NOTES TOWARDS A DIVINATIONIST MANIFESTO: Noesis and Becoming in Deleuze and Stiegler

1) Divination is not concerned with predicting causally a certain or probable future.

2) Divination is not concerned with knowledge of causes but performance of quasi-causes

3) Divination is the putting oneself in relation with the virtual powers and meanings (gods, demons, becomings) at work now that are shaping the future by their struggle towards actualisation

4) The principle of divination is synchronicity or meaningful contingency, meaningful encounter

5) Divination is performative in that it actively contributes to the production of the future that it envisions or to its avoidance: divination is active performance not passive reception

6) Divination is not conformist but transgressive: in performing the future it de-solidifies an existing state of affairs, making both it and its constitutive rules more fluid

7) Psychoanalysis is a practice of divination (via dreams, slips, paprapraxes) that is unaware of its status, except in the case of Jungian and post-Jungian analysis

8) Literature too is divination. This is the lesson of Deleuze and Guattari’s book KAFKA, with its talk of writing as detecting the diabolical powers of the future that are knocking at the door

9) The aim of divination is espousing the process of individual and collective individuation: not prediction and control (calculative reason) but meaning and becoming (pragmatic reason)

10) Divinationism has traversed the nihilist collapse of instituted significations: it is a surnihilist hermeneutics of contingency

11) Deleuze’s “people to come” are Hillman’s “little people”, the entities (not just humans, but animals and rocks and furniture and gods etc) that populate our dreams, our collectives, and our creations

12) Divination is attentive to the “little”, the minor and the subaltern. This attention is already a transgression, as it values what the official value systems and their authorities relegate to subordination and submission

13) The non-standard wisdom of nonpredictive divination follows the lineaments of meaning, synchronicity and double becoming: synchronicity is not synchronic stasis but diachronic dynamism (here “syn” = “co”, synchronicity is co-becoming)

14) Divination is the noetic leap at moments of bifurcation, small and large, perceiving the forces and comprehending their meaning, choosing the individuating path

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16 Responses to NOTES TOWARDS A DIVINATIONIST MANIFESTO: Noesis and Becoming in Deleuze and Stiegler

  1. Very nice piece – a clear and well-rounded set of characteristics that makes one understand divination. From which texts did you derive them? And how much of your own view is in them? (if this is an answerable question…)


  2. terenceblake says:

    Hello Angela, one of Carl Jung’s misunderstood concepts is synchronicity, which he uses as a key to understanding divinatory practices. He wrote a little book on it as part of a collaboration with the physicist Wolfgang Pauli. This was part of an attempt to situate psychoanalysis in a much larger context than Freudians wished, and so to relativise the originality of the psychology of the unconscious. So there is Jung’s book on synchronicity, and also his introduction to the Yi King. But this attitude is everywhere in his work. I must say that I also went through a Jungian analysis from 1980 to 1987.

    Another strand of research is from Deleuze’s works. LOGIC OF SENSE contains his discussion of quasi-causality as a linking of events according to meaning, as opposed to the causal approach. I think that this concept is very close to that of synchronicity. One can follow this concept under various names throughout Deleuze’s work. He talks about it in relation to the “untimely”, that he takes from Nietzsche, and in WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY? in relation to a “people to come” as the implied audience of writing. It so happens that this year Bernard Stiegler’s online seminar devotes a lot of time to the notion of “quasi-cause”. If you understand French they are well worth watching: (especially seminar 5, June 13 2013).


  3. joshua ramey says:

    Well, Terence, you have mooted the manifesto, and I salute you for it, in the form of my own set of theses, drawn up last year when I started this project. (I have nothing but affirmation for what you say above, and I’ll be leaking my working table of contents on fairly soon). Meanwhile, below I number them picking up from your #14:

    15. Divination is not fortune-telling, even if it illuminates the future.

    16. Divination is not forecasting, even though it changes our orientation to risk in a way that alters and affects those risks.

    17. Divination addresses potencies, not probabilities, even though it makes use of combinatorial systems as frames of reference.

    18. Divination deals with uncertainty, but it does not deal with chaos.

    19. Divination assumes that there are uncanny variables, but not unknowable variables.

    20. Divination incorporates desire, but resists fantasy.

    21. Divination is closer to science than it is to magic, but closer to art than it is to science.

    22. Divination practices have untraceable origins that are the subject of legend, implying unconscious and collective authorship.

    23. Divination empowers practicioners but resists instrumentalization.

    24. Divination is not a selection from among arbitrary and abstract possibilities, but an evocation of/attention to contingent and concrete actualities.

    25. Divination does not see the past or the future, but the present.


  4. Thanks, Terence, for your explanation. I tried to watch Stiegler, and I can understand the French, but I cannot keep my attention to him, as he uses too much words and is rather vague (for me – it may have to do with my unfamiliarity with French philosophical culture ;-)). Your reaction makes the notes even more interesting – I had to think of the end of my book on Ghosts/Spirits ( where I try to give an outline of a future hauntology in theses. What you write is very relevant for intercultural philosophical dialogue as I try to practice it. Often I think Latour (as in the little piece of film you once posted on UFO’s) is not radically dialogical/symmetrical enough, as he reduces strange phenomena to hermeneutics. I am of the opinion that you do not, you move further – that’s why I asked about which part of your text is really your own thought – well everything, it seems, as your description of Deleuze implies that he tried to link hermeneutics and ontology, but I doubt that he was as clear as you are. Would you publish on this in a philosophical journal?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. terenceblake says:

    I agree that Latour is not symmetric enough, and I have argued the point with respect to religion here: Stiegler has a very digressive style in his seminar and I tend to crystallize out what is useful to me. I will try to translate and comment relevant extracts from the seminar during the summer, but translating from a video is long slow work. The ideas are not my own, but I make connections that noone else does and that in fact influence and transform the ideas themselves. For example, Stiegler is very Freudian and says that Jung is interesting, but that Freud goes further. Unfortunately for him, one of his major theoretical references is Gilbert Simondon, who was very Jungian. So my claim is that Stiegler is much more Jungian than he knows. But an orthodox Jungian would not accept my interpretation of Jung, and so it goes. Your book sounds interesting, but unfortunately I do not read Dutch. I am writing this blog to discover and express my ideas, and to see if I can assemble enough material for articles and maybe a book. For the moment I continue to write spontaneously, but I am ready to seize any opportunity that comes up. I thought about the relation between Deleuze and Jung in the 1980s, I was living in Paris, doing my Jungian analysis and attending Deleuze’s seminars concurrently, over a 7 year period. But noone was interested in these connections then, so it shriveled up inside me. If I can reawaken such ideas and push them further now, I will.

    As to cross-cultural dialogue, I think it is very important. It entails flexibility and a willingness to translate pragmatically, in a rough and ready way, rather than just sticking to semantic precision, which can block understanding and communication. What I say above shows that even inside “one” culture there are many subcultures, and that intercultural dialogue begins at home.


  6. terenceblake says:

    Joshua, thanks for your comment. I think I agree with all of what you say.

    1) On the difference between magic and divination: “But one might ask: why on earth then has mankind from the very beginning always tried to invent methods to predict synchronicity? To which one could reply that that was the primitive mind which confused synchronicity and causality; i.e., people really wanted to predict in a causal way but … they had a kind of magic conception of synchronicity and causality and therefore assumed that one could predict. That might be true to a certain extent, but if one watches more closely what happens in the different techniques of divination one sees that actual events are never predicted, but only the quality of possible events” (Marie-Louise von Franz, On Divination and Synchronicity : The Psychology of Meaningful Chance, page 100-101).

    2) On the difference between divination and fantasy: “Westerners are slowly realizing that in fact there is a tendency for things to happen together; it is not just fantasy, there is a noticeable tendency of events to cluster” (ibid, p 71). (NB: I think the operative word is “noticeable”, otherwise synchronicity collapses back into causality again, only this time statistical causality).

    3) On the difference between divination and chaos: “One cannot make head nor tail of a chaotic pattern; one is bewildered and that moment of bewilderment brings up the intuition from the unconscious” (40). Here the von Franz is speaking of conscious chaos containing implicit order. She explains: “One cannot make head nor tail of a chaotic pattern; one is bewildered and that moment of bewilderment brings up the intuition from the unconscious” (40). This is part of the transgressive aspect of divination: seeming “chaos” leading to confusion, bewilderment, suspension of given order, intuition of a meaningful order. This is why Jung calls synchronicity a principle of acausal order.


  7. “The ideas are not my own, but I make connections that noone else does and that in fact influence and transform the ideas themselves.” – to me the part after the ‘but’ says what having your own ideas (if any of us ever has them in his/her possession, which I think not ;-)) is all about! –

    Totally agree with “As to cross-cultural dialogue, I think it is very important. It entails flexibility and a willingness to translate pragmatically, in a rough and ready way, rather than just sticking to semantic precision, which can block understanding and communication.” This is very hard for most intercultural thinkes, who lose themselves in being so precise as to not being ‘colonial’ (nowadays)


  8. I pushed the button before finishing my comment. Your remark that intercultural dialogue starts at home is indeed the solution, I think. That is why I wrote my book on ghosts/spirits IN the modern world (to go against the view that they manifest themselves just in ‘exotic’ ‘different’ cultures.


  9. terenceblake says:

    This has been one of the themes of Stiegler’s online classes (and not just the seminars) for the last 3 years. He talks about the “tragic” culture of the Greeks as opposed to the later “metaphysical” culture introduced by Plato. In the tragic culture, which he claims persists as an undercurrent in our culture, the “esprits”, ghosts and spirits, are part of our lives, going to underground Hades and returning to haunt and inhabit our world.


  10. Pingback: AD FONTES: On Divinatory Envolution

  11. henry warwick says:

    Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyante,
    Had a bad cold, nevertheless
    Is known to be the wisest woman in Europe,
    With a wicked pack of cards. Here, said she,
    Is your card, the drowned Phoenician Sailor,
    (Those are pearls that were his eyes. Look!)
    Here is Belladonna, The Lady of the Rocks, The lady of situations.
    Here is the man with three staves, and here the Wheel,
    And here is the one-eyed merchant, and this card,
    Which is blank, is something he carries on his back,
    Which I am forbidden to see. I do not find
    The Hanged Man. Fear death by water.


  12. Pingback: A "Salty" Divination: Alomancy and the Act of Gluing

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