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"if you think childlike, you'll stay young. If you keep your energy going, and do everything with a little flair, you're gunna stay young. But most people do things without energy, and they atrophy their mind as well as their body. you have to think young, you have to laugh a lot, and you have to have good feelings for everyone in the world, because if you don't, it's going to come inside, your own poison, and it's over" Jerry Lewis "I don’t believe in the irreversibility of situations" Deleuze
The numerical citations refer to page number. The source's text-space (including footnote region) is divided into four equal portions, a, b, c, d. If the citation is found in one such section, then for example it would be cited p.15c. If the cited text lies at a boundary, then it would be for example p.16cd. If it spans from one section to another, it is rendered either for example p.15a.d or p.15a-d. If it goes from a 'd' section and/or arrives at an 'a' section, the letters are omitted: p.15-16.
explains now that under this dreamy state, he might sense a desirable woman beside him. He could even feel her embrace and kisses. But as consciousness regains, she fades away.
Quelquefois, comme Eve naquit d’une côte d’Adam, une femme naissait pendant mon sommeil d’une fausse position de ma cuisse. Formée du plaisir que j’étais sur le point de goûter, je m’imaginais que c’était elle qui me l’offrait. Mon corps qui sentait dans le sien ma propre chaleur voulait s’y rejoindre, je m’éveillais. Le reste des humains m’apparaissait comme bien lointain auprès de cette femme que j’avais quittée il y avait quelques moments à peine; ma joue était chaude encore de son baiser, mon corps courbaturé par le poids de sa taille. Si, comme il arrivait quelquefois, elle avait les traits d’une femme que j’avais connue dans la vie, j’allais me donner tout entier à ce but: la retrouver, comme ceux qui partent en voyage pour voir de leurs yeux une cité désirée et s’imaginent qu’on peut goûter dans une réalité le charme du songe. Peu à peu son souvenir s’évanouissait, j’avais oublié la fille de mon rêve.
Sometimes, too, just as Eve was created from a rib of Adam, so a woman would come into existence while I was sleeping, conceived from some strain in the position of my limbs. Formed by the appetite that I was on the point of gratifying, she it was, I imagined, who offered me that gratification. My body, conscious that its own warmth was permeating hers, would strive to become one with her, and I would awake. The rest of humanity seemed very remote in comparison with this woman whose company I had left but a moment ago: my cheek was still warm with her kiss, my body bent beneath the weight of hers. If, as would sometimes happen, she had the appearance of some woman whom I had known in waking hours, I would abandon myself altogether to the sole quest of her, like people who set out on a journey to see with their own eyes some city that they have always longed to visit, and imagine that they can taste in reality what has charmed their fancy. And then, gradually, the memory of her would dissolve and vanish, until I had forgotten the maiden of my dream.
The Kvond Spinoza’s Foci Summary Series
[Kvond’s original work with Spinoza’s optics and lens craftsmanship has led me to see Spinoza’s ideas in a whole new way. If you have the chance, check out his blog, especially his work with Spinoza. He’s a world class Spinoza scholar.]
Ambrose opens with a reference to Deleuze’s & Guattari’s What is Philosophy? (p76-77) They designate three elements of philosophy:
1) Immanence: This is the pre-philosophical element of philosophy. Philosophers “lay out” “planes” of this pre-philosophical immanence. It is philosophy’s “diagrammatic” feature.
2) Insistence: Philosophers invent and animate “personae.” This is the personalistic component.
3) Consistency: Philosophers create concepts. It is the “intensive” element of philosophy.
Together they are the “philosophical trinity.”
Deleuze & Guattari also write of non-philosophical fields: science & art. All three create something:
Art, percepts and affects.
[We discussed before how Bacon used his diagramming technique to create sensations. His canvass begins with forms. But if we just recognize a form, we are not stimulated. However, if we see a purely formless mess on the canvass, we will feel nothing forcing us to configure the parts. To give us a sensation, he needs us to both strain ourselves trying to make sense of the images, while at the same time never succeeding. So Bacon randomly disfigures the initial undeveloped formations. He might throw-paint, wildly smear some part, and so forth. This produces a region of chaos, created by chance. Lines once straight might now stretch and bend. The deformations suggest new directions and dimensions to develop the images. He examines the region of anarchy to see all the other ways he can reform the rest of the painting. In a sense, he reads that little wilderness of paint as a diagram, even though it is unlike the charts and graphs we normally see. Each little bend, smear, or splatter is an implicit tendency for the painting to become something else. A stretched smile could become a desert. Bacon unleashes many of these divergent tendencies from their wild region, which spreads the disorder throughout the rest of the painting. This technique creates images that seem partly recognizable, while impossible to fully grasp. Our nervous systems are pushed-and-pulled in many directions at once, while seeing the Bacon painting. This affects us with profound sensations. Hence this introduction of disorder – this diagrammatic element – is what allows Bacon to create perceptions and affections in his viewers. But likewise, the diagrammatic is essential to science’s and philosophy’s creativity.] [Now, suppose the world is wild. The next instant cannot be predicted from the current one. Things tend toward different changes each moment. Each current instant expresses something radically new. But it is only our minds that contract and assimilate the differences. We do not just see one Bacon painting while viewing the images on his canvass. Rather, each instant we see a new and different painting: its internal anarchic forces, arising from the diagrammatic wilderness, continually disrupt each uncertain conception of the painting that we might form. Hence the painting is always only what it is right there and then in that instant of sensation. The reality of the painting is always immanent, ever creative. The image has competing tendencies, for example, smiling or desertifying. Hence this diagrammatic element is the immanent source of its creative, expressive, and affective power. This holds likewise for science and philosophy. Hence,] in all three fields, an initial diagrammatic (disruptive) element introduces a source of wild forces that create new differences by forcing together a multiplicity of divergent tendencies. This disruptive and creative wilderness has different affective powers each instant. So it is what it is only in the immanent instant. We might call it a plane of immanence, which is brought forth by diagrammatic disruptions. Before philosophy can create concepts, then, it must lay-forth a pre-philosophical plane of immanence by means of a (disruptive) diagram.
Ambrose’s profound, probing, and groundbreaking thesis is that we may understand philosophy’s diagrammatic function by analogizing it with diagramming in the arts, in particular with Deleuze’s work with Francis Bacon’s diagrammatic technique. Ambrose will first explain the diagrammatic in What is Philosophy? Afterward, he will discuss the consonance between the diagrammatic in art and in philosophy, and how philosophers can learn from Bacon’s example.
Philosophy’s Diagrammatic Element
When we think, our concepts are pushed-and-pulled in many directions of development, all in any given instant. We actually follow some of them (some of the competing tendencies ‘actualize’), and this is determined partly by chance. [Concepts have implicit tendencies. Consider our experience of solving an urgent problem. A solution strikes us. Before we are able to articulate it, we feel its arrival in a non-conceptual way. Maybe it is just for an instant that we have the pre-conceptual solution, but nonetheless, new ideas are not conceptual in their original form. They instead are tendencies for our thoughts to become something new. We feel the forces forging the new concept before it appears explicitly before our ‘mind’s eye’. As we pressure our brains and nervous systems to produce the solution as fast as possible, our thoughts are bending and deforming. We force incompatible ideas together. We shake and scramble our minds, anything to get the solution. When we do this, we are diagramming our minds, like how Bacon diagrams his canvass. Also consider how the solution strikes us like lightning, as if arriving from elsewhere. If we already had the solution in our minds, we would not have needed to forge it anew. We instead would just remember it. But we don’t remember new concepts, we create them. So the forces that help fashion new ideas are impersonal, in a way. Now finally consider how these forces are there in our minds, implicitly, even before they create a new and explicit idea. The forces are real, even though they have not actualized. So Deleuze says they are ‘virtual.’] For Deleuze & Guattari, philosophy must use creative concepts to comprehend the radically impersonal and virtual forces and flows that are becoming actual (Ambrose, ). [Our solution is an actual change in our brain. There were neurological forces pushing and pulling our nervous systems in many directions at once, finally creating structural and dynamic neural changes that allow us to conceive the new idea. These disruptive forces are right there, in our brains, immanently. And they traverse the world around us. Things become new things. The new things change the rules, relations, and players. One way these forces manifest is in our brains, which results in new ideas. Philosophers are to harness these forces, which change their own brains. Their aim is to use such forces to understand these very forces, not just how they flow in our minds, but also how they flow in the world around us. In this way, philosophers are studying the creative forces in ontological terms. So in fact,] philosophy tries to discover “the real conditions of ontological actuality” (Abrose ). But to do so, philosophy must think radically and experimentally.
1) invents concepts in response to a problem’s forces at any given instant. [We construct the new concepts, so it is a constructivism. And we do so given the immediate demands of the situation. So] it is a pragmatic constructivism. [The new concepts are like make-shift war machines built among the chaotically changing conditions of an active battle-field. Alistair Welchman explains that it requires a ‘nomad ingenuity’ that is “less a matter of the materialization of scientific theorems than of patchwork and botching and bricolage and still somehow getting something right in the end, or if not, then not surviving to tell the tale” (Welchman, 213bc).]
And philosophical thought has a sort of inner impetus that drives it towards newer-and-newer creations. It has an “immanent self-movement.” So philosophy also,
2) aims to keep philosophical thinking alive by creating new concepts that themselves can incite the creation of ever newer concepts. This would be like a “self-ordering” in thought.
Ambrose suggests that these two insights are Deleuze's & Guattari’s most decisive philosophical contributions ().
[Our new ideas change the world around us. Marxism revolutionized the economies of half the world, for example. The virtual implicit forces in Marx’s brain became actualized as neural activities expressing his ideas. They also injected profound and wild revolutionary forces into political and social organizations. Philosophy is a science of generation, of reality actualization. Compared to the political and social forces of Marxist movements, the neurological forces in Marx’s brain seem insignificant. Philosophers translate wild neural dynamics into wild world-dynamics. But in both cases they are the same sorts of forces. Real problems in the world force philosophers to think. Their brains strain, their nerves tense, they search madly for solutions. Forces from the world enter their bodies. Philosophers scramble them around, jam incompatible tendencies of thinking together, and they twist, shape, bend, and deform old concepts until they are unrecognizable. When they communicate these ideas, they send those forces back into the world, but in a way that radically alters it. To better harness these forces, a philosopher must thrive in her pre-philosophical wilderness. The philosopher is a sort of warlock or witch, reaching with one hand into the implicit forces of the world’s fundamental chaos, while sending out lightning bolts of force that actually change the world around them. Only, for the philosopher, the forces are channeled and processed through their nervous systems, as chaotic electrical signals. So in the philosopher’s brain, as in all brains, anarchy reigns. But the philosopher is different, because she becomes an apprentice to the chaos. She does not just think about the chaos. She becomes wild. So perhaps for a similar reason,] Deleuze’s & Guattari’s profound insight is that philosophy is “a creative ontology of the virtual.” It creates concepts. It is real invention. Ideas are never given. We must create them “in the face of the intolerable and the moment of the ‘I don’t know what’” (Ambrose, ).
[Now, consider when we are conceiving things that we already know, for example, we once figured out a simple puzzle, and now we solve it over again mindlessly, as though it were a mechanical operation. We might be employing concepts when re-solving this puzzle. But none are new. We recognize these concepts from before. Yet we do not create them. Hence,] when we are forced to recognize something, we are not really thinking; for, we are not in touch with the forces of the pre-conceptual wilderness that compel us to create new ideas. Philosophy, then, is a generative activity. [Otherwise, philosophers are just pre-fabricated idea-machines, churning out old concepts. They must instead be nomadic war machines, forced to alter their mechanisms on account of unpredictable forces acting on their nervous systems.]
[We might currently think that some notions make sense, and others do not. We might consider someone an idiot if they insist on absurd ideas. But some ideas that now make sense once did not, and some that once made sense no longer do. And those who create new concepts are presenting ideas that under the current conditions of knowledge would not make sense. For the world to understand them, people must change how they think. So those who invent new ideas are idiots in a sense. But really the idiot is a characteristic way that our minds work when creating new concepts. I suggest we also think of it as a little madman inhabiting our minds. Those who invent concepts give life to their madmen or idiots. So they are conceptual personae, in a way. A new idiot will create new ideas. But those ideas will become old and recognized. They will become common knowledge, recognizable and presupposed by everyone.] For thought to thrive, philosophers must animate new idiots, espousing their own concepts, which immediately seem absurd. [They are non-sense, because they were forged outside domesticated thought, out in the wilderness. When we encounter reality’s chaos and contracted multiplicities (the event), we might assimilate the differences. When learning a new game, we might think, “oh, this is just like that other game I’ve played, so I will use the same strategies.” This way we will not be troubled by the discomfort of unfamiliarity. Or instead, we might be idiots. We will not know what to do, how to play, or what to think. We let the wild inside us encounter the wild around us. This way we will create new strategies more adapted to the different game.] The new idiot is intolerably frustrated with reality’s chaos and unpredictability. He creates new concepts only because he is forced to, in order to survive the encounter with reality. Ambrose says, “It is a new form of idiocy born and cultivated through exasperation and a lack of established conceptual resources to be able to deal with the singularity of the event. Creation is an action always taken in the last resort” (). Philosophical creation is a scream of frustration.
Hence philosophy must preserve and explore a radically non-philosophical zone [or wilderness reserve]. This is a “pedagogy of the concept” for Deleuze & Guattari. Philosophy must continually refer itself to the non-philosophical activities, the sciences and arts.
In his other works, Deleuze examines the logics of sensation in many forms of art, including painting, music, literature, and cinema. He does so to help connect philosophy with its vital forces. Ambrose explains that Deleuze examines these art forms to explicate the conditions for creation shared by science, art, and philosophy; it is a “part of a broader pedagogical effort to open up different multiple paths of creative differentiation of rhizomatic concept-relation and the instantiation of vital movement in philosophical thought. His works seem to emphasize not the conditions, then, under which a specific work of art is created, but rather how the work of art can ultimately reveal something to philosophy about the diagrammatic conditions of creative activity, of creative practices” (00:09:20).
Hence, Deleuze’s concern with the diagrammatic in the arts is his way of instructing philosophers how to think more creatively. Philosophy, then, cannot cling to its old concepts. It should not “brandish ready-made old concepts like skeletons intended to intimidate any creation” (). It must instead explore the pre-conceptual wilderness of forces that we use to forge new ways of thinking. Philosophy should swim “upstream” back to the pre-individual virtual tendencies that are always deforming our current ideas.
Yet, there are no pre-existing means to do so. Only radical creativity can accomplish it. Concepts emerge not from the graveyard of old ideas. It is rather a creative activity that “is separate from but in a process though in mediation with an outside realm which they call a plane of immanence which creatively and autonomously self-posits, that is the vital and immanent self-movement of what they call pure thought” (00:13:00). Philosophers encounter this outside realm. It forces them to think. But they cannot recognize what they encounter. They can only sense it. [It affects their nervous systems, but their brains cannot compute the information, as it normally would when dealing with recognizable things and concepts. So we can sense this pre-conceptual field, but we cannot make sense of it. But yet, we cannot have sensations unless we do encounter difference. So] “it is not a sensible being, but rather the being of the sensible. It is not the given but that by which the given is given. It is therefore in a certain sense the imperceptible” (Deleuze, Difference & Repetition 140a). When we encounter something that we sense but cannot recognize, our senses have reached their limits. Deleuze calls this the sign (elsewhere the phenomenon). But despite being imperceptible, we do sense it. We do not do so through the normal operation of our senses. They reach their limits, but in a way, they go beyond them. They transcend into a new domain. They are pushed to the nth degree. This takes our senses all the way upstream to the instantaneous anarchy of the wilderness of forces. We “fall” to the zero point of pure intensity. We have no faculties other than our senses, empirically exercised. But when they reach their limits, all they can do is communicate their differences. Our senses then become as wild as the chaotic world affecting them. No sense is coordinated with another. It is an anarchy of our faculties. But by differing so wildly, they are more capable of creation. They transcend their normal function of recognition. Nonetheless, our senses never stop performing their sense functions, even though they are pushed to their highest limit. [Hence wild encounters with reality’s wilderness still involve an empiricism; but because the faculties transcend their normal function and create something radically new, it is a transcendental empiricism.] The senses, then, are in touch with the virtual forces that compete for actualization. When the chaos and fury of an inventor’s mind reaches a fever pitch, new concepts might explode forth. Thoughts are not representations. They are the presentations of implicit conceptual forces.
Hence the philosopher must strive for a cognitive experimentation. She should disorganize her faculties. This, Ambrose suggests, is the “necessary diagrammatic element within philosophy, namely, that activity which involves the initial elaboration of a plane of immanence as a necessary condition for the subsequent activity of the creation of conceptual personae and concept creation” ().
We wrest the ideas from their pre-conceptual wilderness. But they do not resemble it. For, original concepts are not representations. In that way, they are created ex nihilo. Their origin might be in the wilderness, but they were never to be found there. So they are not pre-existing possibilities that came to be. Rather, the chaos produced them. The virtual differences produce new and unique differences in actuality. So virtuality is fundamental, then, to the way that things unfold in actuality. The competing tendencies and forces of the virtual are entirely real, fully expressed in reality. So Deleuze is fashioning an ontology of the real. But because this plane of immanence lies at the threshold of actuality and of our senses, it is transcendental. Ambrose thinks that the originality of Deleuze’s position lies in his “ability to construct a transcendental ontology, yet one that is concerned to bring out the real and not merely possible conditions of existence of actual phenomena” (00:16:00).
The diagrammatic function converts the virtual tendencies into actualities. [It is something that acts upon both the virtual and the real simultaneously, so] it is neither virtual nor actual. [The virtual is a multiplicity of competing tendencies toward divergent changes. When we strike a match, there are forces tending the change towards flame, and there are resisting forces tending it toward remaining unlit, and forces tending the match stick to break, and so on. At that instant, all those tendencies are real, but none are actual. And chance decides. Perhaps the match both lights and breaks, flying to a curtain, soon sending the whole house ablaze. The match began as a something that lights candles, and became something unpredicted, it became something that sets houses on fire. And perhaps while watching the house burn down, we see something beautiful or meaningful. Perhaps the house signifies many bad memories that now symbolically are being lifted away. The match-strike then leaps to another domain, the symbolic. The forces producing that symbolic outcome themselves were not symbols, but merely physical forces met with chance. So perhaps in a way similar to this,] the virtual differs in nature from the actual. [We might on the one hand think of the tendencies quantitatively or qualitatively: more-or-less of tendencies to light, break, and so forth. It both cases, it is a question of the differences between tendencies, and differences in the way any one tendency comes to differ with itself, by changing quantitatively or qualitatively. Hence, on this implicit level of virtual tendencies, pure differing is the most fundamental. When chance introduces itself by means of a diagram, like when the random jitter in our arm causes the match to both light and break, then something of another nature altogether was created in actuality. The pure differences on the level of inner tendencies (intensities) became qualitative and quantitative differences on the level of external tendencies (extensities): the burning house was a new thing extending in space in new ways and with new qualities; its extensional meaning changes from the category house to the category fire. All this is explicit. So the match-strike was not potentially a symbol. The burning house as renewal is more like a symbol that emerged from the striking of the match. So, the tendencies began as differences. Then chance introduced radically original difference into the competition of forces. That then produced something different altogether. Hence] differences produced differences by means of differences.
So, if we want to think, we must invent. Doing so involves harnessing the implicit chaotic forces of thought and converting them by means of chance. [We noted how the implicit virtual forces actualize instantaneously. The philosopher, then, must seed the wilderness immanently, as the ‘plane of immanence,’ so that the wild forces can find wider expression in actuality, within any given instant. Recall also how these anarchic forces were involved in the match-strike leaping to the symbolic domain. There are no limitations to what something can become. Hence in a way,] the plane of immanence is a pure and infinite movement. And because it produces concepts, the plane of immanence itself (the wildness of any instant) is non-conceptual. And the concepts it creates [like the invention of Marxism] turn the world up-side-down. They are so original, that they cannot be deduced or found in the preceding concepts. The plane of immanence’s movement then is an unbounded infinity that we cannot conceptualize. “Thought demands ‘only’ movement that can be carried to infinity” (Deleuze & Guattari, What is Philosophy? 37c).
Philosophers produce new concepts when they transgress the bounds of old ideas. In a way, their thoughts are like trespassing enemies doing violence to the status quo. This is the ‘misosophical’ non-conceptual activity inherent to any creative act, including idea generation. After their generative explication, the new concepts find their ranges of expression [their extensions. They migrate into their places in the world, as if obtaining coordinates marking their territory, just as Marxist ideas pervaded certain nations. But this extensional motion is finite. It is limited by other ideas and forces. However,] the immanent movement of thought raises to the nth power. Creation is never bounded by extensional limits, because it creates new domains and modes of expression altogether.
The pre-philosophical is the internal condition for thought. On the one hand, it is always already a part of all philosophical thinking; for, it generates itself within philosophy. On the other hand, it is the task of philosophers to enliven it diagrammatically, to lay-out the plane of immanence, [to open new regions for the wilderness to expand and evolve into] (). Ambrose writes: “the creative activity of the philosopher, this friend of the concept, involves then this ongoing process of mediation-with, and the inclusion-of, the vitality of the non-philosophical plane of thought, this plane of pure immanence” (00:23:30).
To prevent philosophy from falling interminably to cliché, it must “preserve the plane of immanence through misosophy, to maintain it through an irreducible relationship to the non-philosophical fields of both the arts and sciences. And more importantly, they argue that the vital creativity associated with philosophy in its conceptual movement in some sense rests in it being necessarily intertwined and co-implicated with the autopoiesis, the creative self-positing, associated with those non-philosophical realms. Contemporary philosophy has to take-on other measures, they suggest, even the measures that quote, ‘belong to the order of dreams, of pathological processes, esoteric experiences, drunkenness, and excess’” (Ambrose, , quoting What is Philosophy? 41c). Philosophy must renew itself in its fundamental element that does not think, “an unthinkable, imperceptible exteriority” ().
Ambrose believes this brings us to Deleuze’s notion of the catastrophe and hysteria of painting in Logic of Sensation. Bacon “celebrates and productively negotiates with and maintains the irrational, the unthinkable, the imperceptible via the implicit catastrophe and hysteria of the art of painting” (). This unthinkable in us could help us understand the possibility of thought.
Ambrose will now examine chapter 12 of Logic of Sensation on the diagrammatic.
The Diagrammatic in Painting
Deleuze’s analysis regards the “painter concerned with the expressive materiality of paint and the conveyance of intense modes of sensation which are distanced from the auspices of representation and narration, i.e., from cliché” (). [We might see a painting with a scene on it whose characters have certain narrative relations to each other. First we discern the narration and its represented meanings. And only after do we obtain the painting’s affective power. But this requires that our nervous systems process their electrical signals through the computational circuits of the brain. Francis Bacon’s works however are non-computable. They affect our nervous systems directly by throwing all its circuits into disorder. This does not break the system down as much as it pushes it to its fullest creative capacity. What the nerves communicate to one another are not signals that are assimilable with each other. The different parts of our body cannot agree, which forces our nervous systems to work in new ways to adapt to the chaotic world around us. What is remarkable about Bacon’s paintings is that we never seem to become adapted to them. So they continually are throwing our systems into disorder. In a sense, this places our nervous systems ‘in tune’ with the wildly unpredictable world around us. But this being in tune is not a harmonic resonance. It is a resonance produced by difference, like the way magnets shake each other when forced together north-to-north end. We confront the difference and heterogeneity of the world around us. Our bodies shake, tremble, twitch, and contort from their own inner disorder. Because Bacon’s works can induce this differential resonance in us, and shock our nervous systems directly by sending it hay-wire, he forces the brute raw fact of reality upon us. The world is pervaded by chance and chaos. When our internal systems raise themselves to the level of intense disorder, we become sensitive to reality’s brutality.] Bacon’s paintings convey a violence of sensation, of reaction and expression, on a sub-representational level.
Yet at the same time, Bacon raises the role of his figures, not for narrative purposes, but for rhythmic ones. [See this entry on the rhythm of the figures.]
Deleuze analyzes Bacon’s creative practice, in particular the initial, pre-figurative act of painting that enables Bacon to avoid clichés. [Consider how traditionally certain parts of the canvass have their own importance and role. Painters normally do not place the central figures off into far corners. So there are zones of probability for where and how the paint should be placed on the canvass. There are also expected ways for figures to be depicted, so that they can be recognized for what they are meant to represent. These are clichés that infest the canvass even before its first stroke of paint.]
According to Deleuze, the painter battles the canvass’ clichés in her initial encounter with it. Bacon for example makes disfiguring random marks, like smearing the paint, splattering it, or messing it up in some other chance-induced and chaotic way. [As we noted, clichéd ways of distributing paint determine how and where it should be placed. But Bacon’s technique disrupts those probabilities. The smeared paint might extend an originally central figure off towards the border. It might concentrate color in areas where normally it would not be placed, or bend lines in unprecedented ways. In this manner,] Bacon avoids clichés.
Bacon uses the term ‘graph’ for this technique. Deleuze co-opts this concept, and raises out of it implicit tendencies for new ways to develop the idea.
Bacon explains that
if you think of a portrait, you maybe at one time have put the mouth somewhere, but you suddenly see through this graph that the mouth could go right across the face. And in a way you would love to be able in a portrait to make a
Consider the smile in for example Bacon’s "Study for Head of George Dyer" (1967)
[Click on image to enlarge. Image obtained gratefully from: http://www.artinfo.com]
Deleuze also says that the wildly-random diagrammatic in painting is hysterical: it threatens the act of painting at every single moment (). Bacon embraces this catastrophic risk. So, much of his work gets thrown away.
For Deleuze, the diagrammatic opens new worlds of expression. The marks are irrational, involuntary, free, accidental, random, non-representational, non-illustrative, non-narrative, and a-signifying. They inject another type of world into the visual. Bacon’s hand intervenes and disrupts optical organization. It disrupts cliché and allows new senses to emerge. The marks themselves do not break with optical cliché codes, but they map-out chaotic tendencies that can take the image beyond the visual and into the purely sensational.
There is germ of rhythm in this new order of painting.
But the diagram should not eat-away at the painting. It must be limited. Hence the violence cannot be given so much free reign that the chaos pervades the whole work. For, the diagram is a “possibility of a fact rather than a fact” (). Bacon treads between order and chaos. [The painting should lie between the chaos of Pollock and the coding of Kandinsky].
So in Bacon, the figures do not need to disappear. Rather, a different sort of figure, a rhythmic figure, should emerge from the rhythmic relations between the images on the canvass.
The diagrammatic in painting sets-up the pre-pictorial plane of immanence in art. In a similar way, Ambrose says, the diagrammatic sets-up the pre-conceptual plane of immanence in philosophy ().
Bacon surrenders to paint’s materiality. His diagram produces an ‘analogical language.’ [Again, see this entry for the analogical and digital in painting.]
According to Deleuze, Bacon’s utilization of the diagram involves three elements:
1) Bacon begins with the movement towards figurative form.
2) Bacon introduces catastrophe to scramble the given figural clichés. (This produces rhythmic figures.)
3) Bacon uses the catastrophe to allow for a new world of expression to emerge.
The diagram allows for a continual injection of the non-visual and manual into the optical, keeping painting in a relation with non-painting. In this way, representation and recognition must be disrupted. The painting should breed new forms and multiplicity without “its chaotic and anarchic energy destroying the overall cohesion of the work” ().
Ambrose concludes that
it is via a similar type of radical cognitive experimentation involving a suspension of the apparatus of conventional categorical representation systematic disruption of faculties – diagrammatic procedure, if you will – that the philosopher has to strive towards a genuine thought of the virtual. And that is the consonance between the diagrammatic procedure in both philosophy and art. It is that witch’s flight undertaken by both. But it also demonstrates the degree to which philosophy has to hold itself into a necessary pedagogical relationship to the catastrophic procedures in art, for example, Bacon’s negotiation of catastrophe, in order to learn divergent new ways of lying out the plane of immanence in philosophical thought ().
Ambrose, Darren. Deleuze and Francis Bacon: The Diagrammatic.
Bacon, Francis & David Sylvester. The Brutality of Fact: Interviews with Francis Bacon 1962-1979.
Deleuze, Gilles, Difference & Repetition. Transl. Paul Patton.
Deleuze, Gilles & Félix Guattari. What is Philosophy? Transl. Hugh Tomlinson and Graham Burchell.
Welchman, Alistair. “Machinic Thinking” in Deleuze and Philosophy: The Difference Engineer. Ed. Keith Ansell Pearson.
Francis Bacon image, Study for Head of George Dyer (1967), obtained gratefully from: http://www.artinfo.com/news/enlarged_image/28011/101437/