Academic journal article Philosophy Today

Thought of the Outside: The Foucault/Deleuze Conjunction

Academic journal article Philosophy Today

Thought of the Outside: The Foucault/Deleuze Conjunction

Article excerpt

The ten years since the publication ofthe English translation of Deleuze's extraordinary book on Foucault have been met with almost complete silence.' In what follows I will seek to demonstrate the fecundity of the Foucault/Deleuze assemblage2 and its continuing importance for philosophical thought by focusing experimentally on the intermeshing of the Deleuzoguattarian conceptual toolkit with Foucault's theoretical practices in order to articulate, if not a common purpose, a "common cause"3 in the elaboration of a "thought of the Outside." I will draw freely across the range of Foucault's and Deleuze's texts and interviews, Deleuze's work with Guattari, and conclude with some final remarks about Deleuze's book on Foucault. My intention, however, is not to produce a "Deleuzian" reading of Foucault or collapse their differences (what Deleuze calls "their widely differing methods and purposes"4 and which can be crudely summarized along the axes of Power/Desire, History/Geography, Architecture/Fluidity, or as an inverse relation to the construction of shared philosophical problematics) so much as an attempt to articulate the in between, the transversal line of the Outside that runs from one to the other, separating and connecting. The line in between belongs strictly neither to Foucault nor Deleuze but constitutes a singular bloc of becoming that we might call "conversation": the stammering AND, AND, AND in between. Reading/writing as a problem of style.5

The advantage of reading in between Foucault/Deleuze is that it allows us at once to articulate a rigorously open, rhizomatic conceptual system governed by a topo-logic of immanent conditions of existence and not transcendental conditions of possibility; the subordination of abstract first principle (cogito, subject, consciousness, etc.) to the space-time or event of its historical/diagrammatic actualization; a concentration on the material spaces of force and not the ideality of form; an affirmation of the difference of thought (and the thought of difference) and not the dialectical negation of the same; a focus upon processes of individuation and not the individual produced. In short, it allows us to read Foucault's and Deleuze's mobile and constantly changing analytic frameworks as a separation-connection ("non-relation") and a double-becoming driven by an impulse to mix, connect, reassemble and fold the conditions of thought in a prodigious "encounter" with the Outside.

1. Rhizome. Deleuze's Foucault amounts simply to the most provocative and profound encounter with Foucault's thought yet available. It is neither a purely theoretical reflection on Foucault and nor is it an exposition of his philosophy as much as an immanent map of a "common" rhizome.6 Rhizome functions as a precise example of an open system of concepts that no longer relate to essences (subjects, objects) but to their own proliferating, circumstantival action. As a device for uprooting and strangling the infamous Cartesian image of arboreal philosophy, rhizomes form heterogeneous stems, flows and lines that are connectable in all of their parts (Biological, Linguistic, Political, Economic, etc.) across multiple registers, dimensions, and magnitudes continually increasing in number through inherent connection, variation, and combination. Rhizome networks are plenitudinal, contesting the formation of a supplementary space (transcendence) in which a unity could take hold and they cannot be reduced or attributed to either the One or the Many (the One that becomes two of binary logic or the two that become One) of root-tree logic but rather proceed though the substantival logic of multiplicity: the continual expansion of dimension through fluid transference and proliferation of connection as the assemblage changes in nature.

Rhizomes produce or make the multiple in a consistent space filled with bundles of lines in contact with an Outside. And these lines are constantly encountering points of stasis, arrest, blockage, segmentation, organization, and signification forcing the rhizome to change in direction, invent (or fold back onto) a line of flight, connect up with another multiplicity. …

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