The Fold: A Physical Model of Abstract Reversibility and Envelopment

For artistic research, the model of the fold is exceptionally interesting because it deals with how form and content intertwine in a physical model, and how concrete and abstract interrelate on the plane of consistency. In my paper I focus on chapter two of Deleuze’s The Fold (1992) and take up the concept of “inflection” as an elastic point in the model of the fold that discloses a reality of reversibility. I intend to demonstrate through artworks the concept of “Foldings, or the Inside of Thought” (Deleuze 1988, 95).

Deleuze (1992, 15) states that for Paul Klee the point as a “nonconceptual concept of noncontradiction” moves along an inflection. “It is the point of inflection itself, where the tangent crosses the curve. That is the point-fold” (ibid., 15). Through a simple sketch, Deleuze demonstrates how the point of inflection is the point where the concave turns convex. This is the point of inflection. What happens in the point of inflection? Is it a conjunction? A passage? It would seem that this very special point is a point that conceals a profound metaphysical realisation. It is a physical point in the attribute of extension that corresponds to an invisible point of abstraction in the attribute of thought. Deleuze wants to draw attention to this point by referring to the thinking of Leibniz, the Neoplatonists, Spinoza, and Whitehead.

Because of the existence of concave and convex, there are different points of view, depending on which place we see from. The enfolding reality has multiple points of view; each point of view is a perspective. It appears that we are captured in our point of view. There is always a reversible side of a point of view, and by the power of the imagination we can think the concept of reversibility. A physical model of the fold reveals, in fact, a metaphysical reality of the attributes and the power of the attributes, according to Deleuze’s references to Spinoza. Deleuze’s ideas encompass several crucial things: first, we assume that reality has a mirroring construction; in other words, reality corresponds to an abstract reality that the model of the fold demonstrates. That is to say, physical reality and abstraction are two sides of the same coin. Second, the model of enfolding implies an innate life, the life of a monad, a singularity as a soul. Deleuze (1992, 24) writes, “We are moving from inflection to inclusion in a subject, as if from virtual to the real, inflection defining the fold, but inclusion defining the soul or the subject, that is, what envelops the fold, its final cause and its complete act.” Finally, Deleuze (ibid., 29) asks, “in order that the virtual can be incarnated of effectuated, is something needed other than this actualization in the souls? Is a realization in the matter also required, because the folds of this matter might happen to reduplicate the folds in the soul?”

The “point of inflection” is abstract and physical, a corresponding reversibility. I explore whether a “realization in matter,” a physical manifestation of foldings, affects an abstract reality. My art form is “objects of folding.” By letting folds coagulate, I “freeze” the process to a fixed form to let a “nondimensional point between dimensions” (Deleuze 1992, 16) become visible.

References

Deleuze, Gilles. 1988. Foucault. Translated and edited by Seán Hand. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

—. 1992. The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque. Translated by Tom Conley. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Alone/Together: Simulacral “A-Presentation” in/into Practice-As-Research in Jazz

No series enjoys a privilege over others, none posses the identity of a model, none the resemblance of a copy . . . Each is constituted by differences, and communicates with the others through differences of differences.
—Gilles Deleuze (2004: 348)

This lecture-recital, interposing live music making and spoken word is concerned with our understandings of the creative processes by which musicians make music with the core repertoire in their particular disciplinary field, and with how research in/into such processes can best be undertaken and communicated. It will draw on, as an exemplar, my ongoing practice-as-research in a duo capacity with the saxophonist Mike Fletcher—a fellow member of the contemporary jazz scene in Birmingham (UK). In this research, expert music making with the standard repertoire in jazz forms the basis for a range of “theoretical practices” (Melrose 2005), including (as will be discussed in the presentation) notions primary to the Deleuzian canon.

In Deleuze’s well-known attack on what he called “the failure of representation” (2004, xvii), he proposed the collapse of the Platonic model/copy concept of identity in favour of an ontology of difference grounded in heterogeneous “a-presentation” (ibid., 27) that privileges “no prior identity, no internal resemblance” (ibid., 372–73). Deleuze refigured Plato’s own term “simulacrum” to indicate this internally differentiated “positive power which denies the original and the copy, the model and the representation” (2004, 299). Resonating with Deleuze’s concerns, my own research has explored the theorisation of the ontology of musical works (in this case, jazz standards) with regard to the simulacrum, beyond the limitations of the model of the original and the copy that remains prevalent, however implicitly, in how we tend to think of the relationship between works in a canonical repertoire and performances of “the same” (see Brown 2011).

Through a series of practice-as-research enquiries, Fletcher and I have experimented with ways of playing jazz standards from multiple different perspectives, in the simultaneous performance of key aspects of the pieces in question. In so doing, we have sought to investigate a deconstruction of the original/copy model of the identity of the jazz standard via the apparatus of a simulacral “a-presentation.” “Simulacra are not perceived in themselves,” wrote Deleuze (2004: 313), “what is perceived is their aggregate in a minimum of sensible time.” By means of performing multiple perspectives of the same jazz standards in “aggregated” form, we will argue that my practice-as-research enables listeners—and, crucially, fellow researchers—to experience a temporally-grounded “sense” of the internally-differentiated, simulacral ontology of jazz standards, in terms of the complex manifold nature of their utilisation by jazz musicians.

References

Brown, Lee B. 2011. “Do Higher-Order Ontologies Rest on a Mistake?” British Journal of Aesthetics 51 (2): 169–84.

Deleuze, Gilles. 2004. The Logic of Sense. Translated by Mark Lester with Charles Stivale. Edited by Constantin V. Boundas. London: Continuum.

—. 2004. Difference and Repetition. Translated by Paul Patton. London: Continuum.

Melrose, Susan. 2005. “Words Fail Me.” Keynote address at “Towards Tomorrow?,” Centre for Performance Research, Aberystwyth, 6–10 April 2005. Accessed 29 July 2009. http://www.sfmelrose.u-net.com/.

Deleuzian Expressionism as an Ontology for Theatre

This paper addresses the problematic ontology of postdramatic theatre. In particular, it looks at examples of “in-yer-face” productions, such as Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis and Cleansed, as well as Caryl Churchill’s The Skriker and Far Away. In doing so, it aims to uncover a novel way of positioning the notion of mimesis within the ontological texture of these non-Aristotelian works for the theatre. Herein mimesis becomes a constitutive principle and a generative procedure that guarantees continuity between disparate entities, such as words and worlds, pre-representational regions and representation, infinite indetermination and finitude. It is similar in form and function to Deleuze’s notions of “expression” and “re-expression” within Spinoza’s substance–essence–attribute and attribute–mode–modification triads as described in Expressionism in Philosophy.

Just as expression carries forward a progression from the infinite to the finite whereby the expressible (substance) becomes expressed sense, so does mimesis assume the role of a generative intermediary in the composition of literary worlds in postdramatic theatre. As a relational and transmissive component, Deleuze’s “expression” does not agree with Romanticist treatments of the term as “the internal made external” but captures the very motion of the expression of substance within what Thacker defines as a regime of “a radical Neoplatonism without a centre.” Thus described, expression becomes a topological progression. It precipitates the emergence of literary worlds from a vantage point of univocity, acting as a fluxional immanent substratum that is fundamentally generous, affluent, and flowing forth.

Assuming this vantage point, one begins to notice that postdramatic works for the theatre—albeit nonsensical to the habitual gaze—exhibit a quasi-causal logic governed by the continual interaction of Deleuzian “expression” and “sense.” This becomes especially visible in “in-yer-face” plays with their violence and excesses—almost campy and grotesque in their insistence on the aberrant. Rather than explaining such plays in experiential terms, the present paper assumes the stance that their “nonsensical” infusions expose the work of an event of sense within a play’s ontological texture. Confronted with the consolidation of an event of sense within the motion of expression, plays are at pains to readjust, recompose, and thus incorporate the supernumerary within their textual fabric. In the listed cases, the result is an inimical, injurious immanence.

Corpus Delicti #2 // Untimely Precursors

On 30 July 1881 Nietzsche sent a postcard to his friend Franz Overbeck, enthusiastically expressing his surprise at having discovered he had a famous precursor in the history of philosophy:

I am utterly amazed, utterly enchanted! I have a precursor, and what a precursor! I hardly knew Spinoza: that I should have turned to him just now, was inspired by “instinct.” Not only is his overtendency like mine—namely to make all knowledge the most powerful affect—but in five main points of his doctrine I recognise myself; this most unusual and loneliest thinker is closest to me precisely in these matters: he denies the freedom of the will, teleology, the moral world-order, the unegoistic, and evil. (Postcard to Franz Overbeck, Sils-Maria, 30 July 1881)

In our fictional lecture-performance, Franz Overbeck (Arno Böhler) responds to Nietzsche’s postcard by recommending that he read two young French philosophers: Gilles Deleuze and Michel Foucault. Overbeck is particularly enthusiastic about Deleuze’s book Nietzsche and Philosophy and Foucault’s Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. He claims that both authors have finally understood that his friend Nietzsche’s work, due to its untimeliness, is a foreign body to what has been called philosophy so far. Having started the “Prelude of a Philosophy of the Future,” Nietzsche’s thought is now at last recognised as being a precursor of thought events, still waiting to be discovered and called into being posthumously.

Such a futuristic mode of thinking and doing philosophy, says Deleuze, “has an essential relation to time.” It is fundamentally untimely, that is to say:

… essentially against its time, a critique of the present world. The philosopher creates concepts that are neither eternal nor historical but untimely and not of the present. The opposition in terms of which philosophy is realized is that of present and non-present, of our time and the untimely (UM II Use and Abuse of History, Preface). And in the untimely there are truths that are more durable than all historical and eternal truths put together: truths of times to come.
(Gilles Deleuze, Nietzsche and Philosophy. London and New York: Continuum 2006, 100.)

Franz Overbeck’s reflections in response to Nietzsche’s postcard are interrupted by Susanne Valerie Granzer, who presents a selection of texts by philosophers whose philosophy has been interpreted as a disruption, or sometimes even as a crime against the classical canon of philosophy they inherited: Spinoza, who was cursed for his thoughts, the man in Kafka’s The Trial who was executed without reason, and the poets in Plato’s Republic who were expelled from the state.

The lecture-performance stages philosophy, rendering the words uttered in the performance as a sensual, bodily experience, to be shared with the audience.