The Time of the Encounter

Of the three principal modalities for the creation of the new—the dark precursor (“so is the world born” [Deleuze]), the contemporary (a counter move against the forces of the present [Baross]), and the encounter as a becoming [Deleuze])—two, we know, correspond with distinct, discontinuous and heterogeneous, temporalities. The first passes in reverse, against the progression of time; in the second, the present heterogenises itself, leaps outside the flow of chronological time to contract with different geological layers of the past. What is it that we can say with regard to the third, the time of becoming, or the multiple times/temporalities of plural becomings, when it comes to sound and music? What new event passes in their time? Or rather, what new orders of temporal relations must necessarily be constituted between different elements for a becoming in/of sound— not to pass, for it does not pass, it does not aim at or reach an end—to take place, as it must, in time?

These are some of the questions in the context of which I will attempt to ask: what happens in and to time when sounds encounter one another (for sounds do encounter one another; have an extraordinary propensity for articulating, conjugating, reciprocal modifying, contracting, etc. with one another, which explains contemporary music’s appetite for inventing/incorporating new sounds), and how the critical categories of musical time—of Boulez, Deleuze, Manoury—may already think the difference between not just between music and painting, or sound and colour, or “brute” noise and “son bruité,” but also between music and writing.

The Third Milieu: Deleuze and the Universe of the Fixed Time-Space

French composer Pierre Boulez first introduced the concepts of smooth and striated space-time in his musical oeuvre. Later, Deleuze and Guattari further developed these musical theories, applying them to a wide range of non-musical purposes throughout their philosophical works, particularly in the homonymous chapter (plateau) included in A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1987). However, the question that arises from these concepts is how these two systems communicate, transform, and alternate and at the same time remain different without becoming the same (Deleuze).

This paper seeks to explore a third milieu, adjacent to the smooth-striated that would allow the perception of the communication, transformation, and exchange processes between these two heterogeneous systems: the fixed space-time, which was also introduced by Boulez and later analysed in more depth by Deleuze, particularly in his essay “Boulez, Proust and Time: ‘Occupying without Counting’” (1986).

The methodology used for this research involves the creation of a series of drawings and diagrams using analogical and digital techniques with the aim of further exploring these ideas. Moreover, this paper argues that there is a strong relation between the functions of the fixed time-space and Deleuzian diagrams (drawing/graph/map). Furthermore, these diagrams would operate beneath the smooth and the striated and they could connect these two heterogeneous systems as the fixed space-time would do. Consequently, the fixed-diagram would function within a multiplicity, as a multi-linear system of conceptual diagonals that introduce a particular type of temporal homeostasis on the system, which would not alter the functions assigned to the individual assemblages of the smooth-striated.

Finally, the outcomes of the research have resulted in a series of maps, plans, landmarks, and itineraries that function as traces in the process of becoming involved in the interaction between the smooth-striated and the fixed space-time.

Dialogue III: On Music or The Combat of Chronos and Aion

Whereas Chronos was inseparable from the bodies which filled it out entirely as causes and matter, Aion is populated by effects which haunt it without ever filling it up. Whereas Chronos was limited and infinite, Aion is unlimited, the way that future and past are unlimited, and finite like the instant.
—Gilles Deleuze, The Logic of Sense, 165

Already in 1969, thinking about extra temporality of the event, and inspired by the Stoics, Deleuze rehabilitated for contemporary thought the distinction between Chronos and Aion. Introducing an outside of time into the inner fabric of time itself, Deleuze argued for a chronology that is derived from the event—the event being the singularity that originates any given chronology. For a musician, for someone permanently involved in the radical here and now of the performative moment or compositional decision, Deleuze’s argumentation seems completely logical, even if paradoxical. Later, in collaboration with Guattari and particularly in A Thousand Plateaus (1980), Deleuze further developed notions of time that are seminally related to Pierre Boulez’s concepts of the smooth and the striated: (1) the non-pulsed and the pulsed flow of musical time, and (2) the continuum or the discontinuum of musical spaces. Boulezian dualisms, like Deleuzian ones, are meant neither as oppositions nor as dialectical pairs; more creatively, they refer simply to attractors, which might be activated or not, according to different actualisations of forces. The combat of Chronos and Aion is, therefore, not to be seen as a fight between opponents, but rather as lightings, as bidirectional discharges of power between two fields loaded with differential energy.

For this dialogue, the combat of Chronos and Aion is taken both as an initiator to the discussion and as a pars pro toto in terms of possible relations between Deleuze and musical practices: How and to what extent can the work of Gilles Deleuze contribute to or enhance new understandings of music? How can it be used reflexively and productively? Is there a new music after Deleuze, a new musicology after Deleuze, a new performer after Deleuze, a new listener after Deleuze?

This dialogue is born out of a public dissensus: Brian Hulse’s review (2015) of Edward Campbell’s book Music after Deleuze (2013), and Edward Campbell’s response to Hulse’s review (2015), a debate that makes reference to some texts by Martin Scherzinger and a debate that was published at a time when Martin was a visiting research fellow at the Orpheus Institute (February 2015). In a slightly provocative gesture, but in the sense of enabling a richer debate on Deleuze and music we decided to invite all parts and have a productive dialogue on music before, after, with, or without Deleuze.

Paulo de Assis, chair


Campbell, Edward. 2013. Music after Deleuze. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Campbell, Edward. 2015. ‘Musicology after Deleuze: Response to Brian Hulse’s Review of Music after Deleuze – All Music is ‘Deleuzian’. Deleuze Studies Journal, 9 (1), 145-52.

Deleuze, Gilles. 1990. The Logic of Sense. Translated by Mark Lester with Charles Stivale. Edited by Constantin V. Boundas. New York: Columbia University Press.

Hulse, Brian. 2015. ‘Review of: Edward Campbell. 2013. Music after Deleuze, London: Bloomsbury’, Deleuze Studies Journal, 9 (1), 137-45.

Against Deleuze, Boulez (Music as Oracle)

In his book The Age of Extremes, Eric Hobsbawm notices the curious way the arts and aesthetics demonstrate an uncanny aptitude for prophetic foresight. For Hobsbawm, the avant-garde revolution in the 1910s, for example, took place long before the world whose collapse it expressed actually fell apart. It is for this reason that the cultural historian should pay close attention to the evolving aesthetic modalities of art in the context of particular political conjunctures. What are we to make of Gilles Deleuze’s use of the music and writing of Pierre Boulez in service of a philosophy that reads like an oracle? Against his own philosophy of discipline and punishment, Michel Foucault prophetically suggested that the century to come would be known as Deleuzian. When it comes to the critical reception of Boulez’s compositional aesthetics, the fairly predictable association of serialism (via Webern) with a kind of hermetic totalitarianism (the music’s mathematics as antisocial hyperintegration, etc.) has given way in more recent times to a more empirically grounded critical association of serialism and dodecaphony with the cultural politics of the Cold War. What the latter critique misses (modernism as the false mask of capitalism) is the truly uncanny prophetic resonance (in Hobsbawm’s sense) of post-war radicality with the new modalities of social life produced by the neo-liberal digital information network that emerged at the end of the twentieth century.

The paper demonstrates the prophetic dimensions of Boulez’s oeuvre by way of the politico-musical philosophy of Deleuze and Félix Guattari. Boulez’s music and music theory claims residency in and serves as an important conduit for the writings of Deleuze and Guattari in the 1970s and 1980s. For example, the philosophers creatively adopt serial musical structure as a philosophical trope for thinking identity across strata. The terms they employ are largely borrowed from Boulez’s technical writings on music written nearly twenty years earlier. By situating the philosophers’ engagement with music in the historical context of a romantic-modern tradition (which, broadly, emphasises the critical aspirations of music), the paper assesses the political valences of their central arguments in the current context of postmodern capitalism, to which their work is addressed. The paper demonstrates how the philosophers’ use of Boulezian aesthetics is ultimately prophetic of dominant modalities of techno-political praxis today.