Mais qu’est-ce que c’était, ce que j’ai fait toute ma vie?

When they talk of the question as possible only “late in life”, in this book published in 1991, Deleuze is at the ripe “old age” of 66 and Guattari was 61. By current standards one is still productive at this age, as the book itself attests. Some people just repeat this literal-mindedly, forgetting that for Deleuze and Guattari everything is to be interpreted in terms of intensity, including age. Benjamin Hagen is decades away from old age, but he is living through an intensive state where he asks himself this question, a question that arises when it is time to “speak concretely”. Hagen speaks concretely, which involves becoming aware of his multiplicity and accepting its non-optimised characteristics (slowness, distraction, stuttering).

Sketching a Present

The question what is philosophy? can perhaps be posed only late in life [. . .] in a moment of quiet restlessness, at midnight, when there is no longer anything to ask. It was asked before, it was always being asked [. . .] [but] [t]here was too much desire to do philosophy to wonder what it was, except as a stylistic exercise. That point of nonstyle where one can finally say, “What is it I have been doing all my life?” [mais qu’est-ce que c’était, ce que j’ai fait toute ma vie?] had not been reached.

Deleuze and Guattari, WIP?, pg. 1

I’m no philosopher and have no intention to be (“I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be…”), so why do I sympathize so strongly with this passage? Is it because I too am restless? Have I already reached my “point of nonstyle”? I ask because it seems I’ve…

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