Heterogeneity of The Word and The Image: What Is the Possible Dark Precursor?

The concept of heterogeneity is one of the key concepts in Deleuze and Guattari’s universe. Heterogeneity moves through all possible spheres of becoming. If one starts to discuss art at this moment, the concept of heterogeneity comes into play. They wrote, “To us, Art is a false concept, a solely nominal concept; this does not, however, preclude the possibility of a simultaneous usage of the various arts within a determinable multiplicity” (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 300–301). There is also essential heterogeneity between visible and speakable. In his book This is Not a Pipe, Foucault, in cooperation with René Magritte, discovered the innate incompatibility between the word and the image. Foucault (1983, 36) noticed that Magritte discovered the gulf “which prevents us from being both the reader and the viewer at the same time.”

There is no preformed order between heterogeneities, but is there any possible common point of communication between them? In the book A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, Deleuze and Guattari noticed that this communication is neither imitation nor resemblance; at the same time, something else entirely is going on—what is this something else? In his early book Difference and Repetition, Deleuze (1994) wrote that every system contains its dark precursor—the third party—which ensures the communication of peripheral series. Given the variety among systems, this role is fulfilled by quite diverse determinations. Deleuze does not define exactly what this dark precursor or a third party is. In his book on Foucault, Deleuze returned to the problem by mentioning that Kant had already encountered a similar problem: he had to find a third agency beyond the two forms—a spontaneity of understanding and the receptivity of intuition: the schema of imagination. Deleuze (1988: 68) discerns that even Foucault “needs a third agency to co-adapt the determinable and determination, the visible and the articulable, the receptivity of light and the spontaneity of language.”

In his text on Foucault, Deleuze reflects upon Foucault’s discussion with the Belgian painter Magritte. In his experiments with words and images, Magritte included the words in the pictures alongside the image, or even instead of the image or in a paradoxical correlation with the image. The Lithuanian artist and writer Jurga Ivanauskaitė (1961–2007) was inspired by Magritte’s experimental games in her visual works and in her literature as well (Ivanauskaitė 2011, 2013). Her poster for the rock group Antis (in English, “the Duck”) is based on the heterogeneity of the three meanings of the word “antis” and the impossibility of reducing the three meanings to any single one. This picture raises questions very similar to those that Foucault asked about Magritte’s “This is not a Pipe”: Does the word “duck” (antis) written on the wall have anything in common with a real duck or only with a metaphorical duck, meaning the duck as “the forgery in the press”? Do these three ducks (the painted object, the name of the rock group, and the word on the wall) have something in common? Is there any hierarchy between the ducks? Which one of these is the most “real”? What is the possible point of meeting? Is the picture the dark precursor of the three heterogeneous ducks? Deleuze would have answered: it is a thought. This battle between heterogeneous spheres—the impossibility of being a reader and a seer at the same time—inspires thought. In Foucault, Deleuze writes, “Visibilities are not defined by sight but are complexes of actions and passions, actions and reactions, multisensorial complexes, which emerge into the light of day.” As Magritte says in a letter to Foucault, “thought is what sees and can be described visibly” (Deleuze 1988, 59). Thought has a close relation with a diagram and the cinema. The diagram is an abstract machine or the map of relations between forces, which proceeds by primary nonlocalisable relations and at every moment passes through every point. Deleuze (2003) used Foucault’s concept of diagram to reflect upon Francis Bacon’s painting. On the other hand, Deleuze in Cinema 2 considered thought not as imagination but as a main dark precursor between the word and the image in creating modern conceptual cinema (see Baranova 2014, 2015). Thought is not so much the shock, discovered by Eisenstein, but the powerlessness to think as revealed by Artaud. Deleuze (1989, 165) writes that “thought has no other reason to function than its own birth, always the repetition of its own birth, secret and profound.”


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—. 2015. Between Visual and Literary Creation: Tarkovsky and Ivanauskaitė. Saarbrücken: Scholars’ Press.

Deleuze, Gilles. 1988. Foucault. Translated by Séan Hand. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

—. 1989. Cinema 2: The Time-Image. Translated by Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

—. 1994. Difference and Repetition. Translated by Paul Patton. London: Continuum.

—. 2003. Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation. Translated by Daniel W. Smith. London: Continuum.

Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. 1987. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Translated by Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Foucault, Michel. 1983. This is Not a Pipe. With René Magritte. Translated and edited by James Harkness. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Ivanauskaitė, Jurga. 2011. “The Fortress of Sleeping Butterflies” [excerpt from novel]. In No Men, No Cry: Contemporary Lithuanian Women’s Prose, translated by Milda Dyke, 63–75. Chicago: International Cultural Programme Centre.

—. 2013. “Year of the Lily of the Valley.” In The Dedalus Book of Lithuanian Literature, edited by Almantas Samalavičius, 146–57. London: Dedalus.