January 20, 1976

There is a center of signifiance, and we will see what this consists in: numerous heterogeneous signs distributed across concentric circles or the spires of a spiral. What else is there? … There is something I'm drawing now with a broken line: a line of flight. At the top of the outermost spiral is a line of flight. There may be different ones: those who leave because they're fed up. So, beginning with this type of matrix, an expanding development occurs, which summons to itself, or regroups or redistributes along its spires, signs of a most diverse and heterogeneous nature. And then we had another schema. In this case it was no longer a schema of signifiance. We called it a passional schema, or a schema of subjectivation. And this schema is clearly very different from the previous one since, rather than proceeding from a center through an expanding circular irradiation, it proceeds from a point – a point of subjectivation rather than a center of signifiance. … This point of subjectivation is like the beginning of a straight line. And this straight line is segmentarized. What form does it take? It's segmentarized through a certain number of successive proceedings. … The formal opposition of the two schemas consists in: irradiating circular expansion beginning from a centre that will distribute the most heterogeneous signs. And, in the second case, a small packet of determined signs fleeing along a straight line that is segmentarized in successive proceedings. So, we oppose the idea of a succession of linear proceedings to that of irradiating circularity.

Seminar Introduction

Deleuze 1975-1876 seminars were filmed by one of his students, Marielle Burkhalter, as part of her masters project, "Filming Philosophy as it Happens." Enrico Ghezzi acquired the videos for broadcast on the RAI 3 cinema programme "Fuori Orario," after inviting Burkhalter to screen them at a festival he co-curated. Marielle Burkhalter, along with Stavroula Bellos, would eventually become the director of the L’association Siècle Deleuzien, and oversaw the French transcriptions of Deleuze's seminars at the Voix de Gilles Deleuze website at the University of Paris 8. 

Links to a number of these recordings that are available on YouTube are provided below, each of which includes subtitles in Italian. We are grateful to those who have uploaded these videos.

We have ordered the video material chronologically and divided it into 3 categories, providing short titles describing the topics covered for general orientation. The first (A) refers to the seminars that were filmed at Paris-8 Vincennes in 1975-76, around the time that Deleuze and Guattari began working on what would become “Mille Plateaux”. The second (B) includes seminars from 1980-87, after the campus of Vincennes had been demolished and relocated to St. Denis. The third category (C) features miscellaneous fragments or short edits of the above material.

Deleuze in Seminar
Deleuze in his seminar at the University of Paris VIII, Vincennes, in 1975.

A. Deleuze at Paris 8-Vincennes, 1975-76

Il Senso In Meno 1 Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari Vincennes, 1975 1976 Parti 1 2 3 4 (4:00:00)

Il Senso In Meno 2 Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari Vincennes, 1975 1976 Parti 6 7 8 9 (4:21:40)

deleuze su molteplicità molare e molteplicità molecolare (1:40:51)

B. Deleuze at Paris 8-St.Denis, 1980-87

The personal pronoun “I” (1980) (video link only partial), transcript and translation located in the second Anti-Oedipus and Other Reflections Seminar, 3 June 1980. [New translation provided of this segment added to the 3 June 1980 lecture]

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x36nts9

Deleuze sur Hegel (3:34), Deleuze on Hegel (1980), follows the preceding clip, transcript and translation located in the second Anti-Oedipus and Other Reflections Seminar, 3 June 1980.

On Leibniz (1986) -- Session 3 (18 Nov 1986), transcript and translation located in the Leibniz and the Baroque seminar, 1986-87

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEg4Tc40rWM

On Harmony (1987) -- Session 20 (2 June 1987), transcript and translation located in the Leibniz and the Baroque seminar

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JBMX6uECxc

C. Various fragments (in random order, clips that are segments from longer videos included above in A)

Gilles Deleuze - Vincennes 1975-76 (compilation) Although this long cllp seems to begin at 1:28:40, the viewer can back up to the start for the full length. However, the segment begins in progress, with students seeming to debate a burning question.  (3:05:57)

Gilles Deleuze, Pierre-Félix Guattari a Vincennes (1975-1976) (22:30)

Félix Guattari - Université de Vincennes 1975 (9:56)

Deleuze et le roman (9:35)

Deleuze sur le langage (1:19)

Deleuze sur la musique (1:04)

Deleuze - Boulez - Berg (5:36)

Gilles Deleuze, Lecture, Mille Plateaux 1 (7:00)

Gilles Deleuze, Lecture, Mille Plateaux 2 (9:26)

Gilles Deleuze - Morale ed etica (Lezioni a Vincennes, 1975/76) Interview with Richard Pinhas (7:03)

Gilles Deleuze à Vincennes, 1 (sub. ITA) (9:47)

Gilles Deleuze à Vincennes, 2 (sub. ITA) (9:51)

Gilles Deleuze à Vincennes, 3 (sub. ITA) (4:36)

Gilles Deleuze à Vincennes, 4 (sub. ITA) (9:27)

Gilles Deleuze à Vincennes, 5 (sub. ITA) (9:56)

Gilles Deleuze à Vincennes, 6 (sub. ITA) (9:50)

Gilles Deleuze à Vincennes, 7 (sub. ITA) (9:47)

Gilles Deleuze à Vincennes, 8 (sub. ITA) (9:49)

Gilles Deleuze à Vincennes, 9 (sub. ITA) (9:58)

Gilles Deleuze à Vincennes, 10 (sub. ITA) (9:48)

Gilles Deleuze à Vincennes, 11 (sub. ITA) (9:52)

Gilles Deleuze à Vincennes, 12 (sub. ITA) (9:35)

Gilles Deleuze à Vincennes, 13 (sub. ITA) (9:52)

Gilles Deleuze à Vincennes, 14 (sub. ITA) (9:54)

Gilles Deleuze à Vincennes, 15 (sub. ITA) (9:56)

Gilles Deleuze à Vincennes 1975 (9) italian sub (51:51)

Gilles Deleuze a Vincennes 1/3 (sub ita) (4:00:00)

Gilles Deleuze a Vincennes 2/3 (sub ita) (4:21:40)

 

English Translation

Edited

In collaboration with the students in attendance, Deleuze introduces different terms under development with Guattari in their ongoing collaboration that will result, in 1980, in A Thousand Plateaus.

Gilles Deleuze

Deleuze & Guattari at Vincennes, 1975-76

Il Senso in Meno, Part 8 - Dimensions and Coordinates of a Multiplicity, the continuum of Signifiance and the Deterritorialization of the Sign

Translated by Graeme Thomson and Silvia Maglioni

 

(Student)

- With the tables it was more like a buffet…

(Deleuze)

- Do you miss having the tables? There's one there... it's no longer the same…

(Student)

- It's more practical!

Deleuze

It's not bad this way… it's a bit like a waiting room. Okay, enough dreaming. To work! No more pauses. Let's get started! It's good like this today… because I have to make some drawings... I have to make some drawings because the last time I proposed a number of themes which were very disordered so you would have time to reflect on them before we set about trying to organize them. So… at least we have chalk, even if the blackboard is a bit dirty.

 

Starting from what was said the last time - and we've spoken about it a little – let's call this the schema of signifiance. And we can immediately say why we have called it the schema of signifiance. Let's imagine that we can reduce it to a point... Here, perhaps, we have a centre of signifiance. And around it we have a number of concentric circles… concentric circles or spires, spires of a spiral. And on these spires we can place any kind of sign.

 

I want to go back to something that struck me during the last lesson. How did it begin?

 

At the beginning there was a dog barking at the back of the room. A dog where there shouldn't have been a dog. So I'll put it on the outermost circle: it barks, it's a sign like any other. Or it would be a sign like any other… but in what conditions? If we were, for example, paranoiacs… The dog barks. He's right to bark. And what happened afterwards? I was over there. I raised my head and suddenly I was afraid. This is an entirely different circle. I haven't drawn enough of them. I saw someone masked, who was wearing a kind of S&M mask. I hadn't noticed him before, but suddenly I saw him. I wasn't expecting this. A dog barks, a mask appears...

 

I said to myself that I was going to need all this for later. I was thinking that here there was an atmosphere, a phenomenon of mundanization or atmospherization. I saw it and I wasn't the only one. Something was going to happen. I didn't know what. I didn't know where it would come from. And then on another circle there… someone who arrives who makes a sign, who emits his own sign saying: “It's the first time I come... what are all these tables doing here?”

 

On one hand there is a redoubling: there's a girl who appears to be taller than him because she's standing on a table and for that reason she emerges. She makes a speech… which is at times quite violent... and I'm thinking: “Let's take that route”. And at that point the tables take on an enormous importance and they park themselves on all the circles. The tables... And then I turn to see somebody entering the room through the window. That's a whole other experience, different from the one with the dog.

 

So all I'm saying is: there is a center of signifiance, and we will see what this consists in: numerous heterogeneous signs distributed across concentric circles or the spires of a spiral. What else is there?

 

Maybe, to complete the schema, there is something I'm drawing now with a broken line: a line of flight. At the top of the outermost spiral is a line of flight. There may be different ones: those who leave because they're fed up. The door is more or less blocked. So you pass by the window, I don't know how... But I'll draw this broken line of flight and there I have my first schema.

 

You will, I hope, recognize, the point where we began: that is to say, the schema of something, and I’d say of something because we need to ask ourselves what this something is. There is something that is defined through a kind of matrix or centre which produces a sort of circular irradiation, an expanding circularity accompanied by a broken line of flight. So, beginning with this type of matrix, an expanding development occurs, which summons to itself, or regroups or redistributes along its spires signs of a most diverse and heterogeneous nature.

 

And then we had another schema. In this case it was no longer a schema of signifiance. We called it a passional schema, or a schema of subjectivation. And this schema is clearly very different from the previous one since, rather than proceeding from a center through an expanding circular irradiation, it proceeds from a point – a point of subjectivation rather than a center of signifiance. In fact, I might be able to subjectivize myself from any point of departure. A fetishist is subjectivized -and is therefore defined as passional – beginning from a pair of shoes or a single shoe or even just a heel. A lover can be subjectivized beginning from the eyes. We've already seen things of that sort, haven't we? But let's go on…

 

This point of subjectivation is like the beginning of a straight line. And this straight line is segmentarized. What form does it take? It's segmentarized through a certain number of successive proceedings. Remember how the two schemas were formally opposed - even before knowing to whom and to what all this referred, even if we've already looked at it? But we can put this aside for the moment...

 

The formal opposition of the two schemas consists in: irradiating circular expansion beginning from a centre that will distribute the most heterogeneous signs. And, in the second case, a small packet of determined signs fleeing along a straight line that is segmentarized in successive proceedings. So we oppose the idea of a succession of linear proceedings to that of irradiating circularity. Just as we oppose the idea of a fleeing packet of signs beginning from a point of subjectivation to that of a group of heterogeneous signs subsumed by a centre that organizes their distribution, expansion and irradiation.

 

So I would just like to pose three questions, beginning from these two schema.

 

First question. Supposing that here we have two semiotic schemas... for the moment we still don't know what a regime of semiotic signs consist in… we are using the words approximately... Suppose that what we have on one hand is a semiotic of signifiance and on the other a passional semiotic or a semiotic of subjectivation: can we make a connection between them, even just on an abstract plane?

 

To be able to do so would be reassuring. Reassuring, because we could say that in concrete terms they are continually mixing. In reality our semiotics are mixed. They borrow a piece from a certain system or regime and a piece from another regime. Can we link one of these schemas to the other? Clearly we can. But only at a certain cost, and in certain conditions. I say “clearly we can” because this broken line is clearly the irradiating circular system's line of flight. Isn't this line fully realized in the passional system? To the point that to link the two schemas it would be enough to place this line here… making the centre of signifiance descend to this point which now becomes a point of subjectivation. It seems to me that that would work perfectly. I consider the possibility of linking the two schemas as if they were two trains. 

 

Second question: What do these two schemas refer to? That we already… Actually, it's up to you, and this poses the problem of method that we touched upon at the beginning. I would say: they refer to whatever you like. Because each of these two schemas is a multiplicity. Even if we talk about a center of signifiance, even if there is an instance of unification, in any case such an instance functions within a multiplicity. So we have a multiplicity of signifiance and a passional multiplicity, or multiplicity of subjectivation. Actually, I cannot say that one of these characteristics is more important than the other. They are all on the same plane. I can say that each of these multiplicities has n dimensions. We'll see what dimensions we find.

 

Here, for example, for the moment – and I insist on this point to convey how simple it is – for the moment, here… as I will try to explain… we have 7 dimensions. If someone tells me “I see 9…” or “Among your 7 some can be reduced…” it doesn't matter. What matters is that it there is never a fixed number of dimensions. It proceeds by 2, by 3… There are 2, 3, all the n dimensions you want... Here too, I have to define my schema through n dimensions. And this is what defines it. Which is why I don't need to ask myself beforehand what it refers to. The question is: how many dimensions does this one have compared to the number of dimensions of the other? On this point, if I openly enumerate my dimensions, it doesn't matter if someone comes along and says: “I would add one”. On the contrary, it's even better. What's more annoying is if someone arrives and says: “Here I would remove one or two”. But that's okay too.

 

When we have our number of dimensions, I suppose... it seems highly abstract but in reality it's just a kind of recipe. It really is a recipe. We should write a cookery book! Let's suppose it has two dimensions. For example, I take three. When I limit or else augment the number of dimensions, when I vary them, it's only then that I can say what it is they refer to. Before that, it could by anything… a determined multiplicity but of whatever character, an unassignable multiplicity. If you take a precise number of dimensions, then you can ask what it refers to. So let's do that. What does this refer to?

 

We can call these dimensions the system's coordinates. In function of the coordinates we take into consideration, we can attribute the schema to something specific. Today I can say all this in abstract terms because the other time we looked at it more concretely. In the schema of signifiance, if I consider certain dimensions, whether or not I know which these are, if I consider certain dimensions… I obtain this particular schema, this multiplicity which refers to a type of delirium. What is this type of delirium? We've already seen it: it's the paranoid delusion, or delusion of interpretation or a delusion of ideas. Why is this? We've already looked at it and I don't want to go back to that because this delusion is constituted upon a matrix idea, a center of signifiance… it proceeds by way of irradiating circular expansion and reunites, sutures or distributes the most heterogeneous signs.

 

If I consider other coordinates, you will say: “Which others?” We will have to look at them in detail... But you will agree that if I take other coordinates into consideration, the multiplicity's frame of reference will change. I would say this is important so as to be able to avoid pointless objections. It will no longer be a paranoid or interpretive delusion, it will be a social formation. The formation or type of formation we may call despotic. If I consider or privilege – because it isn't simply a question of keeping or jettisoning but also of emphasizing a given dimension – if I consider another dimension of this system, this multiplicity, I would say, based on the other dimensions, or on this one… I mentioned this yesterday, no, I mean last week, trying out different terms... These terms don't come from Guattari or myself, it's an idea someone proposed… that someone suggested to us. And that's the way to proceed... if people give you ideas, at some point you'll give them back in return.

 

Someone suggested to us certain noticeable differences between the two systems in function of particular dimensions. So, anyway… I would say that this multiplicity can be called the system or multiplicity of deception. Why does one spend one's time deceiving in this system? It's not as easy as one might think. I said some things last week that we will have to go back to and try to develop further. I call that common work when for example on Monday I make this multiplicity the multiplicity of paranoid delusion. And we say: “Okay you can keep that. I will make the multiplicity of despotic power…” and then another person arrives and says: “I'll make the system of deception out of it…”

 

So you understand that it wasn't a schema after all but a map, a map of variable coordinates. You can upturn it, refer it to certain coordinates and then it becomes delirium. Refer it to other coordinates and it becomes instead a social formation, and then referring it to a further set of coordinates you turn it into something of the order of deception and trickery. Each of you can do the same for other coordinates. And we saw that in other cases it was the same: the same method applied.

 

You should never ask at the beginning to whom or what something refers to. Establish your own multiplicity! Calculate it well or badly… and for each case it must be different. Don't do as Hegel does. Don't proceed 3 by 3. Don't proceed 2 by 2. Open yourself to all numbers! Say: if it's 7, then let it be 7. If  90 then 90. And in this sense, it's also by following the dimensions you take into account that you assign the multiplicity to this or that.

 

And we've seen how the multiplicity of passion-subjectivation could have been assigned - depending on the dimensions taken into consideration - to a type of delirium. You see clearly how I'm already lying and playing tricks with everything. Because in a real method, this wouldn't be possible... I wouldn't have the right to find two sides, two forms of delirium. Nor would I have the right to find two sides in terms of two social formations. Except that, if I proceed in another way, we will be lost. It would be too difficult for you as it would be for us all. So we approximate... But it goes without saying that all this serves simply to make the pseudo ideas of delirium or social formation collapse. 

 

So we have to pass by way of this point. Therefore, if you consider certain dimensions of the second schema, you will extract a form of delirium, passional delusion or delusion of action and they are not the same thing. I won't spend much time on this because I've already developed it extensively... I just remind you that passional delusion, which is always opposed to, or assumes another figure with respect to paranoid or interpretive delusion, has been given different names throughout the history of psychiatry - all of which more or less refer to Esquirol's notion of monomania. The monomanias that Esquirol divided into three types: erotic monomania or erotomania, incendiary monomania...

 

(Student)

- That’s a good one!

 

Deleuze

It’s not bad, not bad… and then homicidal monomania, reasoning monomania. Not bad... They more or less equate to what others would call sticklers. People who stick to procedures. A kind procedural delusion. And Esquirol had already defined monomania as a different form of delusion - not from paranoia, because he didn't yet know the word, but from mania. There wasn't an ensemble of things that undermined the exercise of faculties that otherwise remained sane, but a succession of acts, a delusion not of ideas but of acts. And this, particularly in Germany, was called a querulous delusion.

 

And this is where the legal procedural aspect came in. It was a delusion of querulants. They start a proceeding that arrives at its conclusion and then they embark upon a second and then a third and so on... Other psychiatrists would call them grievance delusions. And yet others would refer to them as passional delusions. And they were grouped into three main forms: jealousy, erotomania and redress.

 

So if you consider certain coordinates of the second multiplicity you will have, for example, a delirious formation: the group of passional delusions. While if you consider other or more coordinates, you will have what we touched upon, perhaps rather hurriedly, and it will still have to be proved... you will have a quite bizarre thing, no longer the despotic formation but... we will have to find a name for this but maybe we will just look for a general name. Since we're talking about attributions and without seeking to be too symmetrical, we could call it the history of the Jewish People. But in what sense?

 

We tried to get a general idea of the matter the other time and naturally the history of the Jewish People raises a number of questions. You can understand why I'm glad that I first made the connection. With the exodus, the Jewish People literally go off on a tangent from the despotic system, the system of the Pharaoh. Everything happens as if they took upon their shoulders, and inserted themselves into, the line of flight. 

 

[tape interrupted]

 

(Students)

 

- ... first of all you can't eliminate the despotic system. It's there. You can't get rid of it even if you wanted to.

 

– But...

 

– Wait your turn darling...

 

– It's not true what you're saying. Shut up!

 

– I'm not saying that isn't a need to do it, I'm saying that we can't, because repressive power is impossible to... it's everywhere. It can't work, it's unfeasible. Even here in this theatre we can't do it.

 

– But we're not in a theatre!

 

– It's impossible! How can it be done? What would we have to eliminate?

 

– I have a proposal to make... In my view we're being cowards. I'm doing something I've never done before and I'm aware of it. I'm sending you out! I've never done anything like this in my life.

What you're doing is completely unacceptable. I've never done this before.

 

– You don't have the right.

 

– Otherwise every Tuesday it's us who will be sent out. It will always be the same. And because we try not to be repressive everyone thinks they can aggress us...

 

(Guattari)

– Philippe!

 

(Eric)

– Nobody takes responsibility in this hall!

 

(Guattari)

– Listen to me a second!

 

(Deleuze)

– Philippe, don't touch him! Don't touch him!

 

(Student)

– He has to calm down!

 

(Guattari)

– He is calm…

 

(Students)

 

– He has the same right to be mad as you.

 

– The problem is that this is nonetheless an interesting place to be. Even if he creates disturbance it has an effect… and here we have the perfect example. It really is an extraordinary example.

 

– He's making a straight line on the circle.

 

– Before, we were discussing it but now we're no longer doing so. We’re just suffering it... What's at stake is something completely different. It's not a question of analysis. It's something we're living. It's unimaginable to say that there isn't a problem of exclusion. We can't exclude him.

 

(Guattari)

– Giovanni Jervis talks about these things on the radio all the time. They discuss boring stuff like the situation in Italy... Here we have someone like Eric who speaks to us about fantastic things and comes up with marvels even if they're seemingly off topic. So you're saying we're condemned to cut off any intervention like that, just to have a bit of logical coherence. Jervis has spoken about this problem. What is this “tolerance” of ours towards certain forms of discourse, where we can spend an entire lesson arguing with someone? It's possible, it can be done... it would be great to be able to spend a couple of hours talking to Eric and his friend who must be dying of anguish right now. Superb. But since our goal is to speak with a certain logical coherence about a series of connected ideas, we can't accept it. We are prisoners of a certain representation of “spontaneism”, of a certain freedom of expression, a kind of absence of constraints that comes back on us… as though we were walking towards the riot cops carrying bunches of flowers. It's completely stupid when you think about it…

 

(Student)

– We've had it up to here with therapy!

 

(Guattari)

– It's not a question of therapy. If we say: “One day we're going to clear things up with our friend here”. What happened with Deleuze? Why… Why does he talk about stolen texts? Okay, fine. We'll come to an agreement. But if we accept that anyone can walk in here and throw boiling oil on us, break our balls with their problems, we can't do anything anymore, we're prisoners. Unlike Philippe, I don't think we can find a solution on the cross of violence. But we have to confront the problem. We are ourselves... we secrete this reaction. We lay ourselves open to this reaction.

 

 

(Eric)

– You make an analysis of the institution. You describe how it functions. And on that point we can reread Malinowski…

 

(Guattari)

– Malinowski or Mayakowski?

 

(Eric)

– You embody the institution as a professor!

 

(Student)

– That's not the question...

 

(Eric)

– I'm trying to say something, idiot! There's always... I'm speaking to her... there's always a difference between what I say and what I live…

 

(Guattari)

– Eric, Eric!

 

(Eric)

– And at Vincennes there is always a difference between what we say and what we live. And this is what I call contradiction!

 

(Guattari)

– Eric, do you want Deleuze to leave Vincennes for good? Is that what you want?

 

(Eric)

– No.

 

(Guattari)

– So why are you behaving like an idiot?

 

(Eric)

– No, I'm saying that you embody the institution!

 

(Guattari)

– That’s what's going to happen. Is that what you want?

 

(Eric)

– No, I have nothing to do with this business...

 

(Guattari)

– Yes you do, because you create havoc. You fuck everything up!

 

[tape interrupted]

 

(Guattari)

– So can we continue now?

 

(Student)

– I can't accept this... I can't accept that we go on analyzing a model in this way. We can't build a discourse on this model, saying: “Let's analyze it and see what we find.”

 

(Guattari)

– Then we won't do anything. There'll be nothing either next week or the following week. So it's now that we decide. I'm not talking about Deleuze. He can say what he wants but we can't go on like this.

 

(Student)

– It's not possible! And the proof is that everyone's always yelling and arguing all the time. We can't hear, we can't understand anything. And that explains everything.

 

(Other student)

– It's not true! We understand perfectly well.

 

(Student)

– I don't understand anything…

 

(Robert)

– I don't give a shit about what he says. I don't give a toss. And you know why? You know why his opinion doesn't interest me?

 

(Student)

– If we raise the question of exclusion we have to understand how it happens, if there are any rules.

 

(Robert)

– There are no rules. That's why we're all here…

 

(Student)

– That's just the point. There aren't. And if there aren't, what are we supposed to do? We're fucked whichever way you look at it. We'll never get out of it.

 

(Robert)

– Of course we will. We do every morning. Every single goddamned day… in the metro, at work, at school. It works. And we can even smile at it. Look at me, I'm here!

 

(Students)

– Does it work from nursery school to parliament?

 

– I propose we vote… Do we go on with the course next week and she's out? We have to take responsibility and decide once and for all whether to exclude this girl who's been disrupting the lesson and who will continue to do so every Tuesday until we're left with nothing. It's our responsibility!

 

– It's not true!

 

– Deleuze is here and this is a question that primarily concerns Deleuze and her. It's between them. There's something going on... Even if we vote Deleuze can always say, No, she 's here, she makes it impossible for me.

 

– No, it's not just between Deleuze and her. It concerns all of us and her.

 

 

(Guattari)

– We're reaching a level of idiocy now that's unbelievable! We're like cattle carts on our way to the fields!

 

(Deleuze)

– I would just like to say a couple of things now... I awake from my catatonia and I would say...

 

(Students)

– But Guattari...

 

– Shut up!

 

– What a ballbreaker!

 

Deleuze

I want to pose two questions. Firstly, what are we doing here? We are quite modest. Yet what we're doing here is of so bizarre a nature that it triggers a certain type of aggression. We've seen a lot of examples... Today's is one that seems particularly pathetic. Second question: what is it that makes us – and maybe with reason, though I won't say good reason – what it is that makes us so defenseless when confronted with these acts of aggression? In a sense, it can be useful to learn something from the outside.

 

What we're doing here probably disturbs some people. I'm not accusing anyone. But suddenly we are disarmed in the sense that it becomes very easy for a single person to create havoc in the classroom, considering that the balance of power normally favors the individual. Unless we happen to be in a classroom with a whole army, a security team around us...

 

Personally speaking, I feel a bit lost today. And it interests me so little that I can say my only strength – and here I'm not speaking on behalf of the rest of the class – my only strength is an extreme obstinacy... Three Tuesdays would be sufficient to accomplish a very simple thing: completely destroy the work we've done. Still, I would come back every Tuesday. I don't care...

 

There are two elements that come together in this affair. This girl arrives. She has a certain relationship with all of us in that she prevents us from doing what we're trying to do. And as you said, she obviously has a certain rapport with me. Of which I understand nothing. I only know... and this is no secret because the same problem has occurred in other situations... I get calls at night when I would normally be sleeping. Silence on the other end of the line, or insults or obscenities... Usually very confused. They always mistake me for someone else. It's very similar in a way.

 

In the case of the phone calls, as Félix says, what should we do when people like that are so obstinate? They call you ten, twenty times in a row. I pick up the phone and I hear noises. What should we do? One day we might even find someone on our doorstep, standing there saying “I want to see you!” What do we do then. Call the police? Don't call the police? What do you do after three months of this.

 

It's strange how it always happens to the same people. Lacan is lucky in this sense. He would have resolved the problem in two seconds. But in my view it's a kind of strength, nothing exceptional, but it's a strength that we are so... even if now we might be forced to change tack... though not much. What is it that makes us so defenseless faced with someone who comes in here saying: “You stole that from me!” The same way I'm defenseless when they call me up at night. What is it that produces this?

 

I would almost say, at the risk of sounding vain, I would almost say that it's the novelty... a certain novelty in what we're doing. It's a certain novelty in what we're doing here that permits someone to turn up... I think of a recent book that I find quite repellent where they refer to us as  “the current trend”. The current trend... That's a bit exaggerated because... and I stress that Lacan has nothing to do with it... but it's a bunch of Lacanians, Lacanian Marxists, as Eric would say, who speak of us as “the current trend.”

 

But to be frank… if there is an organized “current trend”, it's not us. We are nothing. We just work in our little corner. Once again, what can we summon by way of response if they want to prevent us from working? I'd like to imagine some responses we could give. I would say it's partly the nature of what we are doing here that renders us so defenseless. And yet at the same time I consider this a means of defense. Therefore I'm not going to leave. I was wrong to say that I would leave... I'm not going. I'll just wait until you leave. That's all. And then if this goes on much longer, and you stay then probably I will end up leaving. But I think the only way to resist cases like this is to stay on the defensive. Perhaps we ought to find a better solution but for the moment I can't think of one. So now I slide back into my catatonia...

 

(Students)

– I think she left!

 

– Actually, she left ten minutes before all hell broke loose.

 

– You hadn't seen her face before?

 

– What makes you think you didn't start all this? I'm not accusing you.

 

(Deleuze)

– Ah yes, I'm afraid of myself.

 

(Student)

– I've never seen her before…

 

Deleuze

– Oh yes, she was here last year. Has she gone? Really?

 

[tape interrupted]

 

(Deleuze)

One can always speak through dualisms. In the end it's the easiest, the most convenient way. Once again, the class 2 binary system is the most convenient. By the way, that's what computer scientists are always telling us. Computer scientists, who always work through binarisms, say they do it because, from the computer’s point of view, it's the easiest method. The computer... Phase 2 is the easiest way. So much the better, we say... since considering what we have done up to now it surely explains a lot. We've learned something.

 

When we spoke about the face, we thought we'd discovered that binarisms, the establishing of dichotomies and binary rapports, the whole ensemble of dualisms, had served us well for reasons that were far from mere convenience. They were connected to the exercise of a certain type of power, and there were forms of power that couldn't tolerate the polyvocality of bodies and had to produce face, and that in producing face, established major binarisms, given that the face is caught up in binary relationships. And beginning from this, the signifying elements were distributed according to a series of dichotomies.

 

We also saw how an exercise of power is something that completely defines the dominant language and that profoundly defines the way that language and words are used. Therefore, it's not a question of saying: “I will invent a language without dualisms.” Maybe there's only one thing at stake here: not only are dualisms convenient but language itself as a form of expression of a particular power imposes dualisms. So much so that our only response, both in speaking and writing, is to continually open a kind of passage between dualisms. And each time we make a dualism collapse – a dualism is like a piece of furniture, it's something that is always being moved around… – we're inevitably going to run into another one and so we'll have to open up a new passage in that dualism. And each time we'll try to do so.

 

Therefore it's clear that when I say there are two forms of delirium, it goes without saying that we will try to open up a passageway between these two forms, we will try to arrive at something that will obviously no longer deserve to be called either reason or delirium, nor one type of delusion or another. However, we're not going to be able to open this passageway using a predetermined method and every time we will have to regain the multiplicities, passing by way of these dualisms. So as I can only respond as follows... I say: “Let's try to look for the dimensions, the coordinates of the first system that we call signifiance and based on the coordinates we take into account we will find ourselves at the level of a delirium, or the social formation of a system, such as the system of deception.

 

So the first coordinate - I number them because there are many and this will help us to orient ourselves - the first coordinate, to return to my example of signs, which in the meantime has become more complex as we have added others, is a system in which a sign refers to other signs ad infinitum. There's a whole network of signs that are completely heterogeneous, everything is captured.

 

What does it mean when we say that a sign refers to another sign? After all this emotion, we have to let loose... The sign refers to another sign. It means at least that some things can no longer happen. When a sign refers to another sign of which I know nothing in advance, a kind of atmosphere has already been born, an atmospherization, as I said before. What does this mean? Let's wait and see... The sign refers to another sign. I should say that in our method we should never practice free association of ideas. What we have to do is produce redundancy. We have to make resonate not words but bits of phrases until a kind of jump occurs.

 

The sign refers to another sign. We feel that we're not going to get anything worthwhile out of that. We can say, yes it's true but it leaves us in an impasse... No matter what sign refers to no matter what sign. This is the system of signifiance. We're still in the dark, but then suddenly a chink of light appears. If the sign refers to another sign, it means at least that it doesn't refer to something else. And what would this something else be? I can conceive... maybe it will help us get out of these dualisms. I can conceive of a sign that refers to something other than another sign. A sign can refer to a state of things. An extremely variable state of things. For example, smoke is a sign of fire. Of course, fire could be just another sign and then we fall back into the same trap. But fire can also be considered a state of things.

 

“A sign refers to a state of things” is a very different proposition to “a sign refers to another sign.” A painting, a corporeal painting on the body of a member of a tribe, appears to refer to a very particular state of things. It's a code that refers to a territoriality. Are all states of things of this nature? 

 

Animals, it's well known that animals emit signs... For example, excrement, which equates to states of things, is often used by animals to signal their territorial boundaries. The sign may refer to a state of things that, generally speaking… I don't have time right now to ask whether or not every state of things is a territoriality… but I'll just say that a sign can refer to a state of things that can, generally speaking, be reduced to a territoriality. But the sign may also no longer refer to a state of things that it designates. It may refer to a signified, as we say… to something that it signifies and which is not of the same nature as a state of things. So, while I say that the sign refers to a state of things, that is to a territoriality, generally what the sign signifies is not a state of things but rather a concept. The sign signifies a concept. We're not demanding... We're not looking for anything extraordinary here. When it signifies a concept, we can in some way say that it no longer refers to a territoriality, but that it leads to a kind of reterritorialization, a reterritorialization that is in this case spiritual or mental.

 

So there we have it. We've opened our passage... What is the sign that refers to another sign ad infinitum? A sign that refers to a sign that refers to a sign that refers to a sign that refers to a sign, to the point that in the end one can no longer even call it a sign… but rather an infinite or unlimited realm of signifiance, which is the state of a sign that refers to no matter which other sign. So we can say that the sign that refers to another sign, in referring to another sign, is a deterritorialized sign. No longer referring to a state of things and not yet referring to a signified, it is caught up in the moment of its own deterritorialization.

 

So, at the risk of pulling out everything but the kitchen sink, there's a famous author, Peirce, who proposed a terminology that had a certain success: index, icon, symbol. We don't really care what he meant by this. That's not our business. We just imagine the use that we can make of these terms.

 

We will say that the index is the sign insofar as it refers to a territoriality. Whereas the icon is the sign insofar as it leads to a reterritorialization. And the symbol is the sign insofar as it is deterritorialized - that is to say the sign that refers to another sign. But how can there be a network in which any sign can refer to any other sign? Once again, at this level there are no longer different states of things. Or, as is often said, there are no longer referents. Nor are there signifieds. Quite simply, the sign becomes a signifier when it refers to another sign ad infinitum. This status of the sign is rather bizarre. What is implied by this network of signs become signifiers - that become signifiers precisely on account of the fact that they refer to another sign ad infinitum?

 

In what conditions does such a network become possible? There isn't yet a given signified, rather this network of signs is established on a sort of continuum, a sliding continuum, a slippery continuum. Which means that all possible contents or signifieds are fused in a kind of atmospheric continuum. A kind of amorphous, slippery, revolting continuum... like quicksand.

 

A point, a sign... takes up another sign. Everything occurs as though the continuum had slid. Therefore these signs don't even require the links of free association. Free association is a complete idiocy. There's no need... They are carried towards one another by the slow sliding of the continuum. Once again, there is nothing that associates the dog and the mask. There is just a movement of muddy, sticky terrain. It's not surprising. Both paranoid delusion and the despotic formation are traversed by terror.

 

And that's the first characteristic... I have to press on... Second characteristic... The first, as we said, is simply the reference from sign to sign that implies a deterritorialization of the sign and supposes an amorphous, sliding continuum. Second characteristic: the circularity of the system. Indeed one of the most well-known and celebrated representatives of the signifying system, Lacan, says, for example, of the signifying sign that it is “at the risk of a circular return”. 

 

Why is it at the risk of a circular return? You see the signifying chain that is constituted on the amorphous network. He doesn't present its constitution in this way, but it's of no importance. At the risk of a circular return… So redundancy, signifying redundancy, is already part of this system, each sign passes into another sign. The dog has become this. It has become. What does it mean that it has become another thing? It means that a slow slippage of the terrain has occurred, causing it to pass into something else. It's not a happy world. Nor will this be. To find gay, happy worlds we'll have to go off on a tangent… At the risk of circular return, the sign that passes into another sign, that will pass again on its own account... This impression of eternal return forms part of this sticky atmosphere, the impression of the already lived. A sad impression.

 

[tape interrupted]

 

When Nietszche has this impression he leaps with joy, but not for long. He's dragged under by the quicksand. He trips up in his dance. If nothing else, he was happy for an instant. That's already something. Therefore, what we have is a kind of redundancy - not only of the sign with another sign but of the sign with itself. The sign doesn't enter into relation with another sign in the sliding continuum without entering into relation with itself as that which will always make its return. This is what it is to feel the sign of the despot. The whole of the despot is already there. But we haven't seen it yet. So that's the second characteristic. Sorry if I have to rush on but otherwise we'll never get finished.

 

Third dimension. If I keep to my schema and let it guide me… I can say that I've roughly accounted for the circularity of the system. But why are there several circles? Why all these spires of the spiral? Why these distinct circles? This is very important for us. Why? Because from one circle to another – and you see how the signs are distributed on these distinct circles... Once more I go back to the example we encountered in the last lesson. With the atmosphere there was that day in this room, the signs weren't at all on the same circle. We could always say that I was the one who brought it in with me but I wouldn't be happy with that, since it implies an operation of redoubling that would put us in mind of certain notions...

 

(Student)

– But wasn't it more like the second figure?

 

(Deleuze)

– You think so? Okay, yes, it's true. The various signs didn't arise on the same spires or the same circles... The dog, I repeat, was part of the outermost circle. To be specific, insofar as   

it was a sign pertaining to this formation, it was a deterritorialized dog. It didn't have its territoriality here. It was a deterritorialized dog. Friendly enough but deterritorialized all the same.

 

[tape interrupted]

 

In this system of signifiance, one never ceases... you see how I'm still developing my first point, even if we're at the third. I'm still developing the first point. Because the sign refers to any other sign, one never ceases to jump from one circle to another. Another example is the girl. She obviously had an account to settle with me. There… a whole private scene was in play, although I had never done anything to her. And she for her part had a public intervention to make. She was making a jump. I think that's why Félix said – for which someone accused him of being a psychiatrist – that's why Felix said: She feels anguished. She too... She makes us feel anguished, but she feels it too. She was jumping from one circle to another. It's strange... Because in the system – we still haven't spoken about the despot but you can feel he's always there in the background. In what form? There are his two eyes – in the system you have regulated jumps, ones that are tolerated and others that are forbidden. Regulated jumps are when one can pass, I suppose, from a certain private event to a certain social situation. In other cases, this kind of jump is not permitted.

 

Think for example of the time when military men who were officers didn't have the right to divorce. What does that mean? If I take a circle which I nominate completely at random, considering I have no particular reason for it to be here or there. It varies… it can be extremely variable. Everything depends on the point of reference. If you take the family home as the centre of signifiance, the private circle will be the closest to the hearth. If you take the State apparatus as your centre the private circle will be very extrinsic. So we have to put everything into play. To respond to your question, it explodes in every direction.

 

So, anyway, I named it very randomly. Let's imagine that this is the circle of private signs and this is the circle of public signs. Private event: divorce. The jump is forbidden. The officer is stripped of his rank. It's a jump you can't make. You cannot be both an officer and divorced. Of course things have changed since then... But in what way have they changed? Which jumps are still not tolerated?

 

What is it that the Greeks call hybris? You recall that in Greek tragedy you have two elements: firstly, there's the theme of the gods who give a lot to each, who assign lots, as in a lottery; and then you have the man of hybris, who is someone who jumps too far and who overleaps his lot. He has literally jumped too far when prey to a demon. In general, the Greek hero is possessed by hybris, a word normally translated as “outrageousness”. Having failed to measure his jump, he attempts a forbidden jump. Then there are jumps that are well regulated. For example, when a boy from good family goes to study at the Polytéchnique… this is allowed... There's a whole system of regulations.

 

One particular example is found in very ancient despotic formations in South America, where passages between private and public signs are strictly regulated. For example between the event of a woman who betrays her husband and the right the husband has to withdraw to the outskirts of the village to pray for a calamity to descend upon the whole village, until such time as purification rites have been performed. Here we have a typical regulation of the jump: a woman betrays her husband and the husband rebounds on a given circle of signifiance to which he has the right. On another circle he moves to the outskirts of the village and prays to the gods to wipe out all the villagers. 

 

So you sense all this... It's again the sliding continuum that permits him to do so. But at the same time there are forbidden jumps, the ones we're not supposed to make. This is why I say our schema works by means of a multiplicity of circles. But there’s no need to say where this multiplicity of circles derives from. It's simple... We have the answer in our last two points. It derives from the following: the sign that refers to another sign, whether on the same circle or on another, is the deterritorialized state of the sign. And I will try to explain to you why this is.

 

It's the sign in its deterritorialization. Otherwise, it refers to something other than a sign. However, deterritorialization is never a state. It's a movement. Now, in function of their origin, in function of the territoriality from which they derive… signs do not have the same speed, nor the same nature of deterritorialization. As a result, it's inevitable that there isn't a single circle but rather spires of a spiral. These spires or different circles are distinguished according to their speed and to the nature of deterritorialization of the signs that are assigned to each circle or spire. It seems complicated but actually it's quite simple.

 

Good. Here we already have three coordinates. First coordinate: the sign referring to another sign ad infinitum. This is the sign's signifiance and state of deterritorialization. Second coordinate: the system is circular, and necessarily so. Third coordinate: it involves a plurality of distinct circles or spires of a spiral, with both regulated jumps from one circle to the other and also forbidden jumps between circles.

 

In a certain sense, Oedipus, the despot... it sometimes happens that the despot himself makes the forbidden jump. And in Oedipus there's a famous line, when Oedipus asks in relation to his own case: “Which demon has leapt the longest leap?” That is to say, which demon led me to make the forbidden jump? A jump in the sense of...

 

Fourth coordinate: it's not enough that we have several circles. Each time we add a dimension. In the second coordinate, we obtained the idea of the circle, and in the third, the plurality of circles. But we don't yet have a sufficient number of dimensions. Fourth coordinate or dimension: we need something that assures the expansion of the circles, that assures their perpetual expansion. What prevents the signifying regime from dying of a sort of entropy, as physicists would say? What prevents the entropy of the system from growing to the point that everything is annulled in the indeterminate and anonymous continuum?

 

This continuum is very dangerous because it is at the same time the quicksand that carries the sign to another sign and also what rises up and risks drowning everything in an atmospheric continuity where one can no longer distinguish anything. At which point the whole system would suffocate. Therefore, something is required to continually recharge the circles. To recharge the signs on every circle. Something is required to be able to assure the circles' expansion. What assures it, therefore, is the fact that all at once, in another dimension that I can't even represent, every sign, or group of signs - it hardly matters - will be made to correspond to a signified. We are no longer in the domain of signifiance, we are in the domain of what we could call interpretation.

 

To interpret means to make a sign or a group of signs presumed to be signifiers, refer to a signified. It's not the same situation we had in the first dimension where the only signified was the amorphous anonymous, atmospheric continuum itself. Now, on the contrary, the continuum is cut, in such a way as to make every group of signs correspond to a signified. Here we no longer have the figure of the despot but that of his accomplice, the interpreter, the diviner. The diviner will interpret the signs which is to say he will make them correspond to a given signified. But how does that suffice to recharge the system as a whole? I'm going even faster now!

 

It's not a modern discovery to say that no interpretation ever arrives at an ultimate interpreted. What the diviners interpret are always other interpretations. The diviner emits signs… but what do they interpret? The signs of the goddess ad infinitum. In other words, if someone asked us what is the ultimate signified, we would have to respond: the signifier. And I'm not the only one who says this. Also the champions of the signifier agree on this point. Which is the best interpretation? They too say or perform it: it's silence.

 

This is what psychoanalysts have discovered: no longer to interpret but to keep silent. And it's this silence of the analyst that gives the patient something to interpret. Each time the interpretation, since it can do no more than replace another interpretation, recharges the signifier and refuels the sign with signifiance... And so here we have a first way to defeat the entropy of the system. It's the diviner, which is to say the man with the delusion of interpretation, who has the task of recharging the entropy of the system with signifiance.

 

Therefore, in the end, what we have, to be precise, is a way to distinguish paranoia and interpretation. Though they are in the same group, they are not the same thing. Since the signified continuously refers to the signifier, and is in the last instance, the signifier itself, the interpretation that assigns the signified to a group of signs always recharges signifiance. Thus the machine of signifiance will constantly be recharged from within. 

 

So we can say that the two maladies, because that's what they are, the two maladies of humanity are finally signifiance and interpretation.

French Transcript

Edited

In collaboration with the students in attendance, Deleuze introduces different terms under development with Guattari in their ongoing collaboration that will result, in 1980, in A Thousand Plateaus.

Traduction en cours de développement