The Role of the Roll of the Dice in Logic of Sense: why does Deleuze call it the « Ideal » Game »?

Why does Deleuze speak of the dice throw as the « Ideal » game in Series 10 of LOGIC OF SENSE, given that he has done so much in the text up to that point to deconstruct and to « invert » Platonism? Is not the term « ideal » so compromised by its associations not only with the Platonic Idea but also with a transcendent and unattainable point of reference?

I think that Deleuze’s use of the word « ideal » should be understood not as deriving it from « idea » but rather as a backward formation from « ideality » (as a way of designating a possibly non-platonic replacement concept for « idea »). From « idea » (platonic) we get « ideality » (non-platonic, Husserlian) by contrast, and then « ideal » by retro-derivation.

I think that the problem arises from Deleuze’s at first sight inconsistent usage, because he is careful elsewhere in LOGIC OF SENSE to distinguish two terms: « idéal » and « idéel ». However, the translation confuses things. In French « ideal » as derived from « Idea » is written « idéal », and as derived from idealities is written « idéel ».

The translator has several possible solutions for avoiding the ugly neologism « ideel » in English.

For example, in Series 02 bottom page 7 he translates « idéel » as « ideational », and the relation with « ideal » is lost.

The same thing happens on page 8 « Becoming unlimited (I think it would be more accurate to translate this as « unlimited becoming »). comes to be the ideational (i.e. « idéel ») and incorporal event ». The same thing again in series 03, page 19 « ideational (« idéelle ») material or stratum ».

The turning point comes on page 20 where Deleuze identifies « the ideational (‘idéel’) objective unity » explicitly as Husserl’s « noema », and both with surface effects. So « idéel » ( « ideational » in English) means noetic.

If we bear in mind that Deleuze in series 02 declares that the surface effects « form the entire Idea » and that they represent « all possible ideality…stripped of its causal and spiritual efficacy », then he can now be more relaxed in his terminology, talking about idealities (series 09 & 10), and using « ideal » and « ideational » mostly interchangeably, under the proviso that neither of these terms means « mental » or « spiritual » any more.

A further question is: why does Deleuze talk all through Series 11 of the dice throw as the « ideal » game when his principle examples (tennis, croquet, the « caucus-race » in ALICE IN WONDERLAND, the Queen’s croquet match played with flamingoes as mallets and hedgehogs as balls, Borges’s « Babylonian lottery », Mallarmé’s Book) do not involve any dice at all.

One answer is to note that the repeated translation of « coup » as « throw » obscures the project of this chapter, which is to give a general theory of games, both the « known » games that we are familiar with and the unknown « ideal » game that is their quintessential generic form.

« Coup » in French can mean throw, but also « move », as in moves of whatever type in a game of whatever type. To conserve the desired generality of the analysis it would be better to translate it as « move », especially as Deleuze makes use of another term « lancer », to cast, when he wants to specifically talk about a dice-throw.

Another confusion comes from the sense of « ideal » which can mean to the highest (and perhaps unattainable) degree or to the most quintessential degree. The ideal game, as we have seen, means the noetic game, that which synthesises the most essential aspects of the diverse noematic and empirical games.

It should be noted that the whole chapter is an extended commentary on one of Mallarmé’s most famous poems, which is only mentioned at the end, A THROW OF THE DICE WILL NEVER ABOLISH CHANCE. This literary subtext will escape many readers as the only mention of this poem (page 67, 3 lines from the end) is obscured by the fact that the title is given in its truncated form by Deleuze, and the translation omits the capital letters, so the reader only sees « the dice-throw« , and may not even realise that it is a title.

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Un commentaire pour The Role of the Roll of the Dice in Logic of Sense: why does Deleuze call it the « Ideal » Game »?

  1. ailiosjorge dit :

    Thank you Terence, this is hugely useful for reading Logic of Sense in an English (or even Spanish) translation.

    Aimé par 1 personne

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