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Gilles Deleuze (1925 - 1995)

Lifespan: 1925 - 1995

Key concepts: difference - repetition - body without organs - rhizome

Related: Richard Pinhas - Félix Guattari - French philosophy - Mille Plateaux (1980) - philosophy

Gilles Deleuze, photo credit unidentified

I was introduced to the work of Gilles Deleuze in the late-1990s via his musical collaborations with Richard Pinhas and his work on the rhizome and sadomasochism. His writing is opaque and difficult, a universe in itself. The reward comes from reading it as poetry. A typical poetical sentence of his work is "Flying anuses, speeding vaginas, there is no castration". [Mar 2006]


Gilles Deleuze (January 18, 1925 - November 4, 1995 , French philosopher of the late 20th century. From the early 1960s until his death, Deleuze wrote many influential works on philosophy, literature, film, and fine art. His most popular books were the two volumes of Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Anti-Oedipus (1972) and A Thousand Plateaus (1980), both co-written with Félix Guattari. His books Difference and Repetition (1968) and The Logic of Sense (1969) led Michel Foucault to declare that "one day, perhaps, this century will be called Deleuzian." (Deleuze, for his part, said Foucault's comment was "just a crack intended to make those people who love us laugh and to make the others rage.") --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilles_Deleuze [Jan 2006]


In their ongoing attack on the theories of Freud, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari have proposed something called "schizoanalysis" as an alternative to psychoanalytic practice. They said, "A schizophrenic going for a walk is healthier than a neurotic on a couch," a philosophy that we find in practice on the streets of Berkeley, California. Scholars influenced by these two have recently raised the banner of cyberpunk science fiction, since the genre speaks directly to the schizoid character of techno/media life. --R.U. Sirius, Pomo To Go, A User's Guide to Trendy French Intellectuals , Wired 2.06, June 1994


Deleuze's work falls into two groups: on one hand, monographs interpreting modern philosophers (Spinoza, Leibniz, Hume, Kant, Nietzsche, Bergson) and artists (Proust, Kafka, Francis Bacon); on the other, eclectic philosophical tomes organized by concept (e.g., difference, sense, events, schizophrenia, cinema, philosophy). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilles_Deleuze [Jan 2006]

Deleuze and cinema

It has often been said that the relationship between cinema and psychoanalysis is not coincidental, because both emerged around the same time. Although Freud himself didn't consider cinema of any value, psychoanalysis has greatly influenced modern film theory. Ever since in the seventies feminist film theory joined and critiqued the concerns of the psychosemiotic apparatus theory, psychoanalysis's impact on film theory is undeniable. However, at the same time that Freud wrote his first case studies and cinema projected its first images, another set of ideas was first published: Henri Bergson's Matter and Memory. According to Bergson cinema provided a model of human consciousness and the experience of time and memory. But it was not until almost a century later, with Gilles Deleuze's Cinema 1: The Movement-Image and Cinema 2: The Time-Image that Bergson's philosophical ideas where taken up in film theory. --Patricia Pisters, 1998, From Eye to Brain - Refiguring the Subject in Film Theory


Deleuze's desperate attempts to undermine the illusion of "the sadomasochistic entity" result in a virtually endless list of dualities, a polarization between sadism and masochism whose rigidity itself reeks of reductionism and over-simplification. For example, when summarizing the most essential differences between sadism and masochism, Deleuze goes so far as to assert without further elaboration that "there is an aestheticism in masochism, while sadism is hostile to the aesthetic attitude." What, frankly, is meant by the phrase "the aesthetic attitude"? Sadism and masochism may be linked or identified with differing aesthetic characteristics, but such a monolithic conception of THE aesthetic posture is just as disturbing and problematic as "THE sadomasochistic entity," the indiscriminate and careless combining of the two terms which Deleuze tries to deconstruct. On the other hand, Deleuze's efforts to highlight the separateness of sadism and masochism are admirable, for it is still quite rare to find a contemporary critic who is sensitive to discerning such differences. -- http://sites.uol.com.br/formattoso/informative.htm

see also: sadomasochism

The deterritorializing potential of the refrain

As a concrete example of the deterritorializing potential of the refrain, Deleuze and Guattari cite the analyses of LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka) who shows in Blues People how black slaves in America, in the conditions of forced labor, took their old African work songs, which were originally territorial refrains, and made use of them in a "deterritorialized" manner, in the process producing an "intensive" and plaintive use of the English language by blending it with their own African languages; these songs were in turn "reterritorialized" by whites in minstrel shows, and the use of "blackface" (Al Jolson); and then taken back by blacks in another movement of deterritorialization and translated into a whole series of new musical forms (blues, hootchie-koochie, etc.) (cited in A Thousand Plateaus 137-138). via http://www.humnet.ucla.edu/echo/volume3-issue1/smithmurphy/smithmurphy2.html [Mar 2006]

A Thousand Plateaus : Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1980) - Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari

A Thousand Plateaus : Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1980, 1987 (trans)) - Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

A Thousand Plateaus is a book by the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze and psychoanalyst Félix Guattari. It forms the second part of their Capitalism and Schizophrenia duo (the first part being The Anti-Oedipus).

The concept of "becoming-minor" appears in one of the "Plateaus", as a phase of deterritorialization. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Thousand_Plateaus [Jan 2006]

See also: capitalism - Gilles Deleuze - Félix Guattari - French philosophy - 1980

Difference and Repetition (1968) - Gilles Deleuze

Difference and Repetition (1968) - Gilles Deleuze [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Since its publication in 1968, "Difference and Repetition", an exposition of the critique of identity, has come to be considered a contemporary classic in philosophy and one of Deleuze's most important works. The text follows the development of two central concepts, those of pure difference and complex repetition. It shows how the two concepts are related, difference implying divergence and decentring, repetition being associated with displacement and disguising. The work moves deftly between Hegel, Kierkegaard, Freud, Althusser and Nietzsche to establish a fundamental critique of Western metaphysics, and has been a central text in initiating the shift in French thought - away from Hegel and Marx, towards Nietzsche and Freud.-- amazon.co.uk

Difference and Repetition (French title: Différence et répétition) is a 1969 philosophical book by Gilles Deleuze which concerns the study of difference and repetition. It was Gilles Deleuze's doctoral thesis. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Difference_and_Repetition [Sept 2005]

See also: Gilles Deleuze - difference

More books

  1. Cinema 2: The Time-Image - Gilles Deleuze [Amazon US]
    Although Deleuze mentions that this book's aim is to make a typology on cinema, for readers, it will be the object of thought more than that. In this book, Deleuze considers many films in which time is not subordinate to movement any longer (the time-image). His way of developing theory is like Bergson's one on time and memory, but his theory of time has variations that are reflected in various films and becomes a profound notion of the world with dynamic extension. Deleuze proposes us not only new concepts through films but also the question: What is the world? Deleuze creates a system on cinema as same as he analyzes clearly what is new and what is different from the past films in films of neo-realism or the new wave. While many people have mentioned to genres in films, Deleuzefs analysis of the border between the genres is one of the most precise.

    If you had "Cinema 1: The Movement-Image", this book would be more interesting for you because you could compare the two books. Moreover, this book treats so many films that you must find ones you have ever seen, which makes this book more fascinating.--A reader from Kobe, Japan for amazon.com

  2. Masochism : Coldness and Cruelty & Venus in Furs (1967) - Gilles Deleuze [Amazon.com]
    In his stunning essay, Coldness and Cruelty, Gilles Deleuze examines the work of the late-nineteenth-century German novelist Leopold von Sacher-­Masoch. He shows that masochism is something far Tore subtle and complex than the enjoyment of pain, that masochism has nothing to do with sadism; their worlds do not communicate, just as the genius of those who created them - Masoch and Sade - lie stylistically, philosophically, and politically poles apart. Venus in Furs, the most famous of all of Masoch's novels, belongs to an unfinished cycle of works that Masoch entitled The Heritage of Cain. --from the English-language publisher

Books on Deleuze

  1. Deleuze: The Clamor of Being - Alain Badiou, Louise Burchill (Translator) [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    I don't think that book reviews of this size or located in a space such as this are the place for enumerating personal credentials or detailing the contours of densely philosophcal arguments. But I urge anyone interested in Deleuze to read this book, which is the best critical assessment of his thought yet written. Deleuze would be flattered and irritated to see his work read as he has read other thinkers. Badiou transforms Deleuze's work into that which it was not while maintaining the singularity of Deleuze's project. Well-written and suggestive, Alain Badiou is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with. When L'etre et l'evenement is more fully recognized, Badiou will be understood as one of the truly important thinkers of the last decade. --A reader from St. Petersburg, FL United States, amazon.com

  2. Organs Without Bodies: On Deleuze and Consequences (2003 - Slavoj Zizek [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    The latest book by the Slovenian critic Slavoj Zizek takes the work of French philosopher Gilles Deleuze as the beginning of a dazzling inquiry into the realms of politics, philosophy, film, and psychoanalysis. This is a polemical and surprising work. Deleuze, famous for his Anti-Oedipus (written with Felix Guattari), emerges here as someone much closer to the Oedipus he would disavow. Similarly, Zizek argues for Deleuze's proximity to Hegel, from whom the French philosopher distanced himself. Zizek turns some Deleuzian concepts around in order to explore the "organs without bodies" in such films as Fight Club and the works of Hitchcock. Finally, he attacks what he sees as the "radical chic" Deleuzians (he names, among them, Hardt and Negri's Empire), arguing that such projects turn Deleuze into an ideologist of today's "digital capitalism." Admired for its brilliant energy and fearless argumentation, Zizek sets out to restore a truer, more radical Deleuze than the one we thought we knew. --amazon.com

Deleuzean Writers

  1. Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy - Manuel Delanda [book, Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    Delanda is certainly not the least controversial of Deleuzeans, so I imagine some folks will dislike the (sort of) analytic flavor of this work. Nonetheless it gives--or makes a painfully valient attempt to give--what a lot of 'clarificationary' work on Deleuze ultimately fails to provide. A solid, relevant reconstruction of Deleuze's world without all the cumbersome jargon that bogs down the more continental reconstructions (e.g., Badiou's "Clamor of Being"...really an excellent book, but rough-going in the prose department). Delanda takes his by now standard fascination with complexity theory and other cool stuff and mines Deleuze's works for its scientific & mathematic underpinnings. John Protevi's "Political Physics," another book in this series, could be seen as an intro. to this book--not to downplay the significance of Protevi's work. Where Protevi explored the possibilities for Deleuzean applications to complexity, Delanda actually applies it, fearlessly, using the analytic style, I imagine, as a way to not cower in the face of some of Deleuze's absurdities. This work should be hotly debated, but it should be deeply appreciated as well, for the age of freeplay is waning, and now that the fog is clearing it really is time to figure out what the hell Deleuze was talking about.
    This is first on my list of Deleuze commentaries, and it stands as a powerful independent work in its own right. Read it. Delanda rules. --christopher chrappa for amazon.com


  1. In Memoriam Gilles Deleuze - Various Artists[2 CD, Amazon US]
    Deleuze died in 1995, this CD was released in 1996, as an hommage to Gilles. An excellent CD that showcases a lot of the top electronic artists. Even this is in no way an easy piece of art to listen to, it sure pays back all the effort and the concentration it requires from the listener. The general mood is very dark and the drones play a big part in it, so stay away if minimalist electronics are not your cup of tea, otherwise enjoy.
    1. Gilles Deleuze - Gilles Deleuze 2. Happy Deterritorializations - Wehowsky/Wollscheid 3. On the Edge of a Grain of Sand 4. Bon Voyage - Alec Empire 5. Gigantic Tautological Machinery - Cristian Vogel 6. Indirection/Comtinuum - Christophe Charles 7. Abstract Miniatures in Memoriam Gilles Deleuze - Atom Heart 8. Heller - Gas 9. Intro-Spektiv - Chris & Cosey 10. Wunschmaschinenpark 11. Death Is the Begining - Steel 12. Can't Be Still 13. Starjammer - Trans Am 14. Intermodal - Rome Disc: 2 1. As In - Jim O'Rourke 2. You Are Here 0.9 B - Oval 3. 1001 - Mouse on Mars 4. Vital One - Ian Pooley 5. Pâtent 6. Qeria for Gilles Deleuze - Tobias Hazan 7. Without End - Scanner 8. Invisual Ocean - DJ Spooky 9. Gradation d'Humor 10. Traobeik 11. And Line - Kerosene 12. Garator - El Turco Loco 13. Layered Layers

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