Notes on G. Deleuze’s “Michel Foucault’s Main Concepts”

Posted: November 17, 2008 in Deleuze, Foucault, Time

The Twin of History: Thought

These are notes that I hope to turn into a fully developed post.

But to think is to reach a non-stratified material, somewhere between the layers, in the interstices. Thinking has an essential relation to history, but it is no more historical than it is eternal. It is closer to what Nietzsche calls the Untimely: to think the past against the present–which would be nothing more than a common place, pure nostalgia, some kind of return, if he did not immediately add: “in favor, I hope, of a time to come.” There is a becoming of thought which passes through historical formations, like their twin, but which does not resemble them. Thinking must come from the outside of thought, and yet at the same time be engendered from within–beneath the strata and beyond them. (241)

There is so much here, as always. To think is to join with processes of de-formation, of the pure tendency of a variable curvature. A function of correlated movements, structures, strata. And in the interstice, where formations communicate with formations, where a patterning of force is just taking shape, there in the becoming of this between-the-layers we find the diagram. This diagrammatic thought is historical but not of history. It is time out of joint, something monstrous, still to come, something whose force lies in the dynamism of its mutations. Something Untimely.

Foucault’s untimely thinking discovers three axes: 1. strata as historical formations (archeology); 2. the outside as beyond (strategy), and 3. the inside as a substratum (genealogy). This is difficult for me, as I think Deleuze is relating Foucault’s method to A Thousand Plateaus as much as to anything Foucault ever wrote. So I want to pick apart slowly what Deleuze means by these three axes.


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