commonsense &irony


...(I)t seemed to me that the powers of difference and repetition could be reached only by putting into question the traditional image of thought. By this I mean not only that we think according to a given method, but also that there is a more or less implicit, tacit or presupposed image of thought which determines our goals when we try to think. (xv)

If repetition is possible, it is due to miracle rather than to law. It is against the law: against the similar form and the equivalent content of law. If repetition can be found, even in nature, it is in the name of a power which affirms itself against the law, which works underneath laws, perhaps superior to laws. If repetition exists, it expresses at once a singularity opposed to the general, a universality opposed to the particular, a distinctive opposed to the ordinary, an instantaneity opposed to variation and an eternity opposed to permanence. In every respect, repetition is a transgression. (p 3)

It is not enough, therefore, to propose a new representation of movement; representation is already mediation. Rather, it is a question of producing within the work a movement capable of affecting the mind outside of all representation; it is a question of making movement itself a work, without interposition; of substituting direct signs for mediate representations; of inventing vibrations, rotations, whirlings, gravitations, dances or leaps which directly touch the mind.
(p 8)

We repeat because we repress... Freud was never satisfied with such a negative schema, in which repetition is explained by amnesia. It is true that, from the beginning, repression was considered a positive power. However, he borrowed this positivity from the pleasure principle or from the reality principle: it was merely a derived positivity, one of opposition. The turning point of Freudianism appears in Beyond the Pleasure Principle: the death instinct is discovered, not in connection with the destructive tendencies, not in connection with aggressivity, but as a result of a direct consideration of repetition phenomena. Strangely, the death instinct serves as a positive, originary principle for repetition; this is its domain and its meaning. (p 16)

In short, orgiastic representation has the ground as its principle and the infinite as its element, by contrast with organic representation which retains form as its principle an the finite as its element. It is the infinite which renders determination conceivable and selectable: difference thus appears as the orgiastic representation of determination and no longer as its organic representation. (p 43)

In very general terms, we claim that there are two ways to appeal to ånecessary destructionsÇ: that of the poet, who speaks in the name of a creative power, capable of overturning all orders and representations in order to affirm Difference in the state of permanent revolution which characterizes eternal return; and that of the politician, who is above all concerned to deny that which ådiffersÇ, so as to conserve or prolong an established historical order, or to establish a historical order which already calls forth in the world the forms of its representation. (p 53)

Gilles Deleuze was Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris until his retirement in 1987. DeleuzeÇs original and controversial critique of identity is central toward intitating a shift in French thought away from Hegel and Marx and towards Nietzsche and Freud. His other books include Nietzsche and Philosophy , Dialogues , The Logic of Sense , and with Felix Guattari, the Anti-Oedipus , and Kafka .

Translated from French by Paul Patton, Columbia, New York, 1994. Pub. 1969.

Irony is about contradictions that do not resolve into larger wholes, even dialectically, about the tension of holding incompatible things together because both or all are necessary and true. Irony is about humour and serious play . It is also a rhetorical strategy and a political method, one I would like to see more honoured within socialist feminism. At the centre of my ironic faith, my blasphemy, is the image of the cyborg .

  • Private Irony and Liberal Hope
    by Richard Rorty

  • Cyborg Manifesto
    by Donna Haraway

  • Difference & Repetition
    by Gilles Deleuze

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