Magazine littéraire 406, February 2002 - Dossier: "L'effet Deleuze" [The Deleuze effect]
A Tool Box: L'île déserte et autres textes [The Desert Island and Other Texts]. Texts and conversation 1953-1974. Edition prepared by David Lapoujade. Ed. Minuit, 2002.
Review by David Rabouin
Posthumous publications are often disappointing. They are useful, of course, even necessary so that access to certain texts again becomes possible. But for the sake of an essential article, why have too wade through so much dross, sentences lifted from an unimportant conversation, circumstantial notes, early writing quite distant from eventual preoccupations ? L'île déserte et autres textes [The Desert Island and Other Texts], a collection of unavailable texts published by Deleuze between 1953 and 1974, will not disappoint its readers: no text scraped from the back of desk drawers, no texts preceding the publication of the Nietzsche [Trans. Note: this qualification is inaccurate since Lapoujade indicates that there are no text prior to 1953, rather than prior to either of Deleuze's principal text on Nietzsche, i.e. 1962], no communiqués, responses to questionnaires or petitions, etc., just as Deleuze wanted it. Another visible editorial choice is that the texts are presented without critical apparatus which, out of a desire to clarify them, would render them quite illegible, turning them into inaccessible monuments buried under comments and "no entry" signs. The presentation is limited to just what is needed to situate an intervention, locate a reference, identify a protagonist, and in this, one could hardly imagine an approach more suited to Deleuze's desires: "Exactly, a theory is exactly like a tool box. It has nothing to do with the signifier. It has to be useful, it has to function, and not just for itself. If no one uses it, beginning with the theoretician him/herself (who then ceases being a theoretician), then the theory is worthless or its moment has not yet arrived" (text 26: "Intellectual and Power," conversation with Michel Foucault, 4 March 1972, p.290 [trans. in Foucault, Language, Counter-Memory, Practice, p.208, by D. Bouchard and S. Simon]. So it's up to us to make it all function.
But what exactly? What new tools are now at our disposal? First, assuredly, there are a certain number of fundamental texts that specialists know well, but that have become difficult to locate. These texts offer keys to Deleuze's philosophical journey [parcours] and the way in which he situates himself in relation to his contemporaries. Hence, the article from the Histoire de la philosophie edited by François Châtelet, "A quoi reconnaît-on le structuralisme?" (text 23) [How Do We Recognize Structuralism? trans. by M. McMahon and C. Stivale in Stivale, The Two-Fold Thought of Deleuze and Guattari, 1998]. While difficult in many ways, this introduction to the project inaugurated by Logic of Sense is no less illuminating in its ambitions, which are those of philosophy at the end of the 1960s: how to get out of structuralism without denouncing its worth and losing its results? How to think (of) sense without refusing non-sense? Hence, the very important preface given in 1972 to Félix Guattari's Psychanalyse et transversalité (text 24: "Trois problèmes de groupe" [Three Group Problems]). Also appearing here in the context of their development are topical concepts that would constitute the project of Capitalism and Schizophrenia (flows, breaks, war machines, schizoanalysis). But also outlined with special clarity -- often previously misjudged and thus a source of the worst misunderstandings-- is the distance established vis-à-vis anti-psychiatry and Freudo-Marxism: "There is no libidinal economy that would come through other means to extend subjectively the political economy, there is no sexual repression that would interiorize economic exploitation and political subjugation. But desire as libido is already there everywhere, sexuality traverses and embraces the entire social field, coinciding with the flows that pass under and through objects, individuals and symbols of a group, and on which all of these depend in their individuation [découpage] and their very constitution" (p.273). Hence the very lovely conversation with Foucault from March, 1972, in which was presented a new figure of the intellectual still in the process of constitution - a figure today crushed under that of the "specific intellectual," too often confused with a falsely modest form of expertise, whereas it was above all a question of a new conception of theoretical-practical relations (p.288).
All of these texts, all of which "encountered" Deleuze, have remained there and return regularly as beacons from which certain imperceptible gestures momentarily are illuminated. But there is much more, since this collection is especially the occasion to recognize the astonishing persistence of Deleuzian thought, although this thought did undergo an important evolution and always sought to be taken up by an "outside." Certain themes are little known, like that of the desert islands that offer themselves as objects for the opening essay and as a title to the collection -- islands that reappear farther on and enter into resonance with the work of a lifelong friend: Michel Tournier. Other themes are better known: how can one not respond, for example, to this statement from 1962: "You cannot admire Kafka if you don't laugh frequently while reading him" (p.73)? This idea will be the departure point for a book published 13 years later with Guattari (Kafka. Pour une littérature mineure, Minuit, 1975). How can we read the opening statement from the exposé presented in 1967 to the very serious French Philosophical Society: "It is not certain that the question what is? is a good question for discovering essence or the Idea. It is possible that question of the type: who?, how many?, how?, where?, when? are better" (p.131) - how can we hear the exposition of this "method of dramatization" without thinking of what will be said in Pourparlers (1990; Negotiations), then in Qu'est-ce que la philosophie? (1991; What Is Philosophy?) under the rubric of "pragmatics of concepts"? And what can we say about this 1954 text in which Deleuze takes issue with the dominant Hegelianism (in the context of a review of Jean Hippolite's book, Logique et existence), the program of an "ontology of pure difference" that would come to make up for the weaknesses of this ontology of sense?
Here, there is yet another advantage of this collection: to deliver in stark clarity an unsuspected genealogy. Deleuze is Hyppolite's student, a disciple of Sartre (see text 10: "Il a été mon maître" [He was my master]). He never renounced this heritage, quite possibly because he had succeeded in moving out of it without collision. The path he sought to trace at the start is only comprehensible in terms of the exit movement from Hegelianism and from philosophies of existence, accomplished under the aegis of Bergson, Nietzsche and Spinoza, but also of Simondon and a certain kind of structuralism. A very beautiful text on Nietzsche from 1968 clearly exposed this line of flight: "Philosophy must create modes of thinking, an entirely new conception of thought, of 'what thinking means', adequate for what is happening now. It has to create in its very own manner [pour son compte] the revolutions that are occurring elsewhere, on other planes" (text 18: "Sur Nietzsche et l'image de la pensée"). One cannot express adequately the impatience we feel in awaiting the next volume.
[Table of Contents of L'île déserte et autres textes
Présentation - David Lapoujade, 7: Of note in this introduction is Lapoujade's decision to follow a strictly chronological order of the texts: "A thematic organization would perhaps have offered the advantage of following the structure organized [by Deleuze] for Pourparlers and also the bibliographical project that he outlines in 1989. However, [the thematic organization] would have had the greater disadvantage of giving the impression of reconstituting just any book 'by' Deleuze or one that Deleuze himself had developed as a project." In a footnote, Lapoujade provides the outline of the "bibliographical project": "In 1989, Deleuze reviewed and organized the aggregate of his writings, including the books, following a series of general themes: 'I. From Hume to Bergson / II. Classical Studies / III. Nietzschean Studies / IV. Critical and Clinical / V. Aesthetics / VI. Cinematographic Studies / VII. Contemporary Studies / VIII. Logic of Sense / IX. Anti-Oedipus / X. Difference and Repetition / XI. A Thousand Plateaus."
Lapoujade also notes that "a second volume, a collection of texts from 1975 to 1995, is being prepared with the title Deux régimes de fous et autres textes [Two Regimes of Madmen and Other Texts].
1. Causes et raisons des îles désertes,
11 [unpublished text from the early 1950s]
2. Jean Hippolyte, Logique et existence, 18 
3. Instincts et institutions, 24 [Intro to an anthology directed by Georges Canguilhem, Instincts et institutions, 1954]
4. Bergson, 1859-1941, 28 [Originally published in Les philosophes célèbres, ed. Maurice Merleau-Ponty, 1956; reedited and included in Deleuze's collection of Bergson's selected texts, Mémoire et vie, 1957]
5. La conception de la difference chez Bergson, 43 
6. Jean-Jacques Rousseau précurseur de Kafka, de Céline et de Ponge, 73 
7. L'idée de genèse dans l'esthétique de Kant, 79 
8. Raymond Roussel ou l'horreur du vide, 102 [1963, on Michel Foucault's book, Raymond Roussel]
9. En créant la pataphysique Jarry a ouvert la voie à la phenomenology, 105 
10. "Il a été mon maître", 109 [1964, homage to Sartre, following his refusal of the Nobel Prize]
11. Philosophie de la Série Noire, 114 [1966; editor's note: "In 1945, the novelist Marcel Duhamel created the "Série Noire" at Gallimard, a collection dedicated to published detective fiction directed by Duhamel until 1977." Deleuze celebrates the publication of the one thousandth novel in the series]
12. Gilbert Simondon, L'individu et sa genèse physico-biologique, 120 
13. L'homme, une existence douteuse, 125 [1966, on Michel Foucault's Les Mots et les Choses]
14. La méthode de dramatisation, 131 [1967, address delivered to the Société Française de Philosophie, 28 January; the text is followed by a debate]
15. Conclusions sur la volonté de puissance et l'éternel retour, 163 [1967, text prepared for the Colloquium organized by Deleuze at the Abbaye de Royaumont in July, 1964]
16. L'éclat de rire de Nietzsche, 178 [1967, interview in Le Nouvel Observateur, following publication of Nietzsche's complete works in French (Gallimard) for which Deleuze and Foucault together prepared a general introduction in volume V]
17. Mystique et masochisme, 182 [1967, interview in La Quinzaine littéraire, following publication Deleuze's Présentation de Sacher Masoch]
18. Sur Nietzsche et l'image de la pensée, 187 [1968, interview with "Gilbert Deleuze", Les Lettres françaises following publication of Nietzsche's complete works in French]
19. Gilles Deleuze parle de la philosophie, 198 [1969, interview in La Quinzaine littéraire following publication of Différence et répétition]
20. Spinoza et la méthode générale de M. Gueroult, 202 [1969, on M. Gueroult's book Spinoza I - Dieu (Ethique I) 1968]
21. Faille et feux locaux, 217 [1970, on Kostas Axelos's Vers une pensée planétaire (1964), Arguments d'une recherche (1969), and Le Jeu du monde (1969)]
22. Hume, 226 [1972, in Histoire de la philosophie, IV: Les Lumières, edited by François Châtelet]
23. A quoi reconnaît-on le structuralisme?, 238 [1972, in Histoire de la philosophie, VIII: Le XXe Siècle, edited by François Châtelet]
24. Trois problèmes de groupe, 270 1972, preface to Guattari's Psychanalyse et transversalité, 1972]
25. "Ce que les prisonniers attendent de nous ", 285 [1972, statement in Le Nouvel Observateur supporting the efforts of the GIP (Groupe d'informations sur les prisons} directed by Daniel Defert and Michel Foucault]
26. Les intellectuals et le pouvoir (avec Michel Foucault), 288 [1972, interview/discussion with Foucault in L'Arc 49 on Deleuze]
27. Appréciation, 299 [1972, on Jean-François Lyotard's Discours, figure, his doctoral dissertation on the committee for which Deleuze served]
28. Deleuze et Guattari s'expliquent, 301 [1972, round table discussion held by La Quinzaine littéraire following publication of L'Anti-Oedipe]
29. Hélène Cixous ou l'écriture stroboscopique, 320 [1972, on Cixous's book, Neutre 1972]
30. Capitalisme et schizophrénie (avec Félix Guattari), 323 [1972, interview originally published in Italian]
31. "Qu'est-ce que c'est, tes 'machines désirantes' à toi?", 337 [1972, introduction to Pierre Benichou's essay in Les Temps modernes (Nov 1972), "Sainte Jackie, comedienne et bourreau"]
32. Sur les letters de H. M., 340 [1973, published unsigned in Suicides dans les prisons en 1972 (Gallimard), co-written with Daniel Defert]
33. Le froid et le chaud, 344 [1973, text written for the exhibit catalog, Fromanger, le peintre et le modèle, for Gérard Fromanger's exhibit of paintings]
34. Pensée nomade, 351 [1973, presentation given at the Cerisy colloquium on Nietzsche in July 1972]
35. Sur le capitalisme et le désir (avec Félix Guattari), 365 [1973, interview published in C'est Demain La Veille (Seuil 1973)]
36. Cinq propositions sur la psychanalyse, 381 [1973, originally published in Italian; the text was published in revised form in Deleuze and Guattari's Politique et psychanalyse (1977) as "Quatre propositions sur la psychanalyse", text to appear in volume 2, Deux régimes de fous et autres textes]
37. Faces et surfaces, 391 [1973, conversation with Stefan Czerkinsky and J.-J. Passera, appearing in an exhibit catalog, Faces et surfaces, for an exhibit in which six of Deleuze's drawing were displayed]
38. Préface à L'Après-Mai des Faunes, 395 [1974, preface to Guy Hocquenghem's book (1974)]
39. Un art de planteur, 401 [1974, published originally as a brochure distributed in a Latin Quarter movie theater to support and defend Hugo Santiago's film "Les Autres", reprinted in Deleuze, Faye, Roubaud, Touraine parlent de 'Les Autres' (1974)]
General Bibliography, 404
Top of Page
Return to D-G Web Resource TOC