Friday, February 12, 2016

Reading Deleuze on "Immanence"

From Emily Apter, Against World Literature: On the Politics of Untranslatability: Badiou’s “elevation of univocity over equivocation, of idea over language, of transparency over opacity, of transmission over hermeneutics, results in the subordination of translation to philosophy” (23). I offer an encrypted poetics: language comes before translation, and translation enables language. The matter is beyond explanation.

"Translation” is a “performance” and "language" perhaps lies on a coherent plane belonging to a different or virtual dimension. 

Now to turn to “immanence.” The title of blog where I post thoughts like the above is “immanent occasions.” The problematic term here is “occasions,” not “immanence.” I seek a way that does not threaten my view of the relation between performance and a plane where something radiant, perhaps melancholic, lingers.

In a brief essay Giles Deleuze writes, “The transcendent is not the transcendental. Were it not for consciousness, the transcendental field would be defined as a pure plane of immanence” (26). Ideas about transcendental entities be they “souls,” “gods” or mathematical expressions, clutter the mind with multiple forms of consciousness, usefully perhaps for empirical purposes. “Clutter” is my word, not Deleuze’s. The previous sentence is my reading of Deleuze’s text. A plane of immanence is always virtual, he writes and he continues, “Absolute immanence is in itself; it is not in something, or to something: it does not depend on an object or belong to a subject.” Immanence has a life and its life is found not in moments that happen to collide or build upon one another. It exists between moments and “offers the immensity of an empty space where one sees the event yet to come and already happened, in the absolute of an immediate consciousness” (29). 

Occasions, as I employ the term in the plural, exist between “moments” of perception. In that usage I meant to indicate a plane of consistency populated by multiple moments. This plane, both virtual and liminal, is decidedly one of many plateaus, existing as an “in- between,” like the between that exists when a layer of paint forms a virtual machine with a layer of canvas. If I follow Deleuze, and I love how his words invert the meanings of many ordinary terms, then the relation between the two layers of the painting is not one of dependency or contact, but a perception of a transcendental value that is neither subject to nor dependent on the material presence of either layer. 

Deleuze concludes his mediation of Immanence with this analogy: as is the case with small children, immanence is “pure power and even bliss” (30). It is distinct from individuation which is a result of empirical experience, it exist only in those moments when the plane of immanence opens upon and is the equivalent of a transcendental field. A virtual field of this order is neither momentary as an epiphany nor eternal. It is and is separate or independent from consciousness. The understanding of the terms presented here allows a de-individualized display of affect and that display is neither prior to nor after language. (Pure Immanence: Essays on a Life, Tr. Anne Boyman, NY: Zone, 2012).

Don Wellman, 2.12.16

No comments: