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The Question of Community in Deleuze and Guattari (II): After Friendship1 Irving Goh symploke, Volume

The Question of Community in Deleuze and Guattari (II): After


Irving Goh

in Deleuze and Guattari (II): After Friendship1 Irving Goh symploke, Volume 15, Numbers 1-2, 2007, pp.

symploke, Volume 15, Numbers 1-2, 2007, pp. 218-243 (Article)

Published by University of Nebraska Press DOI: 10.1353/sym.0.0019

by University of Nebraska Press DOI: 10.1353/sym.0.0019 For additional information about this article

For additional information about this article

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The question of friendship is perhaps irresistible, if not inevitable, in any thinking of community. It is always tempting to understand friendship as the most amicable imminence or irreducible structure of community. It could be said that there is no denying the force of thinking which thinks that community follows from friendship. Even Geoffrey Bennington, in a critique of Derrida’s Politics of Friendship, where the question of community is apparently inadequately addressed in Bennington’s view, writes that “a thought of community should follow from the structure of friendship” (113). If one were to follow this line of thought, in which community indeed follows from friendship, then any study of the question of community in Deleuze and Guattari must necessarily seek out those moments in their writings when friendship figures in the course of their philosophical conceptualization. Or, in other words, in any study that seeks to elicit a thought of community in Deleuze and Guattari, no matter how elliptical that is, that same study must also show that Deleuze and Guattari address the question of friendship. As it turns out, they certainly do. Friendship is in fact not as elusive or oblique in Deleuze and Guattari as community,

1 The first part of this study on community in Deleuze and Guattari has been published in symploke¯ 14.1-2. In that first essay, “Anti-Community,” the question of community as a problematic in Deleuze and Guattari is broached by an inquiry into the apparent silence on the term “community,” if not hostility towards it, in their A Thousand Plateaus. The motivation for doing so stems from the observation that nomadology, a central concept in A Thousand Plateaus, irreducibly remains a communitarian derivation. There, I argue that Deleuze and Guattari are anti-community only to create the event of a future thought of community or a thought of a future community beyond and without the limits of present lived communities and present concepts or myths of communities.

© symploke¯

Vol. 15, Nos. 1-2 (2007) ISSN 1069-0697, 218-243.



although it is certainly no less a problematic concept in Deleuze and Guattari than community is. It features explicitly in their What is Philosophy?, particularly in the introduction. And in Deleuze’s own work, his very early essay “Statements and Profiles,” his Proust and Signs, and his final published essay “Immanence: A Life,” all revolve in some significant ways around the topic of friendship. And yet, like the question of community, the question of friendship, in Deleuze, and in Deleuze’s work with Guattari, has hardly been touched upon by deleuzoguattarian scholarship. 2 So like the first essay of this study of community in Deleuze and Guattari, this essay seeks to devote the discussion of friendship singularly in Deleuze and Guattari, by way of the said works of What is Philosophy?, “Statements and Profiles,” “Imma- nence: A Life,” and Proust and Signs. This present paper will maintain the general hypothesis of this study, which is that there is an anti-community force in Deleuze and Guattari only to clear a path for a future thought of community or a thought of a future community, a hypothesis that has been unfolded in the first essay through an explication of Deleuze and Guattari’s nomadic war machine. In other words, the argument here will be that friendship as treated by Deleuze and Guattari will reveal a certain anti-community force. Put in yet another way: before touching on community, which is but a touching negatively via anti-community, Deleuze and Guattari will have already smashed from within that amicable element that would structure community. Friendship will be invoked only to have its terrain radically undone. For Deleuze and Guattari, there will be friendship only if it is (already) secant. It will be something of post-friendship or after friendship, not without a sense of violence (reminiscent of the betrayal function of nomadology or of the rupture of alliance in becoming- animal), and not without a post-apocalyptic inflection (as it will be shown towards the end of this paper). But at the same time, any tearing

2 Affiliation between Deleuze’s work with Derrida’s, but not affiliation in Deleuze’s work itself, has notably been treated by Charles Stivale (2000) and John Protevi (2002). But there is certainly the article on friendship in Deleuze by Simon O’Sullivan. Reading through Deleuze’s Spinoza book, O’Sullivan argues that the Deleuze-Spinoza connection is useful as “a powerful framework for thinking friendship” (2004, 20). I would not deny that Deleuze’s Spinoza: Practical Philosophy could engender a thought of friendship, if not a rethinking of friendship, since it does look towards a future possibility of “sociabilities and communities” (Deleuze 1988, 126). But I strongly believe that this can be done through a very specific reading of friendship (and community, and relation) in Deleuze (and Guattari), a reading that threatens to cut across violently and, therefore, betray all the reassurances about friendship, community, and relations that we live with, a reading that I have proposed in the first part of this study and which I resume here. In other words, I find O’Sullivan’s reading of friendship and encounter in Deleuze’s Spinoza too congenial, too agreeable with the ideas of friendship that we have at present. Friendship remains for O’Sullivan “a kind of positive regard,” “hospitality,” “a meeting of bodies “that essentially agree with one another” (20).


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or rejection of friendship is only to look toward another form of relation, a new understanding of relation, in which present notions like friends or friendship will come to be revealed as anachronistic misnomers.

Lone Philosopher

Perhaps it should be stated right at the outset—just so to reset the anti- community tenor that reverberates in the philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari—that Deleuze himself is not really interested, at least in writing or thought, in friends or friendship that we are so familiar with in lived experience. As he says in the television interview with Claire Parnet, he is not interested in “an actual friend,” 3 but the figure of the friend that manifests in the history of philosophy in heterogeneous ways, the friend as figure of thought appropriated by philosophy. As he will write with Guattari in What is Philosophy?, the interesting question of friendship would be, “What does friend mean when it becomes a conceptual persona, or a condition for the exercise of thought?” (1994, 4). However, one should not expect this interest in the friend as figure of thought to take on an amicable contour. Instead, as it shall be seen, not only will friendship or the friend be subjected to a harsh critique under Deleuze and Guattari, but that the friend will come to emerge in its true form as a figure of a certain violence, always cutting if not betraying friendship already. If in Deleuze and Guattari there is a figure of the friend, or if there is indeed a question of the relation between philosophy and friendship, it is not that which is commonly attributed to philosophy of the Greek

heritage. It is not that which “puts forward the friend

as social

relation” (79), or as Deleuze critiques in his Proust and Signs, that which “impels us to conversation, in which we exchange and communicate ideas” so that it “invites us to philosophy” (2000, 29). Deleuze and Guattari will in fact argue that such a history of friendship and philosophy from the Greeks is but mere fiction. They argue that at bottom, Greek friendship is actually devoid of notions of harmonious accord, intellectual conversation, and “social relation.” In truth, according to Deleuze and Guattari, the philosopher cannot bear friendship very much. What the philosopher desires ultimately is solitude. The silence of solitude or solitariness is the condition for a lucidity of thinking. 4 Indeed, the image of a philosopher who stands

3 See “F as in Fidelity” in Stivale (2004). 4 It is certainly not explicit, but do not Deleuze and Guattari set an ambience or scene of lucid solitariness that would condition the arrival of the ultimate question of thinking,



alone is undoubtedly already with the Greeks. What remains of Plato’s Symposium is an essentially solitary Socrates, solitary in thinking, and a solitariness that does not lack companionship. This is the striking image of Socrates that remains, an image that no doubt injures the amorous Alcibiades. An image of solitariness that Alcibiades, enamored with Socrates, finds unbearable:

One morning he started thinking about a problem and stood there considering it, and when he didn’t make progress with it he didn’t give up but kept standing there examining it. When

it got to midday, people noticed him and said to each other in

amazement that Socrates had been standing there thinking about something since dawn. In the end, when it was evening, some of the Ionians, after they’d had dinner, brought their bedding outside (it was summer then), partly to sleep in the cool, and partly to keep an eye on Socrates to see if he would

go on standing there through the night too. He stood there till

it was dawn and the sun came up; then he greeted the sun with

a prayer and went away. (Plato 60)

This image of a solitary Socrates is certainly well marked by Deleuze and Guattari. Socrates is no doubt engaged by or drawn into forms of dialogues or dialectical debates. But in Deleuze and Guattari’s reading, the dialogues also at the same time mark Socrates’ gradual rejection of those forms. Deleuze and Guattari write,

But in Socrates was philosophy not a free discussion among friends? Is it not, as the conversation of free men, the summit of Greek sociability? In fact, Socrates constantly made all discussion impossible, both in the short form of the contest of questions and answers and in the long form of a rivalry between discourses. He turned the friend into the friend of the single concept, and the concept into the pitiless monologue that eliminate the rivals one by one. (1994, 29)

As if to set the record straight once and for all, Deleuze and Guattari will say without reserve that the image of philosophy as the hospitable scene of discussion, where anyone is free to enter into, the image that as if conditions the progress towards philosophy, is but a myth. To subscribe to that image is but to distance oneself from what philosophy truly is: “Sometimes philosophy is turned into the idea of a perpetual discussion, as ‘communicative rationality,’ or as ‘universal democratic

conversation.’ Nothing is less exact

.” (28). According to Deleuze and


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Guattari, philosophy is averse to the friend who comes to seek a discussion. They will say, “Philosophy has a horror of discussion” (29). Discussion among friends does not mark the activity of philosophy. In fact, it detracts it from its proper task. The task and act of thinking do not have time for amicable, reciprocal discussion: “philosophers have very little time for discussion. Every philosopher runs away when he or she hears someone say, ‘Let’s discuss this’” (28). If the philosopher has no time for discussion with the friend, or if the philosopher walks away from a discussion among friends, it is because the philosopher has been hit by a force of thought, because the philosopher has found or has been called to his or her proper task, which

is to create concepts. In Deleuze and Guattari’s argument, “philosophy is the art of forming, inventing, and fabricating concepts” (2). And this act of creation points to solitariness, for “every creation is singular” (7). Communitarian friendship, which “impels us to conversation, in which we exchange and communicate ideas,” distracts one from the task of concept-creation (Deleuze 2000, 29). To focus on the latter, one must learn to walk away from amicable communications. As Deleuze and Guattari will say, “We do not lack communication. On the contrary, we have too much of it. We lack creation” (1994, 108). In philosophy, one should turn away (from) the friend and follow the solitary line of flight towards the work of concept-creation. And it is as such that philosophy betrays itself of the fact that it is not really interested in the friend, that real, other body that one relates to amicably in lived experience. If there is the figure of the friend in philosophy, it is otherwise of the latter. According to Deleuze and Guattari, it has to be recognized that “the friend who appears in philosophy no longer stands for an extrinsic persona, an example or empirical circumstance” (1994, 3). That has no room for thought in philosophy. As Deleuze and Guattari note, “With the creation of philosophy, the Greeks violently force the friend into a relationship that is no longer a relationship with an other but one with

, an Essence” (3). Since the Greeks therefore,

philosophy in fact has been working out a rejection of the actual friend

an Entity, an Objectality

or actual friendship. Amicable discussion among friends does nothing for philosophy, so much so that the Greeks have been smashing such a notion of friendship from within. “The idea of a Western democratic conversation between friends has never produced a single concept. The idea comes, perhaps, from the Greeks, but they distrusted it so much,

and subjected it to such harsh treatment, that the concept was more like

the ironical soliloquy bird that surveyed

the battlefield of destroyed

rival opinions” (6). The rejection of the actual friend or friendship is in fact put forth more forcefully by Deleuze himself in Proust and Signs. Following Proust, Deleuze will argue that friends as one knows them in lived experience,



and the amicable discussions they engender, do nothing for thought. The force of thought that propels the philosopher to pursue the course of creating concepts has nothing to do with friendship. In Proust and Signs, Deleuze writes, “Thought is nothing without something that forces and does violence to it. More important that thought is ‘what leads to thought’” (2000, 95). And that force which leads to thought arrives from dangerous regions of darkness, according to Deleuze, where friendship will not be found. Friendship is critically lacking of violence, of danger, of force, which will lead one to think, to create new concepts. Or friendship is inadequate as a force that will lead one to thought. Following Proust, Deleuze argues that “friends are like well-disposed minds that are explicitly in agreement as to the significations of things, words, and ideas,” such that these “communications of garrulous friendship” are essentially “ignorant of the dark regions in which are elaborated the effective forces that act on thought, the determinations that forces us to think,” and therefore if philosophy is always about seeking the truth, “a friend is not enough for us to approach the truth” (30, 98, 95). 5

From Pedagogy of Relations to Betrayal

No doubt, Proust and Signs radically renders the friend an inadequate figure of thought. And it has been seen that the philosophical task of concept-creation in What is Philosophy? sees the philosopher walking away from all friendly conversation or discussion. But it should be noted that the relation between friendship and philosophy in Deleuze and Guattari is not negated in an absolute manner, such that philosophy

5 It should be noted that the critique of friendship in Proust and Signs has its parallel in the critique of “philosophy.” But this is because Deleuze is following Proust’s idea of philosophy. The idea of philosophy in Proust has no resonance with Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of concept-creation. In Proust’s analysis of the history of philosophy, philosophy arrives by way of a genial love. But to Proust, this is an error for philosophy:

“The mistake of philosophy is to presuppose within us a benevolence of thought, a natural love of truth. Thus philosophy arrives at only abstract truths that compromise no one and

They remain gratuitous because they are born of the intelligence that

accords them only a possibility and not of a violence or of an encounter that would guarantee their authenticity” (Deleuze 2000, 16). Philosophy as such, which is benevolent in its movement of arrival, only traces a possibility among many. It is lacking in force that would interest others as a contemporaneous critical necessity. In this sense of “philosophy,” Deleuze will say, after Proust, that “the truths of philosophy are lacking in necessity and the mark of necessity” (95). In fact, the truth that philosophy is always in search of never arrives congenially. It arrives by way of a violent betrayal function, through a sign emitted by something or someone other than oneself: “There is always the violence of a sign that forces us into the search [for truth], that robs us of peace. The truth is not to be found by affinity, nor by goodwill, but is betrayed” (15).

do not


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either proceeds or is redefined without friendship, or such that friendship will never bring about philosophy. Some sort of irreducible, amicable relation is always needed in philosophy. Deleuze and Guattari might have shown that philosophy turns away (from) the (actual) friend. But that does not mean that philosophy (at its nascent stage) did not need the friend, or that it no longer needs the friend (at its completion). In fact, Deleuze and Guattari will not fail to explicate that it always involves a certain apprenticeship in or pedagogy of relations in the creation and the future of concepts in philosophy. Let us first consider the latter. As seen already, a concept might end up looking like a “pitiless monologue” (Deleuze and Guattari 1994, 29), but in its geo-

graphical nature, it remains highly attentive to its milieu. It is a constant survey over its milieu, not at all in the senseless sense of a policing surveillance, but a constant flying-over the existing components so that it can be attentive to whichever components that continue to make themselves available to the concept, or to other components that the concept has left out, so that it can attach itself to any of these at any moment so as to strengthen or develop itself. This is why Deleuze and Guattari will say that “the concept is in a state of survey in relation to its components” or that “the ‘survey’ is the state of the concept or its specific infinity” (20, 21). A concept might stand alone, but it cannot do so without other concepts, and certainly not without the problematic that thought encounters and that has motivated the construction of the concept. According to Deleuze and Guattari, “A concept lacks meaning to the extent that it is not connected to other concepts and is not linked to

a problem that it resolves or helps to resolve” (79). A concept might at a

certain moment stand above other concepts, but that does not mean that the latter are completely defeated to the point of absolute destruction. The relation with other concepts is always needed. It is always at work, either folding one into another or unfolding one from the other. A concept might even need the other so as to renew itself: “In any concept there are usually bits or components that come from other concepts This is inevitable because each concept carries out a new cutting-out, takes on new contours, and must be reactivated or recut” (18). A reserve of friendship therefore remains to be critical for the future of concepts. Concept-creation always passes through a certain pedagogy of relations, of learning how one concept has to co-exist with another even though it is standing above the other at the present moment, so that it may lay claim to components that it deems critical for its further construction. At the level of creating the concept, Deleuze and Guattari will also not forget the other communitarian operation in simultaneity

with the solitary task of concept-creation: the exposure of the concept to

a relation with something outside of itself. According to Deleuze and

Guattari, the philosophical work of concept-creation is always doubled



by the tracing or laying out of a plane of immanence at the same time, a plane that is a milieu of existing concepts or philosophical problems that motivates the creation of the new concept. This plane is what is necessarily opened to in thinking, or what thinking opens up to. And it is on this plane that concepts will learn how to conduct relations with one another, since this plane is a multiplicity of concepts or it “includes all the concepts on one and the same plane” (35). These relations sometimes certainly might be amicable, according to Deleuze and Guattari, in the case of a “becoming” of the concept:

a concept also has a becoming that involves its relationship with concepts situated on the same plane. Here, concepts link up with each other, support one another, coordinate their contours, articulate their respective problems, and belong to the same philosophy, even if they have different histories. In fact, having a finite number of components, every concept will branch off toward other concepts that are differently composed but that constitute other regions on the same plane, answer to problems that can be connected to each other, and participate in co-creation. (18)

This is yet another reminder of how friendship can be critical in maintaining the future of concepts. For philosophy, and for the future of philosophy then, Deleuze and Guattari still need friendship. They will look for a friend. They will not fail to acknowledge that friendship might still give to philosophy, even if it is regarding the ultimate question of philosophy, the question of what philosophy is: “It had to be possible to ask the question ‘between friends’” (2). But what Deleuze and Guattari are trying to bring into critical awareness, especially after the unveiling of the truth of the philosopher’s aversion to amicable conversations, after the irreducible image of the lone philosopher standing at a distance from everyone else, is that something is happening to friendship, to the figure of the friend, in the course of philosophy since the Greeks. Philosophy since the Greeks has had always needed friendship, but it has had at the same time been transforming the friend or friendship into something else. One could already say that it is not much of true friendship that is involved here, if it concerns first walking away from friendship, then standing aloof in solitariness, and then reforming friendships for the sake of a future. A question of sincerity in forming and sustaining friendship is at stake here. It seems that friendship is always posited only to be betrayed. The pedagogy of relations is always betrayed when the concept, at the moment of its glorious construction, hovers over all that it has passed as a “pitiless monologue.” What Deleuze and Guattari do then, it can be said, is to reveal this true color of friendship in philosophy. They put to surface


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precisely the figure of betrayal at the very heart of the projected image of the friend in philosophy.

Friend, or Le Prétendant

To see that, one must return yet again to the creation stage of the concept. As said already, conversations or intellectual discussions between friends do nothing for the philosophical task of concept- creation. And if philosophy is to proceed as such, it must turn from the tiresome scene of friendship. There must at least be “a turning away, a certain tiredness, a certain distress between friends” (5). And concept-

creation also cannot come by way of a reception of a gift, like that which

is exchanged between friends for example. To singularly pursue the

trajectory of concept-creation, philosophers “must no longer accept concepts as a gift” (5). Philosophy cannot wait to be presented with a gift: “Concepts are not waiting for us ready-made, like heavenly bodies. There is no heaven for concepts” (5). It must be created out of the singularity of the one who thinks it, and marked with the signature of the latter. Concepts “must be invented, fabricated, or rather created and would be nothing without their creator’s signature” (5). But this creative

step is not an arbitrary act. Neither does it happen in a state of idleness.

A very specific act of creation is involved here. The thinker is first

absorbed into a field of the problematic. A problem interests the thinker. Then, he or she is struck by the possibility of addressing or resolving the problem. Here lies the imminence of the concept, and the thinker will seek to construct that concept. He or she will strive to put his or her signature on that concept to come. It is in this sense that friendship comes (back) into play in philosophy (after it has rejected the actual friend), for the thinker must think himself as “the concept’s friend; he is potentiality of the concept” (5). The thinker turns away (from) the friends of conversation or discussion. But he or she must nonetheless turn amicably towards the imminent concept. The thinker must prove himself or herself to be worthy of the concept. In fact, the response of desiring to create the concept is already the testimony of his or her worthiness. The imminence of concept-creation proceeds precisely because the concept to come has hit upon the body worthy to create it. The concept always “refers back to the philosopher as the one who has it potentially, or who has its power and competence” (5). But one must never assume that there is only one philosopher seeking the same concept or that only he or she is worthy of that concept. The field or plane of the problem is after all open to anyone. The problematic can interest anyone. So there is always for the philosopher a possibility, a threat, of a competition over the concept. Combat, rivalry,



and strife, are lurking in the neighborhood, not only in rival philosophers, but even also in his or her fellow philosopher friend or friends. The philosopher cannot just calmly or passively be the friend of the concept, even of his or her fellow philosopher(s). He or she has to be more than that, has to be a little more forceful if not aggressive with regard to the concept, almost adopting a combative stance in relation to other rival philosophers and philosopher friends. For Deleuze and Guattari, he or she must at most be a claimant, at least be a lover, in this striving towards the concept, a striving which takes into account the possible competitions or rivalries that abound in the vicinity. In Deleuze and Guattari’s original French text, the philosopher becomes le prétendant, the figure that names suitor, claimant, and pretender altogether at the same time. As said, in the striving for the concept, the philosopher cannot remain with the figure of the friend and all the niceties that come along with such a figure. As le prétendant, he or she can only pretend to be friend-like, while already slowly shedding away the pretensions of friendship. The philosopher cannot allow any friend to reach the concept before he or she does. Mistrust cuts across friendship here. He or she must jealously watch over the imminent concept and reach towards it like a lover or claimant to the object of desire, meanwhile making all other philosophers his or her rivals, leaving them in his or her trail of concept-creation. As Deleuze and Guattari will say, in this scene of competitive concept-creation,

are we not talking of the lover?

of someone other than the friend or lover? For if the philosopher is the friend or lover of wisdom, is it not because he lays claim to wisdom, striving for it potentially rather than actually possessing it? Is the friend also the claimant then, and

is that of which he claims to be the friend the Thing to which he lays claim but not the third party who, on the contrary, becomes a rival? Friendship would then involve competitive distrust of the rival as much as amorous striving toward the object of desire. (4)

Or again, is it not a matter

One surely cannot lay claim to any sincere friendship therefore in this secant community of philosophers who have gathered around the field or plane of the problematic, from which the concept will imminently emerge, via one of those philosophers who hover over that plane, and who emerges victorious in the rivalry to put his or her signature onto the concept to come. In such a philosophical scene of claiming to create that concept, friendship is very quickly undone, and betrays an essential combative stance of mistrust between friends. The philosopher is “but a friend who has a relationship with his friend only through the thing loved, which brings rivalry” (70-71). And here once


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again, at the end of this combat over the concept, the image that remains is the image of a lone philosopher, he or she who has laid claim on the concept, and now stands over his or her vanquished rivals, surveying the field of combat as le survol. In this image, “there could not be two great philosophers” (51). There are no friends (left). This image is not shared between friends. Le prétendant then is the figure of a betrayal function in philosophy. It is the a priori traitorous figure, always already undoing friendship, at the beginning of philosophy, even before philosophy traverses the pedagogy of relations in its work of concept-creation. Whatever apprenticeship in relations that follows, it would already have been marked, undone, or betrayed by the mistrust and rivalry of le prétendant. Le prétendant: suitor, claimant, pretender—this is what has become of the friend in philosophy, what happens to friends or friendship as a “condition of thought,” so as to lay claim to the concept to come. So if Deleuze and Guattari appear to reject friendship, it is only to undo all the harmonious niceties that are attached to the notion of friendship and only to reveal that the friend is always already the irrepressible traitorous prétendant. One must now not hesitate to re-cognize that friendship is always already secant. And so Deleuze and Guattari will always trust the ultimate question of philosophy, again the question of what philosophy is, to arrive more from a situation where friendship is rent with distrust and mutual combat, where the friend is already re- cognized as le prétendant. They trust the question to arrive more “as a challenge when confronting the enemy, and at the same time to reach that twilight hour when one distrusts even the friend” (2). To put it bluntly then, philosophy reproduces the image of the friend, or that some sort of semblance of friendship remains to be deployed in philosophy, only to make use of friendship, to lay claim on the concept. Friendship is deployed only to be made use of. The image of the friend is appropriated so as to soften the force of the claim of the concept, so as to make it easier to sign the imminent concept to oneself, and certainly reappropriated so as to further develop the concept or renew it in the future. The image of the friend is but the philosopher’s foil to lay claim on the concept. Philosophy needs the friend. It befriends. But friendship will be formed only to make use of the friend. The unconcealment of friendship as such in philosophy as essentially secant:

shall this not serve as a preview to a bleak world where friendships or relations are likewise essentially cut, betrayed, made use of? Shall it not “serve as an introduction to an unpleasant world,” as Deleuze says in his early “Statements and Profiles” essay (2003a, 87)?



Bleak World: Making More (Use of) Friends

If the world that Deleuze unfolds in “Statements and Profiles” is indeed “unpleasant,” it is because one finds in that essay the nascent unveiling of the world as essentially anti-community, as essentially solitary, where friendship is refused, and where friendship is once again something to make use of, for a narcissistic for-oneself. According to Deleuze, where one is, is essentially a solitary world. An “I” creates a subjective point of view of the world and projects this consciousness of the world into the world as the world. But the pure and simple fact of the existence of another being, perhaps a male counterpart, in his simple anonymity, not yet particularized as a specific identity, and therefore a “male-Other” that is “the a priori Other” as Deleuze calls it, destabilizes if not de-realizes that world (2003, 87). The latter may be expressed as a world of fatigue, as in Deleuze’s example, but the a priori Other, in his slightest gesture of gaiety contests that world. He represents the fact that the fatigue world “does not have an objective consistency” (87). “I” come to see his positing himself as such then to be potentially aggressive. “I” sees the Other as an imminent negation if not denigration of the subjective certainty of the fatigue world. All this, however, does not mean that the consciousness or perception of the world as fatigue simply goes away. In fact, it begins to implode in the “I.” That consciousness “enters into [the latter] again” (87). This time it overwhelms and floods the “I” in his solitariness, which is hardly bearable, collapsing his body:

“[His] collapsed body stands alone” (87). In Deleuze’s analysis, this implosive solitariness constitutes the “fundamental mediocrity” of existence, of being (90). A “mediocre-I” is that “I” who has the revelation that the world-as-I-see-it is precisely just that—a particular viewpoint, and that this viewpoint is always exposed to the supplement if not contest of another viewpoint disseminated from the body next to “I,” or who comes before “I.” And it will be in this revelation of “fundamental mediocrity,” in the aftermath of the encounter with another, in the revelation of one’s existing in a field with others where one’s perception of the world will always be already contested by another, that the trace of anti-community begins its germination. It marks the fundamental tear before all friendships, before any amicable communication or relation with the other. This is because the potentiality of a violent supplement of another worldview different from the world as fatigue only “arouses the hatred” of the one who only likes to see the world as fatigue (87). In other words, the first reflex of the encounter, or what quickly gives way in the encounter, is rivalry, a scene of enmity where one “knows itself in solitude, and knows the male-Other in hatred, without breaking with its solitude” (87). One is always already concerned about horizons of viewpoints, concerned whether they touch amicably or threaten to cross


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Community in Deleuze and Guattari (II)

(out) one another. One quickly guards the horizons of one’s own viewpoint. This is how the world, the “I” in the presence of others, is becoming unpleasant, or it proves to be becoming unpleasant ahead. But despite the primacy of a secant encounter here, and unlike Deleuze’s outright denigration of friendship in Proust and Signs, Deleuze argues here that friendship remains possible. As he says, “the possible world that the male-Other reveals can also be called the offer of a friendship” (87). If one could see past the horizons of different world- views as edgy, if one could negotiate that, without one negating the other, one could proceed towards a living where living in the world with others is living as what Deleuze calls a “team,” “a sports team or a social team” (87). And according to Deleuze, this living as a team is what could relieve “fundamental mediocrity”: “The Team is the only way to escape from mediocrity” (87). But the real world is not as amicable, or that there is really not much friendship around, such that this “Team” is easily consolidated among people. There remain “those who cannot or do not want to go beyond mediocrity towards the Team” (88). And it is from here that one can witness once again how friendship can be formed only to be made use of in order “to go beyond mediocrity.” According to Deleuze, two ways present themselves for those who are unable or unwilling to join the “Team.” First, there is the absolute anti-community gesture, the enclosure of oneself to oneself, completely shutting the world off. This is where one would “internalize mediocrity,” keep to oneself, “touches only itself,” and not let oneself be touched (88). One refuses the violent supplement of the possible worlds of the Other. One refuses to take them into account. One slips in between them: “She parts herself and lets herself pass” (88). Then, there is the endeavor to lay claim, to possess, “to acquire at least the inner life they lack” (88). Now, the “a priori Other” creates anxiety for one not only because of the possible world he or she expresses, but also because of “an enormous inner life” that he or she holds in secret reserve, an inner world that is hardly disclosed in the world he or she expresses in the world, an inner world where the “I” can never know for sure if “I” is included or not in that world (88). According to Deleuze, that reserve is the secret of being, that which constitutes the singularity of every being in all its plurality and heterogeneity. If there is a “team,” it is sustained by the acknowl- edgement of the “inner life” of the other and the maintenance of the respective secrets of respective inner lives of those that come to form this “team.” The one who refuses the “team” is one who cannot bear the “inner life” of the other, who never approaches it (even though one will never reach it, or touch the heart of it, even in the “team”) because he or she is caught up with how horizons of expressed possible worlds touch. Gradually, the “inner life” that is never shared comes to be seen as a lack



in the mediocre-I. And he copes with this apparent lack through “the


“pedastry,” which the translator of Deleuze’s essay notes as “either

homosexuality among men or the love of young boys by men” (93n). That there is something Greek about this is not difficult to elicit, since Deleuze’s example of “pedastry” is set in the context of a lycée, a place of learning. And in Deleuze’s analysis, there is also “something intellec- tual” of “pedastry” (88), hence a strong reminiscence of homosexuality of the philosophical, Greek kind as is often read in Plato’s Symposium, where one sees Alcibiades desperately seeking to elicit the secret or some sort of “inner life” from within Socrates. In “pedastry,” the mediocre-being makes the other invest an “inner life” in him. But he has to first create a hint of an “inner life.” Thinking he lacks one, he turns “fundamental mediocrity” into “the secret,” turning the solitariness of “fundamental mediocrity” into “the sign of an abject and painful independence” (88). And he “shares [this] with the child,” making the child charmed by such a secret, obsessing him with creating further “an enormous inner life,” which is only in the end “what


to be an inner life” (88, 89, my italics). Subsequently, the

of the secret” (88). It takes the form of

of an inner life

desperation of a need for an “inner life” comes to be disseminated to the “mediocre adolescent” (89). The “mediocre adolescent” in turn desires an “inner life,” which he understands he can derive from the one he loves or who loves him. And it is here that friendship becomes instru- mental, where it is useful only to fulfill a lack in oneself, the apparent lack of an “inner life.” It is here that one begins to look for the friend, so as to overcome one’s “fundamental mediocrity” while at the same time not approaching the offer of friendship given by way of the “Team.” Friendship is needed here to set up a scene of love, so that one can witness the beloved investing an “inner life” in oneself. Deleuze’s

explication must be quoted at length here:

The statement of the mediocre adolescent: I have never conceived of the confession of love except in the form of

it is always the same

thing. I am hidden in a cupboard at a friend’s house. A young

girl comes in, and cries: “Pierre (or Paul, or Jacques, and finally ”

my name) is a dirty bastard, a revolting, stinking pedarast So I come out of the cupboard, and say “It’s me.” What follows is of little importance, since I know how to make her confess her love, by untying her injury like a complicated knot. But

insults. And when I dream a little,

there it is: it is of absolutely no importance that the girl exists; it is much more important that a cupboard is really, effectively,

and without a cupboard I

in the room of one of my friends

could never have given my dream any priority over fixed objectivity. Will I find one? I am looking for a friend. (89)


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Community in Deleuze and Guattari (II)

This instance of “I am looking for a friend”: does it not recall Derrida’s critique in his Politics of Friendship of the deployment of friendship in the history of philosophy, whereby friends are critical only for a general for- oneself narcissistic purpose, which in the case of Deleuze’s critique here, friendship is the relation through which one makes use of the Other to create an “inner life” for oneself so that one has someone else to embellish one’s “fundamental mediocrity” with outlines of an “inner life”?

Homo Tantum

After the image of the lone philosopher standing like the solitary soliloquy bird over its vanquished rivals, after the image of le prétendant, and now reading this bleak or “unpleasant” world where the amicable “Team” is generally refused, and in which friendships are formed once again only to make use of the friend in a for-oneself function, the shadow of an anti-community world, a world that begins from secant friendships, seems to be unveiling itself in greater clarity. One perhaps remains in this world as homo tantum, as Deleuze writes in his

.” essay, or only human, not only in the sense of

being simply human but also solitary human, the condition in which human must come to terms with and must learn to dwell in. And Deleuze and Guattari are not the only ones who sense this bleak condition of the world. If friendship for Deleuze and Guattari is but secant, rent, torn, betrayed, if not almost absent, they are only reaffirming a Nietzschean line of thought, which again Derrida in his Politics of Friendship does not fail to point out. This Nietzschean thought on friendship is not only the unveiling of the enemy figure at the very heart of friendship, that there is always “an enmity within the very intimacy of friendship,” but also the assertion of the fundamental truth of living in the world in which “solitude is irremediable and friendship impossible,” and that “an untimely being-alone” is always an irreducible moment in life (Derrida 174, 54, 55). So there is the general refusal with regard to a gathering towards the “Team.” Perceived rivalry of competing possible worlds, which usually precipitates into hatred of the one who expresses the different worldview, always already cuts across any relation between one and another. But love also sidesteps the construction of a “Team.” Love lures one to reject the “Team.” As Deleuze writes, not only is the “Team” undone because of rivalry or where “many have only been able to choose rancor,” but also because of “love [that] expels them from the Team” (2003, 87). But does love then bring one to another commun- itarian structure otherwise of the plural or more-than-two “Team” such

“Immanence: A Life



that here lies a salvation or another form of escape from a worldly solitude or solitariness? Does love not always promise some sort of communion of two, a union with another? Or as Bennington suggests, does not love promise to “tend towards a fusion of the parties to it”


Yet in Deleuze, love will not be an amorous, communitarian respite from a world of secant friendships that progresses towards an anti- community world. Love takes one away from the “Team,” but it does not lift one from the depths of solitariness. Love will instead sink one further into that abyss. Love will be the passage, precisely the appren- ticeship towards the revelation of a world where relations are always

already secant and where solitariness or solitude is indeed “irreme- diable.” This is the lesson of Deleuze’s Proust and Signs. Deleuze in this book follows Proust to give preference to love over friendship, even if it is the slightest or shortest of all loves: “a superior mind or even a great friend are worth no more than even a brief love” (2000, 31). But the lesson love offers regarding always already secant relations in the world is harsher than in friendship. One can always refuse friendship, refuse the “Team.” One can always prejudge an offering of friendship with mistrust, sully that offering with a hue of perceived competition, and therefore surpass friendship with rivalry or hatred. Standing before friendship, one can choose to keep oneself in solitariness. But in love, one is lured by the promise of a union with another; one chooses to enter into a union with another, to affirm a relation with the other, to enter into a world where the two bodies in love are always present to each other. It is not a solitary world that one looks for or even expects in love. That will be the disappointment of love. And yet love will remain to reveal the irreducible or irremediable secant condition of relations, whether of love or friendship or community, in the world. Love begins by an allure of the Other, the beloved, whose secret of her “inner life,” an entire secret inner world, draws the lover to her. The beloved emits a sign of this allure. It draws the lover with a desire to unlock or unveil that inner world, to elucidate that world completely without remains, so as to know it, so as to be shared as a common property between the lovers, and so as to have no more secrets between

them. “The beloved appears as a sign

; the beloved expresses a

possible world unknown to us, implying, enveloping, imprisoning a world that must be deciphered, that is, interpreted” (7). And it is in this work of love to unravel the secret or truth of the inner world of the beloved that “love is to try to explicate, to develop these unknown worlds that remain enveloped within the beloved” (7). But the moment the task of interpretation in love proceeds, the lover gradually comes to realize that the beloved’s inner world of “unknown worlds” is impassable. It is what a secret is, impenetrable. Instead of an elucidation of the inner life


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Community in Deleuze and Guattari (II)

of the beloved, the lover is met with worlds “reflected from a viewpoint so mysterious that they become virtually inaccessible, unknown landscapes” (8). The promise of a world shared between two, a world the knowledge of which is absolutely grasped by two, begins to fade as love progresses. In fact, love repeats the despairing image of a solitary self under the sign of “fundamental mediocrity” in the sense that one realizes that others have existed before oneself, that a multiplicity of heterogeneous worldviews are always already out there, and that one’s worldview is never for certain shared or taken into regard by the other. As Deleuze writes, “We cannot interpret the signs of a loved person without proceeding into worlds that have not waited for us in order to take form, that formed themselves with other persons, and in which we are at first only an object among the rest” (8). The will-to-beginning of a world shared between two is essentially denied. A fundamental exclu- sion or fundamental secant relation, therefore, comes to be revealed, no matter the lover’s demands for a suture:

The lover wants his beloved to devote to him her preferences, her gestures, her caresses. But the beloved’s gestures, at the moment they are addressed to us, still expresses that unknown world that excludes us [my italics]. The beloved gives us signs of preference; but because these signs are the same as those that express worlds to which we do not belong, each preference by which we profit draws the image of the possible world in which others might be or are preferred. (8)

Further, the mistrust that haunts friendship (as in the case of le prétendant) will be unconcealed in love too. Mistrust here will be reminiscent once again of the betrayal function, a mistrust that is derived from the beloved’s lie in concealing the fact that a world remains in her that nonetheless excludes the lover, the beloved’s lie that all is shared between the lovers and that no secret or reserve remains. But this time, unlike in the nomadological or becoming-animal moment, the betrayal is without conscious or deliberate intent, “not by virtue of any particular ill will on the beloved’s part” (9). “Indeed, it is inevitable that the signs of a loved person, once we ‘explicate’ them, should be revealed as deceptive:

addressed to us, applied to us, they nonetheless express worlds that exclude us and that the beloved will not and cannot make us know” (9). In this fundamental exclusion—an inevitable anti-community or anti- communion force from within the “inner life” of the beloved before the lover—the lover is only left with a solitary condition, a “fate expressed in the motto: To love without being loved” (9). Love in Proust and Signs, therefore, unveils without reserve the condition of living in the



world as solitary homo tantum no less, even when friendship has already been rejected. 6 The world certainly cannot be any bleaker.

From Sending a Letter of Friendship to the Aesthetic Encounter

And yet having witnessed that friendships are formed only to make use of friends, that love always leaves one in an irreducible homo tantum condition, one must continue to love, to offer friendship. For Deleuze, one must keep on loving because one has not yet learned to love properly. One has not learned to love the Woman that the beloved is. According to Deleuze, Woman is not quite the same as the beloved. The beloved is an individualized identity in the eyes of the lover. The beloved as Woman herself, as “the secret she is,” or “an essential secret” is a little unbearable for the lover (2003, 88; 2002, 23). One must not forget that the lover is very likely a mediocre-being who cannot bear the secret of the inner world of another. The beloved, therefore, must be reduced by the lover into an Other expressing a worldview, another possible world, whose horizons do not cut roughly against the lover’s, like a friendly male-Other. This is how Woman as beloved cannot remain as herself, as a being who “does not express a possible world [but] expresses only herself” (2003, 18). Instead, Woman comes to “reveal a possible external world” like the male-Other who is always

particularized as “a possible exteriority” (2003, 88; 2002, 18). According to Deleuze, Woman as such “no longer concerns woman in her essence;

it simply concerns a particular woman—the beloved

The mediocre

person experiences joy, and no longer hate, in seeing her express an external world” (2003, 88). The regard for the essence of Woman, even though it is untouchable or absolutely elusive as a secret, 7 comes to be

6 In a more apocalyptic tone, Deleuze’s reading of Proust will also reveal that love only seeks its own end. Unlike Bennington’s popular reading of love as the endeavor of lovers to construct a shared world that is eternal, Deleuze will follow Proust to negate this

sentiment. Not only that the protestation for such eternal love is “not essential

it is neither necessary nor desirable,” Deleuze will argue that “love unceasingly prepares its own disappearance, acts out its dissolution” (2000, 31, 19). There is neither forever love nor “forever friends” (to use Bennington’s titular phrase) in Proust and Signs. Following Proust, Deleuze will also in fact develop a theory of “transexual love.” This is not the space to elucidate this theory, but very briefly, it argues that love ultimately points to homosexual love, not of the Greek kind but of “the Biblical and accursed variety” (106). “Homo- sexuality is the truth of love,” as Deleuze will write (81). And this love will reveal a greater anti-community force, a deeper tearing of relation between the sexes: “The truth of love is first of all the isolation of the sexes” (80). 7 In Deleuze’s analysis, “The essence of the feminine life is this: to be within my reach and yet out of reach” (2002, 23).

and that


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Community in Deleuze and Guattari (II)

neglected by the lover. The beloved is but only “an individual, she is a particular woman, and a pure presence and not an essence” (88). This is something to be learned still in love: to regard the essence of the beloved, but without desiring to penetrate that essence and to possess it. And this is where an offer of friendship must be made. A letter of friendship must be sent, so that one may begin to love, properly. At the end of Deleuze’s “Statements and Profiles” essay, it is the sending of a letter of friendship that will restore, albeit indirectly, Woman at the heart of the beloved. It will be an anonymous letter sent to the lover, as an act of friendship: “The letter is written by a ‘friend,’ or rather it is given as an offer of friendship (this is for your own good, from someone who wishes you well)” (88). But the content of the letter will slander the beloved. The reading of the letter reveals to the lover that the perception of his beloved is precisely only that—his particular perception, which is not necessarily shared by the rest of the world: “The anonymous letter reveals to me a possible world in which the beloved appears as beloved only through me, and no longer as lovable but on the contrary as reprehensible” (88). The letter then potentially threatens the amorous relations between the lovers. The anonymous friend knows something of the beloved that the lover does not. The lover begins to suspect a guarded secret within the beloved that is not shared, or inaccessible, in the world of communion between them. And the lover soon becomes jealous of this secret. But it is precisely jealousy, with its suspicion of the beloved as secretive or as the secret, that restores the Woman, who “is the secret,” in the beloved (2002, 18). “Jealousy will be the revelation of the woman at the very heart of the beloved,” as Deleuze writes (2003, 92). Perhaps such learning to love should have a parallel in friendship. Perhaps this is how one should treat the friend too, as Woman, not at all in the sense of a gendered being or even the transformation of the friend’s gender especially if one is speaking of a male friend, but in the sense of regarding the friend with his or her secret, if not as secret. 8 One has not learned to regard the friend as such yet. One is always reducing the friend into a particularity, a particular subject, which one is always identifying with the possible world the friend expresses. And we demand that the friend respond to us as such, in that particularity constructed by the subjective consciousness of ourselves. And in this correspondence with the friend, one only expects that subjective

8 One could also perhaps interpret Deleuze and Guattari’s constant call for a becoming-woman for all as this maintaining of the respective secret in all. This would of course constitute a different reading from Protevi’s, an equally loving reading that reads becoming-woman as devenir la jeune fille or becoming-young-girl, a being disarticulating the organization of gendered beings into a strict opposition between an adult female and a male, in which characteristics of each shall never cross over to the other.



consciousness to be reflected in the friend. As Deleuze argues, one is always seeking to bring the friend into “reciprocities, communications, communions,” so as to elicit a “reciprocity of consciousness” from the friend. But this would only render the friend to “simply be another ‘I’ that has its own structures only in the sense that it is itself a subject” like us in our subjectivities (2002, 17). This is why Deleuze in “Statements and Profiles” suggests that we only have a particular male-Other in the friend, and never the anonymous “a priori Other.” We cannot let the friend be in his or her secret a priori Otherness. We cannot not know the friend—a terrible will to knowledge. We cannot let him or her just be, in his or her silence. In friendship, we have not learned to accept, let be, or regard with respect “the mute existence of an indeterminate and general Other next to me” (2003, 92). All these are intensely paradoxical for friendship: the demands to befriend another without knowing the other, to befriend another who may not respond or reciprocate in any form of amicable communication, to befriend another whose worldview he or she expresses potentially rivals that of our own. And yet all these might just be the challenge, Deleuze and Guattari’s challenge, for a friendship to come. So once again, one must not negate the arrival of an encounter with another, whether of friendship or of love, even though one would have re-cognized by now that most relations or encounters in the world are already secant. The question is how one deals with the encounter. One could absolutely reduce or delimit it purely into a scene of nihilistic rivalry, where the preeminence of one’s worldview over the other’s is seen to be what is at stake and that it should be preserved at all cost, at the cost of denigrating the other. In such an encounter, we never really approach the friend in its ontological a priori Otherness. The other way to deal with the encounter is to understand it as the essence of a pure and simple coming-together-of-two-bodies, perhaps even as the essence of a relation to come, be it friendship or community, or even a secant relation of a “coexistence of asymmetric and noncommunicating parts” (Deleuze 2000, 117). In Proust and Signs, Deleuze will also say that “essence is never to be confused with an object but on the contrary brings together two quite different objects” (47). In Spinoza: Practical Philosophy, Deleuze would say that it would be best if the encounter arrives without decision, “immediate, unprepared,” like a shock (quite unlike the formation of conventional friendships, where both parties always prepare to approach each other, always determining the form of the relation already before it happens) (1988, 129). The shock element of an encounter is in fact already called for in Proust and Signs, except Deleuze, following Proust, is looking for a shock of the aesthetic kind. In that book, the encounter, if one takes into regard the essence motivating the encounter, is already something of art. “Essence is always an artistic


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Community in Deleuze and Guattari (II)

essence,” as Deleuze will write there, because the re-cognition of the encounter as essence of a coming relation requires an act of interpre- tation (2000, 50). Love must also give way to an aesthetic encounter if one is to love properly, to love the beloved as the Woman that she is. The lover must become something of a sculptor, an “amorous modeler,” so as to learn to caress the beloved (2002, 23). In this very specific caress, which is a “tracing [of] a delicate and subtle curve” and “not to be confused with groping,” one is close to touching without touching the secret of the beloved (23). Now, the secret of Woman is essentially without volume— “the secret without thickness” (23). In fact, in the Woman, “there is nothing to know; the secret is inviolable, because there is nothing to violate except a body” (23). But the caress is precisely that which “denies all thickness,” and so it restores the secret of the Woman in the beloved:

“Woman also has need of a lover—a lover who caresses her, and that is all” (23). Perhaps everything as such will lead to the invitation of a philosophy of the Other, not so much as alterity (radical or not), which still brings the presence of a subjective consciousness into such a philosophy because “alterity” is always constructed after a subjective-I. Instead, it would be a philosophy of a Pure Other, in which the singularity of being is sensed without the subjective-I claiming to possess it in a captive and comprehensive knowledge, but sensed as that which brings about the relation or encounter between two beings, and in which the relation is re-cognized as the maintaining of the secret or essence of the other. In this sensing of the invitation to relation, one avoids reducing the Pure Other to a category or form of subject or object. The Pure Other would just be a “pure and simple singularity” (Deleuze and Guattari 1994, 20). The philosophical torsion of friendship will be instrumental to this relation with the Pure Other, as Deleuze and Guattari acknowledge in the form of the rhetorical question: “Does not the friend introduce into thought a vital relationship with the Other that was supposed to have been excluded from pure thought?” (4). Passing through secant relations as elucidated throughout this essay, or after friendship in other words, perhaps one will learn to sense the “pure and simple singularity” of a life of the Pure Other. One might say that this would be a philosophy of a life, after Deleuze’s “Immanence: A Life” essay, where a life is pure and simply “pure immanence, neutral, beyond good and evil,” “the singular immanent life of a man who no longer has a name, though he can be mistaken for no other,” a life that opens and is opened to all around it (2006, 387). Or as Deleuze says in his Spinoza:

Practical Philosophy, “The important thing is to understand life, each living individuality, not as a form, or a development of form” (123).

Conclusion: After Friendship



The question of friendship in Deleuze and Guattari, therefore, is perhaps ultimately a question of surviving relations that are always already secant, relations that are always cut by an irreducible desire for an irremediable solitude by one. Relations are always a little schizophrenic. Sometimes they tend towards amicable connections. Sometimes they tear apart, in rivalry or even hatred. Sometimes they depart, quietly, without tension, without reproach. Sometimes they tend towards amorous communions. And yet sometimes, even within such communions themselves, one party slides into his or her own world of solitude, without the other knowing, without the other participating in this little solitary escapade that is careless of friendship or of love. The point, for Deleuze and Guattari, is to live through these plural, hetero- geneous, schizophrenic trajectories of relations, never to repress any of them, even though they might risk certain violence against oneself or the other. The point is to survive through them, or in a Derridean way of putting it, sur-vive—from the French sur-vivre—them, not only to overcome but also to over-live or out-live them. And one certainly must traverse them without itinerary, like a nomadological movement. This traversing is also the task of thought for Deleuze and Guattari. Only living through the shadows or darkness of already secant relations in the world can one pave the way towards the unveiling of new relations, which are free from any present forms, conditions, determinations, definitions, or performativities. 9 This is also how homo tantum is not necessarily a destructive and implosive solitariness. In Deleuze’s recalling of Dickens’ tale of the Rogue, the intolerable homo tantum Mr. Riderhood, it is in the remains of Mr. Riderhood’s life, “between his life and death,” that a life is sensed by all around him. A “spark of life within him [which] is curiously separable from himself now” affects all around him such that some sort of community emerges, in the emergency of the disappearing of Mr. Riderhood’s life (Dickens 439). In Deleuze’s reading, there is “an urgency, respect and even love for the dying man’s least sign of life” (2006, 386). In Dickens’ text, “everybody present lends a hand, and a heart and soul” (Dickens 439). Even homo tantum, therefore, if it is survived through, potentially reveals a friendship or community or love previously unthought of.

9 I am certainly with O’Sullivan here in understanding the notion of encounter in Deleuze, an encounter that is essentially secant already. Here is O’Sullivan: “The

produces a cut, a crack. However, this is not the end of the story, for the

rupturing encounter also contains a moment of affirmation, the affirmation of a new world, in fact a way of seeing and thinking this world differently. This is the creative moment of



Irving Goh

Community in Deleuze and Guattari (II)

The beginning of this paper has shown that the question of friendship in Deleuze and Guattari is one that turns not so much towards the living friend or friendship that unfolds in lived experience, but rather one that is interested in how philosophy has folded the image of the living friend into itself as “a condition for the exercise of thought.” However, one must be vigilant that the treatment of friendship in philosophy ultimately has no difference with the treatment of friendship in life. This eventual non-distinction or continuum between philosophy and life can already be seen in Deleuze’s following of Spinoza, in which he would seek a point where “there is no longer any difference between concept and life,” or vice versa, where “a body can be anything; it can be an animal, a body of sounds, a mind or an idea” (1988, 130, 127). Friendship in philosophy, or rather what remains of friendship after traversing through philosophy, can be what remains of actual friendship too, in spite of Deleuze having said that he is not interested in the actual friend as quoted earlier in this essay. Therefore, Deleuze and Guattari’s critique of philosophical friendship is not without regard of the conditions of friendship as they are lived in the real world, without thought of how actual friendship may be transformed, challenged, of how the limits of present actual friendship may be overcome. If friendship in Deleuze and Guattari has an anti-community trace, or that it is secant friendship or friendship of distrust and rivalry, it is also because it takes into account the real history of relations between humans after Auschwitz, which is but the shame of a nihilistic anti- community power that humans are always already capable of, “an ordeal that is too powerful, an inexpressible catastrophe” (Deleuze and Guattari 1994, 71). (That is certainly not the philosophical anti- community force that this study is elucidating, which despite projecting a certain combative force through its manifestation as the nomadic war machine, is never nihilistic in the sense of being exterminatory of the other. Philosophical anti-community, unlike that real anti-community power, is also always about constantly renewing relations in unlimited and infinite ways.) Actual friendship after Auschwitz is a post- apocalyptic friendship, in which one cannot avoid to distrust the friend (to pursue the course of, or advocating, yet another fascistic nihilism), in which one cannot trust oneself either (to not do likewise), and in which one looks at the friend with a certain fatigue from bearing the actual historical trace of nihilistic anti-community violence. As Deleuze and Guattari say, “It is not only our States but each of us, every democrat who finds him or herself not responsible for Nazism but sullied by it. There is indeed catastrophe, but it consists in the society of brothers or friends having undergone such an ordeal that brothers and friends can no longer look at each other, or each at himself, without a ‘weariness,’ perhaps a ‘mistrust’” (107).



But despite this “mistrust” or fatigue, one should not say that this is the end of friendship. As Deleuze and Guattari will say, “mistrust” or fatigue between friends “does not suppress friendship but gives it its modern color and replaces the simple ‘rivalry’ of the Greeks. We are no longer Greeks, and friendship is no longer the same” (107). The critical point is to take into account “mistrust” and fatigue in friendship, as Deleuze and Guattari do, and go beyond it. Unveiling “mistrust” and fatigue is but the condition for moving towards a new contour of friendship by rejecting present friendship, which still holds on to the archaic and perhaps naïve ideals of amicable relations, harmonious conversations, etc., “based on the community of ideas and sentiments” (Deleuze 2000, 29). A new contour of friendship is certainly what Deleuze and Guattari are seeking to bring to surface ultimately, through their critique of friendship, through their unveiling of the shame and despair of post-apocalyptic friends. One must overcome the latter such that it only gives way to a philosophical “resistance to death, to servitude, to the intolerable, to shame, and to the present,” and, therefore, “forms a new right of thought” (Deleuze and Guattari 1994, 110, 71). Returning to What is Philosophy? once again, one sees such an exercise of thought there. As seen already, the creation of concepts passes through rivalry. And even as concepts, Deleuze and Guattari tend to profile them more as having secant relations with other concepts, non-communicating, non-relating relations, or rent relations that always resist a harmonious totality. They are marked by tendencies or desires to depart from one another rather than having any sense of cohesiveness. They are like friends who do not talk to each other. They seek refuge in their respective reserves of silences, and that resolve to silence always seems to project the desire to walk away from each other, but all this without reproach. In Deleuze and Guattari’s words, concepts “freely enter into relationships of nondiscursive resonance” (1994, 23). Nothing quite holds together in this resonance: “they all resonate rather than cohere or correspond with each other. There is no reason why concepts should cohere” (23). Instead, the concepts are always tending to break off in heterogeneous trajectories: “[Concepts] do form a wall, but it is a dry-stone wall, and everything holds together only along diverging lines” (23). They share rough edges with one another, “their edges do not match up,” always already on the edge of rivalry or contest so that each may be a cutting-edge concept (35). And yet such a secant friendship in philosophy is but its vitalism, its force of life, its élan, through which concepts renew themselves or new concepts are created:

“philosophical thought does not bring its concepts together without again being traversed by a fissure that lead them back to hatred or disperses them in the coexisting chaos where it is necessary to take them


Irving Goh

Community in Deleuze and Guattari (II)

up again, to seek them out, to make a leap” (203). Deleuze and Guattari will even postulate that through this edgy relation of concepts, there remains the simultaneous emergence of a new, future community or friendship: “The creation of concepts in itself calls for a future form, for a new earth and people that do not yet exist” (108). This “new earth and people that do not yet exist” perhaps concerns those who are at ease with the fact of always already secant relations, those who are no longer fatigued by the fact that relations are potentially tearing all the time. They would perhaps be those always seeking without reserve to think and experience what new relations would come after present ones, without deciding on what arrives. They would be at ease, without fatigue, without the need for discussions or reciprocities, and without the will to decide, at “that threshold of proximity at which every thing disintegrates and again becomes nebulous” (Deleuze 2000, 125). Perhaps they would be those partaking in a philosophy of a life as discussed above, 10 which implies that one goes beyond the “mistrust” and fatigue that haunt present post-apocalyptic friendship. There will be (a) life, friendship, after post-apocalyptic friendship. One does not self- destruct, nor negate life or any encounter, in the despair and mistrust of post-apocalyptic friendship. Instead, one must leap over that mistrust and despair so as to create everything anew. The progress of philosophy will be marked by this “succession” of or surviving through and beyond secant friendship and to let emerge a renewed “incommunicable novelty” or an event that is “neither foreseen nor preconceived,” like new relations that have no need for or rather free from the present conditions, determinations, or definitions of community or friendship (Deleuze and Guattari 1994, 203, 204). The “shadow of ‘the people to come’” lurks after friendship (218).


10 This essay has argued that a philosophy of a life would cross an aesthetic encounter, or that it would make aesthetic an encounter. So if a philosophy of a life concerns this “new earth or people that do not yet exist,” there would be no surprise that the latter would pass through an encounter that is aesthetic in some way. For Deleuze and Guattari, this would be the encounter of philosophy and art. To get a glimpse of “the shadow of the ‘people to come,’” there must be at least the meeting of philosophy and art (1994, 218). As they write, “Art and philosophy converge at this point: the constitution of an earth and a people”





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