Charles J. Stivale -- Deleuze & Guattari

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Magazine littéraire 406, February 2002 -- Dossier: "L'effet Deleuze"

Updated February 26, 2003

Magazine littéraire 406, February 2002 - Dossier: "L'effet Deleuze" [The Deleuze effect]

The Wandering Companion of Musicians -- David Rabouin

Friday and Saturday, January 19-20, 1996, 8 PM, Cité de la Musique, Concert Hall,
"Homage to Gilles Deleuze." An appropriate recompense, as Pierre Boulez reminds us at the start: "Gilles Deleuze is one of the rare intellectuals to have been profoundly interested in music. In 1978, he participated with Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault in a seminar organized by IRCAM on musical time, while he was then fully engaged in preparing A Thousand Plateaus. In a brilliant presentation, he show the precise and perspicacious manner in which he grasped the problems of musical composition and perception. As a remembrance of that important encounters, but also as an homage to his thought, that fertilized so many other territories, we dedicate this concert to him, our 'wandering companion' for so long a time."

In the booklet attached to the program was a series of Deleuze's citations on music, one of which, taken from the IRCAM presentation, indicates precisely the necessity of music: "There is no absolute ear; the problem is that of having an impossible ear - to make audible forces that are in themselves inaudible. In philosophy, it is a question of an impossible thought, that is, making thinkable, with very complex material, forces that are unthinkable." For Deleuze, music is necessary for philosophy: it makes the unthinkable thinkable. But this route goes in both directions since the work of creating concepts that goes with music is proper to philosophy.

As the composer and musicologist Pascale Citron has commented, "It is by elaborating a conceptual apparatus [dispositif] laid out according to a specifically philosophical objectivity that Deleuze encounters music, just as he encounters in other instances painting, cinema, and literature. The elaboration of a problem is constituted and specified in the very encounter with questions that come in order to consider the lay of the musical land. However, the particular characteristic of these questions is that of not yet being specifically philosophical or musical and of conserving a pre-material dimension: they are pre-philosophical and pre-musical. Such as: can we think of a direct relationship between material and force? What spatio-temporal assemblages are we capable of? What matrices or machines of production do we have at our disposition? And how does music intersect these questions? Does music have something to teach us? In this process, the art of orienting thought and of asking questions is decisive." \1 That is, Deleuze found in music a fundamental source of reflection just as he proposed concepts containing a great richness. In fact, this was the topic of his course on 20 March 1984 that Pascale Citron recalls. Deleuze proposed there to complete the concept of the refrain [ritournelle], defined by Guattari: "The two great moments of music are the refrain and the gallop, two non-symetrical poles: the horse and the bird."

1/ P. Citron, "About a Course on 20 March 1984. The refrain and the gallop," in Gilles Deleuze. Une vie philosophique, edited by Eric Alliez, éd. Les empêcheurs de penser en rond, 1998.

CJ Stivale

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