Entering the conversation of Deleuze

I discussed, in the seminar of the 17th, some of the difficulties we have in approaching the text Difference and repetition, not least amongst these the inherent sense of a ‘conversation being overheard’, something I think is interestingly shown in the essay ‘The method of dramatisation’ in which Deleuze presents some of the central concepts of DR to the French academy (I will be examining this essay in more depth in the Volcanic Lines seminar on Monday 22nd). There’s a lovely description of this ‘overhearing of a conversation’ contained in a quote on the following blog…philosophy.com

This notion of an ongoing conversation that Deleuze is engaged in has a number of pertinent implications. Firstly, if we simply accept that it is the case, then the identification of the various positions that are being discussed is crucially important to developing a critical understanding of Deleuze’s ideas in DR – such as the work on gens/species that we’ll be looking at with regard Aristotle. Secondly, if we question why Deleuze presents like this – aside from the ‘historical’ approach that was part of his academic-cultural background – then we might want to say that it is in part because to present, as an objective observer and assessor, philosophical arguments is always to present an object (such as a concept or argument) as fixed and clear, as identifiable for assessment. This assumes, of course, something like an ‘ideal object’ that can be identified and understood. If, as we might suggest is the case for Deleuze, a concept in fact arises from a struggle or inter-play of more than one idea, then to grasp the concept we in some sense have to re-enact the inter-play (the ‘field’) from which the concept derives. We need to contextualise it, though not historically but conceptually. In fact, even the context is not enough, we somehow have to re-animate the concept in order to find its limits and virtues, ‘what it can do’. The issue of judgement becomes less crucial than the animation of a set of problems in which the concepts make sense, precisely as ‘differences that make a difference’. It is this task that forms the ‘method of dramatisation’ in which we have to do more than merely describe (interpret) a concept from outside but where we must, instead, find the problem (situation or case, the ‘scene’, if we were to pursue the metaphor from drama), animate the characters involved in the problem (the various concepts) and then understand the inter-play between these characters in the specific scene. Through doing this we open up both an understanding of the philosophical problems a concept is responding to as well as open up a space for critical response in the form of creating other dynamics or differences from those that already exist.

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philosopher and filmmaker from brighton, currently teaching philosophy at the Free University of Brighton

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