Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Deleuze Quotes

As readers of this blog probably know, Deleuze is my favorite of the Big French Thinkers that so dominated English Departments in the past 20 years or so. Part of my affinity for Deleuze is that my interests in aesthetics and philosophy overlaps with his, with his favorite writers (Lawrence, Woolf, Faulkner, Artaud, Kafka, Proust) and painters (Bacon, the Mannerists, Cezanne), and philosophers (Hume, Nietzsche, Bergson) being many of my own favorite. The fact that he was able to find so many connecting points between those figures (often through his emphasis on forms of expression and thought that embody immanence, and becoming, instead of more classical and categorical representations of reality, experience) I find fascinating. Recently I picked up what seems to have been his last essay, entitled “Immanence: A Life,” which was published in 1995. Here are some quotes:

“We will say of pure immanence that it is A LIFE, and nothing else. It is not immanence to life, but the immanent that is in nothing is itself a life. A life is the immanence of immanence, absolute immanence: it is complete power, complete bliss.”

“What is immanence? A life…No one has described what a life is better than Charles Dickens, if we take the indefinite article as an index of the transcendental. A disreputable man, a rouge, held in contempt by everyone, is found as he lies dying. Suddenly, those taking care of him manifest an eagerness, respect, even love for his slightest sign of life. Everybody bustles about to save him, to the point where, in his deepest coma, this wicked man himself senses something soft and sweet penetrating him. But to the degrees that he comes back to life, his saviors turn colder, and he becomes once again mean and crude. Between his life and his death, there is a moment that is only that of a life playing with death. The life of the individual gives way to an impersonal and yet singular life that releases a pure event freed from the accidents of internal and external life, that is, from the subjectivity and objectivity of what happens…”

“The indefinite article is the indetermination of the person only because it is the determination of the singular…”

“It even seems that a singular life might do without any individuality, without any other concomitant that individualizes it. For example, very small children all resemble one another and have hardly any individuality, but they have singularities: a smile, a gesture, a funny face--not subjective qualities…individual life, on the other hand, remains inseparable from empirical determinations…”


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