L'Abécédaire de Gilles Deleuze, avec Claire Parnet
<Gilles Deleuze's ABC Primer, with Claire Parnet>
Directed by Pierre-André Boutang (1996)

Overview prepared by Charles J. Stivale, Romance Languages & Literatures,
Wayne State University

 Part I: A to F

 Part III: N to Z

Revised version: December 12, 2004 [extra special thanks to John Morton!] -- Last update: July 28, 2011


Part II - G through M

(G as in 'Gauche' <Left>, H as in History of Philosophy, I as in Idea, J as in Joy, K as in Kant, L as in Literature, M as in 'Maladie' <Illness>)

<The following is the second part of a three-part overview of the eight-hour series of interviews between Gilles Deleuze and Claire Parnet that were filmed by Pierre-André Boutang in 1989. Destined to be broadcast only after Deleuze's death, these interviews were shown with his permission on the Arte channel between November 1994 and spring 1995, i.e. during the year prior to his death.

Rather than provide a transcription and translation into English, I try to provide the main points of the questions posed by Parnet and Deleuze's responses, and all infelicities and omissions are entirely my responsibility. See the summary of the previous part for details on the interview "set".>

At the end of the previous letter, F as in Fidelity (Loyalty), Deleuze says that all people only have charm through their madness (folie). What is charming is the side of someone that shows that they're a bit unhinged (où ils perdent un peu les pédales). If you can't grasp the small trace of madness in someone, you can't be their friend. But if you grasp that small point of insanity, "démence," of someone, the point where they are afraid or even happy, that point of madness is the very source of his/her charm. He then pauses, smiles, and says: "D'où 'G'" (Which leads us to 'G')...

G as in 'Gauche' (Left)

Parnet reminds Deleuze that although he comes from a bourgeois family with 'right' political leanings, he has since the Liberation in 1945 been a 'homme de gauche' (leftist), and she reminds him also that while so many of his friends joined the French Communist Party (PC), he never did. Why?

Deleuze says, yes, they all went through the PC, and what prevented him from doing so was that he was always so hard-working <travailleur>, plus he simply could never stand attending all those meetings! He reminds Parnet that this was at the period of the 'appel de Stockholm' (Stockholm Appeal), and all of his friends, people of great talent, spent all their time walking around getting signatures on this petition... An entire generation got caught up in this, Deleuze says, but that posed a problem for him. He had a lot of friends who were Communist historians, and Deleuze felt that it would have been much more important for the PC if these friends had spent their energy on finishing their dissertations than getting signatures. So, he had no interest in that, nor was he very talkative anyway, so all this petition-signing would have put him in a state of complete panic.

Parnet asks if Deleuze nonetheless felt close to the Party's commitments, and he says no, that they never concerned him, something else that saved him from all these discussions about Stalin, and about the revolution going wrong. Deleuze chortles at this point, says who are they trying to kid <de qui on se moque>, all these 'nouveaux philosophes' (New Philosophers) who have discovered that the revolution went wrong, you really have to be dimwitted <débile>, since that was evident with Stalin. Deleuze pursues this line brutally: whoever thought that a revolution would go well, he asks? Who? Who? People say the English could not have a revolution, but that's false: they did, they had Cromwell as a result, and all of English Romanticism, which is a long meditation on the failure of the revolution. They didn't wait for André Glucksmann, says Deleuze, to reflect on the failure of the revolution. And Americans never get discussed, they had their revolution, as much if not more so than the Bolsheviks. Even before the Revolutionary War, they presented this as a new notion and went beyond these notions exactly like Marx spoke later of the proletariat: they led forth a new people, and had a true revolution. Just as the Marxists discovered universal proletariatization, the Americans counted on universal immigration, the two means of class struggle. This is absolutely revolutionary, says Deleuze, it's the America of Jefferson, of Melville, an absolutely revolutionary America that announced the 'new man' just as the Bolshevik revolution announced the 'new man'.

That revolution failed, all revolutions do, and now people are pretending to "rediscover" that. You really have to be dimwitted, Deleuze repeats... Everyone is getting lost in this current revisionism. There is François Furet who discovered that the French Revolution wasn't as great as had been thought, that it failed. But everybody knows that, the French Revolution gave us Napoleon! People are making "discoveries" that, for Deleuze, are not very impressive through their novelty <on fait des découvertes qui ne sont pas très émouvantes par leur nouveauté>. The British Revolution resulted in Cromwell, the American Revolution had worse results, the political parties, Reagan, which don't seem any better.

Deleuze pursues this farther: people are in such a state of confusion about revolutions failing, going bad. Yet that never prevented people from becoming revolutionary. Deleuze argues that people are confusing two absolutely different things: the situation in which the only outcome for man is to become revolutionary, it's the confusion between becoming and history, and if people become revolutionary, that's historians' confusion. Historians, says Deleuze, speak of the future of the revolution, but that is not at all the question.

The concrete problem is how and why people become revolutionary, and fortunately historians can't prevent them from doing so. It's obvious, Deleuze says, that the South Africans are caught up in a becoming-revolutionary, the Palestinians as well. Then, Deleuze says, if someone tells him after that, even if their revolution succeeds, it will go badly, Deleuze responds: first of all, they will not be the same kinds of problems, but new situations will exist, becomings-revolutionary will be unleashed. The business of people in situations of oppression and tyranny, argues Deleuze, is to enter into becomings-revolutionary, and when someone says, "oh, it's not working out," we aren't talking about the same thing, it's as if we were speaking two different languages -- the future of history and the future of becomings are not at all the same thing, he concludes.


Parnet picks up another current issue (in 1988), the respect for the"rights of man" <les droits de l'homme> which is so fashionable, but is not revolutionary, quite the opposite. Deleuze replies softly, even wearily, that he thinks the respect for the "rights of man" belongs to this weak thinking <pensée molle> of the impoverished intellectual period that they discussed earlier (under "C as in Culture"). It's purely abstract, says Deleuze, these "rights of man", purely abstract, completely empty. It's like what he was trying to say about desire: desire does not consist of erecting an object, of saying I desire this... we don't desire an object, it's zero; rather, we find ourselves in situations.

Deleuze takes an example from the news, the Armenian situation: an enclave in another Armenian Soviet republic, a first step; then there is a massacre by some sort of Turkish group, so the Armenians retreat into their republic, and right then, there is an earthquake. You'd think you were in something written by the Marquis de Sade, Deleuze says, these poor people in these awful circumstances. (Deleuze gives this example as a set of situations).

He continues that when people say "the rights of man," it's just intellectual discourse, odious intellectuals at that, who have no ideas. Deleuze insists that these declarations are never made as a function of the people that are directly concerned, the Armenians, for example. Their problem is not the "rights of man." This is what Deleuze calls an "assemblage" <agencement>: what must one do to suppress this enclave or to make it possible for this enclave to survive? It's a question of territory, not one of the "rights of man," not a question of justice, but a question of jurisprudence.

All the abominations that humans undergo, says Deleuze, are cases, not elements of abstract law. These are abominable cases, just as the Armenian problem is an extremely complex problem of jurisprudence, to save the Armenians or help them save themselves. Then, an earthquake occurs to confuse everything . To act for freedom, becoming revolutionary, is to operate in jurisprudence when one turns to the justice system. So it's not a question of applying the "rights of man," but rather of inventing forms of jurisprudence, so that for each case, this would no longer be possible.

Deleuze offers an example to help explain what jurisprudence is: he recalls when smoking in taxis was forbidden. At first, some refused, and the whole matter became quite public because of smokers. In an aside, Deleuze mentions that if he hadn't studied philosophy, he would have studied law, but not the "rights of man." Rather he'd have studied jurisprudence, it's life; there are no "rights of man," says Deleuze, only rights of life, case by case. He returns to the taxi example: one day, some guy does not want to stop smoking, so he sues the cab, the cab loses the case on the grounds that when someone takes a taxi, he is renting it, and the renter has the right to smoke in his rented location. The taxi is assimilated to being a rolling apartment, and the customer is the renter. Ten years later, the taxi is no longer assimilated in this way, it becomes assimilated instead to being a form of public service, and no one has the right any more to smoke.

So it's a question of situations that evolve, and fighting for freedom is to engage in jurisprudence. In Armenia, what are the "rights of man"? The Turks don't have the right to massacre Armenians: how far does that really get us? It's the dimwitted or hypocrites really, Deleuze argues, who have this idea of the "rights of man." The creation of rights is the creation of jurisprudence and fighting for it. That's what the left is, creating rights.

******* [END of TRANSLATED SECTION, see above]

Parnet affirms that this demand for the "rights of man" is like a denial of May '68 and a denial of Marxism as well. Yet Deleuze was never a Communist, and still he makes use of Marx who continues to be a referent for him. And Deleuze, says Parnet, is one of the last persons who has not said that May '68 was nil, schoolroom pranks; and ,everyone changes. She asks him to talk a bit about May '68. Deleuze chides her, says she is too harsh, he is not one of the last people, lots of people think well of May '68. Parnet counters that these are his friends. Deleuze says still, lots of people have not denied or recanted on May '68.

For Deleuze, May '68 is simple: it's an intrusion of the real. People often have wanted to view it as the reign of the imaginary, but it's really, says Deleuze, a gust of the real in its pure state <une bouffée du réel dans l'état pur>. It's the real, he repeats, and people don't understand that, it was prodigious! People in reality, that's what a becoming is. There can be bad becomings, and it's almost required for historians not to have understood that, Deleuze believes, because at such moments, the difference between history and becomings is revealed, and May '68 was a becoming-revolutionary without a revolutionary future. People can always make fun of it after the fact, but becomings took hold of people, even becomings-animal, even becomings-children, becomings-women for men, becomings-men for women. All these aspects are in this very special domain that Deleuze and Parnet have been pouring over since the start of her questions.

Parnet asks Deleuze if he had becomings-revolutionary himself at that moment, and he says that her smile tells him it's a question not devoid of mockery. So she rephrases it: Between Deleuze's cynicism as a "homme de gauche"/leftist and his becoming-revolutionary as a leftist, how does he unravel, explain all that <se débrouiller>, and what does it mean for Deleuze to be "de gauche", on the left? Deleuze pauses here before answering. Then he says he does not believe that a leftist government exists, which is not astonishing. The best one can hope for, he believes, is a government favorable to certain demands from the left. But a leftist government does not exist since being on the left has nothing to do with governments <n'est pas une affaire de gouvernement>.

So how to define being on the left, he continues? In two ways: first, it's a matter of perception, which means this: what would *not* being on the left mean? It's a little like an address, extending outward from a person: the street where you are, the city, the country, other countries farther and farther away <Deleuze gestures outward>. It starts from the self, and to the extent that one is privileged, living in a rich country, one might ask, what can we do to make this situation last? One senses that dangers exist, that it might not last, it's all so crazy, so what might be done so that Europe lasts? Being on the left is the opposite: it's perceiving... And people say the Japanese perceive like that, not like us... they perceive first the periphery <Deleuze gestures outward inward>, they would say the world, the continent -- let's say Europe --, France, etc. etc., rue de Bizerte, me: it's a phenomenon of perception, perceiving the horizon, perceiving on the horizon.

Parnet understandably objects that the Japanese aren't really so leftist, and Deleuze gestures at her dismissively, her objection isn't adequate <c'est pas une raison>, on the basis of that <their perception>, they're leftist, on the basis of their sense of address, postal address. First, you see the horizon, Deleuze says. And you know these millions of starving people can't last, he continues, there's no point in kidding about it, it's an absolutely worn-out justice system, it's not a matter of morality, but in perception itself. It's not in saying that the natality rate has to be reduced, which is just another way of keeping the privileges for Europe. <Being on the left> is really finding arrangements, finding world-wide assemblages. Being on the left, it is often only Third World problems that are closer to us than problems in our neighborhoods. So it's really a question of perceptions, says Deleuze, more than being a question of "beautiful souls" <belles âmes>, that's what being on the left is. And second, he continues, being on the left is a problem of becomings, of never ceasing to become minoritarian. That is, the left is never of the majority, and for a very simple reason: the majority is something that assumes that it's not the huge quantity that votes for something, but it assumes a standard <étalon>; in the West, the standard that every majority assumes is: 1) man, 2) adult 3) manly/virile <male>, 4) city dweller... Ezra Pound, Joyce say things> like that, it's a standard. So, the majority by its nature will go for whomever or whatever aggregate at a particular moment will succeed with this standard, that is, the supposed image of the urban, virile, adult male such that a majority, Deleuze insists, is never anyone, it's an empty standard. Simply, a maximum of persons recognize themselves in this empty standard.

So, he continues, women will make their mark either by intervening in this majority, or in the minorities according to groupings in which they are placed according to this standard. Deleuze clarifies this: being a woman is not a given by nature, women have their own becomings-woman; and so, if women have a becoming-woman, men have a becoming-woman as well. Deleuze reminds Parnet of talking earlier about becomings-animal, about children having their own becomings, not being children naturally. Parnet wonders that men cannot become men, and that's tough! Deleuze says, no, that's a majoritarian standard, virile, adult, male... they can become women, and then they enter into minoritarian practices. The Left, Deleuze concludes, is the aggregate of processes of minoritarian becomings. So, says Deleuze, quite literally, the majority is no one, the minority is everyone, and that's what being on the left is: knowing that the minority is everyone and that it's there that phenomena of becomings occur. That's why however great they think are, they still have doubts about the outcome of elections.

Top of Page

"H as in History of Philosophy"

Parnet lists Deleuze's early works, the first phase on the history of philosophy -- on Hume, Nietzsche, Kant, Bergson, Spinoza --, then says that someone encountering his later works -- _Difference and Repetition_, _Logic of Sense_, and works with Guattari -- might think he had a Jekyll/Hyde personality. Then, she remarks, he returned in 1988 to Leibniz, so asks what he enjoyed and still enjoys in the history of philosophy?

Deleuze pauses, then says it's a complicated matter because this history of philosophy encompasses philosophy itself. He assumes that a lot of people think of philosophy as being quite abstract and mostly for specialists, but in his view, it has nothing to do with specialists, or is so only in the way that music or painting are. So he indicates that he tries to pose the problem differently._

Deleuze says that, conventionally, the history of philosophy is abstract in the second degree since it does not consist of talking about abstract ideas, but of forming abstract ideas about abstract ideas. But he has always seen it differently, comparing it to painting. He refers to letters by Van Gogh on the distinctions between portraiture or landscapes <see _Logique de la sensation_ XV, for more extensive discussion of Van Gogh's correspondence>. For Deleuze, the history of philosophy is, as in painting, a kind of art of the portrait, creating a philosopher's portrait, but a philosophical portrait of a philosopher, a mental or spiritual portrait such that it's an activity that belongs fully within philosophy itself, just as a portraiture belongs to painting.

Deleuze wonders if he's going a bit fast with this comparison with painting, though, and says that if he invokes painters like Van Gogh or Gauguin, it's because something in their works has an enormous effect on him, the kind of immense respect or rather fear and even panic they evince when faced with getting in <aborder> color. These painters, says Deleuze, are the two greatest colorists ever, but in their works, they employ color only with great hesitation <tremblement>. In the beginning of their careers, they used earthen colors <couleurs patate, de terre>, nothing striking, because they did not yet dare to take on color. It's a very moving question, as if, literally, they did not yet judge themselves worthy of color, not ready or able to take it on and really do painting. It took them years and years before being able to do so. When you see the results of their work, Deleuze says, one has to reflect on this immense slowness to undertake that work. Color for a painter is something that can take him/her into madness, into insanity, thus is something quite difficult, taking years to dare to come close to it.

So, it's not that he is particularly modest, Deleuze says, but it strikes him as being quite shocking were there philosophers who simply said, hey, I'm going into philosophy now, going to do my own philosophy. These are feeble statements, argues Deleuze, because philosophy is like [painting with] colors, before entering into it, one has to take so many precautions, before conquering the "philosophical color" <la couleur philosophique> -- and the philosophical color is the concept. Before succeeding in inventing concepts, an enormous amount of work is necessary. Deleuze sees the history of philosophy as this slow modesty, taking a long time doing portraits. It's like a novelist, Deleuze suggests, who might say, I'm writing novels, but cannot read any because I'd risk compromising my inspiration. Deleuze says he has heard young writers make such frightening statements which, for him, means they simply do not need to work. Moreover, Deleuze sees the history of philosophy not only as having this preparatory role, it succeeds quite well by itself. It is the art of portraiture in so far as it allows one to reach toward something. At this point, it becomes a bit mysterious, says Deleuze, and he asks Parnet perhaps to give him another question so he can define this .

Parnet says that the usefulness of the history of philosophy for Deleuze is clear in this explanation. But the usefulness of history of philosophy for people in general, what is that, she asks, since Deleuze says that he does not want to see it as a kind of specialization?

For Deleuze, this is very simple. You can understand what philosophy is, he says -- that is, the extent to which it is no more an abstract thing than a painting or a musical work -- only through the history of philosophy, provided that you conceive of it in the proper manner <comme il faut>. What might that be? One thing is certain: a philosopher is not someone who contemplates or even reflects, but is someone who creates, and creates a very special kind of thing, concepts, not stars that one gazes at in the sky. Deleuze argues <as he and Guattari will in _What is Philosophy?_> that you have to create, fabricate concepts. So many questions emerge here: what for? Why create concepts, and what is that? Deleuze leaves these questions aside to provide an example: we know that Plato created a concept that did not exist before him, translated generally as the Idea. What he calls an Idea is truly a Platonic concept. Concretely, Deleuze asks, what is it? That's what one has to ask. An Idea is a thing that wouldn't be something else, i.e. would only be what it is... Deleuze pauses to ask: is that abstract? No, he replies, and gives the example not found in Plato: a mother is not only a mother, but also a wife, a daughter of a mother. Let us imagine, he continues, that a mother would only be a mother, e.g. the Virgin Mary. Even if that doesn't exist, a mother that would only be not something else would be an Idea of mother. i.e. a thing that would only be what it is. This, Deleuze affirms, is what Plato meant when he said only justice is just, only justice is not something else than just. Plato doesn't stop there, but he created a veritable concept of the Idea of something as pure.

Deleuze admits that this still remains abstract, and asks why? If we proceed to read through Plato, everything becomes concrete, Deleuze insists. Plato didn't create this concept of Idea by chance; he said that whatever happens in this concrete situation, whatever might be a given therein, there are rivals <prétendents>, i.e. people who say: for this thing, I'm the best example of it. Plato gave an example of the politician with an initial definition as the pastor of men, who takes care of people. As a result, people step forward to say, I'm the true pastor of men (the merchant, the shepherd, the doctor), i.e. different levels. In other words, there are rivals, and so with that, things starts to appear a bit more concrete.

Deleuze insists that a philosopher creates concepts, e.g. the Idea, the thing in so far as it is pure <la chose en tant que pure>. The reader doesn't understand immediately what it's about, or why one would need to create such a concept. If he/she continues and reflects on it, he/she sees the reason: there are all sorts of rivals who present themselves as claimants for things. So the problem for Plato is not at all, what is the Idea? That way, things would just remain abstract. Rather, it's how to select the claimants, how to discover among them which one is genuine (le bon). It's the Idea, i.e. the thing in a pure state, that will permit this selection, that will select the claimant who is closest to it.

Deleuze sees this allows the discussion to move forward a bit since every concept, e.g. the Idea, refers to a problem, in this case, how to select the claimant. If you do philosophy abstractly, he insists, you do not even see the problem, but if one reaches this problem... One might wonder why the problem isn't stated clearly by a philosopher since it certainly exists in his work, and Deleuze maintains that it's because one can't do everything at once. The philosopher's task is already that of exposing the concepts that s/he's in the process of creating, so s/he can't expose the problems on top of that, or at least one can discover these problems only through the concepts being created. Deleuze insists: if you haven't found the problem to which a concept corresponds, everything stays abstract. If you've found the problem, everything becomes concrete. That's why in Plato, there are constantly these claimants, these rivals.

Deleuze goes on to ask, why does this occur in the Greek city, and in Plato? The concept is the Idea as means of selecting the suitors, but why did this concept and this problem take form in the Greek milieu? <Because> it's a typically Greek problem, of the democratic, Greek city, even if Plato did not accept the democratic character of the city. For it's in the Greek city that, for example, a magistracy is an object of pretension, for which someone can pose a candidacy for a particular function. In an imperial formation, functionaries are named by the emperor, whereas the Athenian city is a rivalry of climants, an entire milieu of Greek problems, a civilization in which the confrontation of rivals constantly appears: that's why they invented gymnastics, Olympic games, legal procedures also. And in philosophy, there are suitors as well, e.g. Plato's struggle against the Sophists. He believed that the Sophists were claimants for something to which they had no right. What would define the right or the non-right of a claimant, asks Deleuze? All this is as interesting as a great novel or a painting, but in philosophy, there are two things at once: the creation of a concept always occurs as a function of a problem. If one has not found the problem, philosophy remains abstract.

He gives another example: people usually don't see problems, these usually stay hidden, but to engage in the history of philosophy is to restore these problems and, through this, to discover what's innovative in these concepts. The history of philosophy links up concepts as if they seemed to go without saying, as if they weren't created, so there tends to be total ignorance about problems.

Deleuze offers a final example: much later, Leibniz arrived and invented an extraordinary concept to which he gave the name, monad. There is always something a bit crazy in a concept. Leibniz's monad, Deleuze continues, designated a subject, somebody, you or me, in so far as it expresses the totality of the world, and in expressing the totality of the world, it only expresses clearly a tiny region of the world, its territory, or what Leibniz calls his "department". So a subjective unity that expresses the entire world, but that only clearly expresses a region of the world -- this is called a monad. It's a concept Leibniz created, but why state it this way? One has to find the problem, that's the charm of reading philosophy, as charming as reading a good book. Leibniz poses a problem, specifically that everything only exists as folded... He saw the world as an aggregate of things folded within each other. Deleuze here suggests stepping back a bit: why did he see the world like this? What was happening back then? What counts, Deleuze argues, is the idea of the fold, everything is folded, and everything is a fold of a fold, you can never reach something that is completely unfolded. Matter is constituted of folds overlapping back onto it, and things of the mind, perceptions, feelings, ideas, are folded into the soul. It's precisely because perceptions, feeling, ideas are folded into a soul that Leibniz constructed this concept of a soul that expresses the entire world, i.e. in which he discovers the entire world to be folded.

Deleuze asks abruptly, what is a bad philosopher, or a great philosopher? The bad one, he answers, creates no concepts, uses ready-made ideas, thus puts forth opinions, and does not do philosophy, and poses no problems. So, to do history of philosophy is this long apprenticeship in which one learns, or one is truly an apprentice in this domain, the constitution of problems and the creation of concepts. And how is it that thought can be idiotic, moronic? Some people talk, don't create concepts, put forth opinions, but moreover, we don't know what problems they're talking about. At most, one knows the questions, but not the problems behind certain questions (e.g. Does God exist? doesn't pose any problem, what might be behind that...) If you have neither a concept nor a problem, says Deleuze, you aren't doing philosophy. All this is to say, Deleuze insists, the extent to which philosophy is amusing. So doing history of philosophy is to discover nothing different than what one finds while looking at a painting or listening to a musical work.

Parnet asks, since Deleuze evoked Gauguin's and Van Gogh's quaking and hesitation from fear before taking on color, what happened to him, Deleuze, when he passed from history of philosophy to doing his own philosophy? Deleuze answers swiftly, this is what happened: history of philosophy gave him the chance to learn things, made him more capable of moving toward what color is in philosophy. And he asks, why does philosophy not cease to exist, why do we still have philosophy today? Because there is always an occasion to create concepts. But today, he continues, this notion of creation of concepts is taken over by the media, publicity; with computers, they say you can create concepts, an entire language stolen from philosophy for "communication." But what they call concepts, creating, Deleuze says dismissively, is truly comic, no need to insist on it. That still remains philosophy's task.

Deleuze states that he never was affected by people who proclaim the death of philosophy, getting <dépasser> beyond philosophy, etc., since he always wondered what that could mean. As long as there's a need to create concepts, there will be philosophy since that's the definition of philosophy, we have to create them, and we create them as a function of problems, and problems evolve. Certainly, one can be Platonician, Leibnizian, Kantian today, that is, one judges that certain problems -- not all -- posed by Plato remain valid provided one makes certain transformations, and so one is Platonician since one still has use for Platonic concepts. If we pose problems of a completely different nature, doing philosophy is creating new concepts as a function of problems posed today.

The final aspect, Deleuze continues, is what is the evolution of problems? We might say historical, social forces, but there is something deeper. It's all very mysterious, Deleuze admits, maybe they don't have time in the interview to pursue it, but Deleuze sees us reaching a kind of becoming of thought, evolution of thought that results not only in no longer posing the same problems, they are no longer posed in the same way. There is an urgent appeal, a necessity even to create and re-create new concepts. So history of philosophy cannot be reduced to sociological influence, he argues. There is a becoming of thought, something very mysterious that causes us perhaps no longer to think in the same way as a hundred years ago, new thought processes, ellipses of thought. Deleuze maintains that there is a history of pure thought, and that's what history of philosophy is, it has always had only one function, so there's no need to get beyond it, as it has its sole function.

Parnet asks how a problem evolves through time, and Deleuze offers another example: what, for most of the great philosophers in the 17th century, was their negative worry? It was a matter of warding off the dangers of error, i.e. the negative of thought, to prevent the mind from falling into error. There was a long, gradual slide and in the 18th century, a different problem emerges, not at all the same: no longer denouncing error, but denouncing illusions, the idea that the mind is not only surrounded by illusions, but could even produce them itself. So this is the movement in the 18th century, the denunciation of superstitions, and while it appears similar to the 17th century, something completely new is being born in the 18th century. One might say that it's due to social causes, but Deleuze maintains that there is also a secret history of thought that would be a passionate subject to pursue.

Then, in the 19th century -- here, Deleuze admits that he is stating things in an extremely simple and rudimentary way -- things have slid . It's no longer how to avoid illusion; no, as spiritual creatures, men ceaselessly emit inanities <bêtises>, which is not the same thing as falling into illusion: how to ward off "bêtises", inanities? That appears clearly in people on the border of philosophy, Flaubert, Baudelaire, the problem of "bêtises". And there again, social evolution, the evolution of the bourgeoisie, made the problem of "bêtises" an urgent problem. But there is also something deeper in this kind of history of problems that thought confronts. Every time one poses a problem, new concepts appear such that, if we understand the history of philosophy this way -- creation of concepts, constitution of problems, problems being more or less hidden, so we have to discover them --, we see that philosophy has strictly nothing to do with the true or the false. Looking for the truth means nothing. Creating concepts and constituting problems is a matter of meaning, not truth or falsity... a problem with meaning, so doing philosophy is to constitute problems that have a sense and to create concepts that cause us to move toward the understanding and solution of problems.

Parnet returns to two special questions for Deleuze: when he returned to doing history of philosophy in the Leibniz book (_The Fold_) the previous year, was it in the same way as 20 years earlier, i.e. before he had produced his own philosophy? Deleuze answers, certainly not. Before, he used history of philosophy as this kind of indispensable apprenticeship in order to look for the concepts of others, of great philosophers, and problems for which their concepts provided answers. Whereas, in the book on Leibniz -- and Deleuze says, there's nothing vain in what he is about to say --, he mixed in problems from the 20th century, that might be his own problems, with those posed by Leibniz, since Deleuze is persuaded of the actuality of great philosophers. So, what does it mean to act as <faire comme> a great philosopher would? It's not necessarily to be his disciple, but to extend his task, create concepts in relation to and in evolution with the concepts he created. By working on Leibniz, Deleuze was more in this path, whereas in the first books on the history of philosophy, he was in the "pre-color" stage.

Parnet continues by asking about his work on Spinoza and Nietzsche, about which Deleuze had said that he focused therein on the rather accursed and hidden area of philosophy. What did he mean? Deleuze says that, for him, this hidden area referred to thinkers who rejected all transcendence, all universals, the idea or concepts having universal values, any instance that goes beyond the earth and men... authors of immanence.

Parnet pursues this by observing that his books on Nietzsche and Spinoza were real events, books that he is known for, yet one cannot say that he is a Nietzschean or a Spinozian. Deleuze passed through all that, even during his apprenticeship, and Parnet says that he was already Deleuzean. Deleuze appears slightly embarrassed, saying that she has given him an enormous compliment, if it's true. What he always hoped for, he says, whether his work was good or bad, and he knew he could fail, was trying to pose problems for his own purposes <pour mon compte>, and to create concepts for his own purposes. Deleuze then suggests that, at the extreme, he would have wanted a kind of quantification of philosophy, such that each philosopher would be attributed a kind of magic number corresponding to the number of concepts he really created, referring to problems -- Descartes, Leibniz, Hegel. Deleuze finds that an interesting idea, and thinks perhaps he would have had a small magic number, having created concepts as a function of problems. But Deleuze concludes by saying that his point of honor is simply that, whatever the kind of concept he tried to create, he can state what problem the concept corresponded to. Otherwise, it would have all been empty chatter.

Parnet's final question on this topic: during the period around 1968, and before, when everyone was involved in reading Marx and Reich, wasn't Deleuze rather deliberately provocative in turning toward Nietzsche, suspected of fascism, and toward Spinoza and the body, when everyone was preaching about Reich? Didn't history of philosophy serve a bit as a dare, a provocation for him?

Deleuze responds by saying that this is connected to what they've been discussing all along, the same question. What he was looking for, even with Guattari, was this kind of truly immanent dimension of the unconscious. Psychoanalysis is entirely full of transcendental elements -- the law, the father, the mother -- whereas a field of immanence that would allow him to define the unconscious was the domain into which Spinoza went the farthest, and Nietzsche as well, farther than anyone before them. So there was no provocation, but Spinoza and Nietzsche form in philosophy perhaps the greatest liberation of thought, almost explosive in nature, and the most unusual concepts, because their problems were somewhat condemned problems, that people did not dare pose during their eras.

<Deleuze stops, smiling at Parnet, and she responds quite oddly, saying (almost in the tone of scolding parent): "We'll go on then since you don't want to answer ." Deleuze simply makes a soft questioning "eh?" as Parnet announces):

Top of Page

I as in Idea

Parnet begins by saying that this "idea" is no longer in the Platonic domain. Rather, she says, Deleuze always spoke passionately about philosophers' ideas, but also ideas of thinkers in cinema (directors), artists' and painters' ideas. He always preferred an "idea" to explications and commentary. So why, for Deleuze, does the "idea" take precedence over everything else?

Deleuze admits that this is quite correct: the "idea" as he uses it traverses all creative activities, since creating means having an idea. But there are people -- not at all to be scorned for this -- who go through life without ever having an idea. Deleuze insists that it is usually quite rare to have an idea, it doesn't happen every day. And a painter is no less likely to have ideas than a philosopher, just not the same kind of ideas. So, Deleuze asks, in what form does an idea occur in a particular case? In philosophy, at least, in two ways: the idea occurs in the form of concepts and of creation of concepts.

Deleuze is struck by filmmakers: while some have no ideas, some have quite a few, since ideas are quite haunting, coming and going, and taking diverse forms. Deleuze gives an example of the film director, Minelli. In his works, one sees that he asks himself: what does it mean to be caught up in someone's dreaming? It goes from the comic to the tragic and even to the abominable. So from getting caught in another's dreaming can result awful things, it's possibly horror in its pure state. So, in Minelli's work, one can get caught in the nightmare of war, and that produces the admirable _Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse_, not war viewed as war, but as a nightmare. What would it mean to be caught in a young girl's dream? That results in musical comedies, in which Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly -- Deleuze indicates he's not quite sure of the names -- escape from tigresses and black panthers. That's an idea. Deleuze is quick to point out that it's not a concept though, and Minelli is not doing philosophy, but creating cinema <il fait du cinéma>.

Deleuze continues by suggesting that we almost have to distinguish three dimensions, which is his future work <that he and Guattari develop in _What is Philosophy?_>:

1) in the first, there are concepts that are invented in philosophy;

2) in the second, there are percepts in the domain of art. An artist creates percepts, a word required to distinguish these from perceptions. What does a novelist want? He wants to be able to construct aggregates of perceptions and sensations that survive those who read the novel. Deleuze gives examples in Tolstoy or Chekhov, each in his own way, who are able to write like a painter manages to paint. So, to try to give to this complex web of sensations a radical independence in relation to he/she who experiences them: Tolstoy described atmospheres; Faulkner, and another great American novelist, Thomas Wolfe who nearly stated this in his short stories: someone goes out in the morning, smells toast, sees a bird flying, and feels a complex web of sensations.

So, what happens when someone who experiences the sensations goes on to do something else? This, says Deleuze, is a bit like in art, where we find an answer. It's to give a duration or an eternity to this complex web of sensations that are no longer grasped as being experienced by someone, or at the outside, might be grasped as experienced by a fictional character. What does a painter do? He gives consistency to percepts, he tears percepts out of perception.
Deleuze points to the Impressionists who utterly twisted perception. A concept, Deleuze says, creates a crack in the skull <fend le crane>, it's a habit of thought that is completely new, and people aren't used to thinking like that, not used to having their skulls cracked, since a concept twists our nerves. Deleuze cites Cézanne from memory, who said something like, we have to make impressionism last/durable, that is, new methods are required in order to make it have duration, so that the percept acquires an ever greater autonomy.

3) A third order of things, a kind of connection among them all, are affects. Deleuze says that, of course, there are no percepts without affects, but that these are specific as well: these are becomings that exceed him or her who goes through them, exceed the strength of those who go through them. Doesn't music lead us into these forces <puissances> that exceed our grasp? It's possible, Deleuze answers. If one takes a philosophical concept, it causes one to see things <faire voir des choses> since the greatest philosophers have this "seeing" trait or aspect <côté 'voyant'>, at least in the philosophers that Deleuze admires: Spinoza causes one to "see", one of the most visionary <voyant> philosophers, Nietzsche as well. They all hurl forth fantastic affects, there is a music in these philosophers, and inversely, music makes one see some very strange things, colors and percepts. Deleuze says he imagines a kind of circulation of these dimensions into each other, between philosophical concepts, pictorial percepts, and musical affects. There's nothing surprising in there being these resonances, he maintains, just the work of very different people, but that never stop interpenetrating.

Parnet notes that Deleuze is always very interested in the ideas of painters, artists, philosophers, but she asks why he never seems interested in looking at or reading something that would simply be amusing or something merely diverting with having an idea. Isn't that an idea possible there as well? Deleuze says that, in the sense that he defines "idea," he has difficulty seeing how that would be possible. If you show him a painting that has no percepts or play for him some music without affect, Deleuze says he almost cannot understand what that would mean. And a stupid book of philosophy, he says he would have trouble understanding what kind of pleasure he would derive from it, other than an extremely sickly pleasure. Parnet says that one might simply pick up a deliberately amusing book, and Deleuze says that such a book could well be full of ideas, it all depends. He says that no one has ever made him laugh more than Beckett and Kafka, and he considers himself to be sensitive to humor, but that it's true that he does not like comedy on television very much. Parnet says that the exception for Deleuze is Benny Hill (!), and Deleuze says yes, because he [Benny Hill] "has an idea," but that even in this domain, the great American comics <burlesques> have lots of ideas.

Parnet asks if it ever happens that Deleuze sits down to his writing table without an idea of what he's going to do, that is, without having any ideas at all. Deleuze says of course not, if he has no ideas, he doesn't sit down to write. But what happens is that the idea hasn't developed enough, the idea escapes him, the idea disappears, there might be holes. He has these painful experiences, he admits, and it doesn't go smoothly since ideas are not ready-made, there are terrible moments, even desperate moments of this sort. Parnet brings up an expression: the idea that makes a hole that is missing <l'idée qui fait un trou qui manque>, and Deleuze responds by saying that's impossible to distinguish. Do I have an idea that I am just unable to express, or do I just not have any ideas at all? For Deleuze, it's quite the same thing: if he cannot express it, he doesn't have the idea, or a piece of it is missing since ideas don't arrive in a completely formed block, there are things that come in from diverse horizons, and if you are missing a piece, then it is unusable.

Top of Page

J as in Joy


Parnet begins by saying that this is a concept that Deleuze is particularly attached to since it's a Spinozaist concept and Spinoza turned joy into a concept of resistance and life: let us avoid sad passions, let us live with joy in order to be at the maximum of our force <puissance>; therefore, we must flee from resignation, bad faith, guilt, sad affects that judges and psychoanalysts would exploit. So we can see entirely why, Parnet continues, Deleuze would be pleased by all that. So first, she asks him to distinguish joy from sadness, both for Spinoza and for himself. Is Spinoza's concept entirely Deleuze's, and what did Deleuze find when he read of Spinoza's concept?

Deleuze says yes, these texts are the most extraordinarily charged with affect. In Spinoza that means -- to simplify -- that joy is everything that consists in fulfilling a force <remplir une puissance>. What is that? Deleuze suggests returning to earlier examples: I conquer, however little this might be, I conquer a small piece of color, I enter a little farther into color, that's where joy can be located. Joy is fulfilling a force, realizing <effectuer> a force. It's the word "force" <puissance> that is ambiguous.

Deleuze ask first, what about the opposite, what is sadness? It occurs when one is separated from a force of which I believed myself, rightly or wrongly, to be capable: I could have done that, but circumstances didn't allow, or it was forbidden, etc. All sadness is the effect of power <pouvoir> over me. All this poses problems, obviously, more details are needed because there are no bad forces; what is bad is the lowest degree of force, and that's power. Deleuze insists that wickedness consists of preventing someone from doing what he/she can, from realizing one's force. Such that there is no bad force, only wicked powers... Maybe all power is wicked necessarily, but Deleuze suggests that maybe this is too facile a position.

Deleuze continues by suggesting that the confusion between force and powers is quite costly because power always separates people who are subjected to it from what they are able to do. Spinoza started from this point, Deleuze says, and he returns to something Parnet said in asking her question, that sadness is linked to priests, to tyrants, to judges, and these are perpetually the people who separate their subjects from what they are able to do, forbid them from realizing forces. Deleuze recalls something that Parnet said under "I as in Idea," referring to Nietzsche's anti-Semitism. Deleuze sees this as an important question, since there are texts of Nietzsche that one can find quite disturbing if they are read in the manner mentioned earlier, reading philosophers too quickly. What strikes Deleuze as curious is that in all the texts in which Nietzsche lashes out against the Jewish people, what does he reproach them for, and what has contributed to his anti-Semitic reputation? Nietzsche reproaches them in quite specific conditions for having invented a character that had never existed before the Jewish people, the character of the priest. Deleuze argues that, to his knowledge, in no text of Nietzsche is there the least reference to Jews in a general attack mode, but strictly an attack against the Jewish people-inventors of the priest. Deleuze says that Nietzsche does point out that in other social formations, there can be sorcerers, scribes, but these are not at all the same as the priest.

Deleuze maintains that one source of Nietzsche's greatness as a philosopher is that he never ceases to admire that which he attacks, for he sees the priest as a truly incredible invention, something quite astounding. And this results in an immediate connection with Christians, but not the same type of priest. So the Christians will conceive of another type of priest and will continue in the same path of the priestly character. This shows, Deleuze argues, the extent to which philosophy is concrete, for Deleuze insists that Nietzsche is, to his knowledge, the first philosopher to have invented, created, the concept of the priest, and from that point onward, to have posed fundamental problems: what does sincere, total power consist of? what is the difference between sincere, total power and royal power, etc.? For Deleuze, these are questions that remain entirely actual. Here Deleuze wishes to show, as he had begun earlier, how one can continue and extend philosophy. He refers to how Foucault, through his own means, emphasized pastoral power, a new concept that is not the same as Nietzsche's, but that engages directly with Nietzsche, and in this way, one develops a history of thought.

So what is the concept of the priest, and how is it linked to sadness, Deleuze asks? According to Nietzsche, this priest is defined as inventing the idea that men exist in a state of infinite debt. Before the priest, there is a history of debt, and ethnologists would do well to read some Nietzsche. They've done much research on this during our century, in so-called primitive societies, where things functioned through pieces of debt, blocks of finite debt, they received and then gave it back, all linked to time, deferred parcels. This is an immense area of study, says Deleuze, since it suggests that debt was primary to exchange. These are properly philosophical problems, Deleuze argues, but Nietzsche spoke about this well before the ethnologists. In so far as debt exists in a finite regime, man can free himself from it. When the Jewish priest invokes this idea by virtue of an alliance of infinite debt between the Jewish people and God, when the Christians adopt this in another form, the idea of infinite debt linked to original sin, this reveals the very curious character of the priest about which it is philosophy's responsibility to create the concept. Deleuze is careful to say that he does not claim that philosophy is necessarily atheist, but in Spinoza's case, he had already outlined an analysis of the Jewish priest, in the _Theologico-Political Treatise_. It happens, says Deleuze, that philosophical concepts are veritable characters that makes philosophy concrete <Clearly Deleuze is developing the concept of "conceptual personae" that he and Guattari propose in _What is Philosophy?_>. Creating the concept of the priest is like another kind of artist would create in a painting of the priest.

So, the concept of the priest pursued by Spinoza, then by Nietzsche, then by Foucault forms an exciting lineage. Deleuze says that he'd like to connect himself with it, to reflect a bit on this pastoral power, that some people say no longer functions. But, as Deleuze insists, one would have to see how it has been taken up again, for example, psychoanalysis as the new avatar of pastoral power. And how do we define it? It's not the same thing as tyrants and priests, but they at least have in common that they derive their power from the sad passions that they inspire in men, of the sort: repent in the name of infinite debt, you are the objects of infinite debt, etc. It's through this that they have power, it's through this that their power is an obstacle blocking the realization of forces. Whereas Deleuze argues that all power is sad, even if those who have it seem to revel in having it, it is still a sad joy.

On the other hand, Deleuze continues, joy is the realization <effectuation> of forces. He says that he knows of no forces that would be wicked. To take delight and joy <se réjouir> is delighting in being what one is, that is, in having reached where one is. It's not self-satisfaction, not some enjoyment of being pleased with oneself. Rather, it's the pleasure in conquest <conquête>, as Nietzsche said, but the conquest does not consist of serving people, conquest is when painters use and then conquer colors. That's what joy is, even if it goes badly. For in this history of forces and conquest of forces, it happens that one can realize too much force for one's own self, resulting in cracking up, like Van Gogh.

[Change of set, interview continues the next day]

Parnet says that Deleuze has been fortunate to escape infinite debt, so how is it that he complains from morning to night, and that he is the great defender of the complaint <plainte> and the elegy? Smiling at this, Deleuze observes that this is a personal question. He then says that the elegy is a principal source of poetry, a great complaint. A history of the elegy should be done, it probably has already; the complaint of the prophet, he continues, is the opposite of the priest. The prophet wails, why did God choose me? and what's happening to me is too much for me; if one accepts that this is what the complaint is, something we don't see everyday. And it's not ow ow ow, I'm in pain, although it could also be that, says Deleuze, but the person complaining doesn't always know what he/she means. The elderly lady who complains about her rheumatism, she means, what force is taking hold of my leg that is too great for me to stand?

If we look at history, Deleuze says, the elegy is a source of poetry, Latin poets like Catullus or Tiberius. And what is the elegy? It's the expression of he/she who, temporarily or not, no longer has any social status. To complain -- a little old man, someone in prison -- it's not sadness at all, but something quite different, the demand, something in the complaint that is astonishing, an adoration, like a prayer. The complaint of prophets, or something Parnet is particularly interested in, the complaint of hypochondriacs. The intensity of their complaint is beautiful it's sublime, Deleuze says. So, he continues, it's the socially excluded who are in a situation of complaint. There is a Hungarian specialist, Tökei, who studied the Chinese elegy that is enlivened by those no longer bearing a social status, i.e. the freed slave. A slave, however unfortunate he or she might be, still has a social status. The freed slave, though, is outside everything, like at the liberation of American blacks with the abolition of slavery, or in Russia, when no statute had been foreseen. So they find themselves excluded from any community [Deleuze and Guattari refer to Tökei in this same context in A Thousand Plateaus (449, 569, note 9)]. Then the great complaint is born. However, the great complaint does not express the pain they have, Deleuze argues, but is a kind of chant/song. This is why the complaint is a great poetic source.

Deleuze says <with some laughter from Parnet in response> that if he hadn't been a philosopher and if he had been a woman, he would have wanted to be a wailer <pleureuse>, the complaint rises and it's an art. And the complaint has this perfidious side as well, as if to say: don't take on my complaint, don't touch me, don't feel sorry for me, I'm taking care of it. And in taking care of it for oneself, the complaint is transformed: what is happening is too overwhelming for me, because this is joy, joy in a pure state. But we are careful to hide it, Deleuze says, because there are people who aren't very pleased with someone being joyous, so you have to hide it in a kind of complaint. But the complaint is not only joy, it's also unease, because, in fact, realizing a force can require a price: one wonders, am I going to risk my skin/life <laisser ma peau>? As soon as one realizes a force, for example, a painter reaching for color, doesn't he risk his skin/life? Literally, one should think of the way Van Gogh went toward color, then experienced joy, and this is more connected to his madness than all these psychoanalytical stories. Something risks getting broken, it's too overwhelming for me, and that's what the complaint is, something too great for me, in misfortune or in happiness, but usually misfortune.

Top of Page

K as in Kant

Parnet starts by stating that, of all the philosophers Deleuze has written on, Kant seems the farthest from his own thought. However, Deleuze has said that all the authors he has studied have something in common. So is there something in common between Kant and Spinoza, which is not at all obvious?

Deleuze pauses, then says that he'd prefer, if he dares, to address the first part of the question, i.e. why he took on Kant, once we say simply that there is nothing in common between Kant and Spinoza, or between Nietzsche and Kant (although, he points out, Nietzsche read Kant closely, but they would have a very different conception of philosophy). So why was he fascinated by Kant, Deleuze asks himself? For two reasons, Kant 1) was such a turning point and 2) went as far as possible, initiating something that had never been advanced in philosophy. Specifically, says Deleuze, he erects tribunals <il érige des tribunaux>, perhaps under the influence of the French Revolution.

Deleuze reminds Parnet that so far, he has been trying to talk about concepts as characters. So, before Kant, says Deleuze, in the 18th century, there is a new kind of philosopher presented as an investigator <enquêteur>, the investigation, titles appear with Investigation on this or that. The philosopher saw himself as an investigator. Even in the 17th century, and Leibniz is the last to represent this tendency, he saw himself as a lawyer, defending a cause, and the greatest thing is that Leibniz pretended to be God's lawyer. As there must have been things to reproach God for at the time, Leibniz writes a marvelous little work "God's Cause," in the juridical sense of cause, God's cause to be defended. It's like a sequence of characters: the lawyer, the investigator, and then with Kant, the arrival of a tribunal, a tribunal of reason, things being judged as a function of a tribunal of reason. And the faculties, in the sense of understanding -- the imagination, knowledge, morality -- are measured as a function of the tribunal of reason. Of course, he uses a certain method that he invented, a prodigious method called the critical method, the properly Kantian method.

Deleuze admits that he finds all of this aspect of Kant quite horrible, but it's both fascination and horror, because it's so ingenious. And in engaging with the concepts that Kant invented, Deleuze considers the concept of the tribunal of reason as inseparable from the critical method. But finally, he says, it's a tribunal of judgment, the system of judgment, just one that no longer needs God, based on reason, no longer on God.

In an aside, Deleuze points out that one might wonder about something he finds mysterious -- why someone, you or me, gets connected or relates especially to one kind of problem and not another? What is someone's affinity for a particular kind of problem? A person might be fated for one problem since we don't just take on just any problem. And this is true, Deleuze feels, for researchers in the sciences, an affinity for a particular problem. And philosophy is an aggregate of problems, with its own consistency, but it does not pretend to deal with all problems, thank God, Deleuze intones. Well, he feels somewhat linked to problems that aim at seeking the means to do away with the system of judges, and to replace it with something else. It's a great "no"... Deleuze thinks about what Parnet said earlier, and says in fact, Kant is another addition. Deleuze sees Spinoza, sees Nietzsche, in literature [D.H.] Lawrence, and finally the most recent and one of the greatest writers, Artaud, his "To Have Done With the Judgement of God," which has meaning, not the words of a madman, one really has to take this literally, Deleuze argues. [See "To Have Done With Judgment," Essays Critical and Clinical 126-135]

And underneath, when Deleuze says that one has to look underneath concepts, there are some astonishing statements by Kant, marvelous. Deleuze says that he was the first to have created an astonishing reversal of concepts, which is why Deleuze gets so sad when people, even young people preparing the baccalaureate, are taught in an abstract way without even trying to have them participate in problems that are quite fantastic problems. Deleuze insists that, up until Kant, for example, time was derived from movement, was second in relation to movement, considered to be a number or a measure of movement. What does Kant do? Parenthetically, Deleuze reminds Parnet that all he is doing here is constantly to consider what it means to create a concept. Continuing, he says Kant creates a concept because he reverses the subordination, so that with him, movement depends on time. And suddenly, time changes its nature, it ceases being circular. Before, time is subordinate to movement in which movement is the great periodic movement of heavenly bodies, so it's circular. On the contrary, when time is freed from movement and movement depends on time, then time becomes a straight line. Deleuze recalls something Borges said -- although he has little relation to Kant --, that a more frightening labyrinth than a circular labyrinth is one in a straight line, marvelous, but it was Kant who lets time loose.

And this story of the tribunal, Deleuze maintains, measuring the role of each faculty as a function of a particular goal, that's what Kant collides with at the end of his life, as he is one of the rare philosophers to write a book as an old man that would renew everything, the _Critique of Judgment_. He reaches the idea that the faculties have to have disorderly relations with each other, that they collide with each other, and then reconcile, but no longer being subject to a tribunal. He introduces his conception of the Sublime, in which the faculties enter into conflicts, so that there would be discordant accords <accords discordants>. The labyrinth and its reversal of relations pleases Deleuze infinitely, he says, and goes : all modern philosophy flows forth from this point, time and its reversal in relation to movement, and Kant's conception of the Sublime, with the discordant accords. Deleuze is enormously moved by these things. Kant is clearly a great philosopher, Deleuze maintains, and there is a whole undergirding in his works that makes Deleuze quite enthusiastic. And all that is built on top of this has no interest for Deleuze, but he says he doesn't judge it, it's just a system of judgment that he'd like to do away with, but without standing in judgment.

Parnet tries to ask Deleuze (as the tape runs out) about Kant's life, and Deleuze exclaims, we didn't discuss that beforehand. So Parnet asks a different question: there is an aspect of Kant's work that might also please Deleuze greatly, the aspect that Thomas De Quincey discussed [in The Last Days of Immanuel Kant], this fantastically regulated life full of habits, his little daily walk, the almost mythical image of a philosopher. Parent says that this image also applies to Deleuze, that is, something quite regulated, with an enormous number of habits...

Deleuze smiles again, says he sees what she means, and De Quincey's text is one that Deleuze finds quite exciting, a real work of art. But he sees this aspect belonging to all philosophers, not the same habits, but to say that they are creatures of habit seems to suggests that they have no familiarity with... <Deleuze does not complete this thought> Being creatures of habit is almost required of them... Spinoza as well... Deleuze says that his impression of Spinoza is that there's not very much surprising in his life, he polished his lenses, received visitors, it wasn't a very turbulent life except for certain political upheavals at that time. Kant also lived through some very intense political upheavals. Thus, all that people say about Kant's clothing apparatuses (to pull up his socks, etc.), Deleuze sees that as kind of charming, if one needs that kind of thing. But, it's a bit like Nietzsche said, philosophers are generally chaste, poor, and Nietzsche adds, how does the philosopher make use of all of this, this chastity, this poverty, etc.? Kant had his little walk, but that's nothing in itself, Deleuze feels: what happened during his little walk, what was he looking at? In the long run, Deleuze says, that philosophers are creatures of habit corresponds to a kind of contemplation, contemplating something. As for his own habits, yes, he says, he has quite a few, but they are a kind of contemplation, and of things that he is alone in seeing.

Top of Page

L as in Literature

Parnet begins by observing that literature and philosophy constitute Deleuze's life, the he reads and re-reads "great literature" <la grande littérature>, and treats great literary writers as thinkers. Between his books on Kant and Nietzsche, he wrote _Proust and Signs_, then subsequently published three augmented versions of the book. He has written on Carroll and Zola in _Logic of Sense_, on Masoch, Kafka, British and American literatures. One gets the impression, she says, that it's almost more through literature than through the history of thought that he inaugurates a new kind of thinking. So, she asks, has Deleuze always been a reader?

Deleuze says yes, although at one point, he was a much more active reader of philosophy since that was part of his apprenticeship, and he didn't have time for novels. But throughout his life, he read, and more and more. Does he make use of it for philosophy? he asks. Yes, certainly, for example, he indicates that he owes an immense amount to Fitzgerald, and Faulkner as well, and although not usually considered a very philosophical writer. <Deleuze here indicates that he can't recall which writers are important for him>

Deleuze continues, saying that his literary reading can be explained as a function of what they discussed earlier, the history of the concept is never alone: at the same time that it pursues its task, it makes us see things, that is, there is an interconnection onto percepts. Whenever one finds percepts in a novel, there is a perpetual communication between concepts and percepts. There are also stylistic problems that are the same in philosophy and literature. Deleuze suggests posing the question in quite simple terms: the great literary characters are great thinkers. He re-reads Melville a lot, and considers Captain Ahab to be a great thinker, Bartleby as well, in his own way. They cause us to think in such a way that a literary work traces as large a trail of intermittent concepts <en pointillé> as it does percepts. Quite simply, he argues, it's not the task of the literary writer who cannot do everything at once, he/she is caught up in the problems of percepts and of creating visions <faire voir>, causing perceptions <faire percevoir>, and creating characters, a frightening task. And a philosopher creates concepts, but it happens that they communiate greatly since, in certain ways, the concept is a character, and the character takes on dimensions of the concept.

What Deleuze finds in common between "great literature" and "great philosophy" is that both bear witness for life <ils témoignent pour la vie>, what he called "force" earlier bears witness for life. This is why great authors are not always in good health. Sometimes, there are cases like Victor Hugo when they are, so one must not say that all writers do not enjoy good health since many do. But why, Deleuze asks, are there so many literary writers who do not enjoy good health? It's because he/she experiences a flood of life <flot de vie>, be it the weak health of Spinoza or [T.E. or D.H.] Lawrence. It corresponds to what Deleuze said earlier about the complaint: these writers have seen something too enormous for them, they are seers, visionaries, unable to handle it so it breaks them. Why is Chekhov broken to such an extent? He "saw" something. Philosophers and literary writers are in the same situation, Deleuze argues. There are things we manage to see, and in some ways, we never recover, never return. This happens frequently for authors, but generally, these are percepts at the border of being ungraspable, of being thinkable. So between the creation of a great character and a great concept, so many links exist that one can see it as constituting somewhat the same enterprise.

Parnet asks if Deleuze considers himself to be a writer in philosophy, as one would say writer in a literary sense. Deleuze answers that he doesn't know if he's a writer in philosophy, but that he knows that every great philosopher is a great writer. Parnet observes that there seems to be a nostalgia for creating fictional work when one is a great philosopher, but Deleuze says no, that does not even come up, it's as if you asked a painter why he doesn't create music? Deleuze admits that one could conceive of a philosopher who wrote novels, of course, why not? Deleuze says he does not consider Sartre to have been a novelist, although he did try to be, and in general, Deleuze sees no really great philosophers who were also important novelists. But on the other hand, Deleuze feels that philosophers have created characters, notably and eminently Plato, and certainly Nietzsche, with Zarathustra. So these are intersections that are discussed constantly, and Deleuze considers the creation of Zarathustra to be an immense success politically and literarily, just as Plato's characters were. These are points about which one cannot be completely certain whether they are concepts or characters, and are perhaps the most beautiful moments.

Parnet refers to Deleuze's love for secondary literary authors, like Villiers de l'Isle-Adam, Restif de la Bretonne, asking if he has always cultivated this affection. Here, Deleuze covers his face with one hand as he responds that he finds it truly bizarre to hear Villiers referred to as a secondary author <Deleuze laughs>. If you consider that question... <he pauses, shrugging his shoulders> He says that there is something really shameful, entirely shameful... He recalls that when he was quite young, he liked the idea of reading an author's work in his entirety, the complete works. As a result, he had great affection not for secondary authors, although his affection sometimes coincided with them, but for authors who had written little. Some works were too enormous, overwhelming for him, like Hugo's, such that Deleuze was ready to say the Hugo wasn't a very good writer. On the other hand, Deleuze knew the works of Paul-Louis Courrier nearly by heart, quite deeply. So Deleuze admits to having this penchant for so-called secondary authors, although Villiers is not a secondary author. Joubert was also an author he knew deeply, and one reason why he knew these authors was for a rather shameful reason, he admits: it had for him a certain prestige to be familiar with authors that were hardly known... But that was a kind of mania, Deleuze concludes, and it took him quite a while to learn just how great Hugo is, and that the size of work was no measure.

Deleuze continues in this vein, agreeing that in so-called secondary literatures... He insists that in Russian literature, for example, it's not limited to Dostoyevski and Tolstoy, but one cannot call [Nikolai] Leskov secondary as there is so much that is astonishing in Leskov. So these are great geniuses. Deleuze then says that he feels he has little to say on this point, on secondary authors, but what he is happy about is to have tried to find in any unknown author something that might show him a concept or an extraordinary character. But yes, Deleuze says, he has not engaged in any systematic research <in this domain>.

Parnet pursues this by referring again to his work on Proust as the only sustained work that he ever devoted to a single author, although literature is such a reference in his philosophy. So she wonders about him never having devoted a full-length book to literature, a reflective book <livre de pensée> on literature. Deleuze says he just has not had the time, but that he plans to do so. Parnet says that this has haunted him, and he replies, he plans to do it because he wants to. Parnet asks if it will be a book of criticism, and Deleuze says rather than that, it will be on the problem of what writing means, for him, in literature. He says that Parnet is familiar with his whole research program, so they'll see if he has the time.

The last question on the letter L refers to the fact that while Deleuze reads many great (canonic) authors, one does not get the impression that he reads many contemporary authors. Deleuze says he understands what she means, and can answer quickly: it's not that he does not like to read them, it's that literature is a truly specialized activity in which one has to have training <formation>, something difficult in contemporary production. It's a question of taste, just like people finding new painters; one has to learn how <to paint>. Deleuze says he greatly admires people who go into galleries and feel that there is someone who is truly a painter, but he can't, and he explains why: it took him five years, he says, to understand -- not Beckett, that happened immediately -- but what kind of innovation Robbe-Grillet's writing represented. Deleuze claims to have been one of the stupidest of the stupid when talking about Robbe-Grillet at the beginning. Deleuze does not consider himself to be a discoverer in this area, whereas in philosophy, he is more confident because he is sensitive to a new tone and what, on the other hand, is completely nil and redundant. In the domain of the novel, Deleuze says he is quite sensitive enough to know what has already been said and is of no interest. He did have one discovery in his own way, someone he judged to be a great young novelist, Armand Farachi.[In "Introduction: Rhizome" in A Thousand Plateaus, Deleuze and Guattari refer to Farachi's book, La Dislocation, as an example (among several others) of a model of nomadic and rhizomatic writing (23-24).]

So the question Parnet raises, Deleuze says, is quite sound, but he argues that one should not believe that, without experience, one can judge what is being created. What Deleuze prefers and what brings him great joy is when something that he is creating off on his own has an echo in a young painter's or a young writer's work. In that way, Deleuze feels that he can have a kind of encounter with what is happening currently, with another mode of creation. Deleuze says that his insufficiency as regard judgments is compensated by these encounters with people who resonate with what he is doing, and inversely.

Parnet says that painting and cinema, for example, are favored for such encounters since he goes to galleries and to the movies, but that she has trouble imagining him strolling into a bookstore and looking at books that just came out in the previous few months. Deleuze says she's right, but that this is linked to the idea that literature is not very strong at the moment, an idea that is a preconceived one in his mind, that literature is so corrupted by the system of distribution, of literary prizes, that it's not even worth the trouble.

Top of Page

M as in Malady/Illness

As Parnet announces this title, Deleuze quietly repeats the word "maladie". Parnet recounts that just after completing _Difference and Repetition_ in 1968, Deleuze was hospitalized for a very severe case of tuberculosis. So, just as Deleuze was referring to Spinoza's and Nietzsche's weak state of health, from 1968 onward, Deleuze was forced to live with illness. She asks if he had known for a while that he had tuberculosis.

Deleuze says that he knew he had something for quite a while, but like a lot of people, he had no real desire to find out, and also he just assumed it was cancer, and wasn't in a big hurry. So he did not know it was tuberculosis, not until he was spitting up blood. He says that he was the child of someone with tuberculosis, but at the moment of his diagnosis, there was no real danger thanks to antibiotics. It was serious, and a few years earlier, he might not have survived, whereas in 1968, it was no longer a problem. It's an illness without much pain, and so he could say he was ill, but he maintains that it's a great privilege, an illness without pain and curable, hardly an illness at all. Before it, he says, his health was not all that great, he became fatigued easily.

The question, says Deleuze, is whether the illness made something easier, not necessarily more successful though, specifically an enterprise of thought, and Deleuze thinks that a very weakened state of illness favors this. It's not that one is tuned in to one's own life, but for him, it did seem like he was tuned into life. Tuning into life is something other than thinking about one's own health. He repeats that he thinks a fragile state of health favors this kind of tuning-in. When he was speaking earlier about authors like Lawrence or Spinoza, to some extent they saw something so enormous, so overwhelming that it was too much for them. It really means, Deleuze says, that one cannot think if one isn't already in a domain that exceeds one's strength to some extent, that makes one fragile. He repeats that he always had a fragile state of health, and this was underscored when he was diagnosed with tuberculosis, at which point he acquired all the rights accorded to a fragile state of health.

Parnet points out that Deleuze's relations with doctors and drugs changed from that moment onward: he had to go see doctors, take drugs regularly, and it was a constraint imposed on him, all the more so since he does not like doctors. Deleuze says yes, although it's not a personal thing between him and doctors; he points out that he has been treated by some very charming, "delicious" doctors. What he dislikes is a kind of power, or a way in which they manipulate power -- here Deleuze points out that, once again, they return to questions previously discussed, as if half of the letters already discussed were encompassed and folded back upon the totality.

Deleuze states that he finds odious the way doctors manipulate power, and that he has a great hatred, not for individuals, but for medical power and the way doctors use it. There is only one thing that made him happy, he says, as much as it displeased them. It would occur when they used their machines and tests on him. He considers these to be very unpleasant for a patient since these are tests that really seem completely useless, except to make the doctors feel better about diagnoses that they already have made. If they had so much talent, says Deleuze, then these doctors seem only to use these cruel tests to make themselves feel better by playing with these inadmissible tests. So what made Deleuze quite happy was each time he had to be tested by one of their machines -- his breath was too inaudible to register on their machines, or they weren't able to give him a cardiac test -- they got furious with him, they hated this poor patient, because they could accept quite easily the fact their diagnosis might be wrong, but not that their machine wouldn't work on him.

Moreover, Deleuze judges them to be far too uncultured, or when they attempt to be cultured, the results are catastrophic. They are very strange people, doctors, but Deleuze's consolation is that if they earn a lot of money, they don't have time to spend it and to take advantage of it because they lead a very hard life. So it's true, Deleuze repeats, he does not find doctors very attractive, but individuals can be quite exquisite, yet they treat people like dogs in their official functions. So it really reveals class struggle because if one is a little bit wealthy, they are at least a bit polite, except in surgery. Surgeons are a different case altogether. Deleuze says that some kind of reform of doctors is needed.

Parnet asks if Deleuze takes drugs all the time, and Deleuze says yes, he likes doing that, it doesn't bother him except that they tend to tire him out. Parnet is surprised that Deleuze actually enjoys taking medicine, and Deleuze says, yes, when there's a lot! In his current state (in 1988), his little pile every morning is a real hoot <bouffonnerie>! But he also considers them to be quite useful. Deleuze says he's always been in favor of drugs, even in the domain of psychiatry. <Deleuze rubs his face and eyes often as he answers and listens>

Parnet says that with this fatigue connected to illness, one thinks of Blanchot writing about fatigue and friendship. She says that fatigue plays a great role in his life, and sometimes one gets the impression that it's an excuse for avoiding a lot of things that bore/bother him, and that fatigue has always been very useful. Deleuze says that being affected in this way, this thought leads back to the theme of force <puissance>, i.e. what it is to realize a little force, to do what one can. Deleuze says that it's an awfully complicated notion, connected to what it is that constitutes one's lack of force <impuissance>, for example, one's fragile health or illness. Deleuze maintains that it's a question of knowing what use to make of it so that, through it, one can recuperate a little force. So Deleuze is certain that illness should be used for something, and not merely in relation to life for which it should give one some feeling.

For Deleuze, illness is not an enemy, not something that gives the feeling of death, but rather, something that gives a feeling of life, but not in the sense that "I still want to live, and so once I'm cured, I'll start living." Deleuze says he cannot think of anything more abject in the world than what people call a "bon vivant." On the contrary, "bon vivants" are men with very weak health. So for Deleuze the question is clear: illness sharpens a kind of vision of life or a sense of life. He emphasizes that when he says vision, vision of life, life, it's in the sense of him saying "to see life," these difficulties that sharpen, that give life a vision of life, illness, life in all its force, in all its beauty. Deleuze feels quite certain of this, he says.

But how can one have secondary benefits from illness, he asks? One has to use it, even in order to be a bit more free, otherwise it's very troublesome, for example, if one works too hard, something one ought not to do. To work too hard -- if it's a question of working to realize any force, it's worth it, but working too hard socially --Deleuze says he can't understand a doctor working too hard because he has too many patients. So, to realize a benefit from illness is, in fact, to free oneself from things that one cannot be free from in ordinary life. Deleuze says that, personally, he never liked traveling, because he never really knew how, although he has great respect for travelers. But the fact that his health was so weakened insured his being able to decline invitations to travel. Or going to bed too late was always difficult for him, so once he had his fragile health, there was no longer any question of going to bed too late. He says he's not talking about people closest to him in his life, but from social duties, illness is extraordinarily liberating, is really good in that way.

Parnet asks if Deleuze sees fatigue as an illness, and Deleuze says it's something else. For him, it means: I've done what I could today, that's it, the day is over. He sees fatigue biologically as the day being done. It's possible that it could last for other reasons, social reasons, but fatigue is the biological formulation of the day being done, of one not being able to draw anything further from oneself. So, if you take it this way, says Deleuze, it's not a bothersome feeling, it's rather pleasant, unless one hasn't done anything, then indeed, it's quite agonizing. It's to these states of fatigue, these flimsy, fleeting states <états cotonneux> that Deleuze has always been sensitive. He likes that state, the end of something, and it probably has a name in music, a coda, fatigue as coda.

Parnet says that before discussing old age, they might discuss his relationship to food. Deleuze quietly says "ah! la vieillesse" <ah, old age>. Parnet says he likes food that seems to bring him strength and vitality, like marrow and lobster. She points out that he has a special relationship to food since he doesn't like eating. Deleuze says it's true. For him, eating is the most boring thing in the world. Drinking is something extraordinarily interesting, but eating bores him to death. He detests eating alone, but eating with someone he likes changes everything, but it does not transform food, it only helps him stand eating, making it less boring even if it happens that he has really nothing to say. All people say that about eating alone, Deleuze maintains, and it proves how boring eating is since most people admit that eating alone is an abominable task.

Having said this, Deleuze continues, he certainly has things he enjoys immensely <mes fêtes>, that are rather special, despite some universal disgust he does have. He says he can stand it when others eat cheese -- Parnet says that Deleuze doesn't like cheese -- and for someone who hates cheese, he says that he's one of the rare people to be tolerant, not to get up and leave or throw the person out eating cheese. For Deleuze, the taste for cheese is a little like a kind of cannibalism <here Parnet laughs out loud>, a total horror.

Continuing, Deleuze imagines that someone might ask him what his favorite meal might be, an utterly crazy undertaking, he says, but he always comes back to three things that he always found sublime, but that are quite properly disgusting: tongue, brains, and marrow. These are all quite nourishing. There are a few restaurants in Paris, Deleuze says, that serve marrow, and after, he can eat nothing else. They prepare these little marrow squares, really quite fascinating, he says, brains, tongue...

Then, Deleuze tries to situate this taste differently, in relation to things they've already discussed: these things constitute a kind of trinity since one might say -- Deleuze admits that this is a bit too anecdotic -- that brains are God the father, marrow, the son since it's like vertebrates that are little crabs. So God is the brain, the vertebrates the son, Jesus, and tongue is the Holy Spirit, which is the force of the tongue. Or, and Deleuze hesitates a bit here, it's the brain that is the concept, marrow is affect, and tongue, the percept. Deleuze tells Parnet not to ask him why, it's just that he sees these trinities as very ... <he does not complete the sentence>...

So, he concludes, that would make a fantastic meal. He asks if he's ever had all three together at once? Maybe on a birthday with friends <Parnet laughs here>, they might make him a meal like <Deleuze smiles at Parnet>, eh? he says, a party <fête> <He laughs, very amused>. Parnet says besides eating these three things, she wants to discuss old age; Deleuze says, yes, eating all three would be a bit much, and Parnet says, laughing, yes, disgusting! Deleuze picks up the thread on old age, again saying softly, "ah! la vieillesse!"

Deleuze says there is someone who has spoken about old age very well, a novel by Raymond Devos that, for Deleuze, is the best statement on old age. Deleuze sees it as a splendid age. Of course, there are problems, for example, one is overcome by a certain slowness. But the worst is when someone says, "no, you're not so old," because in saying that, he doesn't understand what the complaint is. Deleuze says, I complain, I say, oh, I'm old, that is, I invoke the forces of old age, but then somebody tries to cheer me up by saying "no, you're not so old." So, says Deleuze, I smack him with my cane <alors je vais lui foutre un coup de canne> <Parnet laughs>, because he's so free about saying that I'm in the old age complaint. Deleuze says it would be better just to say: "yes, in fact you're right!" but it's pure joy, says Deleuze, joy everywhere except in this bit of slowness.

What's awful in old age, Deleuze continues, is pain and misery, but they are not old age. Deleuze says he means that what makes old age pathetic, something sad, is poor old people who do not have enough money to live, nor a minimum of health, only this very weak health, and a lot of suffering. That's what is abominable, but it's not old age, Deleuze argues, it's not an evil at all. With enough money and a little bit of health remaining, it's great because it's only in old age that one has arrived. It's not a feeling of triumph, just the fact of having reached it, after all, in a world that included wars and filthy viruses, one has crossed through all that.

And it's an age, he continues, in which it's only a question of a single thing, of being. No longer of being this or being that, but being old is just being, period, that's it. He is, quite simply. Who has the right just simply to be? For an elderly person can say he/she has plans, but it's true and not true, not true in the way that someone who is 30 has plans. Deleuze says that he hopes to complete two books that he really is committed to, one on literature, another on philosophy, but that does not change the fact that he's free of all plans. When one is old, Deleuze says, one is no longer susceptible/sensitive, one no longer has any fundamental disappointments, one tends to be a lot more disinterested, and one really likes people for themselves. For Deleuze, it seems that old age hones his perception of things that he never had seen before, elegant things <des élégances>, to which he had never been sensitive. He sees better, he maintains, because he looks at someone else for him/herself as if it were a question of carrying away an image, a percept of the person.

Deleuze admits that he has days that pass with their amount of fatigue, but for him, fatigue is not an illness, but something else, not death, just the signal of day's end. Of course, there are agonies in old age, he says, but one has to ward them off, and it's easy to ward them off, a little like with loup-garous or vampires, one can't be alone when it starts getting cold because one is too slow to survive. So one has to avoid some things, but what's marvelous, he says, is that people release you, society lets you go. Being released by society, he says, is so wonderful, not that society really had Deleuze in its grips, but someone who isn't Deleuze's age, not retired, cannot suspect how much joy one can feel being released by society. Obviously, he continues, when he hears the elderly complaining, these are old people who don't want to be old or not as old as they are. They can't stand being retired, and Deleuze doesn't know why since they might discover something, and he does not believe in retired people not being able to find something to do.

Deleuze says that one has to give oneself a shake <se secouer> so that all the parasites that one has on his/her back the whole life through fall off, and what's left around you? Nothing but the people that you love and that support you and that love you, if they feel the need. The rest have let go of you. And what is really tough is when something catches hold of you again. Deleuze says he can't stand society, and only knows it now through his life in retirement. He sees himself as being completely unknown to society. What's catastrophic, he declares, is when someone who thinks he still belongs to society asks him for an interview. Deleuze pauses to say that the ABC Primer filming is different since what they're doing belongs entirely to his dream of old age. But when someone seeks an interview, he would like to ask if the person's feeling ok <ça va pas, la tête?>. That person isn't aware that Deleuze is old and society has let go of him? <Deleuze laughs>
But Deleuze thinks people confuse two things: one should not talk about the elderly, but about misery and suffering, for when one is old, miserable, and suffering, there is not a word to describe it. A pure elderly person <un pur vieux> who is nothing other than elderly means that one just is.

Parnet says that with Deleuze being ill, tired, and old, <Deleuze laughs> it's sometimes difficult for people around him, less elderly than him, his children, his wife. Deleuze responds that there's not much problem for his children. There could have been if they were younger, but now they're big enough to live on their own, and Deleuze is not a burden for them, not a problem, except perhaps in terms of affection, like them saying, oh, he really looks too tired. As for Fanny, his wife, Deleuze doesn't think it's a problem, although it could be, he doesn't know. It's quite difficult, he says, to ask someone that one loves what they might have done in another life. Deleuze guesses that Fanny would have liked to travel more, but he wonders what she would have discovered so different if she had travelled. She (and Parnet, he says) have a strong literary background, so she was able to find splendid things through reading> novels, and that, says Deleuze, equals traveling. Certainly there are problems, but they are beyond Deleuze's understanding, he admits.

Parnet says that, to finish up, she wants to ask about his projects, like the one on literature or _What Is Philosophy?_. When he undertakes a project like these, what does he find enjoyable as an old man taking these on? She reminds him that earlier he said that perhaps he won't finish them, but that there is something amusing in them. Deleuze says that it's something quite marvelous, a whole evolution, and when one is old, one has a certain idea of what one hopes to do that becomes increasingly pure, more and more purified. Deleuze says he conceives of the famous Japanese line drawings, lines that are so pure and then there is nothing, nothing but little lines. That's how he conceives of an old man's project, something that would be so pure, so nothing, and at the same time, everything, marvelous. He means this as reaching a sobriety, something that can only come late in life.

He points to _What is Philosophy?_, his research on it: first, it's quite enjoyable <très gai> at his age to feel like he knows the answer, and like he's the only one to know, as if he got on a bus, and nobody else there could know. <Parnet laughs> All of this, for Deleuze, is very enjoyable. Perhaps he could have created a book on _What is Philosophy?_ thirty years ago, one that would have been a very very different book from the way he conceives it now. There is a kind of sobriety such that... whether he succeeds or not -- he knows that it's now that he can conceive of this, that before he couldn't have done it, but now he sees himself able to do it, to do something, in any case, that doesn't resemble ... ok <Deleuze does not finish the sentence, freeze frame and credits roll at the end of tape two>.

Top of Page


End Part II (of III) -- Go to: Part I - A to F-- Go to: Part III - N to Z