February 24, 1976
So, there's a first topic that we will put aside for the moment, concerning a certain number of figures of segmentarity. And then there's a second topic, which concerns at the same time molar aggregates and molecular lines. And, of course, these molar aggregates and molecular lines become mixed. ... Last time we also sketched out a third topic which was a rapid analysis, or rather a rapid effect of the analysis, of the verb “to be” as a principle of the molar aggregates and their elements. ... Today, I'd like to start on a fourth topic and this fourth topic would consist more or less in saying that we will try to establish a certain status typical of what we could call “molecular multiplicities”.
Deleuze's 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, while Deleuze and Guattari were working on specific "plateaus" within what would become “Mille Plateaux” (the dates for each session are unknown so we have provided dates corresponding to successive Tuesdays in 1975-76, without any claim to accuracy). 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.
A. Deleuze at Paris 8-Vincennes, 1975-76
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 of this segment added to the 3 June 1980 lecture]
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
On Harmony (1987) -- Session 20 (2 June 1987), transcript and translation located in the Leibniz and the Baroque seminar, Deleuze's final session before retirement
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)
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 - Morale ed etica (Lezioni a Vincennes, 1975/76) Interview with Richard Pinhas (7:03)
Gilles Deleuze a Vincennes 1/3 (sub ita) (4:00:00)
Gilles Deleuze a Vincennes 2/3 (sub ita) (4:21:40)
In a dual lecture including both Deleuze and Guattari, the authors introduce different terms developed in their ongoing collaboration which will result, in 1980, in A Thousand Plateaus.
Deleuze & Guattari at Vincennes, 1975-76
Deleuze su molteplicità molare et molteplicità molecolare, Parts 10-12: Molar and Molecular Multiplicities
Translated by Graeme Thomson and Silvia Maglioni
[Deleuze entering the room very slowly, due crowd blocking his path]
Deleuze: How are we going to manage?
- We can just stay here like this.
- It's easy… you just have to lift your leg…
Deleuze: I can't. He's sitting there...
- It's not to be able to move, it's so we can breathe…
Deleuze: It's a life question!
- Put out that cigarette.
Deleuze: Hello Félix. [Pause; Deleuze organizes papers on the desk] I’d like to raise a problem, an interesting one. There's glass fiber there. Imagine if a fire broke out. You see the door? We would all die. All of us. Except me, perhaps...
- Unless we jump from the window.
Deleuze: But all of you will perish. Which is to say you shouldn't come to class. Be reasonable. The working conditions here don't conform to safety norms. So when the fire starts, don't panic. We don't move, we don't worry...
- Have you seen Narboni? He was waiting for you...
Deleuze: Yes, I've seen Narboni.
- You'll suffocate…
Deleuze: Does anyone have a piece of chalk? Chalk. Chalk. Thank you... As usual I will summarize the topics we have already covered because... what is it?
- We can't hear very well.
Deleuze: It will come. My voice is always a bit low to begin with. It will come. So, the topics... I think we began with... I'll always recapitulate like this, so that when we go back to a given topic those who were present...
Deleuze: Oh no, shit. Those who were present will remember it. So, there's a first topic that we will put aside for the moment, concerning a certain number of figures of segmentarity. And then there's a second topic, which concerns at the same time molar aggregates and molecular lines. And, of course, these molar aggregates and molecular lines become mixed. We also briefly mentioned two complementarities, two relations of complementarity between the molar aggregates and the molecular lines that mix with them.
First of all, there is a direct complementarity: the bigger the molar aggregates become, the more the molecular lines become enmeshed with them, trace movements of flight etc. And there is also a second complementarity that is... Did I start with the direct one? I don't remember… There is an inverse complementarity, but this is a topic we just touched upon.
Last time we also sketched out a third topic which was a rapid analysis, or rather a rapid effect of the analysis, of the verb “to be” as a principle of the molar aggregates and their elements. And, on the other hand, we made an analysis of the conjunction “and” as a broken-line type of movement, a movement of the molecular line.
And we imagined a kind of... tension – which is not contradiction - but a kind of tension between the “est” (is) of the verb “to be” and the “et” (and) of the conjunction, and we said that this tension would, for different reasons, traverse language as a whole, or at least certain types of language.
And some of you raised the objection that apparently, in some languages this tension between “est” and “et” doesn't exist. Not only does it not exist but also the very structure of these languages denies it. This really unsettled us and yet, at the same time, we noted that a certain use of the conjunction “and” defines minor languages, or the minor use of certain languages, in opposition to the imperialism and hegemony of the verb “to be” in so-called major languages. And we also realized that we would have to return to this objection, to which we had no answer at the time, thinking we would devote a lesson to it.
The objection was that this wouldn't work, at least in the case of Arabic or Chinese. But we were reassured by the fact that it did work for languages I proposed to call neither minor nor major – languages eroded from within by strong minorities, such as British and American English. British and American English as a whole are traversed by a very peculiar use of the conjunction “and”. You may have found all this a bit dispersive but I think you’ve understood...
Today, I'd like to start on a fourth topic and this fourth topic would consist more or less in saying that we will try to establish a certain status typical of what we could call “molecular multiplicities”. You see, this could be considered a different topic but at the same time it's the same as the previous ones because it implies a certain rapport between multiplicities that we call “molar” and multiplicities that we call “molecular”. And, together with Guattari, I have sought... I don't want to go back to things we've already covered but I would like to tell you how we have managed to advance on this somewhat.
We looked for a certain number of variables that could be considered variables of a particular type of multiplicity, which we will call “molecular”. I pronounce these first of all for the pleasure the words give me… but also so that all of you can bear them in mind, so as to situate them in aggregates, masses, multiplicities.
The variables we wish to propose today are those that correspond to the category of bridges. A bridge. A bridge might not seem very molecular but it doesn't matter. A bridge... Second variable: ring, or network. Third variable: borderline. Fourth variable: threshold and door. Fifth variable: fiber. Sixth variable, which is obviously the most beautiful: rhizosphere, or plane of consistency.
Good. I'll say that for the moment I would roughly like to place them, while avoiding anything to do with axioms or structures. I want to place these variables within a certain type of multiplicity. Obviously... obviously these multiplicities or these masses don't exist on their own. I think again of the objection we began with yesterday, that all this is anyhow a form of dualism. Molecular multiplicities, when they are present, spread or stretch out, they spread together with multiplicities of large aggregates, multiplicities we shall call “molar”. They are inside, they slip underneath, spread out on the surface, they always exist one within the other, according to what we previously defined as a double complementarity.
So we have to begin again from the schema we proposed at a certain point that concerned - and here I'll be brief - multiplicities of a primarily molar nature. How do we recognize a molar multiplicity? Molar multiplicities include both aggregates - large aggregates - and the elements of these large aggregates. You remember how we were convinced that the distinction molar/molecular doesn't correspond to that between aggregate and element? So, molar multiplicities are a certain type of aggregate comprised of certain elements. How do we define them? We proposed to define them through the schema of arborescence. Each time you have an arborescent schema you have the formal pattern of a multiplicity that we can call a molar multiplicity.
The simplest arborescent schema - because arborescent schemas are extremely complicated - the simplest arborescent schema is that which proceeds... I’m not brave enough to go to the blackboard, so please follow my finger... is that which proceeds by a succession of dichotomies. But there are others that are more complicated. If I try to express the arborescent schema in its most general form... perfect, perfect. But this is still a simple one. More or less it would be this. I can't continue because… well, we don't need this. So there we have an arborescent schema in its most general form.
If I try now quickly to list its characteristics, even if this means connecting them with things we looked at last year, I would say that in this aggregate, in this type of multiplicity - the molar multiplicity - their first characteristic is that binary machines exist in their own right. Every time, you have a dichotomizing operation that exists in its own right. Once again, either you're a man or a woman, a bourgeois or a proletarian and so on. It's all a play of binary machines that exist in their own right.
Second characteristic: there is... these multiplicities that we call molar are centered multiplicities. Here, the center is shown by the small circle. In other words, if I try to connect it to the things we looked at last year, there is a central black hole. And this central black hole is not the only one. On the contrary… All the other black holes spread around the multiplicity, resonate together with the central black hole, which in this way is able to move in all directions. Last year we would have said: “All the eyes resonate in a kind of central computer-eye, a single eye, a third eye, which organizes the multiplicity as a whole”.
Third characteristic: I will say that these multiplicities are evolutive multiplicities, even if they don't actually evolve. But if they don't evolve, what happens to them? If they don't evolve, they end up regressing. Yet both regression and progression are characteristics – directions - of evolution itself. By evolutive multiplicities I mean that they undergo a progression or a regression. In other words, what determines these multiplicities are lines of filiation or lines of lineage. It's not by chance that the doctrine that was called Evolutionism began - and I stress that this was just a beginning because it wasn’t limited to this - it began by posing questions in terms of filiation and lineage. In this regard, Darwin's key text speaks of how the novelty of Evolutionism consists in raising the questions of filiation and lineage that had never been posed by previous natural historians. However, this doesn't mean they ignored other phenomena. So what are these phenomena? We shall see, we shall see... These other phenomena, which we'll look at later, are treated as categories that have to be subordinated to phenomena of filiation and lineage.
Other features... and now I'd like to read you a text. “In an arborescent system, only a single neighbor is admitted: the hierarchical superior.” It's all in the schema. You start from a branch, this point that I call “small a” admits only one neighbor, the one from which it receives information, and which in the arborescent series of ramifications is its hierarchical superior. Or, if you prefer, from the perspective of filiation, its ancestor. The genetic ancestor, for example.
The text goes on: “In an arborescent system, the channels of transmission are pre-established. Arborescence pre-exists the individual, who is integrated into it at a precise point.” In computer science, this is called “a regime of centered automata”. It goes without saying that if I try - from the point of view of evolutive multiplicities - to define what is progression in opposition to regression, I would say that progression is the passage from the least differentiated (like you have there for example) to the most differentiated. In fact, when biologists of Darwin's epoch were asked what was the single criterion for organic progression, they would say “an organism that becomes increasingly differentiated”.
The last feature I wish to insist upon is that in these molar multiplicities… I'm not following any particular order… I'd like immediately to pose you some questions. One could trace a genesis, a passage from one feature to the other, it would be easy considering how they end up, but it's not worth it. Let's just look at them as simple features. So the last feature I will consider for the moment is that, in this type of multiplicity, there must be a principle of what we will call organization or structuration, which conducts the increasingly advanced game of differentiation or which distributes the binarities, the dichotomies, or which makes the black holes circulate throughout the entire system. But what is interesting is that this organizing or structuring principle is always hidden. It lets us see but is itself unseen.
So for molar multiplicities what is invoked is an intelligibility that is deeper than sensibility. Or we have an interior - for example an interior of life - deeper than the manifestations of life. For example, as far as we know... I would almost say that if we can recognize in a multiplicity one of the aforementioned characteristics... I hope that in today's seminar it will all become clearer and more concrete. But if we found one of the aforementioned features at a concrete level in a multiplicity, I think we could say: however small it may be, however minuscule the elements at play, what we have is a molar multiplicity.
I'll give you an example: so-called Western music, and by this I'm not referring just to contemporary music but to classical music as a whole. In a way, we've always been told that there was a principle that we can also call... that one can consider a musical work as a sonic multiplicity. There was a structuring or organizational principle, and it was this principle that gave us to hear, or listen. It was this principle that let us hear what we heard. But in and for itself, it went unheard. And if we consider what certain composers - even contemporary composers like Stockhausen or Boulez - refer to today as structure, it's clear that a musical structure makes us hear. But the structure itself goes unheard. And perhaps, if we take this term in a wider sense, it can be understood only through what it lets us hear.
Now, here's the question I wanted to ask without any need of an immediate answer: I wonder if, for example, what we could broadly call the Western conception of the unconscious doesn't depend precisely on this type of molar multiplicity. We shall see... For the moment, all this is still quite abstract but I would like to speak about things of a more concrete nature. We don’t even need to mention now that there exist multiplicities of another type - molecular multiplicities - but let’s just say that in this schema of molar multiplicities you have all kinds of other phenomena slipping in, making irruptions, mixing with, penetrating molar multiplicities and constituting within them - in a completely immanent manner - another type of multiplicity that will perturb them from within.
This is an important thing to bear in mind for the future because, if there are such workings from within, if molar multiplicities are affected by multiplicities of a different nature, you’ll see that we will be able to find a better order for the topics we covered in the last few lessons.
I would like to demonstrate this by mixing almost everything together, which is to say by invoking a little bit of science and a bit of... not exactly dream, but I don't know, let’s say literature. But I won't mix them, because otherwise none of you will give it credence. I would like to identify some poles - a certain number of poles - pertaining to what certain experts are researching. And this is important for us because in every field today... Guattari and I, when we find a specific example that we can't fully understand, because the scholars can be extremely difficult... the only thing we immediately understand is that each time they say: “What we apply are above all arborescent schema”, which incidentally are much more elaborate than my little schema. You would need specialized mathematicians to make sense of them. But for example, in mathematical statistics - which is an extremely difficult, highly complex field – they have a method called (and it's not by chance they’ve given it this name, since scholars don't use metaphors) counting trees. Today mathematical statistics uses it all the time but counting-trees methods don't account for the kind of phenomena I’m interested in.
We have to find a completely different model – I don’t care what term we use - a completely different model or schema or type. And everywhere you look - in biology, mathematics, physics, chemistry, linguistics, everywhere - in every field, arborescent schema that for a long time have been dominant, and which according to me are still completely tied to the axiomatic period of science, are in the process of being overturned. Because science has ceased to be, or has ceased to take up, any kind of axiomatic or structural ideal.
But let's try to be more concrete. First of all, we have to confront the existence of what we can only call bridges. Bridges... and so what would a bridge be? Actually, we don't really need to depart from my schema on the blackboard. It's enough to simply add it in. And the question I want to pose now is: will this schema be able to answer or account for what I wish to add here? And what I wish to add is... this and this. Twice. Two bridges. So how should we define these bridges? As whatever connection between two heterogeneous lines or lineages.
These are things that all of us know, and that we've already looked at, so I'm going to speed things up a bit. Let's go back to some examples that Guattari and I have already developed at length. There's an odd story we keep going back to, which is quite fascinating: the wasp and the orchid.
In simple terms, the orchid reproduces a sort of image of the wasp in such a way that it can wed itself to the wasp's image. A kind of transversal bond is created between two realms, between an element of the vegetable kingdom and one of the animal kingdom. What I would call a bridge. You see what we're saying… You can never derive a bridge from a filiation. If I was to seek a common filiation, my whole schema would collapse because I placed the bridge between two series, two differentiated lines. But here at the top of the board we have a common filiation, and the bridge makes it collapse. We would have to find a common filiation, a common ancestor of the wasp and the orchid.
We can actually go as far as saying that a bridge is always between realms, so if we accept this we have no choice: bridges don’t only exist in biology. Physicists and chemists too speak of having to introduce bridges into piles. In current theories regarding polymers, for example, there is a need to introduce bridges - while classical schemes don't acknowledge this.
I would say that the bridge is always a term of alliance, an alliance between two realms, so the living world is no longer understood – I’m exaggerating - so the different parts of the living world are no longer understood in terms of filiations and lineages but of alliances, which suits us perfectly. Because if we try to define Neo-evolutionism, which is to say Post-Darwinian evolutionary theory, we would say that it’s a theory that has increasingly been forced to renounce the primacy, the hegemony of the theme of filiations. So can we say there is a wasp-orchid alliance?
We know there exist phenomena of vital alliances in the aggregates of so-called symbioses or parasitisms, but more generally in the domain of symbiosis. It would be interesting if evolution occurred through alliance rather than filiation, at which point perhaps it would no longer be evolution. So what would it be? Another kind of multiplicity: molecular multiplicities, micro- multiplicities.
Bridges define and bring into play a whole system of micro-multiplicities. But in what sense? For example, in contemporary genetic research we are told that beyond any filiation there may be communication between two lines, two completely independent series, through a virus. A virus that connects both to the genetic inheritance of a given species and to that of another species that has nothing in common with the first - so the virus functions as a bridge between two species with no common filiation and which have absolutely nothing to do with one another.
Viruses are interesting because they introduce us more closely to a molecular schema: alliances that go against nature… but, even if there are other types, aren’t all alliances interkingdom in nature, made between two realms? So that's what we call a bridge, and that would be the first feature of this type of multiplicity: connections of whatever type between independent series or between lines irreducible to a filiation or a common lineage.
- More slowly please!
- Not so fast…
Deleuze: Am I going too fast for you? Well, I'm going to go even faster!
There… now my schema is perfect. Good. See? I've got bridges which are themselves connected to each other. Why is this interesting? Actually, it's not that interesting… well it is interesting, because it's a state where there is a swarming of black holes, a multiplicity of black holes that doesn't let itself... that doesn't resonate within a central black hole. Why is this?
Well, in contrast to a feature of molar multiplicities that we saw before, here each element - each black hole if you will - each element is at once emitter and receiver. In the theory of automata – and I insist on this point – everything that cannot be reduced to an arborescent schema implies that each element is both emitter and receiver. So that's what our schema looks like, and it's not reducible to an arborescent schema. You see? I have my network, my ring, and my connecting bridges, each time with a black hole that is both receiver and emitter of each element, of each black hole, so you no longer have a hierarchical arborescent structure but a ring.
Now I'm going to read something by a contemporary specialist who researches certain phenomena in physics. It's a text that I'd like Guattari to comment on later, if he feels like it...
Page 906: "If we suppose that clusters have a simple ramified structure like a family tree, we omit the possibility of cyclization". You see… the phenomenon of cyclization that unites all the elements in a network, such that each is at once emitter and receiver. You see that up until now...
I wish I had spoken in more concrete terms - I started badly… I should have begun with some concrete examples but now it's too late. Up until now - maybe I can get back on track - I've limited myself to a single multiplicity. But something is happening here. I'm trying to show how in any molar multiplicity something of another nature begins to insinuate itself. It's still a molar multiplicity but something odd is slipping into it, laying down its bridges, connecting them in networks and rings. But what is this?
Don't be surprised if we have to turn to horror stories as much as to science in order to figure this out. In fact, with my first two notions of bridge and ring (or network), I’ve remained within the context of a given multiplicity, one that is single and determined.
How do we define it? This is my third notion. How do we define a multiplicity? In the case of a molar multiplicity we define it through - as we saw - a structuring or organizing principle that isn't given as such. Here, at least, the answer is simple. But in the case of these crafty multiplicities, these discreet multiplicities that insinuate themselves, that we are trying to catch as they insinuate themselves… I can't say they have an organizing or structuring principle since that's how I defined molar multiplicities. What defines this kind of multiplicities - and this too is something we covered last year so I'll be brief - what defines these multiplicities is a certain number of dimensions that they have. These multiplicities are defined through their dimensions. But how do you understand how many dimensions they have?
Well, they have a maximal dimension. A maximal dimension, each of these multiplicities has a maximal dimension, and here's where it gets interesting. It's by determining the maximal dimension of a multiplicity that I am able to say how many dimensions it has. It will have as many dimensions as are contained by the maximal dimension. Now what is this maximal dimension? It's what we can only call borderline and there it is, all at once we're saved!
The maximal dimension of a multiplicity is called borderline. It's a strange thing, this notion of the borderline… as that which allows us to define a particular type of multiplicity, a molecular multiplicity, as opposed to the molar type, which is defined through a structuring organizing principle that remains secret, hidden.
It's a bizarre thing... If we take say a “fly” multiplicity or a “fog” multiplicity. Or a “mosquito”… finally we're down to the concrete, while still remaining within science. What are these multiplicities?
A fly by itself means nothing. A single fly is a lost fly, that is to say it's not a fly. What means something is when we say “flies”. Félix and I said that the same is true for other beasts, but it bears repeating. One wolf doesn't mean anything. “Wolves” means something. Or, rather, “wolf” means a lone wolf but the loner, well, isn't he the border of the wolf multiplicity?
If the loner were the border of the multiplicity constituted by the pack of wolves, then we wouldn't have to think of him as we do normally: as an exceptional individual. But, simply, as the borderline determining the maximal dimension of the multiplicity we shall call the “wolf multiplicity”, which is different from other multiplicities.
And what about Moby Dick? Moby Dick, the great white whale? What is he, if not the borderline of the school of whales? Perhaps it always takes a monster to make the borderline, and we have to ask ourselves why this is.
You may think I have totally abandoned science but what I'm saying is completely scientific. It’s not surprising that Neo-evolutionists think solely in terms of populations. They no longer distinguish species or types. Evolutionary theorists no longer speak of species or types but only of populations. There is no animal species or type, only animal populations or vegetable populations. In each case the borderline is merely...
I want to read you a text by a famous mathematician called René Thom. Oddly enough, René Thom writes... Thom loves opposing military-type aggregates or societies to those of a more fluid nature. Which suits us fine. Military societies are typically arborescent - this too was part of last year's seminar - power apparatuses are essentially ramified arborescent structures. So we're OK with Thom's premise. And he speaks of a multiplicity that suits us perfectly, a micro-multiplicity or molecular multiplicity: a swarm of mosquitoes.
Here's what he says: “Every individual in the group moves in an random manner” - that's not what happens in molar societies or aggregates – “to the point where it can see the rest of the swarm in the same half-space”. This is perfect for us, you'll understand... Every mosquito - and here Thom says something extraordinary - every mosquito is the borderline of the multiplicity of a mosquito swarm, and every mosquito in the swarm functions in its turn as the swarm's borderline. That's what can happen.
We saw another case, where a small military-type principle emerges, where the borderline is assured by a chief, a leader of the pack, a squad or gang leader. But in the mosquito's case, every member of the group moves in a random way, unless it can see the others in the same half-space. Which means that if you follow the route of a mosquito or a fly - obviously it would be different if it was attracted by blood or a piece of flesh - but if you observe its random path, the rule of chance is that every mosquito will move to a limit position.
So… what is this limit? If we imagine a closed space, the limit will be the point where the mosquito finds itself so as to have all the others on its right, for example…You follow me? At that moment, its position will be on the borderline, and Thom says: "At this point it hurries to re-enter the group. In this example, stability is assured in catastrophe…” - an important concept for Rene Thom, who has a mathematical concept of catastrophe. “In this example, stability is assured in catastrophe by a barrier…”
There's no better way to describe the borderline. A gang or band has a number of dimensions determined by a maximal dimension: the borderline. In the case of the mosquito swarm, the borderline can be precisely defined as the line in function of which a mosquito situated on it will see all the other members of the swarm on one side, at which point it re-enters the swarm.
It's interesting, this position of being on the borderline… we should take advantage of it. Being on the borderline... Being on the borderline means to be part of the gang while not being inside the gang. Being on the periphery, then re-entering the gang before going back to the periphery.
But I wonder… isn't it typical when you are part of a gang, this fact of occupying the position of the borderline? At the limit, as Thom says of mosquitoes… oh I don't remember… yes, every mosquito, being part of a swarm, occupies the borderline position.
In a novel – and here I'll pass quickly on to literature, since I don't see any difference between a phrase of Thom and one of a novelist, though I see the difference in treatment.
- Yes… what is it? There are two books by Thom which are easy to find, then there's an article… let's see if I have the reference... and a book called Morphology...
- Morphology... he's got it wrong… it's called Structural Morphology… He's wrong, it happens to everyone… it's called Structural Morphology and... I can't remember, I'll tell you later.
In Mrs Dalloway we have what Virginia Woolf presents as an extraordinary walk. Each word here is important… and in the words of her heroine she says that following that walk her problems had dissolved, disappeared, she had had many worries, a lot of problems and she realized that these problems were of little account, they concerned the choice of who she should have married, who she should have left etc. And they didn't make much sense anymore.
It's curious that a walk could resolve her problems. It can happen… maybe it's no longer the same scale, maybe it's not just a simple walk but a fantastic molecular adventure that have swept away or transformed the burdensome molar position of these problems. Should I marry or remain single, should I stay a man or become a woman, should I finally grow up etc. All kinds of molar problems but in the end, maybe, there's a small particle that can make all this collapse.
And Virginia Woolf, because it's clearly her, and we'll see why, she says that during this walk, which strangely takes place among taxis – there’s a continual passing of taxis… It's interesting because taxis - and I'm not making this up – here I go back to science and those who have studied the matter closely… Taxis run on what are called semi-random routes, that is… Yes?
- Can you speak louder? We can't hear anything.
Deleuze: Really… you can't hear me? … The route a taxi takes on a day's run is like that of a mosquito in its swarm: it’s a semi-random route, because how it continues its trajectory is in part determined by the point where the previous client got off. When a taxi is drawn towards a point on the borderline, where it has all the other taxis on its right, you'll hear the driver say: "Here I’m going to get lynched!" - which is to say he is in a rough neighborhood where he wouldn't normally venture. Actually, I hadn't thought of that, it will be useful later on because we'll be dealing with a story of criminal machines… but we haven’t got there yet…
So here we have Virginia Wolf's walk among the taxis but she's not in a taxi, she runs into a number of people and she walks in a way that's literally the way they say only the English and Americans walk. You know, a walk by Henry Miller - we've already talked about this - isn't the same as a walk by Michel Butor - which isn't to badmouth Butor… but they don't walk in the same way. Henry Miller doesn't take a stroll around Clichy the way a Frenchman would in New York - unless he has a particular gift for it - it's different, neither better nor worse. In general a French stroll would be more molar.
It's a curious thing, a molecular walk. Woolf says, I sliced like a knife through everything… It's a lovely phrase in a walk, “like a knife through everything”. Then she says - I know it almost by heart since I memorized it last night, since the book was heavy and I didn't want to have to bring it in… She also says: “I am a mist”. There you have a molecular multiplicity. “I am a mist laid out among the people I know”.
A beautiful phrase that… even more so because it's not just literature - that really is how she lived, like a mist laid out among those she knew. I'm like a knife that slices through everything, that plunges into things, cuts between things. I'm… I don't know what, a mist laid out between people. But then she says: “and at the same time I'm on the outside, and at the same time I remain on the outside”.
This is an odd kind of position… it has to be explained. How is it possible? It's strange because I don't have the words to describe it in terms of a molar multiplicity. If I try to describe it in such terms, what will the binary machine of the molar apparatus say? It will say: “what you doing is pure literature.”
You're either outside or inside - or you’re on the periphery. You are either one of us or a foreigner from elsewhere - or you've been placed on sentry duty to make sure outsiders don't get in. And here we have a third term, which we studied at the beginning of the year. This term refers to a binarism, in the form of successive binary choices. First binarism: You're either inside or outside. Second binarism: You’re (either inside or outside), this time in parenthesis - or you're a sentry. So there is a first level of choice, then a second, but each time the choice is binary, so the three terms don't change the binary nature of the choice.
Thus in terms of a molar multiplicity we will always have to say that this position cannot even be expressed, which is why we need three pages of a writer like Virginia Woolf to try to let us feel it and to try to reawaken a small particle in us - I'm weighing my words here - literally a tiny particle that can say "But of course, this is how I live". The particle that is always on the borderline of the multiplicity to which it belongs - I can't think of a more precise formula for the moment - a particle that is always on the borderline of the multiplicity to which it belongs.
Yet we still have a small problem. We have two cases: it can be any particle whatever, as in the case of a mosquito, any mosquito whatever, since every mosquito will take up this position. Or it can be a monster mosquito, a mutant. Moby Dick, the head wolf. Ok… for the moment I'm done with the story of the borderline.
You can ask me questions in a minute if you like. But I just want to finish…
For the moment I will say that the borderline is perfectly embodied in any particle whatsoever, molecular multiplicities are a kind of multiplicity whose elements remain on the borderline of the multiplicity so formed. So it’s by determining the position of the borderline that you know the number of dimensions the multiplicity has. If you don't keep to the position of the borderline, you remain stuck in the molar, in the big molar aggregates. But keeping to the borderline - you know where I'm heading… - perhaps there is a relation between what we called lines of flight and the borderline. Perhaps there's a rapport, since the particles on the borderline, and whose path is the borderline... what can we say about these particles?
It was through these particles that I defined the multiplicity in question. I can say that they function as a provisional stabilizer, a temporary stabilizer… Moby Dick functions as a temporary stabilizer of the school of whales, the head wolf serves as a temporary stabilizer of the pack.
Remember what Thom said? That stability is assured in catastrophe by a barrier that assures a discontinuity in behavior. It's a question of assuring stability... So I'd say that it's a local temporary stabilizer but not only. There's a whole other aspect to it. It lets the multiplicity slip inside another, that is, across the borderline. While on one hand the multiplicity is stabilized, on the other the borderline is in relation with other borders, it prolongs itself through other borderlines, which, since they contain other dimensions, provoke a metamorphosis, a transformation of the molecular multiplicity in question into another molecular multiplicity.
We began from a single, determinable multiplicity without yet knowing how to define it. Then we noted how it is the borderline that determines a molecular multiplicity. However, molecular multiplicities transform into each other, since their own borderlines communicate across the border they form with one another. As though they were thresholds, doors from one border to another, such that below a certain threshold the border defines a given multiplicity as a local stabilizer. Whereas beyond the threshold you already have another border defining another multiplicity, and these multiplicities are such that one is transformed into the other.
We would have to regard this as a kind of slippage of borders, a superseding of thresholds. To take a rough example from science that refers to an important question: physicists and chemists are now saying that no ramified arborescent schema takes these kind of phenomena into account. As an example, they refer to transformations of the type "sol-gel", which is to say the transformation from the state of a solution to that of a gel. In “sol-gel” transitions, the solution state is actually a type of multiplicity, while the gel state constitutes another type of multiplicity. It's a question of showing how a borderline surpasses a threshold. They call this the percolation threshold, to employ an admirable term that Félix Guattari learned from some of his specialist friends.
We have to know why this is. They claim that it's impossible to translate it in terms of arborescent schema. It's interesting how here they require a sort of machinic notion in contrast to the arborescent model. This is important but I'll leave it aside for the moment, though I'll come back to it in the context of literature…
In chemistry and physics, in the whole field of phase transitions, we see one molecular multiplicity passing into another, just as one borderline approaches another. Crossing a threshold, passing through a door - whether a threshold of percolation or something else, it doesn't matter - but it doesn't just happen at random.
I'm almost done so I'll be quick… This slippage of borders doesn't happen in all fields but only on condition that the bordering molecular multiplicities change their nature, are transformed into one another. We need some examples so I'll take a seemingly fantastic example - so much the better - that of werewolves.
Werewolves, werewolves… when they die they turn into vampires. So what! - you might say - that's nothing, it's not science. But here I'm giving you a foretaste of the literature we will need. Werewolves turn into vampires - I'm not exaggerating - werewolf and vampire stories are of interest to us because the werewolf multiplicity is also a question of the pack.
One werewolf doesn't mean much. It's a question of epidemic, of contagion. Not filiation. It works. There's no filiation, we already saw that when we were studying it. There is always a pact of alliance. But a pact of alliance with what?
Here's where demonology can serve us as a transition, a bridge between science and literature. What is the pact of alliance that is made by someone who becomes a werewolf? He makes a pact with the devil, or a sorcerer. Now what is the devil? With respect to our dear Lord, the good molar creature, the enormous molar creature, the devil is typically molecularized, he's even named on account of this. The Devil, in his molecular aspect, let me think… he's called Belzebub, Lord of the Flies. One of the Devil's main functions is to be Lord of the Flies, that is, of molecular multiplicities.
They didn't have the term for it then but when they said Lord of the Flies that’s what they meant. He has many other names, having many functions, but in the end what is this alliance with the Sorcerer?
I'd say that the Sorcerer or the devil occupies the position of the borderline. It's the monster, it’s Moby Dick, the Moby Dick of the universe… An alliance is formed, a bridge type of phenomenon an alliance is formed, a bond - we can use several different words - an alliance is formed and one becomes a werewolf… But the werewolf is at the same time a full member of a multiplicity. And because this multiplicity is a molecular multiplicity, even if the werewolf is big - I say this because we're defining our multiplicities through different references of scale or size… - because it's a molecular multiplicity, being a member of this Pack or multiplicity, the werewolf is always at the borderline of the multiplicity he forms with other werewolves, and the werewolves are themselves at the borderline… they are at the border of the multiplicity they form with other wolves.
But here is where things get complicated. Because when they die, according to many traditions, werewolves become vampires. And vampires belong to a completely different multiplicity.
Researching this, it's interesting how, for example, the werewolf multiplicity, or gang or pack, differs from the multiplicity of the vampire set. Here we have a nice example of the transformation of one multiplicity into another through the prolongation of a borderline where the devil, the sorcerer etc, don't perform the same function. However, one border can slip inside another and there can be a rupture and then another into yet another.
Each time you have this meshing of borders... we can speak of fiber - hence the expression many physicists use today, when they speak about the fibers of the universe.
This is interesting because the current theory of fibers in physics has established itself in opposition to a typically molar theory: brick theory. Generally speaking, brick theory states that what is most material - physical matter - has the form of brick that enters into the construction of more precarious fragile structures, such as living structures. The theory of fibers is completely different. It consists in establishing lines of continuity between elements that are taken up in terms of their own individuality. For example, the lines of continuity that run from a higher living organism to atoms, which we are told are too tiny to be subjected to the law of large numbers. We've seen this in Schroedinger's formula, which is important because the law of large numbers, statistics, is still a molar method. [Tape interrupted]
I would say that gangs are molecular multiplicities. Not because they are small but on account of their non-molar type of organization. A gang is first of all defined through its borderline and the way that each of its members conducts their business at the borderline: the members of the gang leave, and then they re-enter, each bringing in the swag, and the swag is redistributed. Obviously, there is also a central position. There are centers and it's because of these virtual centers in the gang that it risks becoming arborescent, going over to the other side, towards a type of organization that resembles a molar aggregate. But, generally speaking, everyone in the gang conducts their own business and at the same time it's everyone's business.
There exist contractual rapports, relations by contract or by alliance, relations of debt, counter-debt, all kinds of weird relationships. I'm told that even in groups of drug addicts there are odd relationships of debt and alliance. But what is strange is the way the gang is always threatened, not only from the outside by pressure from the molar aggregates, but also from the inside.
Gangs are threatened from the inside by phenomena of massification or leadership, the reconstitution of a central leader or worse, of a kind of group Oedipus. For example, when a woman in the gang takes on a maternal role she institutes a kind of group mothering. I've seen this happen in certain communes, this fascinating phenomenon of group mothering that reconstitutes a center in the group. In this case, it's as though the molecular multiplicity tended literally to arborify, to molarize itself, to attain the status of a molar aggregate. And this is always the way with molecular multiplicities, not because they are particularly fragile, but because it's something that occurs in their very movement.
So if we define molecular multiplicities by the segments that we've looked at - segments of a becoming-animal, a becoming molecular and so on, through the phenomena of the borderline, or of flight (I'm not going to go into that now…) - we see they're always in danger of vacillating, of being had, of going back to the side of the molar aggregates, the way the nomadic war machine went over to the side of the state apparatus even if it had a wholly different nature and function. But it's the same with today's gangs, like the War Machines of ancient times, it's all as though finally...
There are women in gangs who create a kind of... I don't know, I imagine many of you have noticed how there's often the two-fold danger of gangs and communities reconstituting both a kind of group mothering and a leadership... which is the reason gangs are always on the verge of becoming fascist, of recreating fascistic formations. In other words, it's always like this but nothing is certain... You can't say: "this is where the real revolution is happening", not at all. There could be a reconstitution of a molecular Oedipus, and a molecular Oedipus is no better than a family Oedipus, a molar Oedipus.
In fact, it can even be worse, so for example, you might have a female body that becomes the center of the gang - I'm thinking of those American gangster films where the gang is led by the big mama. This is the danger the gang faces, that at its centre a big black hole will begin to form. Usually this is how a gang collapses, either that or by rupture or a scattering of its members who get fed up, cross over the borderline and become part of another multiplicity, or else reconstitute a molar-type aggregate, even if its a small one.
Once again you see how our molar-molecular distinction isn't one between large and small numbers. I would say that leaders in molar aggregates have an organizing function. In molar aggregates we recognize the boss from the central position they occupy, the central black hole. Or, if you prefer, the face, the function of a central faciality. I'm not saying it's necessarily an individual, remember that the face function is never a individual function but a social production.
So there is the central face, like that of Hitler for example, at the centre of fascism, with its little orbiting satellites, little black holes around the big black hole: Goering-Goebbels. There's this organization, the leader is essentially in a central position, to the point that the law of molar aggregates is always, it seems to me, of a type that tends towards the center, assuring legitimate ambitions, since it's only by advancing in one's career that one gets closer to the centre. Otherwise, one remains far from the centre.
Here the centre is on high because you always have a supplementary dimension in molar aggregates… there is a supplementary dimension in molar aggregates which is of course that of the profile or position of the leader. But it's an interior and central position to which all the underlings try to get closer, except for those who are under orders to keep watch at the borders, although they'll be relieved and their compensation will be to be able to see the leader and be led by him, that is to go back towards the centre.
So this is the position the leader occupies. I'm not saying that molecular gangs or groups, molecular multiplicities, don't have leaders, but not surprisingly we need another word to describe them. There's one excellent word that I hadn't thought of last term and here I open a parenthesis. I spoke about Lovecraft because he's an author I really admire, as many of you do, this American author, American - not English. Anyway, this great American author... what was I saying? Yes, he once wrote a book, no it was a story called… and I know I won't be able to pronounce it properly - “The Outsider”. It's translated in French, very badly as usual. Translators do things... you just need to know a little bit of a language to understand when a translation doesn't work.... he translated the title as "Je suis d'ailleurs" ("I'm from elsewhere").
This is important for us, for what we were saying about the becoming-animal in molecular multiplicities, quoting some passages from Lovecraft. Because in this story, the outsider is what Lovecraft calls “the thing”, the “unnameable”, the human being in its becoming-beast, the becoming-animal of the human. He presents the outsider both as the thing and as a swarm. Remember our couple? The guide and the pack, the two together, Moby Dick and the school of whales, the devil and the pack of wolves and so on... And we understand what outsider means and that it doesn't mean coming from elsewhere. So what is the outsider? Even in French I have the impression that it means, “the one you don't expect”. But in what sense?
I don't even need to force language. Literally, it's the one that exceeds or overflows, that arises from and spills over the border. The border-dweller, the being of the borderline is the unnameable, the one who literally delimits the swarming multiplicity. And if the multiplicity is superseded, it changes its nature and acquires another borderline. That's what the outsider is.
I also said that it's the role of the leader, but in the sense of a molecular multiplicity, which is quite different from the leader's position in a molar aggregate. Here, the leader or guide of a molecular group is the one who is always at the borderline, as in the case of animal packs. Or perhaps in some packs you have the two-fold position of the leader, where there's a kind of central leader, or central female, and then the border chief, a border guide who pushes back and guards the frontier. The border chief who stays at the borderline is the great Nomad. The one who stays at the centre is the Chinese Emperor, if we want to refer to literature. Operating in a completely different way the nomad is the head of his war machine, which is itself a becoming, a molecular multiplicity, whereas the Chinese Emperor is the nominal head of the state apparatus.
Although I'm here to defend thought, if someone told me that we need a leader, that a leader is necessary - especially in certain circumstances - it's a statement that doesn't mean much to me. Because for me the real question is what kind of leader will they be. Will it be the border-dweller, who will always occupy the position of the outsider? Or will it rather be the one who, in opposition to the outsider, we can call the “champion”, the man of central power who has a faciality function, whereas the border-dweller is typically without face, has literally lost his face, perhaps he's the greater manipulator of secrets.
So at this level too we have to distinguish not only between two types of leader but between the way a molecular multiplicity refers to a pack leader, a peripheral chief, who we could define as an “outsider”, while molar aggregates refer to another type of leader. And we should also add that, faced with certain dangers or in certain circumstances, molecular multiplicities reconstitute leaders of the molar type and do so completely - even if they do it in a different way, depending on whether they rely on a border chief or else reconstitute a central leader typical of a molar aggregate.
It's strange nowadays how they present the history of psychoanalysis from its origins, by recounting a number of anecdotes about what happened inside the school. They're still bluffing, of course. Supposedly, there was a first period, which was more or less a period of censorship concerning what happened around Freud and his early disciples. But now we can finally understand the great fervor there was then about this marvel. There was an actual group of which Freud was the big chief. What I wanted to say earlier on was that I have no interest in the disciples: the disciples deserved what they got. What interests me is what was happening on the outside during that period. I have the impression that we still don't really know. What was happening in Vienna around the time of the birth of psychoanalysis… what psychoanalysis, as it began to institutionalize itself, would crush in the different Viennese movements.
History is normally examined purely in terms of geneses, as though on one hand you had the institution of analysis with its internal problems, and on the other a hostile external environment. But in my view this isn't what happened. I just want to mention it… but there's an Austrian scholar who's been working on the matter for ten years - either he's given up or there's too much to say concerning the myriad groups that existed at that time. I'm not saying that Freud was plagiarizing what these groups were doing. I'm just saying that there was a flood of research. We only know of one borderline figure, Groddeck, but it seems there were many types of Groddeck around then. Pyschoanalysis, perhaps without meaning to – I don't wish to demonize it – was to crush all these movements. I can't say it was necessarily a bad thing. I'm not saying “Look what they did.” The thing is, that’s how history always works. [Tape interrupted]
“They told him that every figure of space” - every figure is a multiplicity, that's what mathematicians say - a triangle is a multiplicity on every side, on all three vertices “They told him that every figure of space”, therefore every multiplicity, “is but the result of”… I change my tone of voice when I'm quoting… “is but the result of the intersection by a plane [of some corresponding figure of one more dimension—as a square is cut from a cube or a circle from a sphere. The cube and sphere, of three dimensions, are thus cut from corresponding forms of four dimensions that men know only through guesses and dreams; and these in turn are cut from forms of five dimensions, and so on up to the dizzy and reachless heights of archetypal infinity.] The world of men and of the gods of men is merely an infinitesimal phase of an infinitesimal thing - the three-dimensional phase of that small wholeness reached by the First Gate, where ‘Umr at-Tawil dictates dreams to the Ancient Ones.” [This citation is from a story by H.P. Lovecraft and E. Hoffmann Price, "Through the Gates of the Silver Key" in The Dream-Quest of the Unknown Kadath, cited several times in A Thousand Plateaus]
You understand? We're saying that every multiplicity, every molecular multiplicity, can be defined by a number of dimensions. This number is determined by the position of what functions as the borderline of the multiplicity. I mean to say that the square and the circle are two dimensional figures in function of their borderline, which is to say a line. Everything that is bordered by a line will have two dimensions. These are already multiplicities. There will also be three-dimensional multiplicities bordered by a surface and multiplicities of four or five, even ten dimensions. Here are examples of a multidimensional multiplicity, however varied: man, domestic animal-sheep, rat-bacteria, which creates contagion-plague, multiplicities with three types of werewolf, three types of vampire and so on.
So we have multiplicities of any type of dimension that transform into one another. This we've already seen. What we call plane of consistency or rhizosphere is the common intersection of all these multiplicities by a plane. You might say, “but the plane too has its own dimension.” No. It has to be a zero-dimensional plane. Not because it doesn't have dimensions, but because it is able to cut through all the dimensions in such a way that the multiplicities that transform into one another never cease transforming. And their way of communicating is through this plane. Therefore, on the plane of consistency everything becomes abstract, in the cultural sense of the term. That is to say, the plane of consistency is the bearer of what Félix and I have been turning around this past year: the abstract machine. The universe is a Mechanosphere, not a noosphere or a biosphere. It's a hypersphere, a Mechanosphere…
What was I saying? The plane of consistency... ah yes, it's the abstract machine because it gathers the ensemble of all the assemblages, of all machinic assemblages, of all multiplicities of whatever dimensions - and the dimensions of all these transformable multiplicities must exist precisely on this plane. The abstract elements of a single machine: a single Mechanosphere.
Virginia Woolf constructs the unity of her work on a single plane of consistency that advances and gathers all the multiplicities: the Bernard multiplicity, the Neville multiplicity, the Jinny multiplicity. And we have the impression that Percival is the extreme borderline, that Percival, the admirable Percival, almost merges with the plane of consistency. And yet, no. This is not what happens, although some might think so. And Percival dies. He dies.
I brought you this wonderful page of The Waves. One of the characters is Rhoda. Following Percival's death, she looks into what is a kind of lake where she sees forms appearing. She has the impression that one of these forms on the lake is Percival, even if she knows he is dead. And this is what she says. She describes the form she sees: “When the white arm rests upon the knee it is a triangle; now it is upright - a column; now a fountain, falling. It makes no sign, it does not beckon, it does not see us. Behind it roars the sea. It is beyond our reach.”
Great, don't you think? Do you see this kind of curve? The same applies when it's upright. It passes through all these multiplicities of increasing or decreasing dimensions, of variable dimensions. But they all somehow belong to the same plane of consistency. They're all there, on this plane of consistency, but in the most abstract real form, in the forms of pieces and cogs of the abstract machine. So Percival's white arm will no longer be a knee or an elbow: it will be a triangle.
I haven't brought the Kafka book with me but I assure you that Josephine occupies exactly the same borderline position. What's more, we learn that she is undoubtedly a singer but that she doesn't sing. These are Kafka's flashes of brilliance. So we shouldn't confuse becoming-musical with making music, just as we shouldn't confuse becoming-mouse with imitating a mouse. Man becomes mouse and mouse becomes musical but it's man who makes music… so what does the mouse do?
It's a mystery. Let's see what it does. This is what I call a bloc of becoming, the simultaneity of these two asymmetrical becomings. When I say that there is a becoming-woman of man I don't mean that symmetrically there is a becoming-man of woman. This was the objection that was raised the last time. When I say that there is a becoming-animal of man, somebody said there was also a becoming- human of the animal. Yes and no. In fact, there is a bloc of becoming in which both becomings, both currents, are never symmetrical or parallel.
- Is this someone's way of saying good morning?
Never parallel, never symmetrical, and in which each becomes something different from the other. This business of becoming is extremely complicated and we'll have to explore it further. But in the case of Kafka there is always a strange music and there's a precursor for this. And yet he didn't know the music of his time well, it didn't interest him. But there are concerts in Kafka... Josephine sings and yet she doesn't sing. It's magnificent.
In a dual lecture including both Deleuze and Guattari, the authors introduce different terms developed in their ongoing collaboration which will result, in 1980, in A Thousand Plateaus.
En cours de developpement
For archival purposes, the translation was completed in April 2020.