Deleuze and Guattari’s text goes on to inform us:
En fait, la bibliographie est très mince.
“In fact, the bibliography is very slim”.
That is to say, in posing the question of what is philosophy? we are no longer taking the point of view of reflexion, of the library, of scholarship, of academia and its abstractions. It is too “late” for that, we are in the world of concrete experience, we are talking about our lives, not about an academic discipline.
C’est une question qu’on pose dans une agitation discrète, à minuit, quand on n’a plus rien à demander.
“It’s a question that one poses in a discreet agitation, at midnight, when one no longer has anything to ask for”.
At midnight, at the witching hour, when transformations are possible, when becomings are unleashed, the question can be posed as a means of transforming oneself even further. One page later Deleuze and Guattari will refer to this moment as the hour “entre chien et loup”, literally between dog and wolf, and translated as “twilight” (2, English translation) This is perfectly correct, but it obscures the relation to “midnight” on page 1. The exact time of day in the chronological sense is not the issue, but it is a matter of the moment where we find ourselves in the middle of things (mid-night), between states. For example, between the domesticated state of the dog, and the wild state of the wolf.
Deleuze has always refused to adopt the “point of view of the end”, stemming from the chronological vision tied to a sad affect. This question is posed is not as the attainment of “calm” wisdom” nor does it arise as such for the superficial agitation of youth. When we pose it we are in the intensive realm of the secret and the attitude of discretion. Here things are duplicitous, ambiguous, metamorphic. Midnight, like twilight, is a time of fracture, where the forces of the outside re-interpret and re-configure what has gone before, to prevent any interiority from forming.
(Incidentally, this is why Laruelle, despite his considerable merits, is forever wrong when he assigns Deleuze to the realm of philosophical sufficiency. Despite his deep and intense non-philosophical voyage he is incapable of reading the incipit of Deleuze and Guattari’s WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY?, because he has not measured what the collaboration of Deleuze and Guattari has brought to both. ).