Fiction, Philosophy, and Poetry Wrapped Around the Creal: On Writing the Novella ‘Who Killed the Poet?’

Often, when confronted with an up-close manifestation of what my brother called “The Creal,” that vital metamorphic lava of life as constant creation, we bury our gaze in the poster, the label, the package—like that photo of an anonymous old man Bardo took when he was in London with Ophelia, on the way to Oxford, where her father Peter Lovelace lived. On the back of the photo, my brother had written: We form ourselves  to fit the pattern of the old days, of a time when nothing had yet been discovered on the other side of the limit of reality. We must be ready for another world to emerge, something beyond the daily business agenda. The blank-faced, and the lifeless, shall be buried. Intellect will be considered, sometimes, to collude with what it has denounced, for having sensed such mechanical absurdities, and yet failed to act. We are off to lands unknown, to breach every border. And nothing means anything in this world for us, except dying to be born again in the next and to create it, deep-rooted and dazzling, as one harpoons a monster. Already there emerge, in our murmurings, fields furrowed with our future deviactions.

This is an excerpt from Who Killed the Poet? (Snuggly Books, 2017), the English translation of the French novella Qui a tué le poète? (Max Milo, 2011), in which the Deleuze-inspired notion of Creal, first presented in the essay “Is a New Life Possible? Deleuze and the Lines” (Nous, 2009; Deleuze Studies, 2013) is allegorically unfolded in a tale of rebirth and rebellious esprit de corps, a textual machine in which philosophy, fiction, and poetry converge or diverge to create a physical experience of what our relationship with the Creal might be (see “On the Concept of Creal,” DARE 2015). Excerpts of Who Killed the Poet? will be assembled and manifested, in an attempt to answer the following questions: What does it mean for the same (?) author to write fiction, poetry, and philosophy around the same concept, and to what extent does it modify the author’s voice and life? Do genre nuptials produce a new unity, or an avoidance of unity (a resistance)? What are the forces at work behind the seven masks of Who Killed the Poet?: Ophelia Lovelace, Bardo Senior, Bardo Junior, Peter Lovelace, William Lovelace, Lea-Maria Spielswehk (an anagram of Shakespeare), and the narrator, Bardo’s twin?

The concept of  “Creal” qualifies a non-anthropocentric universal of  the kind proposed  by modern process ontologies: “Creal” is akin to what Deleuze called “disparateness”    or “second-degree difference,” what Deleuze and Guattari called “chaosmos” or “plane  of immanence,” what Bergson called “duration,” “creative evolution,” or “life,” and what Whitehead called “creativity process,” adding that “creativity is the universal of universals characterizing the ultimate matter of  fact.” The Creal does not seem to be teleological:    it is likely to diffuse in all real and virtual directions, without a pre-defined direction, since it can be co-created at every moment (with the “Creal-Poet”). The Creal hypothesis designates an immanent, ever-present, ever-absent, precursor or cosmic microprocessor: “Thunderbolts explode between different intensities, but they are preceded by an invisible, imperceptible dark precursor, which determines their path in advance but in reverse, as though intagliated.”

Since this intervention is intended to be in part a conversation with the audience, it will be partly improvised.

Experimenting Face to the Anthropocene: An Image of the Earth-Thought from a Symptomatic Earth’s Line

This paper aims to reactivate Deleuze and Guattari’s geophilosophy, making it coherent with their perspective, in a particular and situated locus, in order to experiment with the traits of a new germinal image of thought. Such a locus comes from South American literature and the decolonialist point of view, whose strategic importance is growing in importance in relation to the Anthropocene. This singular locus is in its turn a particular locality: the equatorial line as it is described by Grado Cero, a collective book edited by Esteban Ponce Ortiz within an interdisciplinary project developed at Universidad de las Artes of Guayaquil (Ecuador), which concerns authors including Jorge Carrera Andrade, Leonardo Valencia, Édouard Glissant, Walter Mignolo, Enrique Dussel, and also Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, and Jules Verne. One of the most interesting elements of such a work in relation to the DARE conference is the virtual connection with Deleuze’s reading of Melville as a pragmatist thinker engaged in the project of the invention of “a  people  to come,” a people composed of a community (and complicity) of imagining subjects, which in its turn should rise from a worldview as “a  process and an archipelago,” like   the Galapagos Islands (described in Melville, The Encantadas, to which Deleuze refers in Essays Critical and Clinical).

Following various theoretical frameworks critiquing the Eurocentric, anthropocentric, and colonial view of the Anthropocene, and intersecting it with Deleuze’s concept of becoming- minor in literature and in the arts, this paper will try to connect this to a theoretical act  by the equinoctial condition. Such a theoretical act could be conceived as the attempt to renew a plane of immanence towards a situated and decolonial geophilosophy.

Logic of Sens/ation: Two Conflicting Conceptions of Transdisciplinarity in Deleuze and Guattari

Central to Deleuze and Guattari’s theorisations concerning transdisciplinarity, and key   to Deleuze’s ontology, is the problem of communication across a real distinction or difference in kind. The dynamic at stake is the following: this difference cannot be negated or sublated yet there is a way to bypass it nondialectically.

In this paper I propose to tackle a sequence in Deleuze and Guattari’s oeuvre absolutely central to the problematic of aberrant nuptials introduced above: the confrontation between philosophy and art. More specifically, I will be examining two conflicting approaches to this relation in Deleuze’s, and Deleuze and Guattari’s, work and exploring the reasons for this conflict.

The first is to be found in The Logic of Sense (1969), in which Deleuze shows that art— specifically literary nonsense and humour—enables philosophy to reach an understanding of univocal being as a surface ontology comprised of a play of sense and nonsense wherein both disciplines are combined.

After meeting Guattari, Deleuze’s relation to art fundamentally changed. For Deleuze after Guattari, any framework bound to a conception of being that is in some way linguistic is not sufficiently open to the Outside (force, chance). Correlatively, art can open for philosophy a privileged route to the Outside only once it has broken free from the structuralist problematic of sense and nonsense.

With Deleuze’s Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation (1981), we find the anti-structuralist answer to the overly Carrollian Logic of Sense. With the term “Figure,” contrasted to the figurative, Deleuze makes it clear that he is following Lyotard who, in Discourse, Figure (1971), had argued for the irreducibility of the plastic and visual arts to the realm of language.

This irreducibility between art qua logic of sensation and philosophy qua logic of sense  is formalised in Deleuze and Guattari’s What is Philosophy? (1991). Here they distinguish between the philosophical “plane of immanence”—now decidedly a non-linguistic plane (contra the “plane of reference” of logic)—and the aesthetic “plane of composition,” which is discussed primarily with reference to the plastic and visual arts (rather than literature).

Thanks to Deleuze’s late engagement with Leibniz in The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque (1988), Deleuze and Guattari differentiate in 1991 between the event’s actualisation in  a state of affairs by a denoting proposition (logic), its counter-actualisation by philosophy, and its aesthetic realisation in “a body, a life.” The event is counter-actualised or actualised in philosophy and logic, but it is realised only in art.

As the discipline that formalises-constructs sensation, and thus the one most familiar with the real experience of the body, art most directly encounters the Outside of force and chance imprinted via sensation. Yet with Deleuze’s “Immanence: A Life” (1995), he problematises this a final time: art’s embodied and lived logic of sensation must combine with philosophy’s plane of immanence of thought to attain the absolute—immanence: a life—as both transdisciplinary and psycho-physical disjunctive synthesis.

Practising Philosophy

Deleuze and Guattari’s answer to the question “what is philosophy?” is well-known: philosophy is the creation of  concepts, along with its attendant plane of  immanence   (or image of thought) and the conceptual personae, from whose point of view the concept allows us to think. But what is largely absent from both What is Philosophy? and Deleuze’s work more generally are reflections on the character of philosophical practice for philosophers themselves. What is it like to be a philosopher, and what is the practice of creating concepts like?

The aim of this paper is to examine three moments in which the practice of philosophy appears on its own terms in Deleuze’s body of  work, found respectively in Difference  and Repetition, Logic of Sense, and (indeed) in What is Philosophy? I would like to argue that the picture he gives us is rather more negative than might be expected, and can be characterised by four key terms: dispossession, assembly, co-adaptation, and repetition.