The Philosopher as a Line: A Deleuzian Perspective on Drawing and ahe Mobile Image of Thought

Janae Sholtz

conference: DARE 2017: aberrant nuptials
date: November 21, 2017
venue: Orpheus Institute, Auditorium
format: in words
practice: philosophy
keywords: drawing

abstract about the author(s)


What is important for Deleuze about images, whether a painting, drawing, or any other form of artwork, is not that they are visual representations, but instead that they make visible, a point inspired by the art theory of Paul Klee, to which he often refers. The question is, what is it that they make visible? To address it, I will follow a rather circuitous path, taking my own line of thought for a walk, through a rumination on the figure of the philosopher, or rather the philosopher as conceptual personae (as figure). In doing so one must also speak of the incessant glissement that Deleuze indicates between the image and the concept, which one could interpret as a relation of double-capture where art and philosophy enter into a zone of indeterminacy. A conceptual persona is an image of a philosophical system, a way of thinking, an overlaying that provides clarification to what Deleuze thinks philosophy itself is, the creation of concepts, and what he is particularly doing, providing a new image of thought. What is interesting is how he describes his own concept creation as a process of perpetual drawing and revision:

I argue that this description of thought, as drawing, gives us insight into Deleuze as conceptual persona—that is, what preoccupies Deleuze and characterises his layering upon layering of images in his own philosophy is the struggle to present an image of thought in motion, an image that captures thought as a spatio-temporal fluidity, and addresses the paradox of providing a concept that does not hypostasise itself—the point of a becoming predicated on aberrant nuptials: continuous variation. The necessity of the double-capture of concept and image is as follows: language as the method of expressing concepts captures thought within its wordy husks. Of course, this explains the need to move beyond mere logos towards the affectivity of the image. Bridging the space between thinking and seeing is fundamentally important to this paradox, as is, I will argue, the particular mode of the visible as sketch or drawing.

The project is to develop an account of a new conceptual personae that draws sustenance from Deleuze’s theory of becoming as an aberrant nuptial between heterogeneous series. Bringing together concept and image, being and practice, human and artifice, we shall attempt to conceive philosopher as line. In Deleuze’s work, the line represents the priority of passage over stasis. The line is moving, and always escaping; it is nomadic. The pouissance of the line, its frenetic movement is retained in a certain kind of image—that of the diagram, which is made most apparent in certain kinds of images, the sketch or the drawing. Drawing becomes the proper image or form of the philosopher, and not just a drawing but the act of drawing—the philosopher becomes an activity, a line of flight. But we can go even further. The kind of drawing defines the activity and Deleuze privileges the sketch or diagram, in order to illuminate the unfinished, even incessant process of drawing—movement.

These drawings are also connected to automatic writing, as the diagram is in-formed by cosmic forces; thus, there is a living breathing relationship between Deleuzian image/ philosophy making and the immanent, material conditions from which they arise. Thus, engaging with the diagrammic image is a matter of provoking a kind of affective, palpable thought, one that eludes the traditional form of the concept—an affect-event, thought in motion. This conceptual persona is a diagram that speaks to the infinitude of virtuality itself, never one with itself, never complete, it highlights the incessant force of becoming and the continuous variation that this conference has identified as genetic outcome of aberrance and indeterminacy: “This is what we are getting at: a generalized chromaticism. Placing elements of any nature in continuous variation is an operation that will perhaps give rise to new distinctions, but takes none as final and has none in advance (Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus).

about the author(s)

Janae Sholtz

Janae Sholtz is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Alvernia University, Coordinator of Women’s and Gender Studies, and Alvernia Neag Professor. She received her PhD from University of Memphis and MA from New School for Social Research. She is the author of The Invention of a People, Heidegger and Deleuze on Art and the Political (Edinburgh University Press, 2015). Her research focus is twentieth-century and contemporary continental philosophy, avant-garde art and contemporary aesthetics, social and political philosophy, and feminist theory. Her current research interests include applications of schizoanalysis to feminism, transgression and liminal thinking, immanence, ethics of the event, political ontology, and the potential of art as a form of resistance.

info & contact


Alvernia University, Reading, US


Janae.sholtz [AT]