ANTI-PLATONISM: horizontal movement and actualising powers

Continuing my commentary on a passage from Deleuze and Guattari’s WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY? cited by Anthony I will focus on the idea of movement expressed in the images and concepts of the text. For Deleuze the contemporary age is characterised by the loss of the vertical axis, with its movement of rising to  or descending from transcendence. The aim of philosophy is not only to think movement, a difficult task in itself, but to make the movement. This movement is horizontal, on a plane of immanence:

We head for the horizon, on the plane of immanence, and we return with bloodshot eyes

We can see that this is quite different from the Platonic vertical movement of climbing out of the Cavern of illusion up to the light of the Sun, and returning illuminated or blinded to some degree down into the Cavern. Running for the horizon ( a horizontal movement) and coming back with new concepts is a different sort of movement, and a different sort of thinking.

The state of « indifference » that I discussed earlier, in particular the state of indifference to thinking, is the state of servitude (in Spinozian terms). It is a state of passivity that is subjected to the « false movements » dictated by a transcendence (extrinsic values or goals, divine commands, objectivised political necessities) and which dictate a trajectory constructed out of straight lines. (Note: here I am paraphrasing Deleuze’s marvelous little book PERICLES AND VERDI). Thinking involves breaking with that servitude and passivity and becoming-active, actualising one’s powers. This is what Deleuze calls the « natural movement », and it traces and follows the curved and zigzag lines of sorcery.

One can modify the translation of the sentence « To think is always to follow the witch’s flight ». In French this reads « Penser, c’est toujours suivre une ligne de sorcière ». Literally: « To think is always to follow a sorceress’s line ». It is useful to recall the literal translation, as one of the allusions here is to Carlos Castaneda’s initiation into sorcery. One of the degrees of the initiation was learning to « stop the world » (stop the false movement, break with the general indifference). According to Deleuze, in his comments on the cinema and elsewhere, this allows one to see the « lines of the universe » or the lines of becoming, and to pass through the wall that cuts us off from running to the horizon and actualising our powers .

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2 commentaires pour ANTI-PLATONISM: horizontal movement and actualising powers

  1. Ping : Transcendental Earth: Thinking Horizontally with Deleuze and Guattari | Footnotes 2 Plato

  2. An enriching set of ruminations, thanks.


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