Archive for December, 2009

Nietzsche and Philosophy (hereafter N+P) is a fantastic work. It deserves all the praise it has received and more: Deleuze is at his most creative in his engagement with Frederich Nietzsche (FN). Both interpretation and concept creation, N+P introduces the reader to some of Deleuze’s lasting concerns: multiplicity, unity, force, sense, becoming, nondialectical difference.

These concepts have been addressed in these blogs. I am particularly interested in thinking through and elaborating on the concept of the body as a non-coinciding resonant unity. I will begin here with some passages from the chapter “The Tragic.” Deleuze gives an excellent interpretation (and yet how vague is this term for what he is doing here!) of the relation between innocence and the tragic. Tragedy is joy, says FN, says Deleuze. And Heraclitus!

Heraclitus is the tragic thinker. The problem of justice runs through his entire work. Heraclitus is the one for whom life is radically innocent and just. He understands existence on the basis of an instinct of play. He makes existence an aesthetic phenomenon rather than a moral or religious one. Thus Nietzsche opposes him point by point to Anaximander….Heraclitus denied the duality of worlds, ‘he denied being itself.’

This in itself is not shocking, to deny being, it could be a cliched nihilism. FN does not stop here and Deleuze shows that this denial was in the service of another aim. But in the service of what?

…he made an affirmation of becoming. We have to reflect for a long time to understand what it means to make an affirmation of becoming. In the first place it is doubtless to say that there is only becoming. No doubt it is also to affirm becoming. But we also affirm the being of becoming, we say that becoming affirms being or that being is affirmed in becoming. Heraclitus has tow thoughts which are like ciphers: according to one there is no being, everything is becoming; according to the other, being is the being of becoming as such. A working thought which affirms becoming and a contemplative thought which affirms the being of becoming. These two ways of thinking are inseparable, they are the thought of single element….For there is no being beyond becoming, nothing beyond multiplicity; neither multiplicity nor becoming are appearances or illusions. But neither are there multiple or eternal realities which would be in turn, like essences beyond appearance. Multiplicity is the inseparable manifestation, essential transformation and constant symptom of unity. Multiplicity is the affirmation of unity; becoming is the affirmation of being. The affirmation of becoming is itself being, the affirmation of multiplicity is itself one. Multiple affirmation is the way in which the one affirms itself.

We see here the key elements that allows the concept of a life as non-coinciding resonant unity to take on a certain force. To affirm becoming is first of all to practice philosophy as a practice of joyous life, a dance of chance. This affirmation is also an excellent place to bring forth a non-dialectical difference. Difference has largely been subsumed under negativity, negation, opposition, contradiction, and generally a bad conscience (slave mentality or representation, same thing). Affirmative difference suggests a continuous differentiation of intensive processes, gradients of functionality, rates of connectivity, and a multiplicious mutation. This is difference as self-differentiation, given an ecology of far-from-equilibrium states and processes. This is the truth of being: becoming. There is nothing but that, a constant becoming, that is what being is; a working and contemplative thought, the world is a unity of multiplicious processes. Read on: “the double affirmation of becoming and of the being of becoming…”