16 Nov 2008

Difference & Repetition Introduction §§3-4

§3 "Second distinction, from the point of view of law"

When we generalize terms and exchange them, we do so according to laws which dictate how we determine which ones resemble which others and which ones may be exchanged for which others. (8c.d/2b) [Citations give French version first, followed by English.] For example, falling in love is natural. It is a law of nature that human creatures fall in love. It cannot be avoided. This law is a law because it governs over particular instances, all the instances of love. We know the symptoms of love and hence we can say that one person's love is like another's, and all are cases of love. But for there to be so many instances, love must come and go. Loves must continually come-into being and pass-out-of being. For this reason Deleuze says that laws do not ground repetition of particulars that are each the same, because each particular only happens once.

§4 "Repetition, law of nature and moral law"

Deleuze uses Rousseau's La Nouvelle Héloïse to illustrate this property of laws by which they "condemn" particulars to change. In this story, a father forbids her daughter Julie d'Étange's love with another young man, St. Preux. The lovers move apart, and the young women marries an older man, Wolmar, who generously invites St. Preux to live with him and his former lover Julie. As Deleuze notes, Wolmar is not afraid of St. Preux and Julie reuniting, because he has "made a system" out of the impossibility of repetition. He says of St. Preux

It is not Julie de Wolmar he is in love with, it is Julie d'Étange; he does not hate me as the possessor of the person he loves, but as the ravisher of the one he has loved. ... It is true she much resembles her and that she often recalls his memory of her. He loves her in time past: that is the true answer to the enigma. Take away his memory, and he will have no love left (Rousseau 417d).

Wolmar's tactic for taming St. Preux involves tricking his imagination into make new associations:

In the place of his mistress I force him to see always the spouse of an honorable man and the mother of my children: I overlay one tableau with another, and cover the past with the present (419a).

Deleuze writes that the impossibility for recurrances of the same thing is found in the meaning of the garden (grove, grotto) that Wolmar constucted (which has a "sacred object," the aviary no one is allowed to touch) (Deleuze 9b/2c). Wolmar inherited Monsieur d'Étange's property, and in the same places where Julie and St. Preux once shared romantic moments, Wolmar introduces various garden plants. But he does not place them with geometrical linearity; rather, he seeds the soil more randomly and lets the plants grow as they naturally do. [Wolmar questions, "Does nature constantly employ the square and the ruler?"] The plants and animals all carry-on according to their own natural laws. For Deleuze, these "great natural permanences" demonstrate to St. Preux that his love is transitory in comparason. In fact, Wolmar leaves the two ex-lovers together alone for a week. Although they revisit all their old places where they once had shared romantic moments, their old love never rekindled. St. Preux concludes,

It is over, I was saying to myself, those times, those happy times are no more; they have vanished forever. Alas, they will never return (427d).

St. Preux learns that because a law of human nature is that humans will be in love, then as a consequence, loves must come and go:

Inconstancy and love are incompatible: the lover who changes is not changing; his is beginning or ceasing to love (554d).

In fact, St. Preux transfers his love to someone who resembles Julie, her cousin Claire, but despite their resemblance, it is not the same love. Even though he tries to love her the same way, he tells Julie that

It is not enough for your adorable Cousin to be loved; she must be loved like you, I know this; will she be? Can she be? (558b).

Deleuze also employs the metaphor of a river: different waters constantly run through it, but it is always the same river. Different loves come and go, but it is always a law of human nature that we fall in love.

Deleuze illustrates as well with art historian Faure's comment on painter Watteau, that

He imbued with the utmost transitoriness those things which our gaze encounters as the most enduring, namely space and forests.
(Deleuze 2c)

Il avait placé ce qu'il y a de plus passager dans ce que notre regard rencontre de plus durable, l'espace et les grands bois.

Perhaps Faure means that the images in such paintings as below give us the sense that change is constantly happening in a forest and to a forest, but it is always a forest:

And yet, there are never any absolute permanences. Over the course of a day, sand dunes shift like waves; over the course of millions of years, mountains rise and fall as though the ground were an earthen sea. The mountain seems permanent, but it is really a wave. A constant in one law is a variable in a more general one. We think that gravity or the speed of light are constants, but over the course of unfathomable extents of time, they too could change like the mountains do. As much as we might try to find constants to compare our variables, we find that those constants themselves are variables. Deleuze writes:

The constants of one law are in turn variables of a more general law, just as the hardest rocks become soft and fluid matter on the geological scale of millions of years.
(Deleuze 2bc)

Les constantes d'une loi sont à leur tour les variables d'une loi plus générale, un peu comme les plus durs rochers deviennent des matières molles et fluides à l'échelle géologique d'un million d'années.

Repetition, then, does not happen "naturally," by natural law. "If repetition is possible, it is due to miracle rather than to law." True repetition is against the law, "against the similar form and the equivalent content of law." Repetition can only happen by means of a power that works against, underneith, or above law. Repetitions are not recurrences of particulars but of singularities, because particulars fall under genuses, but singularities are all to their own.

Scientific experimentation is used to show how repeating occurrences of some phenomena are governed by a law. The method chooses two parameters usually, for example, Space and Time for movement of bodies in a vacuum: the quantitative values of the change in distance is analyzed separately by itself, as are the changes in time, and then the two are placed in a functional relation to each other. But here we see how the orders of resemblance and equality are themselves exchanged, because repeated experiments of similar instances are generalized into mathematical formulas and equations. We move from the order of resemblance to the order of equivalence by moving from the physical appearances of things to their underlying mathematical relations.

For Deleuze, the repetition in this case is not the repeated instances of the experimental phenomena continually proving the law; rather, the repetition is that jump from one order to another, from when the implicit mathematical dimension of physical phenomena becomes explicitly expressed in the realm of mathematics. He says, "it is as if repetition appeared between or underneath the two generalities." It is not important that in one order something passes through a number of instances, what matters is that something passes between degrees or levels,

what is important in principle is 'n' times as the power of a single time, without the need to pass through a second or third time (3c).

ce qui vaut en droit, c'est « n » fois comme puissance d'une seule fois, sans qu'il y ait besoin de passer par une seconde, une troisième fois.

And even though sometimes repetition expresses itself as the "artificial passage from one order of generality to another," repetition involves a "singular power" that is inherently different from generality.

Just as in the natural world where we seek laws governing repetition, so to do we in the moral sphere. Bad repetitions are habits and behaviors we need to avoid, and good repetitions are duties and virtues we must uphold (10c.d/3-4). Kant's categorical imperative, for example, is a test for the repeatability of a maxim.

But when we take up such laws of repeating behaviors, on the one hand we presume our moral laws to be above the natural laws governing our more animal behaviors, and on the other hand this moral repeatability is modeled after natural law: we are to act as lawfully and regularly as gravity does. And as based on the model of natural law, moral law leaves us not with repetition but again with generality (11d/4d).

Moral law is further like natural law, because we also find in it the two major orders of resemblance and equality: 1) good repeatable actions are to resemble an exemplary model of good behavior, and 2) once the repeated habitual action is in place, each enaction of the habit is to be taken as morally equivalent to the others. So, to fit to the model, we must slowly change our actions to suit our intent of becoming morally regular. But also, because the actions must obtain equal value, we then perform the same action despite differences of intention and context. So repeated instances of the same thing is not achievable in moral law. However, true repetition could come about if something passed from the order of action-modification to that of action-integration. In other words, if one were in a confused situation where one must at the same time create one's moral behavior while trying to deal with ambiguities in its application, then there might be a repetition that moves from the order of action-perfection (making the action better despite ambiguities in application) to the order of action-integration (making the action apply universally no matter the ambiguities). (12a/4-5)

Thus repetition is opposed to moral law. One may overturn it in two ways: ascending towards the principles, or descending towards the consequences.

1) Ascending towards the principles:
In this case, one presumes something more fundamental than the moral laws. This more fundamental principle is an "original force" that becomes diverted when we try to channel it into regular patterns; and it is an "original power" that we usurp when over-controlling it. This way is considered "ironic," because it overturns moral principles by ascending to the principles of these principles.

2) Descending towards the consequences:
Here one over-adopts the moral laws with a "too-perfect attention to detail" so to show the absurdities that result. For example, if we adopt certain moral laws of selflessness, and practice them to their extreme, we might result in some disturbing or absurd form of masochism. This way is considered "humorous" because it involves falls into absurdity.

Repetition belongs to both the irony and the humor of these two tactics, because in both cases we reveal singularities of morality rather than particulars of generality; for example, we find that each behavior, even if repeated, is unique in each circumstance, and hence no general rule can govern it. (12b.c/5b)

Deleuze, Gilles. Différence et répétition. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1968

Deleuze, Gilles, Difference & Repetition. Transl. Paul Patton. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994.

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. Julie, or the New Heloise. Transl. Philip Stewart and Jean Vaché. London: University Press of New England, 1997.

Image sources:
Le Pélerinage à l'Île de Cithère. www.avenuedstereo.com
Watteau. Pilgrimage to Cythera. http://teachers.sduhsd.k12.ca.us
Champs Elysées http://paris.bypainters.com
Gathering by the Fountain of Neptune www.bestpriceart.com/painting/?pid=76842
Plaisirs d'amour www.digischool.nl

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