The Artist as a Child: Becoming a Self-Propelling Wheel

This  paper elicits an encounter between artists and children by exploring the role of the latter in Deleuze’s philosophy, where they become creators, thinkers, and experimenters. Deleuze has claimed that artists say what children say; in some sense, both create trajectories and becomings, engage in cartographic activity, and trace out a dynamic, intensive map of desires. And they ceaselessly talk about these explorations and adventures (children, at least). Children’s maps are populated by different milieus which they traverse on their journeys and in which their unconsciouses are invested, juxtaposing the real and the imaginary and bringing about a becoming, a zone of proximity and indiscernibility where they no longer distinguish themselves from what they are encountering. The artist’s maps are quite different, recreating trajectories of the imagination, outlining vast distances from the most immobile and confined scenes, and also evoking real voyages, either actual or virtual, and not necessarily experienced by the artists themselves.

I argue that the two do not exactly operate simultaneously, but in fact the artist performs a complex repetition of the cartographic activities initiated effortlessly and regularly by children throughout their voyages, in which they draw lively, dynamic maps, both real and imaginary, extensive and intensive, that are a function of their very movements and the trajectories that are formed. In other words, there is a becoming-child in art that is in a constant state of unfolding. What I wish to explore is a possible communication and engagement between two kinds of becoming—the becoming child of the artist and the many becomings of the boy and the girl, occurring under a single childhood-block that undoes the distinctions between adults and children by releasing dormant child-particles from the grown artist and active ones from the child.

In Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche famously presents  the  three  metamorphoses  of the spirit: it becomes a camel, the camel a lion, and the lion a child. The child, claims Zarathustra, is innocence, forgetting, a new beginning, a game, a self-propelling wheel, a first movement, a sacred Yes.

I  argue  that  Deleuze  takes  this  formulation  literally  and  evokes  real  children  in his philosophy of immanence and affirmation, particularly in The Logic of Sense, in which the child appears to be a conceptual persona formed in the image of Lewis Carroll’s Alice. Deleuze shows how Carroll traces the little girl’s trajectory from the abyss to the surface of language in order to create the adventures and becomings of Alice in Wonderland. Alice and Carroll can therefore serve as an example of how the artist follows the movements and becomings of a child and repeats them to discover his or her own becomings.

I unfold the encounter between the artist and the child in three stages: First I examine the logic of the voyage favoured by children, in which even the most trivial events are dramatised and raised to a transcendental level, charging the unconscious with affects and intensities that spur their cartographic abilities. I also examine how this logic is employed in plastic arts, in what ways artists form their own dynamic, movement-based maps in their work, and how these two practices of mapping coincide and differ in their inciting of the actual, the virtual, and the imaginary.

In the second stage I introduce two little girls, the one who is climbing to the surface     of language in The Logic of Sense (sens), experiencing and experimenting with the very genesis of sense; and Lewis Carroll’s Alice, whose adventures are a becoming-child of Carroll himself.

In the third stage I provoke another encounter, between Nietzsche and the child, by imagining the latter as the over-human (Übermensch), the artist-player who is already reaching another kind of sensibility, outside morality and judgement, a true antichrist in a constant state of becoming.

Chaosmic Nuptials: The Secret Language of Mondrian’s Jazz

In A Thousand Plateaus, the work of abstract painter Piet Mondrian is mentioned three times. The work and thought of Kafka, on the other hand, forms an unbroken refrain throughout the text, and for Deleuze and Guattari “No one is better than Kafka at differentiating the two axes of the assemblage and making them function together.” However, it is possible to contend that A Thousand Plateaus is an extended play of variables referring pre-eminently to Mondrian, as a constant variable, and that to read the book is to hear Mondrian, so that as a point of departure here the statement becomes “No one is better than Kafka Mondrian at differentiating the two axes of the assemblage and making them function together.” How does this work?

Listening to the diagonal in Mondrian’s work (which is never there), makes it possible to discern that he is painting something else—the trace(r) of a “plurality of straight lines”; the intersection of sound and non-sound (which is neither sound nor silence); or “absolute speed.” Absolute speed can be found in a jazz club/time machine (“Everything in the bar moves and at the same time is at rest”), which decimates time not by travelling but by staying where it is: a time-space vector, a bit of time in its pure state approaching the superlinear system of music—a haecceity. In the mode of “new music,” Mondrian’s works depict a future event that has already transpired, but what will it be?

This paper/riff uses A Thousand Plateaus and Dialogues II to map Mondrian’s secret language, to deterritorialise the paintings (or rather to hear the deterritorialisations already at work in the work), by following as many lines of flight as possible to their infinite dimensions in and beyond the canvases. Thus, while it is possible to construe Mondrian’s abstract compositions as rigid utopias or as othering grids, invoking the line of death and abolition (as I have done elsewhere), a proximal listening to the compositions reveals hidden forces in the works—their true power. The artist stealthily uses the language of binaries (non-sound/sound, non-colour/colour, male/female, abstract/concrete, culture/ nature) to create a nuptial assemblage, so that when he invokes “the new music,” he does so with the nuptial line of flight in mind, combining binaries in a double capture—neither the same neutralising and eradicating the other, nor “opposites” merely “coupled.” The concrete-abstractions, as Mondrian refers to them, are hence interpreted here as painted jazz, audible compositions in a time-space zone of indeterminacy that hosts aberrant nuptials across n vectors of “binaries.” The geometric canvases arrive fast and slow as nodes of becoming, functioning as the milieus for a swarm of becomings, or chaosmos. This writing is hence an attempt to sound the artist’s secret language, to make the book machine/s of Deleuze and Guattari form a bloc with the war machine of Mondrian’s compositions somewhere outside and between the perpendicular.

Chaos Sive Natura. Electric Tree and Electronic Rhizome

The experiment Chaos Sive Natura is an interval, an in-between, an “&,” a critical space between Schönberg’s “to make music with ideas” (Schönberg and Kandinsky, Musica e pittura: Lettere testi documenti), the impartial acknowledgment that sound is the physical effect of vibrations travelling through air, the effect of these vibrations on the human cognitive function, its displacement in a “chaotic” spatial dimension, the Electric Tree (2016) of Franco D’Andrea’s electronic jazz, and the “molecularisation of sound” that puts to the test Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of rhythm in A Thousand Plateaus. Chaos Sive Natura attempts to trace a new path among the many that are possible towards new forms and contents, offering a reading of the Refrain plateau from the perspective of the new musical and philosophical culture theorised by Kodwo Eshun (More Brilliant Than the Sun: Adventures in Sonic Fiction, 1998), Erik Davis (“Roots and Wires,” 2008), Louis Chude-Sokai (The Sound of Culture: Diaspora and Black Technopoetics, 2016), Achim Szepanski (“Technodeleuze and Mille Plateaux: Achim Szepanski’s Interview (1994-1996),” 2017), Edmund Berger (“Killing Art,” 2017), among others. Departing from Nietzsche and Spinoza, and arriving at Deleuze and Guattari, OCSS claims that even a small difference in the milieu can cause a radical change from the initial sonic material. At the horizon of Nature as rhythm, OCSS catches sight of how a “non-orientable accelerationism” may look like.


Chaos Sive Natura

Milieux of Desire

This paper proposes to reflect upon the elemental realm of desire in today’s digital societies. While most of today’s relationships are monitored by communicative platforms, the aim here is to open a debate by questioning such informational milieu to address the relational operations algorithmic structures socially pre-empt before us. At stake in the face of such platforms is the very possibility of a creative, inventive, and thus desiring approach to allowing spatio-temporal relations to emerge. In this context, and given the call for proposals on “aberrant nuptials” and the “zone of indeterminacy,” this paper will reflect the composition of issue 6 of La Deleuziana journal, which will interrogate desire in this sense. As such, it aims to engage Deleuzian notions of nomadic distributions, multiplicity, and pre-individual singularities to foster debates around the importance of desiring and desired milieu today.