Everything is Real - Gilles Deleuze and Creative Univocity

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<ul><li><p>7/27/2019 Everything is Real - Gilles Deleuze and Creative Univocity</p><p> 1/14</p><p>EVERYTHINGIS REAL 61</p><p>EVERYTHINGIS REAL: GILLES DELEUZEANDCREATIVE UNIVOCITY</p><p>Peter Hallward</p><p>The central thesis of the conference in which a version of this article was</p><p>first presented - that contemporary understandings of art and science belong</p><p>to a single paradigm of thought, a single way of thinking - surely finds its</p><p>most emphatic philosophical justification in the work of Gilles Deleuze.</p><p>This most inventive of contemporary French thinkers seeks to understand</p><p>the individuation of all possible beings and experiences as part of one and</p><p>the same productive process, where everything thus individuated or</p><p>produced - planets, bodies, perceptions, dreams, paintings, delusions - isproduced in essentially the same way. Deleuzes work everywhere asserts</p><p>the strict univocity of being. All thatis can be said to be in exactly the same</p><p>sense, all that can be said of being must be said in one and the same voice.1</p><p>And if all that falls under the concept of being must be treated in the same</p><p>way and said in the same voice, then the essential compatibility of art and</p><p>science follows as a matter of course. (Artistic) interpretation and (scientific)</p><p>explanation become aspects of one and the same expressive project.2</p><p>All of Deleuzes notoriously complex work presumes this essential</p><p>reduction, this essential compatibility of art and science, for the simple</p><p>reason that it eliminates the epistemological basis of their broadly Romantic</p><p>distinction - namely, the difference between deduction and insight, between</p><p>what can be demonstrated objectively and what resonates subjectively,</p><p>between the natural sciences and the human sciences, and so on. Deleuzes</p><p>project begins with the evacuation of any rigorous difference between subject</p><p>and object or natural and human, so as literally to clear the mind for the</p><p>intuition of that single productive energy that saturates, in essentially the</p><p>same way, every dimension of existence and experience. His project thendevelops, along each of its many bifurcating paths, on the presumption</p><p>that the identity of the self is lost [] to the advantage of an intense</p><p>multiplicity and a power of metamorphosis.3</p><p>The creatures loss, we might say, is creations gain. For in the absence of</p><p>subject-centred distinctions, everything will be seen to cohere on the same</p><p>virtual plane of immanence or multiplicity, a plane upon which everything</p><p>is laid out, and which is like the intersection of all forms, a plane populated</p><p>by a single abstract Animal for all the assemblages that effectuate it. Every</p><p>being can be described as a creative movement across the One-All defined</p><p>by this plane, and these movements are distinguished from one another</p><p>only by speed and slowness (WIS, 41/38).4 As a matter of fundamental</p><p>principle, there is only one kind of production, the production of the real,</p><p>1. In the terms madefamiliar by centuriesof scholastic debate,that being isunivocalmeans that creaturesexist in essentiallythe same way astheir creator. On thispoint see DanielSmithsexceptionally clearpaper, The Doctrineof Univocity:Deleuzes Ontologyof Immanence,</p><p>Deleuze and Religion,Mary Bryden (ed),Routledge, London,2001.</p><p>2. The mostsystematic text to</p><p>deal with thisquestion is GillesDeleuze and FlixGuattaris What is</p><p>Philosophy? Minuit,Paris, 1991, HughTomlinson andGraham Burchell(trans), ColumbiaUP, 1994; it providesthis article with itsmain point ofreference. Further</p><p>references to thistitle will be given inthe text as WIP,followed by pagenumber. (Where areference containstwo page numbersseparated by aforward slash, thefirst number refersto the originaledition and thesecond to thetranslation; tmstands fortranslationmodified).</p><p>3. Deleuze The Logicof Sense, Minuit,Paris, 1969, MarkLester with CharlesStivale (trans),Columbia UP, New</p><p>York, 1990, p345/297.</p><p>4. Deleuze andGuattari,A Thousand</p><p>Plateaus, Minuit,Paris, 1980 BrianMassumi (trans),</p></li><li><p>7/27/2019 Everything is Real - Gilles Deleuze and Creative Univocity</p><p> 2/14</p><p>62 NEW FORMATIONS</p><p>and our only goal is to draw close to the beating heart of reality, to an</p><p>intense point identical with the production of the real.5 Any effort to</p><p>complicate this schema by introducing anthropocentric alternatives like</p><p>imaginary or symbolic (let alone natural and human, or objective and</p><p>subjective) can amount solely to the introduction oferror pure and simple.</p><p>Strict ontological univocity has, as its immediate implication, that it is the</p><p>nature of consciousness to be false.6 Consciousness as such can only get in</p><p>the way of active participation in univocal expression. In this as in every</p><p>associated case, all our false problems derive from the fact that we do not</p><p>know how to go beyond experience toward the conditions of experience,</p><p>toward the articulations of the real [du rel].7</p><p>In what follows I will try to outline, in terms directed at mainly non-</p><p>specialist readers, what is involved in this production of the real and the</p><p>notions of art and science that ensue. I will argue, in spite of certain thematic</p><p>appearances to the contrary, that Deleuze encourages us to understand such</p><p>production as a peculiar, thoroughly contemporary version ofcreationism -the idea, which Deleuze adapts mainly from Spinoza and Leibniz, that all</p><p>actual beings exist as unfolding parts of the expression or explication of</p><p>an all-powerful, purely intensive, purely virtual creative force.8 An infinitely</p><p>creative force gives rise to an infinitely differentiated creation. The task of</p><p>any particular creature - any particular actuality - is simply to give</p><p>appropriate voice to that part of creative becoming that it is able to express.</p><p>Grasped in itself - grasped, we might say, as an attribute of the creator</p><p>per se, considered independently of creation - this force remains exclusively</p><p>virtual. Its expression or self-differentiation will individuate every actuality</p><p>with absolute determining power, but it itself qua virtuality, qua creativity,</p><p>will never become actual. It will never be limited by the stasis of material</p><p>actuality. Every particular creation, however, will have both a virtual and an</p><p>actual dimension. It will exist both as a purely virtual creative thought, i.e.</p><p>as a creating, as a thought in the creative Mind, and as the thoroughly</p><p>actual expression of that thought, i.e. as a creature, as a distinct element in</p><p>the field of creation. In Deleuzes work, virtual and creative (in this strong</p><p>creationist sense) are effectively interchangeable terms.Though it is always the virtual or creative dimension that determines</p><p>the course of creation, the expressive individuation of this force is</p><p>simultaneously spiritual and physical. From what we might call the creative</p><p>point of view, thinking and being are [] one and the same, since purely</p><p>creative thought must immediately give rise to whatever it thinks. Every</p><p>genuine thought is a creation. Though the plane of immanence is always</p><p>single, being itself pure variation, it has two facets, as Thought and as</p><p>Nature and the one is immediately expressive of the other. Creatings are</p><p>distinguished by their speed alone, i.e. by their proximity to infinite speed,</p><p>since creativity itself is a single speed on both sides: the atom will traverse</p><p>space with the speed of thought (Epicurus). The plane of immanence has</p><p>two facets as Thought and as Nature, as Nous and as Physis (WIP, 41-42/38-</p><p>Minnesota UP,Minneapolis, 1986,pp311-312/254-255.Further references tothis title will begiven in the text as</p><p>ATP, followed bypage number.</p><p>5. Deleuze andGuattari,Anti-Oedipus, Minuit,Paris, 1972, RobertHurley, Mark Seemand Helen Lane(trans), MinnesotaUP, 1977, pp40/32,104/87.</p><p>6. Deleuze,Differenceand Repetition, PUF,</p><p>1968, Paul Patton(trans), ColumbiaUP, New York, 1994,pp268-269/208.Further references tothis title will begiven in the text as</p><p>D&amp;R, followed bypage number.</p><p>7. Deleuze,Bergsonism, PUF,1966 Hugh</p><p>Tomlinson andBarbara Habberjam(trans), Zone Books,1988, p17/26.Further references tothis title will begiven in the text as</p><p>Bergsonism, followedby page number.</p><p>8. Regrettably, thereis no space here to</p><p>tackle the mostobvious (but alsomost difficult)question raised by adescription ofDeleuzes thought asessentiallycreationist, namelyits relation to abroadly evolutionaryperspective; thepertinence of such aperspective has beendemonstrated incompelling detail byKeith AnsellPearsons recentbook, Germinal Life:The Difference and</p><p>Repetition of Deleuze,</p></li><li><p>7/27/2019 Everything is Real - Gilles Deleuze and Creative Univocity</p><p> 3/14</p><p>EVERYTHINGIS REAL 63</p><p>39).9 It is the essential singularity of the arrangement that necessarily boggles</p><p>every limited understanding of mind, since it coheres only from the point</p><p>of view of a mind that creates at every moment every object of its thought -</p><p>that is to say, from the point of view that in Leibniz and Spinoza corresponds</p><p>to the mind of God.10 The immediate methodological implication, however,</p><p>is perfectly straightforward: if everything that is is real, if all that exists</p><p>exists in the same way, then there can be only one mechanism of</p><p>understanding or perception, one faculty of expression-interpretation, and</p><p>this faculty will apply indifferently to the material, semantic, or spiritual</p><p>composition of things.</p><p>As a result, the differences between philosophy, art, and science do not</p><p>reflect differences in the substance of their concern any more than they</p><p>correspond to genuinely distinct faculties of the mind. Philosophy, art and</p><p>science are names given to the three forms of thought able to sustain</p><p>proximity to pure creativity as such, i.e. to pure creative chaos: they are the</p><p>three Chaoids, realities produced on the planes that cut through chaos indifferent ways (WIP, 196/208tm).11 They differ only in the intensity of their</p><p>approximation to thepurely creative point of view. The effort to conceptualise</p><p>configurations of creative thought as such, the effort to lend conceptual</p><p>consistency to its infinite turbulence, is the particular task and privilege of</p><p>philosophy. Art and science take up their distinct epistemological positions</p><p>with respect to the resulting hierarchy: whereas science abandons any direct</p><p>intuition of pure infinity (infinite chaos, infinite speed, infinite determination</p><p> ) so as to isolate a plane of reference in which finite states of relative</p><p>speed or relative complexity can be observed and analysed, art attempts,</p><p>through its finite compositions, to serve as a conduit or vector for an infinite</p><p>compositional power. In short: if what trulyis is a pure creative energy that</p><p>proceeds with the infinite speed of thought, philosophy is the discipline of</p><p>thought that establishes zones of conceptual consistency within this infinite</p><p>difference, whereas science withdraws from the infinite to so as to measure</p><p>the finite, leaving art with the peculiar power of being able to pass through</p><p>the finite in order to rediscover, to restore the infinite(WIP, 186/197, my</p><p>emphasis). These disciplinary differences are established solely with referenceto the underlying dynamic of creative thought as such, or the mechanics of</p><p>infinite speed - and not in terms of ineluctably anthropocentric distinctions</p><p>between explanation and interpretation, or perception and imagination,</p><p>or accuracy and insight.</p><p>II</p><p>Deleuzes point of departure is brutally straightforward. Being is univocal.</p><p>There has only ever been one ontology, that of Duns Scotus, which gave</p><p>being a single voice [...]. From Parmenides to Heidegger it is the same</p><p>voice which is taken up, in an echo which itself forms the whole deployment</p><p>of the univocal (D&amp;R, 52/35). All distinct beings are distributed across the</p><p>Routledge, London,1999. See also myforthcoming study,Creationism in</p><p>Philosophy: Deleuze.</p><p>9. The concept ofpure creativity (orinfinite speed)</p><p>satisfies the essentialcreationistobligation: the</p><p>whole ought tobelong to a singlemoment, inDeleuze,Nietzsche</p><p>and Philosophy, PUF,Paris, 1962 HughTomlinson (trans),Minnesota UP, 1983,p81/72. Furtherreferences to this</p><p>title will be given inthe text asN&amp;P,followed by pagenumber.</p><p>10. The universe islike a whole whichGod grasps in asingle view, Leibniz,Letter to vonHessen-Rheinfels 12</p><p>April 1686, inLeibniz,PhilosophicalTexts, R.S.</p><p>Woolhouse andRichard Francks (edand trans), OUP,1998, p.99; cf.Spinoza,Ethics V,Proposition 25.</p><p>11. Alternatively -although it amountsto the same thing -they are the three</p><p>aspects under whichthe brain [or mind]becomes subject,Thought-brain,p198/210.</p></li><li><p>7/27/2019 Everything is Real - Gilles Deleuze and Creative Univocity</p><p> 4/14</p><p>64 NEW FORMATIONS</p><p>space of univocal being, within a single plane of immanence or inclusion,</p><p>and they sing their being in one and the same voice. They sing a single</p><p>clamour of Being for all beings (D&amp;R, 388-89/304).12 Being says all that it</p><p>has to say according to a single logic of sense, which applies indifferently</p><p>to God or man, animal or plant, dream or perception, word or thing.</p><p>Now if all beings express Being in the same way, does this mean that all</p><p>beings express the same intensity of being? Does ontological univocity imply</p><p>ontological equality? Far from it: its essential to understand that although</p><p>equal, univocal being is immediately present in everything, without</p><p>mediation or intermediary, nevertheless things reside unequally in this</p><p>equal being(D&amp;R, 55/37). Univocity simply ensures an exclusively</p><p>quantitative understanding of expressive difference, where every difference,</p><p>ultimately, is a matter of being more or less expressive of the One-All,</p><p>more or less adequately expressive of being as that immanent whole in which</p><p>everything coexists with itself, except for the differences of level (Bergsonism,</p><p>103/100). All actual individuals actualise varying degrees of a single virtualforce (ATP, 62/46), and when we come to investigate the apparent diversity</p><p>of the natural world we see, between plant and animal, for example, between</p><p>animal and man, only differences in degree (Bergsonism , 105/101).</p><p>But why this inequality? Why is ontological hierarchy the originary fact,</p><p>[as] the identity of difference and origin? (N&amp;P, 8-9/8). Because Deleuze</p><p>takes Nietzsches side in his quarrel with Schopenhauer: like any creationist,</p><p>Deleuze maintains that creation necessarily creates distinct creatures, that</p><p>production gives rise to distinct products. The illusions of subjective</p><p>autonomy must be dispelled, yes, but not in favour of a purely indeterminate</p><p>or undifferentiated abyss. The deluded pretension to a distinctive human</p><p>voice (i.e., to ontological equi-vocity) must certainly be disarmed and</p><p>replaced, but in and by individuation, in the direction of the individuating</p><p>factors which consume them and which constitute the fluid world of Dionysus.</p><p>What cannot be replaced is individuation itself (D&amp;R, 332/258). And in</p><p>order to conceive of such individuation/differentiation as immediately active,</p><p>as purely creative, it must be abstracted from any process - of interaction,</p><p>communication, interpretation, negation - that might mediate, qualify,modulat...</p></li></ul>