dialogues at greenwich: 'A fantastic decomposition of the self.' Deleuze on Individuation in 'The Exhausted', Essays Critical and Clinical.

dialogues at greenwich

discussion and reports from the Volcanic Lines research group at Greenwich University

16 January 2007

'A fantastic decomposition of the self.' Deleuze on Individuation in 'The Exhausted', Essays Critical and Clinical.

'A fantastic decomposition of the self.' Deleuze on Individuation in 'The Exhausted', Essays Critical and Clinical.

Linking 'a fantastic decomposition of the self' with its individuation means that the self is disconnected from its established notions of itself in order to connect it with its own production. Deleuze's concern with the production of experience is developed in his engagement with Samuel Beckett in The Exhausted Hereafter 'TE'). He develops the continuity of production behind the discontinuity of what has already been produced. He finds that the latter, as discontinuous and countable, is exhausted or decomposed by the doubling of its own production in Beckett's work. This is effected through an art or science of exhaustion. A ‘fantastic decomposition’ is then a stage in the process of production or individuation that Deleuze is concerned with.

This presentation seeks to follow the stages Deleuze identifies in Beckett's uncovering of the production of real experience and to grasp the nature of this continuity behind the discontinuous. Our concern is with the account of individuation this provides and how this dissolution of produced or composed terms must in fact be presupposed.. In this way we find that for Deleuze composition and decomposition must form a couple that are inseparable.

Exhaustion is first specified as a rigorous purification that grasps the conditions for the production of experience. In order to explain this Deleuze straight away distinguishes it from tiredness. This point is crucial for the whole essay and for the account of individuation we are seeking to locate. The distinction is put succinctly in the following passage: 'The possible is only realised in the derivative, in tiredness, whereas one is exhausted before birth, before realising oneself, or realising anything whatsoever.' [TE, 152] Exhaustion is then a condition of experience's ongoing production, a condition in place before anything is established because it concerns a level that is pre-individual. It is a stage of the production that is always already underway. It is only after 'birth', or after the individuation of the self that is always ongoing, that realisation can be conceived. Realisation is derivative or a feature of what is already individualised because it concerns 'the sum of total possibility.' [TE, 152] Only already produced terms can form a sum because they are discontinuous and countable. Thus the possible is 'realised in the derivative' because it produces a tiredness that comes from our attempts to realise different possibilities concerning already produced objects and meanings, and according to the different preferences and goals we have accumulated. This is the sum of possibility that is tiring but restricts us to the realm of what is possible on the basis of what has already been produced. Exhaustion is much more profound because it invokes the horizon of a continuous production and allows Deleuze to conceive individuation in terms other than the realisation envisaged on the basis of a sum of possibility. Continuous production is also developed by Deleuze in terms of the notion of multiplicities. We find an elaboration of this production through continuity as it is opposed to discontinuity or discreteness that excludes this production through the internal resources of the multiplicity: 'Riemann defined as “multiplicities” those things that could be determined in terms of their dimensions or their independent variables. He distinguished discrete multiplicities and continuous multiplicities. The former contain the principle of their own metrics (the measure of one of their parts being given by the number of elements they contain). The latter found a metrical principle in something else, even if only in phenomena unfolding in them or in the forces acting in them.' [Deleuze, Bergsonism, p. 39].
We also find here an echo of the first page of Difference and Repetition where repetition is distinguished straight away from generality. The latter involves resemblance and equivalence whilst repetition involves irreplaceable singularities. Deleuze argues that ‘To repeat is to behave in a certain manner, but in relation to something unique or singular which has no equal or equivalent.’ [Deleuze, Difference and Repetition (Paul Patton translation, Athlone edition- hereafter 'DR'), p. 1]. We shall see that for Deleuze exhaustion also attains a production of the singular and in this way is to account for activity.

In Difference and Repetition Deleuze identified the ideal game of the dice-throw as the horizon of the future which did not operate according to a sum total of all possibility:

'Nothing is exempt from the game: consequences are not subtracted from chance by connecting them with a hypothetical necessity which would tie them to a determinate fragment; on the contrary, they are adequate to the whole of chance, which retains and subdivides all possible consequences.' [DR, p. 283]

The continuity that replaces a sum of possibilities ensures that all the resources of the game are in play and nothing about the result is presupposed: '...a game which would be nothing else but play instead of being fragmented, limited and intercut with the work of men.' [DR, p. 283] In The Exhausted Deleuze develops Beckett's exhaustion in a way that echoes this earlier work strongly. It does not concern countable terms, or the sum of previously accumulated products but new distributions of the singular. In Difference and Repetition we find that between singularities or differences – which are the resources of the dice throw – there is a continuity which makes them distinct-obscure. In other words, their distinction and richness as distinct Ideas is realised through their relations, the obscurity that expresses their continual interactions. Throughout The Exhausted we witness a concern with attaining continuity by dissolving or decomposing forms but this must be the condition of new compositions or individuations. We find an echo of the distinct-obscure and the clear-confused of Difference and Repetition in composition-decomposition. They model the process of production, providing the resources of decomposition (as with obscurity or confusion) behind the singularities involved in an account of composition (as with distinction or clarity). Deleuze finds an account of the singularity in the ‘image’ which we will come to later. It is the horizon of exhaustion that is really productive for Deleuze and is behind the distributions and distinctions that allow us to conceive of a sum of possibility in the first place.

Deleuze finds in Becket an 'art or science of exhaustion.' It is an accumulation of what has been produced constituting a sum which must be exhausted in order to uncover the productive process. Deleuze writes: 'Beckett's characters play with the possible without realising it; they are too involved in a possibility that is ever more restricted in its kind to care about what is still happening.' [TE, p. 153] Exhaustion as an art or science proceeds through 'exhaustive series, that is, exhausting series.' [TE, p. 154] Deleuze writes that for Beckett there is to be an 'inventory' of the decomposition of the self. [TE, p. 155] This art or science of exhaustion sees different arrangements multiply, showing for Deleuze the openness of this horizon because all these permutations, this inventory, attains a level of continuity. The decomposition of the possible, of the sum of possibilities that make up the self and set boundaries to its relations, involves inclusive disjunction as the means of attaining continuity. This is the continuity of a common production shared by all terms but something which is preindividual and requires the ungrounding of compositions such that new compositions may arise.

We find this continuity through exhaustion in Beckett's novel Murphy in the following line: '“Yes or no?” said Murphy. The eternal tautology.' [Beckett, Murphy, p. 27] If we took our bearings from a sum of possibilities we would not find this a tautology because the different and exclusive possibilities, the ‘Yes or no?’ would not have been exhausted. Realisation of possibilities proceeds through preferences and goals as it calculates with a sum that is tiring due to its enormity. Yet this sum is discontinuous and so unable to realise production through continuity that exhausts every term capable of being combined in a sum. It excludes the previous preferences and goals, closing off potentials that may otherwise be encountered and made use of. For Deleuze Beckett seeks to avoid this exercise of 'exclusive disjunctions' [TE, p. 153] by decomposing previous compositions in the continuous production that is common to each one. In Murphy the assortment of biscuits 'would spring to life before him, dancing with the radiant measure of its total permutability,...' [Beckett, Murphy, p. 57] The art or science of exhaustion is a matter of having 'learnt not to prefer any one to any other', making each interchangeable, as with Murphy's biscuits. Elsewhere in the novel Beckett writes: 'Murphy was one of the elect, who require everything to remind them of something else.' [Beckett, Murphy, p. 40] Such continuity, where things are related by their production, rather than being isolated by an essential or fixed composition, establishes the 'fullness' that Murphy cannot partake in until all produced and subsequently established distinctions are exhausted. It is the fullness we find in a production that does not resemble its products, one that cannot be modelled on the accumulations or previous products which are discontinuous or a sum of possibilities. They find this when they cease to be a sum through their interchangeability and place in an exhausting/exhaustive series. They are continuous in a way that undermines distinctions and our use of distinct things in action for certain ends. However, this process must produce new compositions capable of new actions if it is to have a productive relation to individuation.

For Deleuze we must therefore see the potential 'springing to life' of Murphy's biscuits as a stage in the account of individuation. Exhaustion must not be a hopeless surrender to 'the undifferentiated, or into the famous unity of contradictories, nor is one passive: one remains active but for nothing.' [TE, p. 153] The ‘life’ in question is that of production with the horizon of continuity and not the discontinuity that prevents things from relating and having a common production. We don't find this if all differences are cancelled because then everything is related but by being the same and not through difference. On the one hand exhaustion attains a production which does not resemble its products – it is called 'Nothing' – and yet it must be productive through difference and in accounting for the production of the new. What is this Nothing? It is the 'Nothing, of which each thing is a modification.' [TE, p. 153] Nothing is continuity freed from the discontinuity that holds among produced or composed things. Each thing merges with its own production which is precisely 'Nothing' because it does not resemble any 'thing' that has previously been produced. Murphy's learning 'not to prefer any one to any other' means giving up the oppositions between composed terms that stand in the way of total permutability and continuity, a principle of production itself through which all things relate. Combination of cases shows what is between every case, what is behind their composition and qualified extension. Deleuze seeks in Beckett what is continuous behind the continued distributions of discontinuous terms and the activity, involving significations, objects, habits, goals and preferences, that this makes possible. This echoes Bergson's concern with the breakdown of the 'sensory motor schema' which Deleuze develops in Cinema 2 [cf pages 20 and 45]. In Beckett one is no longer able to stir one's limbs but one must not lie down because this is tiredness. To lie down is to be active in a way directed towards the getting rest and having energy for the next day. With exhaustion there is no such goal or preference because these are undermined by the scope of a production where nothing must be presupposed about what can happen next and no calculation made about the future.

How is 'the fantastic decomposition of the self' to involve the milieu in which individuation takes place? Exhaustion must be a process common to every term, one found by combination through inclusive disjunction to include every term and so exhaust their isolation. Deleuze writes: 'The combinatorial exhausts its object, but only because its subject is himself exhausted.' [TE, p. 154]In this way the difference between subject and object is to emerge from the production that exhaustion returns to. Actual activity has come to an end so that terms – subject, object, thing – may find their common production through their shared exhaustion, through their merging with the continuity of Nothing. This is again continuity in 'the formless and unformulated' that must nevertheless be coupled with the formed and formulated. This relates to Deleuze’s critical assault on language at the end of the essay – words are 'so burdened with calculations and significations, with intentions and personal memories, with old habits that cement together that one can scarcely bore into the surface before it closes up again.' [TE, p. 173] This emphasises how all subjective terms must be overcome. The subject is decomposed by the horizon of the future and milieu of individuation where the time of the future is played out again and again in new organisations of space, in new compositions enabled by continual decompositions. We have so far been concerned with the first way of exhausting the possible – 'forming exhaustive series of things' [TE, p. 161] – but we have already found that Deleuze finds further levels in Beckett.

According to Deleuze in Beckett’s work we find a language I that exhausts the possible with words, with exhaustive series, but we need a second language in order to exhaust words themselves as a further stage of exhaustion and decomposition. [TE, p. 156] This is the language of voices, characterised as blendable flows or waves by Deleuze. His notion is that Beckett exhausts words by relating them to Others who emit them. The Other is a possible world. Yet rather than existing as something given or unproduced this Other is itself accounted for by being exhausted. The possible world of the Other is 'Long since exhausted, without our knowing it, without his knowing it.' It is exhausted in its turn such that the Other forms with me 'the same dead foreign language'. [TE, p. 158] The Other and myself are the same character, both exhausted, as with subject and object, as with Murphy's biscuits. Again both 'merge with Nothing' in the sense of escaping all produced terms and their discontinuity. However, we see with the self and Other a structure involved in the production in experience of individuated or composed entities. This echoes Deleuze's notion of the Other-structure in Difference and Repetition which is a stage in the production of experience but takes its bearings from a production that is continuous. At Difference and Repetiton page 282 Deleuze elaborates 'The delineation of object, the transitions as well as the ruptures, the passage from one object to another, and even the fact that one world disappears in favour of another, the fact that there is always something else implicated which remains to be explicated or developed – all this is made possible only by the other-structure and its expressive power in perception. In short, it is the Other- structure that ensures individuation within the perceptual world.' Yet we must also go to '…those regions where the Other-structure no longer functions, far from objects and subject that it conditions, where singularities are free to be deployed or distributed within pure Ideas, and individuating factors to be distributed in pure intensity. In this sense, it is indeed true that the thinker is necessarily solitary and solipsistic.' Deleuze here argues that the Other-structure ensures individuation but he wants to preserve 'regions where the Other-structure no longer functions.' These regions are the continuous production in question but must nevertheless be productively related to the Other-structure. Deeper levels of exhaustion in Beckett concern very positive notions about regions prior to the Other-structure which we shall now move on to investigate.

Deleuze finds a critique of language of language in Beckett’s writings. He finds that words are bound to the particular and general for Beckett and will seek what is universal in the visual and aural. Yet the universality of a continuous production must not detract from its production of the singular, the production of new compositions through decomposition is via a process of exhaustion that brings us to the continuous again and again. Deleuze identifies a third language in Becket through which this stage of exhaustion is dramatised. This language is not concerned with combinable objects or transmitting voices, as were languages I and II respectively. It concerns Images and an 'any-space-whatever' which are respectively the time and space of production rather than of products. These are positive notions that are reached through exhaustion and so they are productive time and spaces that are behind produced times and spaces.

Let's concentrate first on the Image. It is said to 'ascend to the indefinite'. In Beckett's words, in Murphy writing about the character Celia, 'Then it was finished, the days and places and things and people were untwisted and scattered, she was lying down, she had no history.' [Beckett, Murphy, p. 86] The Image is a ritornello and a process, making it independent of both objects and memories. The Image is then not a personal memory, It resounds and it colours, making it a process within experience itself. It cannot be a psychological property of the subject because subject and object have already been exhausted, their difference having been shown to be itself something produced. Now we are concerned with processes of production and not with attributes of an already produced entity. As Deleuze puts it – '...the image is more profound because it frees itself from its object in order to become a process itself, ...' As such it '...no longer needs to be realised in a body or object.' [TE, p. 168] The names, combined exhaustively in language I, and voices of the Other, exhausted at the limit in language II, are then interrupted by the pure Image. The Image attains the indefinite because discontinuous possibilities and the opposition of self and Other have been exhausted. Yet it remains completely determined. Its complete determination must arise through the continuity of the production of which it is part. It must realise its distinction through obscurity. It resounds or colours through the resources of a continuous, obscure-distinct, production. This allows it to operate and occur in the ongoing production of experience, rather than being bound to previous forms or being unproductive in experience. In Beckett's words, describing Murphy: 'He could not get a picture in his mind of any creature he had met, animal or human. Scraps of bodies, of landscapes, hands, eyes, lines and colours evoking nothing, rose and climbed out of sight before him, as thought reeled upward off a spool level with his throat.' [Beckett, Murphy, p. 141] These scraps are completely determined but belong to no body or object, they operate as a process in experience without presupposing the forms and compositions already built up.

Deleuze strongly identifies this re-thinking of the image in Beckett as affirming the production of the new. The Image must be the new and never set up a barrier to the new by conserving a content. With the image 'what counts is not its meagre content but the energy it has harvested.' [TE, p. 160] This shows that exhaustion is wholly positive insofar as it leads us to something other than a content that would accumulate as yet another composition. The image never lasts very long because it is singular, 'inseparable from the movement through which it dissipates itself.' [TE, p. 168] It is continuous with the production of the new and therefore will not accumulate or solidify a content because this would block the new images to come and its role as a process that makes different and opens a new horizon. They merge with 'the dissipation of their condensed energy' such that they are singular and do not prescribe contents but offer a new relation through which content can be composed differently. Rather than following from previous compositions of content according to a linear succession of time the image is an instantaneous production that interrupts this succession: 'There is a time for images, a right moment when they can appear or insinuate themselves, breaking the combination of words and flow of voices.' Yet this break must also exhaust combinations and flows, it must be 'a moment very near the end, an hour close to the last.' [TE, p. 161] This is a clearing of the space of composition through decomposition. This is also developed in Deleuze’s Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation, see pages 80-84f.

If the Image were to have a different temporality it would have a different horizon and operation. It operates in the instant. We can refer to the problem-solution structure which means that a problem does not establish new form of individuation but establishes a horizon for forms of solution or individuation. In Difference and Repetition Deleuze writes 'The Idea of fire subsumes fire in the form of a single continuous mass capable of increase. The Idea of silver subsumes its object in the form of a liquid continuity of fine metal.' [DR 171] This is a continuousness that does not resemble what it produces, this having been exhausted. For this reason it must interrupt the course and succession of its products, forms of solution or individuation, rather than simply supplying it with ready made forms. We do not then copy the content of the image but realise new connections in the instant thanks to how diverse new images or potentials coexist in the Idea. One form of realising the Idea or image must not dominate because for Deleuze the actualisation of virtual Idea is differenciation rather than being marked by resemblance or generality. For this reason we find that Beckett's notion of falling preserves the necessary temporality of the image. Deleuze quotes the following passage from Beckett: 'The image is a pant, a breath, but it is an expiring breath, on its way to extinction. The image is that which extinguishes itself, consumes itself: a fall. It is a pure intensity, which is defined as such by its height, that is, by its level above zero, which it describes only by falling.' [TE, p. 170] Therefore in The Exhausted the dissipation of energy is shown to be positive – it ensures a singular Image and one occurring in the instant and therefore not being accounted for by the linear succession of time. Deleuze quotes Becket writing of 'the simple games that time plays with space, now with these toys, and now with those.' [Beckett, ‘Texts for Nothing’, p. 74] This captures the intervention of an instantaneous Image in space, the problems set for space to solve which draws upon a time of production. Thus one Image does not follow from another in a linear and actual succession but each occurs in the instant and relates in a non-linear and continuous time. It is what Deleuze elsewhere calls, borrowing the concept from Shakespeare, a 'time out of joint.' ['On Four Poetic Formulas That Might Summarise the Kantian Philosophy' in Essays Critical and Clinical, also published as the Preface to Kant's Critical Philosophy]

The second aspect of the language III, 'any space whatever', does for space what the Image does for time. The 'any space whatever' is populated and well trodden – including by us and yet it is neither here nor there. Deleuze finds that in Beckett a manner of walking is a ritornello just as a Images are. Thus 'Any-character-whatever' 'traverses the square following a given course and direction.' This motor ritornello is a conveyor belt because it is a movement with no object. Here it is a question of exhausting space. Just as linear time is overcome by the instantaneous time of Images and their virtual coexistence, so qualified and extended spaces are overcome by 'any-space-whatever'. It is not organised by established representations, neither by words, objects or memories. Its potential organisation involves the instantaneous time of the image, the injection of problems which it responds to with solutions, precisely individuations or compositions of the self. Here elements are defunctionalised, homogeneous and are thus defined only as parts of a space, ensuring continuity as in the case of images coexisting in Ideas. This clears the ground because it ensures that forms produced in the past and accumulated do not determine how space can function in its encounter with the Image. This is space open the horizon of the future through its capacity to respond to the time of the image.

Developing the Nothing with which everything merges there is a ghostly dimension that further elaborates the continuous production Deleuze seeks in Beckett's work. The latter is ‘Nothing’ from the point of view of the produced, the actualised and with its sensori-motor schema. It is then ghostlike from this perspective, what Deleuze calls 'The ghostly dimension of an indefinite impersonal'. [TE, p. 166] Yet it involves a fullness attained through exhaustion, something Murphy saw as a potential in his biscuits. We reach the indefinite and impersonal through the exhaustion or decomposition of words, memories and objects. Images are played out when the time of Image is staged in the 'any space whatever'. We have 'a woman, a man and a child without any personal coordinates.' They are ghostly because they do not resemble already composed forms. Ghostlike is the life without the forms that define what has been composed and made personal. These Images are processes that trigger new forms, new solutions or individuations, and so must themselves ‘fall’ away rather than becoming established and must not prescribe a content. The impersonal and indefinite can effect any self through its own exhaustion or decomposition, they belong to no-one or thing and so are pre-individual. They do not resemble what they produce. They are the instances of a renewed problem and ghostly because they do not presuppose former solutions and do not resemble them. It is ghostly that the order of succession of what has gone before doesn't count because 'All parts of space plunge into the void, each revealing the emptiness, into which they are plunging.' [TE, p. 165] They reveal emptiness in their lack of reference to the organisation of space and time, abandoning all precedent or basis in a sum of probabilities.

It is in music that a continuity is to be found that avoids the terms Beckett is said to exhaust. It is adequate to the space we have reached so that:
'It is onto this ghostly frame that the music is hurled, connecting voids and silences, following a ridge line like a limit to infinity.' [TE, p. 167]
This is a ‘frame’ without established and personal coordinates. ‘Infinite’ here is the continuous production we have been concerned with. 'Void and silence' are connected by this continuity because they are its interventions in language and experience, they are singular or remarkable images connected by a continuous production. They are connected by a rhythm that orders their occurrence not according to linear succession but according to a non-linear production brought about by the coexistence and interaction of these images in a continuous production. Here difference relates to difference. The instantaneous images can be connected only through the production they are part of and this is expressed by rhythm rather than by given ways of connecting things. Rhythm is the time aspect of music and involves the grouping of units of time into larger and larger groups. All sorts of groupings and connections can emerge through rhythm and this makes a productive movement. This accounts for new distributions of words, subjects and objects in an ‘any space whatever’ because both time and space are free of presuppositions and able to respond with new compositions to the image that occur in the instant. These images must all be continuous but not according to their successive occurrences in a linear or chronological time. They relate through rhythm and its groupings, a ‘time out of joint’.

Deleuze writes that for Beckett: 'Music succeeds in transforming the death of this young girl into a young girl dies; it brings about this extreme determination of the indefinite like a pure intensity that pierces the surface,...' [TE, p. 173] Here 'this' thing which has a place in the succession of products, of words, of objects, becomes instead an Image, a process of death made singular. This is because the images occurs without being tied to any body or object, it is indefinite and impersonal, ghostly because it is preindividual. In this way all definite and personal terms are exhausted and this image emerges from its relation to all other images and relates what it produces in an 'any space whatever' to all other productions. In his Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation Deleuze talks about the difference between 'distributive unity' and 'limitative unity.' [p. 84-85]The former is separation without isolation and expresses the continuity of production which is attained through exhaustion. This rhythmic being and union that separates the selves who are realised and makes them individual in very different and creative ways. Yet it does this by relating their singular production to the whole of production, through the unlimited continuity of this. Deleuze refers to Beckett's television work as using music or vision to loosen the grip of words, separating or even opening them up. This is when they encounter their outside, the continuity that produces them but also demands they make way for the new. This gives them a unity that distributes anew, breaking solidified orders. This means that Images can interrupt words and objects but rhythm ensures new distributions or groupings of images are always occurring and none is established. It means that whole of time is always brought into play. This is for Deleuze to clear the way for the ever new that is only realised through this whole: 'Visual image is carried along by the music, the sonorous image that rushes toward its own abolition. Both of them rush toward the end, all possibility exhausted.' [TE, p. 169]

Deleuze asks whether there is salvation for words in a new style where they open up by themselves. This would be 'A music proper to a poetry read aloud without music.' [TE, p. 173]The succession and the discontinuity we found with the sum of possibility would need to be overcome it the rhythm and an ‘any space whatever’ were to be realised in a style that overcame the solidified and habitual. Deleuze refers to Beckett's practice of boring holes in the surface so that 'what lurks behind' might at last appear: 'to allow for the emergence of the void or the visible in itself, the silence or the audible in itself...' [TE, p. 173] This void is continuous and so refers to the 'in itself' without division into forms or compositions. This echoes Deleuze concern in Difference and Repetition with how 'Ideas occur throughout the faculties and concern them all.' Deleuze suggests we take the social multiplicity or Idea – 'it determines sociability as a faculty, but also the transcendent of sociability which cannot be lived within actual societies in which the multiplicity is incarnated, but must be and can be lived only in the element of social upheaval (in other words, freedom, which is always hidden among the remains of an old order and the first fruits of a new).' [DR, p. 193] The faculties are structures involved in individuation and respond to the transcendent object, the Idea where the variety of 'the social' coexists ‘in itself’ and with the whole of time, suggesting again the distinction of Idea through their obscurity. Deleuze is concerned with the 'in itself' of the visible and the audible also in order to realise in individuation an images produced by the coexistence of all the varieties of the visible or of the audible.

Referring to Beckett's late works Deleuze characterises his style: 'Sometimes short segments are ceaselessly added to the interior of the phrase in an attempt to break open the surface of words completely, ... And sometimes the phrase is riddled with dots and dashes [traits] in order to ceaselessly reduce the surface of words,...' [TE, p. 173-174] This exhaustive process operates between the words to uncover their common production in the linguistic Idea or multiplicity. Deleuze argues that a new style is needed because of the problem of how visions or sounds are to be distinguished. This concerns the problem not simply of minimal distinction between sounds and visions but their differenciation, the production of very different sounds and visions through the audible in itself and the visible in itself. At this point the rhythm of a production that groups images in new ways, realising new connections between these processes, is operating. The surface is broken open or reduced in this new style such that we are closer to the Idea and its production of images by bringing together diverse visions and sounds into the common production that realises the ‘in itself’ in different ways. Finding the Idea in which the variety coexists is to find the point of exhaustion where new images are produced in order to give rise to new compositions or individuations upon an 'any space whatever.'

This conclusion has tried to draw together the ‘art of science of exhaustion’ through the theme of individuation. This theme seems to recur throughout Deleuze work and he seeks to account both for continuity and for the discontinuity that is a condition of action and relations between individuals. The account of the time of image and of the ‘any space whatever’ provides an account of how new singularities can be distributed. The problem of accounting for the non-exhausted or composed through exhaustion and decomposition are great and with in more depth in other of Deleuze’s writings. Indeed it is one of the productive problems animating his thought as a whole. However, it is in the space and time of production uncovered in The Exhausted that we grasp the potential for individuation provided by exhaustion just as we do find in other apparently destructive and negative terms elsewhere in Deleuze, from fractures and cracks to schizophrenia and discord.

The discussion during the workshop was very rich and productive. One issue raised was about the value of exhaustion over a process of fragmentation. Isn’t a fragment more appropriate to Deleuze’s own mechanisms of production? This would suggest that a fragment is injected into the process of production. Another issue was the mention of the sublime at page 170 The Exhausted. If the sublime involves fear, awe and alienation does this equate with exhaustion? The sublime reaches a peak – the zenith of sensation. However, it was argued, for Deleuze exhaustion still involves sensation, it still involves a zenith but one that falls away such that the sublime is never established or fixed.

A connection was made to the move beyond action and the notion of the rhizome where everything is connected to everything else, this is where intensities happen. It cannot be put in an intentional, conscious or logical sequence.

The move beyond the possible to the production of the real led the question to be raised of whether exhaustion is positive in Deleuze but negative in Nietzsche, despite their common ground. Exhaustion in Nietzsche’s critique of morality involves being hypersensitive and involves alcohol, luxury and decadence, bring about reaction rather than action.

Deleuze philosophical notion of energy was related to his critique of entropy. This was referred to Derrida’s notion of dehiscence in the image of the bud of a flower bursting where most of what is released will die but all are of interest. The excess of dehiscence leads to chance driven encounters and avoids a linear and chronological succession or causality.

The example of an animal walking across a desert was suggested as a case where life will push until it drops. Exhaustion will only come with death. It was asked whether exhaustion is moral and humanistic in Deleuze or physiological. This echoes debates about whether the notion of ‘becoming other’ in Deleuze is human centred. This was related to Kantian structures, invoking a human anthropology, and the problem that it is contradictory for the subject to be got rid of in a specifically human way (cf. Keith Ansell Pearson Germinal Life [Routledge, 1999] especially pages 188-189).

Reference was also made to Beckett’s characters and how they keep returning in his work – he calls them all back and they keep moving all the time, reappearing.

Also mentioned with the collection of stones talked about in Anti-Oedipus, echoed in Beckett’s Molloy. Here the notion of constructing desiring machines out of a heap of stones is developed.

Is The Exhausted the closest Deleuze ever got to writing about death? Death is not the end because the life or singularity of the image comes from its fall or dissipation. It becomes a ballistic image, it was suggested. This was related in the point in Difference and Repetition where Deleuze talks about personal death and impersonal death. The latter is going on all the time in the life span of an actual entity, singular points composes the body and compose thought in relation to an environment and in relation to thought in the widest sense. Singular images each die or fall, intensity tends towards zero. As exhaustion death is impersonal and seems to go on continually. The life span between birth and death was discussed – we cannot make a whole of this series. Other series are multiplied by the complication of the whole. It was suggested that constituting a series is itself yet another event in a life and that we cannot therefore get to ‘the’ series.

The three languages which Deleuze finds in Beckett (page 156) were discussed and it was argued that the later texts of Beckett strongly emphasise the relevance of this model. Words come no longer to be used. It was suggested that triads come up a lot in Deleuze – yet it was also noted that we can find many four fold structures. Deleuze uses lists all the time, including the eight postulates of The Image of Thought at the end of chapter three of Difference and Repetition. However, it was suggested, we tend to expect lists to be exhaustive. The importance of more than two terms – such as actual and virtual – was brought out in relation to the danger of the actual falling into the virtual unless other terms involve the virtual in the actual, as individuation can be said to do, as can the doubling of spatio-temporal dynamisms in the emergence of an 'elementary consciousness' (something talked about in Difference and Repetition at page 220). Death is for Deleuze to clear the ground for the virtual production that is continually involved in actualisation.

Another area developed was the role of Klossowski given that Deleuze says he got the notion of intensity from him. Deleuze and Guattari saw ‘disjunctive synthesis’ as a way of describing the essential nature of Kossowski’s fictions. Klossowski’s work on Nietzsche’s wrestling with his own physiological states of sickness was developed and this revealed its deep relevance to Deleuze’s engagement with Beckett. It was a question for Nietzsche of whether he should be on the side of his body or his thought – they were in a battle against each other. Nietzsche’s aphoristic style expresses the incoherent forces going on beneath consciousness but without representing them. This develops a pathos of thought. Reference was made to Nietzsche’s The Gay Science where he criticises Spinoza for arguing that we need to understand rather than condemn. Nietzsche sees this as seeking a neutral position of understanding when neutrality can only be a temporary truce of the forces of the unconscious involving the lowest energy and no feeling. Yet in Deleuze exhaustion is correlated with a particular possibility of thought, a new distribution of images or singularities. For Nietzsche things can’t cancel out and Deleuze takes this over. Unconscious forces are all different in kind. The production of an agent, of a sensory motor schema, comes out of this unconscious. Exhaustion then is about getting beyond agency but to have individuation you have to get back to it too.

Deleuze's criticism of European Buddhism was raised because here the right balance, the right level of energy, involves disinterest. Beckett, it was pointed out, is often accused of nihilism. It was suggested that Deleuze’s anti-Kantianism leads him to affirm in Beckett the exhaustion of possible experiences. This again lead to the problem of whether we have the physiology of exhaustion or a specifically human exhaustion. Kant’s work in The Critique of Pure Reason was characterised as involving the exhaustion of the possibilities of cognition via the excessive movement beyond the limits of the rational that defines 'the human' in Kant.

It was argued that in Beckett there is a whole system of at work that keeps things moving.

The theme of the ‘any space whatever’ was related to Deleuze's Bergsonism and the notion in Bergson that you can only see the image when you are free of all movement. The image is what sets everything in motion.

Also discussed where passage in Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra where Zarathustra is forced to lie down and how he is opposed to 'the philosopher of sleep'.


Beckett, Samuel (1993) Murphy, Montreuil and London: Calder Publications.

Deleuze, Gilles (2003) Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation, trans. Daniel W. Smith, London and New York: Continuum Press.

- (1998) Essays Critical and Clinical, trans. Daniel W. Smith and Michael A. Greco, London and New York: Verso.

- (1994) Difference and Repetition, trans. Paul Patton, London: The Athlone Press.

- (1989) Cinema 2, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta, London: The Athlone Press.

- (1988) Bergsonism, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam, New York: Zone Books.

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At 1/25/2007 , Anonymous Nick M said...

Hi Ed, better late than never with this comment I hope.

In Difference & Repetition Deleuze takes up from Simondon the idea that individuation has never been thought in the history of philosophy but always presupposed, the individual was always taken as given, its production from the pre-individual never addressed. Further, because of this we do not understand what an individual is, an individual can only be understood through studying the process of individuation, not vice versa (which would be like understanding the transcendental by means of the empirical)

When you speak of 'connect(ing) the self with its own production', 'the individuation of the self that is always ongoing' and 'individuations or compositions of the self', I think you may be eliding the opposition between self and individual in the new sense that Deleuze is forcing on the latter term - as shown in the following quote:

D&R p.258 (Concerning the great discovery of Nietzsche which marks his break with Schopenhauer) "it is the I and the Self [c'est le Je, c'est le moi] which are the abstract universals. They must be surpassed, but in and by individuation, in the direction of the individuating factors which consume them and which constitute the fluid world of Dionysos. What cannot be surpassed is individuation itself. Beyond the self and the I we find not the impersonal but the individual and its factors, individuation and its fields, individuality and its pre-individual singularities. For the pre-individual is still singular, just as the ante-self and the ante-I are still individual - not only ‘still' individual, we should say ‘at last' individual.

So the self (moi) is part of a conceptual framework that cannot think individuation, that conceals it. The self is not produced by individuation but destroyed or fragmented by individuation. 'Selves' are not individuals.

At 1/26/2007 , Anonymous glen said...



"The event, hey? In the Greenwich paper all references to the ‘event’ are quoted out."

At 1/26/2007 , Blogger edward said...

Nick - many thanks for this. I certainly agree that there is a role for the self as distinct from the individual - the fractured self that we see developed in 'Difference and Repetition' demands this so that 'I am' and 'I think' are the outcomes of two process: individuation and pure thought. However, the ambiguity, which may have to do with a translation point I am not aware of, is brought out by notions like the following: 'Selves are larval subjects' (DR p. 78) and 'Before the embryo as general support of qualities and parts there is the embryo as individual and patient subject of spatio-temporal dynamisms, the larval subject.' (DR 215) With notions like a contracted self (as developed in the first synthesis of time in chapter three of 'Difference and Repetition') and a 'system of the dissolved self' I think that self is used at times as synonymously with the individual as distinct from the organism or organised self. It is being rethought. Yet I agree it is distinguished in the form of an organised and qualified actual entity at other times in order to emphasise and develop the specificity of the individual. I should have made this clearer in the paper so that the integrity of the account of individuation is preserved. Certainly I would argue that this matters because if we collapse individuation into the self as actual entity we fail to account for actualisation and risk turning such 'individuals' into contemplators of the virtual they cannot respond to adequately (as Peter Hallward would have it in his 'Out of This World'). Therefore, the notion the self 'connecting with its own production' isn't an after thought - the self takes its bearing from its individuation which is aways already under way. Making the connection is a 'counter-actualisation' through 'the art or science of exhaustion' which doubles this production by taking its bearings from the continuity of individuation and of Ideas.

As for the second comment above - Glen, I am not sure what you mean about reference to the event being 'quoted out' and which paper do you mean?

At 1/27/2007 , Anonymous glen said...

hi ed,

my comment wasn't a comment so much as a trackback, indicating that I responded to this paper on my blog. I started writing a comment and realised it would be too long, etc. So I posted a trackback instead. Normally as well as having a comment field most blogs have a trackback option too.

The remark in quotation above is meant to be an extract of some description which indicates what I have written in my post. The 'paper' is your paper. The references to 'event quoted out' refer to a section of your paper where you quote the below from Deleuze's "The Exhausted" but 'quote out' references to the event:

“The any-space-whatever already belongs to the category of possibility, because its potentialities make possible the realization of an event that is itself possible. But the image is more profound because it frees itself from its object in order to become a process itself, that is, an event as a “possible” that no longer even needs to be realized in a body or an object, somewhat like the smile without a cat in Lewis Carroll.”

I briefly explore some similar ideas raised in your paper in terms of the 'event'.

At 1/28/2007 , Blogger razorsmile said...

HIya Glenn (matt from Lyotard list) - I took a look at the bogger set-up and it seems they don't really do trackbacks I'm afraid, right pain in the b.. but then blogger generally seems a little bit of a pain compared to wordpress...free though ;-) If you know of any tips and tricks regarding that, do let me know...now, to think about the substance of your comments...

At 2/16/2007 , Blogger edward said...

Glen - Sorry to be so slow in replying to this. I am interested in events – the event hovering over the battlefield in ‘The Logic of Sense’ fascinates me because I want to see how what hovers engages with the material, realising the coexistence of the variety of the material in Ideas. However, I do find that Deleuze uses lots of terms in response to a common problem. I think that the problem of individuation gives rise to terms like ‘larval self’, ‘contracted self’, ‘passive self’, ‘embryonic self’ and ‘individual’. These are united by the problem but bring something different to it and make its depth more rigorous. They are ways of grappling with the problematic combination of difference and individuality. With events I see this happening and so we get events, affects, images, pure determinations and so on. I focused upon images in ‘The Exhausted’ not in order to exclude events but to try and get to grips with the depth of this manifestation of a common problem that they share. I think it is worth sticking to a term and seeing what it does rather than switching too much between terms and then not finding what is different and rigorous in each one. I’ll respond more fully – its got me thinking and I am very grateful for your insightful comments. Best wishes - Edward


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