented, created, the concept of the priest, and from that point onward, to have posed fundamental problems: what does sincere, total power consist of? what is the difference between sincere, total power and royal power, etc.? For Deleuze, these are questions that remain entirely actual. Here Deleuze wishes to show, as he had begun earlier, how one can continue and extend philosophy. He refers to how Foucault, through his own means, emphasized pastoral power, a new concept that is not the same as Nietzsche's, but that engages directly with Nietzsche, and in this way, one develops a history of thought.
So what is the concept of the priest, and how is it linked to sadness, Deleuze asks? According to Nietzsche, this priest is defined as inventing the idea that men exist in a state of infinite debt. Before the priest, there is a history of debt, and ethnologists would do well to read some Nietzsche. They've done much research on this during our century, in so-called primitive societies, where things functioned through pieces of debt, blocks of finite debt, they received and then gave it back, all linked to time, deferred parcels. This is an immense area of study, says Deleuze, since it suggests that debt was primary to exchange. These are properly philosophical problems, Deleuze argues, but Nietzsche spoke about this well before the ethnologists. In so far as debt exists in a finite regime, man can free himself from it. When the Jewish priest invokes this idea by virtue of an alliance of infinite debt between the Jewish people and God, when the Christians adopt this in another form, the idea of infinite debt linked to original sin, this reveals the very curious character of the priest about which it is philosophy's responsibility to create the concept. Deleuze is careful to say that he does not claim that philosophy is necessarily atheist, but in Spinoza's case, he had already outlined an analysis of the Jewish priest, in the Theologico-Political Treatise. It happens, says Deleuze, that philosophical concepts are veritable characters that makes philosophy concrete <Clearly Deleuze is developing the concept of "conceptual personae" that he and Guattari propose in What is Philosophy?>. Creating the concept of the priest is like another kind of artist would create in a painting of the priest.
So, the concept of the priest pursued by Spinoza, then by Nietzsche, then by Foucault forms an exciting lineage. Deleuze says that he'd like to connect himself with it, to reflect a bit on this pastoral power, that some people say no longer functions. But, as Deleuze insists, one would have to see how it has been taken up again, for example, psychoanalysis as the new avatar of pastoral power. And how do we define it? It's not the same thing as tyrants and priests, but they at least have in common that they derive their power from the sad passions that they inspire in men, of the sort: repent in the name of infinite debt, you are the objects of infinite debt, etc. It's through this that they have power, it's through this that their power is an obstacle blocking the realization of forces. Whereas Deleuze argues that all power is sad, even if those who have it seem to revel in having it, it is still a sad joy.
On the other hand, Deleuze continues, joy is the realization
[Change of set, interview continues the next day]
Parnet says that Deleuze has been fortunate to escape infinite debt, so how is it that he complains from morning to night, and that he is the great defender of the complaint
If we look at history, Deleuze says, the elegy is a source of poetry, Latin poets like Catullus or Tiberius. And what is the elegy? It's the expression of he/she who, temporarily or not, no longer has any social status. To complain -- a little old man, someone in prison -- it's not sadness at all, but something quite different, the demand, something in the complaint that is astonishing, an adoration, like a prayer. The complaint of prophets, or something Parnet is particularly interested in, the complaint of hypochondriacs. The intensity of their complaint is beautiful it's sublime, Deleuze says. So, he continues, it's the socially excluded who are in a situation of complaint. There is a Hungarian specialist, Tökei, who studied the Chinese elegy that is enlivened by those no longer bearing a social status, i.e. the freed slave. A slave, however unfortunate he or she might be, still has a social status. The freed slave, though, is outside everything, like at the liberation of American blacks with the abolition of slavery, or in Russia, when no statute had been foreseen. So they find themselves excluded from any community [Deleuze and Guattari refer to Tökei in this same context in A Thousand Plateaus (449, 569, note 9)]. Then the great complaint is born. However, the great complaint does not express the pain they have, Deleuze argues, but is a kind of chant/song. This is why the complaint is a great poetic source.
K as in Kant
Parnet starts by stating that, of all the philosophers Deleuze has written on, Kant seems the farthest from his own thought. However, Deleuze has said that all the authors he has studied have something in common. So is there something in common between Kant and Spinoza, which is not at all obvious?
Deleuze pauses, then says that he'd prefer, if he dares, to address the first part of the question, i.e. why he took on Kant, once we say simply that there is nothing in common between Kant and Spinoza, or between Nietzsche and Kant (although, he points out, Nietzsche read Kant closely, but they would have a very different conception of philosophy). So why was he fascinated by Kant, Deleuze asks himself? For two reasons, Kant 1) was such a turning point and 2) went as far as possible, initiating something that had never been advanced in philosophy. Specifically, says Deleuze, he erects tribunals <il érige des tribunaux>, perhaps under the influence of the French Revolution.
Deleuze reminds Parnet that so far, he has been trying to talk about concepts as characters. So, before Kant, says Deleuze, in the 18th century, there is a new kind of philosopher presented as an investigator <enquêteur>, the investigation, titles appear with Investigation on this or that. The philosopher saw himself as an investigator. Even in the 17th century, and Leibniz is the last to represent this tendency, he saw himself as a lawyer, defending a cause, and the greatest thing is that Leibniz pretended to be God's lawyer. As there must have been things to reproach God for at the time, Leibniz writes a marvelous little work "God's Cause," in the juridical sense of cause, God's cause to be defended. It's like a sequence of characters: the lawyer, the investigator, and then with Kant, the arrival of a tribunal, a tribunal of reason, things being judged as a function of a tribunal of reason. And the faculties, in the sense of understanding -- the imagination, knowledge, morality -- are measured as a function of the tribunal of reason. Of course, he uses a certain method that he invented, a prodigious method called the critical method, the properly Kantian method.
Deleuze admits that he finds all of this aspect of Kant quite horrible, but it's both fascination and horror, because it's so ingenious. And in engaging with the concepts that Kant invented, Deleuze considers the concept of the tribunal of reason as inseparable from the critical method. But finally, he says, it's a tribunal of judgment, the system of judgment, just one that no longer needs God, based on reason, no longer on God.
In an aside, Deleuze points out that one might wonder about something he finds mysterious -- why someone, you or me, gets connected or relates especially to one kind of problem and not another? What is someone's affinity for a particular kind of problem? A person might be fated for one problem since we don't just take on just any problem. And this is true, Deleuze feels, for researchers in the sciences, an affinity for a particular problem. And philosophy is an aggregate of problems, with its own consistency, but it does not pretend to deal with all problems, thank God, Deleuze intones. Well, he feels somewhat linked to problems that aim at seeking the means to do away with the system of judges, and to replace it with something else. It's a great "no"... Deleuze thinks about what Parnet said earlier, and says in fact, Kant is another addition. Deleuze sees Spinoza, sees Nietzsche, in literature [D.H.] Lawrence, and finally the most recent and one of the greatest writers, Artaud, his "To Have Done With the Judgement of God," which has meaning, not the words of a madman, one really has to take this literally, Deleuze argues. [See "To Have Done With Judgment," Essays Critical and Clinical 126-135]
And underneath, when Deleuze says that one has to look underneath concepts, there are some astonishing statements by Kant, marvelous. Deleuze says that he was the first to have created an astonishing reversal of concepts, which is why Deleuze gets so sad when people, even young people preparing the baccalaureate, are taught in an abstract way without even trying to have them participate in problems that are quite fantastic problems. Deleuze insists that, up until Kant, for example, time was derived from movement, was second in relation to movement, considered to be a number or a measure of movement. What does Kant do? Parenthetically, Deleuze reminds Parnet that all he is doing here is constantly to consider what it means to create a concept. Continuing, he says Kant creates a concept because he reverses the subordination, so that with him, movement depends on time. And suddenly, time changes its nature, it ceases being circular. Before, time is subordinate to movement in which movement is the great periodic movement of heavenly bodies, so it's circular. On the contrary, when time is freed from movement and movement depends on time, then time becomes a straight line. Deleuze recalls something Borges said -- although he has little relation to Kant --, that a more frightening labyrinth than a circular labyrinth is one in a straight line, marvelous, but it was Kant who lets time loose.
And this story of the tribunal, Deleuze maintains, measuring the role of each faculty as a function of a particular goal, that's what Kant collides with at the end of his life, as he is one of the rare philosophers to write a book as an old man that would renew everything, the Critique of Judgment. He reaches the idea that the faculties have to have disorderly relations with each other, that they collide with each other, and then reconcile, but no longer being subject to a tribunal. He introduces his conception of the Sublime, in which the faculties enter into conflicts, so that there would be discordant accords
Parnet tries to ask Deleuze (as the tape runs out) about Kant's life, and Deleuze exclaims, we didn't discuss that beforehand. So Parnet asks a different question: there is an aspect of Kant's work that might also please Deleuze greatly, the aspect that Thomas De Quincey discussed [in The Last Days of Immanuel Kant], this fantastically regulated life full of habits, his little daily walk, the almost mythical image of a philosopher. Parent says that this image also applies to Deleuze, that is, something quite regulated, with an enormous number of habits...
Deleuze smiles again, says he sees what she means, and De Quincey's text is one that Deleuze finds quite exciting, a real work of art. But he sees this aspect belonging to all philosophers, not the same habits, but to say that they are creatures of habit seems to suggests that they have no familiarity with...
L as in Literature
Parnet begins by observing that literature and philosophy constitute Deleuze's life, the he reads and re-reads "great literature" <la grande littérature>, and treats great literary writers as thinkers. Between his books on Kant and Nietzsche, he wrote Proust and Signs, then subsequently published three augmented versions of the book. He has written on Carroll and Zola in Logic of Sense, on Masoch, Kafka, British and American literatures. One gets the impression, she says, that it's almost more through literature than through the history of thought that he inaugurates a new kind of thinking. So, she asks, has Deleuze always been a reader?
Deleuze says yes, although at one point, he was a much more active reader of philosophy since that was part of his apprenticeship, and he didn't have time for novels. But throughout his life, he read, and more and more. Does he make use of it for philosophy? he asks. Yes, certainly, for example, he indicates that he owes an immense amount to Fitzgerald, and Faulkner as well, and although not usually considered a very philosophical writer. <Deleuze here indicates that he can't recall which writers are important for him>
Deleuze continues, saying that his literary reading can be explained as a function of what they discussed earlier, the history of the concept is never alone: at the same time that it pursues its task, it makes us see things, that is, there is an interconnection onto percepts. Whenever one finds percepts in a novel, there is a perpetual communication between concepts and percepts. There are also stylistic problems that are the same in philosophy and literature. Deleuze suggests posing the question in quite simple terms: the great literary characters are great thinkers. He re-reads Melville a lot, and considers Captain Ahab to be a great thinker, Bartleby as well, in his own way. They cause us to think in such a way that a literary work traces as large a trail of intermittent concepts <en pointillé> as it does percepts. Quite simply, he argues, it's not the task of the literary writer who cannot do everything at once, he/she is caught up in the problems of percepts and of creating visions
What Deleuze finds in common between "great literature" and "great philosophy" is that both bear witness for life <ils témoignent pour la vie>, what he called "force" earlier bears witness for life. This is why great authors are not always in good health. Sometimes, there are cases like Victor Hugo when they are, so one must not say that all writers do not enjoy good health since many do. But why, Deleuze asks, are there so many literary writers who do not enjoy good health? It's because he/she experiences a flood of life
Parnet asks if Deleuze considers himself to be a writer in philosophy, as one would say writer in a literary sense. Deleuze answers that he doesn't know if he's a writer in philosophy, but that he knows that every great philosopher is a great writer. Parnet observes that there seems to be a nostalgia for creating fictional work when one is a great philosopher, but Deleuze says no, that does not even come up, it's as if you asked a painter why he doesn't create music? Deleuze admits that one could conceive of a philosopher who wrote novels, of course, why not? Deleuze says he does not consider Sartre to have been a novelist, although he did try to be, and in general, Deleuze sees no really great philosophers who were also important novelists. But on the other hand, Deleuze feels that philosophers have created characters, notably and eminently Plato, and certainly Nietzsche, with Zarathustra. So these are intersections that are discussed constantly, and Deleuze considers the creation of Zarathustra to be an immense success politically and literarily, just as Plato's characters were. These are points about which one cannot be completely certain whether they are concepts or characters, and are perhaps the most beautiful moments.
Parnet refers to Deleuze's love for secondary literary authors, like Villiers de l'Isle-Adam, Restif de la Bretonne, asking if he has always cultivated this affection. Here, Deleuze covers his face with one hand as he responds that he finds it truly bizarre to hear Villiers referred to as a secondary author
Deleuze continues in this vein, agreeing that in so-called secondary literatures... He insists that in Russian literature, for example, it's not limited to Dostoyevski and Tolstoy, but one cannot call [Nikolai] Leskov secondary as there is so much that is astonishing in Leskov. So these are great geniuses. Deleuze then says that he feels he has little to say on this point, on secondary authors, but what he is happy about is to have tried to find in any unknown author something that might show him a concept or an extraordinary character. But yes, Deleuze says, he has not engaged in any systematic research
Parnet pursues this by referring again to his work on Proust as the only sustained work that he ever devoted to a single author, although literature is such a reference in his philosophy. So she wonders about him never having devoted a full-length book to literature, a reflective book <livre de pensée> on literature. Deleuze says he just has not had the time, but that he plans to do so. Parnet says that this has haunted him, and he replies, he plans to do it because he wants to. Parnet asks if it will be a book of criticism, and Deleuze says rather than that, it will be on the problem of what writing means, for him, in literature. He says that Parnet is familiar with his whole research program, so they'll see if he has the time.
The last question on the letter L refers to the fact that while Deleuze reads many great (canonic) authors, one does not get the impression that he reads many contemporary authors. Deleuze says he understands what she means, and can answer quickly: it's not that he does not like to read them, it's that literature is a truly specialized activity in which one has to have training
So the question Parnet raises, Deleuze says, is quite sound, but he argues that one should not believe that, without experience, one can judge what is being created. What Deleuze prefers and what brings him great joy is when something that he is creating off on his own has an echo in a young painter's or a young writer's work. In that way, Deleuze feels that he can have a kind of encounter with what is happening currently, with another mode of creation. Deleuze says that his insufficiency as regard judgments is compensated by these encounters with people who resonate with what he is doing, and inversely.
Parnet says that painting and cinema, for example, are favored for such encounters since he goes to galleries and to the movies, but that she has trouble imagining him strolling into a bookstore and looking at books that just came out in the previous few months. Deleuze says she's right, but that this is linked to the idea that literature is not very strong at the moment, an idea that is a preconceived one in his mind, that literature is so corrupted by the system of distribution, of literary prizes, that it's not even worth the trouble.
M as in Malady/Illness
As Parnet announces this title, Deleuze quietly repeats the word "maladie". Parnet recounts that just after completing Difference and Repetition in 1968, Deleuze was hospitalized for a very severe case of tuberculosis. So, just as Deleuze was referring to Spinoza's and Nietzsche's weak state of health, from 1968 onward, Deleuze was forced to live with illness. She asks if he had known for a while that he had tuberculosis.
Deleuze says that he knew he had something for quite a while, but like a lot of people, he had no real desire to find out, and also he just assumed it was cancer, and wasn't in a big hurry. So he did not know it was tuberculosis, not until he was spitting up blood. He says that he was the child of someone with tuberculosis, but at the moment of his diagnosis, there was no real danger thanks to antibiotics. It was serious, and a few years earlier, he might not have survived, whereas in 1968, it was no longer a problem. It's an illness without much pain, and so he could say he was ill, but he maintains that it's a great privilege, an illness without pain and curable, hardly an illness at all. Before it, he says, his health was not all that great, he became fatigued easily.
The question, says Deleuze, is whether the illness made something easier, not necessarily more successful though, specifically an enterprise of thought, and Deleuze thinks that a very weakened state of illness favors this. It's not that one is tuned in to one's own life, but for him, it did seem like he was tuned into life. Tuning into life is something other than thinking about one's own health. He repeats that he thinks a fragile state of health favors this kind of tuning-in. When he was speaking earlier about authors like Lawrence or Spinoza, to some extent they saw something so enormous, so overwhelming that it was too much for them. It really means, Deleuze says, that one cannot think if one isn't already in a domain that exceeds one's strength to some extent, that makes one fragile. He repeats that he always had a fragile state of health, and this was underscored when he was diagnosed with tuberculosis, at which point he acquired all the rights accorded to a fragile state of health.
Parnet points out that Deleuze's relations with doctors and drugs changed from that moment onward: he had to go see doctors, take drugs regularly, and it was a constraint imposed on him, all the more so since he does not like doctors. Deleuze says yes, although it's not a personal thing between him and doctors; he points out that he has been treated by some very charming, "delicious" doctors. What he dislikes is a kind of power, or a way in which they manipulate power -- here Deleuze points out that, once again, they return to questions previously discussed, as if half of the letters already discussed were encompassed and folded back upon the totality.
Deleuze states that he finds odious the way doctors manipulate power, and that he has a great hatred, not for individuals, but for medical power and the way doctors use it. There is only one thing that made him happy, he says, as much as it displeased them. It would occur when they used their machines and tests on him. He considers these to be very unpleasant for a patient since these are tests that really seem completely useless, except to make the doctors feel better about diagnoses that they already have made. If they had so much talent, says Deleuze, then these doctors seem only to use these cruel tests to make themselves feel better by playing with these inadmissible tests. So what made Deleuze quite happy was each time he had to be tested by one of their machines -- his breath was too inaudible to register on their machines, or they weren't able to give him a cardiac test -- they got furious with him, they hated this poor patient, because they could accept quite easily the fact their diagnosis might be wrong, but not that their machine wouldn't work on him.
Moreover, Deleuze judges them to be far too uncultured, or when they attempt to be cultured, the results are catastrophic. They are very strange people, doctors, but Deleuze's consolation is that if they earn a lot of money, they don't have time to spend it and to take advantage of it because they lead a very hard life. So it's true, Deleuze repeats, he does not find doctors very attractive, but individuals can be quite exquisite, yet they treat people like dogs in their official functions. So it really reveals class struggle because if one is a little bit wealthy, they are at least a bit polite, except in surgery. Surgeons are a different case altogether. Deleuze says that some kind of reform of doctors is needed.
Parnet asks if Deleuze takes drugs all the time, and Deleuze says yes, he likes doing that, it doesn't bother him except that they tend to tire him out. Parnet is surprised that Deleuze actually enjoys taking medicine, and Deleuze says, yes, when there's a lot! In his current state (in 1988), his little pile every morning is a real hoot
Parnet says that with this fatigue connected to illness, one thinks of Blanchot writing about fatigue and friendship. She says that fatigue plays a great role in his life, and sometimes one gets the impression that it's an excuse for avoiding a lot of things that bore/bother him, and that fatigue has always been very useful. Deleuze says that being affected in this way, this thought leads back to the theme of force
For Deleuze, illness is not an enemy, not something that gives the feeling of death, but rather, something that gives a feeling of life, but not in the sense that "I still want to live, and so once I'm cured, I'll start living." Deleuze says he cannot think of anything more abject in the world than what people call a "bon vivant." On the contrary, "bon vivants" are men with very weak health. So for Deleuze the question is clear: illness sharpens a kind of vision of life or a sense of life. He emphasizes that when he says vision, vision of life, life, it's in the sense of him saying "to see life," these difficulties that sharpen, that give life a vision of life, illness, life in all its force, in all its beauty. Deleuze feels quite certain of this, he says.
But how can one have secondary benefits from illness, he asks? One has to use it, even in order to be a bit more free, otherwise it's very troublesome, for example, if one works too hard, something one ought not to do. To work too hard -- if it's a question of working to realize any force, it's worth it, but working too hard socially --Deleuze says he can't understand a doctor working too hard because he has too many patients. So, to realize a benefit from illness is, in fact, to free oneself from things that one cannot be free from in ordinary life. Deleuze says that, personally, he never liked traveling, because he never really knew how, although he has great respect for travelers. But the fact that his health was so weakened insured his being able to decline invitations to travel. Or going to bed too late was always difficult for him, so once he had his fragile health, there was no longer any question of going to bed too late. He says he's not talking about people closest to him in his life, but from social duties, illness is extraordinarily liberating, is really good in that way.
Parnet asks if Deleuze sees fatigue as an illness, and Deleuze says it's something else. For him, it means: I've done what I could today, that's it, the day is over. He sees fatigue biologically as the day being done. It's possible that it could last for other reasons, social reasons, but fatigue is the biological formulation of the day being done, of one not being able to draw anything further from oneself. So, if you take it this way, says Deleuze, it's not a bothersome feeling, it's rather pleasant, unless one hasn't done anything, then indeed, it's quite agonizing. It's to these states of fatigue, these flimsy, fleeting states <états cotonneux> that Deleuze has always been sensitive. He likes that state, the end of something, and it probably has a name in music, a coda, fatigue as coda.
Parnet says that before discussing old age, they might discuss his relationship to food. Deleuze quietly says "ah! la vieillesse" <ah, old age>. Parnet says he likes food that seems to bring him strength and vitality, like marrow and lobster. She points out that he has a special relationship to food since he doesn't like eating. Deleuze says it's true. For him, eating is the most boring thing in the world. Drinking is something extraordinarily interesting, but eating bores him to death. He detests eating alone, but eating with someone he likes changes everything, but it does not transform food, it only helps him stand eating, making it less boring even if it happens that he has really nothing to say. All people say that about eating alone, Deleuze maintains, and it proves how boring eating is since most people admit that eating alone is an abominable task.
Having said this, Deleuze continues, he certainly has things he enjoys immensely <mes fêtes>, that are rather special, despite some universal disgust he does have. He says he can stand it when others eat cheese -- Parnet says that Deleuze doesn't like cheese -- and for someone who hates cheese, he says that he's one of the rare people to be tolerant, not to get up and leave or throw the person out eating cheese. For Deleuze, the taste for cheese is a little like a kind of cannibalism
Continuing, Deleuze imagines that someone might ask him what his favorite meal might be, an utterly crazy undertaking, he says, but he always comes back to three things that he always found sublime, but that are quite properly disgusting: tongue, brains, and marrow. These are all quite nourishing. There are a few restaurants in Paris, Deleuze says, that serve marrow, and after, he can eat nothing else. They prepare these little marrow squares, really quite fascinating, he says, brains, tongue...
Then, Deleuze tries to situate this taste differently, in relation to things they've already discussed: these things constitute a kind of trinity since one might say -- Deleuze admits that this is a bit too anecdotic -- that brains are God the father, marrow, the son since it's like vertebrates that are little crabs. So God is the brain, the vertebrates the son, Jesus, and tongue is the Holy Spirit, which is the force of the tongue. Or, and Deleuze hesitates a bit here, it's the brain that is the concept, marrow is affect, and tongue, the percept. Deleuze tells Parnet not to ask him why, it's just that he sees these trinities as very ...
So, he concludes, that would make a fantastic meal. He asks if he's ever had all three together at once? Maybe on a birthday with friends
Deleuze says there is someone who has spoken about old age very well, a novel by Raymond Devos that, for Deleuze, is the best statement on old age. Deleuze sees it as a splendid age. Of course, there are problems, for example, one is overcome by a certain slowness. But the worst is when someone says, "no, you're not so old," because in saying that, he doesn't understand what the complaint is. Deleuze says, I complain, I say, oh, I'm old, that is, I invoke the forces of old age, but then somebody tries to cheer me up by saying "no, you're not so old." So, says Deleuze, I smack him with my cane
What's awful in old age, Deleuze continues, is pain and misery, but they are not old age. Deleuze says he means that what makes old age pathetic, something sad, is poor old people who do not have enough money to live, nor a minimum of health, only this very weak health, and a lot of suffering. That's what is abominable, but it's not old age, Deleuze argues, it's not an evil at all. With enough money and a little bit of health remaining, it's great because it's only in old age that one has arrived. It's not a feeling of triumph, just the fact of having reached it, after all, in a world that included wars and filthy viruses, one has crossed through all that.
And it's an age, he continues, in which it's only a question of a single thing, of being. No longer of being this or being that, but being old is just being, period, that's it. He is, quite simply. Who has the right just simply to be? For an elderly person can say he/she has plans, but it's true and not true, not true in the way that someone who is 30 has plans. Deleuze says that he hopes to complete two books that he really is committed to, one on literature, another on philosophy, but that does not change the fact that he's free of all plans. When one is old, Deleuze says, one is no longer susceptible/sensitive, one no longer has any fundamental disappointments, one tends to be a lot more disinterested, and one really likes people for themselves. For Deleuze, it seems that old age hones his perception of things that he never had seen before, elegant things <des élégances>, to which he had never been sensitive. He sees better, he maintains, because he looks at someone else for him/herself as if it were a question of carrying away an image, a percept of the person.
Deleuze admits that he has days that pass with their amount of fatigue, but for him, fatigue is not an illness, but something else, not death, just the signal of day's end. Of course, there are agonies in old age, he says, but one has to ward them off, and it's easy to ward them off, a little like with loup-garous or vampires, one can't be alone when it starts getting cold because one is too slow to survive. So one has to avoid some things, but what's marvelous, he says, is that people release you, society lets you go. Being released by society, he says, is so wonderful, not that society really had Deleuze in its grips, but someone who isn't Deleuze's age, not retired, cannot suspect how much joy one can feel being released by society. Obviously, he continues, when he hears the elderly complaining, these are old people who don't want to be old or not as old as they are. They can't stand being retired, and Deleuze doesn't know why since they might discover something, and he does not believe in retired people not being able to find something to do.
Deleuze says that one has to give oneself a shake
Parnet says that with Deleuze being ill, tired, and old,
Parnet says that, to finish up, she wants to ask about his projects, like the one on literature or What Is Philosophy?. When he undertakes a project like these, what does he find enjoyable as an old man taking these on? She reminds him that earlier he said that perhaps he won't finish them, but that there is something amusing in them. Deleuze says that it's something quite marvelous, a whole evolution, and when one is old, one has a certain idea of what one hopes to do that becomes increasingly pure, more and more purified. Deleuze says he conceives of the famous Japanese line drawings, lines that are so pure and then there is nothing, nothing but little lines. That's how he conceives of an old man's project, something that would be so pure, so nothing, and at the same time, everything, marvelous. He means this as reaching a sobriety, something that can only come late in life.
He points to What is Philosophy?, his research on it: first, it's quite enjoyable <très gai> at his age to feel like he knows the answer, and like he's the only one to know, as if he got on a bus, and nobody else there could know.
Parnet announces this title as linking both neurology and the brain. Deleuze says that neurology is very difficult for him, but has always fascinated him. To answer why, he ponders the question of what happens in someone's head when he/she has an idea. When there are no ideas, he says, it's like a pinball machine. How does it communicate inside the head? They don't proceed along pre-formed paths and by ready-made associations, so something happens, if only we knew. That interests Deleuze greatly since he feels that if we understood this, we might understand everything, and the solutions must be extremely varied. He clarifies this: two extremities in the brain can well establish contact, i.e. through electric processes of the synapses. And then there are other cases that are much more complex perhaps, through discontinuity in which there is a gap that must be jumped. Deleuze says that the brain is full of fissures
Something has struck Deleuze, he admits, a story that physicists use, the baker's transformation: taking a segment of dough to knead it, you stretch it out into a rectangle, you fold it back over, you stretch it out again, etc. etc., you makes a number of transformations and after x transformations, two completely contiguous points are necessarily caused to
be quite the opposite, very distant from each other. And there are distant points that, as a result of x transformations, are found to be quite contiguous. So, Deleuze wonders whether, when one looks for something in one's head, there might be this type of combinations
Parnet points out that Deleuze always gave a special place to 19th century psychiatry that extensively addressed neurology and the science of the brain, that he gave a priority to psychiatry over psychoanalysis precisely for psychiatry's relations with neurology. So, she asks, is that still the case? Deleuze says, yes, completely. As he said earlier, there is also a relationship with the pharmacy, the possible action of drugs on the brain and the cerebral structures that can be located on a molecular level, in cases of schizophrenia. For Deleuze, these aspects appear to be a more certain future than mentalist psychiatry
Parnet asks a methodological question: it's no secret that Deleuze is rather self-taught
Deleuze says that there's something that gives him great comfort, specifically that he is firmly persuaded in the possibility of several readings of a same thing. Already in philosophy, he has believed strongly that one need not be a philosopher to read philosophy. Not only is philosophy open to two readings, philosophy needs two readings at the same time. A non-philosophical reading of philosophy is absolutely necessary, without which there would be no beauty in philosophy. That is, with non-specialists reading philosophy, this non-philosophical reading of philosophy lacks nothing and is entirely adequate. Deleuze qualifies this, though, saying that two readings might not work for all philosophy. He has trouble seeing a non-philosophical reading of Kant. But in Spinoza, he says it's not at all impossible that a farmer or a storekeeper could read Spinoza, and for Nietzsche, all the more so, all philosophers that Deleuze admires are like that.
So, he continues, there is no need to understand, since understanding is a certain level of reading. If someone were to object that to appreciate a painting by Gauguin, you have to have some expertise about it, Deleuze responds, of course, some expertise is necessary, but there are also extraordinary emotions, authentic, extraordinarily pure, extraordinarily violent, in a total ignorance of painting. For him, it's entirely obvious that someone can take in a painting like a thunderbolt and not know a thing about the painting. Similarly, someone can be overwhelmed with emotion by a musical work without knowing a word. Deleuze says that he, for example, is very moved by <Alban Berg's operas> Lulu and Wozzeck, and that [Berg's] concerto To the Memory of an Angel has moved him above everything else.
So, he knows it's better to have a competent perception, but he still maintains that everything that counts in the world in the realm of the mind is open to a double reading, provided that it is not something done randomly as a someone self-taught might. Rather, it's something that one undertakes starting from one's problems taken from elsewhere. Deleuze means that it's on the basis of being a philosopher that he has a non-musical perception of music, which makes music extraordinarily stirring for him. Similarly, it's on the basis of being a musician, a painter, this or that, that one can undertake a non-philosophical reading of philosophy. If this second reading (which is not second) did not occur, if there weren't these two, simultaneous readings, it's like both wings on a bird, the need for two readings together. Moreover, Deleuze argues that even a philosopher must learn to read a great philosopher non-philosophically. The typical example for him is yet again Spinoza: reading Spinoza in paperback, whenever and wherever one can, for Deleuze, creates as much emotion as a great musical work. And to a some extent, he says, the question is not understanding since in the courses that Deleuze used to give, it was so clear that sometimes the students understood, sometimes they did not, and we are all like that, sometimes understanding, sometimes not.
Deleuze comes back to Parnet's question on science that he sees the same way: to some extent, one is always at the extreme
In science, it is the same, Deleuze maintains, and the confirmation he has found is that he always had great relations with scientists. They never took him to be a scientist, they don't think he understands much, but some of them tell him that it works. He attributes this to the fact that he remains open to echoes, for lack of a better word. He gives the example of a painter that he likes greatly, Delaunay, and asks, what does he do? He observed something quite astounding, and this returns the discussion to the question of what it is to have an idea. Delaunay's idea is that light forms figures itself, figures formed by light, and he paints light figures, not aspects that light takes on when it meets an object. This is how Delaunay detaches himself from all objects, with the result of creating paintings without objects any longer. Deleuze says he read some very beautiful things by Delaunay, in which he judges cubism very severely. Delaunay says that Cézanne succeeded in breaking the object, breaking the bowl
Deleuze suggests that there is a way that this is linked to relativity, to the theory of relativity, and he argues that one need not know much, it's only being self-taught that's dangerous. Deleuze says he only knows something small about relativity, it's this: instead of having subjected lines of light, lines followed by light <lignes suivies par lumière> to geometric lines, belonging to the experiments of Michaelson, there's a total reversal. Now lines of light will condition geometric lines, a considerable reversal from a scientific perspective, that will change everything since the line of light no longer has the constancy of the geometric line, and everything is changed. It's this aspect of relativity, he says, that corresponds the best with Michaelson's experiments. Deleuze does not mean to say that Delaunay applies relativity; Deleuze celebrates the encounter between a pictorial undertaking and a scientific undertaking that should normally not be in relation with each other.
Another example is Riemannian spaces, about which Deleuze says he knows little in detail, but enough to know that it's a space constructed piece by piece, and in which the connections between pieces are not pre-determined. But for completely different reasons, Deleuze needed a spatial concept for the parts in which there aren't perfect connections and that aren't pre-determined. "I need this," he says <j'en ai besoin, moi!>, and he couldn't spend five years of his life trying to understand Riemann, because at the end of five years, he would not have made any progress with his philosophical concept. And in going to the movies, he sees a strange kind of space that everyone knows as being the use of space in Bresson's films, in which space is rarely global, but constructed piece by piece. One sees little pieces of space that join up, for example, a section of a cell in Condamné à mort, the link not being pre-determined. Asking why this is, Deleuze says it's because they are manual, Deleuze says, from which one can understand the importance of hands for Bresson. In fact, in The Pickpocket, it's the speed with which the stolen object is passed from one hand to the other that will determine the connections of little spaces. Deleuze does not mean either that Bresson is applying Riemannian spaces, but rather that an encounter can occur between a philosophical concept, a scientific notion, and an aesthetic percept. Perfect! <Deleuze discusses this spatial effect in The Pickpocket at the start of L'Image-Temps <The Time-Image>
In science, Deleuze says, he knows just enough to evaluate encounters; if he knew more, he'd do science, not philosophy. So, to a great extent, he speaks well about something he doesn't know, but he speaks of what he doesn't know as a function of what he knows. He argues that all of this is a question of tact, no point in kidding about it, no point in adopting a knowledgeable air when one doesn't know, but still, Deleuze says he has had encounters with painters that were the most beautiful days of his life. Not physical encounters, but in what Deleuze writes -- the greatest of them being
Deleuze admits that his comments here are going badly since he feels he is taking on an air of completely despicable self-satisfaction. For him, though, the question is not whether or not he knows a lot of science, nor whether he is capable of learning some of it, the important thing, he admits, is not to make stupid statements <bêtises>, and to establish echoes, phenomena of echoes between a concept, a percept and a function (since, for Deleuze, science does not proceed by concepts, but by functions). From this perspective, Deleuze needed Riemannian spaces, he knew they existed, did not know exactly what they were, but that was enough.
Parnet starts by admitting that this title is a bit of a joke since, other than Wozzeck and Lulu by Berg, it's safe to say that opera is not one of Deleuze's activities or interests. Compared to Foucault or Francois Châtelet who liked Italian opera, Deleuze never really listened to music or opera. What interested him more was the popular song, particularly Edith Piaf, for whom he has a great passion. So she asks if he could talk a bit about this.
Deleuze responds that she is being a bit severe in saying that. First he listened to music quite a bit, just a long time ago; since then, he has stopped because he has concluded that it's a chasm, taking too much time, and since he has too much to do -- not social tasks, but his desire to write things --, he just doesn't have the time to listen to music, or listen to enough of it.
Parnet points out that Châtelet worked while listening to opera, to which Deleuze says, first, he couldn't do that, and he's not so sure that Châtelet did while working, maybe, and of course, when he entertained people at his home. Opera sometimes covered over what people were saying when he'd had enough, but for Deleuze, that's not how it works for him. But, he says that he would prefer to turn the question more in his own favor by transforming it into: what is it that creates a community between a popular song and a musical work of art? That's a subject that Deleuze finds fascinating. The case of Edith Piaf, for example: Deleuze considers her to be a great 'chanteuse', with an extraordinary voice; moreover, she has this way of singing off-key and then constantly catching the false note and making it right, this kind of system in imbalance that constantly is catching and making itself right. For Deleuze, this seems to be the case in any style. This is something Deleuze likes a lot because it's the question he poses about everything on the level of the popular song: he wonders, what does it bring to me that is innovative
What Deleuze found particularly moving in Piaf was that she introduced something innovative in relation to the preceding generation, Frehel and Adabia, even in her self-presentation, and in her voice. In more modern singers, one has to think about Charles Trenet. Quite literally, Deleuze claims, one has never heard anyone sing like him. Deleuze insists on this point: for philosophy, for music, for painting, for art, whether it's the popular song or the rest, sports even, the question is exactly the same, what's innovative in it? That's not to be interpreted in the sense of fashion, but just the opposite: what's innovative is something that's not fashionable, perhaps it will become so, but it's not fashionable since people don't expect it. When Trenet was singing well, people said he was crazy; people no longer say so, but one can remark eternally that he was crazy, and he remained so. Piaf appeared grandiose to us all.
Parnet asks about Deleuze's admiration for Claude François, and Deleuze says that, right or wrong, he thought he'd found something fresh in Claude François, who tried to discover something different, whereas there are so many that try nothing at all. For Deleuze, it's the same thing, to bring something fresh and to try to find something different. For Piaf, what was she looking for? Deleuze recalls what he said earlier about weak health and strong life, Piaf is the very example of someone who saw things in life, the force of life, that broke her. Deleuze was receptive to Claude François because he sought a fresh kind of show, a song-show, inventing a kind of danced song, that obviously implied using playback. So much the better or so much for the worse, says Deleuze, that also allowed him to undertake research into sound. To the end, François was dissatisfied with one thing, the texts of his songs that were rather weak and stupid. He tried to arrange his texts so he might achieve greater textual qualities, like "Alexandrie, Alexandra," a good song.
Today, Deleuze says he is not very familiar with music, but when he turns on the t.v. -- the rights he now has that he's retired, to turn on the t.v. when he's tired --, he notes that the more channels there are, the more they look alike, and the more nil they become, a radical nullity. The regime of competition, competing with each other, produces the same, eternal nullity, and the effort to know what will make the listener turn here to listen instead of there, it's frightening. What he hears there can't even be called a song, since the voice doesn't even exist, no one has the least voice.
But then Deleuze says, let's not complain. What they all want, he maintains, is this kind of domain that would be treated doubly by the popular song and by music. Deleuze turns to something that he and Félix Guattari developed, something that he considers a very important philosophical concept, the ritornello <a.k.a. the refrain>, it's the point in common
What is the relation with music? he asks, and insists that one has to make headway in creating a concept, that's why Deleuze invokes the image of the brain. Taking his own brain at this moment as an example, he suddenly says to himself, "the lied. What is the lied?" It will always have been the voice as a song elevating its chant as a function of its position in relation to the territory. My territory, the territory I no longer have, the territory that I am trying to reach again, that's what the lied is. Whether it's Schumann or Schubert, that's what it is fundamentally. That's what Deleuze considers affect to be. When he was saying earlier that music is the history of becomings and the forces of becomings, it was something of this sort that he meant, great or mediocre.
Deleuze asks, what is truly great music? For Deleuze, it appears as an artistic operation of music. They start from ritornellos, and Deleuze includes even the most abstract musicians. He believes that each musician has his/her kinds of ritornellos, speaking of little tunes, of little ritornellos. He refers to Vinteuil and Proust
He returns to a musician that he admires and who has greatly affected him, Mahler, his Song of the Earth -- for Deleuze, one can't say it better. This is perpetually like elements in genesis, in which there is perpetually a little ritornellos sometimes based on two cow bells. Deleuze finds extraordinarily moving in Mahler's works the way that all the little ritornellos, which are already musical works of genius -- tavern ritornellos, shepherd ritornellos, etc. -- the way they achieve a composition in a kind of great ritornello that will become the song of the earth. Deleuze suggests yet another example in Bartok, a great genius. Deleuze admires how he connects and reconnects local ritornellos, national ritornellos, ritornellos of national minorities, etc., and collects them in a work that has not yet been fully examined.
Deleuze goes on to unite music and painting as exactly the same. He refers to Klee who said: the painter does "not render the visible, but renders visible"; implied here are forces that are not visible, and for a musician, it's the same thing: the musician does not render the audible, he/she renders audible forces that are not audible, making audible the music of the earth, music in which he/she invents, exactly like the philosopher. The philosopher renders thinkable forces that are not thinkable, that are in nature rather raw, rather brutal. It's this communion of little ritornellos with the great ritornello that, for Deleuze, defines music, something he finds very simple. It's music's force, a force to deliver a truly cosmic level, as if stars began singing a little tune of a cow bell, a little shepherd's tune. Or, he suggests, it might be the reverse, the cow bells that are suddenly elevated to the state of celestial or infernal sounds.
Parnet objects that she can't explain exactly why, but she has the impression from Deleuze's explanation full of musical erudition that he still seeks the visual through music, through the ritornello. She sees him engaging the visual. She says she does understand the extent to which the audible is linked to cosmic forces like the visual, but she points out that Deleuze goes to no concerts, something bothers him there, he does not listen to music, and he goes to art exhibits at least once a week as his usual practice.
Deleuze says that it's a lack of possibilities and a lack of time because, for an answer, what interests him above all in literature is style. Style, for him, is the pure auditory <l'auditif pur>. He says he wouldn't make the distinction she does between the visual and the audible. He admits that he rarely goes to concerts because it's more complicated now reserving in advance. All of this are practical details of life, whereas when there's an art exhibit, no reservations are needed. But, he says that each time he went to a concert, he found it too long since he has very little receptivity, while he always felt deep emotions. Then, he says he's not sure Parnet is completely wrong, but thinks she might be mistaken because her impression is not completely true. In any case, this is even more difficult than speaking of painting. It's the highest point, speaking about music.
Parnet says there are many philosophers who spoke about music. Deleuze interrupts her to say that style is sonorous, not visual, and he's only interested in sonority at that level. Parnet continues: music is immediately connected to philosophy, so lots of philosophers spoke about music, for example, Jankelevitch -- Deleuze agrees -- but other than Merleau-Ponty, there are few philosophers who spoke about painting. Deleuze says, really? He's not that sure, nor is Parnet, she admits, but Barthes, Jankelevitch, even Foucault spoke about music. Deleuze gives his dismissive gesture when she says Foucault since Foucault didn't talk about music, says Deleuze, it was a secret for him, his relations with music were completely a secret. Parnet says yes, that he was very close to certain musicians. Deleuze does not want to discuss it, says these are secrets that Foucault did not discuss. Parnet pursues this, saying Foucault was very close to the musical world, even if a secret -- Deleuze says, yes, yes, yes...
Parnet then points out that there's the exception of
Parnet observes there are lots of cries in it and that Deleuze likes cries a lot. Deleuze agrees; for him, there is a relation between the song
<New interview day; Deleuze in open-collared shirt, new glasses>
"P as in Professor"
Parnet reminds Deleuze that at 64 years of age, he spent nearly 40 as a professor, first in French high schools (lycées), then in the university. By 1988, Deleuze no longer was looking forward to teaching courses, so she asks first if he misses them since he has said he taught his courses with passion, so she wonders if he misses no longer doing them. Deleuze says no, not at all. He agrees that courses had been a very important part of his life, but when he retired, he was quite happy since he was less inclined to meet his courses. This question, for him, is quite simple: courses have equivalents in other domains, but required of him an enormous amount of preparation. Again, like so many other activities, for five or ten minutes at most of inspiration, so much preparation is needed. Deleuze says he always liked doing that a lot, preparing a lot in order to reach these moments of inspiration, but the more he continued, the longer he had to prepare only to have his inspiration progressively reduced. So it was about time, and it didn't make him happy, not at all, since the courses were something he greatly enjoyed, but then became something he needed less. Now he has his writing which poses other kinds of problems, but he did love teaching enormously.
Parnet asks him what he means by preparing a lot, how long he took to prepare. Deleuze says it's like anything, rehearsing <des répétitions> for a class. He compares it to theater or singing, there are rehearsals, and if one hasn't rehearsed enough, there's no inspiration. In a course, it means having moments of inspiration, without which the course means nothing. Parnet says he can't mean that he rehearsed in the class itself, and Deleuze says, of course not, each activity has it's modes of inspiration. He describes it as getting something into one's head <se mettre dans la tête>... Getting it into one's head and managing to find that what one's saying is interesting. It's obvious, Deleuze says, that if the speaker doesn't even find what he's saying of interest... and that doesn't go without saying, he insists, finding what one is saying is interesting, impassioned. Deleuze says that this isn't a form of vanity, of finding oneself passionate and interesting, it's the subject matter that one is treating and handling that one has to find passionate. And to do so, Deleuze admits, one sometimes has to drive oneself hard <se donner parfois de véritables coups de fouet: whip oneself forward>. The question, he says, isn't whether it's interesting, but of getting oneself stimulated <se monter soi-même> to the point at which one is able to speak about something with enthusiasm: that's what rehearsing is.
So, Deleuze says he needed that less, especially since courses were something quite special, what he calls a cube, a particular space-time in which so many things happen. Deleuze says he likes lectures much less, never liked lectures since they tended to be too small a space-time, whereas a course is something that stretches out from one week to the next. It's a space and a very, very special temporality, something that has successive steps
Parnet goes back to the start of Deleuze's career, as a lycée professor. Deleuze says that doesn't mean much since it occurred at a time when the lycée was not at all what the lycée has become. Deleuze says he thinks of young professors today who are beaten down in the lycées. Deleuze says he was a lycée professor shortly after the Liberation, when it was completely different. To Parnet's query, he says he was in two provincial cities, one he liked, one he liked less. Amiens was the one he liked because it was a very free city, very open, whereas Orleans was much more severe. This was a period, he says, when a philosophy professor was treated with a lot of generosity, he tended to be forgiven since he was a bit like the madman, the village idiot. And usually he could do whatever he wanted. Deleuze says he taught his students using a musical saw, since he had taken it up at the time, and everyone found it quite normal. Nowadays, Deleuze thinks that would no longer be possible in the lycées. Parnet asks him what he used the musical saw to teach
Parnet continues, after Amiens and Orleans, Deleuze was in Paris at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand in the preparatory course <Deleuze says, yes, yes, yes, as Parnet reviews this>, so she asks him to recall any students he had that were remarkable or not so. Deleuze repeats this question, reflecting, saying he doesn't really recall, perhaps some became professors, but none that he knows who became government ministers. He laughs as he recalls someone who became a police officer, but says really there were none very special, they all went their own way.
Parnet continues to the Sorbonne years of which one gets the impression, Parnet says, that they correspond to his history of philosophy years. Then he went to Vincennes which was a completely crucial and determining experience after the Sorbonne (Parnet indicates that she is jumping over Lyon that came after the Sorbonne). She asks if he was happy to become a university professor after being in the lycée. Deleuze says happy isn't really an appropriate word in this case, it was simply a normal career, and if he had gone back to the lycée, it wouldn't have been dramatic, just abnormal and a failure, so the way things worked out was normal, no problem, and he has nothing to say about it. Parnet asks if he prepared his university courses differently from the lycée courses, and he says not at all, exactly the same, he always did his courses the same way. Parnet seems astonished, asking again if his lycée preparations were as intense as his university preparations, and he repeats "of course" three times. In any case, Deleuze says, one has to be absolutely imbued
Parnet says that since they are discussing his university work, perhaps he could talk about his doctoral thesis. She asks when he defended it. Deleuze reminds her that he had already written several books before his defense, and to some extent, this happened because he didn't want to finish the thesis, a frequent reaction. He recalls working enormously, and at one point, he realized he had to have the thesis, that it was quite urgent. So he made a maximum effort, and finally he presented it as one of the very first defenses following May '68, in early 1969. This created a very privileged situation for him because the committee was intently concerned with only one thing, how to arrange the defense in order to avoid the gangs roving through the Sorbonne. They were quite afraid, since it was right after the return to school following the May '68 events, so they didn't know what would happen. Deleuze recalls the chairman saying that there are two possibilities: either they have the defense on the ground floor, where there is one advantage, two exits
Parnet continues on to Vincennes, and Deleuze says that for Vincennes, Parnet is right that there was a change, not in the way he prepared his courses (what he calls his rehearsals), nor in the style of a course, but from Vincennes onward, Deleuze says he no longer had a student audience. This was what was so splendid about Vincennes and not generalized in all the universities that were getting back to normal. At least in philosophy -- Deleuze doesn't know if it was true for all of Vincennes --, there was a completely new kind of audience,.no longer made up of students, but a mixture of all ages, all kinds of professional activities, including patients in psychiatric hospitals. It was perhaps the most multi-textured <bigarré> audience that found a mysterious unity at Vincennes. That is, it was at once the most diverse and the most coherent as a function of, even because of, Vincennes, which gave to this disparate crowd a kind of unity. Deleuze says that he spent his whole career at Vincennes, but had he been forced subsequently to move to another faculté, he would have completely lost his bearings. When he visited other schools after that, it was like traveling back in time for him, landing back in the nineteenth century.
So at Vincennes, he spoke to a mixed audience, young painters, people from the field of psychiatric treatment, musicians, addicts, young architects, people from very different countries. There were waves of visitors that changed each year. He recalls the sudden arrival of 5 or 6 Australians, Deleuze didn't know why, and the next year they were gone. The Japanese were constantly there, each year, and there were South Americans, Blacks... Deleuze says it was an invaluable and fantastic audience. Parnet says that was because, for the first time, Deleuze was speaking to non-philosophers, his practice that he had mentioned earlier, and Deleuze agrees: it was fully philosophy that was addressed equally to philosophers and to non-philosophers, exactly like painting is addressed to painters and non-painters, or music not being limited to music specialists, but it's the same music, the same Berg or the same Beethoven addressed to people that are not specialists in music and are musicians. For philosophy, it must be strictly the same, Deleuze says, being addressed to non-philosophers and to philosophers without changing it. Philosophy addressed to non-philosophers shouldn't be made simple, no more than in music does one make Beethoven simpler for non-specialists. It's the same in philosophy, Deleuze says, and for him, philosophy has always had this double audition, a non-philosophical audition as much as a philosophical one. And if these don't exist together, then there is nothing.
Parnet asks Deleuze to explain a subtle distinction
Parnet brings him back to what she calls his "dear audience"
Deleuze makes his embarrassed "oui, oui, oui" as she is completing her statement, then says she needs to find another word, since this expression -- cour magistral -- is imposed by the university, but another one is needed. Deleuze sees two conceptions of a course: the first is one in which the object is to incite rather immediate reactions from the audience by means of questions and interruptions. This is a whole trend, Deleuze says, a particular conception of a course. On the other hand, there is the so-called "magistral"conception with one person
It's more like a kind of musical conception, Deleuze suggests. For him, one doesn't interrupt music, good or bad, or only if it's really bad, but usually one doesn't interrupt music whereas one can easily interrupt spoken words. He asks what this musical conception of a course means. He takes things from his experience, although he doesn't mean that this is the best conception, just how he sees things. As he has experienced audiences, his audiences, it occurs frequently that someone doesn't understand at a particular moment, and then there is something like a delayed effect, a bit like in music. At one moment, you don't understand a movement, Deleuze says, and then three or ten minutes later, it becomes clear: something happened in the meantime. So with these delayed effects, suddenly a guy listening
Deleuze brings up a second important point in his conception of a course: since a course he taught was two and one-half hours in length and no one could listen that long, for him, a course was not something destined to be understood in its totality. A course, says Deleuze, is a kind of material in movement <matière en mouvement>, really material in movement, which is how it is musical. So let each group or each person take from it what suits him/her. A bad course is one that quite literally suits no one, but of course one can't expect everything to suit just anyone. People have to wait, Deleuze argues, and it is obvious that some people nearly fall asleep, and then, by some mystery, they wake up at the moments that concern them. There is no law that foresees that this or that is going to concern someone or another. It's not even the subjects that are interesting, Deleuze says, but something else. In a course, he sees this as emotion, as much emotion as intelligence, and if there is no emotion, then there is nothing in the course, it has no interest. So, it's not a question of following everything or of listening to everything, but to keep a watch so that one grasps what suits him or her at the right moment. This will be something personal, and that's why for Deleuze a varied audience is so crucially important, because he senses clearly that the centers of interest shift and jump from one spot to another, forming a kinds of splendid fabric, texture.
Parnet reminds him that this corresponds to the audience, but to the "concert", Deleuze invented the expression "pop philosophy" and "pop philosopher." Deleuze nods, yes, that's what he meant. Parnet continues, saying that his appearance
Parnet says that he never wanted either a "school"
Deleuze clearly thinks of other reasons, saying that even on the level of ambition, being the leader of a "school"
The second aspect is a bit the same: rather than introduce notions that would constitute a "school," he wanted notions or concepts that circulate in the course. Not that these become something ordinary, but of common use, that can be manipulated in several ways. That could only occur, Deleuze says, if he addressed this to other solitary people who will twist these notions in their own way, use them as they need them. So all of these notions relate to movements and not to "schools."
Parnet asks if today, the era of great professors has passed, since things don't seem to be going very well. Deleuze says he hasn't many ideas about that since he no longer belongs there. He says he left at a time that was terrifying, and he could no longer understand how professors could continue teaching courses, since they'd become administrators. Deleuze argues that the current trend of politics is clear: the university will cease being a research site, entirely consonant with the forced entry of disciplines that have nothing to do with university disciplines. Deleuze says his dream would be for universities to remain research sites and that, along with universities, technical schools would multiply, where they would teach accounting, information science, but with universities intervening only in accounting and information science on the level of research. And there could be all the agreements one would like between a technical school and the university, with a school sending its students to pursue research courses at the university. But once they introduced material belonging to such schools into the university, it was done for
"Q as in Question"
Parnet states that philosophy for Deleuze serves to pose questions and problems, and that questions are constructed, with their purpose being not to answer them, but to leave these questions behind. So, for example, leaving the history of philosophy behind <cf. "H as in History of Philosophy"> meant creating new questions. In an interview, one doesn't ask Deleuze questions really, so she asks how Deleuze leaves this behind. Parnet sees it as kind of a forced choice, and so wonders what the difference is for Deleuze between a question in the context of mass media and a question in history of philosophy. Deleuze pauses, saying it's difficult. In the media, there are conversations most of the time, no questions, no problems, only interrogations. If one says, how are you doing?, it doesn't constitute a problem. What time is it?, not a problem, but an interrogation. If one sees the usual level on television, even in supposedly serious broadcasts, it's full of interrogations, saying, "what do you think of this?" does not constitute a problem, but a demand for one's opinion, an interrogation. That's why t.v. isn't very interesting. Deleuze doesn't have a very great interest in people's opinions.
He gives the example of the question: Do you believe in God? He asks where the problem is there, where the question is. There is none. So if one asked questions or problems in a t.v. show, Deleuze admits the number of broadcasts is vast, but it happens rarely that a t.v. show encompasses any problems. Deleuze feels they could, for example, ask about the Chinese question. But what happens usually is they invite specialists on China
Another example is Pascal; someone suggests his text on the bet: does God exist or not? One bets on it, one reads Pascal's text and sees that it's not a question of a bet because, Deleuze argues, Pascal poses another question: it's not if God exists or not, which would not be very interesting, but it's: what is the best mode of existence, the mode of someone who believes that God exists, or the mode of someone who believes that God doesn't exist? So, Pascal's question does not concern the existence (or not) of God, but rather the existence of whomever believes in God's existence or not. For various reasons, says Deleuze, Pascal develops his own questions, but they can be articulated: Pascal thinks that someone who believes that God exists has a better existence than someone who does not. It's Pascal's interest, there's a problem, a question, and it's already no longer the question of God. There is an underlying matter, a transformation of questions within one another.
Deleuze suggests that this is the same when Nietzsche says "God is dead," it's not the same thing as God does not exist. Deleuze asks, if one says God is dead, what question does that refer to, one that is not the same as when one asks whether God exists? In reading Nietzsche, says Deleuze, one notices that he could care less about God's death, and that he's posing another question through that, specifically that if God is dead, there's no reason that man wouldn't be dead as well, one has to find something else than man, etc. What interested Nietzsche was not at all whether God was dead, but something else entirely.
These, says Deleuze, are questions and problems, and they could certainly be presented on t.v. or in the media, but that would create a very strange kind of show, on this underlying story of problems and questions. Whereas in daily conversations as well as in the media, people stay on the level of interrogations. Deleuze refers to a particular show (since this interview is posthumous, he says), "The Hour of Truth"
Parnet gives the example of Deleuze who used to read daily newspapers, but no longer reads Le Monde or Libération. She asks if there's something in the level of the press or the media not asking questions that disgusts him, and Deleuze responds yes! He gets the feeling of learning less and less. He says he's quite ready to learn things, since he knows nothing, but since the newspapers say nothing either, what can one do? Parnet says that he always watches the evening news as the only t.v. show he never misses, and wonders if Deleuze has a question to formulate each time that is never formulated in the media. Deleuze says he doesn't know, and Parnet says that he seems to think that questions never get asked. Deleuze says that he thinks that, to a great extent, the questions can't be asked. Here Deleuze chooses a specific example, a recent French scandal that dates back to the Vichy era, the arrest of Paul Touvier. [Paul Touvier, arrested in 1989 for war crimes against humanity for sending seven Jews to their deaths on June 29, 1944, at Rillieux-la-Pape near Lyon, is the first Frenchman to be found guilty of war crimes and sentenced on April 20, 1994, to life imprisonment. He died of cancer in July, 1996. Touvier had been sentenced to death in absentia in 1946 and spent much of the next 40 years on the run living in Roman Catholic monasteries.] Deleuze suggests how questions are avoided and deliberately not posed. Apparently Touvier was protected from questions about his conduct during the war since he must now possess information that could implicate some Catholic church officials. So, says Deleuze, everyone knows about what Touvier knows, but there's an agreement not to ask questions, and so they won't get asked. This is what's known as a consensus, says Deleuze, i.e. an agreement according to which simple "How are you doing?" interrogations will be substituted for problems and questions, that is, interrogations that ward off any real questions.
Parnet seems to want to object to what Deleuze is saying, so he says he'll try another example, regarding the conservative French party reformers and the political apparatus on the Right. Deleuze says everyone knows what this is about, but the newspapers don't tell the public a thing. For Deleuze, these reformers pose a very interesting question: it's an attempt to shake up elements of the Party apparatus that are always very centralized around Paris. Specifically, the reformers want regional independence, something very interesting that no one is insisting upon. The connection to the European question, says Deleuze, is that they want to create a Europe not of nations, but of regions, i.e. a veritable regional and inter-regional unity, rather than a national and international unity. This is a problem, Deleuze argues, one that the Socialists will have to face at some point, between regionalist and internationalist tendencies. But the Party apparatuses, i.e. the provincial federations, still correspond to an old-fashioned, Paris-centered structure that maintains quite a significant role.
So, Deleuze concludes that the conservative reformers constitute an anti-Jacobine movement, that the Left will have one as well. Deleuze feels that negotiations
Parnet raises the example of a journalist, Anne Saint-Claire, who tries to pose good questions, not at all interrogations, and Deleuze responds, fine, that's her business, he's quite sure that she's very happy with herself. To Parnet's question of why Deleuze never accepted a television interview, whereas Foucault and Serres did so, and whether he is retreating from life as Beckett did, Deleuze says here is the proof, this interview, he'll be on t.v.! But his reasons for not accepting relate to what he had already said: he has no desire at all to have conversations and interrogations with people, something he cannot stand, particularly when no one knows what problem is being raised. He returns to his example of God: is it a matter of the non-existence of God, of the death of God, of the death of man, of the existence of God, of the existence of whoever believes in God, etc.? It's a muddle, very tiring, Deleuze says. So when everyone has their turn to speak, it's domesticity in it's purest state, with some idiot of a host <présentateur à la con> as well... Deleuze ends this muttering "pitié, pitié" <mercy, mercy>...
Parnet says the most important thing is that Deleuze is here today answering their little interrogations. Deleuze responds: "A titre posthume" <on the condition it's posthumous>.
"R as in Resistance"
Parnet reminds Deleuze of something he said in a recent conference: philosophy creates concepts, and whenever one creates, one resists. Artists, filmmakers, musicians, mathematicians, philosophers all resist, but Parnet asks, what do they resist exactly? She suggests taking this case by case: philosophers create concepts, but do scientists create concepts?
Deleuze says no, that it's a question of ends since, if we agree to reserve the world "concept" for philosophy, another word is needed then for scientific notions. One doesn't say of an artist either that he/she creates concepts, a painter or a musician doesn't create concepts. So, for science, one needs another word. Let's say that a scientist is someone who creates functions, not the best word: creating new functions, e.g. Einstein, but also the great mathematicians, physicists, biologists, all create functions.
So Deleuze asks again, how does this constitute resisting? It's clearer for the arts, he says, because science is in a more ambiguous position, a bit like cinema: it is caught in so many problems of organization, funding, etc., that the portion of resistance... <Deleuze doesn't complete the thought> But great scientists, he continues, also mount considerable resistance, if one thinks of Einstein, of many physicists and biologists, it's obvious. They resist first against being forced in certain tempting directions <entraînements> and against the demands of popular opinion, that is, against the whole domain of imbecilic interrogation. They really have the strength to demand their own way, their own rhythm, and they can't be forced to set loose just anything in any conditions whatsoever, just as one usually doesn't hassle an artist.
Deleuze approaches the question of creating as resistance with reference to a writer he recently read who affected him on this topic. Deleuze says that one of the great motifs in art and thought is a certain "shame of being a man" <"la honte d'être un homme">. Deleuze feels that Primo Levi is that writer and artist who has stated this most profoundly. [On Primo Levi, see Deleuze and Guattari, What Is Philosophy? 106-107, and Negotiations 172. The authors refer in What Is Philosophy? to Levi's The Drowned and the Saved.] He was able, says Deleuze, to speak of this shame, in an extremely profound book that he wrote following his return from the Nazi death camps. Levi said that when he was freed, the dominant feeling was one of shame of being a man. Deleuze considers this to be at once a beautiful expression, and not at all abstract, quite concrete, this shame of being a man. But Deleuze insists that this phrase does not mean certain stupidities that some people might like to attribute to it. It does not mean that we are all assassins, that we are all guilty of Nazism. Levi says that it doesn't mean that the executioners and the victims are all the same, and Deleuze feels that we should not be made to believe this, there should be no assimilating the executioners with victims.
So the shame of being a man, Deleuze continues, does not mean we are all the same, or that we are all compromised. It means several things, a very complex feeling, not unified. It means at once how could some humans
After the new tape starts, Parnet brings Deleuze back to this idea of the artist and resistance, the role of the shame of being a man, art freeing life from this prison of shame, but something very different from sublimation. Deleuze insists that it means ripping life forth
Parnet points out, however, that art doesn't suffice. Primo Levi finished by committing suicide much later. Deleuze responds, yes, but he committed suicide personally, he could no longer hold on, so he committed suicide to his personal life. But, he continues, there are four pages or twelve pages or a hundred pages of Primo Levi that will remain eternal resistances, so it happens this way.
Deleuze pursues the theme of the shame of being a man, not in the grandiose sense of Primo Levi. If one dares to say something of this sort, for each of us in daily life there are minuscule events that inspire in us this shame of being a man. We witness a scene in which someone has really been too vulgar, we don't make a big thing of it, but we are upset, upset for the other, and for oneself because we seem to support this, in almost a kind of compromise. But if we protest, saying what you're saying is base, shameful, we make a big drama out of it, and we're caught. While it doesn't at all compare with Auschwitz, we feel even on this minuscule level a small shame of being a man. If one doesn't feel that shame, there is no reason to create art.
Parnet asks if when one creates, precisely when one is an artist, does one feel the dangers surrounding us everywhere? Deleuze says yes, obviously, even in philosophy -- as Nietzsche said, a philosophy that will damage and resist stupidity <nuire et résister à la bêtise>. [On resistance and stupidity, see Deleuze, Nietzsche and Philosophy 105-110.] But if philosophy did not exist, we cannot guess the level of stupidity [there would be], since philosophy prevents stupidity from being as enormous as it would be were there no philosophy. That's philosophy's splendor, we have no idea what things would be like, Deleuze repeats, just as if there were no arts, what the vulgarity of people would be... When we say "to create is to resist," it's effective, positive
Parnet asks what Deleuze thinks when people announce the death of thought, the death of cinema, the death of literature,
But, he asks, what's going to replace philosophy? Maybe someone will say: you must not create any more concepts, and so, Deleuze concludes, let stupidity rule, fine, it's the idiots who want to do philosophy in. Who is going to create concepts? Information science? Advertising agents who have taken over the word 'concept'? Fine, we will have advertising concepts, which is the concept of a brand of noodles, Deleuze says. They don't risk having much of a rivalry with philosophy because the word concept, he believes, is no longer being used in the same way. But it's advertising that is presented as philosophy's true rival since they tell us: we advertisers are inventing concepts. But, says Deleuze, the concept proposed by information science, by computers, is quite hilarious, what they call a concept.
Parnet asks if we could say that Deleuze, Guattari, and Foucault form networks of concepts like networks of resistance, like a war machine against dominant modes of thought. Deleuze looks visibly embarrassed, and says yes, why not? It would be very nice if it were true. He goes on to reflect on networks: if one doesn't belong to a "school" -- and for Deleuze, these "schools" of thought don't seem good at all --, there is only the regime of networks, of complicities, something that has existed in every period, for example, what we call Romanticism -- German or in general --, and there are networks today as well, Deleuze suspects. Parnet asks if these are networks of resistance, and Deleuze says yes, as the function of the network is to resist, and to create. Parnet says that, for example, Deleuze finds himself both famous and clandestine, living in a kind of clandestinity
Parnet asks if there is a strategy in philosophy, for example, when he wrote that year in his book on Leibniz, did he do so strategically? Deleuze smiles, wondering aloud what the word "strategy" means, perhaps that one doesn't write without a certain necessity. But he says, if there is no necessity to create a book, that is a strongly felt necessity by the author, then he/she shouldn't do it. So when Deleuze wrote on Leibniz, it was from necessity because a moment arrived for him -- too long to explain in detail why -- to talk about Leibniz and the fold. And for the fold, it happened that, for Deleuze, it was fundamentally linked to Leibniz. He can say that for each book that he wrote, what the necessity was at each period.
Parnet continues on this: besides the grip of necessity that pushes Deleuze to write, she wonders about his move from writing philosophy and returning to history of philosophy after the cinema books and after books like Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus. Deleuze says there was no return from philosophy, which is why he previously answered her question quite correctly. He wrote a book on Leibniz because for him, the moment had come to study what a fold was. He does history of philosophy when he needs to, that is, when he encounters and experiences a notion that is already connected to a philosopher. When he got excited about the notion of "expression," he wrote a book on Spinoza because Spinoza is the philosopher who raised the notion of "expression" to an extraordinary level. So it appeared to Deleuze to go without saying that it would be through Leibniz, and it happens that he also encounters notions that are not already dedicated to a philosopher, so then Deleuze doesn't do history of philosophy. But he sees no difference between writing a book on history of philosophy and a book on philosophy, so it's in that way, he says, that he follows his own path
"S as in Style"
Parnet announces the title, and Deleuze exclaims "ah, fine!" Parnet asks what style is. She reminds him that in Dialogues, Deleuze says that style is the property of those of whom it is said they have no style. He says this about Balzac, so what is style? Deleuze says that's no small question, and Parnet responds, no, that's why she asked it so quickly! [Actually, in Dialogues, Deleuze makes no reference to a specific writer. Rather, he says: "I would like to say what style is. It belongs to people of whom you normally say, 'They have no style.' This is not a signifying structure, nor a reflected organization, nor a spontaneous inspiration, nor an orchestration, nor a little piece of music. It is an assemblage, an assemblage of enunciation. A style is managing to stammer in one's own language," 4.]
Deleuze laughs, then says, listen, this is what he can say to understand what style is: first of all, one is better off not knowing a thing at all about linguistics. Linguistics has done a lot of harm, he says; why? There is an opposition -- Foucault said it well -- and it's even their complementarity, between linguistics and literature. As opposed to what many say, they do not fit each other at all. It's because for linguistics, Deleuze says, a language
So, he continues, what is the style of a great author? Deleuze says he thinks there are two things in style -- he points out that he is answering rapidly and clearly, but that he is ashamed because it's too much of a summary. Style is composed of two things: one submits the language in which one speaks and writes to a certain treatment, not a treatment that's artificial, voluntary, etc., but a treatment that mobilizes everything, the author's will, but also his/her wishes, desires, needs, necessities. So, one submits language to a syntactical and original treatment, which could be... Here Deleuze indicates that they come back to the theme of "Animal": a treatement that could make language stutter
He chooses examples of great stylists: Gherasim Luca, a poet, Deleuze suggests that generally, he creates stuttering, not his own speech, but makes language stutter. Another example is Charles Péguy, quite odd, says Deleuze, because Péguy is a certain kind of personality about whom one forgets that above all he is among the great artists, and is totally crazy. Deleuze says that never has anyone written like Péguy, and never will anyone write like Péguy, as his writing belongs among the great styles of French language, one of the great creators of the French language. What did he do? One can't say that his style is a stuttering; rather, he makes the sentence grow from its middle: instead of having sentences follow each other, he repeats the same sentence with an addition in the middle of it which, in its turn, will engender another addition, etc. He makes the sentence proliferate from its middle, by insertions. That's a great style, Deleuze concludes.
So, there is the first aspect: have language submitted to an incredible treatment. That's why a great stylist is not someone who conserves syntax, but is a creator of syntax. Deleuze says he doesn't let go of Proust's lovely formula: works of art <chefs d'oeuvre> are always written in a kind of foreign language. A stylist, says Deleuze, is someone who creates a foreign language in his/her language. [Deleuze and Parnet provide the reference to this citation in Dialogues 149, from Proust's By Way of Sainte-Beuve 194-195.] It's true of Celine, of Péguy. He continues: at the same time as this first aspect -- causing syntax to undergo a deforming, contorting treatment, but a necessary one that constitutes something like a foreign language in the language one writes in, -- the second point is, through this very process, to push all language all the way to a kind of limit, the border that separates it from music. One produces a kind of music. If one succeeds, it is with these two things, and it is necessary to do so, it is a style, it belongs to all the great stylists. All of this happens at once: dig within language a foreign language, carry all language to a kind of musical limit: this is what it means to have a style.
Parnet quickly asks if Deleuze thinks he has a style..., and he bursts out laughing, saying "O! la perfidie!" <Oh, the treachery!> Parnet continues, ...because she sees a change from his first books. Deleuze says that the proof of a style is its variability, and that generally one goes toward increasingly sober style. That does not mean less complex, Deleuze insists. Deleuze thinks immediately of one of the writers he admires greatly from the point of view of style, Jack Kerouac. At the end of his career, says Deleuze, Kerouac's writing was like a Japanese line drawing, a pure line, reaching a sobriety, but that really implies then the creation of a foreign language with the language. Deleuze also thinks of Céline, and he finds it odd when people still congratulated Céline for having introduced the spoken language into written language
Parnet mentions that with Péguy, one often thinks of the musical style of Steve Reich, with the repetitive aspect, but Deleuze says that Péguy is a much greater stylist than Reich. Parnet points out that Deleuze still hasn't responded to her "treachery," if he thinks that he has a style. Deleuze says he would like to, but asks her what she wants him to say. Already, to be a stylist, he says, one must live the problem of style. He says he can answer more modestly by saying that he lives the problem
After the tape changes, Parnet picks up this point again, saying that for Deleuze, style is a kind of necessity for the composition of what he writes, that composition enters into it in a very primordial way. Deleuze agrees completely, rephrasing the question as: is the composition of a book already a matter of style? And he answers, yes, entirely. The composition of a book cannot occur beforehand, but at the same time as the book is written. In what Deleuze has written, "if I dare invoke that," he says, there are two books that seem to be composed. Deleuze says he always attached great importance to the composition itself, for example in Logic of Sense, composed by series, constituting for Deleuze truly a kind of serial composition. Then in A Thousand Plateaus, it's a composition by plateaus, plateaus constituted by things. But Deleuze sees these as nearly two musical compositions. Composition, he says, is a fundamental element of style.
Parnet asks about something he said earlier: if in Deleuze's mode of expression, today he is now closer to what he wanted than twenty years earlier, or if it's something else entirely. Deleuze says that right now
Deleuze first says he feels a bit out of his depth <depassé>. He says he'd like to be elegant but knows quite well that he isn't. For him, elegance consists already in perceiving what elegance is. It has to be this way since there are people who miss it entirely and for whom what they call elegance is not at all elegant. So a certain grasp of what elegance is belongs to elegance. This elegance that impresses Deleuze is a domain like anything else, that one has to learn about, one has to be somewhat gifted. He then asks Parnet why she asked him that. She says for the question of style, that is in all domains. He says of course, but this aspect is not part of great art. Deleuze pauses, then says, what's important -- besides elegance that he likes greatly -- is all these things in the world that emit signs. So in this, great elegance as well as vulgarity emit signs, and it's more than just elegance that Deleuze finds important: it's the very emission of signs. This is why he has always liked and still likes Proust so much, for the society life <mondanité>, the social relations
Parnet says that although Deleuze doesn't go out much, he has always been much more favorably disposed to social gatherings <soirées mondaines> than to convivial conversations. Deleuze says of course, because for him, in social milieus, people are not going to argue
"T as in Tennis"
Parnet begins by stating that Deleuze has always liked tennis. There is a famous anecdote about Deleuze when he was a child, he tried going after the autograph of a great Swedish tennis player whom he spotted, and it was instead the king of Sweden from whom Deleuze asked for the autograph. Deleuze says no it wasn't a mistake, he knew who it was, the king was already around a hundred
Parnet asks if tennis is the only sport he watches on television, and Deleuze says no, he adores football <European: soccer>, so it's that and tennis. Parnet asks if he played tennis, and Deleuze yes, a lot up until the war, so that makes him a war victim! Parnet asks what effect that has in his body when one plays a sport a lot, or when one ceases playing it after, if there are things that change. Deleuze says he doesn't think so, at least not for him. He says he didn't turn it into a trade. In 1939, he was 14 years old and stopped playing tennis, so that's not serious. Parnet asks if he played well, and Deleuze says yes, for a 14 year old, he did pretty well, but was a bit too small. Parnet says that she heard he also did some French boxing, and Deleuze says he did a bit, but he got hurt, so he stopped that right away, but did try some boxing.
Parnet asks if he thinks tennis has changed a lot since his youth, and Deleuze says of course, like in all sports, there are milieus of variation, and here one gets back to the topic of style. Deleuze finds quite interesting the question of positions
In tennis, even before the war, Deleuze recalls, the positions were not the same, and something that interests him greatly, again related to style, is the topic of champions that are true creators. Deleuze says that there are two kinds of champion, that do not have the same value for him, the creators and the non-creators. The non-creators are those who maintain a pre-existing style and unequaled strength, for example Lendl. Deleuze does not consider Lendl to be fundamentally a creator in tennis. But then there are the great creators, even on very simple levels, those who invent new "moves"
Deleuze wonders what was the great turning point in tennis, and considers this to be its proletarization, quite relative of course. It has become a mass sport, kind of young executive with working class pretensions
After the tape change, Parnet asks if Deleuze attended a lot of tennis matches, and he begins to respond, but then returns to the question of Borg as a Christic character, who created mass tennis, and with that, it was a total creation of a new game. Then come rushing in the all sorts of players of the Vilas-type that impose a generally soporific style onto the game, whereas with a Borg, one always rediscovers the kind of player who hears the compliments, but feels that he's miles from doing what he wanted to do. Deleuze feels that Borg changed deliberately: when he was certain of his moves
Parnet asks what kind of style Borg imposed, and Deleuze describes it as: situated at the back of the court, farthest possible retreat, spinning in place
And with McEnroe, he continues, it was pure aristocrat, half Egyptian, half Russian, Egyptian service game, Russian soul, inventing moves
Parnet brings Deleuze back to his sentence about having attended something, and he tries to recall what he referred to. He says it it's sometimes difficult to be specific about what or when something really originated
To finish with tennis, Parnet asks if Deleuze thinks McEnroe will continue as he has, when he insults the referee, in fact insulting himself more than he does the referee, and is this a matter of style, and that he
"U as in Un" (One)
Parnet begins by stating that philosophy and science supposedly concern themselves with "universals." However Deleuze always says that philosophy must always stay in contact with singularities. Isn't there a paradox here? she asks. Deleuze says there is no paradox because philosophy and even science have strictly nothing to do with universals. This is a ready-made idea, from general opinion, i.e. the opinion about philosophy that it concerns itself with universals, and that science concerns itself with universal phenomena that can always be reproduced, etc. Deleuze suggests considering the statement: all bodies fall. What is important, Deleuze insists, is not that all bodies fall, but rather the fall itself and the singularities of the fall. Even were scientific singularities reproducible -- for example, mathematical singularities in functions, or physical singularities, or chemical singularities, etc. --, fine, and then what? Deleuze argues that these are secondary phenomena, processes of universalization, but what science addresses is not universals, but singularities: when does a body change its state, from the liquid state to the solid state, etc.
Deleuze continues by arguing that philosophy is not concerned with the one, being <l'être>. To suggest that is stupid
This means philosophy is defined either as contemplation or reflection, or as communication. In all three cases, it's quite comical, really quite farcical
Deleuze reiterates that philosophy consists in creating concepts, which does not mean communicating. Art is not communicative or reflective, Deleuze argues, art isn't, nor is science, nor is philosophy contemplative or reflective or communicative. It's creative, that's all. So, he concludes, the formula is n - 1, suppress the unity, suppress the universal. Parnet replies that Deleuze feels, therefore, that universals have nothing to do with philosophy, and Deleuze smiles, shaking his head.
"V as in Voyages"
Parnet announces this title by saying that it's the demonstration of a concept as a paradox because Deleuze invented the concept, nomadism, but he hates traveling. Why, first of all, does he hate to travel? she asks. Deleuze says he doesn't like the conditions of travel for a poor intellectual. Maybe if he traveled differently, he would adore traveling, but intellectuals
Having said this, Deleuze says he feels very kindly
The second reason relates to an admirable phrase from Beckett that affected Deleuze greatly, who has one of his characters say, more or less -- Deleuze cites poorly, he says, and it's expressed better than this: people are really dumb
And a third aspect of travel: Parnet stated the term "nomad," and Deleuze admits that he has been quite fascinated with nomads, but these are people quite precisely who don't travel. Those who travel are emigrants, and there can certainly be perfectly respectable people who are forced to travel, exiled people, emigrants. This is a kind of trip that it is not even a question of ridiculing because these are sacred forms of travel, forced travel. But nomads don't travel, says Deleuze. Literally, they stay put completely
And finally, says Deleuze, nearly the last aspect of traveling -- there is a phrase from Proust that is quite beautiful that says: after all, what one always does when one travels is to verify something, one verifies that a color one dreamed about is really there. And he adds something important, Deleuze insists: a bad dreamer is someone who doesn't go see if the color he dreamed about is really there, but a good dreamer knows that one has to go verify if the color is really there. Deleuze finds this a good conception of travel.
Parnet says that this is a fantastic progression, and Deleuze continues: there are trips that are veritable ruptures. For example, Deleuze says, the life of J.M.G. Le Clézio at the moment seems to be a way in which he operates a kind of rupture. Deleuze says the name Lawrence <T.E.>... then says that there are too many great writers that he admires who have a sense of travel. Stevenson is another example, Stevenson's travels aren't negligible, he says. So Deleuze insists that what he is saying has no generality, but that for his own account, someone who doesn't like to travel probably has these four reasons.
Parnet asks if this theme of travel is connected to Deleuze's natural slowness, and Deleuze says no, that he doesn't conceive of traveling as slow, but in any case, he feels no need to move. All the intensities that he has are immobile intensities. Intensities distribute themselves, he says, in space or in other systems that aren't necessarily in exterior spaces. Deleuze assures Parnet that when he reads a book or hears music that he considers beautiful, he really gets the feeling of passing into such states and emotions that he never would find in travel. So, he asks, why would he seek these emotions in places that don't suit him very well, whereas he has the most beautiful of them for himself in immobile systems, like music, like philosophy. Deleuze says that there is a geo-music, a geo-philosophy, that he considers to be profound countries, and that are his countries. Parnet says, foreign lands, and Deleuze continues, his very own foreign lands, that he does not find by traveling.
Parnet says that he is the perfect illustration that movement is not located in displacement, but she points out that he did travel a little, to Lebanon for a conference, to Canada, to the USA. Deleuze says yes, but he has to say that he was always dragged into it, and he no longer does it because he should never have done all that, he feels he did too much. He also says at that time, he liked walking, and now he walks less well, so travel no longer happens. But he recalls walking all alone through the streets of Beirut from morning to night, not knowing where he was going. He says he likes to see a city on foot, but that's all over.
"W as in Wittgenstein"
Parnet says, let's move on to W, and Deleuze says, there's nothing in W, and Parnet says, yes, there's Wittgenstein. She knows he's nothing for Deleuze, but it's only a word. Deleuze says, he doesn't like to talk about that... It's a philosophical catastrophe. It's the very type of a "school", a regression of all philosophy, a massive regression. Deleuze considers the Wittgenstein matter to be quite sad. They imposed
"X Unknown, Y Unpronounceable"
Parnet says that X is unknown and Y is unspeakable
"Z as in Zigzag"
Parnet says they are at the final letter, Zed, and Deleuze says, "Just in time!" Parnet says that it's not the Zed of Zorro the Lawman
So, he continues, what happens in Zed? He reflects that the Zen is the reverse of Nez
So, there is the somber precursor and
He pauses and says, and so we have finished. Parnet asks a final question: is Deleuze happy to have a Zed in his name, and Deleuze says "Ravi!" <Delighted!> and laughs. He pauses and says, "What happiness it is to have done this." Then standing up, putting on his glasses, he looks at Parnet and says "Posthume! Posthume!" <Posthumous! Posthumous>, and she replies "PostZume!" The camera tracks Deleuze as he leaves the frame, and then from off camera, Deleuze's voice says, "And thank you for all of your kindness."