the object itself is force…

Thanks to Zach (can I call you Zach? I’m gonna go ahead and call you Zach) for this quote from Deleuze which I had entirely forgotten about:

… the object itself is force, expression of a force. … There is no object (phenomenon) which is not already possessed since in itself it is not an appearance but the apparition of a force.

— Deleuze, Nietzsche & Philosophy, 1.3, p. 6

It’s been a couple of years since I really sat down and read any Deleuze and I feel like I’m in a much better place to read it now, so I’m going to find the time to (re-)read as much Deleuze as I can this summer. I started Bergsonism today, which I have never read, so we’ll see how much time I have and how much I can get in (I also picked up his Spinoza from the library along with Bergsonism since his books are never available).

To anyone that’s been following along with what I’ve been writing, this tiny quote packs in a lot that I like, though I’m uncomfortable with the idea of reducing objects to “just the apparition of a force,” but I’m still trying to figure out exactly what I think of the relation of drive to ghost, whether a ghostly object can actually be reduced in such a way, or if time/history doesn’t allow for such a move. I think I want to say that while yes, metaphysically, drive comes first (since things are nothing but accidental articulations of drive), we cannot simply reduce these objects to just the drives of Nature, since in their becoming, they create a whole new level of reality. So in this way, an object is not “just” drive, but is rather a further creative act above drive itself, since it is drive-historicized and relationized, that is, not simply drive as lack or craving, but drive as instinct and creative urging, if that makes any sense at all.

[ADDENDUM: I think this is why I am sort of confused by the problem that both Graham and Levi often articulate with Whitehead and Latour (collectively forming the rock supergroup, The Relationists). Both Graham and Levi say that objects can’t be simply nothing more than their relations or else change is impossible, so Graham (I’m not sure how Levi does this, so I’ll speak only of Graham here) takes the position that we need some substance-like-thing, that is, substance that is not inalterable or eternal, but some dark untapped core at the heart of things in order for there to be potentiality and change (while saying also, like Leibniz, that finite things contain infinity or maybe it’s closer to Nicholas of Cusa’s “relative infinity…”) Graham also says that it is this problem that causes Latour to move to his talk of plasma, which approaches monism or at least quasi-monists like Deleuze and Bergson, essentially the idea of an infinite reserve underlying all objects).

It seems to me though that another option besides positing infinity either within all objects, or underlying all objects, is to work with an idea of drive, will, or conatus. In this way, I think you get a model of change which better reflects reality. I suppose this is the option I’ve chosen to explore, which is why I tie myself to the vitalist tradition so strongly, since they, along with certain neo-Platonists (the ones who claim the world-soul to be more primary than the divine intellect) and voluntarists also seem to make this move, or at least a similar one. I’m hoping to write more about this tradition soon.]

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “the object itself is force…

  1. ZSDP

    Mmm. Yes, you can call me Zach, though I usually spell it “Zakk”. It doesn’t matter that much to me.

    I do love that quotation in all of its vitalist glory.

    Funny, also, that we are both reading Bergsonism right now.

    In any case, I’m somewhat surprised that you shy away from the language of “apparition”—isn’t an apparition a ghost? And I don’t see that the ghost (as apparition) is reduced entirely to force.

    The way I see it, this is where Deleuze’s talk of “becoming” and “the being of becoming” comes in. The force—for you, I take it, drive—is the element of becoming. The ghost or apparition is the being affirmed of that becoming. It doesn’t seem to me that Deleuze makes this ghost reducible to force, since then it might be reasonable to think that particular ghosts are tied to particular forces—and how, in such a circumstance, would his talk of masks and usurpation (1.2, p. 5) ever work?

    It looks to me like you and he are perhaps in closer agreement than you think, though I confess that I may not have completely understood your worry.

  2. kvond

    As is ever my duty (it seems, or my pleasure) to point out a Spinozist dimension to your points taken…

    CL: “It seems to me though that another option besides positing infinity either within all objects, or underlying all objects, is to work with an idea of drive, will, or conatus. In this way, I think you get a model of change which better reflects reality.”

    Kvond: Spinoza presents Both. He posits both a infinity within all objects (the finite modes are infinite within their bounds)/underlying all objects (Substance which is infinite by nature), AND, a theory of conatus and volition (though volition is never free).

    Nice post.

  3. Bergsonism is interesting, giving insight into a possible vitalist link between Bergson and Deleuze. Happy summer reading!

  4. Michael,

    I ran into this great post from Harman’s recent link to it. I posted a response on my blog at http://drjon.typepad.com/jon_cogburns_blog/2010/02/schopenhauer-to-the-rescue-in-a-neat-issue-raised-by-austin-and-harman.html . I basically argue that Schopenhauer does what you describe and in a way not subject to Graham’s criticism. Any thoughts you had would be greatly appreciated.

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