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CHAOS, DIFFERENCE, RITORNELLO

Francisco José Martínez (UNED, Madrid, Spain)

1

Before all things, at the beginning, was
infinite Chaos
1.- Chaos.
The testimony of mythology places chaos at the origin of all things2
and Hegel himself says that this mythical chaos is represented as ‘the
amorphous foundation of the world.’ A chaos that Deleuze
understands to be an “undifferentiated abyss and an ocean of
dissimilarity.” It was, specifically, to ward off this lack of definition,
this dissimilarity, this initial dispersion, that man introduced identity
and stability. For Plato, chaos was a contradictory state that had to
receive order and law from the exterior, it was a rebellious material
that the demiurge had to unfold and structure. Man has always tried
to order the world that surrounds him, to make a cosmos from chaos,
in order to withstand the ‘absolutism of reality’ (H. Blumenberg). To
this end, philosophy has introduced identity into diversity and
permanent elements to limit incessant transformation. To do this, it
has had to dominate difference. Aristotle, Leibniz, and Hegel have
thought about difference, but they have subjected it to the identity of
the concept, the analogy of judgment, the opposition of predicates,
and the similarity of that which is perceived. Based on Nietzsche,
Deleuze faces the project of constructing an ontology of pure
difference that is not subject to identity.
Chaos presents two complementary aspects: the undifferentiated,
indeterminate abyss, in which everything that Parmenides tried to
exorcize is dissolved, and the ocean of dissimilarity where the
unlinked, fragmentary determinations mentioned by Empedocles
float. In contrast to this indetermination, difference arises as
determination, as a unilateral distinction that drags that from which it
is distinguished along with it. Chaos is the background in which all
forms are dissolved. Representation has tried to conjure this initial

analogy in the relation between ultimate determinable concepts. for example. and similarity in the determinate object of the concept itself (DR. specific and generic. Both differences. far from establishing a concept of difference. 44-45). that is. arises (DR. thus subjecting it to the analogy of judgment (DR. becoming a reflexive concept and thus subjecting themselves to the demands of representation which Deleuze. When difference faces the infinite and converges toward a foundation instead of being organic. comes to define the framework in which finite determinations arise and disappear in orgic representation. under the apparent calm of that which is organized. while generic difference inscribes difference in the quasi-identity of more general concepts. in this case. asks Deleuze. Difference. it becomes orgic and then.Difference3 Aristotle distinguishes between the difference of diversity and the difference of otherness. Difference remains a reflexive concept and only finds a real concept when it designates some catastrophe: either a break in continuity in the series of similarities or an insurmountable fault line between analogous structures. determines the essence. But. are. categories. and makes it possible to specify gender by means of specific difference. The specific Aristotelian difference inscribes difference in the identity of an indeterminate concept. calls organic representation. 61). “The limit is no longer what limits a form but rather what converges toward a foundation. in this “happy Greek moment” which inaugurates the primacy of representation in the western tradition. then located in the framework of representation. this means that. the catastrophe.chaos and it has done so by means of four complementary procedures: identity in the form of an indeterminate concept. 2. it is subjected to the identity of an indeterminate concept. from referring to the extremes of finite representation. is this catastrophic capacity of difference not the indication that there is an ‘implacable rebellious background’ that continues to act underneath the apparent balance of organic representation? (DR. difference is integrated into the concept. opposition in the relation of determinations within the concept. An attempt is made to overcome difference by representing it and this representation subjugates it to the requirements of the concept. 50). 52). This means a change in the notion of limit that. defines the undefined. between Hegel and Leibniz. it is no longer what distinguishes forms but what correlates that which is based on its foundation. referring this difference to the concept. it is no longer the . the monster. gives shape to the shapeless. If organic representation assumes the complementariness of two finite moments that can be assigned as specific difference and generic difference.. orgic representation is based on an alternative between two infinite processes that can be assigned and that no longer swing between the Great and the Small but between the infinitely great and the infinitely small.

Empirical thought believes in the privilege of that which is positive. passing through the essentialities or determinations of reflection. In orgic representation. in its treatment of the doctrine of essence. it only captures exterior differences and considers them to be indifferent differences because it is not aware of the extent of negation. there is a double reference to the limit: there is a constant overcoming of the limit toward that which is infinitely great in Hegel and a constant process of going beyond the limit in that which is infinitely small in Leibniz. once again. 62). which is the key to movement and change. “It is only when difference is pushed far enough among realities. the immanent pulsation of autonomous. Difference is the movement of that which is negative. who goes into opposition in depth until he reaches contradiction. is located.arresting of power but rather the element in which power takes place and is based” (DR. In Hegel’s The Science of Logic. spontaneous. selecting it when it introduces the infinite that refers difference to the foundation. therefore. it is in the section devoted to essence as a reflection of itself where the movement from appearance to foundation occurs. that diversity is seen to become opposition and. as appearance” (CL. Orgic representation makes difference. Platonic dialectics is static while Hegelian dialectics is dynamic. in contradiction” (CL. As we see. “Only after having been taken to the extreme of contradiction does that which is varied and multiform become active and alive in opposition to one another. that is. II. unfolding the movement that goes from diversity to opposition and from opposition . living movement. that is. insofar as “the movement of the process of transformation and of going beyond. Plato acknowledges otherness but does not develop it in the direction of contradiction. so that the whole of all realities in general becomes. contradiction resolves difference by referring it to the foundation. contradiction. II. which concludes the analysis of contradiction. For Hegel. 76). This is the moment in which the treatment of the relations between identity and difference.” “that which is different is determined absolutely only as that which is negative in itself. an absolute contradiction in itself” (CL II. according to Deleuze. 75-76). in contrast to Hegel. Deleuze takes up. achieving negativity. In the Sophist. For Hegel. in turn. difference becomes contradiction so that varied things thus obtain negativity. as the immediate intuition of that which the senses perceive already contains negation in the form of pure becoming.4 it is necessary to start with the distinction among things in order to understand negation in being and in thought. According to Hyppolite’s analysis of these Hegelian texts. the following statements by Hegel (the translations have been modified): “Difference in general is already contradiction in itself” (CL. 21). I I. 62). Plato substituted the contrary of being for the other and wished to avoid contrariness and contradiction by not admitting negation. for Hegel. which remains in itself. in the framework of the essence as reflection. negation and distinction imply one another mutually. The distinction of things leads to the problem of the other.

diversity and opposition are overcome by contradiction which is revealed as their ultimate truth. “difference remains subordinated to identity. which is the difference of reflection. which shows itself as the unity of difference and identity. reduced to the negative. In Hegel and Leibniz. Hegel goes through opposition which is the unity of identity and diversity. external difference becomes internal. or a difference subjected to that which is negative. As we can see.to contradiction. What an ontology of difference rejects is the false alternative of infinite representation: either it falls into that which is undifferentiated. which means that each determinate existent is not identical to itself but rather differs from itself. Thus. Infinite. Empirical thought cannot overcome the separation between interiorness and exteriorness. but this leap to infinite representation does not follow from the principle of identity as an assumption of representation. If Hegel leaps to the infinitely large. it does not much matter that the negative of difference is considered to be a contradictory opposition or a limitation due to vice-diction. Leibniz leaps to the infinitely small. Hegel starts with absolute difference or simple difference. Hegel developed the existing exterior diversity among things first as opposition and later as contradiction in a process of gradual interiorization of the exterior of difference that culminates in the contradiction in which each thing contains itself and its opposite in its interior. that which is indeterminate. Starting with diversity. The movement from diversity to opposition assumes that things are reflected in one another and this reflection is their opposition. and this means that it is necessary to start with that which is negative in order to understand that which is positive. which present themselves as two moments of difference which are mutually exclusive. 71). either the (Hegelian) negative of opposition or the (Leibnizian) negative of limitation. just as it does not matter that infinite identity is shown as analytic or synthetic. imprisoned in similarity and analogy” (DR. Finally. to sufficient reason. identity and difference itself. Both Hegel and Leibniz lead difference to the foundation. and arrives at diversity that has in itself two moments. of positive and negative. orgic representation shares the inability to establish an appropriate concept of difference with finite. what is important is that. organic representation because they limit themselves to inscribing difference in the identity of the concept. and in this way have the infinite lead the identical to exist in its own identity. Each determination must be understood as negation. goes through determinate difference in itself. is stated. in both cases. or difference in essence. What allows Deleuze to think about a notion of pure difference is the . it cannot achieve the speculative point of view according to which the object is the contrary of itself. The motor of real oppositions is this difference from itself to itself.

opposition. the relation of the forces (quantity) and the respective quality of the forces in relation” (N. the speculative element of negation. the games of the will to power. and 3) the consideration of positiveness as derived from negation itself. The ontology of Deleuzian difference. pleasure in diversity (N. 225). Nietzsche tries to raise a new image of thinking that breaks with its three main assumptions: 1) the power of that which is negative shows itself in opposition and contradiction. Our author opposes. The ontology of difference is based on the will to power and on eternal recurrence as a radical statement of difference whose essential characteristics are the following: “the lightness of that which is stated. because of this. in this way. from the point of view of nihilism. incapable of generating new ways of thinking and new ways of feeling. sees it inverted. subterranean differential mechanisms that constitute topological movements and typological variation (N.” while difference is “the only principle of genesis or production. of suffering and sadness. less as force than as “the differential element that determines. The affirmation of difference is what characterizes the will to power that. differential method in which the will to power appears as a plastic. of men who subject life to working that which is negative. and of a bad conscience and. the statement of statement.genealogical.-The ritornello . 181). as its practical postulate. 10). Faced with dialectics. is only “the law of the relation between abstract products. anti-dialectic thinking of Nietzsche who. has as its speculative postulate the assertion of multiplicity and. to limit it and measure it. Dialectics focuses on the differential element from the side of the reactive forces. and so its basis. it is the thinking of priests. It is the thinking of the slave who expresses a reactive transformation. difference as a practical. Nietzsche establishes his own method. against the weight of that which is negative. 3. Dialectics ignores the real element from which the forces come. with Nietzschean roots. considers the origin to be difference. the principle that produces opposition as simple appearance. in his analyses of forces. simultaneously. genealogical principle. 225). 18). against the famous negation of negation” (N. 225). 2) the valuation of the sad passions.” Dialectics is a superficial movement that is based on mere external oppositions. shows difference to be the result of “a practical assertion that is inseparable from the essence and that constitutes existence” (N. without reaching the level of the subtle. a dramatic. and contradiction. the hierarchical difference of forces that separates the dominant forces from the dominated forces. which Deleuze follows.” Dialectics is the thinking of the theoretical man who attempts to judge life. an object of assertion and pleasure. empirical element. and proclaims “differential assertion in contrast to dialectic negation” (N. typological. reduced to a mere opposition. of resentment. Dialectics reflects on difference but does so in an inverted way by substituting “the assertion of difference as such with the negation of that which differs. against the action of dialectics. opposition. according to Deleuze. Faced with dialectics.

383-384). deterritorializes it by opening it up to the cosmos and.384). but the point of return is never the initial point. as the residence and. finally. exterior forces. to a Native. that is constituted as an ethos. the circle opens up to the cosmos. to a Natal. This process assumes that something is obtained from chaos thanks to the filtering by the territory as a lived space that produces telluric or terrestrial forces and that. but this . Starting from a black hole where a stable center is marked as the beginning of an order. producing a Nomos that distributes space. three moments can be distinguished: a) the constitution of a territory from the initial chaos by establishing a stable center and directional components that structure the forces of chaos in an infra-agency form. The halves open up on chaos and the response that they give to the intrusion of chaos in their structures or to their own dilution in chaos is the shaping of a rhythm. This dynamic character of constituted territory is what makes it possible to graft openings that project this closed territory toward the exterior onto the constituent movement. by means of the components of passage and flight that connect with cosmic forces and with the forces of the future and create an inter-agency by means of the de-territorialization of the already-constituted territory (MP. Each half exists only because of a periodic repetition. ensuring their communication. shaped by a code. returns to re-territorialize it once again. than a mere extensive space organized in a stable fashion. the coordination between two heterogeneous timespaces. rather. it introduces a difference. this closed territory is opened up to the cosmic forces. A rhythm that produce an inbetween that is located between two different halves. The Halves and Rhythms are born from chaos. which presents itself.5 It is necessary to take into account that the organized space of the territory is more an intensive space constituted by a movement that produces an active spacing. The ritornello seeks a territory starting from chaos.We have seen how the ontology of pure. affirmative Deleuzian difference is an attempt to conjure the power of chaos. b) the organization of territorial agency in order to be able to inhabit it thanks to dimensional components that make up the terrestrial forces obtained by filtering the forces of chaos and that lead to an inter-agency. as the chorus of lullabies. In the ritornello. c) the opening up of a territory to other territories or even to the entire Cosmos. Each half is a timespace block made up of the repetition of its components. We shall now present the notion of ritornello as an example of this relative stabilization of chaos and as a concrete application of this ontology of difference. an attempt to shape a chaosmos that introduces some kind of order into a reality whose chaotic aspect is never completely eliminated. in its musical form. later. The territory that is thus constituted opens up in the form of errant centrifugal forces toward the sphere of the cosmos. a circle is drawn that marks a territory as home. 383. The ritornello always refers to the earth. finally. as a dwelling (MP. and forces of the future.

repetition is not always the same. The movement of the ritornello with respect to the land is triple: it goes toward a territory. an exterior that is dominated. to change (MP. to move. 386). In its creative aspect. A territory is defined by its qualities. The territory is defined by the emergence of expressive materials or qualities. a time that expresses the aspect of the verb and is inherent to it. it is the time of the event. it is “the song of the Earth”: it appears as the exit from chaos toward a land. an interior that is inhabited. its style. which can serve as a characteristic. not the time that contains the event or universal time. and that make it a specific domain that is distant from other domains. a ritornello occurs when a territorial component starts to produce new shoots. an interval. produces an alternate movement of territorialization and de-territorialization. but rather introduces a difference. A territory is not simply an environment or a rhythm but “the product of the territorialization of the halves and the rhythms” (MP. 397). BIBLIOGRAPHY . that is. that makes the half evolve toward the other half. its property and identity. it installs itself in this territory. in the wake of Kierkegaard’s repetition and Nietzsche’s eternal recurrence. territorial landscapes…” (MP. In this sense. its specific manner. The ritornello is a form of differentiating repetition with two dimensions: a spatial and a temporal dimension. The ritornello has a privileged relationship with the Earth. limits and membranes where the interior and the exterior connect. which it interiorizes. the time the event contains. is an immanent fold that opens up to the infinite as a there-and-backagain movement. 396). and it leaves it (MP. 418) that organizes a territory and creates a time. The ritornello is a time-space crystal (MP. that is. on the other hand. of opening up to the cosmos and to the future. Territories. an interior half. and annexed reserves that feed it. the ritornello is “any set of materials of expression that draws a territory and that develops through territorial motifs. and. as the organization of the earth’s forces. A territory includes an exterior half. as the organization of this land and as the movement that comes from the land and goes elsewhere. even if they are provisional. on one hand. 401). singular signature. which mark its specificity. constitutes a specific time that conjugates that which already exists with the opening up to novelty from infinitesimal variations. The ritornello is an invention that turns the singular universal in contrast to the particularities of memory and the generalities of custom. of closing and opening up space. as a turning in on itself. an intermediate half. an ‘involved time’ in Guillaume’s sense. and an annexed half. serve as a defense and refuge from the chaos that is always threatening with its exterior forces. a separation. The ritornello. The ritornello.

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lib. 2003. Inlay in the chorus of the basilica of Santa María Maggiore. .edu/trans/Metamorph. 1987.virginia.S. at the beginning. 4 Cf. 2 Hesiodo. ellipses. “chaos: a raw confused mass. I. Puebla. 116. Ensayo sobre la Lógica de Hegel. “Before all things. 5 Cf. (Trans. Le vocabulaire de Deleuze. Orígenes. confused in the one place”.1 Image: Magnum Chaos. badly combined discordant atoms of things. Kline http://ovid. 203-218. nothing but inert matter. Theogony. F. 1987. 7. pp. París. was infinite Chaos. pp. by Capoferri and Lotto (1522-1532). pp. by A. Hyppolite. Metamorphoses. J. Zourabichvili.htm) 3 I have dealt with the subject of difference in Deleuze in Chapter X “Representación y Diferencia” in my book Ontología y Diferencia: la Filosofia de Gilles Deleuze.” Ovid. 131-167. Madrid. Lógica y Existencia. 74-75. Universidad Autónoma de Puebla.