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Deleuze’s Dick

Russell Ford

So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bom- barded with pseudorealities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power. They have a lot of it. And it is an aston- ishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing. It is my job to create universes, as the basis of one novel after another. And I have to build them in such a way that they do not fall apart two days later. Or at least that is what my editors hope. However, I will reveal a secret to you: I like to build uni- verses that do fall apart.

—Philip K. Dick (1995, 262)

Introduction: Another diction

The hack. The salesman. The fired cop. The drifter. The betrayed criminal. Each of these constitutes a novel literary invention; each gives a new sense to the investigative character. They are not modifications of the classical model, stamped with the rational imprimatur of Sherlock Holmes, C. Auguste Dupin, or Joseph Rouletabille—there is no line of filiation from these to Vachss’s Burke, Pelecanos’s Nick Stefanos, or Himes’s Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones. 1 Even Lacan’s powerful psychoanalytic reading of Poe’s “The Purloined Letter” reveals Dupin to be a genius only in a game whose dialectical structure is given in advance. Although the subjects that come to occupy this structure only acquire determination through the assumption of their places, the dynamic form of the dialectic is itself “foreclosed” by the phallus whose circulation organizes the system. 2 Dupin understands the circulation of the signifier only because this circu- lation is the figure of the law. Rejecting the phallocentric rationality of the mastermind, the new figurations of Vachss, Pelecanos, Himes, and others parody the grand orchestration of reason—their language is slang not de- duction. They are not detectives but “dicks”: a name 3 that incorporates within its reduction an empirical transformation of the transcendental. In

Philosophy and Rhetoric, Vol. 38, No. 1, 2005. Copyright © 2005 The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA.




fact, it is a transformation of the very sense of inquiry that requires this new type of conceptual personae 4 in order to traverse its contours. The philosophical project of Gilles Deleuze—which he character- izes as a “transcendental empiricism”—is directed toward freeing thought from its determination by the philosophical traditions that constitute its history. Such a freeing would allow for a philosophical conceptualization of present events that are no longer able to be adequately conceptualized by that history. The distinctive character of Deleuze’s project comes from his insistence on the discontinuity between the tradition of thought and the new formulations that it is called upon to generate. For Deleuze, the phi- losopher is the one who asks about the generation of new concepts and thereby places herself in a double bind. On the one hand, the philosopher is historically conditioned, thrown into a tradition whose tools present a lim- ited number of possible conceptual resolutions of a particular event. On the other hand, this conditional determination of philosophical thought is repeated, perpetually, so that the philosopher is always a parody of herself:

solving the question of the determination of a present event by resolving the question of the determinability of the present by the past. This situation of parody is the limit of thinking; it is where thinking develops according to the vicissitudes of history. 5 In the assumption of this project, Deleuze sets out to investigate the limit where thinking encounters the unexplained, the unsolved, what draws thinking into new and unforeseen actualizations. It is the question of the new, of what puzzles and then draws thinking into new actualizations, that leads Deleuze to write that “a book of philosophy should be in part a very particular species of detective novel” (1994, xx). While Deleuze is cer- tainly not claiming that a book of philosophy should include a detective narrative, he is also not claiming that the book of philosophy should merely resemble a detective novel. Detective fiction and philosophical writing maintain their mutual distinction but they are at the same time linked by a style of thinking common to both. This common style is what Deleuze— following Pierre Klossowski’s work on Nietzsche—terms “parody,” and it not only links the sensible to the thinkable, the aesthetic to the conceptual, but does so precisely by giving to each its necessarily political and con- crete dimension. 6 Deleuze’s linkage of detective fiction and a book of dif- ferential philosophy is therefore important for showing not only the particular relevance of aesthetic considerations to a philosophy of differ- ence but also the fundamental political dimension of such a philosophy.



The centrality of language to Deleuze’s differential philosophy is indicated as early as his 1954 review of Hyppolite’s Logic and Existence. The central claim of Hyppolite’s book is that human existence is an effect of language, which in turn is the expression of being itself: “Man then exists as the natural Dasein in which Being’s universal self-consciousness appears. Man is the trace of this self-consciousness, but an indispensable trace without which self-consciousness would not be” (1997a, 187). In this reading, Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit would narrate the engendering of the coincidence of logic and existence, which could also be described as the narration of the education of finite thought. Deleuze follows Hyppolite in determining the problem for contemporary philosophical thought as the determination of the mode of knowing appropriate to sense. “That there is no ‘beyond’ means that there is no ‘beyond’ of the world (because Being is only sense), and that in the world there is no ‘beyond’ of thought (because being thinks itself in thought). Finally, it means that in thought itself there is nothing beyond language” (1997a, 193). For Hyppolite, the education of finite knowing to sense occurs through the movement of negation. The flow of time renders a once-true statement false, but it also goes further, it continues to flow, and sense arises, for Hyppolite, with the language whose finite expression reflects the absolute movement of time. Philosophy then constitutes the ever-renewed effort to articulate sense. Deleuze breaks with Hyppolite on the issue of what determines the movement of knowing to- ward sense and argues that this movement is not reducible to mere contra- diction. For Deleuze, the force of time is not adequately thought as negation, consciousness is not reducible to a series of distinct states, and therefore philosophical knowledge must undergo a radical transformation. Where Hyppolite conceived of philosophy as the discovery of expressions adequate to the movement of time, Deleuze, by conceiving of the work of time as difference rather than contradiction, develops a conception of philosophy as the invention or creation of concepts. Of central importance to Deleuze’s critique of Hyppolite’s reading of Hegel is Nietzsche. It is in Nietzsche that Deleuze finds a thought that articulates the flow of time as a differential force that is irreducible to con- tradiction or negation: eternal return. More specifically, it is Pierre Klossowski’s work on Nietzsche that allows Deleuze to use Nietzsche to work out the possibility of a consistent, non-transcendental philosophy. For Klossowski, Nietzsche dramatized a style of thinking that moved ac- cording to a time ordered by difference rather than contradiction. The doc- trine of eternal return (a “simulation of a doctrine” [1963, 211; translation



mine]) was dramatized in the fracture between Zarathustra and Nietzsche, the one willing the affirmation of creation and the other willing an aristo- cratic revaluation of all values. In his own work on Nietzsche, Nietzsche and Philosophy, Deleuze (1983) provides an account of this doubling by describing will to power as belonging properly to active forces even as it wills reactive forces. 7 This fracture does not express an incomplete synthe- sis of negative moments, but constitutes in its positivity a book that thinks the force of time as immanent to finite expression but not grounding it. The doctrine of eternal return is parody because it thinks the constitutive difference of finite thinking and an adequate expression of being precisely by expressing the latter in the former. If for Hegel and Hyppolite the secret was that there was no secret, for Klossowski and Deleuze, the secret is that there is only the secret, only difference.

Bergson and the secret of empiricism

It is again a matter of the secret in Difference and Repetition, where Deleuze clarifies the relation between detective fiction and philosophical works by linking detective fiction to empiricism.

By detective novel we mean that concepts, with their zones of presence, should intervene to resolve local situations. They themselves change along with the problems. They have spheres of influence where, as we shall see, they operate in relation to ‘dramas’ and by means of a certain ‘cruelty.’ They must have a coherence among themselves, but that coherence must not come from them- selves. They must receive their coherence from elsewhere. This is the secret of empiricism. Empiricism is by no means a reaction against concepts, nor a simple appeal to lived experience. (Deleuze 1994, xx)

The secret of empiricism is what it conceals in and through its ap- parent lack of methodology. This lack is in fact not a lack at all but empiricism’s positive character as a style of thinking, a style of working with concepts, that operates to render thinking commensurate with a par- ticular experience. Concepts are dramatized insofar as they are ordered and set in relation with each other neither by an independent subject nor according to the transcendental necessities of the situation, but by the in- human force of time, the imageless force that impels thinking. At the edge of knowing, empiricism negotiates the limit between experience and the



thoughtful determination of that experience (“I make, remake and unmake my concepts along a moving horizon, from an always decentered center, from an always displaced periphery” [xxi]). Empiricism is neither a simple passivity nor an active determination; it is an expression, a style. Empiri- cism marks the irruption of concepts that, as they become thinkable and consistent, as they negotiate the space of their assemblage, develop into a particular style of thinking, a differentiated expression. The secret of em- piricism is what it makes apparent, even if it only does so obliquely, only through the repetition of the moment of emergence: this space that is im- mediately differentiated. It was Bergson who thought this secret rigorously. In his essay “Bergson’s Conception of Difference,” written at approximately the same time as the review of Logic and Existence, Deleuze elaborates the way that Bergson’s method of intuition is capable of thinking concrete differences without recourse to finality or to a dialectic based upon negation and con- tradiction. The key to Bergson’s formulation of intuition as a method is in the faculty of “fabulation.” 8 Thinking is itself differentiated, from the very beginning, between a thought of matter, or of things in objective space, and a thought of duration, or of the significance of things to thought. Fabu- lation is the faculty of thinking that forms the significance of things by determining their end or usefulness. Thinking both determines the objec- tive space of the world and, in the same gesture, determines the signifi- cance of worldly things. However, “Bergson both criticizes the notion of finality and does not stop with the articulations of the real: the thing itself and the corresponding end are in fact one and the same thing, envisaged on the one hand as the mixture it forms in space, and on the other hand as the difference and simplicity of its pure duration” (Deleuze 1999, 52). The apparent dualism of thinking is eliminated because the difference that con- stitutes thinking is not between the possible and the actual, between the purpose of a thing and its present state, the difference of thinking is be- tween the actual and the virtual, between the spatial thing and the fabulated, fictional significance of that thing. The difference between the actual and the virtual is the real difference between a thing and its meaning, and this difference cannot be reduced to contradiction because it is only in thinking. The virtual, for both Bergson and Deleuze, is a necessary concept. For Bergson, it is the concept that expresses the always already intertwined relationship of thinking and the world. It is not a mere replacement of the concept of the possible—a concept that is preserved alongside that of the virtual—on the contrary, the virtual is the differentiation of possibilities.



Objects are possibilities for a subject only in a secondary way; primarily, there is neither subject nor object but rather a differential duration that comes to expression in the life of consciousness. The virtual expresses the possibility of the possible as such: that an event is possible only given the simultaneous condition that it be actual and not actualized. The virtual is a concept that answers the question of the determination of possibilities that the concept of the possible merely begs. Deleuze pushes the concept of the virtual even further in his work on the cinema (1989, 78–83). There, Deleuze shows that the distinction between the actual and the virtual is a temporal distinction between the present and the differential force of time (what Bergson calls “Life”). 9 The actual determination of things and events in the world is thus transformed from the transcendental selection of possi- bilities to the generation of actualities coupled with their inner, temporal differentiation. Such an empiricism reworks transcendentalism without dis- carding it. Empiricism appears different from conceptual determination, but empiricism’s secret is that this difference is only apparent, and that real or concrete difference is the difference between thinking and the appearance or expression of thinking. The apparent difference is mistaken for the real difference not as the result of an error, but because thinking is developed, according to Bergson, in areas quite different from speculation, or the think- ing of thinking itself. What is commonly called “thinking” emerges as a power of finite creatures to determinately apprehend things in the world. In Creative Evolution, Bergson (1998) refers to this aspect of the power of thinking as the intellect, whose particular power is the inventive determi- nation of systems of analytically discontinuous bodies. 10 The intellect de- velops in addition to, but also alongside, the instinct that is another power of thought. Where the power of intellect is to construct systems of signifi- cance applicable to a number of different situations, the power of instinct is to think the specificity of a thing or situation as a whole. “Instinct is sympathy” (176), and, as examples of instinctive behavior, Bergson de- scribes the behavior of wasps that sting each species that they prey on ac- cording to the location of nerve junctions particular to that species; the wasps cannot be acting based on intellect because their behavior cannot be extended to new species of prey. 11 The intellect inevitably leads thought to a consideration of thinking itself but it does so through language. Language is the intellect rendered communal, the sharing of systems of significance that permits the coordi- nation and often cooperation between different finite creatures. With lan-



guage, the intellect obtains its adequate expression—an expression that is not a representation 12 —insofar as language is capable of being indefinitely extended and so can be brought to bear upon any number of situations. With language, thinking itself can become an object of inquiry for the in- tellect, and one might imagine this happening as the members of a linguis- tic community think about the coherence of that very community. The intellect, however, apprehends things according to its development as a faculty or tool of analysis and systematization. It therefore attempts to de- termine thinking analytically, by breaking it into pieces and so obtains a determination of thinking as a succession of states. Such a determination fails to adequately think thinking because it remains blind to the work of instinct that is equally constitutive of thinking. In order to engage in specu- lation, in order to think thinking, Bergson develops the method of intu- ition. Intuition is the method that thinks the secret of empiricism, that thinks the difference of thinking, the difference between thought and its signifi- cance, without thinking of this difference as negative. The hidden signifi- cance of a thought, what organizes a system of signs, is not the appearance of a lack but rather the insistent creative force of thinking itself. 13 Intuition is the method that takes account of this difference in think- ing. It is therefore a key concept for Deleuze’s reading of Bergson because of not only its epistemological importance but also its metaphysical impor- tance. Like Hegel, Bergson’s thinking is organized by the problem of con- sciousness. However, Hegel proposes a dialectic that recollects and recuperates a determinate ground for thinking (this is the dialectic of con- sciousness). In doing so, Hegel resorts to a Newtonian conception of time that thinks of it as composed of a succession of mutually exclusive mo- ments, and of space as a set of mutually exclusive points. Only in such a conceptualization can difference be organized into a determinate force that both resolves and preserves the difference between the Part and the Whole, between a determinate thought and thinking, between the finite existent and Spirit. By affirming the difference that is the secret of empiricism rather than attempting to eliminate it through recourse to a dialectic of negation, Bergson opens the way to a thinking that accords priority to difference. Most importantly, because intuition is primarily metaphysical, because Bergson’s problem is consciousness as the field of experience, difference is developed not as a determining concept but as the determinability of every experience. The secret of empiricism is the difference that calls forth determination. For Bergson, the invention of the power of determination is a decisive moment in the evolution of thinking and consciousness because



it is the moment determination became an ability of the determined. The force of life found in the power of determination a way to multiply its force because its determinate moments, living things, are determined pre- cisely as determining. The secret of empiricism is the differential expression of élan vital, or “life” as Deleuze calls this force in his later works. This force of life has less in common with the naturalist’s or biologist’s conception of the vast manifold of living things than with concepts such as Hegel’s Spirit, Heidegger’s Dasein (and later Ereignis), and Nietzsche’s eternal return. Life is not the essence of living things but the principle of difference that enables the emergence of the living as such. It is thus identified with the disclosive power of thinking that is dramatized in consciousness. Conscious- ness does not dispose of life; life is a force whose dramatization engenders consciousness as the trace of its differing determination. The “cruelty” of life is precisely this differential determination of forces, the fact that there is something determinable, and this givenness is expressed in the creative determination of forces by concepts. The force of life expresses itself as differing or, in other words, as the remembrance of determination and the production of the unforeseeable. What is new is what differs not from a whole that it negates but from itself in its development. This is the lesson of Creative Evolution. The sympathetic but indeterminate apprehension of the instinct always outstrips the reflective and determinate apprehension of the intellect. Consciousness is the dramatic expression of the new inso- far as the differing that is consciousness preserves the particularity of the created in memory even as it repeats the force of life in the trajectory of duration. Consciousness is not life’s reflection; it is the trace of life’s dif- ferential expression.

Apprenticeship and fabulation

According to Bergson, language maintains a particular relation to this force of life. Hegel also privileges the relation between language and the force of time, and it is on this basis that Hyppolite carries out his ontological reading of Hegel’s philosophical project. In the Phenomenology of Spirit it is language, and writing in particular, that enables the first movement of the dialectic from sense-certainty to perception: “To the question: What is Now?, Let us answer, e.g. ‘Now is Night.’ In order to test the truth of this



sense-certainty a simple experiment will suffice. We write down this truth; a truth cannot lose anything by being written down, any more than it can lose anything through our preserving it. If now, this noon, we look again at the written truth we shall have to say that it has become stale” (Hegel 1977, 60). For Hegel, the truth of the particular is the finality of language. Lan- guage reveals that the truth of the particular is that it is the negation of everything else. According to this view, perception is nothing other than the affirmative taking up of language as the truth of sense-certain con- sciousness. In language, consciousness thinks the universal as the truth of the particular. Thus truth is found in a determination that always outstrips the finite; truth is found only in the infinite movement of Spirit. Bergson rejects this account that reduces the particular to the negation of every- thing else, and so reduces the finite to the negation of the infinite. For Bergson, the immediate certainty of consciousness, the mere apprehension of a particular, is not differentiated reflectively but rather affirmatively. For Bergson, a particular thing first differs from itself, not from everything that it is not, because consciousness differs that thing according to the dif- ferent dimensions of thinking and being, or memory and duration. Writing, or language, would then be the expression of not the negating, universal truth of the particular, but rather the affirmation of the self-differing that is consciousness. Deleuze develops such a Bergsonian conception of language in his essay “Literature and Life.” For Deleuze, the function or goal of the lan- guage of literature is to allow the force of life to pass through it. However, the determination of the goal of something differs that thing into its virtual and actual aspects. The Idea that passes through language in literature, and that endows particular determinations with consistency, is nothing other than the force that is expressed in the invention of those same determina- tions. “Idea” is a term that Deleuze adopts from Kant, for whom there were three Ideas—God, freedom or the immortality of the soul, and the world— that were determined and given by the temporal structure of the synthetic operation of rational judgment, but could never be made determinate for the understanding. 14 These Ideas marked the limits of the determinative power of thought. Deleuze, however, follows Bergson in thinking determi- native consciousness as the actualization of an indeterminate and differen- tial form of time. Ideas multiply without ultimate bound and become the actualization of the limits of temporal forms of existence. At the same time, these forms undergo qualitative transformation. Literature is defined by Deleuze in terms of this transformation: “the aim of literature: it is the passage of life within language that constitutes Ideas” (1997, 5).



The language of literature is an expression of thinking that attempts to think a created world of significations at the same time as it thinks the creativity that grounds such a world. Language “makes sense” only when it grounds its own meaningful expression. In the example taken from the first movement of the Phenomenology of Spirit, it was shown that merely determining language, a language that is not concerned with the conditions of its own production, loses its truthful character in time and is in fact false language or a false determination; it is “stale,” senseless. As Hyppolite argues, only by pursuing its own ground can language become an appro- priate expression of Being. For Hyppolite, and also for Deleuze, the force of desire that is the dynamic of truth is expressed in and as language, and the Phenomenology is a narration of the education of Spirit as it learns to think, and so to speak, truthfully. Such a narration is demanded by a think- ing that understands the indeterminacy of the creative moment of thinking as a lack or deficiency. However, Bergson’s reworking of difference opens the way for a narration of thinking that is an apprenticeship rather than an education. By challenging the work of contradiction in the opening moments of the Phenomenology, Deleuze’s reading of Bergson and Hyppolite challenges Hegel’s account of the dynamics of thoughtful language. In emphasizing the primary and affirmative differential character of consciousness, not only is the power of thinking to ground itself stripped away, but the very voca- tion of consciousness is profoundly altered. Consciousness can no longer be thought of as an activity of self-grounding because it is now posited as primarily groundless. Consciousness retains a particular dynamism, but this is now a dynamism of consciousness where the genitive is subjective rather than objective. Consciousness is differed in its ground, and, to use Bergson’s terminology, it succeeds in thinking this ground, it succeeds in expressing itself meaningfully, when it thinks this ground sympathetically, when think- ing thinks differentially. The narrative of such a thinking would constitute an “apprenticeship” rather than an education. Thinking submits its deter- minations to the differential force that creates but does not ground these very determinations and, in so doing, thinks the particular difference of these determinations that enables another determination to be created. An apprenticeship of finite, determinative thinking to the imageless force of thinking, an apprenticeship of language to this force, creates concepts whose consistency is ill-suited for application to a wide variety of events. This is not to say that concepts sufficient to think new events negate existing con- cepts, but rather that new events come to be thought according to a sympa-



thetic thinking that “makes, remakes and unmakes its concepts along a moving horizon” (Deleuze 1994, xxi) and according to the differential par- ticularity of their creation. The language of differential thinking cannot be opposed to what it is not because it remains essentially indeterminate to such a questioning. The language of differential thinking creates new forms of expres- sion and new styles in order to accomplish this task of differential think- ing. Deleuze, both in his own works and in those co-authored with Guattari, singles out two linguistic elements that express the difference at the heart of every determination: the indefinite article and the infinitive. Together, these two grammatical functions are able to resist dialectical synthesis through an implicit reconceptualization of time. The operation of each func- tion is both distinct and indissociable from the other. An indefinite article distinguishes something without making it possible to oppose this thing to everything else. The significance of the term marked with the indefinite article is highlighted by the article insofar as it occludes the particularity of the object endowed with the significance in favor of the significance itself. “A jaguar” expresses the complex of meanings (solitary, fierce, quiet, etc.) carried by the term, rather than the stable identity that emerges from this complex. Similarly, the infinitive predicates something of a thing but does so in a way that preserves a degree of autonomy for the predicate itself. The infinitive “stalking” in “a jaguar stalking” foregrounds the mean- ings implicated by the predicate (at night, through a forest, in a storm) and so facilitates multiple, different conjoinings of the subject and predicate. Both the indefinite article and the infinitive, precisely by foregrounding the different meanings implicated in their terms, draw thinking into a sym- pathetic complicity with what the intellect alone would merely represent. Linguistic expressions constructed in this way or similar ways form the distinctive aspects of literary styles. A style is a way of holding on to the particularity of an expression precisely by allowing that expression to develop in unknown ways according to the differences implicated within it. An expression is singular not when it can be opposed to other expres- sions, not when can be negated, but when it is broken or fractured accord- ing to the different trajectories of the forces that constitute it. The unique beauty of a literary style is the way that it draws together a new and un- known assemblage of forces from out of the everyday, and the way that this style vanishes in its expression as these forces enter into new assem- blages. Deleuze writes: “We sometimes congratulate writers, but they know that they are far from having achieved their becoming, far from having



attained the limit they set for themselves, which ceaselessly slips away from them” (1997b, 6). This process by which thinking produces a fictional expression that then leads thinking into new significations is what Bergson describes as the power of “fabulation.” Literature creates fictional images from lan- guage and, in so doing, constitutes images that really affect thinking. To use the language employed by Deleuze and Guattari in What Is Philoso- phy?, literature creates “percepts” and these percepts mark both literature’s difference from philosophy, as well as its relation to it. “By means of the material the aim of art is to wrest the percept from perceptions of objects and the state of a perceiving subject, to wrest the affect from affections as the transition from one state to another: to extract a bloc of sensations, a pure being of sensations” (Deleuze and Guattari 1994, 167). Through meth- ods such as the use of the indefinite article and the infinitive, literature creates fictional perceptions, perceptions that are not grounded in repre- sentation or self-consciousness. Literature as a whole is composed of the multiple styles of fabulation that creatively express the differential limit where determination emerges from the indeterminate. A style creates an image that joins thinking with perception in a way that is differential and unable to be determined or grounded. The concept emerges from fabula- tion as the inventive constitution of a new significance for a new body, and thinking develops as concepts struggle with each other toward consistency. This is why literature is always a matter of becoming for Deleuze. Litera- ture creates proximities in language that resist stabilization, that resist iden- tification, not because thinking holds the extremities apart even in their synthesis, but because these proximities are not synthetic, are not deriva- tive, and constitute thinking as an event of determination that has no ground. The imageless force of thought does not think of the world, it thinks through the world in the images and expressions that emerge at the limit of the doubled force of creativity.

Genealogical thinking and the question of literature

The relation between thinking and language is developed extensively in Deleuze’s work on Nietzsche (1983). In Nietzsche’s writing there is a pro- digious dramatization of thinking, most clearly exemplified by Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Deleuze follows Pierre Klossowski (1963) who was the first



to attempt to think this coincidence of the literary and philosophical that so clearly distinguishes Nietzsche’s style. 15 Klossowski interprets the dramatic elements of Nietzsche’s work not as figurations or representations of think- ing but as the necessary form that thinking must take in order to become capable of expressing something new: eternal return. For Klossowski, think- ing comes to expression or is dramatized by the thinker, but this force has its origin elsewhere. Zarathustra is in some way the star of which Nietzsche himself is only the satellite. Even better, I would say that Nietzsche, after having given voice to the triumph of Zarathustra, remains behind in a position sacrificed in the course of a victorious retreat. As he himself says, he will pay dearly for this creation. Zarathustra figures the immortality of Nietzsche, that immortality by which one dies more than once in one’s lifetime. (1963, 179; trans. mine) In giving expression to Zarathustra, Nietzsche the author has been stripped of any power of agency as language is propelled to the limit where meaning is both broken and created. Zarathustra is not the representation of a thought, but the perceptual, linguistic correlate of an Idea, and each of Zarathustra’s encounters is not the representational, descriptive account of a course of thought, but the experimental trajectory of thinking. Nietzsche the author suffers and is sacrificed through the adventures of Zarathustra as they carry language and thinking to the limit of sense, a limit beyond thought’s grasp but from which sense emerges. Deleuze furthers the work of Klossowski—adding Hyppolite’s work on language and sense—by working out the consequences of thinking of thought in an ontological rather than anthropological fashion. In order to think thinking ontologically, thinking must be thought according to a power that is inherent to it, a force that propels thinking beyond itself. Deleuze locates such a force in the evaluative power of thought (1983, 1–3). Think- ing, in its very determination of the thinkable, is the expression of an evalu- ation that grounds any determinate thinking. Thinking is systematic and synthetic; it establishes relations between bodies according to their deter- mined properties. At the same time, however, this force of evaluation also determines the thinking that expresses it, even if this determination is al- ways inadequate. When thinking as evaluative determination attempts its own self-determination, it seems to enter into a vicious circle in which one evaluation is evaluated from the standpoint of another that, in turn, is evalu- ated from another, and so on. As Bergson notes, in order for thinking to think itself, it must abandon the image of thought as formal and determina-



tive. 16 Rather than attempting the determinative evaluation of thinking, genealogical thinking abandons the fruitless search for a ground of think- ing, and instead develops a classification of styles of thinking according to the extent to which they develop expressions that push thinking to its limit and so admit new expressions of thinking. Sense and value are the elements of genealogical thinking whose critical task is the differentiation of values. Such a critique operates on values themselves, in the space of the creation of values, and so is itself not grounded in a particular value or grounding principle. Genealogy is ungrounded but concerned with the productive expressiveness of thinking. In asking the question of expression, genealogy simultaneously develops each significant element of thought according to the sense that forms the particularity of the element, and according to the relations that the assem- blage of forces constituting the element maintain with the various forces of other phenomena. “The sense of something is its relation to the force that seizes it, the value of something is the hierarchy of forces that are expressed in it as a complex phenomenon” (Deleuze 1983, 8–9). Genea- logical thinking operates by way of a double investigation of the elements of thinking, as well as the structural system that constitutes the unity, the cohesiveness, of such a thought. It is composed, on the one hand, of inter- pretation as the analysis of an individual element of thought that specifies the forces whose interaction constitutes that element, and, on the other hand, of evaluation that determines the forces whose expression dominates each element. Evaluation is a concern for the structure of thought because the forces that dominate each element are dominant precisely insofar as these particular dominations engender the consistency of the thought as a whole. Genealogy is therefore not normative but works to open a space for a pro- liferation of evaluative forms of thought. Nevertheless, it is not a relativ- ism. On the one hand, the genealogist is caught up by thinking and is nothing other than a phenomenon, a complex of forces having a certain sense, a certain consistency, that enters into relations with other phenomena, inca- pable of securing a ground for a particular evaluation. On the other hand, genealogical thinking consists in the perpetual exposure of the limits of sense that bound particular and determinate systems of thought. Geneal- ogy is nothing other than the repetition of this limit that eludes sense. As genealogical, thinking is strictly speaking nothing other than evaluation and creation; it is not the discernment, but the development of values. Deleuze writes that “a game of images never replaced the deeper game of concepts and philosophical thought for Nietzsche” (1983, 31). The



dramatization of thinking in which meaningful language is carried to its limit by thinking’s intuitive self-apprehension is expressed in art’s ability to create percepts, indefinite perceptions that affect thinking, that interrupt it and precipitate its development along new paths. 17 For Nietzsche, the creation of percepts was always subordinate to a development of concepts. However, such a hierarchy does not extend to all of literary art and, in “Literature and Life,” Deleuze develops a genealogical thinking of litera- ture whose expressions are not in the service of concepts even as this lit- erature may be taken up by conceptual thought. Literature is to be not defined but developed: it becomes a value. More specifically, its value is that it is not a particular value, but the process of evaluation itself. A work of literature is capable of creating values because it may express percepts that affect thinking and drive it to a new systematic consistency through the creation of a new assemblage of objects. Such a critical power emerges when literature is given a sense that enables it to express a particular force or aspect of a force other than according to an existing evaluation. For Deleuze, literature is defined by always already being the experimental formulation of a new evaluation. The genealogical analysis of literature is developed through four in- terrelated theses: literature is a process of becoming, literature is not the representation of subjective states, literature constitutes a health, and lit- erature makes language stutter or break down. Literature is a process of becoming insofar as it aims not at the communication of a meaning or the depiction of a state of affairs, but at the creation of linguistic events, per- cepts, whose sense is determined only at the limit where dominant signifi- cations collapse. A percept cannot be organized by a dominant signification because dominant significations are precisely those meanings that do not interrupt thought. Deleuze uses a figure drawn from Kafka, a swimming champion who does not know how to swim, as an example of an object that interrupts thought. “A swimming champion that cannot swim” draws thought toward the limit of sense through the creation of a new complex of forces (Deleuze 1997b, 2). To simply create such an expression is not enough, however. Literature creates fictional spaces of fabulation in which these new expressions develop new consistencies for thinking. To think writing as becoming entails thinking of writing as other than representative. A representation depicts an inner state (whether per- ceived or imagined) and, even if the state is a dynamic one, this depiction must first circumscribe its object in order to portray it. If literature is only as becoming then it cannot consist of the transposition of psychological



states into language. Writing begins with an affective expression and con- tinues through the struggle to develop a linguistic consistency for this ex- pression. However, if writing is always concerned with the development of affective expressions, then it resists this movement toward consistency even as it pursues it. Consistency, a new evaluative system, is the limit that writ- ing never reaches and that literature only indicates. This limit is never ap- prehended but thinking and writing endure it as the force of time. Writing cannot be constituted by the expression of psychological states precisely because these states have already formed a certain coherence, however perverse. Deleuze emphasizes that the fact that authors of many great works of literature also suffered from psychological disturbances is not an objec- tion to this claim, but rather reveals that psychological disruption often facilitates experimentation with new forms of expression. A psychological disturbance is not transcribed or represented, but is expressed experimen- tally, in a search for coherence. This search for coherence is literature understood as the creation of

a health (Deleuze 1997b, 3). The set of values expressed by a particular system of thought incorporates objects according to the force that thinking determines as dominant in each object. With its particular and constitutive values, thought determines a particular group of symptoms in the world by constructing a distinctive assemblage out of the unlimited senses of ob- jects. That thought may be characterized as a group of symptoms does not mean that thought is essentially diseased or defective. On the contrary, thinking is precisely the life of symptoms. However, if thinking consti- tutes the life of symptoms, if the mere representation of thought is not literature, how can literature be considered a health? In the same way that thinking emerged as a thought of becoming, as a thought of an indefinite object broken from its evaluative connections; so a thoughtful expression that breaks from thought precisely by thinking the creative power of thought emerges as a health. The life of symptoms is the play of evaluations, the perpetual creation of new cohesive systems, and so is quite distinct from a drive toward the creation of a single, prioritized evaluation. The health of thought is always its image, the form that thought prescribes for the regu- lar deployment of sense within a given evaluation, but this image is always

a fabulation, always a fiction. The health of thinking is its interruption

because it repeats what is essential to thought but cannot be represented:

the becoming of thought, the limit of sense. Literature is a writing that constitutes a health through the repeated interruption that experiments with

new senses and new values.



If writing is becoming, this is because it is an elaboration of the sense of things. The sense of something is always thought; there is only sense in thinking (Deleuze 1997a, 193). To think the sense of something is to think both its dominant, determining force as well as the dominated, determined forces. Thinking apprehends the object as a multiplicity when the dominat- ing force is thought together with but alongside the other forces of the object. But if these forces are only in thought, because they constitute the sense of the thing and not the thing itself, then thinking itself becomes multiple. In thinking the sense of a thing, thought opens itself to multiple evaluations according to the powers of the objects thought and their pos- sible coherences. For Deleuze, the element of both writing and thinking is language and therefore both the interruption and the resulting creation ef- fected by writing will be linguistic phenomena. 18 As the element of think- ing, language changes as evaluations change. However, there is another power of language that Deleuze is interested in: that of creation, the pro- ductive interruption that marks the difference between evaluations. As it breaks with the senses allocated by the dominant value or values of thought,

writing comes to speak of objects through the indefinite article and the infinitive. With the indefinite article, language indicates the multiple senses corresponding to the multiple powers that constitute an object, but without reducing this multiplicity. Consider the effect of the transformation of the term “the crime” into “a crime.” With the definite article, the term is im- mediately linked to a series of other determinate concepts (other crimes, motives, criminals, detectives, etc.). With the indefinite article these deter- minations may become actual, but the term itself eludes complete determi- nation. “The crime” is solved within an existing conceptual framework that gives the crime determination even before it is actualized. “A crime”

is not solved but resolved insofar as its occurrence is an event that permits

a redistribution of actual determinations; a redistribution whose determi-

nation is a solution and whose difference from the meaningful order of the previous distribution is a resolution of virtual trajectories of that order. 19

The indefinite article allows the play of multiple senses and thus the play of the object through multiple valuations. The expression of this play is achieved through a fracturing of deter- minate language, a process Deleuze calls “making language stutter.” Lan- guage stutters when it expresses the passage of thinking across multiple forces that are still only on the way to coherence. From the indefinite ob- ject develops an entirely multiple grammar, a broken grammar that is not a



new evaluation but the multiplicity of virtual evaluations. The infinitive is the vehicle of multiplicity. 20 The indefinite article is the limit of a system of evaluative expres- sion that may be actualized in a new system. The infinite is the trajectory of such a resolution. The repetition of the indefinite article iterates and reiterates the limit of meaning; the infinitive explodes it. The sentence “The crime is solved” denotes a restoration of the disruption of an orderly sys- tem: justice prevails. Moreover, the sentence itself assumes a place in mean- ingful discourse (solving a crime means certain things: that the criminal has been caught or killed, that the investigation is complete, that the situa- tion of the crime is itself understood, etc.) “Solving the crime,” on the other hand, denotes the emergence of a virtual problematic whose actual- ized expression would adopt its contours from the specificity of the event itself. The direction of the infinitive is one of invention or creation, not preservation. Literature breaks from the established value of thought but its greatest power is in not the establishment of new evaluations but the disclosive submission of language to the interruptive work of creation. Lit- erature is a new symptom, the expression of new evaluations, that signals the creative act of writing. The writing that is literature begins with a becoming of thinking that achieves expression, that is dramatized, through a writer. In this writing, the writer undergoes a profound trial as thinking and language break down. The endurance of this interruption, when it is expressed, is the writing that comes to be literature. Through its percepts that break thinking from its customary paths, literature draws thinking into new systems of evaluation. The work of writing is never accomplished, however, insofar as these new and consistent systems of evaluation create new horizons of sense, new points of interruption and breakdown, where new expressions can emerge. Just as Nietzsche the philosopher was sacrificed and exceeded by the char- acter of Zarathustra, who marked the limit of sense by heralding the new evaluation of eternal return, so literature is the trace of an interruption of thought, and a narration of its endurance by the author who seeks in vain to discern the writer behind these words. Literature is irreducibly empirical, constantly displaced from the horizon that constitutes its sense and toward which it strives. Yet it is the repetition of this striving that gives literature its value. Literature is the fabulation of new values, the fictional creation of new objects and new evaluations that would orient new styles of life. As fabulation, the horizon of literature is “a people to come,” a phantasm whose constitution would



be a health that could endure the interruption of a particular evaluation. As writing works toward the horizon of each system of evaluations, it cease- lessly reworks the constitution of this phantasmic people. Literature is then the repetition of the politically disempowered and the relentless resump- tion of the work of justice. Nowhere is this convergence of aesthetics and the political more apparent than in Deleuze’s essay “Philosophie de La Série Noire.” 21 From the play of desire expressed in the percepts of a par- ticular sort of detective fiction, Deleuze develops a conceptual thinking that not only radically contests dialectical depictions of the force of desire but also works out the political implications of such a conceptual transfor- mation.

The case of La Série Noire

Deleuze published his short essay on detective fiction in 1966, on the oc- casion of the publication of the thousandth title in Gallimard’s La Série Noire. 22 The first volume in La Série Noire appeared in 1945 and volumes are still appearing, with over 2700 published so far. 23 The content of La Série Noire may be loosely categorized as hard-boiled detective fiction where “hard-boiled” serves to distinguish this sort of detective fiction from what Deleuze refers to as “English” detective fiction. In English detective fiction, exemplified by the works of such authors as Agatha Christie, John le Carré, and Arthur Conan Doyle, as well as the contemporary genre of police procedurals, the narrative is generally composed of the work of a detective (either by profession or behavior) who gathers evidence in order to compose a solution to a crime that has occurred. The reader is placed in the position of knowing all of the evidence that the detective knows, but without being privy to the internal reasoning of the character. In hard-boiled detective fiction, however, the narrative is still in some sense organized by a crime or series of crimes, but the narrative is no longer governed by an effort to elucidate these occurrences rationally or from a disinterested stand- point. Instead, this sort of detective fiction, which often reveals the crimi- nal, the motive, and the mechanism of the crimes in the opening pages, is the narration of the consequences of these crimes. The situation is not ex- plained but resolved. La Série Noire amplified this distinction according to the editorial policies of Maurice Duhamel. Many of the early titles in La Série Noire were translations of books that had originally appeared in En-



glish. In these translations, Duhamel stressed the difference between the books of La Série Noire and fiction of the English school by editing the works so that the psychological aspect, or any other aspect of the book that tended to develop the character of the protagonist, was minimized or even eliminated entirely. 24 Through such a policy, the books of La Série Noire lived up to their name: an idiomatic expression for a series of misfortunes or bad events. Under the leadership of Duhamel, La Série Noire pushed literature toward an almost impersonal form, a form in which narrative would be constituted by the development of events that characters were implicated within but were powerless to master. If a contemporary work of philosophy must be, in part, a detective novel of the type exemplified by La Série Noire, then this is because the course of such a work must develop from a problem that it poses. This problem is the crime, an event that disrupts an established order. The con- cepts deployed in such a work must be developed with an eye toward the problem that necessitates their creation and not by a desire for a concep- tual apparatus that could be applied to a large number of roughly similar

problems. Concepts occupy the place of the characters of a novel of La Série Noire, a place stripped of all features save for the problematic com- plex that envelops the narrative. The dick is the actualization of these prob- lematic events—they produce the dick as the transitory figure of their consistency. A dick endures these events, but never encounters them, never grasps or determines them, because a dick is a phantasm, an expression of

fabulation. The hack, the salesman,

these are figures of transit; figures

in transition. A dick is a fictional expression of events, a phantasm that arises from their series, but a dick is also fate, the inevitable becoming- consistent of events. Fiction is not make-believe or fantasy; it is the emer- gence of a new sense. A dick invents new and unheard of ways of enduring events, and, in so doing a dick is not the sign of an absent explanation but rather the becoming-sensible of these events, their tendency to develop toward consistency. The adventure of a dick is always a fable, a novel of nothing but a series of errors. 25 In the same way, a concept is only valuable insofar as it develops from a problem. In what Deleuze refers to as the “old conception of the detective novel” the action of the narrative took place within the element of truth. Such narratives exhibit a structure that closely follows the methodology proper to the tradition of platonism, 26 where questioning is governed by a prioritization of the method of search and discovery. In accordance with this parallelism, Deleuze divides traditional detective fiction into two kinds



according to whether they proceed inductively or deductively. In each of these two modes both the criminal events and the actions of the detective are organized by the same metaphysical order. That is, the criminal events are also organized by the element of truth. It is the identity of this ground that insures the mutual reflection of the events corresponding to the crimi- nal and the detective. While it is the ground as identity that permits the coexistence of the two series of events, their coexistence is a tragic one and Deleuze emphasizes the affinity of this sort of detective fiction with Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannos. The Oedipal structure belongs to both de- ductive and inductive sorts of detective fiction insofar as it is the search for truth that organizes Oedipus’s actions in his double role as both crimi- nal and detective. The element of tragedy results from the necessary col- lapse of the parallel series in an event that recoups the criminal series as an error, a perversion of the lawful series. This reflection is resolved, is re- duced to its ground, by “the surprising designation of the guilty party at the end of the book, all of the characters having reunited for a final expli- cation” (Deleuze 1988, 44–45; all trans. mine). The action and culmination of the narrative of the old detective novel is a tragedy whose structure parallels the metaphysics of platonism. La Série Noire creates a different sort of structure where “the prob- lem is not posed in terms of truth. Rather, it is a question of a surprising compensation of errors” (Deleuze 1988, 45). In this new structure there are two sorts of cases: those in which the criminal is known, and so only needs to be apprehended and punished, and those where the criminal is utterly unknown. In the former case, exemplified in “the American schema of the gangster” (45) where criminal acts are carried out at the behest of an un- touchable mastermind, the master criminal’s crimes are never brought to light and proven but he is nonetheless punished: Al Capone was eventually imprisoned, but for tax evasion. In the other kind of structure, where a crime or series of crimes is seemingly committed at random, the criminal is not apprehended by solving these crimes, but by creating the occasion for a new crime, supplying another term for the series, and catching the criminal in the act. In either case, the crime is never resolved or explained, but it is paid for: Lou Ford, the protagonist of Jim Thompson’s classic The Killer Inside Me, is never brought to justice but is killed in the explosive confrontation with one of his victims—an encounter orchestrated by the police. Whatever other crimes may have been committed, a new term in the series will be created, either in the courts or on the streets, that is suffi- cient to ensure the criminal’s punishment.



The problem that constitutes a narrative in the new sort of detective fiction is pursued not with a method but according to “a surprising com- pensation of errors” (Deleuze 1988, 45). The action of these novels is no longer one that pursues and develops a logic of discovery, and if this new sort of non-investigative activity is to admit of narration (and La Série Noire is evidence that it does), it can only be by means of nondeliberative action, by error. The actions of the characters, both on the side of the dick and on the side of the criminal, are directed toward a resolution only sec- ondarily; they are primarily solutions to particular situations. Each series develops neither inductively nor deductively. The dick is someone “qui fonce a tout hasard” (45)—“who leaps at any chance,” grasps at any straw— and indeed must do so because any grounded pursuit of the truth has al- ways already been foreclosed: 27 either the criminal is known but cannot be identified as responsible for a particular crime, or the apparent random- ness of the crime leaves the criminal unknown. Given these alternatives, the dick is left to endure to the end a series of ramifying events in the hopes not of overcoming the impossible but of securing an outcome along other avenues. This lack of method does not, however, equate to a lack of structure and, in fact, provides something of a new emphasis on structure by disclosing the limits of a structure and developing there a new form of expression, a new diction. In the new sort of detective fiction there is nothing other than a struc- ture of errors, or rather, every narrative, insofar as it is never absolutely grounded, is constituted by a creative arbitrariness that figures the devel- opment of particular events. The narrative is not the linguistic representa- tion of the resolution of a problem that occurs in a truth-governed domain of thought, it constitutes the thoughtful expression and explication of this problem—yet the structure is nevertheless not purely random. The new detective novel is fashioned not from an arché or according to a telos but emerges from an irreducible interval, an interruption. A problem is devel- oped when particular forces enter into relation with others and constitute a new configuration, a new organization between the constituting elements. The narrative of this new type of detective novel moves according to a logic of contracts. It has neither origin nor convergence but exists in its own self-sufficiency, its own particular “equilibrium.” Rather than reflect ideals, the novel now begins with a problem in which a recognizable cul- tural configuration has broken down (a crime has been committed) and then develops this problem by exploring solutions other than the reestab- lishment of the previously existing order. The novels of La Série Noire



experiment with new forms of cultural equilibrium and reflect what Deleuze calls “the entire society in its highest power of the false” (1988, 45). The emphasis placed upon error rather than identity means not only that the dick and the criminal are no longer related as the reflective poles of a con- stitutive identity, but that the novel itself is no longer related to its society as a simple reflection or representation: “The penetration is real, the un- derstandings are profound and compensatory” (46). Error is not a falling away from truth, but the fracture that highlights and exposes a particular system of values at the same time as it opens the space for the development of other values. The new detective novel does not represent—for then it would remain subordinate to identity—it parodies. Citing the Kefauver Report, Turkus’s book on the Mafia, Murder, Inc., as well as Asturias’s novel The President, 28 Deleuze emphasizes that “crime is organized into strict affairs, with a structure as precise as a board of directors or managers” (1988, 46). A crime is no longer a sign to be interpreted, a clue to the criminal’s identity, but is instead the effect of a system, an element in a structure; a crime is the violation of an explicit or tacit contract. The criminal activities of organized crime only become the objects of investigation when these activities become noticeable in their violation of certain understood, tacit limitations. A murder in itself may not attract much notice when it is the murder of one criminal by another, for then the activity lies almost entirely within the domain of a criminal world. But when this same murder occurs in public, or results in the deaths of other people, or if the slain criminal is also a prominent personality and so occupies a place in the law-abiding world, then the equilibrium is dis- rupted and the crime is an expressed as a violation of the equilibrium con- stituted by the law. Deleuze uses the term affaires to mark those moments when the spectacular violation of a tacit limit serves to reveal the complic- ity of the legal and the criminal. The particular achievement of La Série Noire is to have explicitly thematized “an affairs-politics-crimes combina- tion” (46) characteristic of contemporary culture. La Série Noire deals with crimes themselves and therefore highlights not values but their changes, their transformations, their deviations and errors. This is the revelation of society “in its highest power of the false,” but also the invention of “a people to come.” A crime is always the violation of a particular contract that marks the limit between the law and the lawless that determines and characterizes a particular culture or society. A dick is no longer a character but becomes a perceptual trajectory, a complex of affects that leads think- ing toward new configurations of the social.



Crime itself is the movement or change that highlights the dominant or prevailing movement of the structure of the law, the way it preserves its equilibrium in time. This exhibition leads to the “reshaping of the vision of the world that each honest man carries in himself, concerning police and criminals”: crime is not a violation of the good—“mere theological crime”— it is the disruption of an agreement, an equilibrium; it is a sort of bad faith, like writing “a bad check” (Deleuze 1988, 46). On the one hand this vision is reshaped by the very transition to La Série Noire from the “old concep- tion” of detective fiction. The law is no longer the agent of a truth that relentlessly pursues rogue activities whose very perversity ensures their recuperation. Police and criminals now represent the valencies of the mul- tiplicity of forces whose persistent equilibrium constitutes particular cul- tures. The force of La Série Noire is not in the indication of falsity at the heart of the law, but in the creation of different and divergent forms of equilibrium, which it is able to do by parodying the real and not by repre- senting it; by thinking with time rather than attempting to essentialize the concrete. The sort of detective fiction characteristic of La Série Noire deals with a dick’s endurance of the transgressive interruption of a structured equilibrium, not by explaining the interruption and making it determin- able, or by producing a resumption of the interrupted equilibrium, but by forming new concepts that form new contractual relations and may de- velop into new structures. This mode of exposition reveals a society in its highest power of the false insofar as crime—the interruption of a necessar- ily temporary equilibrium—reveals any legal structure as a heterodox at- tempt to manage the passage of time, to submit change to identity. Any structural interruption is criminal insofar as it directly challenges the claimed authority of the structure. La Série Noire contests the very conception of the law that regards it as the opposite of crime, as the ever-vigilant power that corrects any perverse swerve away from orthodoxy. La Série Noire replaces such a fable of the law with the fabulation of a dick, the creative expression of particular contracts that are constituted from the stitching together of divergent forces. Crime is the irruption of unstructured time, falsity, that is not the converse but the very condition of the law. What is extraordinary in these novels is not their solution but the ramifying series of errors that constitute their body and permit the discernment of “the real directions that we would never find alone” (Deleuze 1988, 47). It is as though a crystal was held before the body of culture and each splintered image revealed one more of its embodied impulses. 29



Conclusion: Political consequences

“The writer as seer and hearer, the aim of literature: the passage of life in language that constitutes Ideas” (Deleuze 1997b, 5). The writer is a raving force of fate, a formless interruption of expression that forces language to endure an adventure that comes to it from outside its own evaluations, from out of a murmuring nonsense. The writer is not the author, as Klossowski knew and showed with regard to Nietzsche. An author is a remainder, an expression abandoned at the limit of sense as language is propelled beyond itself. This propulsion is the expression of life as the force of difference and repetition, the expression of creation that constitutes the adventure of the finite. In Deleuze’s essay, literature, as the expression of this force, comes to link ontology and politics through language. In writing, the par- ticular sense of a language is shaken, new senses emerge as interpretation wanders outside of constituted evaluations, and new Ideas emerge as these new senses gain consistency. An Idea is nothing other than the sense of these new structures. Ontology takes on new dimensions, but this transfor- mation is accompanied by real consequences insofar as such ontological transformations are evaluative transformations. Literature is the expres- sion not only of the perpetual resistance of thinking to any grounded image but also the perpetual resistance of life to any particular system of values. The importance of literature to Deleuze’s philosophy was already indicated in his assumption of Hyppolite’s reading of Hegel. Where Hyppolite followed Hegel in beginning with a negation—the negation of the past of self-consciousness that enables it to ground itself in conscious- ness, which is determined precisely according to this negation—Deleuze, following Bergson, thinks the work of language empirically, according to the passage of the virtual force of time. In so doing, Deleuze (1991) links the efficacy of the concept of the subject to a particular determinative ac- tivity amidst the field of consciousness. This particular determinative ac- tivity, which Deleuze calls “the image of thought,” is the expression of the negating activity of desire that mobilizes subjectivity. Empiricism breaks with this image by taking up subjectivity as a particular creation of think- ing, a stable form that is nevertheless not grounded. The secret of empiri- cism is then that, in thinking of subjectivity as a created process, rather than a grounded entity, thinking is led to think the differential force of creation. Empiricism, as an expression of thinking, leads back to the cre- ative power of this expressive force precisely by thinking the constitution



of its created forms. Empiricism exposes, but only as its secret, the differ- ence that calls forth determination as the differing activity of life. This consequence of a rigorous empiricism is played out in detective fiction as the desire for truth gives way to the narrative expression of a creative endurance. If literature is the expression of this secret, then the sort of detective fiction exemplified by La Série Noire and its inheritors assumes a prominent place because it constitutes an implicit critique of the work of truth. A dick moves according to endurance, not according to de- sire. Andrew Vachss’s dick Burke excels at creating contracts, preying upon the criminal without disrupting the law, but always out of fear, the fear of being imprisoned by a system, or of being killed for flaunting one’s per- verse freedom. Steve Aylett creates an entire novel of confession and the collapse of information, The Inflatable Volunteer, in which the narrating dick is seduced by a force of interruption that overwhelms characters, events, and even the narrative itself. Chester Himes writes an explosive parody of the police procedural in Plan B, the unfinished apotheosis of Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones. Finally there is A Scanner Darkly, Philip K. Dick’s masterpiece in which the dick, Bob/Fred, is pushed passed the point of endurance and into an inverted space, a space “pulled through infinity” (1991, 212) where interruption achieves a consistency of its own. Literature creates percepts that affect thought, forcing it to endure unfore- seeable events and leading it to develop new senses and new evaluations. This new style of detective fiction expresses not a new evaluation but the very space for the creation of affects. It is a space where the dialectic of desire breaks down and where language, and with it, thinking, becomes inventive. That such a style of literature should be organized by the problem of the law indicates that this new expression has political consequences as well. La Série Noire and its inheritors have given expression to the persis- tence of jurisprudence as a system of justice. In a system of jurisprudence, concepts are not created for a particular situation and then discarded; con- cepts of jurisprudence become precedents that are extended to other events. This application is never a mechanical one but always calls for a renewed interpretation, a new determination of the sense of the prior event. This interpretation repeats the prior event and gives it a new value according to the evaluation that comes to link the present event to the prior one. A pre- cedent is determining but also determinately different from another event. Jurisprudence does not fall apart into simple relativism any more than it consists of the unwitting deployment of general concepts. It is the expres-



sion and development of empirical concepts, and these concepts arise from an event rather than from a consciousness. Thinking is always affected by a problem, and its resolution is always the restoration of a degree of con- sistency to the world and so to thought, but this consistency, precisely be- cause it finds its origin in a particularly constituted problem, is not permanent. In an interview with Antonio Negri, Deleuze remarked that “we ought to take up Bergson’s notion of fabulation and give it a political meaning” (1995, 174). For Bergson, fabulation is the power of thinking to produce images that “are defensive reactions of nature against the representation, by the intelligence, of a depressing margin of the unexpected between the initiative taken and the effect desired” (Bergson 1963, 140). Literature is a force of resistance, a fabulous power to create affects that drive thought to undertake the creation of new values. Literature is the vigilance of think- ing. Fabulation is an expression that draws thinking beyond its own limits, that creates fictions in order for thinking to fashion new forms of truth. To extend this notion of fabulation to the point that it becomes a political con- cept means to use language to develop styles of thinking that resist en- trenched value systems through the inventive exploration of new values. Such political fables eliminate or lessen the impotence that threatens to dissolve any dissident activity from the inside. Literature breaks from es- tablished values and creates an entirely fictional world with its own false senses and, in doing so, literature creates for thought an experience of lan- guage that carries thought away from established evaluations. Literature does not propose a utopian dissolution that would be only a new restriction on thought, but propels thinking into an affective dissolution that marks its own power of creativity.

Department of Philosophy DePaul University, Chicago


1. Sherlock Holmes is Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective who made his debut in the novel A Study in Scarlet. C. Auguste Dupin is Edgar Allen Poe’s detective whose first ap- pearance is in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.” Rouletabille is a reporter and a detective who first appears in Gaston Leroux’s Le Mystère de la chambre jaune (The Mystery of the Yellow Room). Burke is the main character of a series of novels by Andrew Vachss, begin- ning with Flood. Pelecanos is a former electronics salesman who becomes a private dick in a series of novels by Nick Pelecanos, beginning with A Firing Offense. Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson are a pair of Harlem police officers who appear in a series of novels by Chester Himes, beginning with For Love of Imabelle (later republished as A Rage in Harlem).



2. In his “Seminar on The Purloined Letter,” Jacques Lacan writes: “If what Freud dis-

covered and rediscovers with a perpetually increasing sense of shock has a meaning, it is

that the displacement of the signifier determines the subjects in their acts, in their destiny, in their refusals, in their blindness, in their end and in their fate, their innate gifts and social acquisitions notwithstanding, without regard for character or sex, and that, willingly or not, everything that might be considered the stuff of psychology, kit and caboodle, will follow

the path of the

diversion which governs their entries and roles” (1988, 43–44). Foreclosure is the defense

mechanism, distinct from repression, that is operative in cases of psychosis. This concept is treated extensively in Laplanche and Pontalis (1973, 166–68). Judith Butler has recently sought to work out the political implications of the concept of foreclosure by linking it, through speech act theory, to the inaugural grounding of a system of meaningful discourse. See Butler (1997; esp. chap. 4, “Implicit Censorship and Discursive Agency”).

3. The Compact Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., s.v. “dick.” The Oxford English

Dictionary has six separate listings for the term “dick.” Of these, the oldest (16th century) indicates that the word was a familiar form of the name “Richard” and hence came to be understood as a generic name for everyman. As slang, it can also be used to mean “an inves-

tigator,” “penis,” “dictionary,” as well as “declaration.” These other uses date from the 19th and 20th centuries.

4. “Conceptual persona” is Deleuze and Guattari’s term for the emergent actuality of a

philosophical concept. Socrates would be an example of a conceptual persona because, rather than merely being the mouthpiece for a doctrine (as we could characterize the interlocutors in works such as Augustine’s On The Free Choice of the Will or Berkeley’s Three Dialogues

Between Hylas and Philonous), it is the adventure of Socrates through the various dialogues that constitutes the Platonic search for a concept of the virtuous person. See Deleuze and Guattari (1994; esp. part 1, section 3, “Conceptual Personae”).

5. It is this concern with the limit of thinking that marks the closeness of Deleuze’s philo-

sophical project with that of Kant’s. Whereas Kant’s Critical Philosophy sought to defini- tively establish the limits of finite knowledge through a resolution of the chief problem of modern philosophy from Descartes through Leibniz: the situation of reason within nature, Deleuze uses Nietzsche’s evaluative critique of Kant in order to situate such a determinative limitation within the movement of history. Hegel had also recognized the productive force of history, but had subordinated it to the determinate evaluation of Kantian morality. Deleuze

can therefore be understood as a rival claimant to the tradition of post-critical thinking inso- far as he, following Nietzsche and Bergson, subordinates evaluation to the movement of time.

6. Deleuze cites Klossowski’s essay “Nietzsche, le polythéisme et la parodie” as making

possible a rethinking of the consistency of the world from a non-transcendental standpoint. Within this rethinking, “parody” denotes a thinking that establishes conceptual consistency

only through the dissolution of the agency of the thinker; it is a thought developed through what Deleuze calls “A Cogito for a dissolved Self.” See Deleuze (1994, 58, 312n19).

7. This is the lesson of one of the most important chapters in the book, in which Deleuze

argues that Nietzsche writes of the triumph of active forces not through a transcendental

willing, but through the necessary processes of the triumphant reactive forces (see Deleuze 1983; esp. chap. 2, “Active and Reactive”).

8. This is a term coined by Bergson (1963, 107–9) to denote the instinctual power that

works to preserve the work of the intelligence in the face of the essential finitude of exist- ence. In this translation, “fabulation” is translated as “myth-making function.”

9. “Time has to split at the same time as it sets itself out or unrolls itself: it splits in two

dissymmetrical jets, one of which makes all the present pass on, while the other preserves all

This is the powerful, non-organic Life which grips

the past. Time consists of this the world” (Deleuze 1989, 81).

10. “Suffice it to say that the intellect is characterized by the unlimited power of decom-

posing according to any law and of recomposing into any system” (Bergson 1998, 157).

11. Bergson claims, on the basis of the extremely precise way in which certain wasps

paralyze their prey without killing it, that such interaction must be rooted in “sympathy”

Our fable is so constructed as to show that it is the letter and its



rather than the analytic and synthetic operations of the intellect. Although this sympathetic interrelation may be decomposed by the scientific intellect, Bergson writes that it is the particular task of philosophy to attend to this interrelation as such (1998, 171–73).

12. An example of nonrepresentational thought may be found in the example of the chiliagon

that Descartes uses at the beginning of the Sixth Meditation in order to differentiate between understanding and imagining. The chiliagon is capable of a linguistic formulation, but can- not be represented by the subject (cf. Descartes 1984, 50).

13. Slavoj Z ˇ izˇ ek makes the mistake of equating Lacan’s notion of the Real with “the real-

ity of the virtual” (2004, 3). Such an equation implies both a cut between the virtual and its

actualization, and a lack that inheres within the actual as a result of this cut. Deleuze claims, however, that the virtual is actual as virtual—that there is no ontological lack between the actual and the virtual. Rather, the difference between the two is that of determination and determining: the difference between an interaction and a resulting vector.

14. The Ideas are the subject of division 2 of the Transcendental Logic in The Critique of

Pure Reason. See Kant (1996; esp. introd. to division 2, as well as book 1: “On the Concepts of Pure Reason”).

15. See note 5 above.

16. “The intellect is characterized by a natural inability to comprehend life” (Bergson

1963, 165).

17. “Percept” is a term used by Deleuze and Guattari to denote the expression that is de-

tached from sensation and incarnated in an artistic medium. The percept thus becomes a monument of an sensational affect with which the artistic spectator is caught up, rather than

being left to observe it from a distance, as a “personal” perception. See Deleuze and Guattari (1994, 163–99 ).

18. Following his lecture “Nomad Thought” Deleuze responds to a question from André

Flécheux as to how he [Deleuze] “can pass over deconstruction” by saying, in part, the

following: “As for the method of textual deconstruction, I know what it is, and I admire it, but it has nothing to do with my own method. I don’t really do textual commentary. For me, a text is nothing but a cog in a larger extra-textual practice” (2004a, 260).

19. For an extended discussion of the indefinite article, as well as the infinite, see Deleuze

and Guattari (1987, 260–65).

20. The French infinitive is not equivalent to the English infinitive. Specifically, in French,

the infinitive is a way of expressing the uncompleted aspect of an action. See L’Huillier (1999; esp. section 2.15).

21. Deleuze, “Philosophie de la Série Noire,” Arts & Loisirs 18 (janvier 26–février 1 1966):

12–13, was reprinted in Roman 24 (1988): 43–47; it was also translated by Michael Taormina under the title “The Philosophy of Crime Novels” in Deleuze, Desert Islands and Other Texts, 1953-1974 , trans. Michael Taormina, ed. David Lapoujade (Cambridge: MIT P, 2004) 81–85. Translations from this article in the text are my own. Page references are to the reprinted article in Roman.

22. Jim Thompson’s novel Pop. 1280, translated by Maurice Duhamel.

23. In 2001, La Série Noire changed to a new format (Série Noire: Nouvelle Présentation)

emphasizing an editorial commitment to detective fiction from around the world. The most

striking change is that the traditional black covers have been replaced with black-and-white photographs.

24. For an in-depth account of the particularities of Duhamel’s editing, see Robyns (1990,


25. Klossowski emphasizes the link between fiction and fate in his etymological discus-

sion of “fable”: “Fable” (fabula) comes from the Latin verb fari, both “to predict” and “to

rave,” to predict the fate and to rave. Fatum, “fate,” is also the past participle of fari. Thus when one says that the world has become fable, one also says that it is fatum; one raves but in raving one foretells and predicts fate. All of these senses are retained here because of the role of fatality, the role of Nietzsche’s capital notion of fatum” (1963, 181; trans. mine).

26. When Deleuze refers to platonism he is referring not to a philosophical doctrine that

was held by Plato and expressed in the dialogues, but rather the tradition of philosophical



thinking that arose from a certain way of reading those dialogues. I have chosen to leave “platonism” uncapitalized to make this distinction clear.

27. On the concept of foreclosure, see note 2 above.

28. The Kefauver Report is the final report of a congressional committee on organized

crime headed by Senator Estes Kefauver. The report was submitted in 1951. Murder Inc., by Burton Turkus and Sid Feder (New York: Farrar, Straus and Young, 1951), is an account of the investigation into a group of assassins employed by the Mafia in America in the 1930s and 1940s. Turkus was assistant district attorney of Kings County (Brooklyn) during the investigation into this group. The book was translated into French (but did not appear in La Série Noire) as Société Anonyme Pour Assassinats, trans. Nicole Hirsch (Paris: Gallimard, 1963). Monsieur le président: roman guatémaltèque , trans. Y. Malartic, F. Garcias, and G.

Pillement (Paris: Bellenand, 1962) is a translation of Nobel-laureate Miguel Asturias’s novel, El Señor Presidente, originally published in 1946. The story concerns the efforts of a Cen- tral American dictator to eliminate a rival political figure. Asturias wrote the novel while living in Paris.

29. The crystal is the term that Deleuze uses to describe what makes us aware of the vir-

tual doubling of time (see note 9, above). “Time consists of this split [between the actual passing of the present and the virtual preservation of the past], and it is this, it is time, that we see in the crystal. The crystal image was not time, but we see time in the crystal. We see in the crystal the perpetual foundation of time, non-chronological time, Cronos and not Chronos” (1989, 81).

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