Articles, Blog

Gilles Deleuze from A to Z

January 14, 2020


Deleuze: You have selected a
format as an ABC primer, you have indicated to me
some themes, and in this, I do not know exactly
what the questions will be, so that I have only been able to think a bit
beforehand about the themes For me, answering a question without
having thought about it a bit is something
inconceivable. What saves me in this is
the particular condition: should any of this be at all useful, all of it
will be used only after my death. So, you understand, I feel myself
being reduced to the state of a pure archive for Pierre-André
Boutang, to a sheet of paper, so that lifts my spirits and
comforts me immensely, and nearly in the state of pure spirit,
I speak after my death, and we know well that a pure spirit
if you’ve made tables turn. But we know as well that a pure spirit
is not someone who gives answers that are either very
profound or very intelligent. They can be cursory. So anything goes in this, let’s begin,
A-B-C, whatever you want. Parnet: We begin with “,”A
and “A” is “Animal.” We can cite, as if it were you saying it,
a quote from W.C. Fields: “A man who doesn’t like animals or
children can’t be all bad.” We’ll leave aside the children for
the moment, but domestic animals, I know that you don’t care
for them much. And in this, you don’t even accept the
distinction made by Baudelaire and Cocteau-cats are not any
better than dogs for you. On the other hand, throughout your work,
there is a bestiary that is quite repugnant; that is, besides deers that are noble
animals, you talk copiously of ticks, of fleas, of a certain number of
repugnant little animals of this kind. What I want to add is that animals have
been very useful in your writings, starting withAnti-Oedipus,through a
concept that has become quite important, the concept of “becoming-animal” So I would like to know a bit more clearly
what is your relationship to animals. Deleuze: What you said there about my
relation with domestic animals… It’s not really domestic, or tamed,
or wild animals that concern me, or cats or dogs The problem, rather, is with animals
that are both familiar and familial. Familiar or familial animals, tamed and
domesticated, I don’t care for them, whereas domesticated animals that are
not familiar and familial, I like them fine because I am quite sensitive to
something in these animals. What happened to me is what
happens in lots of families, there is neither dog nor cat,
and then one of our children, Fanny’s and mine, came home with a
tiny cat, no bigger than his little hand, that he found out in the country
somewhere, in a basket or somewhere, and from that fatal moment onward,
I have always had a cat around the house. What do I find unpleasant
in these animals- although that certainly was no
major ordeal-I can handle it. What do I find unpleasant? I don’t like
things that rub against me and a cat spends its time
rubbing up against you. I don’t like that, and with dogs,
it’s altogether different: what I fundamentally reproach them
for is always barking. A bark reallyseemsto me
the stupidest cry… There are animal cries in nature,
a variety of cries, and barking is truly the shame
of the animal kingdom. Whereas I can stand much better (on the
condition that it not be for too long a time) the howling at the moon,
a dog howling at the moon… Parnet: at death… Deleuze: At death, who knows?
I can stand this better than barking. And since I learned quite recently
that cats and dogs were cheating the Social Security system, my antipathy
has increased even more. What I mean is… What I am going
to say is completely idiotic because people who really like cats
and dogs obviously do have a relationship with them
that is not human. For example, you see that children
do not have a human relationship with a cat, but rather an infantile
relationship with animals. What is really important is
for people to have an animal relationship
with an animal. So what does it mean to have an animal
relationship with the animal? It doesn’t consist of talking to it…
but in any case, I can’t stand the human
relationship with the animal. I know what I am saying because
I live on a rather deserted street where people walk their dogs,
and what I hear from my window is quite frightening, the way that
people talk to their animals. Even psychoanalysis
notices this! Psychoanalysis is so fixated on
familiar or familial animals, on animals of the family, that any
animal, in a dream, for example, is interpreted by psychoanalysis
as being an image of the father, mother, or child, that is,
an animal as a family member. I find that odious, I can’t stand it,
and you only have to think of two paintings by the
DouanierRousseau, the dog in the cart who is
truly the grandfather, the grandfather in
a pure state, and the war horse is a veritable
beast. So the question is, what kind of relationship
do you have with an animal? If you have a human relationship
with an animal But again, generally people
who like animals don’t have a human relationship
with animals, they have an animal relationship with the animal,
and that’s quite beautiful. Even hunters-and
I don’t like hunters- but even hunters have an astonishing
relationship with the animal… And you asked me also
Well, other animals, it’s true that I am fascinated by animals
like spiders, ticks, fleas They are as important as
dogs and cats. And there are relationships
with animals there, someone who has tics, who has fleas,
what does that mean? These are relationships with
some very active animals. So what fascinates me
in animals? Because really, my hatred for certain
animals is nourished by my fascination with many
other animals. If I try to take stock
vaguely of this, what is it that impresses me
in an animal? The first thing that impresses
me is the fact that every animal has a world, and it’s curious because there
are a lot of humans, a lot of people who do not
have a world. They live the life of everybody, that is,
of just any one and any thing. Animals, they have worlds.
What is an animal world? It’s sometimes extraordinarily limited,
and that’s what moves me. Finally, animals react to very few things…
Cut me off if you see that Deleuze: Yes, so, in this story of the
first characteristic of the animal, it’s really the existence of specific,
special animal worlds. Perhaps it is sometimes the
poverty of these worlds, the reduced character of these worlds,
that impresses me so much. For example, we were talking earlier
about an animal like the tick. The tick responds, reacts to three things,
three stimuli, period, that’s it, in a natural world that is immense,
three stimuli, that’s it: that is, it tends toward the
extremity of a tree branch, it’s attracted by light, it can wait
on top of this branch, it can wait for years without eating,
without anything, in a completely amorphous state.
It waits for a ruminant, an herbivore, an animal to pass under its branch,
it lets itself fall… It’s a kind of olfactory stimulus…
the tick smells, it smells the animal that passes
under its branch, that’s the second stimulus:
light first, then odor. Then, when it falls onto the back of the
poor animal, it goes looking for the region that is the least
covered with hair… So, there’s a tactile stimulus, and
it digs in under the skin. For everything else,
if one can say this, for everything else, it does
not give a damn… That is, in a nature teeming [with life],
it extracts, selects three things. Parnet: And is that your life’s dream?
That’s what attracts you to animals? Deleuze: That’s what constitutes a world,
that’s what constitutes a world. Parnet: Hence, your animal-writing
relationship, that is, the writer, for you, is also
someone who has a world… It’s more compl… Yes, I don’t know,
because there are other aspects: it is not enough to have a world
to be an animal. What fascinates me completely
are territorial matters. With Felix [Guattari], we really
created a concept, nearly a philosophical concept,
with the idea of territory. Animals with territory-ok, there are
animals without territory, fine- but animals with territory,
it’s amazing because constituting a territory is,
for me, nearly the birth of art. How an animal marks its territory,
everyone knows, everyone always invokes stories
of anal glands, of urine, of… with which it marks
the borders of its territory. But it’s a lot more than that: what
intervenes in marking a territory is also a series of postures,
for example, lowering oneself/lifting oneself up;
a series of colors, baboons, for example, the color
of buttocks of baboons that they display at
the border of territories… Color, song, posture: these are the
three determinants of art: I mean, color and lines-animal postures
are sometimes veritable lines- color, line, song-that’s art
in its pure state. And so, I tell myself that when
they leave their territory or return to their territory, it’s in the domain
of property and ownership. It’s very curious that it is in the domain of
property and ownership, that is, “my properties,” in the manner
of Beckett or Michaux. Territory constitutes the properties of
the animal, and leaving the territory, they risk it, and there are animals
that recognize their partner, they recognize them in the territory,
but not outside the territory. Parnet: Which one? Deleuze: That’s what
I call a marvel… I don’t recall which bird, you have
to believe me on this… So, with Felix-I am leaving
the animal subject, I pass on to a
philosophical question because we can mix all kinds
of things in the Abécédaire. I tell myself: philosophers sometimes get
criticized for creating barbaric words. But, put yourself in my place:
for certain reasons, I am interested in reflecting on
this notion of territory, and I tell myself, territory is
defined in relation to a movement by which
one leaves the territory. So, to address this, I need a word
that is apparently “barbaric.” Henceforth, with Felix,
we constructed a concept thatHike a kit, the concept of
“ deterritorialization”
We’ve been told that it’s a hard
word to pronounce, and then asked what it means,
what its use is… So this is a beautiful case of a
philosophical concept that can only be designated by a word that
does not yet exist, even if we later discover that there
are equivalents in other languages. For example, I happened
to notice that in Melville, there appears all the time “outlandish”-
I pronounce poorly, you can correct it yourself-but
“outlandish” is precisely the equivalent of “the deterritorialized,”
word for word. So, I tell myself that for philosophy-
before returning to animals- for philosophy, it is quite striking:
it is sometimes necessary to invent a barbaric word to account for a notion
with innovative pretensions: the notion with innovative pretensions
is that there is no territory, without a vector of exiting
the territory; there is no exiting the territory,
that is, deterritorialization, without at the same time an effort of
reterritorializing oneself elsewhere, on something else. All this functions with animals,
and that’s what fascinates me. What is fascinating generally is
the whole domain of signs. Animals emit signs, they
ceaselessly emit signs, they produce signs. That is, in the double
sense, they react to signs- for example, a spider, everything
that touches its web, it reacts to anything, reacts to signs-
and they produce signs- for example, the famous sign,
is that a wolf sign, a wolf track or something else? I admire enormously people who know
how to recognize [tracks], for example, hunters-real hunters,
not hunt club hunters, but real hunters who can recognize
the animal that has passed by. At that point, they are animal,
they have with the animal an animal relationship. That’s
what I mean by having an animal relationship
with an animal. Parnet: And this emission of signs,
this reception of signs, is there a connection with writing
and the writer, and the animal? Deleuze: Of course. If someone were to
ask me what it means to be an animal, I would answer: it’s being on the lookout.
It’s a being fundamentally on the lookout. Parnet: Like the writer? Deleuze: The writer, well, yes, on the
lookout, the philosopher, on the lookout, obviously, we are on the lookout.
For me, you see, the ears of the animal: it does nothing
without being on the lookout, it’s never relaxed, an animal. It’s eating,
[yet] has to be on the lookout to see if something is happening behind
its back, on either side, etc. It’s terrible, this existence
“auxaguets.” So you make the connection
with the writer, what is the relation between
the animal and the writer. . .? Parnet: you made it before I did… Deleuze: That’s true… One almost
has to say that, at the limit… A writer, what is it? He writes,
he writes “for” readers, of course, but what does “for” mean?
It means toward them, A writer… He writes toward
his readers, in a way, he writes “for” readers. But one has
to say that the writer writes also for non-readers, that is, not intended
for them, but “in their place.” So “for” means two things: intended
for them and in their place. Artaud wrote pages that
nearly everyone knows, “I write for the illiterate,
I write for idiots.” Faulkner writes for idiots.
That doesn’t mean so that idiots would read,
that the illiterate would read, it means “in the place of”
the illiterate. I mean, I write “in the place of” barbarians,
I write “in the place of” animals. And what does that mean? Why does one dare say
something like that, I write in the place of idiots,
the illiterate, animals? Because that is what one does,
literally, when one writes. When one writes, one is not pursuing
some private little affair. They really are stupid fools;
really, it’s the abomination of literary mediocrity, in every era,
but particularly quite recently, that makes people believe that to
create a novel, for example, it suffices to have some little private affair,
some little personal affair- one’s grandmother
who died of cancer, or someone’s personal love affair-
and there you go, you can write a novel based on this.
It’s shameful to think things like that. Writing is not anyone’s private affair, but
rather it means throwing oneself into a universal affair, be it a novel or
philosophy. Now what does that mean? Parnet: So this “writing for,” that is,
“intended for” or “in the place of,” it’sa bitlikewhat yousaidin
A Thousand Plateaus about
[Lord] Chandos by Hofmannstahl,
in the very beautiful phrase: “the writer is a sorcerer because
he sees the animal as the only population before
which he is responsible.” Deleuze: That’s it, absolutely right.
And for a very simple reason, I think it’s quite simple… It’s not
at all a literary declaration what you just read from Hofmannsthal,
it’s something else. Writing means necessarily pushing
language-and pushing syntax, since language is syntax-
up to a certain limit, a limit that can be expressed in several
ways: it can be just as well the limit that separates
language from silence, or the limit that separates
language from music, or the limit that separates language
from something that would be, what? Let’s say, the wailing,
the painful wailing… Parnet: But not the
barking, surely! Deleuze: Oh, no, not barking,
although who knows? There might be a writer who is capable…
The painful wailing? Well, everyone says, why yes,
it’s Kafka, it’sMetamorphosis,the manager who cries out, “Did you
hear? It sounds like an animal,” the painful wailing of Gregor.
Or else the mass of mice, one writes for the mass of mice, the
mass of rats that are dying because, contrary to what is said, it’s not men
who know how to die, but animals, and when men die,
they die like animals. Here we return to cats, and
I have a lot of respect… Among the many cats that
lived here, there was that little cat who died rather quickly,
that is, I saw what a lot of people have seen as well, how an animal
seeks a corner to die in… There is a territory for death as well,
a search for a territory of death, where one can die. We saw
the little cat slide itself right into a tight corner, an angle, as if
it were the good spot for it to die in. So, in a sense, if the writer is indeed
one who pushes language to the limit, the limit that separates
language from animality, that separates language
from the cry, that separates language
from song, then one has to say, yes, the writer is
responsible to animals who die, that is, he answers to
animals who die, to write, literally,
not “for”-again, I don’t write “for” my
dog or for my cat- but writing “in the place of”
animals who die, etc, carrying language to this limit.
There is no literature that does not carry language and syntax to this
limit that separates man from animal… One has to be on this limit…
That’s what I think… Even when one does philosophy,
that’s the case… One is on the limit that separates
thought from non-thought. You always have to be at the limit that
separates you from animality, but precisely in such a way that
you are no longer separated from it. There is an inhumanity proper to the
human body, and to the human mind, there are animal relations
with the animal… And if we were finished with“’A’,
that would be nice… Parnet: OK, then, we will
pass on to “B’. “B” is a little bit special, it’s on drinking.
OK, so you used to drink, and then stopped drinking, and
I would like to know what it was for you to drink when you used to drink…
Was it for pleasure? Deleuze: Yeah, I drank a lot… I drank a
lot… So I stopped, but I drank a lot… What was it? That’s not difficult,
at least I think not… You should question other
people who drank a lot, you should question alcoholics. I believe
that drinking is a matter of quantity. For that reason, there is no
equivalent with food, even if there are people
who eat copiously- eating always disgusted me,
so that’s not relevant in my case. But drinking… I understand well that
one doesn’t drink just anything, that each drinker has
a favorite drink, but it’s because in that framework
that one has to grasp the quantity. What does this question
of quantity mean? People make fun of addicts
and alcoholics because they never stop saying,
“Oh you know, I am in control, I can stop drinking whenever I want.”
People make fun of them because they don’t understand
what drinkers mean. I have some very clear
memories of this, I think everyone who drank
understands this. When you drink, what you want
to reach is the last drink. Literally, drinking means doing
everything in order to reach the final drink. That’s
what is interesting. Parnet: At the limit? Deleuze: Well, what the limit is is very
complicated, let me tell you… In other words, an alcoholic is someone
who never ceases to stop drinking, I mean, who never stops having arrived at
the last drink. So what does that mean? It’s like the expression by [Charles]
Peguy that is so beautiful, “It’s not the final water lily that repeats
the first, it’s the first water lily that repeats all the others
and the final one.” The first drink, it repeats the last one,
it’s the last one that counts. So what does that mean,
the last drink,for an alcoholic? He gets up in the morning,
if he’s a morning alcoholic- there are all the kinds that you might want
-if he’s a morning alcoholic, he is entirely pointed toward the
moment when he will reach the last drink. It’s not the first, the second,
the third that interests him… It’s a lot more… He’s clever,
full of guile, an alcoholic… The last glass means this: he evaluates…
there is an evaluation. He evaluates what he can hold,
without collapsing… he evaluates… It varies considerably
with each person. So he evaluates
the last drink, and all the others are going to be
his way of passing, of reaching the last glass. And what does “the last” mean?
That means that he cannot stand to drink one
more glass that particular day. It’s the last one that will allow him
to begin drinking the next day… because if he goes all the way to
the last drink, on the contrary, that goes beyond his capacity,
it’s the last in his power. If he goes beyond the last one in his
power in order to reach the last one beyond his power, then he
collapses, then he’s screwed, he has to go to the hospital, or
he has to change his habits, he has to change assemblages.
So that when he says, “the last drink,” it’s not the last one,
it’s the next-to-last one. He is searching for the next-to-last one.
In other words, there is a term to say the next-to-last,
it’s penultimate… He does not seek the last drink,
he seeks the penultimate one. Parnet: Never the ultimate… Deleuze: Not the ultimate,
because the ultimate would place him
outside his arrangement. The penultimate is the last one… before
beginning again the next day. So I can say that the alcoholic is someone
who says, and who never stops saying- You hear it in the cafés, those groups
of alcoholics are so joyful, one never gets tired of listening to them-
So the alcoholic is someone who never stops saying, “OK, it’s the last one,”
and the last one varies from one person to another, but the last one
is the next-to-last one. Parnet: And he’s also the one who says,
“I’m stopping tomorrow.” Deleuze: “Stopping tomorrow”?
No, he never says “I’m stopping tomorrow.” He says,
“I’m stopping today, to be able to start over
again tomorrow.” Parnet: And since drinking
means not stopping… means stopping drinking constantly, then
how does one stop drinking completely, because you stopped
drinking completely. . .? Deleuze: It’s too dangerous,
if one goes too quickly. Michaux has said everything on that topic.
In my opinion, drug problems and alcohol problems
are not that separate. Michaux said everything
on that topic… A moment comes when it is
too dangerous. Here again, there is this ridge… when
I was talking about this ridge between language and silence,
or language and animality. This ridge is a thin division.
One can very well drink or take drugs… One can always do whatever one wants
if it doesn’t prevent you from working. If it’s a stimulus…
It’s even normal to offer something of one’s body
as a sacrifice. There is a whole sacrificial
attitude in these activities, drinking, taking drugs, one offers one’s
body as a sacrifice… Why? No doubt because there is something
entirely too strong that one could not stand
without alcohol. It’s not a question of being able
to stand alcohol… That’s perhaps what one believes,
what one needs to believe, what one believes oneself
to see, to feel, to think, with the result that one has
the need in order to stand it, in order to master it, one needs
assistance, from alcohol, drugs, etc. Deleuze: So the question of limits,
its quite simple… Drinking, taking drugs, these are almost
supposed to make possible something that is too strong, even
if one has to pay for it afterwards, that’s well known. But it’s connected
to working, working. And it’s obvious that when
everything is reversed and drinking prevents one from working,
when taking a drug becomes a way of not working,
that’s the absolute danger, it no longer has any interest.
And at the same time, it’s more and more obvious that
although we used to think drinking was necessary, that
taking drugs was necessary, they are not necessary… Perhaps one
has to have gone through that experience to realize that everything one
thought one did thanks to drugs or thanks to alcohol, one
could do without them. You see, I admire a lot the way that
Michaux considers all this… He stops all this, and I see
the advantage because I stopped drinking for reasons related
to breathing, for health reasons. It is obvious that one has to
stop or do without it. The only tiny justification possible
would be if they did help one to work, even if one has to pay
for it physically afterwards. But the more one
continues, the more one realizes that it doesn’t
help one’s work. Parnet: Michaux must have drunk quite a
lot and taken a lot of drugs in order to get to the point of doing without
in such a state as he did… And on the other hand,
you said that when you drink, it must not prevent you from working,
but that you perceive something that drinking
helps you to support, and this “something” is not life. ..
so that raises the question about
the writers you prefer… Deleuze: Yes, it is life… Parnet: It is life? Deleuze: It’s something
too strong in life. It’s not necessarily something
that is terrifying, just something that is too strong,
it’s something too powerful in life. Some people believe a bit idiotically
that drinking puts you on the level of this too-powerful-something.
If you take the whole lineage of the Americans, the great
American writers… Parnet: From Fitzgerald to Lowry… Deleuze: Fitzgerald, the one I admire
the most is Thomas Wolfe… all that is a series of alcoholics,
at the same time, that’s what allows them…
no doubt, helps them to perceive this something-
too-huge… Parnet: Yes, but it’s also because
they themselves had perceived something powerful in life
that not everyone could perceive, they felt something
powerful in life… Deleuze: That’s right, obviously… It’s not
alcohol that is going to make you feel… Parnet: the power of life for them that
they alone could perceive. Deleuze: I completely agree
I completely agree Parnet: and the same for Lowry… Deleuze: I completely agree
Certainly… They created their works, and what alcohol was for them, well, they
took a risk, they took a chance on it because they thought, right or wrong, that
alcohol would help them with it. I had the feeling that alcohol helped me
create concepts… It’s strange… philosophical concepts, yes,
that it helped me, and then it wasn’t helping me any more,
it was getting dangerous for me, I no longer wanted to work. At that point,
you just have to give it up, that’s all… Parnet: That’s more like an American
tradition, because we don’t know of many French writers who have this
penchant for alcohol, and still it’s kind of hard to… There is something
that belongs to their writing… Deleuze: Well, yes, yes, but French
writers, it’s not the same vision of writing… I don’t know… If I have been
influenced so much by the Americans, it’s because of this question
of vision. They are “seers”… If one believes that philosophy, writing,
is a question, in a very modest fashion, a question of “seeing” something…
seeing something that others don’t see, then it’s not exactly the French
conception of literature. Although there are a lot of
alcoholics in France… Parnet: But the alcoholics in France,
they stop writing, at least we don’t know of any… But we don’t know of any
philosophers either who devote… Deleuze: Verlaine lived on a street right
nearby here, rue Nollet… Parnet: Ah yes, with the exception of
Rimbaud and Verlaine… Deleuze: It moves me. When
I take the street and I think that it undoubtedly must have been the route
that Verlaine took to go to a cafe to drink his absinthe… Apparently
he lived in a pitiful apartment… Parnet: Well yes, poets and alcohol… Deleuze: One of France’s
greatest poets who used to shuffle down that street…
It’s marvelous… Yes, yes… Parnet: At the Bar des Amis… Deleuze: No doubt! Parnet: Yes, among poets, we know
that there were more alcoholics Ok, well, we have finished
with alcohol… Deleuze: Yep, we’ve finished “B’.
My, we’re speeding along… Parnet: .. so we pass on to “,”C
and “C” is vast… Deleuze: What is it? Parnet: “C as in Culture.” Deleuze: Sure, why not? Parnet: OK, you are someone who
describes himself as not “cultivated.” That is, you say that you read,
you go to movies, you observe things to gain particular
knowledge, something that you need for a particular, ongoing project that
you are in the process of developing. But, at the same time, you are someone
who, every Saturday, goes out to an art exhibit, goes out to a movie,
in the broad cultural domain… One gets the impression that you have a
kind of practice, an effort towards culture, that you systematize, and that you have a
cultural practice, that is, you go out, you make an effort at a systematic
cultural practice, you aim at developing yourself culturally. And yet, I repeat, you
claim that you are not at all “cultivated,” so how do you explain this little
paradox? . .. You’re not “cultivated”? Deleuze: No, because… I would say that,
in fact… When I tell you that, I don’t see myself, really, I don’t
experience myself as an intellectual or experience myself as “cultivated”
for a simple reason: when I see someone
“cultivated,” I am terrified, and not necessarily with admiration,
although admiring them from certain perspectives,
from others, not at all. But I am just terrified of a
“cultivated person,” and this is quite obvious to
“cultivated people.” It’s a kind of knowledge, a frightening
body of knowledge on everything… One sees that a lot with intellectuals,
they know everything. Well, maybe not, but they are informed about everything-
they know the history of Italy during the Renaissance, they know the
geography of the North Pole, they know… the whole list, they know everything, can
talk about anything… It’s abominable. So, when I say that I am neither
“cultivated,” nor an intellectual, I mean something quite simple,
that I have no “reserve knowledge,” At least, there’s no problem, at my death,
there’s no point in looking for what I have left to publish…
Nothing, nothing, because I have no reserves, I have no provisions,
no provisional knowledge. And everything that I learn, I learn for a
particular task, and once it’s done, I immediately forget it, so that
if ten years later, I have to -and this gives me great joy-
if I have to get involved with something close to or directly
within the same subject, I would have to start again from zero,
except in certain very rare cases, for example Spinoza, who is
in my heart whom I don’t forget. It’s my heart and not my mind.
Otherwise… So why don’t I admire this “frightening knowledge,”
these people who talk… Parnet: Is this knowledge
a kind of erudition, or just an opinion on
every subject? Deleuze: No, it’s not erudition. They
know… they know how to talk. First, they’ve traveled a lot, h’aveled
in geography, in history, but they know how to talk about
everything. I’ve heard them on t.v., it’s frightening… I have heard… well,
since I am full of admiration for him, I can even say it, people like Eco,
Umberto Eco… It’s amazing… There you go, it’s like pushing on a button,
and he knows all of it as well. I can’t say that I envy that entirely,
I’m just frightened by it, but I don’t envy it at all.
To a certain extent, I ask: what does culture consist of?
And I tell myself that it consists a lot in talking.
I can’t keep myself… Especially since I have stopped
teaching, since I have retired, I realize that talking is a bit dirty,
a bit dirty, whereas writing is clean. Writing is clean and talking is dirty.
It’s dirty because it means being seductive. I could never
stand attending colloquia ever since I was in school,
still quite young, I could never stand colloquia.
I don’t travel much, and why not? Intellectuals… I would gladly
travel sometime if… Well, actually I wouldn’t travel,
my health prevents it, but intellectuals travelling is a joke.
They don’t travel, they move about in order to go talk… They go from
one place where they talk in order to go to another place
where they are going to talk even during meals, they talk
with the local intellectuals. They never stop talking, and
I can’t stand talking, talking, talking, I can’t stand it. So, in my opinion,
since culture is closely linked to speaking, in this sense,
I hate culture, I cannot stand it. Parnet: Well, we will come back to the
separation between writing itself and dirty speech because, nonetheless,
you are a very great professor and… Deleuze: Well, that’s different… Parnet: and we will come back to it
because the letter “P” is about your work as professor, and then we will
be able to discuss “seduction”… Parnet: I still want to come back to
this subject that you kind of avoided, to this effort, discipline even, that you
impose on yourself-even if, in fact, you don’t need to-to see, well,
for example, in the last two weeks, the [Sigmar] Polke exhibition
at the Museum of Modern Art. You go out rather frequently, not to say
on a weekly basis, to see a major film or to see art exhibits. So, you say that
you are not erudite, not “cultivated,” you have no admiration for “cultivated
people,” like you just said, so what does this practice, all this effort, correspond
to for you? Is it a form of pleasure? Deleuze: I think… Yes, certainly,
it’s a form of pleasure, although not always. But I see
this as part of my investment in being “on the lookout.”
I don’t believe in culture, to some extent, but rather
I believe in encounters. But these encounters
don’t occur with people. People always think
that it’s with people that encounters occur,
which is why it’s awful… Now, in this, that belongs to the
domain of culture, intellectuals meeting one another, this disgusting
practice of conferences, this infamy. So encounters, it’s not between
people that they happen, but with things… Sol encounter a…
painting, yes, or a piece of music, that’s how I understand
an encounter. When people want to add an
encounters with themselves, with people, well, that doesn’t work
at all… That’s not an encounter, and that’s why encounters are
so utterly, utterly disappointing. Encounters with people are
always catastrophic. So, as you said, when I go out on
Saturdays and Sundays, to the movies, etc., I’m not certain
to have an encounter… I go out, I am “on the lookout” for
encounters, wondering if there might be material for an encounter,
in a film, in a painting, so it’s great. I’ll give an example because, for me,
whenever one does something, it is also a question of
moving on from it, simultaneously staying in it
and getting out of it. So, staying in philosophy also means
how to get out of philosophy. But, getting out of philosophy
doesn’t mean doing something else. One has to get out while
remaining within… It’s not doing something else,
not writing a novel. First off, I wouldn’t be
able to in any event, but even if I could, it would be
completely useless. I want to get out of philosophy
by means of philosophy. That’s what interests me… Parnet: That is. . .? Deleuze: Here is
an example. Since all this will be after my death,
I can speak without modesty. I just wrote a book on a great
philosopher called Leibniz in which I insisted on the notion that
seemed important in his work, but that is very important for me,
the notion of “the fold.” So, I consider that it’s a
book of philosophy, on this bizarre little notion of the fold.
What happens to me after that? I received a lot of letters,
as always… There are letters that are
insignificant even if they are charming and affectionate
and move me deeply, They are letters that talk about
what I have done… letters from intellectuals who liked
or didn’t like the book… And then I receive
two other letters that make me rub
my eyes in disbelief. Letters from people who tell me,
“Your story of folds, that’s us!” and I realize that it’s from people who
belong to an association that has 400 members in France currently,
perhaps they now have more, an association of paper folders.
They have a journal, and they send me the journal, and
they say, “We agree completely, what you are doing is what
we do.” So, I tell myself, that’s quite something! Then
I received another kind of letter, and they speak in exactly the
same way, saying: “The fold is us!” I find this marvelous, all the more
so because it reminded me of a story in Plato, since great philosophers
do not write in abstractions, but are great writers and authors
of very concrete things. So, in Plato, there is a story that delights
me, and it’s no doubt linked to the beginning of philosophy,
maybe we will come back to it… Plato’s theme is… He gives
a definition, for example, what is a politician? A politician is
the pastor of men. And with that definition, lots of people arrive
to say: “Hey, you can see, we are politicians!” For example,
the shepherd arrives, says “I dress people, so I am
the true pastor of men”; the butcher arrives, “I feed people,
so I am the true pastor of men.” So these rivals arrive, and I feel like
I have been through this a bit: here come the paper folders
who say, we are the fold! And the others who wrote and who
sent me exactly the same thing, it’s really great, they were surfers who,
it would seem, have no relation whatsoever with the paper folders.
And the surfers say, “We understand, we agree completely
because what do we do? We never stop inserting ourselves
into the folds of nature. For us, nature is an aggregate
of mobile folds, and we insert ourselves into
the fold of the wave, live in the fold of the wave,
that’s what our task is. Living in the fold of the wave.”
And, in fact, they talk about this quite admirably.
These people are quite… They think about what they do,
not just surfing, but think about what they do, and maybe
we will talk about it one day if we reach sports,
at “T as in Tennis” Parnet: So these belong to
the “encounter” category, these encounters with surfers,
with paper folders? Deleuze: Yes, these are
encounters. When I say “get out of philosophy
through philosophy,” this happened to me all the time…
I encountered the paper folders… I don’t have to go see them.
No doubt, we’d be disappointed, I’d be disappointed, and
they certainly would be even more disappointed,
so no need to see them. I had an encounter with the surf,
with the paper folders, literally, I went beyond philosophy
by means of philosophy. That’s what an encounter is. So,
I think, when I go out to an exhibit, I am “on the lookout,” searching for
a painting that might touch me, that might affect me. [Same]
when I go to the movies… I don’t go to the theater because
theater is too long, too disciplined, it’s too… its too… it does not
seemto be an art that… except in certain cases, except with
Bob Wilson and Carmelo Bene, I don’t feel that theater is very
much in touch with our era, except for these extreme cases.
But to remain there for four hours in an uncomfortable seat, I can’t do it
any more for health reasons, so that wipes theater out entirely for me.
But at a painting exhibit or at the movies, I always have
the impression that in the best circumstances, I risk
having an encounter with an idea… Parnet: Yes, but there is no… I mean, films only for entertainment
do not exist at all? Deleuze: Well, they are not culture… Parnet: They may not be culture,
but there is no entertainment… Deleuze: Well, entertainment… Parnet: that is, everything is situated
within your work? For the future… Deleuze: No, it’s not work, it’s just that
I am “on the lookout” for something that might “happen,” asking myself,
does that disturb me? Those [kinds of films]… they amuse
me a lot, they are very funny. Parnet: Well, it’s not Eddie Murphy
who is going to disturb you! Deleuze: It’s not. . .? Parnet: Eddie Murphy, he’s a director…
no, an American comedian and actor whose recent films are enormously
successful with the public. Deleuze: I don’t know him. Parnet: No, I mean, you
never watch… no, you only watch Benny Hill
on television… Deleuze: Yes, well, I find Benny Hill
interesting, that interests me. Well, it’s certainly nothing that is
necessarily really good or new, but there are reasons
why it interests me. Parnet: But when you go out,
it’s for an encounter. Deleuze: When I go out if there is
no idea to draw from it, if I don’t say, “Yes, he had an idea”…
What do great filmmakers do? This is valid for filmmakers too.
What strikes me in the beauty of, for example, a great filmmaker
like Minnelli, or like Losey, what affects me if not that they are
overwhelmed by ideas, an idea… Parnet: You’re starting in on
my [letter] “I”! Stop right away! Deleuze: Ok, let’s stop on that, but
that’s what an encounter is for me, one has encounters with things
and not with people… Parnet: Do you have a
lot of encounters, to talk about a particular cultural
period like right now? Deleuze: Well, yes, I just told you,
with paper folders, with surfers… What could you ask for
that’s more beautiful? Parnet: But… Deleuze: But these are not
encounters with intellectuals, I don’t have any encounters
with intellectuals… Parnet: But do you… Deleuze: or if I have an encounter with
an intellectual, it’s for other reasons, like I like him so I have a meeting with him, for
what he is doing, for his ongoing work, his charm, all that… One has an
encounter with those kinds of elements, with the charm of people, with the work of
people, but not with people in themselves. I don’t have anything to do
with people, nothing at all. Parnet: Perhaps they rub up
against you like cats. Deleuze: Well yes, it could be like that,
their rubbing or their barking! It’s awful! Parnet: Let’s think about culturally rich
and culturally poor periods. So what about now, do you think
it’s a period that’s not too rich, because I often see you get very annoyed
watching television, watching the literary shows that we won’t name,
although when this interview is shown, the names will have changed.
Do you find this to be a rich period or a particularly poor period
that we are living through? Deleuze: Yes, its poor, its poor, but at
the same time, it’s not at all distressing. Parnet: You find it funny? Deleuze: Yes, I find it funny.
I tell myself, at my age, this is not the first time that impoverished
periods have occurred. I tell myself, what have
I lived through since I was old enough to be
somewhat enthusiastic? I lived through the Liberation
and the aftermath. It was among the richest periods
one could imagine, when we were discovering or
rediscovering everything… The Liberation… The war
had taken place and that was no piece of cake… We were
discovering everything, the American novel, Kafka,
the domain of research… There was Sartre… You cannot
imagine what it was like, I mean intellectually, what
we were discovering or rediscovering in painting, etc.
One has to understand… There was the huge polemic,
“Must we burn Kafka?”… It’s unimaginable andseems
a bit infantile today, but it was a very stimulating,
creative atmosphere. And I lived through the period before May
”68 that was an extremely rich period all the way to shortly after May ”68.
And in the meantime, if there were impoverished periods,
that’s quite normal, but it’s not the fact of poverty
that I find disturbing, but rather the insolence or impudence of people who
inhabit the impoverished periods. They are much more wicked
than the inspired people who come to life during
rich periods. Parnet: Inspired or just well-meaning?
Because you referred to the Kafka polemic at the time of the
Liberation, and there was that Alexander Whats-his-name who was
very happy with the fact that he had never read Kafka, and
he said it while laughing… Deleuze: Well, yes,
he was very happy… The stupider they are, the happier
they are, since… Like those who think, and we come back
to this, that literature is now a tiny little private affair… If one thinks
that, then there’s no need to read Kafka, no need to read
very much, since if one has a pretty little pen, one is
naturally Kafka’s equal… There’s no work involved
there, no work at all. . I mean, how can I explain myself?
Let’s take something more serious on this than those young fools. I recently
went to the Cosmos to see a film… Pamret: Parajanov? Deleuze: No, but Parajanov,
that was admirable… A very moving Russian film that
was made about thirty years ago, but that has only been
released very recently.Parnet: The Comissar?Deleuze: TheCommissar.In this, I found something that was very
moving… The film was very, very good, couldn’t have been better… perfect.
But we noticed with a kind of terror, or a kind of compassion, that
it was a film like the ones the Russians used to
make before the war… Parnet: In the time of Eisenstein… Deleuze: in the time of
Eisenstein, of Dovzhenko. Everything was there,
parallel editing notably, parallel editing that was
sublime, etc. It was as if nothing had
happened since the war, as if nothing had happened
in cinema. And I told myself, it’s inevitable, the film is good, sure,
but it was very strange too, for that reason, and if it was not
that good, it was for that reason. It was literally by someone who had
been so isolated in his work that he created a film the way films
were made 20 years ago… It wasn’t all that bad, only
that it was quite good, quite amazing for twenty
years earlier. Everything that happened in the
meantime, he never knew about it, I mean, since he had grown up
in a desert. It’s awful… Crossing a desert is
nothing much, working in, passing through a desert
period is not bad. What is awful is being born in this desert,
and growing up in it… That’s frightful, I imagine… One must have
an impression of solitude… Parnet: Like for young people who are
18-years old now, for example? Deleuze: Right, especially when you
understand that when things… This is what happens in impoverished
periods. When things disappear, no one notices it for a simple reason:
when something disappears, no one misses it. The Stalinian period
caused Russian literature to disappear, and the Russians didn’t notice,
I mean, the majority of Russians, they just didn’t notice, a literature that
had been a turbulent literature throughout the nineteenth century,
it just disappeared. I know that now people say
there are the dissidents, etc., but on the level of a people,
the Russian people, their literature disappeared, their painting disappeared,
and nobody noticed. Today, to account for
what is happening today, obviously there are new young people
who certainly have genius. Let us suppose, I don’t like
the expression, but let us suppose that there are new
Becketts, the new Becketts of today… Parnet: I thought you were going
to say the “New Philosophers”… Deleuze: Yes, well… But the
new Becketts of today… Let us assume that they don’t
get published-after all, Beckett almost did not
get published -it’s obvious nothing
would be missed. By definition, a great author
or a genius is someone who brings forth something new.
If this innovation does not appear, then that bothers no one,
no one misses it since no one has the slightest idea about it.
If Proust… if Kafka had never been published,
no one could say that Kafka would be missed… If someone had
burned all of Kafka’s writings, no one could say, “Ah, we really
miss that!” since no one would have any idea of
what had disappeared. If the new Becketts of today are
kept from publishing by the current system of publishing, one
cannot say, “Oh, we really miss that!” I heard a declaration, the most impudent
declaration I have ever heard- I don’t dare say to whom it was
attributed in some newspaper since these kinds of things are never certain-
someone in the publishing field who dared to say: “You know, today,
we no longer risk making mistakes like Gallimard did when he initially
refused to publish Proust since we have the
means today. . Parnet: The headhunters… Deleuze: You’d think
you were dreaming, “but with the means we have today to
locate and recognize new Prousts and new Becketts.” That’s like saying
they have some sort of Geiger counter and that the new Beckett-that is,
someone who is completely unimaginable since we don’t know what kind of
innovation he would bring- he would emit some
kind of sound if… Parnet: if you passed it over his head… Deleuze: if you passed it in his path.
So, what defines the crisis today, with all these idiocies? The crisis today
I attribute to three things-but it will pass, I still remain quite optimistic-
this is what defines a desert period: First, that journalists have
conquered the book form. Journalists have always written [books],
and I find it quite good that journalists write, but when journalists
used to undertake a book, they used to believe that they were
moving into a different form of writing, not the same thing as writing
their newspaper articles. Parnet: One can recall that for a long time,
there were writers who were also journalists… Mallarme, they could do
journalism, but the reverse didn’t occur… Deleuze: Now, it’s the reverse… The
journalist as journalist has conquered The book form, that is, he finds it quite
normal to write, just like that, a book that would be nothing more than a newspaper
article. And that’s not good at all. The second reason is that a
generalized idea has spread that anyone can write since writing has
become the tiny little affair of the individual, with family archives,
either written archives or archives… in one’s head. Everybody has
had a love story, everybody has had a grandmother
who was ill, a mother who was dying in awful conditions.
They tell themselves, ok, I can write a novel about it. It’s not at all a novel,
I mean, really not at all. So… Parnet: The third reason? Deleuze: The third reason is that,
you understand, the real customers have changed.
One realizes… Of course, people are still there, still well informed,
but the customers have changed. I mean, who are the television customers?
It’s not the people listening, but rather the advertisers,
they are the real customers. The listeners have what
the advertisers want. Parnet: The television viewers… Deleuze: Yes, the television viewers. Parnet: And the third reason is what? Deleuze: Like I was saying, the
advertisers are the real customers, and there is no longer… And I was saying
that, in publishing, there is a risk that the real customers of editors are
not the potential readers, but rather the distributors.
When the distributors become the real customers of the
editors, what will happen? What interests distributors is
the rapid turnover, which results in mass market products, rapid turnover
in the regime of the bestseller, etc., which means that all literature,
if I dare say it this way, all creative literature in the manner of
Beckett, will be crushed by it, naturally. Parnet: Well, that exists already, they are pre-formed on the basis
of the public’s needs… Deleuze: Right, which is what defines
the period of drought: for example, [Bernard] Pivot,
literature as nullity, the disappearance of all
literary criticism in the name of commercial
promotion. Yet, when I say that it’s not all
that serious, it’s obvious that there will always be either parallel
circuits or a black market, etc. It’s not possible for us to live… The Russians lost their literature,
but they will manage to win it back somehow.
All that falls into place, rich periods following impoverished
periods. Woe betide the poor! Parnet: Woe betide the poor. About
this idea of parallel markets or black markets: for a long time [literary]
topics have been pre-determined. That is, in a given year, one sees
clearly on publication lists that its war, in another year,
it’s the death of one’s parents, another year, it’s attachment
to nature, that sort of thing, but nothing appearing
to emerge anew. So have you seen the resurgence
of a rich period after an impoverished one,
have you lived through that? Deleuze: Well, yes, like I already
said, after the Liberation, it wasn’t very strong until
May ”68 occurred. Between the creative period
of the Liberation and… when was the beginning of the
“New Wave”, it was 1960? Parnet: 1960… even earlier… Deleuze: Between ”60 and ”72, let’s say,
there was a new rich period. Certainly! It occurred… It’s a little
like Nietzsche said so well, someone launches an arrow
into space. That’s what… Or even a period, or a collectivity
launches an arrow, and eventually it falls, and then
someone comes along to pick it up and hurl it out elsewhere, so
that’s how creation happens, how literature happens, passing
through desert periods. Parnet: On that hopeful note,
we pass on to D. So, for “,”D I need to refer to this page since I am
going to read what’s in the Larousse… In thePetit Larousse Illustré,[a French
dictionary], “Deleuze, Gilles, French philosopher, born in Paris
in 1927…” Uh, “1925,” excuse me… Deleuze: So they’ve put me in
theLaroussenow, eh? Parnet: Well, this is [the] 1988 [edition]… Deleuze: They change things
every year, the Larousse… Parnet: “With Felix Guattari, they
show the importance of desire and its revolutionary aspect confronting
all institutions, even psychoanalytic.” For the work demonstrating all this, they
cite Anti-Oedipus, 1972. So precisely, since everyone wants you to pass
for the philosopher of desire, I want you to talk about desire.
What was desire exactly? Let’s consider the question as simply
as possible. When Anti-Oedipus… Deleuze: It’s not what they
thought it was, in any case, not what they thought it was,
even back then. Even, I mean, the most charming people who were…
It was a big ambiguity, it was a big misunderstanding,
or rather a little one, a little misunderstanding.
I believe that we wanted to say something very simple. In fact,
we had an enormous ambition, notably when one writes a book,
we thought that we would say something new, specifically
that one way or another, people who wrote before us didn’t
understand what desire meant. That is, in undertaking our
task as philosophers, we were hoping to propose
a new concept of desire. But, regarding concepts, people
who don’t do philosophy mustn’t think that they are so
abstract… On the contrary, they refer to things that
are extremely simple, extremely concrete,
we’ll see this later… There are no philosophical
concepts that do not refer to non-philosophical coordinates.
It’s very simple, very concrete. What we wanted to express was
the simplest thing in the world. We wanted to say: up until now,
you speak abstractly about desire because you extract an object
that’s presumed to be the object of your desire. So,
one could say, I desire a woman, I desire to leave on a trip,
I desire this, that. And we were saying something really
very simple, simple, simple: You never desire someone
or something, you always desire an aggregate.
It’s not complicated. Our question was: what is
the nature of relations between elements in order
for there to be desire, for these elements to become
desirable? I mean, I don’t desire a woman-I am ashamed
to say things like that since Proust already said it,
and it’s beautiful in Proust: I don’t desire a woman, I also desire a
landscape that is enveloped in this woman, a landscape that,
if needs be-I don’t know- but that I can feel. As long as
I haven’t yet unfolded the landscape that envelops her, I will not
be happy, that is, my desire will not have been attained,
my desire will remain unsatisfied. I believe in an aggregate with
two terms: woman/landscape, and it’s something
completely different. If a woman says, “I desire a dress,” or
“I desire (some) thing” or “(some) blouse,” it’s obvious that she does not desire this
dress or that blouse in the abstract. She desires it in an entire context,
a context of her own life that she is going to organize, the desire in
relation not only with a landscape, but with people who are her friends,
with people who are not her friends, with her profession, etc. I never
desire some thing all by itself, I don’t desire an aggregate either,
I desire from within an aggregate. So we can return to something we were
discussing earlier, about alcohol, drinking. Drinking never meant solely
“I desire to drink” and that’s it. It means, either I desire to drink
all alone while working, or drink all alone while relaxing,
or going out to find friends to have a drink,
90 to some little café. In other words, there is no desire that
does not flow-I mean this precisely-flow within an assemblage. Such that desire
has always been for me- I am looking for the abstract term
that corresponds to desire- it has always been constructivism. To
desire is to construct an assemblage, to construct an aggregate: the
aggregate of a skirt, of a sun ray, Parnet: a woman Deleuze of a street, an assemblage
of a woman, of a vista… Parnet: of a color… Deleuze: …of a color, that’s what desire
is: constructing an assemblage, constructing a region, really, to assemble.
Desire is a constructivism. So, I say that, we, inAnti-Oedipus,
we were trying… Parnet: Can I Deleuze: Yes? Parnet: Is it because desire is an
assemblage that you needed to be two in order
to create it? In an aggregate, where Felix was necessary, who
emerged then to help write? Deleuze: Did it… well, perhaps that
will be more connected to what we have to discuss about
friendship, of the relationship between philosophy and something
that concerns friendship… But certainly, with Felix, we created
an assemblage, yes… There are assemblages all alone,
I repeat, and then there are assemblages with
two people-Felix, everything I did with Felix was
a shared assemblage, in which something passed
between both of us. That is, all of this concerns
physical phenomena. In order for an event to occur,
a difference of potential is necessary, and for there to be a difference of
potential, two levels are required, so that something occurs, a flash
occurs or a flash doesn’t occur, or a little stream… And that’s
in the domain of desire. That’s what a desire is, constructing. Every one of us spends his/her time
constructing… When anyone says, every time anyone says, I desire
this or that, that means that he/she is in the process of
constructing an assemblage, and it’s nothing else,
desire is nothing else. Parnet: So, precisely, is it just by chance
that, since desire exists in an aggregate, in an assemblage, that Anti-Oedipus,
where you talk about desire, where you start to talk about desire,
is the first book you wrote with someone else… that is,
with Félix Guattari? Deleuze: Yes, you are quite right…
No doubt, we had to enter into what was a new assemblage
for us, to write as two, that each of us did not interpret
or live in the same way, so that something might “pass.”
And if something “passed,” this was finally a fundamental
reaction, hostility against the dominant conceptions of desire,
the psychoanalytical conceptions. We had to be two, Felix who had been in
psychoanalysis, myself interested in this subject, weneededall that so that
we could say we had the possibility here of a constructive, constructivist
concept of desire. Parnet: Can you define better, maybe
quickly, simply, how you see the difference between this constructivism and analytical
interpretation? . .. Are there any… Deleuze: It’s quite simple,
I think, it’s quite simple, given our position regarding
psychoanalysis… There are multiple facets, but in terms
of the problem of desire, really psychoanalysts speak of desire
exactly like priests talk about it- this is not the only comparison-
they are psychoanalyst-priests. And they talk about it under the guise of
the great wailing about castration- castration, it’s worse than
original sin, castration is… It’s a kind of enormous curse on desire
that is quite precisely frightening. Whatdid weflyto do
in Anti-Oedipus?
I think there are three main points
directly opposed to psychoanalysis. These three points are-well, for me
and I think for Felix Guattari as well, we would change none of them at all.
The three points are: 1) We are persuaded that the
unconscious is not a theater, not a place where Hamlet and Oedipus
interminably play out their scenes. It’s not a theater, but a factory,
its production… The unconscious produces there,
incessantly produces… It functions like a factory,
it’s the very opposite of the psychoanalytical vision
of the unconscious as a theater where it’s always
a question of Hamlet or Oedipus moving about
constantly, infinitely… 2) The second theme is that delirium,
which is very closely linked to desire- to desire is to become delirious
to some extent… If you look at delirium whatever it might be
about, any delirium whatsoever, it is exactly the contrary of what
psychoanalysis has latched onto about it, that is, we don’t go into delirium
about the father or mother. Rather, one “delires” about
something completely different; this is the great secret of delirium, we
“delire” about the whole world. That is, one “delires” about history, geography,
tribes, deserts, peoples, Parnet: Climates… Deleuze: races,climates, that’s what
we “delire” about. The world of delirium is, “I am an animal, 61 Negro,” Rimbaud.
It’s: where are my tribes, how are my tribes arranged, surviving in
the desert, etc.? The desert… uh, delirium is geographical-political;
psychoanalysis links it always to familial determinants. Even after so
many years since Anti-Oedipus, I maintain that psychoanalysis never
understood anything at all about a phenomenon
of delirium. One “délires” the world and
not one’s little family. And all this intersects:
when I referred to literature not being someone’s little private
affair, it comes down to the same thing: delirium as well is not a delirium focused
on the father and mother. 3) The third point, it returns
to desire: desire always establishes itself, always
constructs assemblages there and establishes itself in an
assemblage, always putting several factors into play, and
psychoanalysis ceaselessly reduces us to a single factor, always the same,
sometimes the father, sometimes the mother, sometimes
the phallus, etc. It is completely ignorant of what the
multiple is, completely ignorant of constructivism, that is,
of assemblages. I’ll give some examples. We were talking
about the animal earlier. For psychoanalysis, the animal is the
image of the father, let’s say, a horse is the image of the father.
It’s a fucking joke. I think of the example of Little Hans,
a child about whom Freud rendered an opinion… He
witnesses a horse falling in the street and the wagon driver who beats
the horse with a whip, and the horse is twitching all around,
kicking out… Before cars, automobiles, this was a common
spectacle in the streets, something quite impressive
for a child. The first time a child sees a horse
fall in the street and a half-drunk driver trying to
revive it by whipping it, that must have caused
such an emotion… It was something happening
in the street, the event in the street,
sometimes a very bloody event. Then you hear the psychoanalysts talking
about the image of the father, etc., it’s in their heads that
things get confused. Desire does not concern a horse fallen
and beaten in the street, dying in the street, etc.; rather
it’s an assemblage, a fantastic assemblage for a child,
it’s disturbing to the very core. Another example I could
choose, another example: we were talking about the
animal. What is an animal? There is no single animal that
could be the image of the father. Animals usually group together
in a pack, there are packs. There is case that gives me a lot of
pleasure, in a text that I adore by Jung, who broke off from Freud
after along collaboration. Jung told Freud that he had
a dream about an ossuary, and Freud literally understood nothing.
He told Jung constantly, “if you dream about a bone, it means
the death of someone.” But Jung never stopped telling him,
“I didn’t tell you about a bone, I dreamt about an ossuary.”
Freud didn’t get it. He couldn’t distinguish between an
ossuary and a bone, that is… An ossuary is one hundred bones,
a thousand bones, ten thousand bones… That’s
what a multiplicity is, that’s what an assemblage is.
I am walking in an ossuary… What does that mean? Where does
desire “pass”? In an assemblage, it’s always a collective,
a kind of constructivism, etc, that’s what desire is. Where does
my desire “pass” among these thousand skulls,
these thousand bones? Where does my desire
“pass” in the pack? What is my position in the pack?
Am I outside the pack, alongside, inside, at the center? All these things
are phenomena of desire. That’s what desire is. Parnet: This collective assemblage
precisely… Since Anti-Oedipus is a book that was written in 1972, the
collective assemblage came at an appropriate moment after May ’68,
that is, it was a reflection… Deleuze: Exactly. Parnet: of that particular period,
and against psychoanalysis that maintained
its little affair. . .? Deleuze: One can only say: delirium
“délires” races and tribes, it “délires” peoples, it “délires” history
and geography-all thatseemsto me to correspond precisely to May ”68.
That is, it seems to me, [May ’68 was] an attempt to introduce a
little bit of fresh air into the fetid, stifling atmosphere of
familial deliriums. People saw quite clearly that
this is what delirium was… If I am going to get delirious,
it won’t be about my childhood, about my little private affair.
We “delire”… Delirium is cosmic, one “delires” about the ends
of the world, about particles, about electrons, not about papa
and mama, obviously. Parnet: Well, precisely about this
collective assemblage of desire, I recall several misunderstandings…
I remember at Vincennes in the 19703, at the university, there
were people who put into practice this “desire” that resulted instead in
kinds of collective infatuations, as if they never really understood
very well. So I would like… Or more precisely, because
there were a lot of “crazies” at Vincennes… Since you started
from schizoanalysis to fight against psychoanalysis,
everybody thought that it was quite fine to be crazy,
to be schizo… So we saw some incredible things
among the students, and I would like you to tell me some
funny stories, or not so funny ones, about these misunderstandings
regarding desire. Deleuze: Well, the misunderstandings… I can perhaps consider the
misunderstandings more abstractly. The misunderstandings generally
were connected to two points, two cases, which were more or less the
same: some people thought that desire was a form of spontaneity,
so there were all sorts of movements of “spontaneity”; and others thought desire
was an occasion for partying. For us, it was neither one nor the other,
but that had little importance since assemblages got created,
even the crazies, the crazies, the crazies-there were so many,
all kinds, they were part of what was happening then at Vincennes. But
the crazies, they had their own discipline, their own way of… they made their
speeches, they made their interventions, and they also entered into an assemblage,
they constructed their own assemblage, and they did very well in the assemblage.
There was a kind of guile, comprehension, a general
good will of the crazies. But, if you prefer, on the level
of theory, practically These were assemblages that were
established and that fell apart. Theoretically, the misunderstanding
was to say: Ok, desire is spontaneity, hence
the name they were called, the spontaneists; or it’s partying,
and that’s not what it was. The so-called philosophy of desire
consisted only in telling people: don’t go get psychoanalyzed, never
interpret, go experience/experiment with assemblages, search out the
assemblages that suit you, let each person search… So,
what was an assemblage? For me, an assemblage-for Félix, it’s not,
that he thought something else, but it was perhaps… I don’t know-
but for me, I would maintain that there were four components of
an assemblage, if you wish… This said very very roughly, so I am
not tied to it, maybe there are six… 1) An assemblage referred
to “states of things,” so that each of us might find the
“state of things” that suits us. For example, earlier, for drinking,
I like this cafe, I don’t like that cafe, the people that are in a particular cafe,
etc., that’s a “state of things.” 2) Another dimension of assemblages:
“Ies énonces,” types of statements, each person has a kind of style,
his/her way of talking. So, it’s between the two things. In the
cafe, for example, there are friends, and one has a certain way of talking
with one’s friends, so each cafe has its style-I say the cafe, but that
applies to all kinds of other things. Ok, so an assemblage encompasses
“states of things” and then “statements,”
styles of enunciation Eh.. it’s really interesting…
That’s what History is made of. When does a new kind
of statement appear… For example, in the
Russian revolution, when did statements of a Leninist kind
appear, how, in what form? In May ”68, when did the first kinds of
so-called ”68 statements appear? It’s very complex. In any case, every
assemblage implies styles of enunciation. 3) An assemblage implies territories, each
of us chooses or creates a territory, even just walking into a room,
one chooses a territory. I walk into a room that I don’t know,
I look for a territory, that is, the spot where I feel
the best in the room. 4) And then there are processes
of what one has to call deterritorialization, that is, the way
one leaves the territory. I would say that an assemblage
encompasses these four dimensions: states of things,
enunciations, territories, movements of deterritorialization.
It’s within these [components] That desire flows.
So… the crazies… Parnet: Did you feel particularly
responsible for people who took drugs, who might have readAnti-Oedipusa bit
too literally? Because, I mean, it was, it’s not a problem, not like someone incites
who young people to commit stupid acts. Deleuze: One always feel quite
responsible for anyone for whom things went badly… Parnet: What were the
effects of Anti-Oedipus? Deleuze: .. and I always tried
to do what I could so that things went well. In any case,
I believe-it’s my point of honor- I never tried being cagey
about those things. I never told a student to go on,
it’s ok, 90 get stoned, but always tried to do all that I could
to help people make it through. For I am entirely too aware of the
slightest thing that might suddenly push someone over and reduce
him/her to a pulp-like state. If they drink, ok… I could never
cast blame on anyone… Whatever they did, I just don’t have
the desire to cast blame… But, I felt that one had to watch for
the moment when things were no longer acceptable. Let them drink,
let them take drugs, let them do what they want.
That is, we aren’t cops, nor are we their fathers. I wasn’t
expected to prevent anything, but I tried nonetheless to keep them
from being reduced to pulp. Whenever there is a risk,
I can’t stand it. I can stand a person taking drugs,
but a person taking drugs to such an extent that he reaches,
I don’t know, a wild state, that’s it, I tell myself, he’s going to crack up.
I can’t stand it, especially young people…
You referred to young people, I can’t stand a young person cracking up,
it’s just unbearable. An old man who cracks up,
who commits suicide even, he at least has already lived his life,
but a young person who cracks up, out of stupidity, out of carelessness,
because he drinks too much, because of, etc. So I was always divided between
the impossibility of finding fault with anyone and the absolute desire,
or rather the absolute refusal, that anyone might be reduced to pulp.
So, you know, it’s a thin line. I cannot say that there are
principles that apply, one just deals with each case, and
it’s true that the role of people in those moments is to try
to save these young kids as much as one can. And saving them
doesn’t mean making them walk the straight and narrow,
it means preventing them from heading towards being reduced
to pulp. That’s all I can say. Parnet: No, but it was about the effects
ofAnti-Oedipus,were there any? Deleuze: That’s it, that’s it, prevent
people from being reduced to pulp, from anyone at that time developing
the early stages of schizophrenia, [prevent them] either from falling
into a condition where they get thrown into a
repressive hospital, all that, or someone who couldn’t stand
[alcohol] anymore… an alcoholic… going off the deep end, to do everything
so that he might stop, stop… Parnet: Was it nonetheless a revolutionary
book to the extent that it seemed for the enemies of this book,
the psychoanalysts, to be an apology for permissivity and to say
that everything you said. . .? Deleuze: Surely not. The book
never was I mean, when one reads this book,
this book always marked out an extreme prudence.
The book’s lesson was: don’t become a shredded rag.
We never stopped opposing the schizophrenic process to
the repressive hospital type, and for us, the Terror was in
producing a “hospital creature.” Nothing else counts. And I would nearly
say that promoting the kinds of values of the “trip,” what the anti-
psychiatrists called the “trip” of the schizophrenic process, was
precisely the way to prevent and ward off the production of pulp-like
hospital creatures, that is, the production of schizophrenics,
the fabrication of schizophrenics. Parnet: Do you think, to finish
withAnti-Oedipus,that this book still has
effects today? Deleuze: Yes, it’s a good book,
it’s a good book, because it has a conception of the
unconscious, in my opinion, the only case in which there
was this kind of conception of the unconscious. I mean, with
the two points, or the three points: 1) of multiplicities of
the unconscious, 2) of delirium as world delirium,
and not the family delirium, [but] the cosmic delirium,
the delirium of races, the delirium of tribes,
that’s good; and 3) and the unconscious
as a machine and a factory, not as a theater. I have nothing to
change in these three points, and in my opinion, it remains
absolutely new since all of psychoanalysis has been
reconstituted. So, I believe, I hope that it’s a book that will be
rediscovered, perhaps, perhaps… I’ll do a prayer for it
to be rediscovered… Parnet: So, “E” is “Enfance” [Childhood].
You have always said that you began your life living on the avenue de Wagram,
you were born in the 17th arrondissement, then you lived with your mother on rue
Daubigny in the 17th arrondissement, and now you live near the place de Clichy,
that is, a poor neighborhood in the 17th arrondissement on the rue de Bizerte.
One can say it because you will be dead when people see this, so we
can give your address. What I want to know, first, is
if your family was bourgeoise, what was known as a bourgeois
family on the right, I believe. Deleuze: I say it, I always say it
when my friends ask me. It’s true, it’s something of a descent,
I started at the high point of the 17th, a very beautiful part
of the 17th, and then, during my childhood, I lived through
the crisis before the war- I have some childhood memories
of the crisis, I wasn’t very old, but one of these memories was the
number of empty apartments. People really had no more money,
and there were these apartments for rent everywhere, everywhere.
So, my parents had to abandon the beautiful apartment at
the high spot of the 17th, near the Arc de Triomphe, and
then they went down a level, but it still wasn’t bad, it wasn’t far
from the boulevard Malesherbes, in a little street, the rue Daubigny,
and then when I returned to Paris, having grown up, it was at the
far border of the 17th, a 17th full of small shops,
a bit proletarian, rue Nollet, not far away from Verlaine’s house,
who was not rich. So it’s a descent, and in a few years, I don’t know
where I will be, but the outlook isn’t good. Parnet: In Saint-Ouen, I hope.
[A near northern Parisian suburb] Deleuze: In Saint-Ouen, yes…
As for my family, yes, they were a bourgeois family, on the right,
no… well, on the right, yes, they certainly weren’t
on the left. One has to return to the
circumstances back then. I have few memories from my
childhood because memory, itseemsto me, is a faculty that
should reject the past rather than recall it… Memory, one needs
a lot of memory to reject it, precisely, because it’s not an archive.
I have this memory… There were these iron railings
where there were signs saying “Apartment for rent,” and
I lived through a lot. Parnet: In what years was that? Deleuze: Oh, I have no recollection
of the years… It was between ”30 and ”35…
I really don’t know… Parnet: You were 10 years old. Deleuze: People were without money…
I was born in ”25, yes, but I remember the money problems…
That’s what kept me from going to study with the Jesuit priests,
my parents had no more money and I had been destined for the Jesuits,
and then I went to the public high school when the crisis came. Then, another
aspect… I don’t recall… there was another aspect of the crisis
I recalled… I forget, another aspect… Well, it doesn’t matter… And then
there was the war, and my father… Yes, it was a family, indeed, a
right-wing family, yes, because I recall this quite clearly-they
never got over it, and it’s why I understand employers better, bosses
now, certain employers right now- the terror that they retained from the
[Socialist] Popular Front is unbelievable, no doubt even employers
who did not live through it, but there are still many
who did live through it, for them, the Popular Front
was the image of chaos worse than May ”68. I remember
nonetheless that all this bourgeoisie de droite
were all anti-Semitic, and [Leon] Blum
[leader of the Popular Front]… It was something ghastly,
the hatred directed toward [Pierre] Mendes-France
[Socialist minister under Blum]. But that was nothing, compared to
the hatred that Blum had to undergo because Blum was really the first…
The paid vacation, the reaction to it
was frightening. Parnet: The first Jewish Leftist Deleuze: Ahhh, Blum was. was…
– I don’t know how to say it- he was for them worse
than the devil. One cannot understand how
Petain could seize power without understanding the level of
anti-Semitism in France at that period. The French bourgeoisie’s
[anti-Semitism] at that period, and the hatred against
the social measures taken by Blum’s government,
it was ghastly.So myfatherwas a bit
Croix-de-feu,
yes… Oh, it was very common
at that period. So it was a bourgeois family
de droite… uncultivated… There was a cultivated bourgeoisie, but this was a completely
uncultivated bourgeoisie. But my father was a lovely man, very
benevolent, very good, very charming, and what really seemed astonishing
to me was this violence against… He had gone through the 14-18
War which is a world that one can understand very
well in general terms, but that one cannot know in fine detail.
These veterans of the 14-18War, at once the anti-Semitism, the regime
of crisis, what this crisis was, that no one understood…
So there you are… Parnet: And what was his occupation? Deleuze: He was an engineer,
but a very special kind of engineer. I can recall two
of his activities. He had invented-did he invent it?
Or did he just commercialize it? – A product to make roofs watertight…
the watertightness of roofs… But with the crisis, he ended up with
only one worker, an Italian- a foreigner as well, so that
didn’t work out too well. And then, this business collapsed,
so he resituated himself in a more serious industry that made
balloons, the kind of… dirigibles, you see? But at a certain moment,
these were completely useless to the point where, in ”39, there were
a few high above Paris to stop German planes…
I don’t know why, but they really seemed like
homing pigeons. So when the Germans took over the
factory where my father worked, they were more rational, and so
they transformed everything for the production of rubber rafts.
Rubber rafts were more useful, but they certainly did make
balloons and zeppelins. And me, I saw this start of the war-
I saw it, I have lots of memories, I wasn’t very old, still I was fourteen-
the way people knew quite well that they had gained a year with Munich, a
year and a few months, until the war. So all that was connected,
the crisis, the war, all of that… It was an atmosphere, I don’t know,
it was very tense, when people older than me lived through
some really awful moments. Deleuze: When the Germans really
arrived, coming down over Belgium and invading France, I was in Deauville
because it was the place where my parents always
spent summer vacations. They had already returned [to Paris],
and they had left us, which was unimaginable
since we had a mother who had never left us… But we
found ourselves in a pension, they had entrusted us to an
elderly woman who ran a pension, so I had a year of schooling in
Deauville, in a hotel that had been transformed into a lycée,
and the Germans weren’t far… Wait, I am confusing everything… That
was during the “phony war” [1939-40], when I was in this lycée.
So Deauville had always been… When I was talking earlier
about paid vacations, I recall all the more clearly the arrival
of the first paid vacationers to the beaches in Deauville.
That would have been something for a filmmaker, that would be…
a master work, because when you saw these people who
saw the sea for the first time, it was astounding. I recall seeing someone who
saw it for the first time, and even after,
and it was splendid. It was a young girl from the Limousin
province who was with us and who saw the sea
for the first time. And it’s true, if there is something
that’s unimaginable when you haven’t ever seen it, it’s
the sea. One can tell oneself that it’s something grandiose,
something infinite, but the words don’t mean anything.
When one sees the sea… And that little girl stayed standing there,
I don’t know, for four or five hours before the sea, completely dumbstruck
as if she had been born an idiot, she just did not tire from standing
before such a sublime, such a grandiose spectacle.
Now, this was the beach at Deauville that was a private beach,
had been for a long time, for the bourgeois, it was their property.
And here the paid vacationers arrive and people who no doubt had never seen
the sea. That was grandiose! If class hatred means anything, it’s in
expressions like-alas, my mother, who was nonetheless the best
of women, said, “The impossibility of frequenting beaches where there are
people ‘like that’.” So these were… very hard statements… I believe
that the bourgeois never forgot… May ”68 was nothing
next to this… Parnet: Talk a little about the fear that
they had, that you referred to earlier. Deleuze: Their fear? Well, there couldn’t
be any stop to that [process]. If they gave paid vacation
to the workers, then it was all the bourgeois privileges
that were disappearing… And the sites… it was also
a question of territory. If the maids can come to the beaches
in Deauville, it was, I don’t know, as if suddenly the return to the age
of dinosaurs… or, I don’t know, it was an aggression, it was worse
than the Germans, worse than the German tanks arriving on the
beaches. It was… indescribable. Parnet: People from another world! Deleuze: Also, and this is a detail, but
what was happening in the factories, the employers, I mean… They never
forgot that, and I think they even developed an hereditary fear…
I don’t want to say that May ”68 was nothing at all,
”68 was something else, but they did not lose
their memory of ”68 either. So there I was in Deauville,
without my parents and with my brother, when the
Germans broke through. And yes, it was there that I ceased
being an idiot. I have to say that I was a young person who was
completely mediocre in my studies, with no interest whatsoever
in anything at all, and I think my stamp collection
was my greatest activity. I was completely nil in class.
And something happened, that occurred to a lot of people,
I guess, people who are awoken, they are always awoken by
someone in particular. And for me, in this hotel converted into
61 lycée, there was a guy, young, who seemed quite extraordinary to me
because he spoke very well, and it was a total
awakening for me, I had the fortune of
coming upon a guy… Later he was rather
well known, first because he had a somewhat
famous father, then because he was very active
in the leftist movement, but much later. His name
was Halwachs, Pierre Halwachs, the son
of the sociologist. At that time, he was young,
and he had an odd appearance, he was very thin, very tall,
or rather tall as I recall it, and he only had one eye,
that is, one eye open and the other one closed, not naturally, but
that’s how he presented himself, kind of like a Cyclops, with very
curly hair like a goat’s… no, more like a sheep’s. When it got cold,
he turned green or purple, with very fragile health, so he had
been deferred from military duty. He had a bachelor’s degree, and so
he had been placed there as a professor during the war
to fill in. And for me, it was a kind of revelation. He was
full of enthusiasm, and I can’t even remember what year
I was in, I don’t know, in 8th or 9th grade, and
he communicated to us, or communicated to me, something that,
well, it was overwhelming for me. I was discovering all sorts of things…
He spoke to us about Baudelaire, he read to us, he read
extremely well. And we became close necessarily
because he saw very well that he had impressed me enormously.
And I remember, in winter on the beaches of Deauville, he took me
for walks, I followed him. I realize that literally I was
something like his disciple, I had found a master. So we sat
down out there on the dunes, in the wind, next to the sea-
it was great!-and he read to me, I remember, he read to me [Andre Gide’s]
The Fruits of the Earth. He screamed it out-there was no one
on the beaches in winter- he screamed out TheFruitsof theEarth.
I was seated next to him, and I was a little worried that if
someone else came out there, obviously, they’d say, “That’s pretty
strange!” So he read, and it was quite varied. He helped me
discover Anatole France, Baudelaire, Gide, those were the
principal ones, his great loves, and I was transformed,
completely transformed. To such an extent that, rather
quickly, people began talking about this guy and his strange
appearance, his huge eye and all that, with this kid who
followed him everywhere, going down to the
beach together. The lady from the
pension got worried, had me come talk
to her, and said that she was responsible for me in
the absence of my parents, she warned me against some
type of relationships… I couldn’t understand anything,
anything at all… If there ever had been
a pure, indisputable, respectable relationship,
it was that one. And I only understood afterwards
that people assumed that Pierre Halwachs was a dangerous
pederast. So I said to him, “I am upset, and mylogeuse
told me that”- I used the formal form
in addressing him, and he used the familiar
form with me- “she said we musn’t see each other,”
that it wasn’t normal, proper. So he told me, “Don’t worry
about it. No lady, no elderly lady can resist me,” he said,
“I am going to explain it to her, I will go see her, and she
will be reassured.” And still I was right,
I was smart enough, he had made me smart enough
so that I had doubts, I was not at all calmed down by that
because I could foresee that it was not at all certain that the
elderly logeuse would be… And indeed, it was catastrophic:
He went to see the elderly logeuse who immediately wrote to my parents
that it was urgent for them to have me return, that he was an
extremely suspicious individual… So he completely blew
the attempt. But there we were,
the Germans arrive- all this was during the “phony war”
-the Germans arrive, no longer any questions about Pierre-
so my brother and I took off on our bicycles to meet our parents
who had been taken to Rochefort- the factory was being moved to
Rochefort, that is, to escape the Germans…
So we did that on our bikes, and I still recall having heard
the speech made by Petain, the famous and hideous speech,
in some village inn, and there we were
on our bikes! And at an intersection, who do
we see? There was a car, something worthy of a cartoon,
there was the elder Halwachs, the young Halwachs, an
aesthetician called Meyer… And they were going not far from
La Rochelle, it was predestined… I tell you all that only in order to say…
Years later, I met Halwachs, I knew him, I knew him very well, I did not
have the same admiration for him, it’s true, but that taught me
something at least, which is that when I was 14,
at the moment that I admired him, I knew that I was
completely right. Parnet: So then you returned to Paris with
a certain difficulty, to lycée Carnot, the “phony war” and the vacation were
finished, and in lycée Carnot, you were in philosophy classes.
I think at that time in lycée Carnot, Merleau-Ponty was a professor there, but
strangely, you were in a philosophy class that wasn’t Merleau-Ponty’s, you were in
the class of the other philosophy professor named Monsieur Vialle. Iseemto recall
that you said that name… Deleuze: Yes, Monsieur Vialle,
about whom I have a very, very fond memory. But it was
completely by chance that I was assigned… Sol could have tried
to have myself reassigned to Merleau-Ponty’s class, but I didn’t,
I don’t recall why. Vialle was… Indeed, Halwachs had
helped me learn something about what literature was, yet from my
very first classes in philosophy, I knew this was what I would do…
I recall bits and pieces of things… For example, I remember quite well
that I was in philosophy class when we learned about [the German massacre
of the French villagers in] Ouradour… Ouradour had happened. I have
to admit that I was in a class that was slightly politicized, rather
sensitized to questions about the Nazis, etc. I was in the class of Guy
Moquet [a French resistance hero], and there was a strange
atmosphere in this class… In any case, the announcement
about Ouradour, it was really very impressive for a class
of boys at age seventeen or, I don’t know how old one is
when finishing the baccalauréat,
seventeen-eighteen years… Parnet: Eighteen is the
normal age… Deleuze: Yes, I recall that well. So,
Vialle, he was a professor who spoke very softly, he was old, he was…
and I liked him enormously. Merleau-Ponty, I only recall
his melancholy. At Carnot, it’s a big lycée where
there’s a balustrade that goes all around
the first floor, and there was the very melancholic
gaze of Merleau-Ponty who looked at all the kids there,
down below, playing, yelling, an enormous melancholy,
it seemed like he was saying, “What in God’s name am
I doing here?” Whereas Vialle, whom I liked so much,
he was finishing his career, and here as well, I got very
close to him, very close. Since we didn’t live very
far from one another, we used to walk back and
forth to school together, and we never got
tired of talking, of And there I knew, either I would do
philosophy, or I would do nothing. Parnet: Starting from
your first courses? Deleuze: Yes, yes. It was as if, if you
like… When I learned of the existence, that there were such strange things
called “concepts,” that had the same effect on me as,
for some other people, the encounter with characters
from a magnificent novel. God, I was excited
to learn about… Parnet: TheCount of Monte
Cristo,
for example? Deleuze: Oh, Charlus or a great literary
character from a novel, I don’t know, Vautrin, anything, Eugenie Grandet.
When I learned that, I don’t know, even things like “What did Plato call an
‘idea”?,” that seemed to me to be as lively, as animated, as… I knew
that this was it for me. Parnet: And immediately, you did very
well, you were the best? Deleuze: Ah, yes. Henceforth, I no
longer had any problems in school. From Halwachs onward, I did well, I did
well in literature, even in Latin. Yes, I did well. I was a good student, and in
philosophy, I became a very good student. Parnet: I would like to
go back a little… Weren’t the classes somewhat
politicized at that period? You said that something special
was happening in that class because Guy Moquet
was in it. Deleuze: Politicized? Well, that wasn’t
possible during the war. We weren’t politicized. There certainly
were guys who, at seventeen or eighteen, were already participating in the
Resistance, the conditions weren’t right. People who were in the Resistance didn’t
talk about it unless they were cretins. So, we can’t talk in terms of
politicization or not. There were people who
were indifferent, there were supporters
of the Vichy regime… Parnet:Action française’?[A pre-World
War II ultra-right political group] Deleuze:Action française’?Ah, no,
this was much worse. They were Vichy supporters…
One could say… No, that has no comparison with
the politicization during peacetime, because the active elements
were the Resistance, the young Resistance
participants, or young people in relation with
the Resistance participants. It has nothing to do with politicization,
it was much more secretive… Parnet: So, in your class, for example,
there were young people who were already sympathetic toward the
Resistance and who talked about it? Deleuze: Well yes, like I said,
Guy Moquet, who would die… who was assassinated by
the Nazis, a year later, I think… Parnet: And you talked about it? Deleuze: Well obviously. Just as
I told you, the immediate news, the immediate communication about
Ouradour was the theme, I think, a secret communique, the theme
on the wireless (TSP)… The news was known
on that very day. All the Parisian lycées
knew about it. For me, that was one of
the most emotional things, to learn about Ouradour
almost immediately. Parnet: So to finish with “Childhood,”
if one is ever finished with it… Precisely itseemsthat, for you, your
childhood really has little importance. That is, neither do you talk about,
nor is it a reference point. You don’tseemto see childhood as
having much importance. Deleuze: Yes… yes… yes…
Well, necessarily so since it’s almost part of all that we were talking
about earlier. I consider, really, that the writing activity has nothing to
do with one’s individual situation. That does not mean that one doesn’t
put all of one’s soul into it. Literature and writing is profoundly
connected to life. But life is something more than personal.
Everything that brings into literature something that has a relation
with the life of the person, the personal life of the writer,
is unfortunate by its very nature, lamentable by its nature, since
that prevents one from seeing, that prevents one… It makes one fall
back, really, on one’s tiny private affair. That’s never what my childhood was.
It’s not that it horrifies me. What would matter to me,
strictly speaking, is this: just as there are becomings-animal
that men envelop, [so] there are
becomings-child. I believe that writing always means
becoming-something, but it’s for that reason that one
doesn’t write just to write either. I believe that one writes
because there is something of life going through you,
whatever it might be There are things that…
One writes for life, that’s it, and one becomes something.
Writing is becoming, becoming anything that
one wants except [a] writer, and it’s doing everything one wants
except [creating an] archive. As much as I respect the archive-
what we are doing is fine. We are creating the archive,
but it’s not… It has an interest only in relation
to something else… If there is a reason to
create an archive, it’s because it has a relation
with something else and that, through the archive,
one will perhaps grasp a little bit of that
something else. But the very idea, for example,
of speaking about my childhoodseemsto me… It’s not
only useless, but also the opposite
of all literature. If you permit me, I have read that a
thousand times, everyone has said it, all the great writers have always said it.
But I came upon this book that I didn’t know-everyone has his gaps
-a great Russian poet Mandelstam, that I was reading yesterday,
as I told you… Parnet: With the very beautiful
first name, can you read it? Deleuze: Osip… yes, Osip… He says
in this sentence… He says- there are these equivalencies,
and this kind of sentence overwhelms me. And that’s, the
professor’s role, that’s what it is, to communicate a text,
to have kids like a text. That’s what Halwachs did for me-
So he says: “There’s something that I don’t quite understand,
I don’t know exactly what it is.” He says: “I never could understand
people like Tolstoy,” and even Tolstoy, eh?
“In love with the family archives with their epic poems made
of domestic memories.” Here it starts to get serious:
“I repeat: my memory is not of love, but of hostility, and it labors
not at reproducing, but at distancing the past.
For an intellectual of mediocre background,” like him,
“memory is useless, it would suffice for him to talk
about the books he had read, and his biography would be complete,”
like me with Halwachs. “There, where for fortunate
generations, the epic poem was spoken in hexameters and
in chronicles, for me, there stands a gaping sign, and
between me and the century there lies an abyss, a ditch filled
with time that murmurs. What did my family wish to say?
I do not know. It had been stuttering since birth,
and yet it had something to say. This congenital stuttering weighs
heavily on me and on many of my contemporaries. We were not
taught to speak but to stammer- and only by listening to the swelling noise
of the century and being bleached by the foam on the crest of its
wave did we acquire a language.” Now, I don’t know, what that means
for me, really… Yes, what that means that writing is to bear
witness to life, bear witness for life, for in the sense we were saying
earlier, for the animals who die. It’s stammering in language. Doing
literature by calling upon childhood, it’s typically to make literature
into one’s tiny private affair, it’s totally disgusting, really K-mart
literature, bazaar literature, it’s bestsellers, truly shit. If you don’t
push language up to this point where it stammers-it’s not easy,
it isn’t enough to stammer, beh beh beh, like that… If you don’t
reach that point, well then… Perhaps in literature, just as, through
pushing language to a limit, there is a becoming-animal of
language itself and of the writer, there is also a becoming-child, but it’s not
his childhood. He becomes child, yes, but it’s no longer his childhood,
or anyone’s childhood, it’s the childhood of the world,
the childhood of a world. So those writers who are interested in
their childhood, they can fuck off, and then continue, well and good, they
create the literature they deserve. If there was someone who was
not interested in his childhood, it was Proust,
for example… Fine, so, the task of the writer is not to go
digging through the family archives, it’s not interesting oneself in one’s
childhood, no one is interested… No one worthy of anything whatsoever is
interested in his/her childhood. Our task is to become child through
writing, reach a childhood of the world, restore a childhood of the world.
That’s the task of literature. Parnet: A Nietzschean child? Deleuze: Nietzsche, among others,
understood… Mandelstam as well. All writers know it… It’s becoming, I could
not find any other expression than that. Writing means becoming, but it
means becoming neither writer, nor one’s own
memorialist. And it’s not because I had
a love story that I am going to go write a novel,
it’s vile to think things like that. It’s not just mediocre,
it’s vile. Parnet: Well, an exception to the rule
is that Nathalie Sarraute, who is a great writer, just wrote
a book entitledChildhood.Is this a little bit of
a weakness? Deleuze: Not at all, not at all.
I agree with you, Nathalie Sarraute is an immensely
important writer.Childhoodis not at all a book about her childhood, it’s a book
that typically bears witness… Parnet: I was playing the
devil’s advocate role Deleuze: I well understood that you are
playing the devil’s advocate role, but it’s a very dangerous role,
you understand? She invents a child of the world. What
interests Nathalie Sarraute finally in her childhood? It’s a certain number of
stereotyped formulae from which she derives marvelous effects. That could
just as well be what she already did with the final words of… the
final words of who there? Parnet: Of Chekhov? Deleuze: Chekhov… She is going to draw
from… she is going to draw from as a little girl, she heard someone
say, “How are you?” what is this “how are you?
how are… 7” etc, and from that, she is going to draw out
a world of language, have language to
proliferate on itself. So, come on, as if she were
interested in her childhood… Parnet: Well, all that
is fine, but still… Deleuze: Claude Sarraute would be
interested in his childhood, but not Nathalie Sarraute! Parnet: Allo Coco. ..
That’s all well and good, but still, at the same time… First,
it was a very early training that pushed you toward literature. That is,
you repressed your childhood, you rejected it like an enemy and as
hostile, first, starting at what age, was this a training? And on the other
hand, childhood returns nonetheless by bursts, even if they are
disgusting bursts, childhood still returns. So is
it necessary to have a nearly daily training or
a daily form of discipline? Deleuze: That happens all by itself,
I imagine, because… Childhood, childhood, childhood…
You know, it’s like everything, one has to distinguish a bad childhood
from a good childhood. I call… What is interesting there
[in childhood]? Well, besides the relations
with the father, the mother, and childhood memories such as,
my father, my mother, that doesn’tseemreally
interesting to me. Itseemsvery interesting and
quite rich for oneself, but not really interesting
to write about. There are other aspects of childhood…
I was talking about it earlier, a horse dies in the street before
automobiles were around. . It’s a way to rediscover the child
emotion… It’s a child, in fact… One ought to say, “The child
I once was is nothing, but I am not merely the child I have been,
I was a child among others, I was a child just like any other.” And it’s always under the heading
of any child whatsoever that I have seen what was interesting,
not under the heading, I was this particular child… Ok,
“I saw a horse die in the street before there were automobiles,” not
for me, but for those who saw this. Well, yes, very good, very good,
perfect, perfect… It’s a task of becoming writer,
perhaps a factor that resulted in Dostoyevski seeing it-there is a
wonderful page by Dostoyevski, I think, inCrimeand Punishment, about
the horse dying in the street- Nijinski the dancer saw it, Nietzsche
saw it… He was old already when Nietzsche saw it in Turin, I think… a horse
dying like that… Well, that’s fine… Parnet: So you saw the demonstrations
of the Popular Front? Deleuze: Yes, I saw demonstrations
of the Popular Front, yes, I saw my father struggling between his
honesty and his anti-Semitism… Yes, indeed… I have been a child… I
have always pleaded, that is, in the sense that people don’t understand the
importance of the indefinite article… A child is beaten, a horse is whipped, etc.
That doesn’t mean, that doesn’t mean, me, me… The indefinite article
has an extreme richness. Parnet: It’s the multiplicity,
we will return to that. Deleuze: It’s the multiplicity,
yes… yes. Parnet: Good… We are going
to pass on to “F” Deleuze: Let’s pass on to “”,F yes… Parnet: I chose the word “fidelity,”
fidelity in order to speak of friendship since you have been
friends for thirty years with Jean-Pierre Bamberger, a day
doesn’t go by without you calling one another or seeing
each other, it’s like a couple… In any case, you are faithful in friendship,
faithful to Félix Guattari, Jérome Lindon… I can name others:
with Elie [Sambar], Jean-Paul Manganaro, Pierre Chevalier-
Your friends are very important for you-Francois
Chatelet, Michel Foucault, who were your friends, you
paid homage to them as your friends with a very
great fidelity. So I would like to ask you if this
impression is correct, that fidelity is necessarily linked to
friendship for you, or the reverse? Deleuze: There is no fidelity…
Yes, it’s because we are in “F’… Parnet: Yes, and the “A” was already
taken, so it gets rather arbitrary… Deleuze: but it’s something other
than fidelity, friendship [is]… In order to be the friend of someone,
it’s a matter of perception. It’s the fact that… It’s not that
one has shared ideas, but what does it mean to have
something in common with someone? I am speaking
banalities here… You understand each other without
needing to explain yourselves. It’s not talking on the basis
of ideas in common, but you have a language in common,
or a pro-language in common. There are people, I cannot
understand a thing they say, even if they say things quite simple,
even if they say, “Pass me the salt,” I still have to ask myself,
“What are they saying?” On the other hand, there are others
who may speak to me about an extremely abstract subject,
and I may not agree with them, yet I understand everything, I understand
everything they say… Ok, that means that I have something
to say to them and they have something
to say to me, and it is not at all the community
of ideas which… In this, there is a mystery, this kind of
indeterminate basis that results in… Parnet: Whose turn is it?
It’s still your turn… Deleuze: Ah, yes?… So it’s true,
there is a huge mystery there, the fact of having something to say
to someone, getting along so well, without ideas in common, without
being able to attribute that to. I have a hypothesis, that each of us
is apt to seize a certain type- no one is ever able to seize all the types
at once- a certain type of charm, a perception of
charm. And what do I call “charm”? It’s not at all that I am trying to reduce
friendship to homosexuality, not at all, but rather a gesture
someone makes, a thought someone has, even before
the thought is meaningful, or someone’s gesture, someone’s
modesty. It’s these kinds of charm that extend all the way into life,
into its vital roots, and this is how someone becomes
the friend of another. If you take a person’s statements…
There are statements that can be spoken only if the person
saying them is vulgar, or disgusting, a kind of statement…
We’d have to look for examples, and we don’t have the time, but
everyone can find plenty of examples. For each of us, there
are statements, if you hear that statement, you say,
“My God, what am I hearing? What is this garbage?” One mustn’t
think that one can make a statement like that at random
and then take it back. There are statements
that can’t be… And inversely, for charm, there are
insignificant statements that possess such a charm, that demonstrate such a
delicacy, that you say immediately, “That person, he’s mine,” not in the sense
of property, but he is of my own kind, and I hope to be able to be of his own
kind. From there, friendship is born, friendship can be born. So, there is
indeed a question of perception, perceiving something that suits you
or that teaches you something, that opens you, that reveals
something to you. Parnet: Always deciphering signs. Deleuze: Yes, that’s it, that’s it. You
describe it quite well. That’s all there is, that’s all there is, someone who emits
signs, we receive them or we don’t. All friendships are
on this basis. To become sensitive to the signs emitted
by a person, that’s what I think explains… So in this way, one can spend hours with
someone without saying a word, or preferably, saying things that
are completely meaningless, saying things generally… It’s comical,
friendship is comic art. Parnet: There you are, you really like
the comedy of couples, likes [Flaubert’s]Bouvard er Pécuchet, orBeckett,
Mercier et Camier… Deleuze: Well, you know, with
Jean-Pierre, I tell myself that we are the pale reproduction of Mercier
and Camier, yes, yes, indeed… Jean-Pierre…, I am tired
all the time, I have fragile health, Jean-Pierre is a hypochondriac, and our
conversations really are like the kinds in Mercier er Camier. .. One says
to the other, “how are you doing?” The other answers, “I’m pumped,
but not to the max.” Now that’s such a charming reply that you have to
love someone who says that. “How are you doing?” “Like a cork
buffeted by the sea.” So these are excellent phrases. With
Felix, it’s different… With Felix, we wouldn’t be Mercier and Camier, we’d
be, I don’t know, Bouvard and Pécuchet, having thrown ourselves into all our work
together, we threw ourselves into our
encyclopedic endeavor, really… It’s the kind, “Hey, we have
the same hat brand, yes,” and then the attempt, the
encyclopedic attempt to construct a book that touches on all fields of knowledge…
With someone else, we’d exchange dialogue like Laurel and
Hardy. I don’t mean that one has to imitate these grand couples,
but that’s what friendship is. Great friends are Bouvard and Pecuchet,
they’re Camier and Mercier, they’re Laurel and Hardy, even if they had a fight and
broke up, that makes no difference. Obviously, in the question of
friendship, there is a kind of mystery… I mean that it’s closely
connected to philosophy. In “philosophy,” as everyone has noted,
there is the word “friend.” I mean that the philosopher
is not a wise man, first because that would
make everyone laugh. He presents himself, literally,
as a friend of wisdom, a friend. What the Greeks invented is not wisdom,
but the very strange idea, “friend of wisdom.” What could “friend
of wisdom” possibly mean? And that’s the problem of
“what is philosophy?”: what does “friend of
wisdom” mean? It means that he is not wise,
this friend of wisdom. So, obviously, there is
an easy interpretation, that he tends toward wisdom,
but that doesn’t work. What is it that inscribes friendship into
philosophy, and what kind of friendship? Do we have to… Is it in
relation to a friend? What did the Greeks think about this?
What does it mean, the friend of… I say it again, if one interprets the friend
to be someone who “tends toward. . This is someone who lays claim to
wisdom without being a wise man. And what does “lay claim
to wisdom” mean? It means there is another
who lays claims since there is never only one claimant.
If there is a suitor for a girl, it means there is more than one suitor,
the girl has several suitors. Parnet: Above all, you’re not promised,
not promised to wisdom… Deleuze: No, I’m not promised to wisdom,
I’m a claimant to wisdom. So, there are a number of claimants
to wisdom, and the Greeks, what did they invent? In my opinion,
it’s the invention of the Greeks: in their civilization, they invented the
phenomenon of claimants, that is… What they invented is the idea that there
is a rivalry of free men in all domains. Elsewhere that did not exist, the idea
of the rivalry of free men, but in Greece, yes: eloquence…
which is why they are so litigious, it’s the rivalry of free men, free men,
friends sue each other, fine… And the young boy or the woman has
suitors, Penelope’s suitors, ok… there are several suitors.
It’s the Greek phenomenon par excellence… For me,
it’s not the miracle, the Greek phenomenon is the
rivalry of free men. That explains the friend: Philosophy
lays claim, there is a rivalry toward something. Toward what?
So one can interpret… If you consider the history of philosophy,
there are a number of people for whom philosophy is linked to this
mystery of friendship… There are some for whom it is linked to
the mystery of “engagement”- which perhaps isn’t too distant-
Kierkegaard, the “broken engagement.” There would be no philosophy without the
broken engagement, his first love, Parnet: Regine… Deleuze: but as we said earlier, it’s
perhaps the rehearsal of the final one, so it’s perhaps the final love.
So in philosophy, perhaps the couple is important for
philosophy. It’s strange. I believe that we cannot know what
philosophy is until we have dealt with these questions: about the fiance(e),
about the friend, about what the friend is. That’s what is very interesting, it seems
to me… Well, rather interesting Parnet: And Blanchot, in
Friendship,had an idea… Deleuze: Ah, well, Blanchot,
that belongs… Blanchot and Mascolo are typical, they are
the two contemporary writers who, in relation to philosophy or even
in relation to thought, give the importance to friendship,
but in a very special sense. They don’t tell us, you have
to have a friend in order to be a philosopher
or to think. They maintain that friendship is a category
or a condition of the exercise of thought. That’s what is important.
It’s not the actual friend, it’s that friendship as a category
is a condition for thinking, hence the relationship Mascolo-Anthelme,
for example, hence Blanchot’s declarations about
friendship. It matters little if… So, I had the idea, rather, that
I adore distrusting the friend… Parnet: It’s the litigious
tendency of the Greeks… Deleuze: For me the friend is…
friendship is distrust.There is an hour…There’s a poem
the“ “ks very much
by a German poet…
“Between dog and wolf, the hour in which one must
distrust even the friend.” There is an hour in which one must
even distrust the friend. I distrust my Jean-Pierre like the plague,
I distrust my friends, but I distrust them with such gaiety
that they do no harm because whatever they might do to me, I find it
quite funny, all right, very… And there is such a conversation and
such a community between friends, or with the fiancé(e),
or with… But, if you will, one cannot
believe that all of these are events of little private affairs.
When one says “friendship,” when one says “the lost fiancé(e)),”
etc, it is a question of knowing under what conditions
thought can occur. For example, Proust judges that
friendship is zero, not just for him personally,
but for thought, that there is no thought in friendship.
On the other hand, there is a thought of jealous love,
as the condition of thought. Parnet: I would like to ask the final
little question about friends: itseemsthat with Foucault… Chatelet
is yet another case, since you were friends with him at the Liberation
and you did all your studies together. But with Foucault, you had a friendship
that was not a friendship of a couple, was not a friendship like you have
with Jean-Pierre or with Félix or with Elie [Sambar] or with Jérome
[Lindon] since we are talking again about others like in some film
by Claude Sautet. But your friendship with Foucault was very
profound, but still rather distant… It had some quality that was much more
formal for someone looking from outside. So, what was this friendship? Deleuze: Yes, Foucault was someone
who was very mysterious for me. Perhaps we met each other
too late in life, perhaps… Foucault, for me, was a
great regret for me, and since I had enormous respect for him,
I did not try to… To say precisely how I perceived him,
he was the rare case of a man who entered a room, and it changed,
it changed the atmosphere. Foucault is not simply a person…
Besides, none of us is simply a person. It was really as if an air,
like another gust of air, as if he were a special gust
of air, and things changed… There were no… It really
was atmospheric, there was a kind of an emanation,
there was a Foucault emanation like someone who has a glow.
So, having said this, Foucault corresponds to what
I mentioned earlier, that is, there was no need to
speak with him, we only talked about things
that makes us laugh. Having a friend is nearly saying, or rather
not saying, what makes us laugh today, finally, what makes us laugh
in all these catastrophes. But for me, Foucault is the memory of
someone… Oh yes, when I talk about a person’s charm, a person’s gestures,
Foucault’s gestures were astonishing… They were a bit like gestures of metal,
of dry wood, strange gestures, fascinating gestures, very beautiful.
Well… that’s enough. Finally, that people only have charm
through their folie, that’s what is difficult to
understand. It’s the side… The real charm of people is
the side of someone that shows that they’re
a bit unhinged, the side of them where they don’t really
know too well where they are at. That doesn’t mean they fall apart,
on the contrary, these are people who don’t fall apart.
But if you can’t grasp the small root or the small seed of madness in someone,
you can’t like them, you can’t like them. It’s really the side where they are
completely somewhere-where we all are, we all are-a bit crazy. But if you don’t
grasp someone’s small point of insanity, the point where-I am afraid or on the
contrary, I am quite happy- the point of madness is the very source
of their charm… Yes… Translated by Charles J. Stivale Deleuze: Which takes us to “G” Parnet: Well, back to business.
Here, this is not the point of insanity that constitutes your charm,
since we are going to talk about a very serious subject,
how you belong to the Left. Deleuze:Ah, yes, yes… Parnet: Thatseemsto amuse you,
which makes me very happy… So, as we saw, you came
from a bourgeois family with conservative political leanings,
and since the Liberation in 1945, you have been what is called a
Leftist. Well, let’s go more slowly: at the Liberation, many of your
friends, a lot of people around you who were students in philosophy,
joined the French Communist Party (PCF) or were very
connected to it… Deleuze: Yes, they all went through
that… there was only me… I think, I am not sure, but…
they all went through it. Parnet: So how is it that
you avoided that? Deleuze: Well, it’s not really
too complicated. All my friends went
through the PCF, and what prevented
me from doing so? [It was] because, I think…
I was very hard-working, and I didn’t like the meetings, meetings
where they talked interminably, I simply could never stand attending
them. And, being in the PCF at that period meant going to
cell meetings all the time. This was at the period-this is
a kind of reference point- the period of the “Stockholm
Appeal,” and all of my friends, people of great talent, spent
days on end getting signatures on this Stockholm petition,
from a priest, from anyone. They would walk all over with
this “Stockholm Appeal,” and I cannot even remember
what it was! An entire generation of Communists
got caught up in this, but that posed a problem for me
because I realized- a lot of friends who were Communist
historians, very talented, and I thought, my God, if they spent their
time finishing their dissertations, it would be so much more important
for the Communist Party, which would at least have
this work to be promoted, than getting signatures for
the Stockholm Appeal, some stupid petition for
peace, who knows what. I had no desire [to be
involved in] that because I was neither very talkative,
I didn’t talk much, so all this petition-signing
would have put me in a state of complete
timidity, complete panic. I never had anyone
sign anything. And even going out to sell
L’Humanite’ [the PCF newspaper], well, all that was for some
rather base reasons, doing that wasn’t even a
question for me, I had no desire at all
to join the Party. Parnet: But you still felt close
to their… commitments? Deleuze: The Party’s? No,
it never concerned me, something else that saved me,
you understand… The discussions
about Stalin, what they’ve discovered recently,
the horrors committed by Stalin, I mean, everyone has known
this for quite a while. And about revolutions going wrong,
that makes me laugh because, really, who are
they trying to kid? When the “New Philosophers”
discovered that revolutions turned out badly, you really
have to be a bit dimwitted, since they discovered
that with Stalin. So henceforth, the road was open,
everyone discovered it, for example, quite recently, about the Algerian
revolution-“Hey, it turned out badly because they fired
on students!” Who ever thought that a revolution
would go well? Who? Who? People say the English spared
themselves a revolution, but that’s absolutely false.
I mean all that… Today we live with such
a mystification… The English had a revolution,
they killed their king, etc., and who did they get?
They got Cromwell. And English Romanticism,
what is it? It’s along meditation on the
failure of the revolution. They didn’t wait for [André]
Glucksmann to reflect on the failure of
the Stalinian revolution. They had one, really,
they had one. And the Americans never
get discussed, but the Americans blew
their revolution, as badly as, if not worse,
than the Bolsheviks. Let’s not kid about it!
Americans when they… even before the War of
Independence-and “independence,” I say-they
presented themselves worse than… or better than a new nation,
they went beyond nations exactly like Marx spoke
later of the proletariat: they went beyond nations,
nations are finished! They bring forth a new people,
they have a true revolution. Just as the Marxists count on
universal proletariatization, the Americans counted on
universal immigration, the two sides of class struggle.
This is absolutely revolutionary, it’s the America of Jefferson, of
Thoreau, of Melville-Jefferson, Thoreau, Melville, all of them, it’s a
completely revolutionary America that announces the
“new man” exactly like the Bolshevik revolution
announced the “new man.” That revolution failed, all revolutions
fail, everybody knows this, and now people are pretending
to “rediscover” that. They really have to
be dimwitted. As a result, everyone is
getting lost in this, this contemporary revisionism.
There is [Francois] Furet who discovered
that the French Revolution wasn’t as great as had
been thought. Well, sure, fine, it failed too,
everybody knows that. The French Revolution
gave us Napoleon! People are making “discoveries”
that to me are not very impressive in their novelty. The British
Revolution resulted in Cromwell, the American Revolutions results
were worse, resulted in I don’t know… Reagan, which
does notseemany better to me. So, people are in such
a state of confusion… Even if revolutions fail, go badly,
that still never stopped people or prevented people from
becoming revolutionary. They are confusing two
absolutely different things: the situations in which the
only outcome for man is to become revolutionary…
And yet again, we have been talking about
that from the start: it’s the confusion between
becoming and history, and if people become
revolutionary… Yes, these historians” confusion…
Historians speak of the future of the revolution,
the future of revolutions, but that is not at all
the question. They can always go so far back
and try to demonstrate that if the future was bad,
it’s because the bad element was there
right from the start. The concrete problem
is how and why do people become
revolutionary? And fortunately historians can’t
prevent them from doing so. It’s obvious that
the South Africans are caught up in a
becoming-revolutionary, the Palestinians are caught up
in a becoming-revolutionary. Then, if someone tells me
afterwards, “oh you will see, when they have won, if their
revolution succeeds, it will go badly, etc.,” well, first of all,
they won’t be the same, there won’t be the same kinds
of problems, and then a new situation
will be created, once again becomings-revolutionary
will be unleashed. The business of men, it’s in
situations of tyranny, of oppression, effectively it’s to enter
into becomings-revolutionary because there is nothing
else to be done. And when someone tells us
afterwards, “oh, its not working out,” we aren’t talking about
the same thing, it’s as if we were speaking two
different languages- the future of history
and the current becomings of people are
not at all the same thing. Parnet: And this respect
for the “rights of man” which is so fashionable
these days, but it is not becoming-revolutionary,
quite the opposite. Deleuze: Listen, this respect
for the “rights of man”- this really makes me
want to say, almost to make some
odious statements. It belongs so much to
this weak thinking of the empty intellectual period
that we discussed earlier. It’s purely abstract, these “rights
of man.” What is this? It’s purely abstract,
completely empty. It’s exactly like what we were
saying earlier about desire, what I tried to
say about desire: desire does not consist of erecting
an object, of saying I desire this… We don’t desire, for example,
freedom, etc. It’s zero. Rather, we desire… we find
ourselves in situations. I choose the example of the
contemporary problems of Armenia, it’s very recent. What is this
situation, if I understand it well? One never knows, really,
you can correct me, but that would not
change it much. There is an enclave in another
Soviet republic, there is an Armenian
enclave, an Armenian republic so that’s the situation,
a first aspect. There is this massacre by
some sort of Turkish group… Parnet: The Azeris. Deleuze: …To the extent that
we don’t know anything right now because we haven’t really…
I guess that’s what it is… But here we have yet again this
massacre of Armenians. So in the enclave, the Armenians
retreat into their republic, I guess- you can correct all my mistakes-
and then, there is an earthquake. You’d think you were in something
written by the Marquis de Sade, these poor people go through the
worst ordeals inflicted by men, and when they reach shelter,
its nature that gets involved. When people say “the rights of
man,” it’s just intellectual discourse, for odious intellectuals at that, for
intellectuals who have no ideas. First, I have always noticed that
these declarations are never made as a function of the people
who are directly concerned, the Armenian society, the
Armenian communities, etc. Their problem is not “the rights
of man.” What is it? It’s… Now this is what I call an
assemblage. When I was saying that desire always comes
through assemblages, well, there’s an assemblage: what is
possible in order to suppress this enclave or to make it possible
for this enclave to survive? What is this enclave within all that?
It’s a question of territory, not one of “the rights of man,”
it’s the organization of territory. What do they think that Gorbachev
is going to make of this situation? What is he going to do so that this
Armenian enclave is not given over to Turks threatening
all around them? I would say that it’s not a
question of “rights of man,” it’s not a question
of justice, rather it’s a question
of jurisprudence. All the abominations that humans
undergo are cases, not elements of abstract rights.
These are abominable cases. You might tell me that these
cases resemble each other, but these are situations
of jurisprudence. This Armenian problem is
typically what can be called an extraordinarily complex
problem of jurisprudence. What can we do to save the
Armenians and to help them save themselves from this crazy
situation they find themselves in? Then, an earthquake occurs,
an earthquake, so there are all these
constructions that had not been built as well
as they should have been. All these are cases
of jurisprudence. To act for freedom, becoming
revolutionary, is to operate in jurisprudence when one
turns to the justice system. Justice doesn’t exist, “rights
of man” do not exist, it concerns jurisprudence… That’s
what the invention of law is. So those people who are quite
satisfied to recall and to recite “the rights of man,” they
are just dimwitted, it’s not a question of applying
“the rights of man,” but rather of inventing forms of jurisprudence,
so that for each case, this would no longer be possible.
It’s entirely different. If you like, I will give an example
that I like a lot because it’s the only way to help people
understand what jurisprudence is, and people understand
nothing… well, not all, but people don’t understand
it very well. I recall when smoking in
taxis became prohibited… People used to smoke in taxis…
So a time came when people were no longer permitted
to smoke in taxis. The first taxi drivers who forbid
people smoking in the taxis created quite a stir because there
were smokers who protested, and there was one, a lawyer…
I have always been fascinated by jurisprudence, by law… If
I hadn’t studied philosophy, I would have studied law, but
precisely not “the rights of man,” but rather I’d have studied
jurisprudence. That’s what life is; there are no “rights of man,”
only rights of life, and so, life unfolds case by case. So,
[back to] taxis: there is a guy who does not want to be prevented
from smoking in the taxi, so he sues the cab.
I remember this quite well because I got involved
in listening to the arguments leading up
to the decision. The cab lost the case-today it
would not have happened, even with the same kind of trial, the
cab driver would not have lost. But at the start, the cab lost,
and on what grounds? On the grounds that when someone
takes a taxi, he is renting it, so the taxi occupant is assimilated
to the [status of] renter or tenant, and the tenant has the right to
smoke in his rented location, he has the right of use and abuse.
It’s as if he were renting, it’s as if my landlady
told me, “No, you’re not going to smoke in
your place…” “Yes, yes, I am the tenant and I’m going to
smoke where I live.” The taxi is assimilated to being
a rolling apartment of which the customer is the
tenant. Ten years later, that [practice] has
become universalized, there are no taxis, or practically
none, in which one can smoke. On what grounds? The taxi is no longer assimilated
to renting an apartment, it has become assimilated instead
to being a form of public service. In a mode of public service, there
exists the right to forbid smoking. All this is jurisprudence… It’s no
longer a question of the right of this or of that, it’s a question of
situations, of situations that evolve, and fighting for freedom is really
to engage in jurisprudence. So, the example of Armenia
seems to me quite typical: the “rights of man,” you
referred to them, so what do they mean?
It means: The Turks don’t have the right to
massacre Armenians. Fine, the Turks don’t have the right to
massacre Armenians, and then? How far does that really get us?
It’s truly the feeble-minded or hypocrites, all this thought
about the “rights of man,” it’s zero philosophically, zero. The creation of law, it’s not the
declaration of the “rights of man.” Creation in law is jurisprudence,
and only that exists, and therefore fighting
for jurisprudence. Parnet: Well, we are going to return
to two things that are connected… Deleuze: That’s what being
on the Left is, I think, it’s creating the law,
creating the law… Parnet: We’ll return to this question,
this philosophy of the “rights of man” and this respect for the “rights
of man” now is like a repudiation of May ”68 and a
repudiation of Marxism as well. So, Marx, you must not have
repudiated him since you were never a Communist,
you can still make use of Marx who continues to be a referent
for you. And as for May ”68, you are one of the last persons
around who refers to May ”68, not saying that it was meaningless,
just schoolroom pranks, and that everyone how has changed. So I’d
like you to talk a bit about May ”68. Deleuze: It’s simple… but I think
you are being too harsh in saying that I am one of the rare
persons. There are a lot of people, if only the people around us,
and among our friends, there are very few… I know
no turn-coats… Parnet: But these are
your friends. Deleuze: Yes, but there are lots of
people that have made no repudiation. It’s almost a given,
the answer is quite simple: ”68 is the intrusion of becoming.
People have often wanted to view it as the reign of the imaginary,
but it’s not at all imaginary. It’s a gust of the real in its pure
state. It’s the real that arrives, and people don’t understand that,
they say, “What is this?” Real people, or people in their
reality, it was astounding, and just what were these people in
their reality? It’s 61 becoming. Now, there can be bad becomings,
and it’s what historians did not understand well, and that’s
understandable since I believe so strongly in the difference
between history and becomings… May ’68 was 61 becoming-
revolutionary without a revolutionary future. People can
always make fun of it after the fact, but there were phenomena of pure
becoming that took hold of people, even becomings-animal,
even becomings-children, becomings-women for men,
becomings-men for women. All this is in a very special domain
that we have been pouring over since the start of our questions,
that is, what is a becoming? In any event, May ”68 is
the intrusion of becoming. Parnet: Did you have 61 becoming-
revolutionary at that moment? Deleuze: A becoming-revolutionary?
Yes, although your very smile suggests that this is a form of
mockery. So, tell me instead: what does it mean to be
de gauche, on the Left?… It’s a bit more discreet than
“becoming-revolutionary.” Parnet: I wouldn’t say that, I would like to pose the
question differently… Deleuze: Yes? Parnet: It’s that between your civic
duty as a Leftist who votes and all that and your
becoming-revolutionary, since you are a Leftist,
how do you manage, and what does it mean for
you to be on the Left? Deleuze: Yes… well, I think that
no leftist government exists, which is not astonishing, our government that should
be on the left but isn’t. It’s not that there are no differences
between governments. The best one can hope for is
a government favorable to certain claims and demands
from the Left. But a leftist government
does not exist since being on the Left has
nothing to do with governments. So if one asked me, how to
define being on the Left? In two ways: first, it’s a
matter of perception. This matter of perception
means this: what would not being on the Left
mean? Not being on the Left… It’s a little like a postal address,
extending outward from a person: the street where you are,
the city, the country, other countries farther
and farther away. It starts from the self, and to the
extent that one is privileged, living in a rich country,
one might ask, what can we do to make
this situation last? One senses that
dangers exist, that it might not last,
it’s all so crazy, so what might be done for it to last?
So someone might say, “Oh la la, the Chinese,
they are far away, what can we do so that
Europe lasts?” etc. Being on the Left is the opposite:
it’s perceiving… And people say the Japanese
perceive like that, not like us… they perceive first the periphery,
they would say the world, the continent-let’s say Europe-
France, etc, rue de Bizerte, me: it’s a phenomenon of perception,
perceiving just the horizon, perceiving on the horizon. Parnet: Well, the Japanese
aren’t really so Leftist… Deleuze: It’s not from
generosity Your objection isn’t,
isn’t… adequate. On the basis of that [their
perception], they’re Leftist, on the basis of their sense
of address, postal address. First, you see the horizon. And
you know that it cannot last, that it’s not possible,
[the fact that] These millions of people
are starving to death, it just can’t last, it might go on a
hundred years, one never knows, but there’s no point in kidding
about this absolute injustice. It’s not a matter of morality,
but of perception itself. So if you start with the edges, that’s
what being on the Left means, Thus by knowing, and
advocating, in a sense… and thinking that these are problems
that must be dealt with. It’s not saying simply that the
birth rate has to be reduced, which is just another way of keeping
the privileges for Europe, it’s not that. [Being on the Left] is
really finding arrangements, finding worldwide assemblages
that would… Being on the Left is knowing that
Third World problems are closer to us than problems
in our neighborhoods. So it’s really a matter
of perception, more than a question
of “well-meaning souls,” that’s what being on the
Left is for me, first of all. And second, being on
the Left is being by nature, or rather becoming-it’s a
problem of becomings- of never ceasing to
become minoritarian. That is, the Left is never
of the majority as Left, and for a very simple reason: the
majority is something that presupposes-even when
one votes- it’s not the simply a greater quantity
[of people] that vote for something, but the majority presupposes
a standard. In the West, the standard that every
majority presupposes is: 1) male, 2) adult 3) heterosexual,
4) city dweller… Ezra Pound, Joyce say things
like that, it was perfect. That’s what the standard is. So,
the majority by its nature will go toward whomever or
whatever aggregate, at a particular moment, will
realize this standard, that is, the supposed image of the urban,
heterosexual, adult male such that a majority, at the limit, is never
anyone, it’s an empty standard. Simply, a maximum of persons
recognize themselves in this empty standard, but in itself,
the standard is empty: male, heterosexual, etc. So, women
will make their mark either by intervening in this majority or
in the secondary minorities according to groupings in
which they are placed according to this standard. But
alongside that, what is there? There are all the becomings that
are minority-becomings. I mean, women, it’s not a given,
they are not women by nature. Women have a becoming-woman;
and so, if women have a becoming-woman, men have a
becoming-woman as well. We were talking earlier about
becomings-animal. Children have their own becoming-
child. They are not children by nature. All these becomings,
that’s what the minorities are… Parnet: Well, men cannot become-
men, and that’s tough! Deleuze: No, that’s a majoritarian
standard, heterosexual, adult, male. He has no becoming.
He can become woman, and then he enters into
minoritarian processes. The Left is the aggregate
of processes of minoritarian becomings.
So, I can say quite literally, the majority is no one,
the minority is everyone, and that’s what being on the
Left is: knowing that the minority
is everyone and that it’s there that phenomena
of becomings occur. That’s why, all thinkers,
regardless, they have doubts concerning
democracy, concerning what we call elections.
All that is well known. Parnet: “H” is “History of
Philosophy.” It is usually said that in your works, the first phase is
devoted to the history of philosophy. In 1952, you write a study on David
Hume, followed by works on Nietzsche, Kant, Bergson, Spinoza.
Someone who didn’t know you and took you for an annotator would
be very surprised byLogicof Senseand Difference and Repetition,
and of course, by
Anti-Oedipus and
A Thousand Plateaus.
From these, it wouldseemthat
there is a Mr. Hyde hidden within a Dr. Jekyll. And when everyone
was explicating Marx, you dove into Nietzsche, and when everyone felt
they had to read Reich, you were reading Spinoza, with the famous
question, “what can a body do?” Today, in 1988, you return to
Leibniz. So what did you enjoy and still enjoy in the history
of philosophy? Deleuze: It’s a complicated
matter because this history of philosophy
encompasses philosophy itself. I assume that a lot of people
think of philosophy as being something quite abstract and a
bit for specialists. But I believe strongly that philosophy
has nothing to do with specialists, it’s not a specialization, or is so only
in the way that music or painting is. So necessarily, I try to pose
the problem differently. So when people think that
philosophy is abstract, the history of philosophy is abstract
in the second degree since it does not even consist of
talking about abstract ideas, but of forming abstract ideas
about abstract ideas. But there is another way…
For me, the history of philosophy has always
been something else. Here I return to painting.
I think of the discussions, in the letters from Van Gogh,
one finds the discussions about portraiture or landscapes:
am I going to do portraits? I have to return to portraits… They
attach great importance to that, in their conversations, in their
letters. Portrait or landscape, it’s not the same, it’s not
the same problem. For me, the history of philosophy is, as in
painting, a kind of art of the portrait. One creates the philosopher’s
portrait, but a philosophical portrait of a philosopher. I would say just
as well a “spiritist” portait, that is, a mental or spiritual portrait,
it’s a spiritual portrait, such that it’s an activity that belongs
fully within philosophy itself, just as portraiture
belongs to painting. So suddenly, by the very fact
that I refer to painters, I am making some progress. If I
return to painters like Van Gogh or Gauguin, it’s because
something in their work has an enormous
effect on me, the kind of immense respect or even
fear and panic, not merely respect, that they evince when
faced with color, when faced with engaging
with color. It is particularly enjoyable that the
two painters that I invoke, and limiting myself to them, are
among the greatest colorists ever. But if we refer to the history of their
works, they undertake the use of color only with great fearful
hesitation, they were frightened. Throughout the beginning of their
careers, they used earthen colors, not at all striking… Why? Not
because they don’t have any interest, but because they did
not yet dare to engage with color. What could be more moving than
this? It’s as if, literally, they did not yet judge themselves
worthy of color, not yet able to engage with color and
really do painting. It took them years and years before
daring to engage with color. Once they feel that they are
able to engage with color, well, then, it results in the works
that everyone knows. When you see the point
that they reach, one has to reflect on this immense
respect, this immense slowness to undertake that work. Something
like color for a painter is something that can take him/her into
madness, into insanity, thus it is something quite difficult, taking
years to dare to come close to it. So, it’s not at all that I am
particularly modest, but it strikes me as being quite
shocking, it would be shocking if there were philosophers
who simply said, “Hey, I’m going into
philosophy now, going to do my own philosophy,
yes, I have my philosophy.” These are statements made
by the dimwitted- doing one’s philosophy-because
philosophy is like color. So, before entering
into philosophy, one has to take so many,
so many precautions, I would say, before conquering
the “philosophical color” -and the philosophical color
is the concept. Before knowing how to invent
concepts or to succeed in doing so, an enormous amount of
work is necessary. I believe that the history of
philosophy is this slow modesty, taking a long time doing portraits,
one has to do portraits. It’s as if a novelist were to tell us,
“well, I write novels, but you know, I never read them in order never
to compromise my inspiration. Dostoyevsky, nope,
don’t know him.” I’ve heard young novelists make
such frightening statements… which comes down to saying,
I don’t need to work. So, given that whatever
one does, you have to work for along time
before engaging with something, the history of philosophy
has this role that is not only preparatory, it
succeeds quite well by itself. It is the art of portraiture
in so far as it allows one to reach
toward something. At this point, all this is becoming
a bit mysterious… We need to be
more precise, you have to force me
to be more precise, I don’t know, by some other
little question because… Or else, I can continue
like this. What happens when one does
the history of philosophy? Do you have something else
to ask me about this? Parnet: No, well, the usefulness of
the history of philosophy for you, we see it clearly, you just explained
it. But the usefulness of history of philosophy for people in general,
since you don’t know… since you say that you do not want
to talk about the specialization of philosophy, that philosophy also
is destined for non-philosophers. Deleuze: This is very simple.
You can only understand what philosophy is-that is,
the extent to which it is no more an abstract thing than a
painting or a musical work- it’s not at all abstract, and one can
understand that only through the history of philosophy, provided
that one conceives of it, itseemsto me, if I dare put it
this way, provided that one conceives of it in
the proper manner. What might that be?
One thing is certain to me: a philosopher is not someone who
contemplates or even reflects. A philosopher is someone
who creates, simply that he creates a
very special kind of thing. He creates concepts. Concepts don’t exist ready-made,
they are not located in the sky, they are not stars that
one gazes at in the sky. You have to create,
fabricate concepts. So there are a thousand questions,
here we are almost lost since so many questions emerge:
Why is it useful? Why create concepts, and what
is that exactly, a concept? But let’s drop this for the moment,
let’s drop this. I mean… Let’s take an example: if I write a
book about Plato, people know well that Plato created a concept that
did not exist before him, translated generally as “Idea,”
with a capital I. And what he calls an
Idea is not at all what other philosophers
call an idea. It’s truly a Platonic concept
to the point that if someone uses this concept in a manner
similar to this term, then people tend to say, “This
is a Platonic philosopher.” But I mean, concretely,
what does this mean? One should always ask oneself
what doing philosophy means… If not, one just shouldn’t do
philosophy. One should really ask,
what is it? As if it were a dog, what is an idea?
A dog, I can define what an idea is, for Plato.
So, here, I am already doing history
of philosophy. I fly to explain this to people,
you don’t need a professor, itseemsto me, you
can readily understand… I think that what he calls
an Idea is a thing that wouldn’t be something else, that is,
that would only be what it is… Now, here, thatseemsabstract,
as I was saying earlier, one mustn’t be abstract. A thing
that’s only what it is, that’s abstract. But no, no, no, let’s choose an
example that is not found in Plato: a mother, a mom,
this is a mother, but she is not only a mother…
I mean, she is, for example, a wife, and she is herself a
daughter of a mother. Let us imagine a mother who
might only be a mother… It matters little if such a
thing exists or not… For example, is the Virgin Mary,
whom Plato didn’t know, is she a mother and only mother?
No matter if it exists or not, a mother that would be nothing
other than mother, who would not be in her own turn
the daughter of another mother, it’s this that we then have to
call “mother Idea,” i.e. a thing that is
only what it is. This is what Plato meant more
or less when he said only justice is just, because only
justice is nothing other than just. And for me, that becomes quite
simple. An Idea… of course, Plato doesn’t stop there, but
his departure point is, let us imagine particular entities
that are only what they are, we call them “Ideas.” So he created a veritable concept,
this concept did not exist before, the Idea of the thing as pure…
It’s purity that defines the Idea. But this still remains abstract,
and why is that? If we proceed to read
through Plato, that’s how everything
becomes concrete. Plato doesn’t proceed
haphazardly, he didn’t create this concept
of Idea by chance. He found himself in a given
situation: that whatever happens, in a very concrete situation,
whatever happens, or whatever might be a given
therein, there are rivals. That is, there are people
who say: for this thing, I’m the best example of it.
For example, Plato gave a definition
of the politician, and he says, that is, with
an initial definition, that the politician is the pastor of
men, who takes care of people. As a result, lots of people step
forward to say, “if that’s the case, then I am the politician,
I am the pastor of men”- the merchant can say that, the
shepherd who nourishes, the doctor who heals-can all say,
“I am the true pastor of men.” In other words, there are rivals.
So, with that, things start to appear a bit
more concrete. I maintain that a philosopher creates
concepts, for example, the Idea, the thing in so far
as it is pure. The reader doesn’t understand
immediately why or what it’s about, or why one would need to
create such a concept. If he/she continues and
reflects on the reading, he/she understands the following
reason: there are all sorts of rivals who present themselves as
claimants for things, and that the problem for Plato is not at all,
what is the Idea? That way, things would just
remain abstract. Rather, it’s how to select
the claimants, how to discover among them
which one is the valid one. It’s the Idea, that is, the thing
in a pure state, that will permit
this selection, that will select the claimant
who is closest to it. This allows us to move forward
a bit since I would say, every concept, e.g. the Idea,
refers to a problem… In this case, the problem is
how to select the claimants. If you do philosophy abstractly,
you do not even see the problem, but if one reaches
this problem… One might wonder why the problem
isn’t stated clearly by a philosopher since it certainly exists in his work,
we find it, it’s there, it smacks you in the face
in some ways. And it’s because one can’t
do everything at once. The philosopher’s task is already
that of exposing the concepts that she/he’s in the process
of creating, so she/he can’t expose the
problems on top of that, or at least one can discover
these problems only through the concepts
being created. If you haven’t found the problem to
which a concept corresponds, everything stays abstract.
If you’ve found the problem, everything becomes concrete.
That’s why in Plato, there are constantly these
claimants, these rivals. So I can add-suddenly this
[topic] is taking a turn, it goes without saying-why does
this occur in the Greek city, and why is it Plato who invents
this problem? You see, the problem is how to select
claimants, and the concept- that’s what philosophy is, the
problem and the concept- the concept is the Idea
that is supposed to provide the means of
selecting the claimants, however that would occur,
it matters little. But why did this problem
and this concept take form in the
Greek milieu? It begins with the
Greeks because it’s a typically Greek problem,
of the democratic, Greek city. Even if Plato did not accept the
democratic character of the city, it’s a problem of the
democratic city. For its in the democratic city
that, for example, a magistracy is an
object of pretension… There are claimants, I pose my
candidacy for a particular function. In an imperial formation, as
they exist in the Greek era, there are functionaries named
by the emperor, there is not at all
this rivalry. The Athenian city is this
rivalry of claimants, it was already there with Ulysses,
the suitors for Penelope, there is an entire milieu
of Greek problems. It’s a civilization in which the
confrontation of rivals constantly appears: that’s why
they invented gymnastics, they invent Olympic games,
they invent- they are litigious, no one is
as litigious as a Greek- they invent legal procedures,
it’s the same thing, legal proceedings… they are
claimants. You understand? And in philosophy, there are
claimants as well… Plato’s struggle against
the Sophists. He believed that the Sophists
were claimants for something to which
they had no right. What would define the right or
the non-right of a claimant? That’s also a problem
that’s very… And all this is as amusing
as a novel. We know that there are great novels
in which claimants confront each other before the tribunal.
It’s something different, but in philosophy, there are
two things at once: the creation of a concept,
and the creation of a concept always occurs as a function
of a problem. If one has not found
the problem, one cannot understand philosophy,
philosophy remains abstract. I take another example… people
usually don’t see to what problem that corresponds,
they don’t see problems, because problems usually
are a bit hidden, somewhat stated but
somewhat hidden, and to engage in the
history of philosophy is to restore these problems
and, through this, to discover what’s innovative
in these concepts. Whereas bad history of philosophy
links up concepts as if they appeared to go without saying,
as if they weren’t created, so there tends to be total ignorance
about the problems to which… I take a final example
quickly… Deleuze: So here’s a
second example that’s totally different for
the sake of diversity. Much later, there arrives a
philosopher called Leibniz who creates and invents an
extraordinary concept to which he gives the
name, monad. He chooses a technical,
complicated name, monad. And in fact, there is always
something a bit crazy in a concept… this mother who would only be
mother, in the other case, a pure idea… there is something
there that’s a bit crazy. Leibniz’s monad designated a
subject, somebody, you or me, in so far as he/she expresses
the totality of the world, and in expressing the
totality of the world, he/she only expresses clearly
a tiny region of the world, one’s territory-we’ve already
spoken about territory- one’s territory, or what Leibniz
calls his “department.” So a subjective unity that expresses
the entire world, but that only clearly expresses a region,
a “department” of the world- this is what he called a monad.
It’s a concept, Leibniz created it, this concept did not exist
before him. But, one might ask, “Why did he
create it? It’s quite lovely, but why say that rather
than something else?” One has to find the problem. And
it’s not that he hides the problem… If you don’t look a bit,
you won’t find it. That’s the charm of reading
philosophy, as charming or amusing as reading a good book, or looking
at paintings. It’s amazing. What do you discover when
you read him? Indeed, he didn’t create the “monad”
for the pleasure of it. There is another reason: Leibniz
poses a problem, which is what? Specifically that everything in
the world only exists as folded. That’s why I wrote a book on
Leibniz called TheFold.He saw the world as an aggregate
of things folded within each other. Let’s step back a bit: why did
he see the world like this? What is happening? Just as for
Plato earlier, perhaps the answer is: at that period, what. .. Were things
being folded more than they are now’.7 Well, we
don’t have the time. What counts is this idea of
a world that is folded, but everything is
the fold of a fold, you can never reach something
that is completely unfolded. And matter is constituted by folds
overlapping back onto it, and things of the mind, perceptions,
feelings, are folded into the soul. It’s precisely because
perceptions, feelings, ideas are folded into a soul
that [Leibniz] Constructed this concept of a soul
that expresses the entire world, that is, in which he discovers
the entire world to be folded. One almost wants
to ask, What is a bad philosopher,
or a great philosopher? The bad one creates
no concepts, is someone who uses
ready-made ideas. So he puts forth opinions then
and does not do philosophy… He says, “There, that’s
what I think.” Well, We know many like that, still today
they have always been around. Opinions… Well, he does not
invent concepts, and he poses-in the true sense of the
word-he poses no problems. So, to do history of philosophy
is this long apprenticeship in which one learns, or one
is truly an apprentice in this double domain, the
constitution of problems and the creation of concepts. And there
is no… What is it that kills, what makes it possible for thought
to be idiotic, dimwitted, etc.? Some people talk, but
we never know what problems they’re
talking about. Not only do they create no concepts
while busy spouting opinions, but moreover, we don’t know what
problems they’re talking about. I mean, at most, one
knows the questions, but if I say, Does God exist?
That doesn’t pose any problem. Does God exist? I haven’t
stated the problem, What is the problem?
Why do I ask that question? What is the problem behind that?
So, people are quite ready to ask the question: ah, do
I believe in God or don’t I? Well, everyone could care less
who believes in God or who doesn’t. What counts is why
he says that, that is, to what problem asking that
question corresponds and what concept he is
going to fabricate, what God concept he is
going to fabricate. If you have neither a concept nor a
problem, you remain in stupidity, that’s it, you aren’t
doing philosophy. All this is to express the extent to
which philosophy is amusing. So that’s what doing
history of philosophy is -to discover… It’s not
all that different from what you do when you find
yourself in front of a great painting or listening
to a musical work. Parnet: Precisely, returning to
Gauguin and Van Gogh since you evoked their quaking and
hesitation from fear before taking on color, what happened to
you when you passed from history of philosophy to doing
your own philosophy? Deleuze: This is what
happened: no doubt, the history of philosophy gave
me the chance to learn things, I mean, I felt more capable
of moving toward what color is in philosophy,
that is… But why does this
come up at all, I mean, why does philosophy
not cease to exist, why do we still have
philosophy today? Because there is always an
occasion to create concepts. So, today this notion of
creation of concepts is taken over by the
media, publicity; they say you can create
concepts, with computers, an entire language stolen from
philosophy for “communication,” one has to be “creative,”
“create concepts,” but what they call “concepts,” what
they call “to create,” is truly comic, there’s no need to insist on it. That
still remains philosophy’s task. There is still a place today… I never
was affected by people who proclaim the death of philosophy,
getting beyond philosophy, it’s philosophers who say such
complicated things as that. All that never affected me or
concerned me because I tell myself, ok, what could
all that mean? As long as there’s a need to create
concepts, there will be philosophy since that’s the definition of
philosophy, creating concepts, not expecting them to be ready-
made-we have to create them, and we create them as a function of
problems. Well, problems evolve, so there is still a place… Certainly,
one can be Platonist, one can be Leibnizian, today even,
in 1989, one can be Kantian. What does that mean exactly?
It means that one judges that certain problems-not all, no doubt
-posed by Plato remain valid provided one makes certain
transformations, and then, one is Platonist since one still has
use for Platonist concepts. If we pose problems of a
completely different nature… in my opinion, there is not
a single example among the great philosophers of one who
does not have something to say about the great
problems we face today. But doing philosophy is
creating new concepts as a function of problems
that arise today. The final aspect of this extremely
lengthy question would obviously be, ok, but what is
the evolution of problems, what guarantees it? I could always
say historical, social forces, sure, fine, but there is something deeper.
It’s all very mysterious, and we don’t have
time to pursue it, but I believe in a kind of
becoming of thought, evolution of thought
that results not only in no longer posing
the same problems, but also they are no longer
posed in the same way. A problem can be posed in several
successive ways, and that has an urgent appeal,
like a huge gust of wind, a call for the necessity always to
create and re-create new concepts. So history of philosophy cannot be
reduced to sociological influence, or to another influence… There is
an entire becoming of thought, something very mysterious
that we would have to succeed in defining, but that
causes us perhaps no longer to think in the same way
as a hundred years ago. So, ok, I think of new thought
processes, of ellipses of thought. Thought has its history, there is
a history of pure thought, so that’s what history of
philosophy is for me. It has always had only one function,
in my opinion, philosophy, so there’s no need to get
beyond it, as it has its function. Deleuze: So, yes, did you
want to say something? Parnet: Yes, how does a
problem evolve through time? Deleuze: That must… I don’t know,
that must vary… Parnet: Since thought evolves… Deleuze: It probably varies
according to each case. I choose… Here again, another example
will have to suffice: back in the seventeenth century, for
most of the great philosophers, what was their negative
concern? Their negative concern was
preventing error. It was a matter of warding off the
dangers of error. In other words, the negative of thought is
that the mind might err, to prevent the mind from erring,
how to avoid falling into error. Then there was a long, gradual
slide, and in the eighteenth century, a different problem is born.
It might appear to be the same, but it is not
at all the same: no longer denouncing error,
but denouncing illusions, the idea that the mind falls into and
even is surrounded by illusions, and furthermore could even
produce them itself, not only falling into error, but
it might produce illusions. So this is the whole movement
in the eighteenth century, of the eighteenth
century philosophers, the denunciation of superstition, etc.
So, while it might appear to be somewhat similar to the
seventeenth century, in fact something completely
new is being born. One might say that that
it’s due to social causes, but there is also a secret
history of thought that would be a passionate
subject to pursue. The question is no longer how to
avoid falling into error, but how to succeed in dissipating the illusions
by which the mind is surrounded. Then, in the nineteenth century-I
am deliberately stating things in an extremely simple and rudimentary
way-so in the nineteenth century, what happens? It’s as if
things have slid farther, it does not explode
completely, rather it’s more and more
how to avoid . illusion? No, it’s not that the mind…
it’s that men, as spiritual creatures, never
stop saying inanities, which is not the same
thing as illusion, it’s not falling into illusion: how to
ward offbetise,inanities’? That appears clearly in [work by]
people on the border of philosophy: Flaubert is at the border of
philosophy and the problem of the bêtise, Baudelaire and
the problem of the bêtise, all that is no longer the
same thing as illusion, etc. And there again, one can say it’s
connected to social evolution, for example, the evolution of the
bourgeoisie in the 19th century that turned the problem of the bêtise
into an urgent problem. Fine, but there is also something
deeper in this evolution, in this kind of history of problems
that thought confronts, and every time one
poses a problem, there are new concepts
that appear such that, if we understand the history of
philosophy this way- creation of concepts,
constitution of problems, problems being more or less hidden,
so we have to discover them- we see that philosophy
has strictly nothing to do with the true or the false. Looking
for the truth means nothing. If it is a question of creating
concepts, what does that mean? Creating concepts and constituting
problems are not a question of truth or falsehood,
it’s a matter of meaning… A problem, well, there has
to be a meaning… There are problems that
have no sense, yes? There are problems
that make sense, so doing philosophy is to constitute
problems that make sense and create concepts that cause
us to advance toward the understanding and
solution of problems. Parnet: I would like to
return to two questions that concern you
particularly… Deleuze: Uh, well, it seemed to me
that I had very well… Yes? Yes? Parnet: When you once again
undertook doing history of philosophy with Leibniz last year,
was it in the same way as you did 20 years earlier, that is,
before you had produced your own philosophy?
Was it in the same way’.7 Deleuze: No, certainly not,
certainly not because before, I used the history of philosophy as a
kind of indispensable apprenticeship where I was looking for the
concepts of others, that is, of great philosophers, and the
problems they answered to. Whereas, in the book
on Leibniz- and there’s nothing vain in
what I am about to say- I mixed in problems from the
20th century, that might be my own problems,
with those posed by Leibniz, given that I am persuaded of
the actuality of philosophers. If you prefer, what does
it mean to create like a great philosopher
would? Creating like him is not necessarily
to be his disciple. To create like him means to
carry on with his task, to create concepts in relation to
what he created, and pose problems in relation to and in evolution
with what he created. By working on Leibniz, I was more
in this path, whereas in the first books on the history of philosophy,
I was in the “pre-color” stage. Parnet: And you stated about
your work on Spinoza, and we could apply it to Nietzsche, that
you focused therein on the rather hidden area and accursed area of
philosophy. What did you mean? Deleuze: That, well, perhaps we will
have a chance to return to this. For me… We may be able to return
to this. For me, this hidden area means those thinkers who
rejected all transcendence. So rejecting all transcendence,
we would have to define this, and perhaps we will have a chance
to return to transcendence. It refers to those authors
who reject all universals, that is, the idea of concepts
having universal values, and all transcendence,
that is, any agency that goes beyond the
earth and men. Parnet: To return to something
you said earlier… Deleuze: They are authors
of immanence. Parnet: Your books on Nietzsche or
on Spinoza are landmarks, that is, you are known for your books
on Spinoza and Nietzsche, yet one cannot say that you are a
Nietzschean or a Spinozan, like one could call someone a
Platonist or a Nietzschean. You passed through all that, even
when you used them during your apprenticeship, and you
were already Deleuzian. One cannot say that
you are Spinozan. Deleuze: You have given me
an enormous compliment, that is, if it’s true, that makes
me very happy… Parnet: And did you feel…? Deleuze: What I always hoped for,
I think indeed that, whether my work was good or bad,
and I knew I could fail, but I think that I always was trying to pose
problems for my own purposes, and to create concepts for my own
purposes. Almost, at the limit, I would have wanted a kind of
quantification of philosophy. That is, each philosopher would be
attributed a kind of magic number corresponding to the number of
concepts he really created, referring to problems, etc. -so there
would be these magic numbers, well, Descartes, Hegel, Leibniz.
I find that an interesting idea. So, obviously, I don’t dare
place myself there, but perhaps I would have had
a small magic number, specifically for having created
concepts as a function of problems. Simply, I tell myself, my point
of honor is that, whatever the kind of concept
I tried to create, I can state what problem the
concept corresponded to. Otherwise, it would have
all been empty chatter. Parnet: And to finish with
the final question, but I absolutely want to ask it…
It’s a bit… aggressive… At the time when-around the
period of 1968, even before-when everyone, everyone was explicating
Marx, everyone was reading Reich, wasn’t it a rather provocative act
to turn toward Nietzsche, who was really suspected of
fascism in those years, and to talk about Spinoza
and the body, when everyone was making
us sick talking about Reich? Didn’t the history of philosophy
serve a bit as a dare… Parnet: a bit of provocation
for you? Deleuze: No, but this is entirely
connected to what we have been discussing all along,
its nearly the same question because what I was
looking for, even what I was looking
for with Félix, was this kind of truly immanent
dimension of the unconscious. When, for example, all of
psychoanalysis is entirely full of transcendental
elements-the law, the father, the mother-all that, whereas
a field of immanence that would allow me
to define the unconscious, that was the domain
perhaps in which Spinoza could go the farthest,
along the path where no one had ever been,
and perhaps where Nietzsche could also go the
farthest that anyone had gone. So itseemsit was not so much
provocation, but it was because Spinoza and Nietzsche form
in philosophy perhaps the greatest liberation of thought,
almost in the sense of an explosive, and perhaps the most
unusual concepts, because their problems were
somewhat accursed problems, that people did not dare pose,
certainly at Spinoza’s time, but even during
Nietzsche’s… Problems that people did
not dare consider, what people call “burning
problems”… Parnet: Well we can go on since
you don’t want to answer further. Deleuze: Eh. .
So are we at “K” ? Parnet: No, we are at “I. Deleuze:Ah, yes… Parnet: “I as in Idea,” no longer in the Platonist “Idea”
that you were just referring to. Its first… Rather than preparing
an inventory of theories, you’ve always been passionate
about philosophers” ideas, just as you have
shown us, brilliantly, about the ideas of thinkers in
cinema, that is, the directors, about the ideas of artists
in painting. Rather than explications
and commentary, you always prefer the “idea,” your
own “idea” and the “ideas” of others. So why, for you, does the “idea”
preside over everything else? Deleuze: Ok, you are quite right,
the “idea” as I use it- no longer concerning Plato-
traverses all creative activities… Creating means having an idea. But
it’s quite difficult to have an idea, there are people-not at all
to be scorned for this- who go through life without
ever having an idea. And having an idea,
it’s in every domain, I don’t see any domain in which a
place for having ideas is missing, but it’s rare, indeed
it’s a ball to have an idea, it doesn’t happen
every day. So… a painter has no fewer
ideas than a philosopher, just not the same kind of ideas.
One has to ask therefore, if we reflect on different
human activities, in what form does an idea occur in
a particular case or another? In philosophy, at least,
we just considered this: the idea in philosophy occurs
in the form of concepts. There is the creation of concepts.
There is no discovery of concepts, one doesn’t discover concepts,
one creates them. There is as much creation in a
philosophy as in a painting or in a musical composition. As for
others, well, they have ideas… I am struck by what we call
a film director from the moment he
becomes important- there are lots of directors who have
never had the slightest idea. But ideas are quite haunting,
they are like things that come, then go, and disappear, and
take on diverse forms, but through these diverse forms,
as varied as they may be, they are still recognizable. So,
to state things quite simply, I take a cinema author
at random like Minelli. One can say that throughout his
entire oeuvre… Well, not all of it, this doesn’t cover
everything, but I choose this example
because it’s easy… One can say that here is someone
who asks himself, it seems to me: what does it mean exactly
that people dream? They dream… It’s been discussed a
lot, it’s a platitude, one could say… So, people dream at a
particular moment. But Minelli asks a very
strange question, and it belongs only to him
as far as I know: “what does it mean to be caught up
in someone else’s dream?” And it goes from the comic or
the tragic to the abominable. What does it mean to be caught, for
example, in a young girl’s dream? Being caught in someone else’s
dream can produce some truly awful things, to be the
prisoner of someone’s dream, this is possibly horror
in its pure state. So, sometimes in Minelli’s work,
he offers a dream, asking “what does it mean to be
caught in the nightmare of war?” and that produced the admirable
FourHorsemen of the Apocalypse, in which he doesn’t envisage war as
war-that wouldn’t be Minelli’s work. He envisages war as
an enormous nightmare. What does it mean to be
caught in a nightmare? What does it mean to be caught
in a young girl’s dream? That results in musical comedies,
in famous musical comedies, notably in which Fred Astaire or
Gene Kelly-I’m not sure which- escapes from tigresses and black
panthers, it’s unclear to me, and that’s what it means to be
caught in someone’s dream. And there, that’s
an “idea.” In short…and yet it’s not a concept.
Minelli, if he thought up concepts, he would be doing philosophy,
[but] he’s into movie-making. We almost have to distinguish three
dimensions, three kinds of things… so strong that they get
mixed up constantly… One would have to talk about… And
here, that’s where I am right now, it’s my future work that
I am explaining, it’s really what
I would like to do now, to consider this, to fly to get
a clear sense of all this: 1) There are concepts that are truly
invented by philosophy; 2) There are what one
can call percepts, and they are in the domain of art.
So what are percepts’.7 I believe that an artist is someone
who creates percepts. So why use this bizarre word,
percept, rather than perception? Well, precisely because percepts
are not perceptions… What does a man of letters,
a writer want, a novelist, I think that he wants to be able to
construct aggregates of perceptions and sensations that outlive
those who experience them. That’s what a percept is: an
aggregate of perceptions and sensations that outlive those
who experience them. I choose some examples:
there are pages by Tolstoy that describe like a painter
could hardly manage, or by Chekhov, in
a different manner, who describes the heat
in the steppe. So, it’s an entire complex
web of sensations, visual sensations, auditory,
nearly taste sensations, something that enters
the mouth, all of that… So, so what? Well, try to give to
this complex web of sensations a radical independence in relation to
the person who experienced them: Tolstoy also described
atmospheres; Faulkner, in the great pages of Faulkner,
if you look at great writers, they attain this… There is one
[writer] who nearly stated this, and whom I like very much, who
isn’t very well known in France, I believe, a very great American
novelist, Thomas Wolfe, who says in his short stories:
someone goes out in the morning, and he breathes some fresh air, and
an odor comes past, of anything, some toast, let’s say, there is a
complex web of sensations, a bird flies
by in the sky… There is a complex web
of sensations. So, what happens when someone
who experiences it dies, or goes on to do
something else? What does that [web
of sensation] become? This is rather the question
that art poses, Art provides an
answer to this. It’s to give a duration or an eternity
to this complex web of sensations that are no longer apprehended as
being experienced by someone, or at the limit, that may be
apprehended as experienced by a character in a novel, that is,
by a fictional character. It’s precisely that which
engenders fiction. And what does a painter do? Well,
he doesn’t do only that, but a painter gives consistency
to percepts, he tears percepts out
of perception. There’s a sentence by Cezanne that
moves me more than anything… He says, Impressionism… Deleuze: A painter does
nothing different… One can say that the Impressionists
utterly twisted perception. A philosophical concept literally, in
certain ways, splits your skull open, it’s a habit of thought
that is completely new… If people aren’t used to thinking
like that previously, then that cracks
their skulls, since in some ways, a percept
twists our nerves… So… We can say that, in this, the
Impressionists invent a percept. There is an expression by Cezanne
that is quite beautiful; he says something like, we have to make
Impressionism last; that is, it still hasn’t. .. the motif has not yet
acquired its independence if it’s a question of
making it last and if new methods are necessary to
make Impressionism last… It’s not simply that paintings have
to be better conserved; he means that the percept must
acquire an even greater autonomy, so it must have new techniques,
it must have… etc. 3) And then there is a third set
of things, I think, very connected to
all the others: they are what we have to call
affects. Of course, there are no percepts without
affects, but the affect is not like… I tried to define the percept
as an aggregate of perceptions and sensations that
become independent from the person
experiencing them. For me, affects are becomings,
becomings that overflow him or her who goes through them, that
exceed the force of those who go through them, that’s what an
affect is. I would almost say… Wouldn’t music be the
great creator of affect? Doesn’t music lead us into these
powers of action that exceed us? It’s possible, but in any case,
all I mean is that the three are connected. I mean, if
you take a philosophical concept, simply, it’s more like
questions of accent… If you take a philosophical concept,
it causes one to see things, it causes one to
see things. Philosophers have nonetheless
this “visionary” aspect, at least in the philosophers
that I admire: Spinoza causes
one to “see,” he is even one of the most
visionary philosophers, Nietzsche as well, he
makes one “see” things. They also hurl forth
fantastic affects such that one really
has to discuss this, it becomes evident all by itself: there
is a music in these philosophies, and inversely, there’s no
use insisting that music makes one “see” some
very strange things- perhaps simply colors sometimes,
music causes one to “see” colors that don’t exist within
music or outside it, and percepts as well, all that
is completely linked. I would dream of a kind
of circulation of these dimensions into each other,
between philosophical concepts, pictorial percepts,
and musical affects. There’s nothing surprising in
there being these resonances, because however independent
they may be, there is the labor of completely
different people, but that never stops
interpenetrating… Yes… Parnet: So these ideas of painters,
of artists, and of philosophers, whereas they have “ideas,” but
which are an idea of perception, an idea of fiction, an idea of
reason… Why… You… Well, in life one can see a book or read a book
in which there is no idea at all, and for you, that bores you to the point
that you are not interested at all. There is absolutely no
interest for you in looking at something
that might be funny or reading something that
might be entertaining, if this idea is missing,
if there are no ideas. Deleuze: In the sense that
I just defined “idea,” I have difficulty seeing how
that would be possible. If you show me a painting
that has no percepts, where there is a cow represented
that is more or less realistic but where there are
no cow percepts, or it hasn’t been lifted to
the percept state, or play for me some music
without affect… At the limit, I don’t understand
what that could possibly mean. If you show me a film,
ok, well… and if you show me a stupid
book of philosophy, I don’t understand what
kind of pleasure I would derive from it, other than an
extremely unhealthy pleasure. Parnet: It might not be
a stupid book of philosophy, it might simply be a
humorous book… Deleuze: Well, this humorous book
could very well be full of ideas, I don’t know, it all depends on
what you call humorous. No one has ever made me laugh
more than Beckett and Kafka, so I am very sensitive to humor, I
find them, in fact, extremely funny… I prefer less television
comedians, it’s true… Parnet: Except Benny Hill,
who certainly has an idea… Deleuze: Except Benny Hill, since
he has an idea… But in fact, in this domain, the great American
comics have lots of ideas. Parnet: Does it ever happen-
to finish with a more personal question-that you
sit down to your writing table without an idea of what
you are going to do, that is, without having
any ideas at all? How does that
work for you? Deleuze: Of course not, if I have no
ideas, I don’t sit down to write. But what happens for me is that the
idea hasn’t developed enough, the idea escapes me, the idea
disappears, there might be
some holes. I have painful experiences
like that, and it just doesn’t go all by itself since
ideas are not ready-made, one has to create them, I repeat…
There are terrible moments, that is, there are moments in which one
literally despairs, in which people don’t feel
capable of… oh, yes… Parnet: Is it the expression
or is it the idea that creates a hole, that’s
missing. . .? Is it both? Deleuze: It’s impossible
to distinguish: Do I have an idea that I am just
unable to express, or no idea at all? In my opinion, it’s so much the
same thing: if I cannot express it, I don’t have the idea, or a piece of it
is missing, a piece of this idea, since ideas don’t arrive in a
completely formed block, there are things that come in
from here, from there, they come from diverse
horizons, ideas, so if you are missing a piece,
then it is unusable. Parnet: So, “J” is “Joy,”
this is a concept to which you are particularly attached
since it’s a Spinozist concept, and Spinoza turned joy into a
concept of resistance and life: let us avoid sad passions,
let us live with joy in order to be at the maximum
of our power of action; therefore, we must flee from
resignation, bad faith, guilt, all sad affects that priests, judges,
and psychoanalysts exploit. So we can see entirely why you
would be pleased by all that. So first, I would like you to
distinguish what the difference is between joy and sadness, both for
Spinoza and for you, of course? First, is Spinoza’s distinction
entirely yours? Did you find something there on
the day you read that? Deleuze: Ah yes, since
these texts are the most extraordinarily charged
with affect, in Spinoza. That comes down to saying-
to simplify greatly- it comes down to saying
that joy is everything that consists in fulfilling
a power of action… You experience joy
when you fulfill it, when you realize one of
your powers of action. So, what is that? Let’s return to
some earlier examples: I conquer, however little this might
be, a small piece of color, I enter a little further
into color. I think that is what joy
might be. That’s what fulfilling
a power of action is, realizing a power of action, causing
a power of action to be fulfilled. But it’s the wordpuissance
that is ambiguous. What about the opposite,
what is sadness? It occurs when one is separated
from a power of action of which I believed myself, rightly
or wrongly, to be capable: I could have done that, but
circumstances didn’t allow it, or it was forbidden,
or etc. That’s what
sadness is, and one must say that all sadness is
the effect of a power over me. Parnet: No, but it’s Gilles”
turn to speak, he was talking about the… well,
the opposition joy/sadness. Deleuze: So I was saying that
realizing the power of action of something is always good,
that’s what Spinoza said. Obviously, all this
poses problems, more details are needed because
there are no bad potentials; what is bad, is the lowest degree
of the power of action, and its lowest degree
is power. I mean, what is
wickedness? It’s preventing someone from doing
that of which he/she is capable, wickedness is preventing one from
realizing one’s power of action. Such that there is no bad power
of action, only wicked powers… Maybe all power is wicked
by its very nature, but perhaps not necessarily,
maybe it’s too easy to say that. But, the confusion between powers
of action and powers is quite costly because power always separates
people who are subjected to it from what they are
capable of doing. Spinoza started from this point,
and you were saying that sadness is linked to
priests, to tyrants… Parnet: To judges… Deleuze: to judges, and these
are perpetually the people, right? Who separate their subjects from
what they are capable of doing, who forbid them from realizing
powers of action. You alluded earlier,
it was very curious, you alluded to the reputation
of Nietzsche’s anti-Semitism. There, we see quite well, because
it’s a very important question… There are texts of Nietzsche that
are, in fact, quite disturbing, or that one might consider quite
disturbing if they are read, in fact, in the manner mentioned earlier
about reading philosophers, that is, if one reads them
a bit too quickly. What strikes me as curious is
that in all the texts in which [Nietzsche] lashes out against
the Jewish people, what does he reproach
them for? And what made people then say,
“Oh, he’s anti-Semitic,” etc.? What Nietzsche reproaches the
Jewish people for is very interesting. Nietzsche reproaches them in
quite specific conditions for having invented a character
that had never existed before the Jewish people,
the character of the priest. To my knowledge, never in any text
by Nietzsche concerning Jews is there a general attack mode,
but always an attack against the Jewish people-inventors
of the priest. Although, according to him,
in other social formations, there can be sorcerers,
scribes, these are not at all the
same as the priest. They made this astonishing
invention, and Nietzsche, since he has great
philosophical strength, Nietzsche never ceases to admire
that which he detests… He says, it’s simply an
incredible invention, to have invented the priest, it’s
something quite astounding. And this results in an immediate
connection occurring between the Jews and Christians, but simply
not the same type of priest. So the Christians will conceive
of another type of priest and will continue in the same path,
with the character of the priesthood. This shows the extent to which
philosophy is concrete. I mean that, I would say that
Nietzsche is, to my knowledge, the first philosopher
to have invented, created, the concept of the priest,
and from that point, to have posed a
fundamental problem: what does sacerdotal
power consist of? What is the difference between
sacerdotal power and royal power? This is a question that remains
entirely actual. For example, shortly before his death,
Foucault had fully discovered, and through his own
means-and here, we could start all over
from the beginning about what it means to continue,
to extend philosophy, what does it mean
to do philosophy? – Here, it’s with Foucault
proposing pastoral power, a new concept that is not
the same as Nietzsche’s, but that engages directly
with Nietzsche, and in this way, one develops
a history of thought. So, what is this power of the priest,
and how is it linked to sadness? According to Nietzsche, in any
case, this priest is defined as such: he invents the idea that men exist
in a state of infinite debt, that they have
infinite debt. Before, there were certainly stories
about debt, it’s well known, but Nietzsche preceded
ethnologists, and they would do well
to read some Nietzsche. When the ethnologists discovered,
well after Nietzsche, that in so-called primitive societies,
there were exchanges of debt, and perpetually it did not rely on barter
as much as had been believed, things functioned through
pieces of debt- a tribe that has a debt
vis-à-vis another tribe, etc. Yes, but these were blocks
of finite debt, they received and then
gave them back. The difference with barter
is that there was time, the reality of time… It’s differed
return. This is immense since it suggests that debt was
primary in relation to exchange. These are all properly philosophical
problems-exchange, debt, debt that is primary in
relation to exchange, it’s an enormous
philosophical concept. I say “philosophical”
because Nietzsche was talking about this
well before the ethnologists. In so far as debt exists in
a finite regime, man can free himself
from it. When the Jewish priest invokes the
idea by virtue of an alliance of infinite debt between the Jewish
people and their God, when the Christians adopt this
in another form, the idea of infinite debt linked
to original sin, this reveals the very curious
character of the priest about which it is philosophy’s responsibility
to create the concept. I am not claiming that philosophy
is necessarily atheist. But in the case of an author
like Spinoza who had already outlined
an analysis of the priest,of the Jewish priest, in the
Theologico- Political Treatise…
It happens that philosophical
concepts are veritable characters, and that’s what makes
philosophy so concrete. Creating the concept of the priest
is like another kind of artist would create a painting of the priest,
the portrait of the priest. So, the concept of the priest
pursued by Spinoza, and then by Nietzsche, and finally by
Foucault forms an exciting lineage. I would like, for example,
to link myself with this as well, to reflect a bit on
this pastoral power, that some people say
no longer functions. But, one would have to see how
it has been taken up again, for example, psychoanalysis as
the new avatar of pastoral power. And how do we define it? Priests
are not the same thing as tyrants, one mustn’t mix everything up…
but they at least have in common that they derive
their power from the sad passions that they
inspire in men, of the sort: “Repent in the name of infinite debt,
you are the objects of infinite debt,” etc. It’s through this that
they have power. It’s in that sense that power
is always an obstacle blocking the realization
of powers of action, whereas… I would say
that all power is sad, even if those who have it
seem to revel in having it, but it is still a sad joy. There are sad
joys, and this is a sad joy. On the other hand, joy is the
realization of a power of action. I know of no powers of action
that would be wicked. The typhoon is a power of action, it
must delight in its soul, but… but it’s not in destroying houses
that it delights, it’s in its being… Taking delight is always delighting
in being what one is, that is, in having reached
where one is. Joy is not self-satisfaction,
being pleased with oneself, not at all, not the pleasure of
being happy with oneself. Rather, it’s the pleasure in
conquest, as Nietzsche said, but the conquest does not
consist of enslaving people, conquest is, for example, for a
painter to conquer color, yes, that’s what a conquest is.
That’s what joy is, even if it goes badly because… in
these stories of power of action, when one conquers a
power of action, when one conquers something
in a power of action, it happens that it is too strong
for one’s own self, so he will crack up,
Van Gogh. Parnet: So, a little subsidiary
question. You, who have been fortunate to
escape from infinite debt, how is it that you complain
from morning to night, and that you are the great advocate
of the complaint and the elegy? Deleuze: This is a
personal question. First, the elegy is one of the
two sources of poetry, It’s one of the principal sources of
poetry, it’s the great complaint. So, there is
quite a bit… there is an entire history of
the elegy to be done… I don’t know if it already
has been done but it’s very interesting because
there is the complaint of the prophet -prophetism, the prophet
is the one who complains, is the one who says, “Oh why
did God choose me? What did I do to be
chosen by God?” In a sense, it’s the opposite
of the priest. So he complains and complains
about what occurs to him. It means: it overwhelms me, that’s
what the complaint is: what’s happening to me
overwhelms me. If one accepts that this is
what the complaint is… It’s not something
we alwayssee.It’s not “ow ow ow, I’m in pain,”
although it could also be that, but the person complaining doesn’t
always know what he/she means. The elderly lady who complains
about her rheumatism, she means, in fact, what power of
action is taking hold of my leg that is too great for me to stand it?
It overwhelms me. If we look at history,
it’s very interesting. The elegy, first, is a source of
poetry, it’s the only Latin poetry, the great Latin poets… I used to
know them, I used to read them quite a bit, like Catullus, Tiberius,
they are astounding poets. And what is the elegy? I think that
it’s the expression of he/she who, temporarily or not, no longer
has any social status. That’s why it’s
interesting… A little old man complaining, sure
ok… some guy in prison complains -it’s not sadness at all, but
something quite different, it’s making a
demand, there is something astonishing
in the complaint, there is an adoration
in the complaint… The complaint is
like a prayer. So, popular complaints… One has
to include everything in this: the complaint of
the prophet, or something you know well since
you’ve worked on it so much- the complaint of
hypochondriacs. The hypochondriac is someone
who complains, and the intensity of the
complaints are beautiful. Why do I have a liver?
Why do I have a spleen? It’s not even how much it’s hurting
me, it’s why do I have it? Why do I have organs?
why am I… So, the complaint is sublime.
And the popular complaint… The complaint of
the assassin, the complaint that is sung
by the people. It’s the socially excluded who
are in a situation of complaint. There is a Chinese
specialist… He’s not Chinese, but Hungarian, I
think, called [Ferenc] Tökei, who prepared a study of the
Chinese elegy, and he showed, as I recall it, that the Chinese elegy
is enlivened above all by the person who no longer possesses a social
status, i.e. the freed slave. A slave, however unfortunate he or she
might be, still has a social status. He might be very unfortunate, might
be beaten, whatever you like, but he still has a
social status. When he is freed,
there were periods when there was no social
status for the freed slave. He is outside
everything. The liberation of American blacks
must have been something like that, with the abolition of slavery
or in Russia, when no statute had
been foreseen. So they find themselves
excluded, which has been
interpreted stupidly as, “You see? they come back to
their position as slaves!” But they have no status and so are
excluded from any community. Then the great complaint is born,
Aye aye aye aye aye… However, it does not express
the pain they have, but is a kind of song. That’s why the
complaint is a great poetic source. If I hadn’t been a philosopher
and if I had been a woman, I would have wanted to be a
wailer. . The wailer is marvelous because the complaint rises
and it’s an art. And that also has this rather
perfidious side as well, as if to say: don’t take on my complaint,
don’t touch me. It’s kind of like people
who are too polite… These too polite people… I would
like to be more and more polite, it’s: “don’t touch me,”
so it’s a kind of… And the complaint is the same thing:
“don’t feel sorry for me, I’m taking care of it.” And in
taking care of it for oneself, the complaint is transformed.
Once again, it’s: “what is happening to me
overwhelms me.” That’s what the
complaint is. Now, I would like to
say every morning, “what’s happening to me
overwhelms me,” because this is joy.
In some ways, this is joy in a pure state, but we
are careful to hide it because there are people who aren’t very
pleased with someone being joyous, so you have to hide it
in a kind of complaint. But this complaint is
not only joy, it’s also an incredible
anxiety, in fact… realizing a power of action,
perhaps, but at what price? Am I going to lose my
life for this? As soon as one realizes
a power of action… I am speaking about things as
simple as a painter taking on color, might he not
be risking his life? Literally, after all, I don’t think it
really is some literary invention to say that the way Van Gogh went
toward color is more connected to his madness than all these
psychoanalytical stories. For a relation to color intervenes
here in any case. Something risks getting broken,
it overwhelms me, and that’s what the
complaint is, something overwhelms me, in
misfortune or in happiness, but usually misfortune, but
well, that’s just a detail.Panet: Great answer.Parnet: So, “K” is Kant. Of all the philosophers
that you have written on, Kantseemsthe farthest
from your own thought. However, you have said that all
the authors you have studied have something in common.
So, first of all, is there something in common
between Kant and Spinoza, which is not at
all obvious? Deleuze: I’d prefer, if I might dare,
the first part of the question, that is, why I took on Kant,
and once said that there is nothing in common
between Kant and Spinoza, nothing in common between
Nietzsche and Kant although Nietzsche read
Kant closely, but it’s not the same conception
of philosophy, it’s not… So why am I nonetheless
so fascinated by Kant? For two reasons: Kant is present
at so many turning points, and he initiates and then pushes
something as far as possible, something that had never been
advanced in philosophy. Specifically, he establishes
tribunals, perhaps under the influence of the
French Revolution. Now, up to the present,
one always tries, or I try, to talk about concepts
as characters. So, before Kant, in the
18th century, there is a new kind of philosopher
presented as an investigator, investigation, Investigation
into Human Understanding, investigation of this,
investigation of that. The philosopher saw himself to
some extent as an investigator. Even in the 17th century, and
Leibniz is no doubt the last representative
of this tendency, he saw himself as a
lawyer, defending a cause, and the greatest thing is that Leibniz
claimed to be God’s lawyer. So there must have been things to
reproach against God at the time, and Leibniz writes a marvelous
little work on God’s cause, in the juridical sense of cause,
God’s cause to be defended. So, it’s like a sequence of
characters-the lawyer, the investigator-
and then with Kant, the arrival of a tribunal,
a tribunal of reason, things being judged as a function
of a tribunal of reason. And the faculties-
in the sense of understanding, the imagination,
knowledge, morality- are measured as a function
of the tribunal of reason. Of course, he uses a certain
method that he invented, an amazing method called
the critical method, the properly Kantian
method. Now, I have to admit this
aspect of Kant almost makes me cringe in horror, but
it’s both horror and fascination, because he’s so ingenious.
If I return to the question… Among the concepts
that Kant invented, and Lord knows he
invented them, I consider the concept
of the tribunal of reason to be inseparable from
the critical method. But finally, what I’d rather
dream of… It’s a tribunal of judgment,
it’s the system of judgment. Simply, it’s a system of judgment
that no longer needs God, a system of judgment based on
reason, and no longer on God. With all the writers that affect me-
we haven’t considered this problem, but we can introduce it now, it will
save us the trouble of returning to it. One can always wonder
about this because there is
something mysterious: why does someone, someone in
particular, you or me, get connected to
or identify especially with one kind of
problem and not another? What is someone’s affinity for a
particular kind of problem? Thatseemsto me to be one of the
greatest mysteries of thought. A person might be fated
for one problem since we don’t take on
just any problem. And this is true for researchers
in the sciences, a person’s affinity for a
particular problem, but with some other problem,
he just doesn’t get involved. And philosophy is an
aggregate of problems, with its own
consistency, but it does not pretend to deal
with all problems, thank God. Well, I feel rather connected
to problems that aim at seeking the means to do away
with the system of judgment, and to replace it with
something else. So there, we have the great names.
Indeed, it’s a different tradition. Yes, you were right when you
said there’s an opposition. I see Spinoza,
I see Nietzsche, in literature I see [DH]
Lawrence, and finally the most recent and one of the
greatest writers, Artaud,his To Have Done With the
Judgment of God,
really means something, it’s not
the words of a madman. We really have to
take this literally: to have done with the
system of judgment. Well, all that, those are things…
only there you are… And underneath-as always,
it’s like when I say that one has to look underneath concepts for
problems-and underneath, there are some astonishing
problems posed by Kant, that are really
marvels. He was the first to have created an
astonishing reversal of concepts. Here again, this is why I get
so sad when people, even young people preparing
the baccalauréat, are taught an abstract
philosophy without even trying-perhaps
it’s not possible- to have them participate in problems
that are quite fantastic problems, much more interesting than…
I don’t know exactly what. I can say that, up until Kant,
for example, time was derived
from movement, it was second in relation
to movement, it was considered to be a
number of movement or a measure of movement.
What does Kant do? However he does it, there’s
the creation of a concept, and in all I am doing here,
we never stop moving forward in considering what it means
to create a concept. Kant creates a concept because
he reverses the subordination. With him, its movement that
depends on time. And suddenly, time changes its
nature, it ceases being circular. Because, when time is
subordinate to movement, for reasons that would be
too long [to explain], finally the great movement is
the periodic movement, it’s the periodic movement of
heavenly bodies, so the movement
is circular. On the contrary, when time
is freed from movement and its movement
that depends on time, then time becomes a
straight line. And I always think of something
that Borges said- although he has little
relation to Kant- when Borges says that a more
frightening labyrinth than a circular labyrinth is a
labyrinth in a straight line. It’s marvelous, but it’s Kant,
it’s Kant who lets time loose. And then this story of
the tribunal, measuring the role of each faculty
as a function of a particular goal, that’s what Kant collides
with at the end of his life, as he is one of the
rare philosophers to write as a very,
very old man a book that would renew everything,
the Critique of Judgment. He reaches the idea
that the faculties must have disorderly relations
with each other, that they collide with each other,
and then reconcile with each other, but there is a battle of
the faculties where there is no longer
any standard, where they are no longer
subject to a tribunal. He introduces his conception
of the Sublime, in which the faculties enter into discordances,
into discordant accords. So all that pleases me infinitely:
these discordant accords, this labyrinth that is nothing
more than a straight line, his reversal
of relations… I mean that all modern philosophy
flows forth from this point, that it’s no longer time that
depended on movement but rather that movement
depended on time- that’s a fantastic creation
of concepts. And the whole conception
of the Sublime, with all the discordant accords
of the faculties. I am enormously moved by these
things. So, what can one say? It’s obvious that he’s
a great philosopher, a very great philosopher, and there
is a whole substratum in his works that excites me
enormously. And all that is built on top of this
has no interest for me, but I don’t judge it, it’s just
a system of judgment that I’d like to do away with, but without
standing in judgment. Parnet: What about
Kant’s life… Deleuze: Oh, Kant’s life… That
wasn’t planned for our discussion. Parnet: Yes it was… Parnet: There is another aspect that
might also please you in Kant, the aspect discussed by
Thomas De Quincey, this fantastic life regulated by habits,
his little daily walk, the life of a philosopher that one
might imagine mythically, something very
special. And one thinks of this when
one thinks about you, that is, something
quite regulated, with an enormous number
of habits, work habits… Deleuze: I see what you mean, and
De Quincey’s text is one that we both find quite exciting,
a real work of art. But I see this aspect as belonging
to all philosophers. They don’t all have the same
habits, but to say that they are creatures of habit seems to
suggest that they don’t know… It’s obligatory, it’s obligatory that
they be creatures of habit. Spinoza as well… My impression
of Spinoza is that there’s not very much surprising
in his life, he had a life there, he polished his lenses, we always
imagine him polishing his lenses, he received
visitors… Parnet: He earned his
living polishing lenses… Deleuze: So, it wasn’t
a very turbulent life except for political
upheavals at that time, but Kant also lived through some
very intense political upheavals. Thus, all that people say about
Kant’s clothing apparatuses, that he invented for himself a little
machine to pull up-I don’t know- his underwear, his stockings… all
that makes him extremely charming, if one needs that kind of thing.
But, all philosophers… it’s a bit like Nietzsche said,
philosophers are generally chaste, poor, and Nietzsche adds, we
simply guess at how philosophers make use of all of this, how they
make use of this chastity, how they make use of this
poverty, etc. Kant had his little daily walk,
but that’s nothing in itself. What happened during his little
walk, what was he looking at? One would have
to find out. In the long run, that philosophers
are creatures of habit… I think that habit, I am
going to tell you, it means contemplating, it’s the
contemplation of something. Really, habit in the true sense of
the term means contemplating. What did he contemplate during
his walks? We don’t know… As for my own habits, well,
it’s shameful… yes, ok, I have quite a few of them,
they are contemplations, I enter into
contemplation… Sometimes these are things
that I am alone in seeing, ok, that’s what
a habit is. Parnet: So, “I” is Literature. Deleuze: “I”? We’re
moving on to “I”? Parnet: Already! Deleuze: Yes? Parnet: So literature haunts your
philosophy books and your life. And you read lots of books,
and re-read them, books of what’s called
“great literature.” You have always considered great
literary writers as thinkers. Between your books on Kant
and Nietzsche, you wroteProustandSigns,
it’s a famous book, and then subsequently
you enlarged it. Lewis Carroll and Zola in
LogicofSense,Masoch, Kafka, British and American
Iiteratures – and one sometimes gets the
impression that it’s through literature more than through the
history of philosophy that you inaugurate
a new kind of thinking. So, I would like to know first if you
have always read copiously? Deleuze: Yes, yes, At one point,
I was reading a lot more philosophy since that was part of my craft,
my apprenticeship, and I no longer had much time for
novels. But great novels, I have read them throughout my life,
and I read them more and more. So is that useful for philosophy?
Yes, certainly, I find it useful. For example, I owe an immense
amount to Fitzgerald who is, nonetheless, not a very
philosophical novelist, what I owe to Fitzgerald
is immense. What I owe to Faulkner
is enormous as well, and… I forget here,
I don’t have… But it’s self-explanatory, according
to what we discussed earlier because we’ve made a lot of
progress here- and I’m sure that didn’t
escape you: it’s this story that the
concept is never alone. At the same time that
the concept pursues its task, it makes us see things, that is,
it’s plugged into percepts, and all of sudden, one finds
these percepts in a novel. There are perpetual
communications from concepts to percepts. Moreover, there
are also problems of style that are the same in
philosophy and literature. The great literary characters-
let’s pose the question in very simple terms-the great literary
characters are great thinkers. I re-read Melville a lot, and it goes
without saying that the Captain Ahab is
a great thinker, it goes without saying
that Bartleby is a thinker, not in the same way, not the same
kind of thinker, but he’s a thinker. In any case, they cause us
to think in such a way that a literary work traces
as large a trail of intermittent concepts as
it does percepts, certainly. Quite simply, it’s not the
task of the literary writer who cannot do
everything at once, he/she is caught up in the problems
of percepts, of creating visions, causing perceptions, and
creating characters- do you have any idea of what it is
to create a character? It’s something
frightening. And a philosopher
creates concepts, ok, but it happens that they
communicate greatly since, in certain ways, the
concept is a character, and the character takes on
dimensions of the concept, I believe. You know what
I find in common? What these two activities
have in common: “great literature” and “great
philosophy” they bear witness to life, what I was calling “power of action”
earlier, they bear witness for life. This is the reason [great authors]
are not often in good health, except sometimes, there are
cases… Victor Hugo, ok… One musn’t say that all writers don’t
enjoy good health since many do. But why are there so many writers
who do not enjoy good health? It’s because he/she experiences
a flood of life, that’s why. To some extent, whether it’s
the weak health of Spinoza or the weak health
of Lawrence, what is it? It corresponds almost to what I said
earlier about the complaint: these writers have seen something
that overwhelms them, they are seers,
visionaries. They saw something that
was too much for them, so they cannot handle it
and it breaks them. Why is Chekhov broken to such
an extent? He “saw” something. Philosophers and literary writers
are in the same situation. There are things we manage to see,
and in some ways, literally, we never recover. This happens
frequently for authors, but generally, these are precisely percepts
at the edge of the bearable, or concepts at the edge
of the thinkable. So, between the creation
of a great character and the creation of a concept,
so many links exist that one can see it as constituting
somewhat the same enterprise. Parnet: Do you consider yourself
to be a writer in philosophy, as one would say writer
in a literary sense? Deleuze: I don’t know if I consider
myself a writer in philosophy, but I know that every great
philosopher is a great writer. Parnet: There’s no nostalgia for
creating a great fictional work when one is a great philosopher?
I’m referring to you… Deleuze: No, that doesn’t
even come up, it’s as if you asked a painter
why he doesn’t create music. One could conceive of a
philosopher who also wrote novels, why not? I don’t consider Sartre
to have been a novelist, although he did
fly to be. Are there any great philosophers
who were also important novelists? No, really, I can’t
think of any. But on the other hand, philosophers
have created characters, it has happened: Plato created
characters, eminently, and Nietzsche created characters,
notably Zarathustra. So these are intersections
that are discussed constantly, and I consider the
creation of Zarathustra to be an immense success
poetically and literarily, just as Plato’s characters were.
At such points, it’s hard to distinguish between
concepts and characters, and these are perhaps the
most beautiful moments. Parnet: And your love for
secondary literary authors, like Villiers de l’Isle-Adam
or Restif de la Bretonne, have you always cultivated
this affection? Deleuze: I find it truly bizarre
to hear Villiers referred to as a secondary author. If you
consider that question… But there is something really
shameful, entirely shameful: when I was quite young,
I liked the idea of reading an author’s work in its entirety,
the complete works. As a result, I had great affection not
for secondary authors, although that often coincided, but
for authors who had written little. So it was because some things
were too much for me, like Victor Hugo was so
far beyond me that I was ready to say that Hugo
wasn’t a very good writer. On the other hand, I knew the
works of Paul-Louis Courrier nearly by heart at the time,
completely, completely, although what he wrote
really wasn’t substantial. So yes, I had this penchant for
so-called secondary authors, although Villiers is not
a secondary author. Parnet: Well, he’s
a great author, but secondary in his era
in relation to… Deleuze: Joubert, Joubert was also
an author I knew completely, on the one hand because it-and
this is really a shameful reason- it gave me a certain prestige to
be familiar with authors that were unknown, or hardly known.
But all that was a kind of mania, and it took me quite a while
to learn just how great Hugo is, and that the size of his work
was no measure. So, it’s true that in so-called
secondary Iiteratures… It’s true, it’s true that so-called
secondary authors… In Russian literature, for example,
it’s not limited to Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, but one dare not call
[Nikolai] Leskov secondary since there is so much that is
astonishing in Leskov. So these are still
great geniuses. I feel I have little to say on
these points, but in any case, that’s behind me now, this search
for secondary writers. But I am happy when I encounter
something in an unknown author thatseemsto be an extraordinary
concept or character. Yes, I have not engaged in any
systematic research [in this domain]. Parnet: But, other than
your [book on] Proust, which is a sustained work
on a single author, literature has such a presence
in your philosophy, and one could also say that,
it’s a reference for examples. But you never truly devoted a
full-length book to literature, a thoughtful book
on literature. Deleuze: I just haven’t had the time,
but I plan to do so. Parnet: I know that this
has haunted you. Deleuze: I plan to do it
because I want to. Parnet: [A book]
of criticism? Deleuze: Of criticism…
well, yes, well, on the problem of what “writing”
means, for me, in literature. You are familiar with my
whole [research] program, so we’ll see
if I have the time. Parnet: Yes… And I wanted
to pose a final question: you read and re-read
the classical authors, but you don’tseemto read
many contemporary authors, or that you don’t really like to
discover contemporary literature, that is, that you always would prefer
to select a great [canonic] author, or re-read one, than to see
what is being published or whatever is directly
contemporary for us. Deleuze: It’s not that I don’t like…
I understand what you mean here, and I’ll answer quickly: it’s not at all
that I don’t like to read them. Rather it’s such a truly specialized
activity, and very difficult, in which one has to have training.
It’s something very difficult in contemporary production to
have the special inclination. It’s just like some people finding
new painters: in this as well, it’s something that one has
to learn about. I greatly admire people
who go into galleries and feel that there is someone
who is truly a painter there. But I simply cannot do this,
I always am in need… You’re right, it took me five
years to understand, even just a little, the kind
of innovation- not for Beckett, that
happened immediately -the innovation of
Robbe-Grillet’s writing. I was as stupid as
the stupidest [person] When talking about Robbe-Grillet
when he started out. I understood absolutely nothing.
It took me a long time, five years. So, in this respect, I am not a
discoverer, whereas in philosophy, I am more confident because I am
sensitive to a new tone and what, on the other hand,
is completely nil, repetition, and redundant
statements, etc. In the [domain of the] novel,
I am quite sensitive, I am only confident
enough to know what has already been said a
thousand times and is of no interest. It did happen to me onetime, for
Farrachi, I managed to discover- in my own way-someone
I judged to be a very, very good young novelist,
Armand Farrachi. So the question you raise is quite
sound, but I answer by saying: one must not believe that,
without experience, one can judge what
is being created. I would almost say that
what I prefer, something that happens and
that brings me great joy, is when something that I am
creating off on my own has an echo in a young writer’s
or a young painter’s work. I am not saying that, for this reason,
he is good and so am I. But, this is how I have a kind of
encounter with what is happening currently, that belongs
to another mode [of creation]. I mean that my radical insufficiency
in regards to judgment is compensated by these encounters
with people who are doing things that resonate with what
I am doing, and inversely. Parnet: For painting and cinema, for
example, these encounters have an advantage since you go
[to galleries and to the movies], whereas for bookstores, one would
have trouble imagining you strolling into a bookstore and
looking at books that just came out over the
previous few months. Deleuze: You are right, but this is
perhaps linked to the idea that literature is not very strong
at the moment- an idea that is not in my mind,
one that is not preconceived- it’s obvious that literature is not
very strong at the moment, and that it is
so corrupted -no need even to talk about all
that-that it’s corrupted- by the system of distribution,
of literary prizes, etc., that it’s not even worth
the trouble. Parnet: Ok, We are
going on to “’M’ since you don’t want to say
anything more. Parnet: “’M’ is “Illness”
(maladie). ShortlyaftercompletingDifference
and Repetition in
1968, you were hospitalized for a very
severe case of tuberculosis. You who were saying, regarding
Nietzsche and Spinoza, the extent to which great thinkers
have a weak state of health, henceforth, from 1968 onward,
you were forced to live with illness. Did you know for a while
that you had tuberculosis, or did you know that your illness
was there for a while? Deleuze: An illness, yes, I knew that
I had some illness for quite a while, but like a lot of people, I had
no real desire to find out, and also like most people, I just
assumed that obviously it was cancer, and so
I wasn’t in a big hurry. I didn’t know it was tuberculosis,
not until I was spitting up blood. I am a child of tuberculosis, but
at the moment of my diagnosis, there was no real danger
thanks to antibiotics. It was serious, and ten years earlier,
or even three years earlier- it was in the beginning-a few years
earlier, I might not have survived, whereas in 1968, it was
no longer a problem. Moreover, it’s an illness
without much pain, and so I could say
I was very ill, but it’s a great privilege, an illness
without pain and curable, without suffering, hardly
an illness at all, though it is an illness, yes. Before it,
my health was not all that great, I became
fatigued easily. So is the question whether the
illness makes it easier for someone who
undertakes- I am not talking about the success
of the undertaking- for someone who undertakes, who
enjoys an enterprise of thought, who attempts
to think… I think that a very weakened state
of illness favors this. It’s not that one is tuned in
to one’s own life, but for me, thinking doesseemlike
I am tuning into life. Now it’s not what’s going on
inside you, tuning into life. It’s something entirely
different from thinking about
one’s own health. But I think a fragile state of health
favors this kind of tuning-in. When I was speaking earlier
about authors like Lawrence or Spinoza, to some extent they saw
something too enormous, so enormous that it
overwhelmed them. It’s true that one resists thinking
if one isn’t already in a domain which goes a bit beyond
one’s strength, that is, that makes
one fragile. Indeed, I always had a
fragile state of health, and this was confirmed
from the moment I was diagnosed with
tuberculosis, at which point I acquired all the rights accorded
to a fragile state of health. Yes, it’s precisely as
you stated it. Parnet: But your relations with
doctors and drugs changed from that moment onward:
you had to go see doctors, you had to take drugs regularly, and
it was a constraint imposed on you, all the more so since you do
not like doctors much. Deleuze: Yes… Personally it’s not a
matter of individuals because I often come across, like everyone,
some very charming doctors, delightful, but it’s a kind of power, or
a way in which they handle power- here, once again, we return to
questions previously discussed, as if half of the letters already
discussed were encompassed and folded back upon
the totality. I find it odious the way doctors
manipulate power, and they are odious-as doctors,
they are odious. I have a great hatred, not for
individual doctors-on the contrary, they can be charming-but I have
hatred for medical power and the way doctors use
this medical power. There is only one thing that thrilled
me-and at the same time, it displeased them-
is when it would happen that they used their machines
and tests on me. I consider these to be very
unpleasant for a patient since you get the impression that
these tests are completely useless, except to make the doctors
confirm their diagnoses. But if they are talented doctors,
they already have their diagnoses, which these cruel tests
only serve to confirm. They are playing with these tests
in an inadmissible way. So what made me
quite happy was, each time I had to be tested
under one of their machines- that is, my breath was too weak
to register on their machines, or they weren’t able to give
me… a sonogram- well, they couldn’t
give it to me because I passed under
their machine, and to my complete delight,
they just got furious with me. At these moments, I think
they hate their poor patient, because they could easily accept
that their diagnosis might be wrong, but they can’t accept that their
machine wouldn’t work on me. Otherwise, I consider them
to be far too uncultivated, or when they attempt
to be cultivated, the results are catastrophic. They
are very strange people, doctors, but my consolation is that if
they earn a lot of money, they don’t have time
really to spend it, they don’t have the time
to take advantage of it because they lead
a very hard life. So it’s true, I do not find doctors
very attractive, except for the individual personalities which
can be quite exquisite. Yet they really treat people like
dogs in their official functions. So it really reveals class struggle
because if one is a little bit wealthy, they are a lot more polite,
except in surgery. Surgeons are a different
case altogether. So, doctors really are a problem,
and some kind of reform is needed. Parnet: Do you have to take
drugs all the time? Deleuze: Yes, I like
doing that, it doesn’t bother me except that
they tend to tire me out. Parnet: You actually enjoy
taking medicine? Deleuze: When there’s a lot,
in my current state, yes, because there are a lot. My little pile
every morning is a real hoot! But I also consider them
to be quite useful. I can say that I have
always been, even in the domain
of psychiatry, I have always been
in favor of drugs I have always been in
favor of the pharmacy. Parnet: And this fatigue that
we have spoken about, which is very connected
to your illness, and was even there already
before the illness, one thinks, in fact, of Blanchot
writing about fatigue or friendship. Fatigue plays a great role
in your life, that is, sometimes one gets the
impression that it’s an excuse for avoiding a lot of things that
bore you, and that you use fatigue and that fatigue has always
been very useful for you. Deleuze: Well, here is what I think:
when one is affected in this way- and here, were returning to the
theme of the power of action, i.e. what it is to realize a little power
of action, to do what one can do, use what is in the power of action-
it’s an awfully complicated notion. For, what strikes you as the
lack of the power of action, for example, a fragile
health or an illness, it’s a question of knowing
what use to make of it, so that, through it, one can
recuperate a little power of action. So it is certain that illness
should be used for something, as everything else. I’m not only
talking about this in relation to life for which it should give
one some feeling. For me, illness is
not an enemy, not something that gives
the feeling of death, but rather, something that
sharpens the feeling of life, but not at all in the sense of
“Oh, how I still want to live, and so once I’m cured,
I’ll start living.” I cannot think of anything more
abject in the world than what people call a
bon vivant, it’s abject. On the contrary, grands vivants are
men with very weak health. I return to my
question: illness sharpens a kind of vision
of life or a sense of life. When I say vision, vision
of life, and life, it’s in the sense of me
saying “to see life,” but it’s being crisscrossed
by [life]. Illness sharpens that,
gives a vision of life, life in all its force,
in all its beauty. I am quite
certain of this. But how can one have secondary
benefits from illness? That’s quite simple:
One has to use it, even in order to be
a bit more free. One has to use it, otherwise
it’s very troublesome. That is, one works too hard, which is
something one ought not to do. To work too hard-if it’s a
question of working and to realize any power of action,
then it’s worth it. But working too hard socially-
I can’t understand a doctor working too hard because he
has too many patients. Deleuze: So, to realize a benefit
from illness is to free oneself from things that one cannot be
free from in ordinary life. Personally, I never
liked traveling, and I never was able, nor really
knew how to travel, although I have great
respect for travelers. But the fact that my health was
so weakened insured my being able to decline
invitations to travel. Or going to bed too late was
always difficult for me, so once I had my
fragile health, there was no longer any question
of going to bed too late. I’m not talking about people
closest to me in my life, but from social duties, illness is
extraordinarily liberating, it’s really good in
that way. Parnet: Do you see fatigue
as illness? Deleuze: Fatigue is something else.
For me, it means: I’ve done what I could today… I’ve
done what I could today, that’s it, the day is over. I see fatigue
biologically as the day being done. It’s possible that it could last
further for other, social reasons, but fatigue is the biological
formulation of the day being done. You won’t be able to draw anything
further from yourself. So, if you take it this way,
it’s not a bothersome feeling. It’s unpleasant if one hasn’t done
anything, then indeed, it’s quite agonizing, but otherwise,
it’s fine. These are states of fatigue. I have always been sensitive to
these flimsy, numb states. This fuzzy fatigue,
I like that state… I like that state if it comes
at the end of something, and it probably has
a name in music. I don’t know how you would call it…
A coda, fatigue as coda. Parnet: Before discussing
old age, we might discuss your
relationship to food… Deleuze:Ah! Old age…
Well, ok, food… Parnet: Because you like food
that seems to bring you strength and vitality, like
marrow and lobster. You have a special relationship to
food since you don’t like eating. Deleuze: It’s true. For me,
eating is the most… If I tried to describe the quality of
eating for me, it would be boredom. It’s the most boring
thing in the world. Drinking, well, that was “,”B
we already did that, but drinking is something
extraordinarily interesting, but eating never interested me,
it bores me to death. So, given that,
eating alone… But eating with someone I like,
that changes everything, but it does not transform the food,
it only helps me stand eating, making it less boring
even if I don’t talk. But eating alone, well, a lot of
people are like that, everybody says that eating
alone is boring, and it proves how
boring eating is since most people admit that eating
alone is an abominable task. Having said this, I certainly have
things I enjoy immensely, that are rather special, to see the
universal disgust that they inspire… But, after all, I can stand it
when others eat cheese… Parnet: Yes, you don’t
like cheese… Deleuze: and for someone
who hates cheese, I am one of the rare people
to be tolerant, that is, not to get up and leave, or throw
the person out eating cheese. The taste for cheese is a little like a
kind of cannibalism, a total horror. If someone asked me what my
favorite meal would be, what would give me
incredible pleasure. It’s true that I always come back
to three things because they are three things that
I always found sublime, but that are properly disgusting:
tongue, brains, and marrow. I imagine… These are all quite
nourishing. So eating all that… But there are a few
restaurants in Paris, I found out that serve marrow, and
after, I can eat nothing else. They prepare these little marrow
squares, really quite fascinating… Brains, then
tongue… But if I tried to situate this in relation
to things we’ve already discussed, it’s a kind of trinity because
one might say- all this is a bit too
anecdotal- one might say that brains
are God, that it’s the father; that marrow is the son: it’s linked
to vertebrates that are little crabs. So God is the brains, the little
vertebrate crabs are the son, so the marrow is the son, Jesus,
and the tongue is the Holy Spirit, which is the very force of the tongue
[language]. Or, that could also go, but here I don’t know… It’s the brain
that is the concept, marrow is affect, and
tongue, the percept. You really musn’t ask me why,
I see that these trinities are very So, that’s what would make
a fantastic meal for me… Parnet: And old age? Deleuze: Has it ever happened that
I have had all three together? Maybe on a birthday
with friends, they might make me a meal like…,
eh? a party, a party… Parnet: You can’t be eating these
three things at the same time since you are speaking to us
about your old age… Deleuze: Yes, that would
be a bit much. Parnet: Every day… Deleuze: Ah, old age… Yes? There is someone who has spoken
about old age very well, it’s Raymond Devos. Of course, one
can always say something else, he said it the best… For me, I find
old age to be a splendid age, Of course, there are
a lot of difficulties, one is overcome by a certain
slowness, you’re slow. But the worst is when
someone says to you, “No, you’re not as
old as all that,” because he doesn’t understand
what the complaint is. I complain, I say,
“Oh, I’m old,” that is, I invoke the powers of action of old
age. These are powers of action, but then somebody tries to
cheer me up by saying, “No, you’re
not so old.” So, then I could smack him
with my cane, I don’t know what I’d do because
it’s not a question of saying, when I’m in my old age complaint,
it’s not a question of saying, “No, you’re not all that old.”
On the contrary, it would be better to say: “Yes, in
fact you’re right!”. .. But its pure joy. Where does that joy come from,
except for this bit of slowness? What’s awful in old age-really,
it’s nothing to joke about- what’s awful is pain and misery,
but they are not old age. I mean, what makes old age
pathetic, something sad, is these poor old people who do
not have enough money to live, nor this minimum of health, not even
this very weak health that I am talking about, and who suffer
greatly. That’s what is abominable, but it’s not old age, it’s
not an illness at all. Old age is great with enough money
and a little bit of health remaining, And why is it great? Because
first, it’s only in old age… First, one has reached it.
It counts for something, just the fact of having
reached it, after all, in a world that includes
wars and filthy viruses, one has crossed through
all that, viruses, wars, filth… One made it
[to old age]. And it’s an age where
the only point is being. No longer of being this or
being that, but being… The old person is someone
who just is, period, that’s it. One can always say, “oh, he’s
grumpy, oh, he’s in a bad mood,” but quite simply, he just is. He has
earned the right to be, period. For an elderly person can still say,
“I have plans,” but it’s true and not true, not true in the way that
someone who is thirty has plans. I do hope to complete the two books
that I really am committed to, one on literature, another
on philosophy, but that does not change the
fact that I’m free of all plans. When one is old, one
is no longer touchy… Deleuze: One is no longer
thin-skinned, one no longer has any fundamental
disappointments, one tends to be a lot more
disinterested, and one really likes people
for themselves. For me, itseemsthat
it homes, for example, my perception of things that
I wouldn’t have seen before, elegant things, to which
I would never be sensitive. I see better because I look at
someone else for him/herself almost as if it were a question of carrying
away an image, a percept, to extract a percept from the person.
All that makes of old age… And days pass by with such a
speed, divided by fatigue periods. But fatigue is not an illness, but
something else, not death, nor… Again, it’s just the signal
of day’s end. Of course, there are
agonies in old age, but one has to ward them off,
and it’s easy to ward them off, a little like with werewolves
or vampires- besides, I like that [image]-
one mustn’t be alone at night when it starts getting cold because
one is too slow to survive. So one has to avoid
some things… And what’s marvelous is that people
release you, society lets you go. Being released by society
is so wonderful, not that society really
had me in its grip, but someone who isn’t my age,
or who isn’t retired, cannot suspect how much joy one
can feel being released by society. Obviously, when I hear
the elderly complaining, these are old people who don’t want
to be old or not as old as they are. They can’t stand being retired,
and I don’t know why… They could just read a novel since
they might discover something. I do not believe in retired people
who cannot find something to do. – Well, except maybe in
some cases in Japan- who cannot find
something to do. It’s marvelous, I mean…
People let go of you… We can simply give ourself a shake
and all the parasites we had on our back our whole life
fall off, and what’s left around us? Nothing but the people you love
and who can stand you and who love you, perhaps.
The rest have let go of you. And what’s really
tough is when something catches hold of you
again. I can’t stand I no longer… I only know society now through
my life in retirement. I see myself as being completely
unknown to society. So what’s catastrophic is when
someone who thinks I still belong to society asks me
for an interview. This [A toZfilming] is
different since what we’re doing belongs entirely
to my dream of old age. But when someone seeks an
interview, a conversation, I would like to ask, are you nuts?
Didn’t you hear that I am old and society has
let go of me? But I think people
confuse two things: one shouldn’t talk about the elderly,
but about misery and suffering, for when one is old, miserable,
and suffering, there is no word to describe it.
But otherwise, a pure elderly person who is nothing
other than elderly, that’s being. Parnet: With you being ill, tired, and
old, distinguishing the three things, it’s sometimes difficult for people
around you, who are less elderly, less ill, less tired, than you…
your children, your wife. Deleuze: For the children, the
children, there’s not much of a problem. There could have been
if they were younger, but now since they’re big
enough to live on their own, and I’m not a burden for them, I
don’t think I create a huge problem, except perhaps in terms of affection,
like them saying, “oh, he really looks
too tired.” But still, I don’t think there’s any acute
problem for the children. As for Fanny, I don’t think it’s a
problem either, although it could be, I don’t know. It’s quite difficult to
guess what someone that one loves might have
done in another life. I guess that Fanny would have
liked to travel more, yes, ok… She surely hasn’t traveled like
she might have wanted to. But what other things did
she discover that she wouldn’t have discovered
if she had traveled? She, and you too, have a
strong literary background, so she was able to find splendid
things through reading novels, and that largely equals
traveling. Certainly there are
problems, but I would say that they are
beyond my understanding. Parnet: To finish up, your projects…
Like you undertake the one, your next book, on literature
or What IsPhilosophy?. . What do you find enjoyable in
undertaking these as an old man because earlier you said,
you might not finish them, but there is something
amusing in that? Deleuze: Ah, that’s something quite
marvelous, you know, there is a whole evolution,
and when one is old, one has a certain idea of
what one hopes to do that becomes increasingly
pure, I mean, that becomes more
and more purified. I conceive of the famous lines
of Japanese sketch artists, such pure lines, and there is
nothing, nothing but little lines. That’s how I conceive of
an old man’s project, something that would be so pure, so
nothing, and at the same time, it would be everything,
it would be so marvelous. I mean reaching such sobriety
can only come late in life.Forexample,What is Philosophy?
my research on it:
first, it’s quite enjoyable at my age
to search for what philosophy is? To feel like I know the answer,
and that I’m the only one to know, so if I got hit by a bus, no one else
could know what philosophy is. All of this, for me,
is very enjoyable. I could have created a book on what
philosophy is thirty years ago, I know that it would have been a
very, very different book from the way I
conceive it now, where I’d like to arrive at a kind
of sobriety such that… whether I succeed
or not- I know that it’s now that
I have to conceive of this, that before I couldn’t
have done it, but now I see myself
able to do it, in any case, that
won’t resemble… Translated by Charles J. Stivale. Parnet: So, “N” is neurology
and the brain. Deleuze: Yes, it’s
very difficult, neurology. Parnet: We’ll go fast. It’s true that neurology
has always fascinated me, but why? It’s the question, what
happens in someone’s head when he/she has an idea?
I prefer, “when there’s an idea,” because when there are no ideas,
it works like a pinball machine. So, what happens? How does it
communicate inside the head? Before people start talking
about communication, etc., they ought to see how it
communicates inside the head. Or in the head of
an idiot… I mean, it’s the same thing as well, someone
who has an idea or an idiot… In any case, they don’t proceed
along pre-formed paths and by ready-made associations,
and so what happens? If only we knew, itseemsto me
that we’d understand everything. That interests me greatly,
for example… And the solutions must be extremely
varied… What I mean is: two neural extremities in the brain
can very we” establish contact. That’s even what we call electrical
processes in the synapses. And then there are other cases that
are much more complex perhaps, where it’s discontinuous and there’s
a gap that must be jumped. Itseemsto me that the
brain is full of fissures, and that jumping occurs, which
happens in a probabilistic regime, that there are relations of probability
between two linkages, that all this is much more
uncertain, very, very uncertain, that these communications inside
a brain are fundamentally uncertain, regulated by laws
of probability. What makes me think
about something? Someone might tell me that
I’m inventing nothing, that it’s the old question of
associations of ideas. Deleuze: So, one would almost
have to wonder… For example, when a concept is given or a work
of art is contemplated, looked at, one would almost have to try
to sketch a cerebral map, to what that [contemplation]
would correspond, what the continuous
communications would be, what the discontinuous
communications would be, from one point
to another. Something has impressed me
greatly-and perhaps this might lead to what
you were looking for- what has impressed me greatly is a
story that physicists use quite a bit, called the “baker’s
transformation”: taking a segment of dough to knead
it, you stretch it out into a rectangle, you fold it back over, you
stretch it out again, etc. etc, you make a number
of transformations, and at the limit of
x transformations, two completely
contiguous points are necessarily located at a
great distance from each other. And there are distant points that,
as a result of x transformations, are found to be
quite contiguous. I tell myself, when one looks for
something in one’s head, aren’t there these
types of mixing? Aren’t there two points that
at a particular moment, in a particular state
of my idea, I cannot see how to associate them,
make them communicate, and as a result of numerous
transformations, I discover them
side by side? So, I would almost say, between
a concept and a work of art, that is, between a mental product
and a cerebral mechanism, there are some extremely
exciting similarities. So itseemsto me that with the
questions, how does one think? Or what does
thinking mean? The question is that thinking and the
brain are absolutely intertwined. I mean, I believe more in the future
of molecular biology of the brain than in the future of
information science or of any theory
of communication. Parnet: You have always given a
place to 19th century psychiatry that extensively addressed neurology
and the science of the brain in relation to
psychoanalysis, and you have given a priority to
psychiatry over psychoanalysis precisely for psychiatry’s attention
to neurobiology. Is it still the case? Deleuze: Yes, yes, yes.
As I said earlier, there is also a relationship
with the pharmacy, the possible action of drugs on the
brain and the cerebral structures that can be located on a molecular
level, in cases of schizophrenia. For me, these aspects
appear to have a more certain future than
mentalist psychiatry. Parnet: That leads to a
methodological question because it’s no secret that to open yourself to
science, you are rather self-taught, when you read a neurobiological
or a scientific journal. Also you’re not very good
in math, as opposed to some philosophers you’ve studied-
Bergson had a degree in math; Spinoza, strong in math; Leibniz, no
need to say, very strong in math- so, how do you
manage to read? When you have an idea and need
something that interests you, and you don’t necessarily
understand it all, how do you
manage? Deleuze: Well, there’s something
that gives me great comfort: I am persuaded of the possibility
of several readings of a same thing, and already in philosophy
-this I believe in strongly- one need not be a philosopher
to read philosophy. Not only is philosophy open
to two readings, philosophy needs two readings
at the same time. A non-philosophical reading of
philosophy is absolutely necessary, without which there would be
no beauty in philosophy. That is, with non-specialists
reading philosophy, this non-philosophical reading
of philosophy lacks nothing, it is entirely adequate.
It’s simply a reading. Perhaps that might not
work for all philosophers. I have trouble seeing the possibility
of a non-philosophical reading of Kant, for example. But in Spinoza,
I mean, it’s not at all impossible that a farmer could read Spinoza,
it’s not at all impossible that a Storekeeper could
read Spinoza… Parnet: Nietzsche… Deleuze: Nietzsche, that goes
even more without saying, all the philosophers that
I admire are like that. So, there is no need
to understand, since understanding is
a certain level of reading. It’s a little like if you said to me,
to appreciate, for example, Gauguin or a great painting, you
must have expertise in painting. Of course, some knowledge
is necessary, but there are also extraordinary
emotions, extraordinarily authentic, extraordinarily pure,
extraordinarily violent, within a total ignorance
of painting. For me, it’s entirely obvious that
someone can take in a painting like a thunderbolt and not know a
thing about the painting itself. Similarly, someone can be
overwhelmed with emotion by music or by a particular musical work
without knowing a word. For example, I am very moved
by Lulu or by Wozzeck, without mentioning concerto,
To the Memory of an Angel, that moves me perhaps above
everything else in the world. So, I know it’s better to have
a competent perception, but I still maintain that everything
that counts in the world in the realm of the mind
is open to a double reading, provided that the double reading
is not something done randomly as a self-taught
person. Rather, it’s something
one undertakes starting from one’s problems that
come from elsewhere. I mean that it’s on the basis
of being a philosopher that I have a non-musical
perception of music, which makes music extraordinarily
thrilling for me. Similarly, it’s on the basis of being a
musician, a painter, this or that, that one can undertake a non-
philosophical reading of philosophy. If this second reading (which is
not second) did not occur, if there weren’t these two,
simultaneous readings, it’s like both wings on a bird,
this need for two readings… Moreover, even a philosopher
must learn to read a great philosopher
non-philosophically. The typical example for me
is yet again Spinoza: having Spinoza in paperback, and
reading him like that, for me, creates as much emotion
as a great musical work. And in a way, understanding is not
even remotely the point since in the courses that I used to give,
it was so clear that sometimes the students understood,
sometimes they did not, and we are all like
that with a book, sometimes understanding,
sometimes not. So, to come back to your question
on science, I think it’s true, and as a result,
to some extent, one is always at the extreme
point of one’s ignorance, which is exactly where
one must settle in. One must settle in at the extreme
point of one’s knowledge or one’s ignorance, which
is the same thing, in order to have
something to say. If I wait to know what
I am going to write- literally, if I wait to know
what I am talking about- then I would always
have to wait and what I would say would
have no interest. If I do not run a risk…
If I settle in also and speak with a scholarly air
on something I don’t know, then this is also
without interest. But I am speaking about
this very border between kn owing
and non-knowing: it’s there that one must settle in
to have something to say. In science, for me, it’s the same,
and the confirmation I have found is that I’ve always had great
relations with scientists. They never took me
to be a scientist, they don’t think I
understand a whole lot, but they tell me that it works-
well, a few anyway… You see, I remain open to echoes,
for lack of a better word. If I give an example… I’ll fly
to give a simple example: a painter that I like greatly
is Delaunay, and what- I fly to sum this up in a formula-
what does Delaunay do? He observed something quite
astounding, and as I say this, it takes us back to the start:
what is it to have an idea? What is Delaunay’s
idea? His idea is that light itself
forms figures, there are figures
of light… It’s quite innovative,
although perhaps someone long ago had this
particular idea already… What appears in Delaunay’s thought
is this creation of figures that are figures formed
by light, light figures. He paints light figures, and not-
which is quite different- aspects that light takes on
when it meets an object. This is how Delaunay detaches
himself from all objects, with the result of creating paintings
no longer with any objects at all. I recall having read some very
beautiful things by Delaunay: he says, when he judges
cubism severely, Delaunay says that Cezanne
succeeded in breaking the object, breaking the
fruit bowl, and that the cubists spent their time
hoping to glue it back together. So, regarding the
elimination of objects, Delaunay substitutes figures of pure
light for rigid and geometric figures. That’s something, a pictorial
event, a Delaunay-event. Now, I don’t know the dates,
but that doesn’t matter… There is a way or an aspect of
relativity, of the theory of relativity, and I know just enough-
one need not know much, it’s only being self-taught
that’s dangerous, but one does not need
to know a whole lot. I only know something about an
aspect of relativity, which is this: instead of having subjected
lines of light, lines followed by light
to geometric lines, with the experiments of Michaelson,
there’s a total reversal. Now lines of light will
condition geometric lines. This is a considerable reversal
from a scientific perspective, which will change
everything since the line of light no longer has the
constancy of the geometric line, and everything
is changed. I’m not saying that’s all of it,
but it’s this aspect of relativity that best corresponds
to Michaelson’s experiments. I don’t mean to say that
Delaunay applies relativity; I would celebrate the encounter
between a pictorial undertaking and a scientific undertaking that
must somehow be related. I was saying something similar…
I select another example: I know only that Riemannian
spaces-it’s really beyond me, I don’t know much in detail-I know
just enough to know that it’s a space constructed piece
by piece, and in which the connections between pieces
are not pre-determined. But for completely
different reasons, I need a spatial concept
for the parts in which there aren’t perfect connections
and that aren’t pre-determined. I need this! I’m not going to spend
five years of my life trying to understand Riemann,
because at the end of five years, I will not have made any progress
with my philosophical concept. And I go to the movies, and I see
a strange kind of space that everyone knows as being the
use of space in Bresson’s films, in which space is
rarely global, where space is constructed
piece by piece. One sees little pieces of space-
for example, a section of a cell, in the A Man Escaped-the cell,
in my vague recollection, is never seen in its entirety,
but the cell is a tiny space. I am not even talking about the
Gare de Lyon in The Pickpocket, where it’s incredible. These are little
pieces of space that join up, the links not being
pre-determined, and why’.7 It’s because they
will be manual, hence the importance
of hands for Bresson. It’s the hand that moves.
Indeed, in The Pickpocket, it’s the speed with which the stolen
object is passed from one hand to the other that will determine
the connections of little spaces. I do not mean either that Bresson
is applying Riemannian spaces. I say that an encounter can occur
between a philosophical concept, a scientific notion, and an aesthetic
percept. So that’s quite perfect. I believe that, in science, I know just
enough to evaluate encounters. To evaluate encounters.
If I knew more, I’d do science, I wouldn’t be doing philosophy,
there you are. So, at the limit, I speak well about
something I don’t know, but I speak of what I don’t know
as a function of what I know. All of this is a question of tact,
no point in kidding about it, no use in pretending
when one doesn’t know. But once again, just as I have
had encounters with painters, they were the most beautiful
days of my life. I had a certain encounter-
not physical encounters, but in what I write-I have had
encounters with painters. The greatest of them was
Hantaï’. Hantaï’ told me, “Yes, there is something”-it wasn’t
on the level of compliments, Hantaï’ is not someone who is
going to make compliments to someone like me, we don’t
even know each other- there is something that
“passes” [between us]. What about my encounter
with Carmelo Bene’? I never did
any theater, I have never understood
anything about theater. I have to believe that something
important “passed” there as well. There are scientists with whom
these things work too. I know some
mathematicians who, when they were kind enough
to read what I have written, said that, for them, what [I was]
doing is absolutely coherent. Now, this is going badly since
Iseemto be taking on an air of completely despicable
self-satisfaction, but it’s in order to
answer the question. For me, the question is not whether
or not I know a lot of science, nor whether I am capable
of learning a lot of it. The important thing is not to
make stupid statements… It’s to establish echoes, these
phenomena of echoes between a concept, a percept, a
function-since, for me, the sciences do not proceed by
concepts, but by functions- a function. From this perspective,
I needed Riemannian spaces, yes, I know they exist,
I do not know exactly what they are,
but that’s enough. Parnet: So, “0” is “Opera,”
and as we have just learned, this heading is a bit
of a joke since, other than Wozzeck
and Lulu by Berg, it’s safe to say that opera is not
one of your activities or interests. You can speak of the
exception of Berg, and in contrast to Foucault or
Chatelet who liked Italian opera, you never really listened to music
or particularly to opera. What interested you more
was the popular song, particularly Edith Piaf… You have
a great passion for Edith Piaf. So I’d like you to talk
a bit about this. Deleuze: You are being a
bit severe in saying that. First, I listened to
music quite a bit at a particular time,
along time ago. Then, I stopped because
I told myself, it’s not possible, it’s not possible, it’s an abyss,
it takes too much time, one has to have time,
I don’t have the time, I have too much to do-I’m
not talking about social tasks, but my desire
to write things- I just don’t have the time to listen
to music, or listen to enough of it. Parnet: Well, for example, Châtelet
worked while listening to opera… Deleuze: Well, yes, that’s one
method. I couldn’t do that. He listened to
opera, yes, but I’m not so sure that he listened
to it while working, perhaps. When he entertained people at
his home, that I understand. At least it covered over what people
were saying when he’d had enough. But for me, that’s not
how it works. So, I would prefer rather to turn the
question more in my own favor if you transformed it into: what is it
that creates a community between a popular song and
a great musical work of art? That’s a subject that
I find fascinating. The case of Edith Piaf,
for example: I think she is a great chanteuse,
with an extraordinary voice. Moreover, she has this way
of singing off-key and then constantly
catching the false note and making it right, this kind
of system in imbalance that is constantly catching
and making itself right. For me, thisseemsto
be the case in any style. This is something I like a lot,
really a lot, because it’s the question
I pose about everything, on the level of the popular song,
something I like a lot: what does it bring
that is original? Deleuze: The question arises
in all productions what does it bring
that’s original? If it’s been done 10 times, 100,
times, maybe even done quite well, indeed I understand then
what Robbe-Grillet said: Balzac is obviously
a great genius, but what’s the point in creating
novels today the way Balzac did? Moreover, that [practice]
sullies Balzac’s novels, and that’s how it is
in everything. What I found particularly moving
in Piaf was that she introduced something original in relation to
the preceding generation, in relation to Frehel and…
and the other great [singer]… Parnet: Damia… Deleuze: in relation to Frehel and
Damia. [It’s] what [Piaf] brought that was original, even in the
outfit of the chanteuse, all that, and in Piaf’s voice. I was extremely
sensitive to Piaf’s voice. In more modern singers, one
has to think-to understand what I mean-one has to think
about [Charles] Trenet. What was innovative in
Trenet’s songs, quite literally, one had never heard anyone sing
like him, singing in that manner. So I am insisting strongly on this
point: for philosophy, for painting, for everything, for art, whether
it’s the popular song or the rest, or sports even-we’ll see this
when we talk about sports- the question is exactly the same,
what’s happening that’s innovative? If one interprets that in the sense of
fashion-no, it’s just the opposite. What’s innovative is something
that’s not fashionable, perhaps it will become so,
but it’s not fashionable since people don’t expect it, by definition,
people don’t expect it, something that makes people…
that stupefies them. When Trenet started singing,
people said he was crazy. Today, that no longer
seemscrazy to us, but one can comment eternally
that he was crazy, and in some ways, he remained so.
Piaf appeared grandiose to us all. Parnet: And Claude Francois,
you admired him a lot too? Deleuze: Claude Francois,
right or wrong, I don’t know, but Claude Francois also seemed
to bring something innovative because… There are a lot of them,
I’m not going to cite them all. It’s really sad because people
have sung like that ten times, a hundred times, thousands
of times, and furthermore, they don’t have the
least bit of voice, and they fly to
discover nothing. That’s the same thing, to
introduce something innovative and to fly to
discover something. For Piaf, what was she trying
to discover, my God? All that I can say about weak health
and strong life, what she saw in life, the force of life, and what broke her,
etc., she is the very example, we could very well insert
the example of Edith Piaf every time into what
we said earlier. I was receptive to Claude Francois.
He was searching for something, he was looking for an
original kind of show, a song-show, he invented this kind
of danced song, that obviously implied using playback. So much
the better or so much the worse, that also allowed him to begin
research into sound. To the very end, Francois was
dissatisfied with one thing, his lyrics were stupid, and
that still matters in songs. His texts were weak, and
he never stopped trying to arrange his texts so he might
achieve greater textual qualities, like “Alexandrie, Alexandra,”
a good song. So today, I am not very
familiar with music, but when I turn on the TV-it’s the
right of someone who’s retired, to turn on the TV when
I’m tired-I can say that the more channels there are,
the more they look alike, and the more nil they become,
a radical nullity. The regime of competition,
competing with each other for everything whatsoever, produces
the same, eternal nullity, that’s what
competition is, and the effort to know
what will make the listener turn here to listen
instead of there, it’s frightening, frightening,
the way they What I hear there can’t
even be called a song, since the voice doesn’t even exist,
no one has the slightest voice. But really, let’s not complain.
What I mean is, what they all want is this kind of
domain that would be treated doubly by the popular song and by music.
And what is this? With Felix, I feel like we did
some good work here, because I could say if necessary,
if someone asked me, “what philosophical concept
have you produced since you are always talking
about creating concepts?” we at least created a very
important philosophical concept, the concept of the ritornello [the
refrain], and the ritornello is, for me, this point in common [between
the popular song and music]. What is it? Let’s say, the ritornello
is a little tune, “tra-la-la-la, tra-Ia-Ia-Ia.” When do I say “Ufa-Ia-
Ia?” I am doing philosophy here, I’m doing philosophy in asking
when do I sing “tra-Ia-Ia,” when do I sing to myself?
I sing to myself on three occasions: I sing to myself when I am
moving about in my territory, wiping off my furniture, radio playing
in the background, that is, when I am in my home. Then, I sing
to myself when I am not at home and I am trying to reach home,
at nightfall, at the hour of agony, I’m seeking my way, and I give
myself courage by singing, “tra-Ia-Ia,” I’m going
toward my home. And then, I sing to myself when
I say “farewell, I am leaving, and I will carry you with me in
my heart,” it’s a popular song, when I am leaving home to go
somewhere else, and to go where? In other words, for me, the ritornello
is absolutely linked- which takes the discussion
back to “A as Animal”- to the problem of the territory and of
exiting or entering the territory, that is, to the problem
of deterritorialization. I return to my territory
or I try, or I deterritorialize myself, that is,
I leave, I leave my territory. Fine, but what relation does
this have with music? One has to make headway
in creating a concept, that’s why I invoke
the image of the brain: taking my brain at this
moment as an example, I suddenly say to myself,
“the lied.” What is a lied? That’s what it has
always been: It has always been
the voice as a chant that would rise from its position
in relation to the territory. My territory, the territory I no
longer have, the territory that I am trying to reach again,
that’s what a lied is. Whether it’s Schumann
or Schubert, that’s what it is fundamentally.
And I believe that’s what affect is. When I was saying earlier that
music is the history of becomings and the potentials of becomings,
it was something of this sort… It could be great or
it could mediocre, but… What is truly great music?
For me, it appears as an artistic
operation of music. They start from
ritornellos, and… I don’t know, I am talking even about
the most abstract musicians. I believe that each musician has
his/her kinds of ritornellos. They start from little tunes,
they start from little ritornellos. We must look at Vinteuil and Proust
[in In Search of LostTlme], three notes then two, there’s a
little ritornello at the basis of all Vinteuil, at the
basis of the septet. For me, it’s a ritornello that one
must find in music, under music, it’s something incredible.
So what happens? Agreat musician,
on the one hand, it’s not ritornellos that he/she
places one after the other, but ritornellos that will melt into an
even more profound ritornello. This is all ritornellos
of territories, of one particular territory or
another particular territory that will become organized in the
heart of an immense ritornello, which is a cosmic
ritornello, in fact! Everything that Stockhausen says
about music and the cosmos, this whole way of
returning to themes that were current in the Middle
Ages and the Renaissance- I am quite in favor of
this kind of idea that music has a relationship
with the cosmos… So, here is a musician that
I admire greatly and who greatly affects me, Mahler. What is
his Song of the Earth? One can’t say it better. This is
perpetually like elements in genesis, in which there is perpetually
a little ritornello sometimes based on
two cow bells. Deleuze: I find extraordinarily
moving in Mahler’s works the way that all the little ritornellos, which are
already musical works of genius- tavern ritornellos, shepherd
ritornellos, etc.- the way they achieve a composition
in a kind of great ritornello that will become the
Song of the Earth. If we needed yet another
example, I would say Bartok is an immensely great
musician, a very great genius. The way local ritornellos, ritornellos
of national minorities, etc., are collected in a work that has
not yet ceased to be explored. And I think that
music is a bit… Yes, to link it to painting,
it’s exactly the same thing. When Klee says the painter
does “not render the visible, but renders visible,” implied
here are forces that are not visible, and for a musician,
it’s the same thing: he renders audible forces
that are not audible. He doesn’t render
the audible, he makes audible something
that hasn’t yet been, he makes audible the
music of the earth, he makes audible the music of…
or he invents it, almost exactly like
the philosopher: he renders thinkable forces
that are not thinkable, that are in nature rather
raw, rather brutal. I mean it’s this communion
of little ritornellos with the great ritornello that,
for me, defines music, something I find very simple.
It’s music’s potential, its potential to deliver
a truly cosmic level, as if stars began singing
a little tune of a cow bell, a little shepherd’s tune.
Or, it might be the reverse, the cow bells that are suddenly
elevated to the state of celestial sounds,
or of infernal sounds. Parnet: Nonetheless, it seems to
me, and I can’t exactly explain it, with all you tell me, with
all this musical erudition, that what you are looking for in
music, the ritornello, remains visual, Youseemto be engaging
the visual, much more… Ok, I do understand the extent
to which the audible is linked to cosmic forces
like the visual, but you go to no concerts, it’s
something that bothers you, you do not listen
to music, you go to art exhibits
at least once a week, and you have your
habitual practice. Deleuze: It’s from a lack
of possibilities and a lack of time because… I can
only give you one answer. One single thing interests me
fundamentally in literature, its style. Style, for me, is the pure
auditory, the pure auditory. I wouldn’t make the distinction
you do between the visual… It is true that I rarely go to concerts
because it’s more complicated now reserving in advance. These are
all practical details of life, whereas when there’s an art exhibit,
no reservations are needed. But, each time I went to a concert,
I found it too long since I have very little receptivity,
but I always felt deep emotions. I’m not sure you are
completely wrong, but I think you might be mistaken,
that it’s not completely true. In any case, I know that
music gives me emotions… Talking about music is even more
difficult than speaking of painting. It’s nearly the highest point,
speaking about music. Parnet: Nearly all
philosophers… Well, there are a lot of philosophers
who spoke about music. Deleuze: But style is
sonorous, not visual, and I’m only interested in
sonority at that level. Parnet: Music is immediately
connected to philosophy, that is, lots of philosophers spoke about
music, for example, Jankelevitch… Deleuze: Yes, yes,
that’s true… Parnet: but other than
Merleau-Ponty, there are few philosophers
who spoke about painting. Deleuze: Only a few?
You think so? I don’t know… Parnet: Well, I admit,
I’m not certain… but music, Barthes talked about it,
Jankelevitch spoke about it. Deleuze: Yes, he spoke
about it very well. Parnet: Even Foucault
spoke about music. Deleuze: Who? Parnet: Foucault. Deleuze: Oh, Foucault didn’t talk
about music, it was a secret for him. Parnet: Yes, it was a secret. He
spoke a lot about Monet… Deleuze: His relations with music
were completely a secret. Parnet: Yes, he was very close
to certain musicians. Deleuze: Yes, yes, but
those are all secrets that Foucault did
not discuss. Parnet: Well, he would go to
Bayreuth, he was very close to the musical world,
even if a secret- Deleuze: Yes, yes, yes… Parnet: And the
exception of Berg, as Pierre-André was whispering,
which we skipped, why this cry…? Deleuze: Yes, where does
this come from? This is also connected to why one is
devoted to some topic. I don’t know. I discovered at the same time some
musical pieces for orchestras by… – Oh, listen… You see what being
old is, you can’t find names… the orchestra pieces
by his master… Parnet : Schoenberg. Deleuze: by Schoenberg.
I recall that at that moment, not too long ago, putting on
these orchestra pieces fifteen times in a row,
fifteen times in a row, and I recognized the moments
that overwhelmed me. It was then, at the same time
as I found Berg, and he was someone to whom
I could listen all daylong. Why? I see this also being a question
of a relationship to the earth. Mahler, I only came to know much
later, it’s the music of the earth. Take this up in the works
of very old musicians, there it’s fully a relationship
of music and earth, but that music might be
encompassed in the earth to such an extent, as it is in
Berg’s and Mahler’s works, I found this to be
quite overwhelming. Making, truly making sonorous
the forces of the earth, that’s what [Berg’s]
Wozzeck is for me. It’s a great text since it’s the
music of the earth, a great work. Parnet: There are
two cries in it, you liked Marie’s cry
and the cry of… Deleuze: For me, there is such a
relation between song and cry, that, in fact, this whole school was
able to pose the problem anew. But the two cries there, I never
get tired of these two cries, the horizontal cry that floats
along the earth in Wozzeck, and the completely vertical cry
of the countess- countess, or baroness,
I don’t recall- Parnet: Countess… Deleuze: …of the countess
in [Berg’s] Lulu- these are such summits
of cries. All of that interests
me as well because in philosophy,
there are songs and cries. Concepts are veritable
songs in philosophy, and then, there are cries
of philosophy. Suddenly Aristotle [says]:
you have to stop! Or another says, no, I’ll never stop!
Spinoza: what can a body do? We don’t even know what a body
can do! Those are cries. So the relation cry-song or concept-
affect is somewhat the same. It’s valid for me, it’s something
that moves me. Parnet: So, “P” is “Professor.”
You are 64 years of age, and you have spent nearly
40 as a professor, first in French high schools,
then in the university. And so this is the first year that you
plan your weeks without teaching. So, first, do you miss
your courses since you’ve said that you taught
your courses with passion, so I wonder if you miss
no longer doing them? Deleuze: No, not at all, not at all.
It’s true that courses were my life, a very important
part of my life. I really, deeply enjoyed
teaching my courses. But when my retirement
arrived, I was quite happy since I was less
inclined to teach. This question of courses
is quite simple: I believe that courses
are like- there are equivalents
in other domains- a course is something requiring an
enormous amount of preparation. I mean, it nearly corresponds to a
recipe, like in so many activities: if you want five, ten minutes
at most, of inspiration, one has to prepare so very much,
to have this moment of… If you don’t, well… So I realized that the more
things went on- I always did that,
I liked doing that a lot, I prepared a lot in order to reach
these moments of inspiration- and the more things went on,
the longer I had to prepare only to have my inspiration
gradually diminished. So it was about time, and it didn’t
make me happy, not at all, since the courses were
something I greatly enjoyed, but they became something
I needed less. Now I have my writing which
poses other kinds of problems, but I have no regrets, but I did love
teaching enormously, yes. Parnet: And, for example, when
you say “prepare a lot,” how much preparation
time was it? Deleuze: It’s like anything,
there are rehearsals for a class, one rehearses. It’s like in theater, in
popular songs, there are rehearsals, and if one hasn’t rehearsed
enough, there’s no inspiration. In a course, it means
having moments of inspiration, without which the course
means nothing. Parnet: You don’t mean that you
rehearsed in front of your mirror? Deleuze: Of course not, each
activity has its modes of inspiration. But there is no other word
than memorizing… Memorizing and managing to find
that what one’s saying is interesting. Obviously, if the speaker doesn’t
think what he’s saying is interesting -and that doesn’t
go without saying, thinking that what one is saying
is interesting, fascinating. And this isn’t a
form of vanity, it’s not finding oneself
interesting or fascinating, it’s the subject matter that one
is treating and handling that one has to
find fascinating. And to do so, one sometimes
has to truly whip oneself. The question isn’t
whether it’s interesting, but of getting oneself
stimulated to the point that one is able to speak about
something with enthusiasm: that’s what
rehearsing is. So, I needed that less,
undoubtedly. And then courses are something
quite special, a course is a cube, it’s a space-time, and so many
things happen in a course. I like lectures
much less, I never liked lectures because a
lecture is too small a space-time. A course is something that stretches
out from one week to the next. It’s a space and a very,
very special temporality. It has successive
steps. It’s not that one can do over or catch
up when something didn’t go well, but there’s an internal
development in a course. And the people change
from week to week, and the audience for a
course is quite exciting. Parnet: Here, we are going to start
with the beginning. You were first 61 lycée professor. Do
you have good memories of this? Deleuze: Well, yes, because
that doesn’t mean anything since it occurred at a time
when the lycée was not at all what the lycée has become.
I understand… I think of young professors today
who are demoralized by the lycées. I was a lycée professor
shortly after the Libération, when it was completely
different.Parnet: Where
were you?
Deleuze: I was in two cities,
one I liked a lot, one I liked less. Amiens was the one I liked because
it was a very free city, very open, whereas Orleans was
much more severe. This was still a period when a
philosophy professor was treated with a lot of
indulgence, he tended to be forgiven
a lot since he was a bit like the madman,
the village idiot. And usually he could do
whatever he wanted. I taught my students
using a musical saw, since I had taken it up
at the time, and everyone found it
quite normal. Nowadays, I think that would no
longer be possible in the lycées. Parnet: What did you use the
musical saw to explain to them? How did that function
in your course? Deleuze: I taught them curves,
because the saw is a thing that, as you know, one had to curve
the saw in order to obtain the sound from
the curve, and these were quite moving curves,
something that interested them. Parnet: Already it was about
the infinite variation… Deleuze: Yes, but
I didn’t only do that, I taught the baccalaureate
program, I was a very conscientious
professor. Parnet: It was there that
you met Poperen, I think. Deleuze: Yes, I knew Poperen quite
well, but he traveled more than me, and stayed very
little in Amiens. He had a little suitcase
and a big alarm clock because he didn’t
like watches, and the first thing he did was
to take out his clock. He taught with his big clock.
I found him very charming. Parnet: And who were your friends
in the teachers” lounge, because when one
is a student Deleuze: I liked the gymnastics
professors a lot, but I don’t recall very much. The
teachers” lounge in the lycée must have changed a lot today
as well, it was quite something. Parnet: As a student, one imagines
the teachers” lounge as a mysterious and
oppressive place. Deleuze: No, it’s the time when…
there are all sorts of people there, solemn or jokers. But in fact,
I didn’t go there much. Parnet: After Amiens and Orleans,
you were in Paris at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand in
the preparatory course, so can you recall
any students you had that were remarkable or
who didn’t amount to much? Deleuze: Oh, students who
didn’t amount to much? Who amounted to something?
I don’t really recall any longer… Yes, I do recall them.
To my knowledge, they became professors, but none that I know of
who became government ministers. Someone became
a police officer, but no, really there were
none very special, they all went their own way,
they were quite fine. Parnet: Then there were the
Sorbonne years of which one gets the impression that they correspond
to your history of philosophy years. And then, came Vincennes
which was an entirely crucial experience
after the Sorbonne. Well, I am jumping here since
Lyon came after the Sorbonne. First, were you happy to teach at
the university after the lycée? Deleuze: “Happy, happy”-it isn’t
really an appropriate word. It was simply a normal career.
I had left the lycée; if I had gone back to the lycée,
it wouldn’t have been dramatic, it just would have been
abnormal, a setback, so the way things worked out
was normal, normal, no problem, and I have
nothing to say about it. Parnet: Well, for example,
the university courses are differently prepared than
the lycée courses. Deleuze: Not for me,
not at all. Parnet: For you,
it was the same. Deleuze: Exactly the same, I always
did my courses the same way. Parnet: Were your lycée
preparations as intense as your
university preparations? Deleuze: Of course,
of course. In any case, one has to be absolutely
imbued [with the material], one has to love what
one is talking about, and that doesn’t
happen by itself, so one has to rehearse, prepare,
go over things mentally, one has to find a gimmick. It’s quite
amusing that one has to find something like a door that one can’t
pass through from just any position. Parnet: So you prepared your
courses exactly the same way at the lycée and at
the university. It was prepared equally at the lycée
as it was later at the university. Deleuze: There was no difference
in nature at all between the two kinds of courses.
Yes, the same. Parnet: Since we are discussing
your university work, you can talk about your doctoral
thesis. When did you defend it? Deleuze: I had already written
several books before [my defense], I believe, in order not to do it,
that is, it’s a frequent reaction. I was working a lot, and I realized
I had to have the thesis,than had to do this,
that“ was mine urgent.
So I made a maximum effort, and
finally I presented it among one of the very first defenses
following May ”68. Parnet: In 1969? Deleuze: In 1969? Yes, it must have
been in 1969, among the very first. This created a very privileged
situation for me because the committee was
obsessed with only one thing, how to arrange the defense in order
to avoid the student groups roving through the Sorbonne.
They were quite afraid, since it was right after the return to
school following the May ”68 events, so they didn’t know
what would happen. I recall the chairman telling me,
“ok, there are two possibilities: either we have your defense
on the ground floor, where there is one advantage,
there are two exits, so the committee
could get out quickly, but the disadvantage is that,
since it’s on the ground floor, that’s where the students are more
likely to be roving around. Or we could go to the 2nd floor,
with the advantage that students go upstairs
less frequently, but the disadvantage of only
one entrance and one exit, so if something were to happen,
we might not be able to get out.” So that, when
I defended my thesis, I could never meet the gaze of the
committee chairman since he was staring at the door to see
if someone was going to come in, to see if the students
were coming in. Parnet: Who was the
committee chairman? Deleuze: Ah, I’m not saying
his name, it’s a secret. Parnet: I could make
you confess. Deleuze: No, especially given the
chairman’s agony at the time, and also he was
very charming. But the chairman was
more upset than I was, It’s rare for a committee to be more
disturbed about the defense than the candidate in this completely
exceptional situation. Parnet: You were probably
better known at that point than most of the
committee members. Deleuze: Oh, no, I wasn’t
all that well known. Parnet: The defense was on
Difference and Repetition. Deleuze: Yes. Parnet: Well, you were already
very well known for your works on Proust
and Nietzsche. Parnet: So we can move on
to Vincennes, unless you have something to say about
Lyon after the Sorbonne… Deleuze: No, no, no… Vincennes,
there was indeed a change, you are right, not in nature of the
preparation of my courses, in what I call my preparation,
my rehearsals for a course, nor in the style
of a course. In fact, from Vincennes onward, I
no longer had a student audience. This was what was so splendid
about Vincennes. It wasn’t the case
in all the universities. They were getting
back to normal. At Vincennes, at least
in philosophy -it wasn’t true for
all of Vincennes- there was a completely
new kind of audience, which was no longer
made up of students, which was a mixture
of all ages, people with all kinds of
professional activities, including psychiatric hospitals,
even patients. It was perhaps the most
colorful audience and finding a mysterious
unity at Vincennes. That is, it was at once the most
diverse and the most coherent as a function of, even
because of, Vincennes. Vincennes gave to this disparate
crowd a kind of unity. And for me, it was
an audience… Later, had I been
appointed elsewhere- I subsequently spent my whole
teaching career at Vincennes- but had I been forced later
to move to another faculté, I would have completely
lost my bearings. When I visited other
schools after that, it seemed like I was traveling
back in time for me, of landing back in the middle
of the 19th century. So at Vincennes, I spoke before a
mixed audience, young painters, people undergoing psychiatric
treatment, musicians, addicts, young architects, people
from very different countries, with waves of visitors
that changed each year. I recall suddenly 5 or 6
Australians who arrived I don’t know why, and the
next year they were gone. The Japanese were constantly
there, each year, and there were South
Americans, Blacks… It was an invaluable audience
and a fantastic audience. Parnet: Because, for the first time,
you were speaking to non-philosophers,
that is, this practice… Deleuze: It was, I believe,
fully philosophy in its own right, addressed equally to philosophers
and to non-philosophers, exactly like painting is addressed
to painters and non-painters, or music not being limited
to music specialists. It’s the same music, the same Berg
or the same Beethoven addressed equally to people that
are not specialists in music and to people who
are musicians. For philosophy, for me, philosophy
must be strictly the same, it is addressed as much to non-
philosophers as to philosophers without
changing it. Philosophy, when it’s addressed
to non-philosophers, that doesn’t mean one has to make
it simple, no more than in music… One doesn’t make Beethoven
simpler for non-specialists. It’s the same in philosophy,
exactly the same. For me, philosophy has always
had this double audition, a non-philosophical audition as
much as a philosophical one. And if these two don’t exist together,
then there is nothing. Without these, philosophy
would be worth nothing. Parnet: Now, could you explain
a subtle distinction? In lectures, there are non-
philosophers, but you hate lectures. Deleuze: Yes, I hate lectures
because they’re artificial and also because of the before and
the after of lectures. Finally, as much as I like
teaching courses, which is one way of speaking,
so I hate speaking equally. Speaking reallyseems
like an activity for… So, lectures-talking before,
talking after, etc., and all that doesn’t possess
at all the purity of a course. And then, the lecture, there’s
a circus quality in lectures- courses also have their circus
quality as well, but at least it’s a circus that amuses me and
tends to be more involved. In a lecture, there is a phony side,
and the people who go to them… Well, I don’t know, but I just don’t
like lectures, I don’t like giving talks: they’re too tense, too much
like prostitution, too stressed, too I don’t know. That doesn’t
seeminteresting to me at all. Parnet: Let’s come back to your
venerated audience at Vincennes that was so mixed, and in
those Vincennes years, with madmen, addicts, as you said,
who made wild interventions, took the floor, never, never did any
of that ever seem to bother you. All of these interventions
in the middle of your course and you continued
to lecture, and none of the interventions
were objections. That is, the “magistral” aspect
of the course remained. Deleuze: You need to find another
word, since this expression- cours magistral-is imposed
by the university, but we really have to
find another word. That is, I see two conceptions
of a course: the first is one in which the object
of the course is to incite rather immediate reactions
from the audience by means of questions and the
need for interruptions. This is an entire trend, a particular
conception of a course. On the other hand, there is the so-
called “magistral” conception, with one formal
person who speaks. It’s not that I prefer
one or the other, I just had no choice, I only had
practice with the second form, the so-called “magistral”
conception. So a different word is needed
because, almost at the limit, it’s more like a kind of musical
conception of a course. For me, one doesn’t interrupt music,
whether good or bad, or one interrupts if
it’s really bad, but usually one doesn’t
interrupt music, whereas one can easily
interrupt spoken words. So, what does this musical
conception of a course mean? I think it means two things,
based on my experience, although I don’t mean that
this is the best conception, just howl
see things. Considering how I know
my audiences to be, those that have been my
audiences, I tell myself, there is always someone who
doesn’t understand on the spot, and then there is something like a
delayed effect, a bit like in music. At one moment, you don’t
understand a movement, and then three minutes later, it
becomes clear, or ten minutes later: something happened
in the meantime. So with these delayed
effects in a course, someone can certainly understand
nothing at one point, and ten minutes later,
it becomes clear, there’s a kind of
retroactive effect. So if he had already
interrupted- that’s why I find interruptions
so stupid, or even certain questions
people can ask. You ask a question because
you’re in the midst of not understanding… well, you would
be better off waiting. Parnet: So these interruptions,
you found them stupid because people just
didn’t wait? Deleuze: Yes, that’s
a first aspect of it: what someone doesn’t
understand, there is the possibility that he’ll
understand it afterwards. The best students were those who
asked questions the following week. I had a system toward the end,
I don’t know who invented it, it was them, they would pass me a
little note from one week to the next -a practice I appreciated-saying
that I had to go back over a point. So they had waited. “You have
to go back over this point”- I didn’t do it, it wasn’t
important, but there was this kind
of communication. There is a second important point
in my conception of a course: since a course I taught was two
and one-half hours in length, no one could listen
that long. So, for me, a course was
always something that was not destined to be
understood in its totality. A course is a kind of
matter in movement, really matter in movement,
which is how it is musical, and in which each person,
each group, or each student at the limit
takes from it what suits him/her. A bad course is one that
quite literally suits no one, but of course, one can’t expect
everything to suit just anyone. So, people have to wait,
because at the limit, it’s obvious that some people
nearly fall asleep, and then, by some mystery, they wake up at
the moments that concern them. No law can foresee what is
going to concern someone. It’s not even the subjects that are
interesting, but something else. A course entails as much
emotion as intelligence, and if there is no emotion, then
there is nothing, it’s pointless. So, it’s not a question
of following everything or of listening to
everything. It’s rather a question
of keeping a watch so that you grasp what suits you,
what suits you personally. That’s why for me a varied audience
is so crucially important, because I sense clearly that
the centers of interest shift and jump from one person
to another, and that creates a kind
of splendid fabric, a texture, yes. So
there you have it. Parnet: Well, that’s the audience,
but for this “concert,” you invented the expression “pop
philosophy” and “pop philosopher.” Deleuze: Yes, that’s
what I meant. Parnet: Yes, but one could say
that your appearance, like Foucault’s, was
something very special, I mean, your hat, your
fingernails, your voice. Were you conscious that there
was this kind of mythification by your students around
this appearance, like they had mythified Foucault, as
they… mythified the voice of Wahl. First, were you conscious of
having this appearance and then of having this
special voice? Deleuze: Oh yes, certainly,
since the voice in a course- let’s say that if philosophy-
we’ve talked about this already, itseemsto me-mobilizes
and treats concepts, then it’s normal that there be a
vocalization of concepts in a course, just like there is a written
style of concepts. Philosophers aren’t people who
write without searching for or elaborating
a style. It’s like artists, and
they are artists. So, a course implies that one
vocalizes, even it implies, yes- I speak German poorly-a kind of
Sprechgesang, clearly, obviously. So, if on top of that
there are mythifications- did you see his
nails? etc.- that kind of thing occurs
to all professors, already even in
grade school. What’s more
important is the relationship between
the voice and the concept. Parnet: To make you happy, your
hat was like Piaf’s black dress… There is a very
precise allure. Deleuze: Well, my point of honor is
that I never wore it for that reason, so if it produced that effect,
so much the better, very good. There are always
phenomena… Parnet: Is that a part of
your role as professor? Deleuze: Is that a part of
my role as professor? No, that isn’t part of my role as
professor, it’s a supplement to it. What belongs to a professor’s role is
what I said about prior rehearsal and about inspiration in the moment,
that’s the professor’s role. Parnet: You never wanted either
a “school,” or disciples, and that corresponds to
something very deep in you, this refusal
of disciples… Deleuze: I don’t refuse at all.
Generally it works both ways: no one wants to be my disciple any
more than I want to have any. A “school” is awful for a
very simple reason: a “school” takes a lot of time,
one turns into an administrator. Consider philosophers who
have their own “school”: the Wittgensteinians,
it’s a “school.” Ok, it’s not much fun. The
Heideggerians, it’s a “school.” First it implies some terrible
scores being settled, it implies exclusivity,
it implies scheduling, it implies an entire administration,
a “school” has to be run. I saw the rivalries between French
Heideggerians led by Beaufret and the Belgian Heideggerians
led by De Waelhens, a real knife fight.
It was abominable, at least for me, without
any interest. I think of other reasons. I mean,
even on the level of ambition, being the leader of a “school.”
Just look at Lacan… Lacan was the leader
of a “school” as well. But it’s awful, it creates
so many worries. One has to become
Machiavellian to lead it all, and then for myself,
I despise that. For me, the “school” is the
opposite of a movement. A simple example: Surrealism
was a “school,” with scores settled, trials,
exclusions, etc. [Andre] Breton created
a “school.” Dada was a movement.
If I had an ideal- and I don’t claim
to have succeeded- it would be to participate
in a movement. Yes, fine… To be in
a movement, yes, but to be even the leader
of a “school” does notseemto me
to be an enviable fate. A movement, yes…
The ideal is finally… It’s not at all to have guaranteed
and signed notions or to have disciples
repeating them. For me, there are
two important things: the relationship that one can have
with students means to teach them that they must be
happy with their solitude. They keep saying: a little
communication, we feel isolated, we’re so alone, etc, and
that’s why they want “schools.” But they can do nothing except
as a function of their solitude, so it’s to teach them the
benefit of their solitude, it’s to reconcile them
with their solitude. That was my role
as a professor. And then, the second aspect
is a bit the same: I wouldn’t want to introduce notions
that would constitute a “school,” I’d want to introduce
notions or concepts that would make it
to the everyday arena. I don’t mean these would
become something ordinary, but that they would become
commonly accepted ideas, namely ideas that one could
handle in different ways. That could only occur if
I addressed this to other solitary people who will twist
these notions in their own way, to use them as
they need them. So all of these are notions of movements and not
notions of “schools.” Parnet: And do you think that,
in today’s university, the era of great professors
has passed, things don’tseemto be going
very well in the universities? Deleuze :Well, I don’t have
many ideas about that since I no longer have a place there. I left
at a time that was terrifying, and I couldn’t understand how
professors could continue teaching. That is, they’d become
managers. The university, and the current
political trend is clear: the university will cease
being a place of research, entirely consonant with the forced
entry of disciplines that have nothing to do with
university disciplines. My dream would be for universities
to remain research sites and that, alongside the universities,
technical schools would multiply, where they would teach accounting,
information science, etc., but with universities
intervening only, even in accounting and information
science, on the level of research. And there could be all
the agreements possible between a technical school
and the university, with a school sending its students
to pursue research courses. But once they introduced technical
school subjects into the university, the university is done for,
it’s no longer a research site, and one gets increasingly eaten up
by these management hassles, the vast number of meetings
at the university. That’s why I said I don’t see how
professors can prepare a course, so that I assume that they do
the same one every year, or they just no longer
do any preparation. Perhaps I am wrong, perhaps
they continue to prepare them, so much the better. But still,
the tendency seems to be the disappearance of
research at the university, the rise of non-creative
disciplines in the university, those that are not
research disciplines, and that’s called the adaptation of
the university to the job market. It’s not the role of the university
to adapt to the job market. It’s the role of
technical schools. Parnet: 80, “’Q’ is
“Question.” Philosophy serves to pose
questions and problems, and questions are
constructed, and as you say, their purpose
is not so much to answer them as to leave these
questions behind. So, for example, leaving the
history of philosophy behind meant creating new
questions for you. But here, in an interview, one
doesn’t ask you questions, they really aren’t questions, so
how do I leave this behind, how do you leave this behind? What
does one do, make a forced choice? First, what is the difference between
a question in the mass media and a question in philosophy,
to start at the beginning? Deleuze: That’s difficult, because…
I’d say… That’s difficult, because… In the media most of the time,
or in conversations, there are no questions, no
problems, there are interrogations. If I say, “how are you doing?”,
it doesn’t constitute a problem, even if you aren’t doing well at all.
“What time is it?”, it’s not a problem. All of those are interrogations.
People inquire about each other. If one sees the usual level
on television, even in supposedly serious
broadcasts, it’s full of interrogations. Saying “what do you think of this?”
does not constitute a problem. It’s an interrogation,
it’s “what is your opinion?”That’s why IV. isn’t
very interesting.
People’s opinions, they don’t have
a very lively interest for me. If someone asks me:
“Do you believe in God?” That’s an interrogation.
Where is the problem there, where is the question? There is no
question, there is no problem. So if one asked questions or
problems in a t.v. show, [the number of broadcasts] is vast,
sure, but it happens rarely… The political t.v. shows do not
encompass, to my knowledge, a single problem. They could
do so, they could, for example, ask about people: “How do
we pose the Chinese question?” But they don’t ask, they usually
invite specialists on China who say things about contemporary
China that one could figure out all by oneself, without knowing
anything about China. It’s great! So it’s not
at all their domain. I’ll return therefore to my example,
because its huge: God, what is the problem or
question about God’.7 It’s not whether one believes
in God or not, which doesn’t interest
many people, but what does it mean when
one says the word “God”? Does this mean… I’m going to
imagine the questions. That could mean: are you going
to be judged after death? So how is this a problem? Because
this establishes a problematic relationship between God and the
agency of judgment. Is God a judge? This is a
question. Ok then… I suppose someone might say to us,
Pascal. Pascal wrote a famous text, the one on the bet:
does God exist or not? One bets on it, and then
one reads Pascal’s text, and one realizes that it’s absolutely
not a matter of that question. Why? Because it’s another question
that he asks. Pascal’s question is not
whether God exists or not, which would not be
very interesting, but it’s: what is the
best mode of existence, the mode of existence of someone
who believes that God exists, or the mode of existence of someone
who believes God doesn’t exist? Such that Pascal’s question
absolutely does not concern the existence of God or the
non-existence of God. It concerns the
existence of someone who believes in
God’s existence and the existence of someone who
believes that God doesn’t exist. For various reasons that Pascal
develops, which are his own, but which can be clearly
articulated, he thinks that someone who
believes that God exists has a better existence than
someone who believes the opposite. That’s his business, ok,
it’s a Pascalian matter. In this, there’s a problem,
a question, and it’s already no longer the
question of God. There is a story underlying
the questions, a transformation of questions
within one another. This is the same when
Nietzsche says “God is dead,” it’s not the same thing as God
does not exist. I can say… If I say, “God is dead,” what
question does that refer to, which is not the same as when
I say, “God does not exist”? One realizes if one
reads Nietzsche that he could care
less about God’s death, and that he’s posing another
question in this way, that is, if God is dead, there’s no reason
that man wouldn’t be dead as well, one has to find something
else than man, etc. What interested Nietzsche was not
at all whether God was dead, he was interested in the arrival
of something other than man. That’s what the art of
questions and problems is, and I believe that this could certainly
occur on t.v. or in the media, but that would create a
very strange kind of show, on this underlying story of
problems and questions. Whereas in daily conversations
as well as in the media, people stay on the
level of interrogations. One has only to look at…
I can refer to… sure, all this is posthumous-
the show, “The Hour of Truth.” There aren’t any truths,
it’s truly full of interrogations… “Mme Veil, do you believe in
Europe?” “ok, fine”… What does that mean,
“believe in Europe”? It would be interesting if one asked,
“what is the problem of Europe?” The problem of Europe, well, I’ll tell
you what it is because that way, I’ll have for once expressed
a forewarning. That’s exactly the same as
for China right now, they constantly think about
preparing Europe, preparing the uniformization
of Europe, they interrogate each
other about it, on how to make
insurance uniform, etc. And then, they find a million people
at the Place de la Concorde from everywhere, Holland,
Germany, etc., and [the interrogators] don’t control it
at all, they don’t control it. Fine, so they call on specialists to
tell them why there are so many Dutch people at the Place de la
Concorde. “It’s because… etc.” They just skirt around the real
questions at the very moment when they need to be asked… What
I’ve been saying is a bit confused… Parnet: No, no,
for example, for years you used to read
daily newspapers, but itseemsthat you no longer read
Le Monde or Liberation daily. Is there something on the level
of the press or the media precisely not asking
these questions… Deleuze: Oh, I don’t know…
I have a lot less time… Parnet: that
disgusts you? Deleuze: Oh, yes! Listen… I get
the feeling of learning less and less. I’m quite ready, I want to learn
things, since we know nothing, but since the newspapers say
nothing either, what can one do? Parnet: And you,
for example, each time that you watch
the evening news since it’s the only t.v. show
you never miss, do you always have a question
to formulate each time that is never formulated
in the media? Deleuze: I don’t know about
that, I don’t know. Parnet: Youseemto think that
questions never get asked. Deleuze: The questions?
Well, I think that, at the limit, the questions can’t be asked.
If you take the Touvier story, you can’t pose questions-I’m
choosing something quite recent. They arrested [Paul] Touvier,
ok… So, why now’.7 Ok, so when everyone says, “Why
has he been protected?”, and everyone knows that there must
have been various machinations. He was an information director,
so he must have information on the conduct of distinguished
dignitaries in the Church during the period of World War II.
Everyone knows… Ok, so everyone knows
what he knows about, but there’s an agreement not to ask
questions, and they won’t get asked. That’s what’s known as a
consensus, it’s an agreement, the convention according to which
problems and questions will be substituted for simple interrogations,
such as “How are you doing?” that is, ah, well… “That convent
helped him hide. Why?” etc. Everyone knows that’s not
the real question… Parnet: Well,
I don’t know… Deleuze: Everyone knows… Let me
take another recent example, regarding the reformers
on the Right and the political apparatus
on the Right. Everyone knows
what this is about, but the newspapers don’t tell us
a thing. I don’t know, I am just saying this, but itseems
obvious to me that between these reformers de droite, there is
very interesting problem. These guys-it’s not that
they are particularly young, but their problem
is this: it’s an attempt to shake up elements
of the Party organizations that are always very
centralized around Paris. Specifically, the reformers want
regional independence, something very
interesting, and yet no one is calling
attention to this aspect. The connection to the European
question is that they want to create a Europe not of nations,
they want a Europe of regions. They want the veritable unity
to be regional and inter-regional, rather than a national
and international unity. Now this is
a problem, one that the Socialists will have
to face at some point, between regionalist and
internationalist tendencies. But the Party organizations, that is,
the provincial federations, still correspond to an old-fashioned
approach, specifically, all that goes back to Paris, and the
power is extremely centralized. So, the conservative reformers are
an anti-Jacobine movement, and the Left will have one as well.
So, I say, fine, they have to be made to talk about
this, but no one will do so, they even refuse to because, when
they do, they will reveal themselves. Hence, they’ll only
answer interrogations, and interrogations
are nothing, it’s just conversation.
It’s pointless. Conversations, interrogations,
they are pointless. Except for rare exceptions, t.v.
is condemned to discussions, to interrogations.
It’s worthless. It’s not even a question of lies,
it’s just insignificant, it’s pointless. Parnet: Well, I’m less of
an optimist than you, but it seems to me that there is the
journalist Anne Sinclair who, within the consensus,
doesn’t realize it, and thinks she’s posing
good questions, not at all
interrogations. Deleuze: Fine, that’s
her business, I’m quite sure that she’s very
happy with herself.. Yes, that’s certain,
it’s her business. Parnet: You never accept
to go on television. Foucault and
Serres did it. Are you retreating from
the world like Beckett did? Do you
hate television? Why won’t you go on television?
For all these reasons? Deleuze: Well, here’s the proof,
I’ll be on t.v.! But my reasons for
not accepting relate exactly to what
I have already said: I don’t want to have conversations
and discussions with people. I cannot stand interrogations,
that doesn’t interest me. And discussions, arguing
about something, especially when no one knows
what problem is being raised. I return to my
example of God- is it a matter of the non-existence
of God, of the death of God, of the death of man,
of the existence of God, of the existence of whoever
believes in God, etc.? It’s a muddle,
it’s very tiring. So when everyone has
his turn to speak, it’s domesticity in
its purest state, moreover with some idiot of
a host as well… Mercy, mercy… Parnet: The most important thing
is that you are here today answering our little
interrogations. Deleuze: On the condition
that it’s posthumous! Parnet: “R” is “Resistance.”
As you said in a recent lecture, philosophy creates concepts,
and whenever one creates, as you said in this lecture, one
resists. Artists, filmmakers, musicians, mathematicians,
philosophers all resist, but, what do they
resist exactly? First, let’s take this
case by case: philosophers create concepts, but
does science create concepts? Deleuze: No. These are rather
questions of ends, Claire. Because if we agree to reserve the
word “concept” for philosophy, another word is needed then to
designate scientific notions. One doesn’t say of an artist either
that he/she creates concepts. A painter or a musician
doesn’t create concepts, he/she creates something else.
So, for science, one needs to find other words. Let’s
say, one could say, for example, a scientist is someone who creates
functions, let’s say. I’m not saying it’s the best word: he!
she creates new functions, but creating functions occurs as
much… Creating new functions… Einstein, Gallois, the great
mathematicians, but not only the mathematicians,
there are physicists, biologists, all
create functions. So… how does this
constitute resisting? How is creating resisting in all that?
It’s clearer for the arts, because science is in a more
ambiguous position, a bit like cinema: it is caught in so
many problems of organization, funding, etc., that the portion
of resistance… But great scientists also mount
considerable resistance, if one thinks
of Einstein, of many physicists and biologists
today, it’s obvious. They resist first against being forced
in certain tempting directions and against the trends in
popular opinion, that is, against the whole domain of
imbecilic interrogation. They really have the strength
to demand their own rhythm, they can’t be forced to release just
anything prematurely, just as one usually
doesn’t hurry an artist. No one has the right
to hurry an artist. But I think that… That creating
would be resistance is because… I believe… Let me tell you,
there is a writer I recently read who affected me greatly
on this topic. I believe that one of the great
motifs in art and thought is a certain “shame
of being a man.” I think that Primo Levi is
that writer and artist who has expressed
this most profoundly. He was able to speak of this
“shame of being a man” in an extremely
profound book because he wrote it following his
return from the Nazi death camps. Levi said, “Yes,
when I was freed, the dominant feeling was
‘the shame of being a man. It’s a statement,
I believe, that’s at once quite splendid,
very beautiful, and not at all abstract,
it’s quite concrete, “the shame of being a man.”
But this does not mean certain stupidities that some people
might like to have it mean. It does not mean that we are all
assassins, that we are all guilty, for example, all guilty of Nazism.
Levi says it admirably: it doesn’t mean that the
executioners and the victims are all the same… You can’t
make us believe that. There are a lot of people who
maintain, “Oh yes, we are all guilty”… No, no, no,
nothing of the sort… We cannot confuse the
executioner with the victim. So “the shame of being a man” does
not mean that we are all the same, that we are all compromised, etc.
It means, I believe, several things. It’s a very complex feeling, not a
unified feeling. “The shame of being a man”
means at once how could men do that-some
men, that is, others than me- how could they
do that? And second, how have I myself
nonetheless taken sides? I didn’t become an executioner, but I
still took sides to have survived, and there is a certain shame
in having survived in the place of certain friends
who did not survive. So it’s therefore an extremely
composite feeling, “the shame of being a man,” and
I believe that at the basis of art, there is this idea or this very strong
feeling of shame of being a man that results in art which liberates the life
that men have imprisoned. Men never cease imprisoning life,
they never cease killing life- “the shame of being a man.” The
artist is the one who liberates a life, a powerful life, a life that’s more
than personal, it’s not his/her life. Parnet: Ok, so I head you back
toward the artist and resistance, that is, the role of the
shame of being a man, art freeing life from this
prison of shame, but it’s something very different
from sublimation. That is, art is not at all this…
It’s really a resistance… Deleuze: No, not at all… It means
ripping life forth, life’s liberation, and that’s not at all
something abstract. What is a great character
in a novel? A great character is not borrowed
from the real and even inflated: Charlus is not
Montesquiou, not even Montesquiou inflated by
Proust’s brilliant imagination. These are fantastic powers
of action for life, fantastic powers of action for life,
however badly it turns out. He has integrated worlds into
a fictional character. It’s a kind of giant, it’s a kind of
exaggeration in relation to life, but not an exaggeration
in relation to art, since art is the production
of these exaggerations, and it is by their mere existence
that this is already resistance. Or, we can connect with
the first theme “,”A writing is always writing for animals,
that is, not to them, but in their place, doing what
animals can’t, writing, freeing life, freeing life from prisons that
men have created, and that’s what resistance is.
I don’t know… That’s obviously what artists do,
and I mean there is no art that doesn’t also
liberate a power of action for life, there is no art
of death, first of all. Parnet: But sometimes
art doesn’t suffice. Primo Levi ended up committing
suicide much, much later. Deleuze: He committed suicide
personally… Ah yes, ah yes, he could no longer
hold on, so he committed suicide
to his personal life. But, there are four pages
or twelve pages or a hundred pages of Primo
Levi that will remain, that will remain eternal resistances,
so it happens this way. And it’s even more… I am talking
about “the shame of being a man,” but it’s not even in the grandiose
sense of Primo Levi, you see? Because if one dares to say
something of this sort, for each of us
in daily life, there are tiny events that inspire in
us this shame of being a man. We witness a scene in which
someone has really been too vulgar, we don’t make a big thing of it,
but we are upset, upset for the other,
we are upset for ourselves because weseemnearly
toacceptthis. Here again, we almost make
some sort of compromise. But if we protest, saying “what
you’re saying is base, shameful,” a big drama gets made out of it,
and we’re caught, and we feel- it doesn’t at all compare
with Auschwitz- but even on this
minuscule level, there is a small shame
of being a man. If one doesn’t feel that shame,
there is no reason to create art. It’s Ok, I can’t
say anything else. Parnet: But when you create,
precisely when you are an artist, do you feel these dangers
all the time, dangers that are surrounding you,
that are everywhere? Deleuze: Yes, obviously, yes,
in philosophy as well. It’s what
Nietzsche said, a philosophy that doesn’t
damage stupidity- damage stupidity, resist stupidity.
But if philosophy did not exist- people act like “oh,
philosophy, after all, it’s good for after-dinner
conversations.” But if philosophy did not exist, we
cannot guess the level of stupidity. Philosophy prevents stupidity
from being as enormous as it would be were
there no philosophy. That’s splendor of it, we have
no idea what things would be like. Without art, what would the
vulgarity of people be… So when we say “to create is to
resist,” its effective, I mean. The world would not be
what it is if not for art, people could not hold
on any more. It’s not that they read
philosophy, Philosophy’s mere existence
prevents people from being as stupid and beastly as
they would be without it. Parnet: What do
you think when people announce the death
of thought, the death of cinema, the death of literature-does that
seemlike a joke to you? Deleuze: There are no deaths, there
are assassinations, quite simply. Perhaps cinema will be
assassinated, quite possibly, but there is no death from natural
causes, for a simple reason: as long as there would be
nothing to grasp and take on the function
of philosophy, philosophy will still have
every reason to live on, and if something else takes on
the function of philosophy, then I don’t see at all how it could
be anything but philosophy. If we say that philosophy consists of
creating concepts, for example, and, through that, damaging
and preventing stupidity, then how could
philosophy die? It could be blocked, it could be
censored, it could be assassinated, but it has a function,
it is not going to die. The death of philosophy always
seemed to me an imbecilic idea, it’s an idiotic idea. It’s not that
I am attached to philosophy… I’m very pleased that
it doesn’t die, I don’t even understand what this
means, “the death of philosophy.” It justseemsto be a rather feeble
idea, kind of simpering, just to have something
to say, just a way of saying things change,
and there’s no more use… But, what’s going to
replace philosophy? What’s going to create concepts?
So someone might tell me: “You must not create any more
concepts,” and so, ok, let stupidity reign -fine, it’s the idiots
who want to do philosophy in. Who is going to create concepts?
Information science? Advertising agents who have taken
over the word “concept”? Fine, we will have advertising
“concepts,” which is the “concept”
of a brand of noodles. They don’t risk having much of a
rivalry with philosophy because I don’t think that the word “concept”
is being used in the same way. But today advertising presents
itself as philosophy’s true rival since they tell us: we advertisers
are inventing concepts. But, the “concept” proposed by
information science, “concepts” by computers,
is quite hilarious, what they call a “concept.” So, we
shouldn’t get worried about it. Parnet: Could we say that you,
Félix, and Foucault form networks of concepts like networks
of resistance, like a war machine against dominant modes of
thought and commonplaces’.7 Deleuze: Yes, why not? It would
be very nice if it were true, that would be very nice. In any case,
the network is certainly the only… If one doesn’t create
a “school”- and these “schools”
don’tseemgood at all- if one doesn’t create
a “school,” there is only the regime of
networks, of complicities. Of course, it’s something that
has existed in every period, what we call Romanticism, for
example, German Romanticism, or Romanticism in general,
this was a network. What we call Dadaism,
it’s a network. And I’m sure that there must be
networks today as well. Parnet: Are these networks
of resistance? Deleuze: By their
very existence. The function of the network
is to resist, and to create. Parnet: For example, you feel
both famous and clandestine, this notion of clandestinity
that you are fond of. Deleuze: I don’t consider
myself at all famous, I don’t consider myself clandestine.
I would like to be imperceptible. But there are a lot of people who
would like to be imperceptible. That doesn’t at all mean
that I’m not… Being imperceptible
is fine because… But that’s a question
that’s almost personal. What I want is to do my work,
for people not to bother me and not make me waste time,
yes, and at the same time, I want to see people, because
I need to, like everybody else, I like people, or a small group
of people whom I like to see. But, when I see them, I don’t want
this to create the slightest problem, to have imperceptible relationships
with imperceptible people, that’s what is most
beautiful in the world. You can say that we are all
molecules, a molecular network. Parnet: Is there a strategy in
philosophy, for example, when you wrote your
book on Leibniz, was it strategically that you
wrote on Leibniz? Deleuze: I suppose that depends on
what the word “strategy” means. I assume that one doesn’t write
without a certain necessity. If there is no necessity
to create a book, that is, a strongly felt necessity by the
person writing the book, then it would be
better not to do it. So when I wrote on Leibniz,
it was necessary for me. Why was it necessary? Because
a moment arrived for me- it would take too
long to explain- to talk, not about Leibniz,
but about the fold. And for the fold, it was at that time
fundamentally linked to Leibniz. But I can say for each
book that I wrote what the necessity was
at each period. Parnet: But besides the grip of
necessity that pushes you to write, I mean, your return to a philosopher
as a return to history of philosophy after the cinema books
and after books like A Thousand Plateaus and
Anti-Oedipus. Is there… Deleuze: There was no return
to a philosopher, which is why I previously answered
your question quite correctly. I did not write a book on Leibniz,
I only wrote a book on Leibniz because, for me, the moment had
come to study what “a fold” was. Deleuze: I do history of philosophy
when I need to, that is, when I encounter and
experience a notion that is itself already connected
to a philosopher. When I got passionately involved
with the notion of “expression,” I wrote a book on Spinoza because
Spinoza is a philosopher who raised the notion of “expression”
to an extraordinarily high level. When I encountered on my own
the notion of “the fold,” it seemed to go without saying
that it would be through Leibniz. Now it does happen that
I encounter notions that are not already dedicated
to a philosopher, so then I don’t do history
of philosophy. But I see no difference
between writing a book on the history of philosophy
and a book of philosophy, so it’s in that way that
I follow my own path. Parnet: “S” is “Style” Deleuze: Ah, well,
good for us! Parnet: What is style? In Dialogues,
you say that style is the property precisely of those about whom
it is said they have no style. I think that you say this about
Balzac, if I recall correctly. So what
is style? Deleuze: Well, that’s
no small question! Parnet: No, that’s why
I asked it so quickly! Deleuze: Listen, this is what I can
say: to understand what style is, one is better off not knowing a
thing at all about linguistics. Linguistics has done a lot of harm.
Why has it done a lot of harm? Because there is an opposition-
Foucault said it well- there is an opposition, and it’s
even their complementarity, between linguistics
and literature. As opposed to what many say,
they do not fit each other at all. Because, for linguistics, a language
is always a system in balance, therefore of which one
can create the science. And the rest, the variations,
are placed no longer on the side of language,
but on the side of speech. When one writes, we know quite
well that language is, in fact, a system, as physicists would say,
a system which is by nature far from equilibrium, a system in
perpetual imbalance, such that there is no difference of level
between language and speech, but language is constituted by all
sorts of heterogeneous currents in disequilibrium with
one another. So, what is the style of
a great author? I think there are two things
in a style-you see, I am answering clearly,
rapidly and clearly, so I’m ashamed because it’s
too much of a summary. Styleseemsto me composed
of two things: one submits the language in which
one speaks and writes to a certain treatment, not a treatment
that’s artificial, voluntary, etc., but a treatment that mobilizes
everything, the author’s will, but also his/her wishes, desires,
needs, necessities. One submits language to a
syntactical and original treatment, which could be-here we come
back to the theme of “Animal”- that could be making language
stutter, I mean, not stuttering oneself, but
making language stutter. Or, and this is not the same thing,
to make language stammer. Let’s choose some examples
from great stylists: Gherasim Luca, a poet, I’d say,
generally, he creates stuttering, not his own speech, but
he makes language stutter. Péguy… it’s quite curious because
generally for people, Péguy is a certain kind of
personality about whom one forgets that above all,
like all great artists, he’s totally crazy. Never has
anyone written like Péguy, and never will anyone
write like Péguy. His writing belongs among the great
styles of French language; he’s one of the great creators
of the French language. What did he do? One can’t say that
his style is a stuttering; he makes the sentence grow
from its middle. It’s fantastic. Instead of having sentences
follow each other, he repeats the same sentence with
an addition in the middle of it, which in turn, will engender
another addition, etc. He makes the sentence proliferate
from its middle, by insertions. That’s a
great style. So, there is the first aspect: make
language undergo a treatment, an incredible treatment.
That’s why a great stylist isn’t someone who conserves
syntax, but is a creator of syntax. I never let go of Proust’s
lovely formula: masterpieces are always written
in a kind of foreign language. A stylist creates a foreign language
in his/her language. It’s true of Céline,
it’s true of Péguy, it’s true of… That’s what it
means to be a great stylist. Then, second, at the same time
as this first aspect-specifically, one causes syntax to undergo a
deforming, contorting treatment, but a necessary one that constitutes
something like a foreign language in the language in
which one writes- the second point is, through this
very process, one then pushes all language
all the way to a kind of limit, the border that separates
it from music. One produces a kind of music. If
one succeeds with these two things, and if there is necessity
in doing so, it is a style, that’s what the great stylists are.
And it’s true of all of them at once: burrow a foreign language
deep within language, and carry all language
to a kind of musical limit. This is what it means to
have a style, yes. Parnet: Do you think that
you have a style…? Deleuze: Oh,
the treachery! Parnet: …because I see a change
from your first books. It’s simplified. Deleuze: The proof of a style
is its variability, and generally one goes toward an
increasingly sober style. But increasingly sober does
not mean less complex. I think of one of the writers I admire
greatly in terms of style, Kerouac. At the end of his career, Kerouac’s
writing was like a Japanese line, really, a pure Japanese
line drawing, his style, reaching a sobriety, but
that really implies then the creation of a foreign language within the
language, all the more… Well, yes… I also think
of Céline, and it’s odd when
people said to Céline, “Oh, you’ve introduced spoken
language into written language” which was already a stupid
statement because in fact, a completely written treatment
is required in language, one must create a foreign
language within language to obtain through writing the
equivalent of the spoken language. So Celine didn’t introduce the
spoken into language, that’s just stupid to say that. But
when Celine received a compliment, he knew very well that he
was so far away from what he would
have wanted. So that would be in
his second novel, in Death on Credit, that
he is going to get closer. But when it’s published and he is
told, “Oh, you’ve changed,” he knows again that he is very,
very far from what he wanted, and so what he wanted, he is going
to reach with Guignol’s Band, where language is pushed to such a
limit that it is so close to music. It’s no longer a treatment
of language that creates a foreign
language, but an entire language pushed
to the musical limit. So, by it’s very nature, style
changes, it has its variation. Parnet: With Péguy, one often
thinks of Steve Reich with the repetitive aspect
of the music. Deleuze: Yes, except that Péguy
is a much greater stylist than Reich. Parnet: You haven’t responded
to my “treachery.” Do you think that you
have a style? Deleuze: I would like to, but what do
you want me to say? I would like to, but I have the feeling… If one says
that already to be a stylist, one must live the problem of style,
then I can answer more modestly: the problem of style,
for me, I live it, yes. I don’t tell myself
while writing, “the problem of style,
I’ll deal with it afterward.” I am aware I will not obtain the
movement of concepts that I want if the writing does not
pass through style, Parnet: And the necessity
of composition? Deleuze: I am ready to rewrite
the same page ten times. Parnet: So, style is like a necessity
of composition in what you write? That is, composition enters into it
in a very primordial way? Deleuze: Yes, there, I think you
are completely correct. But you are saying
something else there. Is the composition of a book
already a matter of style? In this, I think:
yes, entirely. The composition of a book cannot
be decided beforehand, but at the same time as
the book is written. I see that in what I have written,
if I dare invoke these examples, there are two books that
seemto be composed. I always attached great importance
to the composition itself. I think, for example, of a
book called Logic of Sense, which is composed
by series, it’s truly a kind of serial
composition for me. And then in A Thousand Plateaus,
it’s a composition by plateaus, plateaus constituted
by things… But I see these as nearly
two musical compositions. Composition is a fundamental
element of style. Parnet: And in your mode
of expression, to pick up a statement
you made earlier: today are you now closer to what
you wanted than twenty years ago, or is it something
else entirely? Deleuze: At this moment in
what I am doing, I feel that I’m getting closer… in
what I have not yet completed, I have a feeling of getting closer,
that I am grasping something that I was looking for and
haven’t found before. Parnet: Style is
not only literary, you are sensitive to it
in all domains. For example, you live with the
elegant Fanny [Deleuze], your friend Jean-Pierre is
also quite elegant, and youseemvery sensitive
to this elegance. Deleuze: Well, they’re ahead of me
there. I’d like to be elegant, but I know quite well that I am not.
For me, elegance is something… Even in perceiving it, I mean,
there is already an elegance that consists in perceiving
what elegance is. Otherwise, there are people
who miss it entirely and for whom what they call elegance
is not at all elegant. So a certain grasp of what elegance
is belongs to elegance. That impresses me greatly. This is a
domain like anything else, that one has to learn about,
one has to be somewhat gifted, you have to learn it…
Why did you ask me that? Parnet: For style,
that is in all domains. Deleuze: Ah, well, yes, but this
aspect is not really part of great art. What one might need to… yes, no,
I don’t know… It’s just that… I get the impression that it doesn’t
only depend on elegance… Which is something
that I admire a lot, but… What’s important in the world is all
these things that emit signs. I mean non-elegance,
vulgarity also emit signs, that’s more what I find important:
the emissions of signs. So, this is why I have always liked
and still like Proust so much, for the society life,
the social relations- these are fantastic
emissions of signs. What we calla blunder is a
non-comprehension in a Sign, signs that people don’t
understand. Society life as a milieu of the
proliferation of empty signs, absolutely empty, these signs
have no interest at all. But it’s also the speed and the
nature of their emission. This connects back to
animal worlds because animal worlds also are
fantastic emissions of signs. Animals and socialites
are the masters of signs. Parnet: Although you don’t
go out much, you have always preferred going out
in society to convivial gatherings. Deleuze: Of course, because
for me, in society, people don’t argue, that sort of
vulgarity is not part of that milieu, and conversation moves absolutely
into lightness, that is, an extraordinarily rapid evocation,
speeds of conversations. Again, these are very interesting
emissions of signs. Parnet: 80, “‘T’ is “Tennis.” Deleuze: “Tennis”. .. hmm’? Parnet: You have always
liked tennis. There is a famous anecdote
about you as a child, trying to get the autograph of
a great Swedish tennis player and you realized it was instead
the king of Sweden. Deleuze: No, I knew who it was. He was already around a hundred,
and he was well protected, he had lots of
bodyguards. But I did ask the king of Sweden
for an autograph. There is a photo of me in Le Figaro,
where there’s a little boy asking the elderly king of Sweden for
an autograph. That’s me. Parnet: And who was
the Swedish tennis player whom you were
chasing after? Deleuze: It was Borotra. He wasn’t
a great Swedish player, it was Borotra, who was the
king’s main bodyguard since he played tennis with
the king, gave him lessons. He kicked me a few times to keep
me away from the king, but the king was very nice,
and afterwards, Borotra also got nice. That’s not a
very flattering moment for Borotra. Parnet: There are lots of moments,
even less flattering, for Borotra. Is tennis the only sport you
watch on television? Deleuze: No, I adore soccer,
I really like soccer… Yes, so it’s that
and tennis. Parnet: Did you
play tennis? Deleuze: Yes, a let up until the war,
so that makes me a war victim! Parnet: What changes occur in your
body when one plays a sport a lot, and when one stops playing it after,
are there things that change? Deleuze: I don’t think so,
at least not for me. I didn’t turn it into a trade.
In 1939, I was 14 years old, and stopped playing tennis at 14,
so that’s not dramatic. Parnet: Did you have
a lot of talent? Deleuze: Yes, for a 14 year old,
I did pretty well. Parnet: Did you have
a ranking? Deleuze: Oh, no! At 14, I was
really too small, and then I did not have the kind of
development they have today. Parnet: And after, you tried other
sports, I think, some French boxing? Deleuze: Well, no, I did a bit,
but I got hurt, so I stopped that right away,
but I did try some boxing. Parnet: Do you think tennis has
changed a lot since your youth? Deleuze: Of course, like in all
sports, there are milieus of variation, and here we get back to
the problem of style. Sports are very interesting for the
question of positions of the body. There is a variation of
positions of the body over spaces of greater
or lesser length. For example, it’s obvious that
athletes don’t jump hurdles in the same way now
as they did fifty years ago. And one would have to categorize
the variables in the history of sports. I see several:
variables of tactics. In soccer, tactics have changed
enormously since my childhood. There are position variables
for the body’s posture. There are variables that
put into play… There was a moment when I was
very interested in the shotput, not to do it myself, but the build
of the shot putter evolved at one point
with extreme rapidity. At times it was a
question of force: how, with really strong shot putters,
to gain back speed, At other times it was a
question of speed: and how, with builds geared for
speed,to gain back force? Now this is very, very
interesting. It’s almost… The sociologist [Marcel] Mauss
introduced all sorts of studies on the positions of bodies
in different civilizations, but sports is a domain of
the variation of positions, something quite
fundamental. So, in tennis, even
before the war- and I still remember the champions
from before the war- it’s obvious that the positions
were not the same, not at all. And then, something that interests
me greatly, again related to style, is the champions
that are true creators. There are two kinds
of great champion, that do not have the
same value for me, the creators and
the non-creators. The non-creators are those who
bring a pre-existing style to an unequaled level,
for example Lendl. I don’t consider Lendl to be
fundamentally a creator in tennis. But then there are the great
creators, even on very simple levels, those who invent new “moves”
and introduce new tactics. And after them, all sorts of
followers come flooding in, but the great stylists
are inventors, something one certainly
finds in all sports. So, what was the great
turning point in tennis? It was its proletarization, quite
relative of course. I mean, it has become a
mass sport, masses of the young-executive
sort rather than working-class. But we can call it the
proletarization of tennis. And of course, there are
deeper approaches to explain how
that occurs. But it would not
have occurred if not for the arrival of a genius
at the same time. It was Borg who made
it possible. Why? Because he brought in a particular
style of mass tennis, and he had to create a mass tennis
from the ground up. Then, a crowd of very good
champions came after him, but not creators, for example,
the Vilas type, etc. So Borg appeals to me,
his Christ-like head. He had this kind of Christ-like
bearing, this extreme dignity, this aspect that made him so
respected by all the players, etc. Parnet: you were saying
you attended a lot… Deleuze: Oh yes, I experienced
a lot of things in tennis… But I want to finish up Borg. So,
Borg was a Christ-like character. He made sport for the masses
possible, created mass tennis, and with that, it was a total
invention of a new game. Then there are all sorts of worthy
champions, but of the Vilas-type who came rushing in
and who imposed a generally soporific style
onto the game, whereas-and here we
always rediscover the law “You are paying me compliments,
while I am 100 miles from doing what
I wanted to do.” Because Borg changed
deliberately: when he was certain of his moves,
it no longer interested him, so his style evolved
tremendously, whereas the drudges stuck
with the same old thing. We have to see McEnroe
as the anti-Borg. Parnet: What was this working-class
style that Borg imposed? Deleuze: Situated at the back of
the court, at the farthest retreat possible, and twisting in place, and
ball placement high over the net. Any worker could understand that
game, any little manager could understand that game,
not that he could succeed. Parnet: That’s
interesting. Deleuze: So the very principle-
back of court, twisting, ball high- is the opposite of
aristocratic principles. These are popular principles, but
what genius it had to take. Borg is exactly like Christ, an
aristocrat who goes to the people. Well… I’m probably saying
something stupid, but. It still is quite astonishing, quite
astonishing, Borg’s stroke, very, very curious, a
great creator in sports. And there’s McEnroe, it was pure
aristocrat, half Egyptian, half Russian, Egyptian service
game, Russian soul, who invents moves that
he knew no one could follow. So he was an aristocrat who
couldn’t be followed. He invented some
amazing moves. He invented a move that
consisted of placing the ball, very strange, not even striking it,
just placing it. And he developed a service-volley
combination that wasn’t… The service-volley combination
was well known, but McEnroe’s was
completely transformed. All this, of course, to talk about…
Oh, another great player, but without the same
importance, I believe, is the other American,
but I don’t recall his name… Parnet: Connors. Deleuze: Connors, with whom you
really see the aristocratic principle: ball flat barely over the net,
a very odd aristocratic principle, and also striking
while unbalanced. He was never such a genius as
when he was entirely unbalanced. Those were some
really odd moves. There is a history
of sports, and it has to be explained
about every sport their evolution, their creators,
their followers… It’s exactly as in art: there are
creators, there are followers, there are changes,
there are evolutions, there’s a history, there is
61 becoming of sports. Parnet: And you had started a
sentence with, “I attended. . .”? Deleuze: Oh, that’s just another
detail. I believe that I attended… It’s sometimes difficult to be specific
about when a move really originated yet I do
recall that, before the war, there
were some Australians. And here, there are questions
of national origins, why did Australians introduce
the two-handed back swing? At the beginning of the two-handed
back swing, only Australians did it, at least as I recall it, I think. Anyhow,
why did the Australians have… This relation between the two-
handed back swing and the Australians, I don’t know,
it didn’t go without saying, perhaps there was
some reason. I remember one move that struck
me while I was a child because it created no effect. We saw that the
opponent missed the ball, but we had to wonder why.
It was a rather soft blow, and after considering
it closely, we saw that it was
the return of service. When the opponent
served the ball, the player returned it
with a rather soft blow, but that had the result of falling
at the tips of the server’s feet as he was approaching
to volley, so he received it, not even at mid-volley,
and he couldn’t return it. So this was a
strange return because we couldn’t
understand very well why it succeeded
so well as a move. In my opinion, the first
to have systematized that was a great Australian
player, who did not have much
of a career on clay courts because he wasn’t interested
in it, called Bromwich, right before or after the war,
I don’t recall exactly. But he was a very great player,
a true inventor of moves. But I do recall that as
a child or young man, I was astounded at this move that
has now become classic, that everybody
does. So there you are, an invention of a
move that, to my knowledge, the generation of Borotra didn’t yet
know in tennis, this sort of return. Parnet: To finish with tennis
and McEnroe, do you think that when he
complains and insults the referee, in fact insulting himself more than
he does the referee- is this a matter
of style, and that he is unhappy with
his form of expression? Deleuze: No, it’s a matter of style
because it belongs to his style. It’s a kind of nervous
recharging, yes, just like an orator can get angry,
while on the contrary, there are orators who
remain cold and distant. So it’s fully part of
McEnroe’s style. It’s the soul, as we say
in German, the Gemut. Parnet: So, “U” is
the “One.” Deleuze: The “One.” Parnet: The “One,” O-N-E … So, philosophy and science concern
themselves with “universals.” However, you always say that
philosophy must always stay in contact with
singularities. Isn’t there a
paradox here? Deleuze: No, there’s no paradox
because philosophy and even science have strictly nothing
to do with universals. These are ready-made ideas, ideas
derived from general opinion. Opinion about philosophy is that it
concerns itself with universals. Opinion about science is that it
concerns itself with universal phenomena that can always
be reproduced, etc. But even if you take a formula like,
“all bodies fall,” what is important is not
that all bodies fall. What’s important is the fall and
the singularities of the fall. Even if scientific
singularities-for example, mathematical singularities in
functions, or physical singularities, or chemical singularities,
points of congealing, etc.- were all reproducible,
well fine, and then what? These are secondary phenomena,
processes of universalization, but what science addresses is not
universals, but singularities, points of congealing: when does
a body change its state, from the liquid state to
the solid state, etc. etc. Philosophy is not concerned
with the one, being. To suggest that
is just stupid. Rather, it is also concerned
with singularities. One would almost
have to say… In fact, one always finds
oneself in multiplicities. Multiplicities are aggregates
of singularities. The formula for multiplicities and for
an aggregate of singularities is n minus 1, that is, the One is
what must always be subtracted. So there are two errors
not to be made: philosophy is not concerned
with universals. There are three kinds
of universals, yes, that one could indicate:
universals of contemplation, Ideas with
a capital I. There are universals
of reflexion. And there are universals
of communication, the last refuge of the
philosophy of universals. Habermas likes these universals
of communication. This means philosophy is defined
either as contemplation, or as reflexion,
or as communication. In all three cases, it’s quite comical,
really quite farcical. The philosopher that contemplates,
ok, he’s a joke. The philosopher who reflects
doesn’t make us laugh, but is even stupider
because no one needs a philosopher
in order to reflect. Mathematicians don’t
need a philosopher in order to reflect
on mathematics. An artist does not need
to seek out a philosopher in order to reflect on
painting or on music. Boulez doesn’t need a philosopher
in order to reflect on music. To believe that philosophy
is a reflexion on anything is to despise it all, to despise both
philosophy and what philosophy is supposed
to reflect on since, after all, you don’t need
philosophy to reflect… Ok… As for communication,
let’s not even talk about it. The idea of philosophy as being the
restoration of a consensus in communication from the basis of
universals of communication, that is the most laughable
idea that we’ve heard since… For philosophy has strictly nothing
to do with communication. What could it
possibly…? Communication suffices
very well in itself, and all this about consensus and
opinions is the art of interrogations. Philosophy has nothing
to do with this. Philosophy, again as I have
been saying from the start, consists in creating concepts, which
does not mean communicating. Art is not communicative,
art is not reflexive. Art, science, philosophy
are neither contemplative, neither reflexive,
nor communicative. It’s creative, that’s all. Hence,
the formula is n minus 1, suppress the unity, suppress
the universal. Parnet: So you feel that universals
have nothing to do with philosophy? Deleuze: No, no, they have
nothing to do with it. Parnet: Let’s move directly on to
“,”V and “V” is “Voyage,” and this is the demonstration of a
concept as a paradox because you invented a notion, a concept,
one could say, which is “nomadism,” but you hate traveling.
We can make this revelation at this point of our conversation,
you hate traveling. First of all, why do you
hate to travel? Deleuze: I don’t like traveling
because of the conditions for a poor intellectual
who travels. Maybe if I traveled differently,
I would adore traveling, but intellectuals, what does
it mean for them to travel? It means going
to lectures, at the other end of the world
if needs be, and with all that, this includes before and after,
talking before with people who greet you quite kindly, and
talking after with people who listened to you quite
politely, talk talk talk. So, an intellectual’s travel is the
opposite of traveling. Go to the ends of the earth to talk,
which he can do very well at home, and to see people before for talking,
and see people after for talking, this is a monstrous
voyage. Having said this, it’s true, I feel
no inclination toward traveling, but it’s not some sort of
principle for me, and I don’t pretend even to be right,
thank God. Ok, so I ask myself, what is there, what is there
for me in traveling? First, there is always a
small bit of false rupture. I’d say it’s the
first aspect of: what is it that makes traveling
for me quite distasteful! The first reason is:
it’s a cheap rupture, and I understand what
Fitzgerald expressed: a trip is not enough to
create a real rupture. If you want rupture, then do
something other than travel because finally, what does
one see? People who travel
tend to travel a lot, and after, they are
even proud of it. They say it’s in order
to find a father. There are great reporters who have
written books on this, they did it all, Vietnam, Afghanistan,
wherever you like, and they say bluntly that they all
were in search of a father. They shouldn’t
have bothered… Traveling can really
be Oedipian in that sense. Well, ok… I say no,
that just won’t do! The second reason: it seems
that I am greatly moved by an admirable phrase,
as always, from Beckett who has one of his characters
[Camier] say, more or less- I cite poorly, and it’s expressed
better than this: sure, we’re all dumb, but still, not to
the point of traveling for pleasure. I find this phrase completely
satisfying: I am dumb, but not to the point of traveling for
pleasure, no, not that dumb! And there is a third aspect of travel.
You said, “nomad”… Well, yes, I’ve always been quite
fascinated with nomads, but precisely because nomads
are people who don’t travel. Those who travel
are emigrants, and there can certainly be
perfectly respectable people who are forced to travel,
exiled people, emigrants. This is a kind of trip that it is not
even a question of ridiculing because these are sacred
forms of travel, forced travel. Ok, fine… But nomads
don’t travel. Nomads, to the contrary, quite
literally, they stay put completely, all the specialists on
nomads say this. It’s because nomads
don’t want to leave, because they seize hold
of the earth, their land. Their land becomes deserted
and they seize hold of it, they can only nomadize
on their land, and it’s by dint of wanting to stay
on their land that they nomadize. So in a sense, one can say nothing
is more immobile than a nomad, nothing travels less
than a nomad. It’s because they don’t want
to leave that they are nomad. And that’s why they are
completely persecuted. And finally, the last aspect of
traveling that doesn’t make it very… There is a phrase from Proust that is
quite beautiful that says: after all, what does one
always do when one travels? One always verifies
something. One verifies that a particular color
one dreamed about is really there. And then he adds something very
important. He says: a bad dreamer is someone
who doesn’t go see if the color he dreamed about
is really there, but a good dreamer knows
that one has to go verify if the color is
really there. I consider this a good conception
of travel, but otherwise… Parnet: This is a fantastic
regression. Deleuze: No, at the same time,
there are trips that are true ruptures. For example, the life of Le Clezio at
the moment seems to be a way in which he certainly operates
a kind of rupture. Parnet: Lawrence… Deleuze: There’s [T.E.] Lawrence,
yes, Lawrence… There are too many great writers
I admire who have a sense of travel. Stevenson as well, Stevenson’s
travels aren’t negligible. So what I am saying has
no generality. I say, for my own account, someone who
doesn’t like to travel probably has these
four reasons. Parnet: Is your haired
of travel connected to your natural
slowness? Deleuze: No, I can conceive
of very slow travels, but in any case,
I feel no need to move. All the intensities that I have
are immobile intensities. Intensities distribute themselves in
space or in other systems that aren’t necessarily
in exterior spaces. I can assure you that when
I read a book that I admire, that I find beautiful, or when I hear
music that I consider beautiful, I really get the feeling of
passing into such states… Never could traveling
inspire such emotions. So, why would I go seek emotions
that don’t suit me very well, since I have more
beautiful ones for myself in immobile systems,
like music, like philosophy? There is a gee-music, a geo-
philosophy, I mean, they are profound countries, and
these are more my countries, yes? Parnet: Your
foreign lands. Deleuze: My very own foreign lands
that I don’t find by traveling. Parnet: You are the perfect
illustration that movement is not located in displacement,
but you did travel a little, to Lebanon for a conference,
to Canada, to the USA. Deleuze: Yes, yes, I did that,
but I have to say that I was always dragged into it,
and I no longer do it because I should never have done all that,
I did it too much. At that time, I liked walking,
and now I walk less well, so travel is no longer
a possibility. But I recall walking all alone
through the streets of Beirut from morning to night,
not knowing where I was going. I like to see a city on foot,
but that’s all over. Parnet: Let’s move
on to “.’W’ Deleuze: There’s
nothing in “.’W’ Parnet: Yes, there’s
Wittgenstein. I know he’s nothing for you,
but could you say a few words. Deleuze: I don’t want to talk
about that… For me, it’s a philosophical catastrophe.
It’s the very example of a “school,” it’s a regression of all philosophy,
a massive regression. The Wittgenstein matter
is quite sad. They imposed a system
of terror in which, under the pretext
of doing something new, it’s poverty instituted in
all grandeur… There isn’t a word to describe
this danger, but this danger
is one that recurs, it’s not the first time that
it has happened. It’s serious, especially since Wittgensteinians
are mean and destructive. So if they win, there could be
an assassination of philosophy. They are assassins
of philosophy. Parnet: It’s serious, then. Deleuze: Yes… One must
remain very vigilant. Parnet: “X” is unknown,
and “Y” is unspeakable, so we” pass directly to the final
letter of the alphabet, it’s “Zed.” Deleuze: Ah, well,
good timing! Parnet: Now, it’s not the Zed of
Zorro, the Lawman, since we have understood
throughout the alphabet, you don’t like judgment. It’s the Zed
of bifurcation, of lightning, it’s the letter that one finds in the
names of great philosophers: Zen, Zarathustra, Leibniz,
Spinoza, Nietzsche, BergZon, and of course,
Deleuze. Deleuze: You are very witty with
Bergson and very kind toward me. I consider Zed to be
a great letter that helps us connect with
“A,” the fly, the zed of the fly, the zigging movement of the fly,
the Zed, the final word, there is no word after zigzag.
It’s good to end on this word. So, what happens,
in fact, in Zed? The Zen is the reverse
of Nez (nose), which is also a zigzag.
Z as movement, the fly… What is that about? It’s perhaps the
elementary movement, perhaps the movement that
presided at the creation of the world. I’m currently reading,
like everyone else, I’m reading a book
on the Big Bang, on the creation of the universe,
an infinite curving, how it occurred, the Big Bang.
One must say that, at the origin of things, there’s no
Big Bang, there’s the Zed. Parnet: So, the Zed of the fly,
the Big Bang… the bifurcation…? Deleuze: We have to replace the
Big Bang with the Zed, which is, in fact, the Zen, the route of the fly.
What does that mean? For me, when I evoke the zigzag, it’s what
we said earlier about no universals, but rather aggregates
of singularities. The question is how do we bring disparate
singularities into relationship, or bring potentials into relationship,
to speak in terms of physics. One can imagine a chaos
full of potentials, so how to bring these
potentials into relation? Now I no longer recall in which
vaguely scientific discipline there is a term that I like a lot
and that I used in my books. Someone explained that between
two potentials occurs a phenomenon that was defined by
the idea of a “dark precursor. ” This dark precursor is what places
different potentials into relation, and once the journey of the
dark precursor takes place, the potentials enter into a state of
reaction, and between the two, the visible event flashes,
the bolt of lightning. So, there is the dark precursor
and then a lightning bolt, and that’s how the
world was born. There is always a dark precursor
that no one sees, and then the lightning bolt that
illuminates, and there is the world. Or that’s also what thought must be,
that’s what philosophy must be. That’s the great Zed, but that’s
also the wisdom of Zen. The sage is the
dark precursor and then the blow of
the stick comes, since the Zen master is
always distributing blows. The blow of the stick
is the lightning that makes things visible…
And so we have finished… Parnet: Are you happy to have
a Zed in you name? Deleuze: Delighted! Parnet: The end. Deleuze: What happiness
it is to have done this. Posthumous!
Posthumous! Parnet: PostZumous! Deleuze: And so there we are… and
thank you for all of your kindness. Translated by Charles J. Stivale.

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