Repetition as a conduct and as a point of view
concerns non-exchangeable and non-sustainable singularities.
Reflections, echoes, doubles and souls do
not belong to the domain of resemblance or equivalence; and
it is no more possible to exchange one's soul than it is to
substitute real twins for one another.
If exchange is the criterion of generality,
theft and gift are those of repetition. There is, therefore,
an economic difference between the two. (p 1)
...(I)t seemed to me that the
powers of difference and repetition could be reached only
by putting into question the traditional image of thought.
By this I mean not only that we think according to a given
method, but also that there is a more or less implicit, tacit
or presupposed image of thought which determines our goals
when we try to think. (xv)
If repetition is possible, it
is due to miracle rather than to law. It is against
the law: against the similar form and the equivalent content
of law. If repetition can be found, even in nature,
it is in the name of a power which affirms itself against
the law, which works underneath laws, perhaps superior to
laws. If repetition exists, it expresses at once a singularity
opposed to the general, a universality opposed to the particular,
a distinctive opposed to the ordinary, an instantaneity opposed
to variation and an eternity opposed to permanence.
In every respect, repetition is a transgression. (p 3)
It is not enough, therefore, to
propose a new representation of movement; representation is
already mediation. Rather, it is a question of producing
within the work a movement capable of affecting the mind outside
of all representation; it is a question of making movement
itself a work, without interposition; of substituting direct
signs for mediate representations; of inventing vibrations,
rotations, whirlings, gravitations, dances or leaps which
directly touch the mind.
We repeat because we repress...
Freud was never satisfied with such a negative schema, in
which repetition is explained by amnesia. It is true
that, from the beginning, repression was considered a positive
power. However, he borrowed this positivity from the
pleasure principle or from the reality principle: it was merely
a derived positivity, one of opposition. The turning
point of Freudianism appears in Beyond the Pleasure Principle:
the death instinct is discovered, not in connection with the
destructive tendencies, not in connection with aggressivity,
but as a result of a direct consideration of repetition phenomena.
Strangely, the death instinct serves as a positive, originary
principle for repetition; this is its domain and its meaning.
In short, orgiastic representation
has the ground as its principle and the infinite as its element,
by contrast with organic representation which retains form
as its principle an the finite as its element.
It is the infinite which renders determination conceivable
and selectable: difference thus appears as the orgiastic representation
of determination and no longer as its organic representation.
In very general terms, we claim
that there are two ways to appeal to Śnecessary destructions«:
that of the poet, who speaks in the name of a creative power,
capable of overturning all orders and representations in order
to affirm Difference in the state of permanent revolution
which characterizes eternal return; and that of the politician,
who is above all concerned to deny that which Śdiffers«, so
as to conserve or prolong an established historical order,
or to establish a historical order which already calls forth
in the world the forms of its representation. (p 53)
Nietzsche contrasts two conceptions of the
In one case, it is negation which is the motor and driving
force. Affirmation results from it. It may well
be that two negations are not too many to produce a phantom
of affirmation. Affirmation is indeed produced, but
in order to say yes to all that is negative and negating,
to all that can be denied. Thus Zarathustra«s Ass says
yes, but for him to affirm is to bear, to assume or shoulder
a burden. He bears everything: the burdens with which
he is laden (divine values), those which he assumes himself
(human values), and the weight of his tired muscles when he
no longer has anything to bear (the absence of values).
According to the other conception, difference is primary:
it affirms difference and distance. Difference is light,
aerial and affirmative. To affirm is not to bear but,
on the contrary, to discharge and to lighten. It is
no longer the negative which produces a phantom of affirmation
like an ersatz, but a No which results in affirmation.
Gilles Deleuze was Professor
of Philosophy at the University of Paris until his retirement
in 1987. Deleuze«s original and controversial critique
of identity is central toward intitating a shift in French
thought away from Hegel and Marx and towards Nietzsche and
Freud. His other books include Nietzsche and Philosophy,
Dialogues, The Logic of Sense, and with Felix
Guattari, the Anti-Oedipus, and Kafka.
Translated from French by Paul Patton,
Columbia, New York, 1994. Pub. 1969.