6 Jul , 2016  

Music is an un-differentiated language.

Michel Serresi

Nevertheless, and even more clearly, what general economy defines first is the explosive character of this world, carried to the extreme of explosive tension in the present time.

George Batailleii

A theory is self-destroying, in this logico-objective respect, if its content offends against the laws without which theory as such can have no rational, no coherent sense.

Edmund Husserliii

The theoretical reduction is a specular reduction. An old secret heritage of Platonism: the voice, diction, the audible in general (and music) are attainable only by speculation.

Philippe Lacoue-Labartheiv

Not to be dead and yet no longer alive? … It seems as if the noise here has led me into fantasies. All great noise leads us to move happiness into some quiet distant. When a man stands in the midst of his own noise, in the midst of his own surf of plans and projects then he is apt also to see quiet, magical beings gliding past him and to long for their happiness and seclusion: women. He almost thinks that his better self dwells there among the women, and that in these quiet regions even the loudest surf turns into deathly quiet, and life itself into a dream about life. Yet! Yet! Noble enthusiast, even on the most beautiful sailboat there is a lot of noise, and unfortunately much small and petty noise. The magic and the most powerful effect of women is, in philosophical language, action at a distance, actio in distans; but this requires first of all and above all – distance.

Friedrich Nietzschev


Five strong claims which might otherwise constitute the five stars of a constellation, namely, the constellation of desonance where the stars would be cancelling each other so as not to shine, therefore an invisible or a mute constellation. Otherwise – because whatever one does with it, desonance always manages to escape from the specular, and/or also from the audible, when theorized following the lines of the specular. One can suggest a dialectical/speculative schema for it, such as that it is the third term between resonance and dissonance; or one can reproduce the Kantian argument on the thing-in-itself with an intention of redrawing the boundaries of the knowable (as Schopenhauer did once) where desonance can become the secret realm hidden behind everything, which, despite its being unknowable, can be taken over gradually; or one can claim that it is measurable, and scientifically be given a truth and a value; or, finally it can be disguised under different forms, such as noise, yet still discussed within formed/unformed opposition. But one can also and still ask: what is desonance?

Desonance, if it accepts a failure of theorization, is what I would be desonating, or, rather what I would be desonating with. That it has relationships with resonance and dissonance, and therefore with ‘sound’, with the absence or presence of sound is obvious but desonance is first and foremost not related to a crystallisation of a constellation, or to something which is audible or visible, and it cannot be appropriated into resonance-dissonance opposition in a speculative/reductionist schema. For all these reasons above, I think, one can only desonate with desonance, without knowing anything about desonance, and also without knowing whether one is in or out of desonance with desonance. It is so because it is a case of the pre-specular, and also the pre-audible as the quotation from Nietzsche above invites us to a consideration of the question of distance in at least two possible ways: 1) one should keep one’s distance from noise so that the scene becomes specular and therefore is opened to specularization, and/or theorization; 2) one should consider the distance from noise not because of a concern for the specular but because ‘to be standing in the midst of one’s own noise’ brings along such a distancing for, one, being neither dead nor alive, is both in the midst of it and also, the impossibility of experiencing it as such, interrupts both any attempt of speculating about, and also an absolute identification with, it. In other words, noise as Nietzsche puts it, is such a tantalizing force which one is both driven to and thrown back from, in a move which does not allow any figure to assume form.

1. Deleuze

My special interest in The Logic of Sense is related to the ways in which Deleuze gives an account in the last chapters of the book – between twenty-fourth and twenty-sixth series – of a certain passage, ‘a passage from noise to voice’, which he maintains by a special remix of his own philosophy with a particular reading of Leibniz. As I will argue, it is with this remix, marked by an insertion of a ‘continuity’ between the possible and the compossible worlds that Deleuze moves towards positing ‘a passage from noise to voice’, thereby pushing also his concept of ‘paradoxical entity’ towards a certain notion of ‘distance’ (contra what Nietzsche call actio in distans), raising doubts about the non-localizability of the ‘occupant without a place’. This critique will also be important when I will offer a reconsideration of Deleuze’s use of the concept of resonance with respect to the constitution of series, paradoxical entity, and the question of ‘Univocity’.

My guiding questions will therefore be related to the question of the mimetic reformulated on Deleuze’s particular notion of ‘distance’: Is mimesis that which acts as a crypt – in the sense that Abraham and Torokvi used it – in Deleuzian theory? And, if this is so, is it this crypto-mimetological problem that leads to the upsurging of a situation which I describe as specularization without mimesis, or, mimesis without specularization.

2. The Jump and the Crypt

For Deleuze, the duality of denotation and expression – that which pertains to the sense – is layered on the duality of eating and speaking. As he picks it up from Lewis Carroll, the eating/speaking duality is an either/or situation where eating is ‘the operational model of bodies’, which are corporeal entities, and speaking is ‘the movement of the surface, and of ideational attributes or incorporeal events’vii. Therefore, this duality brings along its own questions, such as: ‘What is more serious: to speak of food or to eat words’? However, such a question, for Deleuze, also bears witness to the insufficiency of this duality because ‘Things and propositions are less in a situation of radical duality and more on the two sides of a frontier represented by sense. This frontier does not mingle or reunite them (for there is no more monism here than dualism); it is rather something along the line of an articulation of their difference: body/language’viii. Foregrounding sense as that frontier between things and propositions enables Deleuze to shift the eating/speaking duality to a less sharp distinction between denotation and expression. If denotation is related to the edible nature of things, expression is related to the impassibility of events, or to the impenetrability of incorporeal entitiesix. Therefore, the duality is not between things and language, or whether we eat or speak, but between two dimensions of the proposition: ‘denotation of things and the expression of sense’x.

As the readers of Deleuze know it too well, sometimes Deleuze proceeds at a maddening speed that it becomes almost impossible to observe how quickly things develop. Just as it is the case in this series – ‘The Fourth Series of Dualities’ – we do not follow the jump, the shift; and all of a sudden, without given reason, this duality is forgotten, swallowed, or eaten, consumed, or simply disappeared. What is forgotten in this case is something which has been utterly important for the discussion – the philosophical duality of bodies and language, or things and propositions which is directly related to the question of mimesis and representation.

The jump first takes place almost invisibly and only when Deleuze realises the jump he gives us some explanation, or a reason for that:

It is to reach a region where language no longer has any relation to that which it denotes, but only to that which it expresses, that is, to sense. This is the final displacement of the duality: it has now moved inside the propositionxi.

So that the question is no more between things and language, or between things and how we represent them in language, but between denotation and expression, which are separated from each other with sense acting as a frontier between the two. When in the former series, sense was described as that which ‘turns one side toward things and one side toward propositions’xii, now it assumes the same function between denotation and expression.

Without doubt, this is a displacement and Deleuze acknowledges it so that we cannot conclude that he oversees the jump. However, despite the jump’s acknowledgement as displacement, one thing still remains and disturbs. As the readers of it know, The Logic of Sense is through and through a book about representation and an attempt at devising new ways to look at it from the viewpoint of ‘sense’ through an overturning of Platonism, which Deleuze concentrates on only at the end of the book, in ‘Appendix 1: Simulacrum and Ancient Philosophy’. Such moments of ‘displacement’ take place also in other series in the book, and especially when the question of mimesis creates problems for Deleuze’s theory of sense. But particularly in this case, since it takes place early in the book, this displacement is utterly important for it points to a privileging of one question over the other: How does language represent on the basis of mimesis? How does language represent on the basis of simulacra? As the ‘Simulacrum’ chapter bears witness to, what I mean here with privileging is the privileging of the latter over the former question.

Yet despite all the effort that goes into the constitution of such means of privileging, I would like to argue that this always-already swallowed, consumed, eaten question – how does language represent on the basis of mimesis? – remains intact, and more than a displacement, it acts as a crypt especially when questions flare up with respect to the ‘relationship’ between series which assumes a form of ‘resonance’; with respect to the ‘paradoxical entity’, and to the ‘topology’ of sense. The incorporation, if we follow Abraham and Torok, once it takes place, will disappear without a trace and will resist any effort of determinationxiii. While on the one hand it can be argued that this is actually what also happens in The Logic of Sense on the level of the duality of the proposition, the duality of expression and denotation, on the other, the crypt, or rather the crypt of all crypts, once incorporated, will remain nonlocalizable (atopological), and will disturb the momentary resonances between the series, and the determinations of sense as being topologicalxiv. In other words, to say that there was a ‘displacement’ will not actually stop that which is incorporated from acting as a crypt, for, as I discussed it elsewherexv, even simulacrum is what obeys the rule of mimesis, that is, a certain model/copy relationship (and, hence, it is a ‘specularization’).

3. ‘occupant without a place’

To understand paradoxical entity we should dwell a bit more on sense and serialization. In the ‘Fifth Series of Sense’ Deleuze gives a detailed account of sense as being that which is ‘always presupposed as soon as I begin to speak’xvi. However, the sense of what I say is not what I am able to state due to my impotence ‘to say at the same time something and its meaning’xvii. Hence, whenever I want to state the sense of what I say I get into an infinite regress which yields to the infinite proliferation of two series: ‘the name which denotes something and the name which denotes the sense of this name’xviii. If this defines the first paradox related to sense, the second finds its expression in the attempt at devising ‘a way of avoiding this infinite regress. It is to fix the proposition, to immobilise it, just long enough to extract from it its sense’xix. Yet, when we do that we are face to face with one of the main characteristics of sense: ‘the suspension of both affirmation and negation’xx. Thus, the sterility or the neutrality of sense does not allow one to isolate it from being that which is expressed by the proposition, and hence, as that which does not exist outside the proposition: therefore sense is an aliquid, not being but non-being. Sense is the double of proposition which escapes determination whenever one stops denoting it with another name and tries to isolate it. The third paradox of the sense, which is already mentioned, is its neutrality, or its not being affected by affirmation or negation.

As all the three paradoxes bear witness to, ‘sense’ is that which precedes all categorization, and all the determinations because a determination is that which can be layered on a simple logic of binarism, or opposition. Despite all the three situations that go into the constitution of sense as paradox, sense is also that which has a way of being outside that which the classical logic defines as contradiction: sense is not that which ‘is’ and ‘is not’ at the same time. And this brings us to the fourth paradox of the sense for here we are confronted with its state of being ‘absurd’, or an ‘impossible object’. Sense, like those impossible objects, is outside of being, it is an extra-being; it precedes all signification and denotation and has the capacity of taking part in every proposition ‘with its power of genesis in relation to the dimensions of the proposition’xxi. Sense, therefore, is the origin, the generator of each duality and it acts as a frontier which separates two series which are heterogeneous in themselves.

It is right here in this context, in the context of serialization and the question of the relationship between the signifier and the signified that Deleuze, by referring to Lacan’s reading of Poe’s ‘Purloined Letter’ offers a special notion of a paradoxical entity as an occupant without a place xxii. According to his theorization, any two series do not have any priority over one another, they are simultaneous, but they can be ‘originary and derived in relation to one another’xxiii, which means series get into a model-copy relationship, but no sooner they are put into this relationship than they shift positions due to the principle of displacement. Then, the question arises: does it mean that there is at least not one single moment of mimesis? Answer: Yes, they converge but only to diverge the next moment again on the principle of displacement. Question: So, isn’t there, then, at least a momentary synthesis between two series? Answer: Yes, but this is a synthesis of two types at the same time: conjunctive and disjunctive syntheses which are again organized by the principle of displacement.

However, even this definition, the ‘occupant without a place’, cannot suppress the doubts whether it is a topological determination or not because although it works on the principle of displacement it does not make the signifier and the signifier ultimately unattainable. Since one of the two is bound to be the first in this scheme, they are at least momentarily localizable for otherwise it would be impossible to talk about the signifier and the signified on the basis of conjunctive and disjunctive synthesis.

4. Paradoxical Entity and the ‘Step-back’

Twelfth Series of the Paradox’ is where Deleuze puts forward the ‘paradox’ as an originary point which thought should be capable of thinking if it is going to be recreational: ‘Paradoxes are recreational only when they are considered as initiatives of thought’xxiv.

I would like to offer that we should read this paragraph together with another one from Difference and Repetition. This is where Deleuze is discussing the doxa and the unthought with a reference to Heidegger in the chapter ‘The Image of Thought’:

We recall Heidegger’s profound texts showing that as long as thought continues to presuppose its own good nature and good will, in the form of a common sense, a ratio, a Cogitatio nature universalis, it will think nothing at all but remain a prisoner to opinion, frozen in an abstract possibility …: “Man can think in the sense that he possesses the possibility to do so. This possibility alone, however, is no guarantee to us that we are capable of thinking”xxv.

The text that Deleuze refers to is Heidegger’s What is called Thinking?, and in a footnote he also adds:

It is true that Heidegger retains the theme of a desire or a philia, of an analogy – or rather, a homology – between thought and that which is to be thought. The point is that he retains the primacy of the Same, even if this is supposed to include and comprehend difference as such – whence the metaphors of gift which are substituted for those of violence. In all these senses, Heidegger does not abandon what we called above the subjective presuppositions. As can be seen in Being and Time, there is in effect a pre-ontological and implicit understanding of being, even though, Heidegger specifies, the explicit conception must not follow from itxxvi.

In the first paragraph, there is obviously a claim to approach the unthought but at the same time, in face of its being ‘ineffable and unthinkable’, there is also a drawback from it. In other words, if the ‘initiative of thought’ is paradoxical, it should remain tantalizing, without producing a determinable origin, or, say, a fixed image of thought. In the second and third quotations, Deleuze is quite aware of the parallels he draws between Heidegger’s and his own position on the question of the thought and the unthought, so that he makes it clear that what he calls the initiative of thought should not be understood as that which can be thought: for Deleuze it is a paradox, an impossible object, which cannot be thought. On the level of the mimetic, this is what I define as ‘specularization without mimesis’, or, ‘mimesis without specularization’, which has no moment of ‘appearance’.

As is well known, Heidegger’s programme is determined by an attempt at distancing thought from Hegelian dialectics, or to put it briefly, from a moment of aufhebung which has determined the relationship between the thought and the unthought in a dialectical, speculative scheme. Heidegger’s approach to the question whether thought can think of that which has not been thought differs from Hegel in the way he produces the difference between Being and beingsxxvii. After quoting Heidegger at length, Lacoue-Labarthe questions in his ‘Obliteration’xxviii the difference between the aufhebung and the ‘step-back’ – the Schritt zurück : a certain notion of aufhebung in reverse, a Hegelianism backwards – on the grounds that if the step-back presupposes a separation between the thought and the unthought, ‘How can one make sure that the unthought will not be the same thing as what absolute thinking – despite the presence “next to us” already of the Absolute, despite the will to parousia of the Absolute – must gather “in the end,” after having waited’xxix? And as one follows Lacoue-Labarthe’s tracing of Heidegger’s shifts between deciding and not deciding about such a moment of appearance, the appearance of the difference as such – in the absence of which ‘thinking itself runs the risk of being “nothing”’xxx – one unavoidably is reminded of how Deleuze in the three succeeding paragraphs above follows a similar route, or how he, as he corrects himself in the footnote, battles for not being defeated by a surrender to such a moment of reconciliation which reverts Heidegger’s step-back to aufhebung once again..

Lacoue-Labarthe locates the result of such a moment of ‘appearance’, in Identity and Difference:

There is thus always also, in spite of everything, a decisive ‘moment’ – and this does not fail to occur in Identity and Difference – where it becomes necessary, in order to mark the separation, to envision and to posit difference as such, to place difference itself in a confrontation from which it can present itselfxxxi.

And hence, difference becomes localizable, something which marks a passage from non-being to being, or rather, a passage from absence to presence. The passage, the abyss is thus jumped over at the cost of a reappropriation of what is supposed to have disappropriated by the step-back.

5. ‘from noise to voice’

Up to now in The Logic of Sense, Deleuze has told us the relationship between the series, the resonance between them, the constitution of events, actualization and counter-actualization of the events, the disjunctive synthesis, and its affirmation, etc., and now the question is how to theorize the person (if it is not going to be an ‘individual’) with respect to his theory of the event. The twenty-fifth series is thus called ‘Univocity’, and univocity in Deleuze helps to give freedom to all the compossible worlds so that the ‘individual’ would reorganise his/her relationship not only with this world, but with all the compossible ones. Therefore, it is purely a question of form, that is, how to transcend the question of the form, known as the ‘individual’xxxii. Such a transcendence, if it is possible, requires in the first place, radicalizing the ‘image of thought’ so that there will no more be a form on which the constitution of the individual as such is based. In other words, what is known as individual will now be constituted on the basis of simulacra and thus the individual will be freed from being shaped by any predetermined model. On the other hand, if such a project means to open up the individual to multiplicities it will also have to deal with the question of ontology because even if Deleuze explains it with positing pre-individual singularities, they will nevertheless require, an appearance, a moment of being, or, rather, a passage from absence to presence. Therefore, as Deleuze puts it:

Philosophy merges with ontology, but ontology merges with the univocity of Being. … The univocity of Being signifies that Being is Voice that it is said, and that it is said in one and the same ‘sense’ of everything about which it is said. It occurs, therefore, as a unique event for everything that happens to the most diverse things, Eventum tantum for all events, the ultimate form of all the forms which remain disjointed in it, but which bring about the resonance and the ramification of their disjunctionxxxiii.

In The Logic of Sense we are somehow familiar with the concept of ‘resonance’, because whenever Deleuze writes about the relationship between the series, he always refers to it, and resonance is explained only in the thirty-fourth series, as follows: ‘Let us call the resonance “intrinsic beginning”’xxxiv. Although, Deleuze gives resonance such a function, that is, a function which almost verges on ontology in an obscure fashion, it is still difficult to see why ontology should be explained by accounting for a Voice. However, it remains as a difficulty only until when one thinks of resonance, its being an ‘intrinsic beginning’ in relationship to Voice, and, basically, with respect to the question of ‘voice’ in the univocity of Being. In other words, if univocity signifies an event, an event of all events, it also points to a concern for genesis, where resonance can be rethought as ‘intrinsic beginning’, a generic force, which makes genesis itself possible by triggering a passage between ‘that which comes before voice’ and voice. Yes, that’s true, if one explains Being by Voice – which is not something specular but audible – one can, to a certain extent, overcome the difficulties that will be posed by an attempt at answering the question of ontology in a specular scheme. Even so, this does not prevent this discourse from being populated by questions such as: if the coming-into-being of resonance, and its necessity is explained by Deleuze as ‘intrinsic beginning’, doesn’t such a beginning also require a passage from ‘that which comes before voice’ to voice (no matter if one defines it also as ‘neutral’ or ‘extra-Beingxxxv)? Can one be saved from a specular scheme, and from ontology, even when one is dealing with the problem of Being or unity not in a specular but an ‘aural’ scheme?

Similar questions culminate in the ‘Twenty-Sixth Series of Language’, for here all the questions which have been actually gravitating towards the possibility of such a passage find an origin which they have been pointing to. Therefore, Deleuze opens this series with a conviction that ‘events make language possible’xxxvi, and he immediately adds:

But making possible does not mean causing to begin. … To render language possible thus signifies assuring that sounds are not confused with the sonorous qualities of things, with the sound effects of bodies, or with their actions and passions. What renders language possible is that which separates sounds from bodies and organizes them into propositions, freeing them for the expressive function. It is always a mouth which speaks, but the sound is no longer the noise of a body which eats – a pure orality – in order to become the manifestation of a subject expressing itself. … And in truth, without the event all of this would be only noise – and an indistinct noisexxxvii.

And, in the next series, ‘Twenty-Seventh Series of Orality’, he also adds:

We constantly relive in our dreams the passage from noise to voice.xxxviii

So, obviously, for Deleuze, there is such a moment of absolute separation, a passage, between sounds and sonorous elements (noise), made possible by the events. And events, not only make possible the language, but also the subject. From now on, a decision which was there, and suspending since the beginning of The Logic of Sense is thus given an ‘appearance’; ‘specularization without mimesis’, or ‘mimesis without specularization’ returns to a moment of appearance, making possible also the history of the psyche, which Deleuze reconstructs by reading his own theory of the sense and the event into psychoanalysis, basically into the works of Melanie Klein, and Jacques Lacan.

6. Distance

I would like to stop here, and think about what might probably have led to such a passage in Deleuze. Not because it is thinkable, or locatable with an exact clarity of thought but at least, this can be shown without making appear what cannot appear, considering the ‘distance’ we referred to in Nietzsche in the beginning. But at the same time we should also be reminded of the crypt that we mentioned at various junctures in this essay.

This is the twenty-fourth series, and the series is about the ‘communication of the events’. Here, we find Deleuze celebrating Leibniz as the ‘first theoretician of the event’, for it was him who saw for the first time that ‘ “compossible” and “incompossible” cannot be reduced to the identical and contradictory, which govern only the possible and the impossible’xxxix. If compossibility is defined, on a pre-individual level, by the convergence of the series, the incompossibility is defined by the divergence of the series. Yet Leibniz made use of these definitions only to the extent that the compossible worlds, being incompossible with the best possible of all the worlds (our world), should therefore diverge from it. Hence, ‘He made a negative use of divergence of disjunction – one of exclusion’xl. So, Deleuze’s critique of Leibniz is directed to the negative use of divergence by Leibniz, and therefore he is concerned with a Nietzschean affirmation of divergences where the God, being dead, does not chose anymore the best possible world. Deleuze asks: ‘But what does it mean to make divergence and disjunction the objects of affirmation’xli? Of course, it means the irreducibility of the difference to the same and identical:

We are no longer faced with an identity of contraries, which would still be inseparable as such from a movement of the negative and of exclusion. We are rather faced with a positive distance of different elements: no longer to identify two contraries with the same, but to affirm their distance as that which relates one to the other insofar as they are ‘different’. The idea of a positive distance (and not as an annulled or overcome distance) appears to us essential, since it permits the measuring of contraries through their finite difference instead of equating difference with a measureless contrariety, and contrariety with an identity which is itself infinite. It is not difference which must ‘go as far as’ contradiction, as Hegel thought in his desire to accommodate the negative; it is the contradiction which must reveal the nature of its difference as it follows the distance corresponding to it. The idea of positive distance belongs to topology and to the surfacexlii.

The positive distance, therefore, is finite, but its finitude, instead of foregrounding a contradiction which can be overcome by means of a dialectical synthesis (for which measure gains importance insofar as the distance can be overcome so that the contradiction can be resolved) puts forward distance as distance where the difference between two things is preserved, and, made open to topological determination, so that it can appear and be measured. And, hence, Deleuze’s illustration of the matter with Nietzsche’s perspectivism, or his capacity to reverse the perspectives: health in sickness and sickness in health, where the two states are not seen as contraries in a dialectical scheme, but as a means of preserving distance as distance, as a measurable distance between two states, not only in order to observe their convergence but also their divergence, and thus affirm their difference. So, having a perspective and a capacity to reverse it is a matter of the irreducibility of the two different divergent elements as a result of which one gains a point of view, in Leibnizean fashion, not from the point of view of oneself, but from the point of views of things themselves. All this, of course, with one radical difference from Leibniz where one observes only the affirmation of those that converge whereas in Nietzsche ‘the point of view is opened onto a divergence which it affirms . … Each term becomes the means of going all the way to the end of another, by following the entire distance. Nietzsche’s perspective – his perspectivism – is a much more profound art than Leibniz’s point of view, for divergence is no longer a principle of exclusion, an disjunction no longer a means of separation. Incompossibility is now a means of communication’xliii. And also, one should add, opening the point of view onto divergence erases the discontinuity between the possible and the incompossible, and therefore a maximum continuity is maintained not only between things in the most possible world but between all the worlds be it possible and/or incompossible.

When one considers this discussion on distance with respect to the actio in distans we quoted from Nietzsche in the beginning of this essay, all is fine, except one thing that we skipped when we were reading Deleuze’s comment on distance. In the same paragraph, after celebrating Nietzsche’s perspectivism on health and illness, Deleuze also comments on what happens to this perspectivism after Nietzsche goes mad:

Conversely, Nietzsche does not lose his health when he is sick, but when he can no longer affirm the distance, when he is no longer able, by means of his health, to establish sickness as a point of view on health (then, as the Stoic say, the role is over, the play has ended)xliv.

In contrast to the situation I defined at the opening of this essay with regard to actio in distans, doesn’t Deleuze seem to be preferring here positive distance where even paradoxical entity becomes localizable to ‘“to be standing in the midst of one’s own noise” which brings along such a distancing for, one, being neither dead nor alive, is both in the midst of it and also, the impossibility of experiencing it as such, interrupts both any attempt of speculating about, and also an absolute identification with, it’? We will argue that it is actually the concept of positive distance, maintained by inserting a maximum continuity between possible and compossible worlds, which endows Deleuzian passages with a moment of appearance, and paradoxical entity with localisibility, deconstructing at the same time the claim to ‘specularization without mimesis’ or ‘mimesis without specularization’, with all the force of the crypto-mimetologic. Affirmation? Of only ‘the occupant without a place’, the purely localizable?

On the other hand: Not to be dead and yet no longer alive.

Can this be the legacy for us?

Can it be a matter of not knowing anymore whether one is sick or healthy rather than having a perspective? Can it be a matter of desonance where one can no longer measure neither distance nor sickness and health?

But can one preserve the actio in distans when one posits a passage from ‘noise to voice’?

7. Resonance/Desonance

Now, let’s go back to Deleuze, and pay attention to this term: ‘resonance’ once again. Why do Deleuze employ this word whenever it is a matter of theorising the relationship between series and the paradoxical entityxlv?

As will be remembered, there were several occasions before where we could have raised the following question: is there in the concept of resonance, as it is used by Deleuze, a presumption of a passage from noise to sound/voice? In such occasions, we have also observed that the univocity of being, the event of all the events, is determined by a passage from noise to voice, and the resonance is that which establishes itself by distributing this passage to all the different series. One conclusion to be drawn here is therefore as follows: without resonance there will be no passage, and hence, without resonance, there will be no Univocity either. Or, from a different perspective, since, whenever Deleuze mentions resonance it is also used as a force of the paradoxical entity – that is, the paradoxical entity, by ‘traversing’ the series, ‘causes them to resonate’ – resonance, always-already marked by this passage is, therefore, always too late to arrive the scene.

So my question can be reformulated as follows: Doesn’t the event, the event of all the events – the Univocity – come only after the event, that is after this passage from noise to voice? And isn’t this event, this passage, in Deleuze, actually the event of all events?

What I would like to do with this question is to problematise this passage between noise and sound/voice, but also another passage between a ‘?’ on the one hand, and noise, sound, and voice on the other. I will not call this realm which I point to with a ‘question mark’ the ‘sonorous qualities of things’. What I am alluding to here is of course the difference between a ‘?’, or the difference itself as a ‘question mark’ on the one hand, and noise and sound on the other, which was taken by all the western philosophy of music as a gap which can be surpassed within a specular scheme, or within a ‘metaphysics of presence’, as Derrida would have called it. If this abyss, this difference, is where all specularization falls into a crisis – in other words, if there is always such an appearance, appearance of sound and noise as distinct from this ‘?’ – it is because the speculative thought, although it considers sound to be non-mimetic, which does not represent anything, cannot deal with sound without reducing it to the specular, or rather, to the metaphysics of presence. And, hence the proliferation of passages between this ‘?’ and noise, sound and vocal; and also the passages between ‘noise and song’, ‘noise and sound’, ‘noise and vocal’, ‘sound and vocal’, and so on, in a supplementary scheme.

(Without doubt, this question mark can be given different names. However, the main difficulty here lies exactly at this point: Is that which we have named with a question mark something nameable, something which can be represented with a name, even with a question mark (for we cannot even be sure whether it presents itself as a question … It is, in other words, what behaves like ‘trace’ in Derridaean sense of the term, only assuming here a rhythmical trait – a vibrace? But what is a vibrace?)?

In such a framework, I would like to offer ‘desonance’ not as a concept nor as a name which stands for what comes before the passage from the inaudible to the audible but as that which, acting as a border between the audible and the inaudible is observable only in its effects such as, noise and voice; resonance and dissonance not as couples in binary oppositions but as that which should be thought in a complementaryxlvi relationship. In other words, to ask what makes us capable of distinguishing such passages will probably enable us to look at noise, voice, resonance and dissonance as the effects of desonance which eludestheorization, and as that which can be ‘theorised’ only after the event, only if we take it for granted that such a passage, or all passages, are reducible.

If we can ask this question it is because desonance is not something which can betheorized either as an absolute ‘unknowable’, ‘the thing-in-itself’, or as that which can be appropriated in an Hegelian moment of aufhebung, but something which can only be pointed to, actio in distance, not to its presence, but, by looking at its effects, to the ways in which it constructs and deconstructs any discourse on sound, voice, vocal, resonance and dissonance.

Dissonance and resonance would then be the ‘efficacies’xlvii of this process, desonance, which is always yet-to-come and is held back at the same time, and which, being the generator of the complementary relationship between the two, does not lend itself to representation in a decidable, localizable, specular fashion. Therefore, if noise, sound, and voice are the sonorous elements which an ear responds to via vibration, desonance cannot be heard, known or measured, but can only be sensed (?) as a vibrace?

I have tried to point to ‘desonance’, and its effects under the light a radical sense of actio in distans, all with an humble intention of opening Deleuzian theory to what I call desonance (of course, with the same question: can desonance be called?).

As a final remark, I would like to quote Michel Serres of Genesis:

What the narrative of Proteus does not tell is the relationship between chaos and form. Who is Proteus when he is no longer water and not yet a panther or a boar? What the narrative says, on the contrary, is that each metamorphosis or phenomenon is an answer to questions, an answer and the absence of an answer to the questioningxlviii.

What and when is the most disturbing moment then, when one is desonating wildly?


i Michel Serres, Genesis, trans. Geneviève James and James Nielson, (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1995), p. 41.

ii George Bataille, The Accursed Share, Vol I, trans. Robert Hurley, (New York: Zone Books, 1991), p.40.

iii Edmund Husserl, Logical Investigations, Vol I,ed. Dermot Moran, trans. J.N. Findlay, (London and New York: Routledge, 2002), p. 76.

iv Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, Typography, trans. Christopher Fynsk, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1989), pp. 163-4.

v Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, trans. Walter Kaufman, (New York: Vintage, 1974), Fragment 60, pp. 123-4.

vi See N. Abraham and M. Torok, The Wolf Man’s Magic Word, trans. Nicholas Rand, (Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press, 1986) and N. Abraham and M. Torok, The Shell and the Kernel, trans. Nicholas Rand, (Chicago:University of Chicago Press, 1994).

vii Gilles Deleuze, The Logic of Sense, ed. Constantin V. Boundas, trans. Mark Lester with Charles Stivale, (London: Continuum, 2003), p. 23. TLOS from now on.

viii TLOS , p. 24.

ix TLOS, p. 25.

x TLOS, p. 25.

xi TLOS, p. 25.

xii TLOS, p. 22.

xiii ‘Once an incorporation has occurred, no one at all should be apprised of it. The very fact of having had a loss would be denied in incorporation’, The Shell and the Kernel, p. 129.

xiv The Shell and the Kernel, pp. 127-9.

xv See my ‘Decalcomania, Mapping and Mimesis’, Symploke, Volume 13, Numbers 1-2, (2006), pp. 283-302.

xvi TLOS, p. 28.

xvii TLOS, p. 29.

xviii TLOS, p. 30.

xix TLOS, p. 31.

xx TLOS, p. 31.

xxi TLOS, p. 32.

xxii TLOS, p. 40-41.

xxiii TLOS, p. 40-41.

xxiv TLOS, p. 74.

xxv Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, trans. Paul Patton, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), p.144.

xxvi Difference and Repetition ,p. 321.

xxvii The Subject of Philosophy, p. 66.

xxviii Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, The Subject of Philosophy, trans. Thomas Trezise, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993).

xxix The Subject of Philosophy, p. 67.

xxx The Subject of Philosophy, p. 69.

xxxi The Subject of Philosophy, p. 69.

xxxii ‘The problem is therefore one of knowing how the individual would be able to transcend his form and his syntactical link with world …’, The Logic of Sense, p. 178.

xxxiii TLOS, p. 179.

xxxiv TLOS, p. 239.

xxxv TLOS, p. 180.

xxxvi TLOS, p. 181.

xxxvii TLOS,, pp. 181-2.

xxxviii TLOS,, p. 194.

xxxix TLOS,, p. 171.

xl TLOS, p. 172.

xli TLOS,, p. 172.

xlii TLOS,, p. 172-3.

xliii TLOS, p. 174.

xliv TLOS, p. 173.

xlv See for example, The Logic of Sense, pp. 66, 103, 174, 179, 261.

xlvi see, Arkady Plotnitsky, Complementarity, (Durham: The Duke University Press, 1994).

xlvii Plotnitsky uses ‘efficacies’ for the unknowable objects of quantum phenomena which are accessible to us only in their effects. See, Arkady Plotnitsky, The Knowable and the Unknowable, (Ann-Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002), p.3.

xlviiiGenesis, p. 15.

This essay was first published in Resonances: Deleuze and Guattari, Parallax, ed. Zafer Aracagök, Vol 18, no.1, issue 62, Routledge, 2012, London: United Kingdom.

Foto: Bernhard Weber

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