Dialogue with Deleuze: Not Becoming Enough

This is an excerpt from and prolongation of my dialogue with Naxos at Schizosophy:

Strangely, I met Deleuze in 1980 and the question of epistemology came up in a confusing way. Here is my transcription from memory:
Deleuze: What would you like from me?
Terence: An interview to publish in our philosophy magazine.
D: I don’t give interviews. (Then, in English, with a triumphant smile) No interviews …. But if you want I can give you a text. What subject would you like it to be on?
T: Epistemology.
D: What? Epistemology? (Shaking his head gently). I don’t do epstemology, I don’t write on that. (He looks around at a few loyal students for confirmation, and they all shake their heads too).
T: But RHIZOME … (words fail me)
D: Ahh, but RHIZOME was an exception. Don’t worry, I’ll find something to give you.

The next week he gave me a few pages on weaving and patchwork, that turned out to be an excerpt from MILLE PLATEAUX, which had not yet been published.
I had been shocked speechless during our short conversation, because to me it was evident that there was a huge epistemological dimension to Deleuze’s work, especially in all he had written on the Image of Thought, and of how he enacted his ideas in his style. It was only later that I came to see that his idea of epistemology was the French one of a regional philosophy of science. So our very discussion was impeded by an epistemological phenomenon, that of the incommensurability of our philosophical languages. This incommensurability could have been overcome if we had had more time to talk, but Deleuze had to go, and I never got to talk to him again. This points up the central importance of time to understanding and dealing with incommensurabilities. Deleuze’s and my philosophical languages had developped in disparate space-time sheets, and so direct communication failed. This is also a good example of why Deleuze didn’t like interviews, as he explains in DIALOGUES. The essential dimension of duration and becoming, which he deems necessary for a conversation, is absent in an interview. Thus the whole epistemological set-up favours misunderstandings and incomprehensions, unless some sort of epistemological luck intervenes.

I think that Deleuze, in my little dialogue with him, was taking « epistemology » in a static academic sense as referring to regional epistemologies, each specific to a particular science, whereas I was taking it in an erratic sense tied to Feyerabend (but also to Bateson, Ronald D. Laing, Ivan Illich, and William Burroughs). On this interpretation there was no becoming in our dialogue, just mutual incommensurability and mutual incomprehension, as neither had the necessary knowledge of the theoretical context of the other.
Becoming was present, however, at another level (just not at the level of dialogical content) . There was a pragmatic, or existential, exchange. I went back to Australia with the firm resolution to come back to France and to study. I published the excerpt in a little student-run local philosophy magazine, as not very many people at that time were interested in Deleuze. The micro-dialogue with Deleuze was part of a process that revolutionised my thought and life.

On the intensive level, Deleuze in that conversation was occupying the place of becoming and of erratic epistemology (no matter what sense he gave to a particular word) and convoking me to leave my little intellectual ghetto. His two responses, No interviews! and No epistemology!, were like the erratic No! of the zen master, calling for more becoming. As Zourabichvili says, you can’t really talk about immanence without producing immanence. So I agree with Naxos that you can’t really talk about « erratic » (his word) epistemology without living it.

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