Funny & Jokes

Bodies without bodies

A slender volume was published by Gilles Deleuze in French, in 1970, with the curious title: Spinoza:Philosophie pratique. The book was revised and expanded, and republished under the same title, again in French, in 1981. Curiously - as far as I am
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  1 Bodies Without Bodies Susan Melrose The simplest non-biological instance of spontaneous correlation between the  probabilities of events is the behaviour of materials near phase transitions . (M. DeLanda, 2002) …philosophy is drawn to the question of diffe rence, that is, to the immersion of difference in and the production of difference by duration. Duration is difference, the inevitable force of differentiation and elaboration, which is also another name for  becoming. (E.Grosz, 2000) Starting-points A slender volume was published by Gilles Deleuze in French, in 1970, with the curious title: Spinoza:Philosophie pratique . The book was revised and expanded, and republished under the same title, again in French, in 1981. Curiously - as far as I am concerned - it was not translated into English (R. Hurley), and published by City Lights Books, until 1988. Do history (of writing), and time (or timing) of translation and republication matter  ? In English- language translation, Deleuze’s Spinoza: Practical Phil osophy…  appeared after  Anti-Oedipus (1983) and  A Thousand Plateaus  (1987), both of which were co-written by Deleuze and Guattari. On this basis, Deleuze’s text ‘on’ the 17th Century philosopher, Spinoza, might seem to have reached an English-language readership less on the basis of its own merits, and rather more because of the then notorious collaboration with Guattari. Many readers today will be aware that it was in his Spinoza: Practical Philosophy,  at the end of the 1980s, that Deleuze seemed to address a particular observation to English-language readers: ‘Spinoza offers philosophers a new model: the body. He proposes to establish the  body as a model: “We do not know what the body can do…”’. ‘This declaration of ignorance’, Deleuze added, ‘is a provocation’ (17).  Now, writing today as something other than a professional philosopher, I want  2 to expose my own ignorance: I do not know what  performance writers mean more generally, when they use a number of terms, key amongst which is that same ‘the  body ’. I am more or less persuaded, by the same token, that Spinoza’s ‘the body’, is largely incommensurable, despite the urgings of commonsense, with ‘the body’ referenced by recent dance writers concerned with ‘new work’. Perhaps at this  precise point I should also point out that whereas professional philosophers tend to remain within the relatively comfortable universe of writing, performance  practitioners, and performance writers, tend, by definition, to operate productively, in significant part, outside of writing, in areas for which no easy fit with the orders  of writing is necessarily available. According to Zizek, writing around 2003/4 - with the considerable advantage of hindsight - Deleuze’s collaboration with Guattari afforded the former an ‘easy escape from …his previous [pre - Guattarian] position’. An escape was needed, according to Zizek, because of the deadlock, in Deleuze’s single -authored writing,  between two key notions: first, a ‘logic of sense’ and second, a ‘logic of becoming’ (Zizek 2004 :21). The Deleuzian ‘logic of sense’, according to M. DeLanda’s ‘virtual  philosophy’ (2002), was a matter of an ‘ immaterial    becoming’ (p.107 -8; my emphasis); of multiplicities which are actually ‘causally sterile entities’ - perhaps  because those multiplicities remain of the order of the system, within which they turn, and turn again. The Deleuzian ‘logic of becoming’, according to the same writer, is, on the other hand, a matter of the  production   ‘of beings’, enabled when ‘metric or extensive properties’   emerge, in a single process, ‘in which a virtual spacetime  progressively differentiates itself into actual discontinuous spatio- temporal structures’ (122).  3 My own interest lies in attempts to grasp the production of ‘new work’ discursively - as distinct from the interpretation of the already-made, from the  perspective of spectating. I am going to understand ‘production’, here, to be  purposeful, objective- driven, focused on a future (‘output’). Hence the emergent, here, is time-marked as well as time-dependent: it is a matter of operations within the ‘performance economy’, where that economy itself presses in on processes as though from their outside. I am supposing that the production of beings necessitates a  producer or producers, as well as - in the fields which interest me here - disciplinary (even more than interdisciplinary) processes of production. I propose in addition to characterise that production  politically , at this point, as expert or professional, and to add to those qualifiers the term existential  (Osborne 2001) in order to signal that such  production (‘making new work’) is constitutive to that producer’s personal -  professional being. To the extent that the ‘new work’ concerned aspires to, and tends to involve expert invention , even innovation (I am thinking here of the work of the Wooster Group, or Robert Wilson, or Ariane Mnouchkine, but also of Complicite, of desperate optimists, of DV8, and of Wayne McGregor, more locally), I propose in addition to qualify such production processes in terms of their orientation to ‘qualitative transformation’ (Massumi, 2002): that is, to the production of what its makers identify as ‘better’ work. ‘New’ Work’s Time   If I transpose elements of Manuel DeLanda’s ‘virtual philosophy’ (2002) to a significa ntly different context of production (making ‘new work’), which also entails ‘stepping out of’ philosophical writing, in order to contemplate its other, then a ‘Deleuzian’ logic of (performance -productive) becoming would seem to involve,  for  4 an expert     practitioner  , processes allowing the ‘progressive differentiat[ion]’ from ‘a continuous virtual spacetime’ (e.g.'devising'), on the basis of which ‘actual discontinuous spatio- temporal structures’ are arrived at, however temporarily. In the terms I have begun to set out, such differentiation - in 'making new work' - is driven by certain expectations, including a timely outcome (‘the show’), which is time-determined/determining a number of times over: typically the actual  production deadline tends to fold back over, and inform, detailed decision-making; second, the specificity of the performance 'event', determines the play of time within the devised work; but third, time conditions the exposure and display of performance elements themselves, in performance-genre-specific terms. Finally, where the signature practice of a choreographer is concerned, it is worth observing that 'the show itself' tends to function as a pause in that practitioner's ongoing processes: it represents a momentary instantiation (Knorr Cetina 2001), and not that performance maker’s 'thing itself'. Each of these involves 'measure', both quantitative and/or qualitative. You may well have noted that my references to performance thus far tend to  be theatrical, in terms which are arguably ‘pr  e-  posthuman’. It might well be observed that I am recuperating notions from DeLanda’s ‘virtual philosophy’, on a largely metaphorical basis and/or via the operations of my writerly expert intuition, into traditional frames of reference. I have wondered whether I have practised this recuperation because I am actually ‘cognitively - mapped’ (Jameson 1991) in terms of older technologies and their apparatuses. If that were the case, then it might also be true of a generation of performance-writers, who similarly tend to measure and recuperate aspects of the discourses/practices of technological change, in terms characterised by older logics. On the other hand, to return to my starting-point, this  5 issue of cognitive mapping in terms of older technologies would also then apply to the case of Spinoza, writing in the 1670s, and equally to Deleuze, writing in the late 1960s. On this basis, I am obliged once again to signal my ignorance: I do not know ‘what ‘the body’ [might have meant]’, in terms of older ‘technologies’. In commonsensical terms, ‘a body’ is ‘a body’; yet I am not prepared to suppose that commonsense provides the best bases for contemplating what is going on in the making of ‘new work’.   Despite my acknowledgement that I might be recuperating the ‘v irtual  philosophy’ of DeLanda, via an expert -writerly sense   of ‘fit’ at the level of (conceptual ) ‘equipment’ (Rabinow 2003) or apparatus, I do nonetheless want to  pursue the notion of ‘metric properties’ in terms of judgement and ‘measure'. Measure can apply both in terms of the technical (metrisation or quantisation), and in terms of judgements of taste and value (Bourdieu 1977), which condition the emergence and evaluation of 'bits' of ‘new work’. It is by the measure in both senses, of ‘actual discon tinuous spatio- temporal structures’ (such as 'character' or 'performer', or 'ending’), that ‘we’ identify ‘them’ as such. Measure, in this specific sense, where the production of ‘new performance’ material is concerned, seems to be linked to a capacity, in emergent material, to sustain a certain duration  of (inquisitive) regard. Far from swiftly achieving ‘fit’ (itself a matter of measure), that emergent new  performance material might well require, of the ‘plane of immanence’ (Deleuze and Guattari 1991) specific to the discipline (e.g. ‘new dance’, and what makes it
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