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A Life of Matter and Death: Inorganic Life in Worringer, Deleuze,

and Guattari
Joshua Dittrich

Discourse, Volume 33, Issue 2 , Spring 2011, pp. 242-262 (Article)

Published by Wayne State University Press

DOI: 10.1353/dis.2011.0016

For additional information about this article

Access Provided by University of Zagreb, Faculty of Philosophy at 03/04/13 5:51PM GMT

A Life of Matter and Death: Inorganic

Life in Worringer, Deleuze, and Guattari

Joshua Dittrich

Ones always writing to bring something

to life, to free life from where its trapped,
to trace lines of flight.
Gilles Deleuze, Negotiations1

This essay offers a genealogy and critique of the concept of inorganic

life as it rose and fell in early twentieth-century German thought and
reemerged in the postmodern political theory of Gilles Deleuze and
Flix Guattari. I trace this genealogy through the work of German
art historian Wilhelm Worringer (18811965), whose preWorld
War I publications were influential for both German and British
modernism and later became a frequent reference in Deleuze and
Guattaris A Thousand Plateaus (1980).2 Worringers work, I argue, is
an important product of a late nineteenth-/early twentieth-century
intellectual climate permeated by Lebensphilosophie, the philosophy of
life, and it shows, in a rhetorically complex form, the possibilities and
limits, or, in a word, the impasses, of thinking life as a concept. The
impasses that Worringer encounters and the way he tries to avoid
them found a huge resonance in various artists and thinkers of his
period. They also found their most virulent critic in Georg Lukcs,
who, in his 1934 essay Expressionism: Its Significance and Decline,
condemned Worringers work for its specific conceptual flaws and
Discourse, 33.2, Spring 2011, pp. 242262.
Copyright 2012 Wayne State University Press, Detroit, Michigan 48201-1309. ISSN 1522-5321.

A Life of Matter and Death


for the symptomatic flight from reality that it shared with all the
art, literature, and philosophy of the Expressionist movement and
life-philosophical paradigm.3
Roughly forty-five years after this compelling, if heavy-handed,
Marxist critique, Deleuze and Guattari appropriate a crucial concept from Worringers life-philosophically inflected writing, namely,
inorganic life, in order to theorize the resistance to global capitalism. Through a close reading of Worringer, I pose the following
critical question: How can a concept that was once condemned
from a Marxist perspective as an ideologically suspect flight from
reality later be, mutatis mutandis, celebrated as a revolutionary
line of flight? In critically reading the concept of inorganic life
in Worringer via Lukcs, I want to anticipate how exactly Deleuze
and Guattari appropriate this concept, and to what endindeed,
to what dead endthey seem to do so. I do not mean to imply that
Lukcsian Marxism is the orthodox version of Marxist thought,
thereby taking Deleuze and Guattari to task with the same reductionism that Lukcs himself might have employed. Rather I aim to show
how the discursive history of inorganic life implicates the intersection
of Marxism and modernist aesthetics in the reading of Worringers,
Lukcss, and Deleuze and Guattaris texts. My reading thus suggests
that Deleuze and Guattari do not inherit a fixed, stable concept of
inorganic life, but rather a concept that, since its invention by
Worringer, has rhetorically figured its own instability at the expense
of its claim to reality, to history. If Deleuze and Guattari mobilize
such an ahistorical aesthetic concept into a Marxist project, then I
question whether the vitality they attribute to inorganic life in their
text does not ultimately coincide with the Worringerian deadness
of a conceptual and historical impasse.

At a time when life appears to be an increasingly prominent concept
in humanistic research, it is important to reflect critically on a previous paradigm in Western intellectual history according to which this
recent interest in life is not just old news, but perhaps bad news, as
well. The paradigm is that of the aforementioned Lebensphilosophie
that dominated research in the humanities and social sciences in late
nineteenth and early twentieth-century Germany.4 Lebensphilosophie
was concerned with elaborating the rational content of concepts nevertheless considered to be fundamentally irrational (e.g., drive, will,
energy, organism and, of course, life). The insurmountable problem
intrinsic to Lebensphilosophie is the construction of conceptual models


Joshua Dittrich

(for the understanding of experience, art, culture, history, politics)

precisely on the borderline between mystical intuition and rational
understanding, through which the fundamental life-philosophical
terms continually oscillate.
In Worringers texts, when such an irrational term (e.g., life
or expression) is drawn over the threshold into rationality, it is
stripped of its intuitive, mystical fullness and becomes a mere verbal
placeholder in an argument. But this verboconceptual reduction is
never quite complete, because it is precisely the irrational content,
ostensibly banished by rationality, that rationality needs in order
to guarantee the persuasion or coherence of its discourse. Thus,
the conceptual constructions of Lebensphilosophie (e.g., Worringers
art history, Georg Simmels theory of metropolitan consciousness,
Wilhelm Diltheys notion of Erlebnis) are constantly in danger of
collapsing on the instability of their foundationsa problematic
that gains a most vivid expression in Worringers texts, in which, I
argue, a florid and hyperbolic rhetorical presentation reveals the
very conceptual oscillation that it tries to cover up.
We can read this life-philosophical problematic most clearly
in Worringers first and most famous text, Abstraction and Empathy:
A Contribution to the Psychology of Style (1908). Here Worringer proposes an antimimetic model of art history: rather than tracing the
development of the human technical ability to reproduce reality,
he is interested in the dynamic interplay of psychological drives or
needs that informs aesthetic activity and in the formal qualities that
correspond to that psychological interplay, i.e., style. As a kind of
cultural psychologist, Worringer looks to history to identify distinct
moments of Kunstwollen,5 artistic volition, in which are activated
the dominant psychoexistential needs of a culture. Likewise he
looks to art to identify the styles that correspond to a given artistic
will, measuring a cultures psychological and existential condition
through the art that it, in effect, wills. The circular or synthesizing
quality of this methodits blurring of induction and deduction,
hermeneutic and historical understanding, psychology and artistic
expression, typical of life-philosophical thought.6
For Worringer, artistic volition is composed of the dynamic
confrontation (Auseinandersetzung) of two psychoexistential urges
or needs: the need for abstraction and the need for empathy. The
latter is associated with immanence, rationality, the organic, life,
and a relation of familiarity or trust (Vertraulichkeitsverhltnis) to
the external world; the most straightforward historical example
is ancient Greece. The former is associated with transcendence,
instinct, the inorganic, death, and a feeling of overwhelming spiritual agoraphobia (ungeheure geistige Raumscheu); here, his example

A Life of Matter and Death


is ancient Egypt. Summing up the theoretical exposition of these

two drives, Worringer writes,
For we found the need for empathy and the need for abstraction to be
the two poles of human artistic experience, insofar as it is accessible to
purely aesthetic evaluation. They are antitheses which, in principle, are
mutually exclusive. In actual fact, however, the history of art represents
an unceasing disputation between the two tendencies. (45)
(Denn Einfhlungsbedrfnis und Abstraktionsbedrfnis fanden wir als
die zwei Polen menschlichen Kunstempfindens, soweit es rein sthetischer Wrdigung zugnglich ist. Es sind Gegenstze, die sich in Prinzip
ausschlieen. In Wirklichkeit aber stellt die Kunstgeschichte eine unaufhrliche Auseinandersetzung beider Tendenzen dar. [82])

Art history presents the continual coupling and confrontation of

these two opposing needs, and art historians would be well advised
(following Worringers own example in the practical part of his
text) to understand style as both the diachronic development and
synchronic phenomenon of these two psychological needs. The text,
then, would seem to proceed from the concept of style as an aesthetic
manifestation of psychology (of a life-philosophical will to art) and
then to offer a theory of the history of art as the polar dynamism of
that style-psychological principle. However, this passage becomes
more complicated if we put pressure on the word represents
(darstellen) and allow for the double meaning of Kunstgeschichte as,
on the one hand, the empirical history of art and, on the other, the
academic discipline of art history. The continual confrontation of
these two drives is present throughout the empirical history of art,
but is also that which is (to be) presented by the discipline of art
history, by the practice of art-historical writing. When Worringer adds
in Wirklichkeit to his implicit definition of art history/history of
art, that reality is not so much the empirical reality of art history, but
rather the textual reality of art historiography, i.e., the reading and
writing of art history. As readers, we are invited to read this particular
Kunstgeschichte not just as a theoretical argument about style, but,
more significantly, as the rhetorico-performative presentation of style
itself. This is the first sign of the texts life-philosophical transformation of historical problems into rhetorical ones.
We can see here how Worringers first text might become entangled in the epistemological difficulties of reading as such: to read
Worringers text (indeed, to read any text) is to follow the endless
permutations of a system of rhetorical figures whose deciphering
does not reveal any coherent content or argument, but only endlessly


Joshua Dittrich

refers the reader back to the very figures that structured the reading
in the first place. The content of the argument collapses into the
movement of its form; the object of the constative utterances of the
text becomes interchangeable with the enunciation itself. To make
an analogy to a far better known and indeed richer, more complex,
but ultimately very similar kind of text: for the reader of Friedrich
Nietzsches Birth of Tragedy (1872), the Apollonian and Dionysian
very quickly lose their plausibility as real, historical agencies, but
gain all the more in their power as words on the page and figures
circulating through that ceaselessly generative, contradictory text.
Worringer, like Nietzsche, steps out of that quasi-universal realm of
readerly uncertainty and into the discrete historical and cultural
moment of Lebensphilosophie precisely when the figures that shape
his writing (e.g., style, expression, and indeed life itself) themselves
masquerade as timeless and universal concepts. Worringers concept
of style, from which expression and inorganic life implicitly follow,
is a good example of this masquerading.
Worringerian style is ultimately and fundamentally unintelligible. The will to art and its stylistic effects are mysteriously and
permanently separated from conscious intention and explanation,
originating and operating elsewhere, dimly, intuitively, primordially.
Worringer speculates that the first artistic abstractions were a purely
instinctual creation (reine Instinktschpfung) and that the need for
abstraction had at first nothing to do with the conscious reproduction of geometric laws of composition, but stemmed from a much
deeper and more mysterious source:
This urge was bound to find its first satisfaction in pure geometric abstraction, which, set free from all external connections with the world, represents a felicitation whose mysterious transfiguration emanates not from
the observers intellect, but from the deepest roots of his somato-psychic
constitution. (35)
(Dieser Drang mute seine erste Befriedigung in der reinen geometrischen Abstraktion finden, welche, von allem ueren Weltzusammenhang erlst, eine Beglckung darstellt, die ihre geheimnisvolle Erklrung
nicht im Intellekt des Betrachtenden, sondern in den tiefsten Wurzeln
seiner krperlich-seelischen Konstitution findet. [7071])

The first geometric abstractions appealed not to the intellect, but to

the deepest physical and mental constitution of the observer. If one
follows those physical and mental roots deep enough, one finds that
they do not even belong to a body or a soul anymore, but rather to
inorganic nature: static, inexorable, eternal. In a passage like the

A Life of Matter and Death


following (which deserves to be cited at length for the constant

hedging of its language), Worringer thus eradicates not only the
role of the intellect, but also the notions of life and organism in
aesthetic experience:
It must rather be assumed here too that every spiritual attitude has its
physical significance and that this must be the issue here. A convinced
evolutionist might, with all circumspection, seek it in the ultimate affinity
between the morphological laws of organic and inorganic nature. He
would then erect the ideal postulate that the morphological law of inorganic nature still echoes like a dim memory in our human organism.
He would then perhaps also assert further that every differentiation of
organised matter, every development of its most primitive form, is accompanied by a tension, by a longing to revert to this most primitive form
so to speak, and in corroboration he would point to the corresponding
resistance which nature evinces to all differentiation through the fact that
the more highly evolved the organism the greater are the pains it experiences in parturition. Thus, in the contemplation of abstract regularity
man would be, as it were, delivered from this tension and at rest from his
differentiation in the enjoyment of his simplest formula, of his ultimate
morphological law. The spirit would then be merely the instrumental
provider of these higher relationships. (3536)
(Es mu vielmehr auch hier angenommen werden, da jedes geistige
Verhltnis seine physische Bedeutung habe, und auf die kommt es hier
wohl an. Ein berzeugter Evolutionist knnte sie mit aller Vorsicht in
der schlielichen Verwandschaft der Bildungsgesetze organischer und
anorganischer Natur suchen. Er wrde dann die ideale Forderung aufstellen, da in unserem menschlichen Organismus das Bildungsgesetz
der anorganischen Natur noch wie eine leise Erinnerung nachklinge. Er
wrde vielleicht auch weiter behaupten, da jede Differenzierung der
organisierten Materie, jede Weiterbildung ihrer primitivsten Form von
einer Spannung, sozusagen von einer Rckwrtssehnsucht nach dieser
primitivsten Form begleitet sei und er wrde zur Bekrftigung auf den
entsprechenden Widerstand hinweisen, den die Natur gegen jede Differenzierung dadurch uert, da mit der Hherentwicklung des Organismus die Schmerzen des Gebrens wachsen. In der Betrachtung der
abstrakten Gesetzmigkeit wrde dann also der Mensch gleichsam von
dieser Spannung erlst und im Genusse seiner einfachsten Formel, seines
letzten Bildungsgesetz von seiner Differenzierung ausruhen. Der Geist
wre dann nur der Vermittler dieser hheren Beziehungen. [7172])

Worringer persistently disassociates the intellect (Geist) from artistic activity: intellect is only a mediator between the body and the


Joshua Dittrich

artwork, and only in the body does art have its meaning. Furthermore, it is assumed that there is a fundamental affinity between
organic and inorganic nature, such that the organic body (with its
mediating intellect) is at best a secondary formation (Weiterbildung)
or deviation (Differenzierung) from inorganic nature. Abstract art,
then, only confirms the primordiality of the inorganic over the
organic. Abstraction in art is the echo of inorganic nature that
reminds us, painfully, that every notion of intellectual progress
and organic growth is felt, at this deeper bodily level, as pain and
longing for the primordial simplicity of inorganic form. Every new
birth, every human step forward gives rise to a need and a will to
step backwards and outwards, a need whose gratification is felt by
and is present to the body (in its deepest, primordial constitution),
but never to the intellect.
All of the subtle ways that Worringer hedges his claims here (e.g.,
foregrounding the assumption, hypothesizing a token evolutionist,
excessive use of the subjunctive, perhaps, so to speak, and as it
were) indicate that this is a tenuous, but crucial, part of his argument. This passage, in a move typical to Lebensphilosophie, also uses
the explanatory powers of the inexplicable, of the appeal to the
inexplicable as the last word of every coherent explanation. Precisely
because the will to art and its stylistic effects present themselves (and
are presented) as manifestations of an unintelligible, mysterious
bioexistential longing, more need not be said. It suffices merely to
mention the enigma of the inorganic, the inchoate allure of primitive, irrational longing.
If the task of art history is the presentation of such a need (irrational, unknowable, inexplicable), then we have to emphasize that
presentation itself involves the indirect evocation of the ceaseless
mystery of art, namely, the contradictory relation (Auseinandersetzung) between organic human life and inorganic form. Such a mystery, although it may be unknowable, is not necessarily unspeakable.
To present it, to make it seen, felt, and heard (but never directly
visible, sensible, or audible), requires, both in art and in art history,
style, i.e., the formal qualities that are necessary for the limitation
and expression of the will that wants to overcome them. Style, thus
defined, is the conceptual paradox that lurks in the background
when Worringer uses the word presentation. Style is the (un)speakable movement of thought that (un)speaks and expresses (entspricht)
artistic need and artistic will. It is the possibility of an impossible
voice that one hears in certain Worringerian words, sounding at the
edges of what is audible, readable, conceivable.
Inorganic life is the term that roots this conception of style most
explicitly in the problematic of Lebensphilosophie. This oscillating

A Life of Matter and Death


concept draws together the organic and the abstract into a tacit,
unstable unity that belies the texts ostensibly dualistic or polar
structure. We first see this breakdown of textual polarity in Worringers discussion of organic vs. abstract styles of ornamentation.
Organicism in style is only a belated, derivative moment of the style
of abstraction, just as the very quality of organic life itself would
seem to be a derivative of a primary, underlying inorganic vitality:
Both styles, linear as well as vegetal ornament, thus represent at bottom an abstraction, and their diversity is, in this sense, really only one
of degree; just as, in the eyes of a monist, organic regularity, in the last
analysis, differs only in degree from that of the inorganic-crystalline. We
are concerned only with the value this difference of degree possesses in
relation to the problem of empathy or abstraction. (6061)
(Beide Stile, lineare wie vegetabile Ornamentik, stellen also im Grunde
eine Abstraktion dar und ihre Verschiedenheit ist in diesem Sinne
eigentlich nur eine graduelle, wie die organische Gesetzmigkeit fr
eine monistische Anschauung auch im letzten Grunde nur graduell verschieden von der anorganisch-kristallinischen ist. Fr uns kommt es nur
auf den Wert an, den diese graduelle Verschiedenheit der Stile in bezug
auf das Problem Einfhlung oder Abstraktion hat. [9798])

The organic life represented, in this example, by the plant ornament is, at the deepest psychological level, not life at all, but rather
the outward, living appearance of a dead structure. The living thing,
the disavowed Naturvorbild, is stripped of its organic life, and that
life becomes a visual cipher for the inorganic principle of its form.
Paradoxically the artwork itself becomes an organism, full or possessed of that same uncanny life that is only to be distinguished by
degree from the regularity of lifeless matter. When he insists that the
continuity between the organic and the inorganic is only of value
insofar as it pertains to the problem of empathy and abstraction,
Worringer both affirms and overlooks the fact that his entire polar
or antithetical argument rests upon a mysterious, unintelligible
continuum of opposites (where the conscious life of the mind is
knotted together with the unconscious, inorganic undeadness of
the body), not their polar or antithetical opposition. Because he has
defined his terms in such a way as to be defended and sustained by
their own conceptual ambiguity, his bipolar argument can appear
quite logically and conceptually coherent. However, it is precisely
what lurks in that obscure, uncanny overlap of opposites that
forms the real center of Worringers presentation: the expression
of inorganic life.


Joshua Dittrich

Although the paradoxical concepts of life and style are unintelligible, Worringer argues that certain peoples (explicitly the Gothic
peoples of Northern Europe, and implicitly, certain bourgeois
intellectuals of Wilhelmine Germany) still intuit these concepts as
problems and cannot get free of them. From the perspective of
these peoples, the complete release theorized as artistic abstraction becomes impossible. Instead, abstraction leads only to an
intensification of the contradiction, not to redemption; hence the
problem of expression, whereby the confrontation (Auseinandersetzung) of organic need and inorganic form can only be ceaselessly
expressed in art, but never resolved. Concluding his discussion of
ornamentation, Worringer writes,
In spite of the purely linear, inorganic basis of this [Gothic] ornamental
style, we hesitate to term it abstract. Rather it is impossible to mistake
the restless life contained in this tangle of lines. This unrest, this seeking, has no organic life that draws us gently into its movement; but there
is life there, a vigorous, urgent life, that compels us joylessly to follow
its movements. Thus, on an inorganic fundament, there is heightened
movement, heightened expression. (7677)
(Trotz der rein linearen anorganischen Grundlage dieser [gotischen]
Ornamentik zgern wir, sie eine abstrakte zu nennen. Vielmehr ist in
diesem Liniengewirr [der gotischen Ornamentik] ein unruhiges Leben
nicht zu verkennen. Diese Unruhe, dieses Suchen hat kein organisches
Leben, das uns sanft in seine Bewegung mit hineinzieht, aber Leben ist
da, ein starkes, hasterflltes, das uns zwingt, glcklos seinen Bewegungen
zu folgen. Also auf anorganischer Grundlage eine gesteigerte Bewegung,
ein gesteigerter Ausdruck. [11516])

Expression for Worringer names the stylistic contradiction (neither

abstract nor empathetic, but rather their mutual escalation) that
answers to the existential contradiction tormenting the Gothic
Kunstwollen. Attaining neither the immanent and vital fullness of
the Greek, nor the transcendental stone-cold abstraction of the
Egyptian, yet striving for both, Gothic art expresses the incommensurability between the two through a movement of ceaseless
oscillation and escalation. Where no synthesis is possible, Gothic
art strives rather to translate (bertragen) the two, to carry one over
to the meet the other in a relation of impossible correspondence;
to breathe life into the rigor mortis of eternal abstraction, to monumentalize the transience of the living. The result is expression: a
restless movement of energies (Krftebewegung), a stylistic striving
that Worringer characterizes as an intensity, tumult, or striving, and

A Life of Matter and Death


to which he attributes an uncanny, inorganic life. The following

description of a Gothic cathedral is typical of Worringers concept
of expression:
In the Gothic cathedral, on the contrary, matter lives solely on its own
mechanical laws; but these laws, despite their fundamentally abstract
character, have become living, i.e. they have acquired expression. Man
has transferred his capacity for empathy onto mechanical values. Now
they are no longer a dead abstraction to him, but a living movement of
forces. And only in this heightened movement of forces, which in their
intensity of expression surpass all organic motion, was Northern man
able to gratify his need for expression, which had been intensified to
the point of pathos by inner disharmony. Gripped by the frenzy of these
mechanical forces, that thrust out at all their terminations and aspire
toward heaven in a mighty crescendo of orchestral music, he feels himself
convulsively drawn aloft in blissful vertigo, raised high above himself into
the infinite. (11213)
(Beim gotischen Dom dagegen lebt die Materie nur von ihren eignen
mechanischen Gesetzen; diese Gesetze aber sind trotz ihres abstrakten
Grundcharakters lebendig geworden, d.h. Sie haben einen Ausdruck
bekommen. Der Mensch hat sein Einfhlungsvermgen auf mechanische Werte bertragen. Das sind ihm nun keine tote Abstraktion mehr,
sondern eine lebendige Krftebewegung. Und nur in dieser gesteigerten
Krftebewegung, die in der Intensitt des Ausdrucks ber alle organische
Bewegung hinausgeht, vermag der nordische Mensch sein durch
innere Disharmonie ins Pathetische gesteigertes Ausdrucksbedrfnis zu
befriedigen. Ergriffen vom Taumel dieser aus allen Enden hervordringenden, in mchtigem Krescendo gegen Himmel strebenden Orchestermusik mechanischer Krfte fhlt er in seligem Schwindel sich kramphaft
emporgerissen, sich hoch ber sich selbst hinaus ins Unendliche gesteigert. [15556])

Here, and in other such passages, it is not the life of an organism

which we see before us, but that of a mechanism (11415) (Nicht
das Leben eines Organismus tritt uns entgegen, sondern das eines
Mechanismus [158]). The mechanical laws of inorganic nature
express an uncanny vitality and an uncanny pathos upon the viewer.
Expression is thus itself a kind of life that emerges between the
work and the viewer, that is to say, between the dead lines, forces,
movements of the work and their vivifying perception by the viewer.
Moreover, in that vivifying perception of inorganic, dead matter,
there lies also the uncanny recognition of the same inorganic forces
that constitute the viewers own organic life. In expression there is


Joshua Dittrich

thus no polar opposition between life and matter (nor, by analogy,

between abstraction and empathy); rather there is only a ceaselessly
shifting differential in which life functions as the asymptotal limit
of matter, and vice versa. Life is the expressive interplay of forces
between the dead structure of a Gothic cathedral and the equally
dead structure of its living, organic viewer: life is what animates the
geometry and stone of the cathedral to the point where it strives
to become space, not merely occupy it. Likewise, life is what captures
and overwhelms the spectator of the cathedral, forces him to that
unthinkable point where his intellect crashes up against its inorganic, material limit, the limit it shares with the cathedral itself.
The expressive movement of vivified forces is a movement
without direction, development, or end: a line of pure intensity,
of constant interruption and detour, of tumult and vertigo. It is
barely a line at all; in fact, it is barely visible: in the end, one sees
it only insofar as one hears it in the orchestral music that thunders
out of the stone. I would suggest that the real name for the figure
of expression in Worringers text is catachresis, the term for rhetorical abuse: mixed metaphors, inadequate or inconsistent usage.
When Worringer says that the structure of a Gothic cathedral is
striving toward heaven, he is using a metaphor. When he says that
the cathedral is orchestral music striving toward heaven, he is committing catachresis of a special kind: that which he misexpresses
could not be expressed in any other way. Worringers catachresis is
the necessarily inadequate use of language to express a conceptual
problem that precludes adequate expression in its essence. The
excessive, unnamable element of the text, the conceptual dimension that remains necessarily unthinkable, but nevertheless bound
to words, eventually transforms itself into aural metaphors. Hence
the music, voices, and echoes as the central mixed metaphoric of
the text, the echo of catachresis itself as the Gothic line, forever
denied freedom, searches ceaselessly for a way out.
The tone of these passages on expression and inorganic life
lies quite far afield from the sober, academic terrain sketched out
in the texts opening paragraphs. Although Worringers point of
departure is a polar model of aesthetic sensibility that drives the
history of art, the unfolding of his text suggests that it is not the
polar model itself that he is compelled to explore, but rather that
uncanny moment of confusion or undecidability between the two
poles which suspends the entire model. However the text may represent itself explicitly (e.g., as an art-historical treatise or a work of
psychological aesthetics), what it presents implicitly is a radically
unstable figure of thought that reduces history (of art, of culture,
of human sensation) to a rhetorical figure, to catachresis. Rather

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than the figures and concepts of the text serving the process of
historical understanding, history is both evacuated of meaning and
mythologized as a rhetorical figure.

Part, if not all, of the experience or reading Abstraction and Empathy
lies in getting caught in such endlessly hyperbolic passages without
any sense of how the textor the readerwill ever get back out.
This is where a critic like Lukcs can be useful, and where we can
see more clearly that the implicit move to dispense with history is
itself a historically contingent gesture.
Lukcs offers a scathing critique of Worringers work in his 1934
essay on Expressionism, in which Worringer figures as the intellectual spokesperson of the entire movement.7 Lukcs argues that
Expressionism, for all its radical and revolutionary rhetoric, is to be
reduced to a quintessentially bourgeois ideology and condemned
for its ideological flight from the realities of imperialism and capitalism. For Lukcs, once the proletariat had assumed the role of the
real agent of history, the bourgeoisie found itself engaged in an
unconscious, involuntary struggle for self-preservation, forced into a
losing battle to answer new social questions that history had already
rendered it unable to answer. The bourgeoisie, then, could only try
to reassert its compromised dominance through the indirect apology
for capitalism, an apology that characterized all its intellectual and
ideological products, whether it wanted it or not, indeed whether
it knew it or not:
The more strongly capitalism develops, and the stronger its internal contradictions become, the less possible it is to make direct and open defense
of the capitalist economy the centrepiece of an ideological justification
of the capitalist system. . . . There is therefore a general estrangement
from the concrete problems of economy, a concealment of the connections between economy, society and ideology, with the result that these
questions are increasingly mystified. . . . At most, even criticisms [of the
system] that had subjectively good intentions developed into an unconscious and unwilled component, a particular nuance, of the basic ideological tendency of the epoch: an indirect apology, an apology by way of a
mystifying critique of the present. (8182, translation modified by author)
(Je strker sich der Kapitalismus entfaltet und je strker er dementsprechend seine inneren Widersprche entwickelt, desto weniger kann
die direkte und offene Verteidigung der kapitalistischen Wirtschaft im


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Mittelpunkt des ideologischen Schutzes des kapitalistischen Systems
stehen. . . . Es kommt also zu einer allgemeinen Entfernung von den
konkreten Problemen der Wirtschaft, zur Verschleierung der Zusammenhnge zwischen Wirtschaft, Gesellschaft und Ideologie, und es
entsteht demzufolge eine stndig wachsende Mystifizierung dieser Fragen. . . . Zumeist entwickelt sich auch die subjektiv ehrlich gemeinte
Kritik zu einemunbewuten und ungewolltenBestandteil, zu einer
besonderen Nuance der allgemeinen ideologischen Grundstrmung
der Epoche: der indirekten Apologetik, der Apologetik vermittels einer
mystifizierenden Kritik der Gegenwart. [15253])

Later in the essay, Lukcs calls this distancing, veiling, and mystifying
apology an act of ideological flight, and he shows, in concrete
albeit reductive terms, that such a flight is essential not only to the
artistic methods of Expressionism, but to its underlying intellectual
basis, and ultimately to the political consequences of the movement,
namely, German Fascism.
Worringers Abstraction and Empathy unwittingly exposes the problematic essence of the entire movement.8 To paraphrase Lukcss
Hegelian-influenced Marxism: what characterizes Worringers text,
the Expressionist movement, and, as we will see, the deep intellectual
background of Lebensphilosophie, is a false synthesis of the dialectical
relation of subject and object. On the one hand, Expressionism tries
to claim access to an abstract, absolute, purely formal knowledge
of reality, of the thing-in-itself beyond the illusory surfaces of
perception and ideology. On the other hand, the movement feels
the compulsion to fill in the Inhaltlichkeit of the objects of its purely
formal knowledge, to grasp the objects both objectively by their real
content and subjectively by their abstract essence. However, such
objective grasping is impossible because, in the bourgeois mind,
what is objectively real and concrete and active in history can be
conceived only as an eternal problem of humanity (e.g., expression or life), and such a problem, from this perspective, can be
approached only intuitively, mystically, subjectively. Herein lies the
shortsighted, short-circuited dialectic of intuitive, subjectivist insight
into the objective reality of eternal problems of humanity, a
dialectic that leaves the real problems of that particular historical
movement utterly unthought.
Worringers text shows exactly the same structure: the objective problem of the history of style in art is approached through
a subjective, intuitive argument about polarized needs and their
expression. The synthesis of that polar argument is the figure
of inorganic life, accessible and operative only in the text itself, in

A Life of Matter and Death


Worringers writing, which tacitly presents itself as the replacement

and supplement to the visual works he ostensibly writes about, to
the artists and the cultures that produced them and, indeed, to the
historical process itself.
In a later text entitled The Destruction of Reason (published in
1954, but written during the 1930s and 1940s), Lukcs attributes
that short-circuited dialectic, that oscillation of false concepts like
life, specifically to Lebensphilosophie. Although in his 1934 essay he
had already alluded to this school of thought and its penchant for
the pseudophilosophical concept of Weltanschauung or worldview,
life emerges in this later text as the most centraland most dubiouspseudoconcept of the movement:
The central position that life occupied in the method of this philosophy,
particularly in that specific form wherein life [Leben] is always subjectified
into experience [Erlebnis] and experience objectified as life, allowed
of such a swing [Schillern] between subjectivity and objectivityone, to
be sure, that never stands up to a proper critique of knowledge. This
tendencyits first marked occurrence was in Nietzschewas reinforced
when the idea of myth entered into philosophical conceptions. . . . And
precisely as the result of the aforesaid swing between subjectivity and
objectivity (experience and life), the new central concept of philosophy
further reinforced these illusions and gave them a fashionable accent. It
seemed as though it was the destiny of precisely this age, out of its experience of life and with new figures of a new myth, to restore coherence
to a world become godless and ravaged through understanding, to make
it meaningful and to make new perspectives discernible. (41314)
(Die zentrale Stellung, die in der Methode dieser Philosophie das
Leben einnimmt, insbesondere in jener spezifischen Form, da das
Leben immer in das Erlebnis subjektiviert und Erlebnis als Leben
objektiviert wird, gestattet ein solchesvor einer wirklichen Erkenntniskritik allerdings nie standhaltendesSchillern zwischen Subjektivitt und Objektivitt. Diese Tendenz wird noch verstrkt, wenn, zum
erstenmal entschieden bei Nietzsche, der Gedanke des Mythos in die
philosophische Begriffsbildung eindringt. . . . Der neue Zentralbegriff
der Philosophie, gerade infolge seines bereits hervorgehobenen Schillern zwischen Subjektivitt und Objektivitt (Erleben und Leben), verstrkt noch diese Illusionen, gibt ihnen einen zeitgemen Akzent: es
scheint, als ob gerade diese Zeit berufen wre, die durch den Verstand
verdete, gottlos gemachte Welt, aus dem Erleben des Lebens heraus mit neuen Gestalten eines neuen Mythos wieder zusammenhngend,
Perspektiven zeigend und sinnvoll zu machen. [360])


Joshua Dittrich

Life is the source of Lebensphilosophies swinging back and forth (Schillern, literally flickering or shimmering) between an overweening
subjectivity and a false objectivity. The conceptual content of life
in Lebensphilosophie amounts to the false objectivity of Leben and the
mythical intuition of Erlebnis. What drives this philosophy is the
need to transcend the limits of reason and of the rational subject,
but without transcending the rational subject itself; that is, without
abandoning a certain structure of subjective idealism. As a result,
the subject of Lebensphilosophie is only circulating back and forth
between its irrational, mythical needs and the phantasmatic form
they assume for it as objects of its intuition and lived experience.
Real, objective realitythat is, for Lukcs, the reality of class struggle
and of an imperialist economy on a crash course with world war
only increases the dread or panic of bourgeois intellectuals, driving
them further into the vortex of their life philosophy, blinding them
ever more to the economic reality that should by all other accounts
have been their downfall or wake-up call.
From this perspective, one can see how insidious the concept
of life was in the German context of the prewar and interwar
periods, and this is all the more so for Worringers inorganic life
because it figures on the page precisely the conceptual dead end
that Lukcs finds in history. The philosophical dead end, this oscillating pseudoconcept of life, that Lukcs locates at the core of
Lebensphilosophie assumes a purely rhetorical form in Worringers
text. The contradiction that arguably forms the deepest background
of an epochs philosophical, artistic and, albeit implicitly, political
views is brought to center stage in Abstraction and Empathy, where,
even if in disguised form, in costume as it were, it steals the show.
The stylistic line that Worringer celebrates, that expressive movement of vivified forces without direction or development, that line
of pure intensity and ceaseless interruptionas passionately and
rhetorically heightened as it is in his writingsuch a line must also
be understood as the hysterical shriek of a mind that is trying, and
failing, to escape from its economic reality.

In turning to Deleuze and Guattaris appropriation of Worringers
concept of inorganic life, I dont mean to suggest that the economic
and social reality of imperial Germany in 1908 could be in any way
similar to the France of 1980, when the second volume of Capitalism
and Schizophrenia was first published. However, in a book that offers

A Life of Matter and Death


theories of state power, resistance, war, and global capitalismin

short, in a book that is, if in an idiosyncratic and displaced way,
nevertheless a Marxist bookI am deeply critical of the roles that
Worringer and inorganic life might play.9
This is not the place for a detailed presentation and analysis of
Deleuze and Guattaris text, but the following brief characterization suffices to situate Worringer within the conceptual and stylistic
project of the book: A Thousand Plateaus theorizes state power, war,
science, philosophy, languageindeed, thought itselfas dynamic
processes that oscillate between two poles (much like Worringers
argument on the oscillation of style between abstraction and empathy). Moreover, one pole is always implicitly valorized, usurping the
entire binary opposition via a singular, delirious movement that
expresses, exceeds, short-circuits, and reconstitutes the relation all
at once. In all of the various dualisms employed in this book (e. g.,
rhizome vs. tree, smooth vs. striated, haptic vs. optic, nomadic vs.
royal, war machine vs. state), it is always the movement of passage,
fluctuation, or oscillation between poles that is of primary interest,
and one of the names Deleuze and Guattari give to that movement
is inorganic life, of a specifically Worringerian variety:
The abstract, on the contrary, begins only with what Worringer presents
as the Gothic avatar. It is this nomadic line that he says is mechanical,
but in free action and swirling; it is inorganic, yet alive, and all the more
alive for being inorganic. It is distinguished both from the geometrical
and the organic. It raises mechanical relations to the level of intuition.
. . . This streaming, spiraling, zigzagging, snaking, feverish line of variation liberates a power of life [puissance de vie] that human beings had
rectified and organisms had confined, and which matter now expresses
as the trait, flow or impulse governing it. If everything is alive, it is not
because everything is organic or organized but, on the contrary, because
the organism is a diversion of life. In short, the life in question is inorganic, germinal, and intensive, a powerful life without organs, a Body that
is all the more alive for having no organs. (49899)

The passage celebrates the inorganic life of all things, as well as

the lines (that is, styles) of art and indeed, those of philosophy that
liberate that power of life from where it is trapped or confined.
The entire philosophical project of A Thousand Plateaus might be
summed up under the slogan of liberating life, tracing the lines of
flight of inorganic life in all its manifestations in politics, philosophy,
and the arts. Deleuze and Guattari have succeeded in transforming
the tacit core of Worringers theory of style into an explicit and


Joshua Dittrich

more or less coherent theory and practice of philosophy, in which

the war machine, smooth space, the rhizome, the nomad, et al. are
the agents and forces of the liberation of inorganic life.
But just as Deleuze and Guattari are explicit on the question of
life at the heart of their enterprise, so do they also explicitly confront
the limit or impasse of that concept of life, whereas Worringer can
only drown his repressed anxiety about the dead end of his theory in
a flood of rhetorical pathos. Worringer loses himself in the orchestral
fanfares that echo in the cathedral of his text, transcending and
reinscribing the rhetorical figure of inorganic life precisely because
he cannot find a conceptual alternative to it. I would argue that
Deleuze and Guattari also lack the conceptual alternative in the
end, but they can at least confront that possibility outright, halting
the constant flux of their thought with an occasional moment of
sobriety, even admonishment. Consider the conclusion of 1440:
The Smooth and the Striated, which features the most extended
discussion of Worringer in all of their texts:
Of course, smooth spaces are not in themselves liberatory. But the struggle is changed or displaced in them, and life reconstitutes its stakes,
confronts new obstacles, invents new paces, switches adversaries. Never
believe that a smooth space will suffice to save us. (500)

In a very compressed form, this passage summarizes the insufficiency

and uncertainty of the whole assemblage of mutually transforming
dualisms that trace their ways through A Thousand Plateaus, especially
the transformations of the state and war machine within the system
of global capitalism.
The sections entitled 1227: Treatise on the NomadologyThe
War Machine and 4000 B.C.: The Apparatus of Capture contain
ever more precise, yet somehow also increasingly elusive formulations of the relation between the state and the war machine. Given
that capitalism is a system that continually sets and repels its own
limits (472), any form of resistance or alternative to it (e.g., the war
machine et al.) is still necessarily a part of the system: not outside
the system, but rather the outside of the system.10 As a result, all of the
propositions they offer in their treatise are ultimately undecidable, subject to the inscrutable laws of a capitalist system (of states
and a global market), whose alternative cannot be thought through
to the end because that very alternative is already owned by the
system, is in fact coexistent with it, and thus is in continual danger
of collapsing back into it at any time. The very existence of the resistance to capitalism moves in continual oscillation with its opposite,
capitalism itself; all forces of resistance and revolution are ceaselessly

A Life of Matter and Death


absorbed, neutralized, and re-created anew by an inscrutable system

that cannot be overcome, only changed or displaced (500).
Worringer and Deleuze and Guattari all trace such a feverish
line of variation between two poles and pursue that line with the
same deep ambiguity; namely, with the conviction that such a line
(an expressive Gothic line, a line of flight) is necessarily the way out
of every and any impasse of thought, but also with the (sometimes
explicit) resignation that such lines can only lead back into the same
impasses in different ways. This raises the following question: If
Worringers concept of inorganic life, an oscillating concept, neither here nor there, is really as Lukcs would have itnamely, a
flight from the reality of the decision between the bourgeoisie and
the proletariat into a fantasy of desperate, rhetorically heightened
undecidabilitythen how are we to understand the appropriation
of that same concept, that same undecidability and its attendant
undecidable propositions (47173), that same directionless flux
by these two Marxist thinkers?
The most obvious response to the question, even and especially
from a Marxist perspective, would be that there are fundamental
differences between the contexts and the stages of capitalism of Worringers writing, of Lukcss critique, and of Deleuze and Guattaris
theorization; that is, a distinction between imperialist capitalism and
late capitalism, neocapitalism, or global capitalism. Since the structures of markets, nation-states, production, and the organization of
labor have fundamentally changed, new concepts are necessary to
think and critique those structures. But, as I have argued, in a very
specific and historically traceable way, there is nothing new about
this style of thought. The nomad line of thinking that Deleuze and
Guattari trace in their text (a line of resistance, a line of flight) is but
the repetition without much of a difference of Worringers Gothic
line. And if that Gothic line is
a line that delimits nothing, that describes no contour, that no longer goes from
one point to another but instead passes between points, that is always
declining from the horizontal and the vertical and deviating from the
diagonal, that is constantly changing direction, a mutant line of this kind
that is without outside or inside, form or background, beginning or end
and that is as alive as a continuous variation[,] (49798)

then the continuous oscillation of the inside (of the state, of capitalism) and the outside (of the war machine, of the resistance or
alternative to capitalism) can be reduced merely to a different formulation of the same oscillation of life in Lebensphilosophie, can be
reduced, that is, to what Lukcs calls a parasitical reconciliation to


Joshua Dittrich

the system (152). The flux of inside and outside in Deleuze and
Guattaris nomadic line shares the same structure as the Lukscian
Schillern between subjectivity and objectivity and the Worringerian
pseudopolarity of abstraction and empathy. And despite their various
jargons (post-structuralist, Hegelian-Marxist, life-philosophical), the
concept life is the undead end of all three texts.

This essay is dedicated with gratitude to Stanka Radovic.
Gilles Deleuze, Negotiations: 19721990, trans. Martin Joughin (New York:
Columbia University Press, 1995).

The standard edition of Wilhelm Worringers works in German is Schriften,

ed. Hannes Bhringer, Helga Grebing, and Beate Sntgen (Munich: Wilhelm Fink,
2004). Here I discuss Worringers first and most influential publication Abstraktion
und Einfhlung: Ein Beitrag zur Stilpsychologie (Munich: Piper, 1908), translated into
English as Abstraction and Empathy: A Contribution to the Psychology of Style, trans. Michael
Bullock (New York: International Universities Press, 1953). Hereafter in the text, I
cite both the German and English editions, the former according to the pagination
from last edition published during Worringers lifetime (1959), which the Schriften
also retain. Deleuze and Guattaris work first appeared as Mille Plateaux: Capitalism
et Schizophrnie, vol. 2 (Paris: Les Editions de Minuit, 1980). Hereafter in the text, I
cite the English translation, A Thousand Plateaus, trans. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis:
University of Minnesota Press, 1987).
Georg Lukcss essay was originally published in International Literatur 1 (1934):
15373. I cite the standard German edition, Werke, vol. 4: Probleme des Realismus (Berlin:
Aufbau, 1955), 14683; and the English translation Expressionism: Its Significance
and Decline, in Essays on Realism, ed. Rodney Livingstone, trans. David Fernbach
(Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1980). Lukcss dogmatic, neo-Hegelian Marxism
(discussed in section II of this essay) is by no means representative of the diversity of
Marxist aesthetic views in the German context of the 1930s (see notes 6 and 7). I use
his work heuristically to aid my comparison of Worringer with Deleuze and Guattari.
Lebensphilosophie is a descriptive term, neither a precise school of thought, nor
a periodizing concept. Among the writers who are most exemplary of the problematic
that I describe here are Wilhelm Dilthey, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Georg Simmel,
though the term can range as far back as German Romanticism and Idealism and as far
forward as Ernst Jnger, passing through Arthur Schopenhauer, Edmund Husserl, and
Oswald Spengler along the way. Lukcss The Destruction of Reason (see section II of this
essay) is an invaluable, though reductive, treatment of the problem of irrationalism in
German bourgeois thought, with a specific focus on Lebensphilosophie as the dominant
bourgeois ideology of the imperialist and interwar periods. For more recent and less
tendentious introductions, see Herbert Schndelbachs chapter Leben in Philosophie
in Deutschland 18311933 (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1983), 17497. A critical
anthology of essays (in English) that approaches Lebensphilosophie as a modernist
(and contemporary) discursive problem is The Crisis in Modernism: Bergson and the
Vitalist Controversy, ed. Frederick Burwick and Paul Douglass (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1992). Henri Bergsons vitalism is explicitly linked to the German

A Life of Matter and Death


context (and to Worringer) in Jrgen Kleins Vitalism, Empiricism and the Quest
for Reality in German and English Philosophy in that volume (190229). Bergsons
influence on Deleuze is treated in Paul Douglasss Deleuzes Bergson: Bergson
Redux (36888).
Worringer borrows and expands this term from Alois Riegls Sptrmische
Kunstindustrie [Late Roman art industry] (Vienna: K. K. Hof und sterreichische
Staatsdruckerei, 1901). For a further account of what Worringer borrowedand
distortedfrom Riegl in historiographical terms, see Michael W. Jennings, Against
Expressionism: Materialism and Social Theory in Worringers Abstraction and Empathy,
in Invisible Cathedrals: The Expressionist Art History of Wilhelm Worringer, ed. Neil Donahue
(University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1995), 87104.
Claudia hlschlger describes a discourse of such synthesizing thought processes (synthetische Denkoperationen) that includes not only Worringer, Simmel, and
Dilthey, but also the early Lukcs (see her Abstraktionsdrang: Wilhelm Worringer und
der Geist der Moderne [Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 2005], 39). Neil Donahue suggests that
it is precisely those affinities that make Lukcss 1934 critique of Worringer all the
more vehement (see Donahue, Forms of Disruption: Abstraction in Modern German Prose
[Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993], 30n1). In another context, Michael
Lwy has argued that Lukcss explicitly Marxist works can be read as a repudiation
of his earlier Weberian life-philosophical, romantic-anticapitalist phase (see Lwy,
Naptha or Settembrini? Lukcs and Romantic Anticapitalism, New German Critique
42 [1987]: 1731). See finally Louis Althussers incisive comment that the rigor of
Lukcss Marxism is tainted by a guilty Hegelianism: as if Lukcs wanted to absolve
through Hegel his upbringing by Simmel and Dilthey (Althusser, For Marx, trans.
Ben Brewster, Radical Thinkers series [London: Verso, 1990], 114n29).
Lukcss essay was massively important for German literary criticism, prompting the so-called Expressionism debate in the Moscow exile journal Das Wort in
the late 1930s. By posing the question of the relation of modernism to the rise of
Fascism, this text sparked a debate on aesthetics and politics that attracted almost
all the major leftist writers and critics of the time, lasting well into the 1970s in both
the German and North American contexts (see, respectively, Hans-Jrgen Schmitt,
ed., Die Expressionismusdebatte: Materialien zu einer marxistischen Realismuskonzeption
[Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1973]; and Theodor Adorno et al., Aesthetics and
Politics, afterword by Fredric Jameson, Radical Thinkers series [New York: Verso,
2007]). In terms of its impact on Worringers reception, Lukcss essay had been
more or less neglected by literary critics and art historians until Geoff Waite evoked
it in his ideologically and rhetorically critical reading of Worringers text (see Waites
Worringers Abstraction and Empathy: Remarks on its Reception and on the Rhetoric
of its Criticism, which was first published in 1981 and was reprinted in Donahue,
Invisible Cathedrals, 1340). My argument differs from Waites through my emphasis
on inorganic life as the essential rhetorical and ideological contradiction of Worringers text. In a second essay (also in Invisible Cathedrals, 157202) entitled After
Worringerian Virtual Reality: Videodromes and Cinema 3, MassCult and CyberWar,
Waite connects Worringers thought to the postmodern political theory of, among
others, Deleuze and Guattari through the concept of virtual reality as it was invented
by Wilhelm Worringer. Though the terms of Waites second essay differ from mine,
my critique of the Deleuzian version of Worringerian life is not incompatible with
Waites thesis on Worringers pervasive postmodern influence.
Worringer, in a 1911 essay in the journal Sturm, was one of the first critics and
artists to use the word Expressionism in print. Through the teens and twenties,


Joshua Dittrich

he wrote reviews and criticism that were engaged in contemporary artistic trends, in
addition to his scholarly works on ancient and medieval art and architecture, which,
incidentally, were seen by Lukcs, among others, to be tacitly advocating the Expressionist movement under the guise of Gothic expression. For the genesis of the word
Expressionism across German art media between 1910 and 1914, see Otto F. Bests
preface to Theorie des Expressionismus (Stuttgart, Germany: Philipp Reclam, 1976); WolfDieter Dubes Expressionism, trans. Mary Whittal (New York: Oxford University Press,
1972), 1821; and John Willetts Expressionism (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1970), 7577.
For a thorough discussion of the relation of Deleuze and Guattari to Marxism,
see Jean-Jacques Lecercle, A Marxist Philosophy of Language, trans. Gregory Elliott,
Historical Materialism Book Series, 12 (Boston: Brill, 2006). In his own words, Deleuze
has said, I think Flix Guattari and I have remained Marxists, in our two different
ways, perhaps, but both of us. You see, we think any political philosophy must turn on
the analysis of capitalism and the ways it has developed (Negotiations, 171). Readers
of Deleuzes works on cinema and painting can trace the influence of Worringerian
inorganic life on his conception of Expressionism in film and hysteria in painting in
Cinema I: The Movement-Image, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986), 5051; and Francis Bacon: The Logic of
Sensation, trans. Daniel W. Smith (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003,),
4041. For a detailed analysis of Worringers impact on Deleuzes aesthetics (that
does not take into account the political dimension of Deleuzes thought), see Joseph
Vogls Anorganismus: Worringer und Deleuze in Wilhelm Worringers Kunstgeschichte,
ed. Hannes Bhringer and Beate Sntgen (Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 2002), 18192.
This formulation recalls Deleuzes theory of literary style as the capturing of
the outside of language within language (see his Essays Critical and Clinical, trans.
Daniel W. Smith and Michael A. Greco [Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press,
1997]). Deleuzes formulation is indebted to Michel Foucaults 1966 essay The
Thought of the Outside, published in English in Aesthetics, Method and Epistemology:
Essential Works of Foucault 19541984, trans. Jeffrey Mehlman, ed. James D. Faubion
(New York: New Press, 1999), 14770.