- Birthday, Books, Philosophy, Politics, Quotes, Reading, Writing

Gilles Deleuze on Writing, Creation, Philosophy, and More

Happy birthday, Gilles Deleuze! Here are some quotes from the writer:

 

“Bring something incomprehensible into the world!”

 

“[T]o write is to struggle and resist; to write is to become; to write is to draw a map: ‘I am a cartographer.'”

 

“Your writing has to be liquid or gaseous simply because normal perception and opinion are solid, geometric…You have to open up words, break things open, to free earth’s vectors.”

 

“A great writer is always like a foreigner in the language which he expresses himself, even if this is his native tongue. At the limit, he draws his strength from a mute and unknown minority that belongs only to him. He is a foreigner in his own language: he does not mix another language with his own language, he carves out a nonpreexistent foreign language within his own language. He makes the language itself scream, stutter, stammer, or murmur.”

 

“Creation takes place in bottlenecks…A creator who isn’t grabbed around the throat by a set of impossibilities is no creator. A creator’s someone who creates their own impossibilities, and thereby creates possibilities…it’s by banging your head on the wall that you find a way through. You have to work on the wall, because without a set of impossibilities, you won’t have the line of flight, the exit that is creation, the power of falsity that is truth. Your writing has to be liquid or gaseous simply because normal perception and opinion are solid, geometric…You have to open up words, break things open, to free earth’s vectors.”

 

“We have to see creation as tracing a path between impossibilities.”

 

“Let us create extraordinary words, on condition that they be put to the most ordinary use and that the entity they designate be made to exist in the same way as the most common object.”

 

“A book is a small cog in a much more complex, external machinery. Writing is a flow among others; it enjoys no special privilege and enters into relationships of current and counter-current, of back-wash with other flows—the flows of shit, sperm, speech, action, eroticism, money, politics, etc. Like Bloom, writing on the sand with one hand and masturbating with the other—two flows in what relationship?”

 

“There are, you see, two ways of reading a book: you either see it as a box with something inside and start looking for what it signifies, and then if you’re even more perverse or depraved you set off after signifiers. And you treat the next book like a box contained in the first or containing it. And you annotate and interpret and question, and write a book about the book, and so on and on. Or there’s the other way: you see the book as a little non-signifying machine, and the only question is ‘Does it work, and how does it work?’ How does it work for you? If it doesn’t work, if nothing comes through, you try another book. This second way of reading’s intensive: something comes through or it doesn’t. There’s nothing to explain, nothing to understand, nothing to interpret.”

 

“In order for music to free itself, it will have to pass over to the other side—there where territories tremble, where the structures collapse, where the ethoses get mixed up, where a powerful song of the earth is unleashed, the great ritornelles that transmutes all the airs it carries away and makes return.”

 

“The self is only a threshold, a door, a becoming between two multiplicities.”

 

“The shadow escapes from the body like an animal we had been sheltering.”

 

“Courage consists, however, in agreeing to flee rather than live tranquilly and hypocritically in false refuges. Values, morals, homelands, religions, and these private certitudes that our vanity and our complacency bestow generously on us, have many deceptive sojourns as the world arranges for those who think they are standing straight and at ease, among stable things.”

 

“History is made only by those who oppose history (not by those who insert themselves into it, or even reshape it).”

 

“[T]he canvas is never empty.”

 

“Something in the world forces us to think. This something is an object not of recognition but of a fundamental encounter. What is encountered may be Socrates, a temple or a demon. It may be grasped in a range of affective tones: wonder, love, hatred, suffering. In whichever tone, its primary characteristic is that it can only be sensed. In this sense it is opposed to recognition.”

 

“Paradox is the pathos or the passion of philosophy.”

 

“So it’s not a problem of getting people to express themselves but of providing little gaps of solitude and silence in which they might eventually find something to say. Repressive forces don’t stop people expressing themselves but rather force them to express themselves; What a relief to have nothing to say, the right to say nothing, because only then is there a chance of framing the rare, and ever rarer, thing that might be worth saying.”

 

“Philosophy does not serve the State or the Church, who have other concerns. It serves no established power. The use of philosophy is to sadden. A philosophy that saddens no one, that annoys no one, is not a philosophy. It is useful for harming stupidity, for turning stupidity into something shameful.”

 

“This is how it should be done: lodge yourself on a stratum, experiment with the opportunities it offers, find an advantageous place on it, find potential movements of deterritorialization, possible lines of flight, experience them, produce flow conjunctions here and there, try out continuums of intensities segment by segment, have a small plot of new land at all times.”

 

“Is it not first through the voice that one becomes animal?”

 

“A leftist government doesn’t exist because being on the left has nothing to do with governments.”

 

“There’s no democratic state that’s not compromised to the very core by its part in generating human misery.”

 

“It is always from the depths of its impotence that each power center draws its power, hence their extreme maliciousness, and vanity.”

 

“Philosophy, art, and science are not the mental objects of an objectified brain but the three aspects under which the brain becomes subject.”

 

“It is not the slumber of reason that engenders monsters, but vigilant and insomniac rationality.”

 

“The problem of education is not an ideological problem, but a problem of the organization of power: it is the specificity of educational power that makes it appear to be an ideology, but it’s pure illusion. Power in the primary schools, that means something, it affects all children. Second example: Christianity. The church is perfectly pleased to be treated as an ideology. This can be argued; it feeds ecumenism. But Christianity has never been an ideology.”

 

“For me philosophy is an art of creation, much like music or painting. Philosophy creates concepts, which are neither generalities nor truths. They are more along the lines of the Singular, the Important, the New. Concepts are inseparable from affects, i.e., from the powerful effects they exert on our life, and percepts, i.e., the new ways of seeing or perceiving they provoke in us.”

 

“The technocrat is the natural friend of the dictator—computers and dictatorship; but the revolutionary lives in the gap which separates technical progress from social totality, and inscribed there his dream of permanent revolution. This dream, therefore, is itself action, reality, and an effective menace to all established order; it renders possible what it dreams about.”

 

“Instead of gambling on the eternal impossibility of the revolution and on the fascist return of a war-machine in general, why not think that a new type of revolution is in the course of becoming possible, and that all kinds of mutating, living machines conduct wars, are combined and trace out a plane of consistence which undermines the plane of organization of the World and the States?”

 

“A concept is a brick. It can be used to build a courthouse of reason. Or it can be thrown through the window.”

 

“Writing has nothing to do with meaning. It has to do with landsurveying and cartography, including the mapping of countries yet to come.”

 

“The fundamental problem of political philosophy is still precisely the one that Spinoza saw so clearly (and that Wilhelm Reich rediscovered): Why do men fight for their servitude as stubbornly as though it were their salvation?”

 

“Courage consists, however, in agreeing to flee rather than live tranquilly and hypocritically in false refuges. Values, morals, homelands, religions, and these private certitudes that our vanity and our complacency bestow generously on us, have many deceptive sojourns as the world arranges for those who think they are standing straight and at ease, among stable things.”

 

“There’s no democratic state that’s not compromised to the very core by its part in generating human misery.”

 

“The technocrat is the natural friend of the dictator—computers and dictatorship; but the revolutionary lives in the gap which separates technical progress from social totality, and inscribed there his dream of permanent revolution. This dream, therefore, is itself action, reality, and an effective menace to all established order; it renders possible what it dreams about.”

 

“Let us create extraordinary words, on condition that they be put to the most ordinary use and that the entity they designate be made to exist in the same way as the most common object.”

 

“Lose your face: become capable of loving without remembering, without phantasm and without interpretation, without taking stock. Let there just be fluxes, which sometimes dry up, freeze or overflow, which sometimes combine or diverge.”

 

“Art is not communicative, art is not reflexive. Art, science, philosophy are neither contemplative, neither reflexive, nor communicative. They are creative, that’s all.”

 

“A tyrant institutionalises stupidity, but he is the first servant of his own system and the first to be installed within it.”

 

“Slaves are always commanded by another slave.”

 

“Making love is not just becoming as one, or even two, but becoming as a hundred thousand.”

 

“So it’s not a problem of getting people to express themselves but of providing little gaps of solitude and silence in which they might eventually find something to say. Repressive forces don’t stop people expressing themselves but rather force them to express themselves; What a relief to have nothing to say, the right to say nothing, because only then is there a chance of framing the rare, and ever rarer, thing that might be worth saying.”

 

“Opening is an essential feature of univocity. The nomadic distributions or crowned anarchies in the univocal stand opposed to the sedentary distribution of analogy. Only there does the cry resound: ‘Everything is equal!’ and ‘Everything returns!’. However, this ‘Everything is equal!’ and ‘Everything returns!’ can be said only at the point in which the extremity of difference is reached. A single and same voice for the whole thousand-voiced multiple, a single and same Ocean for all the drops, a single clamour of Being for all beings: on the condition that each being, each drop, and each voice has reached the state of excess – in other words, the difference which displaces and disguises them and, in turning upon the mobile cusp, causes them to return.”

 

“igns imply ways of living, possibilities of existence, they are the symptoms of an overflowing (jaillissante) or exhausted (épuisée) life. But an artist cannot be content with an exhausted life, nor with a personal life. One does not write with one’s ego, one’s memory, and one’s illnesses. In the act of writing there’s an attempt to make life something more personal, to liberate life from what imprisons it…There is a profound link between signs, the event, life, and vitalism. It is the power of nonorganic life, that which can be found in a line of a drawing, a line of writing, a line of music. It is organisms that die, not life. There is no work of art that does not indicate an opening for life, a path between the cracks. Everything I have written has been vitalistic, at least I hope so, and constitutes a theory of signs and the event.”

 

“Identity and resemblance would then be no more than inevitable illusions—in other words, concepts of reflection which would account for our inveterate habit of thinking difference on the basis of the categories of representation.”

 

“We are taught that corporations have a soul, which is the most terrifying news in the world.”

 

John Madera's fiction may be found in Conjunctions, Opium Magazine, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His criticism may be found in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, John Madera lives in New York City, where he runs Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.

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