4 Jan 2018

Terence Blake’s ‘DELEUZE AND DRUGS: against the marginals’ conformism’


by Corry Shores


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Terence Blake


DELEUZE AND DRUGS: against the marginals’ conformism


In this post Blake discusses Deleuze & Guattari’s ideas on drugs. He writes for example:

Anindya Bhattacharyya comments that some of Deleuze and Guattari’s’s remarks “apply to addictive substances in general while others refer more narrowly to psychoactive drugs”. This is true but Deleuze and Guattari’s focus here is psychoactive drugs. This impression is in part an artefact of the translation. They talk ambiguously of the “drogué”, which can refer either to someone who uses drugs or to someone who is dependent on drugs (a less ambiguous word is “toxicomane” which means drug addict). However, the translation says “drug addict”.


The problem according to Deleuze and Guattari is the constant return to zero, to the tabula rasa. The path that Deleuze and Guattari recommend is not to return, to start again from nothing, but rather to “resume” and to “rectify”, to start in the middle and to “bifurcate”

Note: here I must reject the translation of “prendre un relais” as “make it a stopover”. It should rather be to “take up the torch”, “seize the baton and run”. The emphasis here is not on the “stop” but on continuing the movement, taking it further.


The point is to “forgo” drugs in order to pass through the holes in the world and onto the lines of flight. Drugs, whether we have taken them or not, have changed our perception. They have allowed us to perceive the holes in the world, the gaps, the breaks, the ruptures, the imperceptible fissures. But they do not allow us to take hold of the imperceptible and to become ourselves imperceptible:

One does not conform to a model, one straddles a horse. Drug users have not chosen the right molecule or the right horse. Too bulky to grasp the impercep­tible and to become imperceptible, they believed that drugs would give them the plane (ATP, 286).

The discussion here echoes Deleuze’s earlier “Letter to a Severe Critic”, in reply to Michel Cressole’s accusation that Deleuze was not really an adventurer, a risk-taker, but rather a profiteer of other people’s experiments:

“someone who’s always just tagged along behind, taking it easy, capitalizing upon other people’s experiments, on gays, drug-users, alcoholics, masochists, lunatics, and so on, vaguely savoring their transports and poisons without ever taking any risks” (NEGOTIATIONS, 11).

In his reply to this accusation Deleuze distinguishes between an outer politically correct marginality based on indifference to the singularity of the other’s experiments, and a more “discreet”, “clandestine” and “imperceptible” marginality tied to one’s “inner journeys” and measured by one’s emotions.

Note: Unfortunately the published English translation effaces this notion of political correctness when it translates “all that crap where everyone’s supposed to be everyone else’s guilty conscience and judge” (11). A more literal reading would be: “all that crap where everyone’s supposed to be the bad conscience and corrector of the other”.


Witchcraft is little understood, esoteric, uncanny and disturbing, it makes us wary and inspires mistrust. It puts us “on the lookout” (aux aguets), as Deleuze calls this state in his ABC Primer (A as in “Animal”), which is already a sorcerous state, a state that Deleuze finds more appropriate to philosophy than the conventional idea of “wonder”. It has to do with becoming, transformation and flight, with powers and demonic forces, with going against Nature as we ordinarily understand it.

(Terence Blake)


Note, some similar material can be found in:

THERE IS MADNESS IN THIS METHOD: Commentary on a fragment from Deleuze and Guattari’s WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY?


THINKING IS DISREPUTABLE: philosophy, dreams, and the witch’s flight












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