Monday, March 20, 2017

What is Philosopy

The expressed, it is claimed, resides solely in the expression – a frightened face like that of a young girl who has heard a bunny rabbit scream. Implied is a world and conceptual person who is an expression of that world. Within the dusty spaces of the barn there is a cage made of slats and wire. There is straw and feeding dishes. A bottle from which water may be siphoned. The bunnies are Plato and Descartes. Melville tried this trick! For one there is a time before time began; for the other time and the cogito are coterminous. For him, there is no before. For the girl with the frightened face, there is only a moment detached from time or history, a “meanwhile.” “The concept is real without being actual” (What Is Philosophy 22). The same is true of the scream, be it hers or Edvard Munch’s. Like Munch art finds its source in a fascination with a prepubescent girl who exists at a limit where the state of innocence can no longer be said to exist, except as a concept or sensation. A plane of immanence has intersected with a plane of composition. Both exist in a chaos of intersections which is the always embryonic human brain. With old age I weary.

See Giles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, What is Philosophy (NY: Columbia, 1993), cited as WIP.

A “meanwhile” according to Deleuze and Guattari, is neither a part of time nor as aspect of the eternal. It exists as a form of becoming. It may be similar to liminality or a threshold experience. The virtual is actualized during such meanwhiles. Is this a paradigm for the actualization of the sacred? “All meanwhiles are superimposed on one another, whereas times succeed one another” (158). A meanwhile is a concept that philosophers produce. In the visual arts and poetry, planes, stacked on top of one another, with variations in degree over overlap, construct the vertical dimensions of a poem that might otherwise be understood as serial in nature, functioning as montage does but without the depth wherein beauty often lies. Beauty is immanent to this concept of the poem. Deleuze and Guattari define “beauty” as “sensation.” They conclude this section of What is Philosophy, subtitled, “Philosophy, Science, Logic, and Art, with this remark, “Philosophy is always meanwhile” (159). Visualize the interface between planes in the work of Pound or Schendel as spatial approximations of the concept of “meanwhile.” Consider what Luce Irigary meant when she wrote, “We need to proceed in such a way that linear reading is no longer possible (80).

See “The Poverty of Psychoanalysis” in The Irigaray Reader, Margaret Whitford, ed. (Oxforf: Basil Blackwell, 1991) 79-104.

In WIP, Deleuze and Guattari also write, “Sensation is not realized in the material without the material passing completely into the sensation, into the percept or affect. All the material becomes expressive” (167).

There’s a leaden feeling to the blue sky, arctic air aloft. The trees have not yet imagined their leaves, “Conceptual becoming is heterogeneity grasped in an absolute form; sensory becoming is otherness caught in a matter of expression” (177). My lines form planes on which otherness may locate itself as if it were a creature, as if it were folds in brain matter. That materials of different orders form the rooms of a house through which the cosmos is able to articulate itself, is this not “conceptual becoming” or is my world never void of sensation and the affects that perception generates? I am an empty jar in which electrolytes swim. I am Matisse’s gold fish in a vase of blue water. My memories of a poet whose hand I once held in mine are not memories of his presence so much as percepts of his giftedness. I’ll continue reading.

Composition is where the horizontal or serial embrace, enclose, or is penetrated by the vertical, like a puncture that inflates and conflates primordial density. In some versions a hand like that of the ur-father, Urizen, with his golden compass reaches down from the clouds; in other versions the roiling seas are more black because of the moonlight than they otherwise would have been. Pierre Boulez wrote (as if he were decoding desire, “to plot a transversal , irreducible to both the harmonic vertical and melodic horizontal, that involves sonorous blocs of variable individuation but that also opens them up or splits them in a space-time that determines their density and their course over the plane” (WIP 191).

Art, science, and philosophy are the three daughters of chaos. Is this sentence, implying as it does a radical difference between the chaotic and the chaoid, a concept? Has his daughter taken Walcott to a plane of immanence?


The three planes may interfere with one another in the brain and form a shadow. The planes are the plane of immanence of philosophy, the plane of composition of art, and the plane of reference or coordination of science. “Nonphilosophy I found where the plane confronts chaos. … Planes are no longer distinct in relation to the chaos into which the brain plunges.” A people to come are extracted from such shadows. Didn’t I once edit a journal called chaos.

Donald Wellman


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