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This article appeared in Volume 1 (2) of The Semiotic Review of Books.

A Guide to Nomad's-Land: Deleuze and Guattari

by Harry Vandervlist

Deleuze and Guattari. By Ronald Bogue, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1989. Pp. xiii, 196. (ISBN 0415020174).

1. In a phrase reminiscent of Kafka's ape, who learns to speak in order to gain "a way out, a way out", Gilles Deleuze comments that what we really seek from answers to questions in philosophy "ce n'est pas de répondre à des questions, c'est de sortir, d'en sortir" (Rajohman 1988:37). Along with Felix Guattari, Deleuze has sought new ways out of old questions by "rethinking ... the relationship between language, literature, thought, desire, action, social institutions, and material reality" (Bogue 1989,8). Clearly such work should interest philosophers, semiotician, and literary, historical, psychoanalytic and institutional theorists. Yet in order to profit from this potential new "way out", we first need "a way in" to the style Deleuze and Guattari have invented to express their new conceptions; we need an entrance into the debates in which they deploy their terms tactically. Sens, event, body-without-organs, breaks-flows, ritoumelle, pli, and elusive terms of relation such as "traverses" and "envelops" -- these are only a few of the proliferating terms and concepts that Deleuze and Guattari shower upon the often delirious reader. Short of simply enduring (or enjoying) the long deferral of comprehension that most readers face, what other way into this work is available?

This is what Ronald Bogue's Deleuze and Guattari, a volume in the Routledge Critics of the Twentieth Centure series, finally offers to English readers. Bogue's study is the first booklength consideration of Deleuze and Guattari's work available in English. Following chronology, Part One of the book deals with "Deleuze before Guattari" -- here Bogue gives accounts of the work on Nietzsche (15-34), Proust and SacherMasoch (35-54), along with Différence et Répétition and Logique du Sens (55-80). Part Two offers a brief look at "Guattari before Anti-Oedipus" (85-87), then treats that work (87-106) and two other collaborative volumes: Kafka (107-123) and Mille Plateaux (123-149).

Deleuze and Guattari offer a coherent body of new concepts, new units of analysis, argues Bogue, which are rooted in an interpretation of Nietzsche. From Nietzsche, Deleuze adopts the desire to create new concepts that challenge conventional ideas about origins and representations, about the distinction between "mental" and "material" phenomena, concepts that attempt to create a critique of reason that is not reactive and negative, but rather affirms or "produces" something other. This "something other" than the working of a dialectic begins with a revision of Nietzsche's will to power. For Deleuze, Nietzsche's will to power is both an attribute of all forces- including the material ones dealt with in physics -- and also more than that: "The will to power is a kind of inner centre of force, a power of becoming active or reactive . . In short, the will to power is that concept which makes possible a theory of nature as relations of forces -- dynamic (becoming-active or-reactive), determined in quality (the genealogical element of force), and entailing the mutual effect of each force on the other (the affectivity of force)" (23). This will to power drives the activity of interpretation and evaluation which is thought itself.

Deleuze believes that it is our "image of thought" -- what we think thinking is -- which guides our production of concepts. This is why he 'posits an alternative image of thought, one which will lead to alternative, non-dialectical, non-hierarchial, "a-conceptual concepts". Bogue details the way, that in order to arrive at an image of thought as affirmative and productive rather than negative and analytical, Deleuze has to subdivide the will to power, giving off negative and reactive forms of thought. Vincent Descombes (1980: 152-67) has shown how this leaves him stuck, either with the dualism from which he tried to escape, or with a single image of thought which cannot account for much of what it has to account for (reactive, "base" thought -- which, conveniently but unhelpful, "has no being" for Deleuze). Bogue replies to Dessombes' argument (33) by saying that Deleuze revises Nietzsche's concept of master/slave and arrives at a less conflictual model. This hinges upon a second revision, in which the eternal return is made into a nonhierarchical model of difference: "the eternal return of the other". (Bogue admits that this way out of the problem of dualisms that become hierarchies is incompletely reconciled with Deleuze's retention of qualitative differences in forces and in types of will to power). The problem of moving from physical to psychological forces while retaining a single model is at stake here- a central part of Deleuze's project. Bogue's defence admits the incompleteness of this part of Deleuze's thought.

In the section on Deleuze's work on Proust and Sacher-Masoch (35-54), Bogue demonstrates the typisally "deleuzoguattarian" refusal in practice to separate aesthetic creation from philosophical speculation. The experiences of fictional characters are treated as mental experiments, and fiction is treated as "symptomatology". Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu is interpreted as an apprenticeship in the reading of signs. Through this apprenticeship, Marsel learns to seek the truth of signs neither in the signifying object nor in the subjective peroeiver: again a dualism is attacked. The resolution of the duality, the synthesis, occurs in "artistic signs" (one of four types of sign Deleuze sees in Proust) which reveal "essences", a melding of the multiple and the One which elevates neither above the other. The concept is difficult to grasp, and to do so Deleuze turns to Proust's metaphor of a musical phrase, which returns "but each time changed, in a different rhythm, with a different accompaniment, the same and yet different, as things return in life" (41). Although Deleuze's language here can begin to seem highly metaphysical and spiritual, the "essences" revealed in art are in fast "absolute internal differences" (44).

Deleuze sees in Proust examples of the way thought is not "the voluntary exercise of a natural faculty that automatically seeks objective and universal truth" (44). Rather, thought in Proust is effected by local, multiplicities events, is involuntary and possesses an independence from the thinker that suggests that thought is really the becoming of something in which the thinker is involved. The distinctions between events, thought as deliberate action, and language as an instrument, are broken down: "Proustian truths are the products, not of method, but of constraint and chance, the fortuitous encounter with a sign that forces the subject to think" (45). Such thinking is in turn a question of interpreting and developing signs, and is a creative, productive activity. Bogue sees Deleuze's study of Masoch as dissolving the opposition sadism/masochism, and interpreting both as impositions of a perverse ideal of repetition. Both perversions are accounted for by idealizations of (Freudian) psychic principles: for sadism, the superego, and for masochism, the ego.

In Sacher-Masoch, Bogue explains, Deleuze finds new concepts of the contract and the law. Law becomes, not an essential, free-standing body of laws to be "applied" to separate events, but rather the law of Kafka, which emerges only in events, which takes all to be subject to the law, and in which the pronouncement of a law and the execution of a verdict are the same thing. Summarizing this stage of Deleuze's work, Bogue identifies the "curious interworld" it maps out, one in which Deleuze claims that "everything is implicated, everything is complicated, everything is sign, meaning, essence . . Neither things nor minds exist, there are only bodies: astral bodies, vegetal bodies. The biologists would be right if they knew that bodies in themselves are already a language. The linguists would be right if they knew that language is always the language of bodies"(54).

2. Bogue stresses the productive fever of 1968 and 1969 for Deleuze: over a thousand pages, including Différence et Répétition and Logique du Sens, were published in that time. Here the "highly unorthodox" but stubborn dualism preserved in Deleuze's work, between "tumultuous, interfused bodies and unessential ideas," begins to be synthesized. Bogue gives a detailed account of the concepts and terminology of the two works (55-80), one difficult to summarize here. In both cases however, what is at stake is the rethinking of difference and identity, and a concept of repetition not as a faithful copy but as an affirmation of difference. This affirmation of multiplicity, singularity- difference in itself -- as against hierarchy, totalization -- is a major theme in Deleuze and Guattari's work. But difference cannot be represented in itself, only "in relation to a conceived identity, a judged analogy, an imagined opposition, a perceived similitude" (57). Difference eludes common sense, which deals in sameness and representation. One attempt to offer a new concept of difference is Deleuze's "sens" (which Bogue translates, problematically, as"meaning"), introduced in his Logique du Sens. Sens is the articulation of (the) difference between words and things" (72). Sens is neither designation (an utterance's relations to a state of things), manifestation (the utterance's relation to a speaker) or signification (the utterance's relation to language, that is, syntax and relations to other utterances). All utterances suppose these interlinked aspects, Deleuze argues. But what these aspects in turn presuppose is "sens", a kind of virtual matter in which utterances and things can meet, or which even brings them simultaneously into being. Thus sens is a kind of extra-etre which comes into being only by way of an actualizing utterance, but which is not reducible to that utterance. It is the field in which one must be situated "all-at-once" in order to begin designating, manifesting, signifying: "Le sens est comme la sphère où je suis déjà installé pour opérer les désignations possibles, et même en penser les conditions" (Deleuze 1969:41).

The concept of sens raises an important question that applies to much of Deleuze and Guattari's work: is such a concept a way of introducing some new transcendent foundation for signification, a place to escape to out of the prison-house of language? Not really -- it is perhaps more of a no-man's land surrounding the prison, if prison there must be. Bogue's description of Deleuze as a "transcendental empiricist" (56) echoes this paradox. What is transcendent for Deleuze and Guattari? Only multiplicity and heterogeneity themselves. Concepts like that of sens which seems to "rule over" or "stand outside" the multiplicity of utterances, are supposed only to "insist" or "subsist" in the utterance. Where does sens live? Like Lewis Carroll's Humpty- Dumpty, who provides examples of good sens, it sits on the wall, and crumbles if we try to remove it from that frontier. Bogue explains that sens evades the opposition between the "ideal matter" of words and "the physical matter of things". Instead both become "centres of implicate (sic), virtual difference as they exist before they are explicated or actualized in any specific form" (73). Thus both sens and events form a transcendental field which we can describe either in terms of meaning or in terms of things. "This transcendental field is not just in our heads or off in a celestial empyrean, but on the surface of words and things . . manifest(ing) itself to us through contradictory, paradoxical simulasra" (73). The paradox of this transcendence is that it is really immanence, and "it is multiplicities that people the field of immanence, a bit like tribes who inhabit the desert, which remains a desert all the same" (Bellour & Ewald 1988:22). In other words, if Deleuze "accepts the necessity of a transcendental foundation of the relation of consciousness to its objects" (78), that transcendental foundation is not abstract or ideal, but alien in its unthinkable multiplicity. Like that other "new cartographer" Michel Foucault, Deleuze and Guattari present a new analysis with its own new units and distinctions, which cut across former distinctions. Language, thought and events are now all versions of the same processes of multiplicities actualizing themselves in the field of immanence. Even the subject is multiple, as the author of L'Anti-Oedipe is multiple: "Who speaks and who acts? It is always a multiplicity, even in the person who speaks or acts. We are all little groups. There is no longer representation, there is only action the action of theory, the action of practice, in relations of way-stations or networks" (L'Arc (1972, revised 1980) 49:4).

3. The second part of Deleuze and Guattari (83-150) deals with Deleuze's collaborative work with Felix Guattari. Guattari brought with him a practical experience of institutional psychoanalysis, and a strong sense of the primacy of group psychology versus individual psychology, and thus of the political stakes of psychoanalysis, and the psychic stakes of State and institutional politics. The ideas of the State as a machine "which produces anti-production, . . signifiers which are there to close off . . every subjective group prowess" (87), and of capitalist decoding and reterritorialization of desire, came from Guattari's work from 1955 to 1970, collected in Psychoanalysis and Transversality (1972). Bogue attributes to him the "basic political orientation" of L'Anti-Oedipe (87).

Bogue specifies the advantages of the startling terminology of L'Anti-Oedipe, especially of the terms "desiring-production" and "desiringmachine". Deleuze and Guattari "speak of machines to suggest that the unconscious is less a theatre than a factory, and to convey a positive, dynamic sense of the cosmos without falling into religious or anthropomorphic vitalism" (92). Desiring-machines, one of three elements of desEring-production, form chains on the surface of the body without organs. This term, taken from Artaud, seems to refer simply to the world itself as a collection of bodies, whose definition is only produced by the way desiringmachines cut across this "immanent surface". Social codes direct the desiring-machines in prescribed ways, so that they produce prescribed structures on the body with organs. "But if those codes are scrambled, or deterritorialized, an inclusive investment of the body without organs becomes possible, and the nomadic subject, the third component of desiring-production, is produced" (95). Capitalism is a radial deterritorialization of previous social codes, in which all valuations are relativized into exchange value. The -- struggle of capitalism to reterritorialize, re-channel, what it has liberated, by concentrating desire within familial and OedEpal structures, is not always successful, and the result of its failure is- schizophrenia. Schizophrenia thus defined represents an opportunity for Deleuze and Guattarl, a way out of capitalist and Oedipal patterns. The nomadic subject represents the endless possibilities for alternative structurings of desiring-production (and hence of "reality").

The part of L'Anti-Oedipe, which Bogue summarizes sympathetically (although curiously without responding to the criticisms of Rene Girard (1980:84-120), has received disproportionate attention, he claims. Although the work's depiction of Oedipal psychoanalysis as virtually an ideological state apparatus is spectacular, Deleuze and Guattari's "universal history of representation" deserves equal time. Bogue therefore presents a long account of the section of L'Anti-Oedipe on "recording" and representation in social desiring-production (95- 105). Three "social machines" -- a primitive territorial one, a barbarian despotic, one, and a civilised capitalist one -- follow one another like Marx's modes of production. In the territorial machine, signs (words, inscriptions on the body or the earth) are really attached to bodies, "embedded in situations" and not subordinate to an overall law. In the despotic machine, the dominance of a law of signification whose paradigm is the "mute voice from on high" begins, and the flux of signifying material is "deterritorialized", made available for use by this dominating power of signification. (Deleuze and Guattari, echoing Derrida's critique of the Saussurian privileging of the signifier, see this despotic machine as the ground of Saussurian linguistics). Finally, the capitalist machine allows the ultimate decoding, in which everything can become equivalent to everything else through exchange. Where primitive structure was grounded on the figure of the despot/god, now capitalist structure has only the abstract ground of capital itself. Social codes are now replaced by "an axiomatic" which must continually shift and re- territorialize, re-channel the flux it has set free. In fact such re-channelling is all that ever happens to the capitalist sign, which means nothing, but simply functions within the economic process as a medium of trans-coding of and co-ordinating various components of the cir- cuit of production, exchange, distribution, and consumption" (102). Capitalism can absorb and re channel anything, including the old despotic signs, which form one pole of the capitalist oscillation between control (linked to paranoia) and dissolution (linked to schizophrenia).

Bogue does well to point out that this history of representation "not only has a shape", but that its shape "reinforces the political conclusions that Deleuze and Guattari reach" (103). In the political debates of 1970s France, they are ruling out the options of a return to the past, of seizing state control, and of organized revolution, in favour of intensifying "the schizophrenic tendency of capitalism to the point that the system shatters . . this can only be achieved through the creation of group-subjects that form transverse connections between deterritorialized flows that are no longer subject to the con straints of commodity exchange" (103). Bogue argues that this is not "a simplistic, irrational anarchism", but "a politics of creativity" (105). Foregoing the usual revolutionary emphasis on how to sweep away the old system, and how to organize the utopian new system, this theory focusses on "middles-interregnums, intermez zos, the space in between, the unpredictable in terstices of process, movement, and invention" (105).

Bogue's discussion of Kafka: pour une littérature mineure details the application of schizoanalysis to literature. Here the concept of the rhizome, or non-hierarchical network of non unified multiplicity, is opposed to arboressence (the tree of taxonomy and the many reduced to instances of the one). Their reading of Kafka is political and comic, not introspective and tragic. Bogue approvingly quotes Deleuze's remark that "those who do not read Kafka 'with a great deal of involuntary laughter and political shuddering, deform everything"' (109). The concept of a "minor literature" as a politicized medium for the articulation of collective problems is elaborated here. Where a major literature stresses individual monuments of genius (Goeth Shakespeare) that stand in a canonical tradition the minor literature is concerned more directly with the struggle for expression of marginalized groups. Such groups face the necessity of speaking an alien tongue and thus of deforming and unsettling a language of power. (Bakhtin s opposition of polyphonic novelistic discourse to monophonic poetic discourse comes immediately to mind; as does feminist work on articulating women s concerns in patriarchal language. Bogue does not comment on these parallels however).

Bogue sees Kafka as an apologia for literary/political avantgardes in which the focus is placed on situat(ing) literature within a general economy and history of desiring-production link(ing) the artistic subversion of language to the group practices of actual linguistic minorities and subordinat(ing) questions of signification to analyses of the relations between material forces and a-signifying fluxes (123).

Mille Plateaux, Bogue admits is too sprawling a work to be introduced in the usual analytic way. His treatment (124-149) therefore concentrates on its pronouncements on language and signs and its relationship to L'Anti-Oedipe, to Kafka, and to the work of Foucault.

Deleuze and Guattari do not subscribe to the brand of semiotics which sees linguistic structures as models. Instead linguistic structures are merely a peculiarly human organization of bodies flows events that extend beyond the human into the geological the botanical the biological and so on. Sympathetic to Peiroean non-linguistic semiotics the two adapt the Helmslevian concepts of expression and content and form and substance because this subverts the traditional opposition of form and content labels as arbitrary the designation of levels as either expression or content and posits a material substrate which precedes the formation of planes of expression and content (126-27). These features allow the model to account for organizations of elements in the natural world.

Thus semiotic structures are the human development of a kind of universal structuration. Deleuze and Guattari's major goal seems to be to propose a structuration that does not work by way of the hierarchy of a self-sufficient law over a subordinate material (as in the rule of the laws of signifisatlon over sonic or graphic signifying material ) but instead abolishes such an opposition. Effectively the way Deleuze and Guattari accomplish this is always to fold the law back into the material . To change our terms to those of rule and example of the rule their strategy Is to make the example produce the rule to claim that a specific rule is actualized only in a specific example. The static hierarchy is turned into a proliferation of dynamic and endless metamorphoses of rule into instance and instance into rule . Thus the problem of the transcendent rule cause or origin is dealt with by making that cause or origin so unthinkably multiple, diverse, and finally, contingent, that it is the next best thing to no origin at all.

Such a prespective changes the relations of theory to practice. (This is the subject of the dialogue between Deleuze and Foucault published in L'Arc 49, and translated in Foucault, 1977). The relation of Deleuze and Guattari to Foucault becomes clearer, and Bogue points out the mutual amenability of the two analyses: "In their analysis of Foucault's Discipline and Punish, they identify as expression the collection of judgements, verdicts, evaluations and classifications which transform bodies through the discourse of delinquency; and as content, the prison-machine, a specific collection of functioning heterogenousentities"(138).

4. Clearly Deleuze and Guattari's work at least claims for itself an impact on many disciplines. In philosophy, to begin with, the broad philosophical issue of "difference" -- a crux of modern philosophy, with ramifications for many disciplines -- is one area where Deleuze and Guattari's work has a contribution to make. Vincent Dessombes links Deleuze with Derrida in the struggle for a "non-contradictory, nondialectical consideration of difference, which would not envisage it as the simple contrary of identity, nor be obliged to see itself as "dialectically" identical with identity"' (1980:136). Not only would the link between difference and opposition be shattered, but also the tendency of difference to resolve into hierarchy, a tendency exposed many times by Derrida. What possibilities would such a new concept of difference open up? It would allow us to think that the other of reason and truth would no longer be non-reason, untruth: and the other meaning would no longer be nonsense. A rethinking of difference opens up a new and formerly unthinkable conceptual territory, an in-between zone, a realm of both- and-neither, which is entirely in keeping with the ambiguities of current artistic practice. In supplying the philosophy of this reconsidered difference, thinkers like Deleuze and Guattari nourish new possibilities in our thinking about all of the constituting differences which any discourse, defined in the widest sense, must rely on and question: differences between originals/copies/representationsisimulasra, between "texts"; and "interpretations", between discourse and nondiscursive phenomena (105).

It is perhaps as critics of psychoanalysis that the two thinkers have become most notorious, and Deleuze continues to object that psychoanalysis "is unable to think the many", unable to think in terms of multiple desires rather than le desire, for instance (Bellour & Ewald 1988:21). For all of the human sciences which conceive of themselves as dealing with singularities of various kinds -- singular events, contingent subjects -- Deleuze and Guattari offer an attempt to think in a way that respects contingency and multiplicity, as opposed to the "arborescent" model of subordination. Their work is thus an essential complement to that of Fousault. In their attention to style and the search for an "appropriate form" for the presentation of their thought, Deleuze and Guattari are especially attractive to literary theorists. Tibey are perhaps the philosophical thinkers whollave shown the most respect for literature as-a source of new concepts. Is not Deleuze's strass on t~b~ power of our "image of thought" an implied admission of the importance of the kind of metaphors and paradigms that literature produces?

In undertaking to present Deleuze and Guattari's work, Ronald Bogue has taken on a fearful task. On the whole he has produced a highly useful volume, the kind of book one wants to have nearby while struggling through L'Anti Oedipe or Mille Plateaux, if only so that one can obtain a different formulation of particular concepts. The first section of the book, on "Deleuze's Nietzsche", is the least helpful: but one can turn to Descombes' Modern French Philosophy for a clearer, but less sympathetic, account of Deleuze's revision of Nietzsche. As well, readers will have to go elsewhere for 8 detailed sense of Deleuze and Guattari's place in the intellectual skirmishings of Paris -- only in relation to L'Anti-Oedipe does Bogue offer much on this important issue; The introduction to the volume (1-11), however, gives a helpful capsule summary of Deleuze and Guattari's intellectual roots. Bogue's overall approach, emphasizing as it does the conceptual coherence of the thought presented, is a philosophical one, and his is usually more abstract than that of the works he treats. Where Deleuze, or Deleuze and Guattari, can be playful, allusive, and ironic, Bogue chooses an expository style that remains earnest and responsible -- two qualities that are at times at odds with the nature of the material he presents. His translation of Deleuze's term sens as "meaning" is problematic, since the value of the concept lies in the way it points to something immanent in meaning, something which allows meaning to come into being. Finally, this book chooses not to deal with Deleuze's later work on Foucault, Francis Bacon, and the cinema, or with Guattari's post-collaboration work. This selectivity is nevertheless a virtue, since it is the very limits he places on his introduction to a difficult body of work which allows Bogue to be as clear as he often is. When he is selective, or chooses a particular emphasis, Bogue announces this clearly to avoid misunderstanding. Finally, the bibliography of works by and about Deleuze and Guattari up to 1986 (180-190) is extremely valuable.


Bellour, Raymond and Ewald, Françols (1988) "Signes et événements, un entretien avec Gilles Deleuze." Magazine Littéraire (sept 1988) no. 257: 26.

Bogue, Ronald (1989) Deleuze and Guattari. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Deleuze, Gilles (1969) Logique du Sens . Paris:Editions de Minuit.

Descombes, Vincent (1980) Modern French Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.

Foucault, Michel (1977), Bouchard and Simon, translators. Language, Countermemory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews. Ithaca: Cornell UP.

Girard, René (1978) "Delirium as System" in "To double business bound": Essays on Literature, Mimesis and Anthropology. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 84-120.

Rajohmann, John (1988) "Loqique du Sens, éthique de l'événement" . Magazine Litteraire (sept 1988) no. 257:37-39.

L'Arc (1972;revised 1980) 49, 'Deleuze'.

Harry Vandervlist is at the Department of Engilsh at McMaster University. He is currently completing a dissertatlon on Samuel Beckett's early fiction, a portion of which was presented at the Meeting of the Learned Societies of Canada in May 1989, under the title "Language, Self and Sense In Beckett's Watt".

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