NOTES ON Deleuze, G. (2005) Pure Immanence.  Essays on A Life, Anne Boyman (Trans) New York: Zone Books.

Rajchman, J.  Introduction

Deleuze was an empiricist not a metaphysician or mystic, but it was an empiricism of multiplicities, with the philosopher 'as an experimentalist and diagnostician' (8).  It was a transcendental empiricism, used to critique Kant and phenomenology.  Life is an empiricist concept itself, replacing the usual notions of the self, running according to 'a logic of impersonal individuation…  Singularities rather than particularities'.  It can never be specified completely.  It is virtual, and we can grasp this sometimes by contemplating death and its effects.

Classical definitions of empiricism talk about atomistic sensations which need to be generalized through abstraction, but Deleuze's empiricism emerges from Hume.  Life itself synthesises the sensible, and it is the sensations rather than individual sense data which are important.  However, there is no agreed way to unify the sensations.  Art offers one option to synthesise sensations in a way that breaks with common sense and the role of the individual.  They deploy affect and percept to depict 'something singular yet impersonal in our bodies and brains' (10).  In order to grasp artistic syntheses, we have to agree to dissolve the ego [abandon purely subjective syntheses? As in the book on Proust?]  and this comes out in the work on cinema, an 'other act of thinking, this other empiricism'.

We can understand the syntheses in terms of the logic of multiplicity, which is prior to the usual ways of thinking that relate the subject and the object, or the subject and the predicate.  'It is a logic of an AND prior and irreducible to the IS of predications…  A constructivist logic of unfinished series rather than a calculus of distinct, accountable collections…  Its sense is inseparable from play, artifice, fiction' (11).  We can relate to these sensations experimentally.  Deleuze relies on Hume, Bergson and William James to critique Husserl as master, transcendental subjectivism? Big theme in Difference and Repetition] [and Fregian logic].

It is difficult to conceive of a plane of immanence without a kind of radical empiricism [and vice versa?].  The normal categories like the subject are simply habitual practices, including '"the habit of saying I"'.  Deleuze admires Hume for recognizing this against Locke and the concept of the self as a form of ownership and identity.  Hume by contrast saw this sort of self as an illusion and rediscovered the inhuman in the human self.  This was used against the notion of a transcendental ego and apriori materialism.  For Hume, selves were actually inconsistent clusters produced by chance and indifference as in a collection of haecceities -- ATP Plateau 10].  Understanding how life produced these clusters would lead us to immanence, and the idea of a life as a potential or virtuality.  The real is always indeterminate and emergent.  Actual people display characteristics of a life [a strange bit with the idea of bodies as such as singularities, and even the Freudian unconscious as a singularity producing particular complexes which affect individuals].

We need to try to describe social life in such a way as to repeal singularities not individualities, the common impersonal elements.  Dickens's story [Our Mutual Friend] shows how people realise their common connections with the hero by reevaluating his life as he lies dying [and then reducing their understanding to normal as he recovers].  Hume's social thought is also insightful, replacing the idea of the social contract between isolated subjects to a notion of '" attunement" of the passions prior to the identities of reason' (15).  Society becomes an experimental way of identifying what we have in common to 'prior to both possessive individuals and traditional social wholes', so that even private property can be seen as a mere convention.

This sort of shared experience is ever present, always likely to start up in the middle of relations.  In modern artworks, differences emerge in their own right (Difference and Repetition) and the challenge is to discover new forms of experimental syntheses [then a lot of stuff about Nietzsche and Ariadne -- see Essays.  The idea seems to be that Ariadne breaks with conventional femininity and subjectivity and somehow becomes affirmative as a result—in Nietzsche's hands this leads to 'an empiricist way out of the impasses of nihilism' (16)—see Hardt's discussion].  The kind of radical doubt of nihilism is also found in Hume who challenges Cartesian certainties by suggesting they might be useful fictions—so the question then becomes one of asking whether they are essential to life, or deliver some obvious benefit.  Apparently, Nietzsche adds a positive role for chance here, and suggests that we also need to believe in a plane of chance and indifference which represent the potentials of life.  Nihilists can no longer believe in this state.  Apparently, Ariadne gets to the level of understanding that affirmation is not about certainty or probabilities, but rather 'It is to say yes to what the singular yet impersonal in living; and for that one must believe in the world and not in the fictions of god or the self'(18).

Deleuze admits that to believe in the world like this is now difficult (in What is Philosophy).  It is possible to see this emerging in the essays in this book—the first one is in fact one of the later ones and these reveal brevity to the point of aphorism.  This also reflects Deleuze's anxiety about preserving philosophy in the face of more commercial kinds of communication.

Overall, this collection can be seen as a kind of testament, and he did have a particular time of difficulty for philosophy, needing to deny universalism.  Some of the universalism that had to be denied was emerging from contemporary neuroscience in the form of artificial intelligence, and Deleuze wished to argue that we should see instead of the brain as '"a relatively undifferentiated matter"' (20), which could respond to the new connections introduced by thinking and art.  Philosophy was still to be put at the service of pure immanence.

Deleuze, G chapter one Immanence: A Life

The transcendental field does not refer to conventional objects or subjects.  Instead it is 'a pure stream of a-subjective consciousness, a pre-reflexive impersonal consciousness, or qualitative duration of consciousness without a self' (25).  Transcendental empiricism, however relates to 'everything that makes up the world of the subject and the object'.  This is not just a matter of sensation [or sense data], which is only an interruption to the flow of absolute consciousness.  Sensations are linked to each other through becoming 'an increase or decrease in power (virtual quantity)'.  The transcendental field is not a matter of immediate consciousness.  Consciousness requires a subject to have been produced 'at the same time as its object'(26).  Before that, consciousness 'traverses the transcendental field at an infinite speed' and cannot be expressed.

We only speak of the transcendental as it is known to consciousness.  Normally, we would think of it as 'a pure plane of immanence', not grasped by subjects or objects.  Absolute immanence does not depend on objects or subjects.  It is a mistake to see any subject or object as somehow universal, something to which immanence is attributed: that only 'redoubles the empirical' (27).  We should not see immanence as some superior unity of objects, or as a subject. Pure immanence is 'A LIFE, and nothing else' the immanent is itself a life, life is absolute immanence, 'complete power, complete bliss', not dependent on any beings, where immanence is 'ceaselessly posed'.

Dickens has described this, in the scene where a rogue is reinterpreted as having a life, something 'soft and sweet penetrating him'(28), but this is perceived only in the moment between life and death, where 'an impersonal and yet singular life…  releases a pure event freed from the accidents of internal and external life, that is, from the subjectivity and objectivity of what happens'.  This shows us 'a haecceity no longer of individuation but of singularization' (29) [tricky -- a special haecceity, singular or remarkable, not normal etc, a turning point?]  only the subjects that incarnate life makes it good or bad, and this becomes far less relevant. However, life itself is everywhere 'carrying with it the events or singularities that are merely actualized in subject and objects' (29).  We glimpse infinite or empty time. 

Actual lives also have accidents, but singularities and events are grouped in a different way, 'entirely different from how individuals connect' (30) [followed by strange romantic stuff about small children who have singularities without individuality, 'a smile, a gesture, a funny face' and how they are 'infused with an immanent life']. 

What seems indefinite and indeterminate is actually a sign that we are tangling with 'determination by immanence', not ordinary empirical determination.  The indeterminate singular One is not something transcendent, but the immanent itself, and thus 'an index of a multiplicity'. A life [as opposed to any specific actual life] is made up of 'virtualities, events, singularities'(31).  The virtual has to be understood as 'something engaged in a process of actualization', which may involve an object and a subject.  There are nonactualised or indefinite events, but these are to be seen positively, not as lacking anything. [then a strange bit about virtual wounds, which are not the same as the actualised ones, so we can say 'My wound existed before me'—as some novelist does {probably a Stoic notion originally? -- see Bogue on surfaces etc}  quoted in Logic of Sense, I think]  I think the argument is that the plane of immanence already contains wounds, so to speak.]  These are immanent potentials are not the same as the possible forms 'that actualize them and transform them into something transcendent' (32).

[Fairly clear and straightforward, except for the quite unnecessary mystifications, quite often involving an allusions to works of fiction that we are just assumed to know about, or to his own earlier work.  One interesting note on Husserl says he makes the same distinction between a transcendent world outside of consciousness, although consciousness is the only way to constitute it].

Chapter two Hume

In the standard history of philosophy, empiricism is seen as the opposite of rationalism, stressing the senses and the sensible as a critique of innateness.  But there are other themes, revealed in Hume.  It can read like a science fiction description of a world which is recognisably ours nonetheless [Deleuze's writing gets close to this as well, no doubt deliberately].  In Hume, theory becomes a matter of enquiry, a practice, related to this fictive world, 'a study of the conditions of legitimacy of practices in this empirical world' (36).  [And then the bit that people like Olsson like: 'The result is a great conversion of theory to practice' (36).  Not half as radical as it sounds in my view—in the first place it's describing Hume, albeit in that indirect free discourse that makes it hard to know if Deleuze would agree or not; in the second place, it's still about theoretical practice, systematic inquiry, something different, I still think from the exploratory play of kids. The context is suggesting that we don't just gain knowledge by letting sense data impinge on us, and nor do we get it by trying to dig out innate categories of reason? The 'practice' is the practice of radical empirical inquiry?] .  The term associationism is not naive empiricism, but something unusual and unexpected [examples of the questions Hume asked are not very helpful—'to what extent can we become owners of the seas?  Why is the ground more important than the surface in a juridical system, whereas in painting, the paint is more important than the canvas?'.  I think the answer is that these questions reveal that ideas are associated in arbitrary practice, 'in a casuistry of relations'].

This means that 'relations are external to their terms' (37), not reducible to some rationalist attempt to find categories and deeper relations, something already internal, an inherent quality of size or whatever.  Classic empiricism attempted to explain the origin of these internal relations by referring to the impact of the sensible on the mind.  However Hume wanted to argue that this just shows the limits of the usual [conscious? habitual?] conceptions of sensory impressions.   We have to understand that the senses give us impressions of two kinds—'of terms and...of relations' (38).  This extends the usual notion of the empiricist world, which becomes 'a world of exteriority', where even thought is related to the outside, where 'terms are veritable atoms and relations veritable external passages'.  Apparently, this leads to one of Deleuze's favourite arguments, that we should replace 'is' with 'and', since the former depends on some grasp of internal relations.  Instead, we have 'a harlequin world of multicoloured patterns and non totalizable fragments where communication takes place through external relations'.  Hume argues first that ideas refer to 'punctual minima producing time and space', and then that relations are established externally between these terms.  This helps him develop 'an autonomous logic of relations, discovering a 'conjunctive world of atoms and relations', apparently the forerunner of modern logic.

Relations link impressions or ideas of something given to something which is not given, as when we think of something similar.  This relation cannot be explained by conventional reason, the arises from 'so-called principles of association, contiguity, resemblance, and causality' (39), and humour [in the Greek sense?] wanted to describe these elements as constituting a human nature, some more common human way of passing from one idea to another.  This has practical consequences.  In the case of causality, I have to move from something given to something that has never been given, 'that isn't even givable in experience' (40) [something that happened before I lived, or something that will happen necessarily or always.  Causality means I must infer and believe [in modern conceptions, because I am guided by theory].  Hume calls the process [of inference] fusion in the imagination, or habit.  I can even produce a calculus of probability according to the degrees of belief I hold.  These imaginative fusions combine with experience [although it can look as if experience alone provides me with my beliefs?].

Human minds might move from one idea to another at random, 'in a delirium' (41), creating all sorts of monstrous beings.  However, human nature imposes rules, 'laws of passage, of transition, of inference'.  Nevertheless, the same principles can still generate imaginative fictions and fantasies.  Forging causal chains can be seen as a kind of fantasy, for example 'by conflating the accidental and the essential or by using the properties of language…  To substitute for the repetition of similar cases actually observed' (42).  This is how 'education, superstition, eloquence, and poetry' have their effects, going beyond experience, and leaving behind nature as some kind of regulator.  Humour is rendering the traditional concept of error as a form of delirium or illusion, making beliefs not true or false but legitimate or illegitimate.

However, in some cases such fantasies can be corrected, even in causality, where probability corrects 'delirious extrapolations' (43).  However, some fantasies are incorrigible, interwoven with legitimate beliefs.  In particular, we seem to need fiction and a delirium in order to maintain an identity of the self, including fictional notions of causality.  These cannot be corrected, but instead lead to other fictions.  Hume wants to apply this to conventional religion but also 'natural religion' (44). There is a humorous [sic—this is clearly connected to all the stuff about the difference between humour and irony in Logic of Sense?] skepticism.  It's a different kind of skepticism because it's based on relations and their exteriority instead of appearances and errors of sense. 

The first step is to ensure that belief is the basis of knowledge [Deleuze has a strange comment here—'in other words, in naturalizing belief (positivism)'(44).  Does this mean that the role of belief becomes unquestioned?].  The second step is to distinguish between illegitimate beliefs that don't obey rules, and ones that do and therefore produce knowledge [the latter are correctable, or to use the philosophical term corrigible].  In the final step, however, illegitimate beliefs turn out to be the basis or the 'horizon' of all possible beliefs—we have to believe in the Self, the World, and God.

However, this inquiry into knowledge is only one thing.  Hume also wants to introduce the notion of passions, as providing the sense to the principles of association—'affective circumstances guide the associations of ideas…  [And]…  The relations themselves are given a meaning, or direction, an irreversibility, an exclusivity as a result of the passions' (45).  Passion is also a constituent of human nature.  However, it works differently from the principles of association.  Those require the mind to go beyond the given, while passions restrict the range of the mind, and fixate on particular ideas and objects.  Passions produce partiality, which is more threatening to society than egotism, which is fairly easily restrained.  This is the problem with contract theories of society, which talk about a limit of natural rights as a form of restricting egotism.  For Hume, the problem is to go beyond partiality and limited sympathy to more extended generosity [altruism], and the problem is to create institutions that helped develop that.  This is a more positive model of institutions, and puts the relation between human nature and artifice in the centre.

We need to go beyond the partiality of human nature.  Minds need to react to passions by preserving them but extending them beyond their natural limits.  Aesthetic and moral sentiments do this, by incorporating passions into the imagination [in this sense, I think of rationalising or theorising,maybe sublimating them?  them].  This liberates them from their partial context and even transforms them, by connecting them with new kinds of beliefs—the development of culture.  However, there is a problem that the new passions may be 'less vivid than the present ones', and may also become unfocused.  Hume suggests that social sanctions and the exercise of power through reward and punishment may help to restore 'vividness or belief' (49).  Sanctions need not just be exercised by the state,  but can operate through custom and taste.  The point however is developing credibility.  The solution to the other problem is that passions can be regulated by the principles of association when they are extended—'aesthetic sentiments' for example.  In another example, 'the passion of possession discovers in the principle of association the means to determine the general rules that constitute the factors of property or the world of law' (50) [a kind of early moral functionalism?].  Thus we can decide between different cases where people are claiming to only something exclusively [the difference seems to turn on whether labour is involved in gaining the property in the first place?].  As with the earlier baffling questions, however, it seems there is an irreducible element of 'casuistry of relations that works out the details' (51), hence the need to study actual practice.

Chapter three Nietzsche

[I just cannot get on with Nietzsche.  I know why he writes in bizarre aphoristic and allegorical ways—because he wants to break with conventional thinking and writing— but I just find the efforts are not worth it in the end.  No doubt that is because I cannot investigate the horizons of meaning introduced by discussions of Ariadne and Theseus because I do not know the original myths [see my later comment on Deleuze on the Ariadne myth. I managed to get something out of Deleuze's book on Nietzsche too -- which depends on a heavily selective reading in my view] ].  On the other hand, most commentaries seem to have to translate this stuff into more conventional terms as well—so why didn't the Polish/German professor write in a more transparent way in the first place?  Talk about up himself!]

Nietzsche [Zarathustra?]  begins with three metamorphoses, spirit to camel, camel to lion, and lion to child.  The camel is a beast of burden carrying the weight of established values, the lion destroys all established values, and the child 'represents play and a new beginning'(53).  We are to understand Nietzsche's own work as going through similar stages. 

[A brief life history ensues, no doubt because Deleuze has argued elsewhere, maybe in Logic of Sense, that Nietzsche is the best example of showing how life is connected with thought, covering Nietzsche's early career as a philologist, the friendship with young Wagner, Nietzsche's attraction to Wagner's wife, who was also nicknamed Ariadne, developing 'an affective structure that he had already sensed was his' (55) --sounds very sinister to me.  As a professor at Basle, he became a Swiss citizen and rethought his German nationalism and his Christianity.  He became increasingly solitary, and The Birth of Tragedy {his best book in my view} was initially poorly received, which made him think he was untimely.  He eventually broke with Wagner and his increasing fame and interest in spectacle {and sentimentality}.  He gave up teaching as a result of ill health, and tried to put a brave face on this by claiming it had liberated him.  He wandered Europe on a pension.  In 1878 (Human, All  Too Human), he began the critique of values and finally split with Wagner who had become pious and nationalistic.  His illness deepened (sounds very nasty).]

Deleuze is not arguing that illness or madness inspired Nietzsche, who did not see suffering as helpful in developing philosophy.  Nor did he think of his illness as having physical effects.  Instead, he tried to argue initially that illness gave you an insight into health, enabling an evaluation of health, just as health evaluates illness.  This sort of reversal of perspective was seen 'as the crux of his method and his calling for a transmutation of values' (58).  However, Deleuze argues that this is not really a reciprocal insight—you can see illness as a sign of some greater health until it overwhelms you— when Nietzsche went mad, 'he could no longer in his health make his sickness a point of view of health' (59).  [fucks his method then?]

Nietzsche did not believe in a unified self, and adopted a series of masks— first health then suffering as a mask for  genius.  He saw different selves as expressing forces of life and thought, and even adopted vicarious selves in people like Wagner.  He tried to see his  final madness as a mask, but Deleuze insists that it was the end of playfulness, 'a death - like rigidity' (59).  However, Nietzsche saw a need to be masked in order to do philosophy, and Deleuze thinks even the huge moustache was a mask.

Nietzsche pursued the project of total criticism after 1878, but in a spirit of 'exaltation', or 'enthusiasm' as if evaluation had brought about a change in meaning.  In this [manic?] mood, 'he had the overwhelming revelation of the eternal return' (60) which emerged as a theme in Zarathustra.  Criticism now led to a transmutation of values, an affirmation.  There were however bouts of anxiety and frustration, including unreciprocated love and the proposal where he was really 'pursuing a dream: with himself as Dionysus, he would receive Ariadne with Theseus's approval' (61) [the lady was living with Paul Rée at the time].  Deleuze sees this as needing the approval of a pliable father figure.  It led to a ménage a trois but with a chaperone.  They were forever quarrelling and reconciling, and Nietzsche's sister finally broke it up.  [Typically, Nietzsche saw it all in terms of people who could not accept his philosophy, the resentment of the weak and all that]

Elisabeth, his sister, finally married a Wagnerian and anti Semite.  Deleuze says that Nietzsche had no time for racism.  Cycles of depression and euphoria developed further.  In 1888 he wrote ,
Twilight... The Wagner Case, The AntiChrist, Ecce Homo, as 'a last momentum before the final collapse' (63). There is a new violence and humour, [and a great deal of self aggrandisement].  His letters got stranger and stranger, and he was eventually committed back in Basle.  Syphilis was suspected, which might have been based on a confession.  He eventually was looked after privately and died in 1900 in  Weimar.  Deleuze thinks a single diagnosis is probably misleading, and the final collapse shows that even Nietzsche could not cope with illness by shifting perspectives.  Elisabeth was the one who tried to preserve his work and link it with national socialism—no doubt Nietzsche would have seen this is a final revenge of the weak in the form of 'the abusive family member' (65).

The philosophy introduced the aphorism and poetry in order to develop 'a new image of the thinker and of thought'.  The point was to replace the discovery of truth with interpretation and evaluation: 'interpretation establishes the "meaning" of a phenomenon, which is always fragmentary and incomplete; evaluation determines the hierarchical "value" of the meanings and totalizes the fragments without diminishing or eliminating their plurality' (65).  Aphorism both interprets and offers material to be interpreted, poetry both evaluates and must be evaluated.  Interpreting means seeing phenomena as symptoms, evaluators create perspectives.  The philosopher of the future does both and is therefore 'in one word, legislator' (66).  This is the preSocratic conception, and Nietzsche proposed to explore ancient world and landscapes in order to rediscover something forgotten, 'the unity of life and thought' (66).  'Modes of life inspire ways of thinking; modes of thinking create ways of living.  Life activates thought, and thought in turn affirms life'.  We can only grasp this through instances, including those in the life of Nietzsche [the different relations to illness or madness].  In modern times, we tend to specialise 'between mediocre lives and mad thinkers' (67), but the proper unity needs to be rediscovered.

The problem is that philosophy is a force that can only appear in a masked form.  Life first imitates matter, and early philosophy had to disguise itself beneath the mask of the priest [to harness what seemed like natural forces].  Philosophy was always precarious and risked solitude.  Later developments took this mask as fixed, and philosophy began to judge life, against higher values, restricting life, introducing negation instead of affirmation.  Radical critique of all values, leading to new values of life was abandoned, and the philosopher became 'the preserver of accepted values…  a metaphysician…  a "public professor"' (69).  Claiming to adhere to the requirements of truth and reason ignores the fact that underneath there are unreasonable forces—'the state, religion, all the current values'.  Philosophers just list 'all the reasons man gives himself to obey…  It is a truth that harms no one'[with an interesting remark about how pure science need worry nobody].  Philosophers carry burdens, the higher values.  'All that remains then is an illusion of critique'.

Socrates started all this by inventing metaphysics and judging life against the higher values.  Kant does not 'question the idea of knowing…  The claims of morality' (70).  Dialectics argues that everything returns to Spirit, even self consciousness or generic man.  Nothing can be rejected, but everything must be recuperated—we did not kill God but put man in his place 'and kept the most important thing, which is the place' (71).  Human beings now carry the burden of the higher values.  The only alternative is to accept the real as it is, 'but this "real as it is" is precisely what the higher values have made of reality'.  Even existentialism enjoyed carrying.

Nietzsche is aware of the problems of killing God, and says, in one of his writings [Zarathustra?] , that 'the murderer of God is "the ugliest of men"' (72), that is that human beings become ugly and they take on the burden formerly carried by god.  The whole history of philosophy, and of a 'becoming in general' is one of degeneration.  True philosophy must always be untimely.

Interpretation uncovers a relation of forces in which some act and others react.  The forces of conquest and subjugation are 'primary', and this leads to a qualitative judgment about their essence [active or reactive?]—hence the universal will to power.  And an ethical qualification of course, since this will to power does not mean wanting to dominate—this would only make it depend on established values.  The will to power in Nietzsche is a matter of creating and giving, something that is inherent in will itself.  The notion helps us analyse the forces at work.  The concept is meant to be 'a mobile, aerial, pluralist element' (74).  Affirmation is first, and negation is only a consequence [curiously 'a sort of surplus of pleasure'].  Reactive forces are only ever negative and limiting, posing as affirmative.  Overall, 'affirmation is itself essentially multiple and pluralist, whereas negation is always one, or heavily monist'.

However, history shows us that the reactive forces triumph.  Life becomes adaptive, and eventually exhausted.  This is what Nietzsche calls nihilism, and it should be understood by some general psychology [there seems to be an implied connection with natural entropy, or decadence]. This triumph of reaction is to be explained not just as an additive matter, but rather an attack on the strong, the isolation of the strong, the contagion of weakness—and this is degeneration.  Nietzsche saw this is happening in natural selection as well, so it is 'a becoming - sick of all life' (76).  [Then the usual weasel that says he's not talking about real slaves]—slaves can come to power but they do not cease to be a slave.  'What is at stake is a qualitative typology: a question of baseness and nobility' (76).  Our current masters are triumphant slaves—another reason why Nietzsche would not really have supported the Nazis.  When this happens, the will to power ceases to be a will to creation and means just simply wanting to dominate, which is 'precisely that of the slave; it is the way in which the slave or the impotent conceives of power, the idea he has of it and that he applies when he triumphs' (77).  His evaluations are petty.  Hence Nietzsche's saying that '" We must always protect the strong from the weak"'.

Nietzsche specified the stages which lead to nihilism, 'the great discoveries of Nietzschean psychology'.  First [in Genealogy of Morals?] comes resentment, blaming other people, which gets generalised into opposing everything that's active.  Action becomes shameful.  Then develops bad conscience, where people introject reactive forces and blame themselves, become guilty, and this can be contagious in 'reactive communities' (78).  Then there is asceticism as a kind of sublimation, denying the power of life as a will to nothingness, claiming to subscribe to pious values instead, as a route to salvation.  In this final reversal, 'slaves are called masters; the weak are called strong; baseness is called nobility'(78-9).  Nobility is wrongly seen asd a matter of carrying burdens.  Apparently the stages can be seen first in Judaism and then Christianity, which had already been contaminated by Greek philosophy.  The fourth stage involves the death of god, initially seen as competing views about what god is, especially in Christianity and the Trinity, the effects of the Reformation and so on.  [Protestantism in particular is to be blamed for men wanting to replace god?].  However, nihilism continues.  All that happens is that divine higher values are replaced by 'all too human values' (80)—secular morality, and notions of progress and utility.  Human beings now burden themselves, inheriting a nihilistic reality, 'the residue of reactive forces and the will to nothingness' (81).  Nietzsche refers to the "higher men", who believe they are active, but who work with the products of nihilism—every affirmation reproduces negation, 'the Yes of the donkey' [to everything, to what exists now].

In the fifth stage, we arrive at the 'last man and the man who wants to die'.  Establish values still persists even though they have been modified, and real creation is just as difficult.  However, Nietzsche recounts a drama in the unconscious which ensues 'when reactive forces claim to do without a"will"'at all (82).  The world gets more and more devoid of values.  The last man agrees that it's best to fade away, but this can be seen ironically as a form of activity, a will to die.  And this is where transmutation is possible at last.  Affirmation can finally triumph in the will to power, in a new aggressivity and critique of all values—'the Yes of Zarathustra' (83).  This can only happen when nihilism runs its full course.

What does Zarathustra affirm?  It cannot be the existing forms that we see around us on the surface of the earth.  It must be a reaffirmation of multiplicity and becoming, or something that will never be fully absorbed into being and categorised [apparently, becoming and multiplicity are seen as guilty in nihilism, hence the unhappiness of conventional philosophy, or rather conventional thought, its discontent and anguish].  'In the affirmation of the multiple lies the practical joy of the diverse' (84), leading to a new joyful philosophy.  The negative is demystified [not seen as natural, the only possible form?].  Becoming and multiplicity are affirmations, and to affirm them is to affirm affirmation itself—'the doubling, the divine couple Dionysus and Ariadne' (85).  [This leads Nietzsche to reconsider the figure of Dionysus, rather than developing anything like a politics—what a Dick].  The dionysian emerges as the proper opposite of the crucified.  Apparently, Ariadne is required to affirm Dionysus, as in the double affirmation.

We have to reconsider what Being and the One might mean, to relate them to multiplicity and becoming, not to see them as opposites.  The affirmation of multiplicity and becoming takes the form of the affirmation of 'the necessity of chance' in Nietzsche (86), since apparently, Dionysus is a player.  If you affirm a chance and fragmentation,  you lead to 'the necessary number, which brings back the throw of the dice', the eternal return, not a return of the same, of course 'for the same does not preexist the diverse', except in nihilist categories.  The diverse and the multiple is what comes back, the original form of the same—'only coming back is the same in what becomes' (87) [I still think this is a bunch of mystifying shit, only important because Deleuze wants to deny all forms of normal repetition, reproduction and the like.  When do these mystical throws of the dice take place?  Every generation?  Should we see radical social changes, like the development of capitalism, as some kind of mystical throw of the dice?].

Nietzsche's conception of the eternal return is not the same as the ancient conceptions, despite the allusions to Zoroaster.  The eternal return is not just a normal cycle, but is selective.  This has developed a new kind of independent morality, where if I want something, I should also want its eternal return [to distinguish vulgar from noble wants?]: we should want something only once, and this will somehow dignify our wants by making them active and affirmative [so it would not exclude Nazi wants?].  The selection also extends to being—'only what can be affirmed comes back, only joy returns' (89).  Negation can not be too since it is expelled, luckily 'because Being is affirmed of becoming, it expels all that that contradicts affirmation, all the forms of nihilism and of reaction: bad conscience, resentment…  we will see them only once' (89).  [I'm finding it hard to take all this pomposity, and I thought of one of the characters in Allo Allo as everyone is to listen carefully to what she says because she 'will say this only once' -- I make more considered criticism of this emphasis on the eternal return and the work is does to rescue Nietzsche's rants about the values of the strong etc in comments on Deleuze's book].

However, Nietzsche also sees the eternal return in some of the texts as a' cycle where everything comes back'.  This is only as a result of his dramatisation, however, and the two accounts might have been reconciled by a third to complete the progression, but Nietzsche had died before he could write it.  We are given clues in that the simple return of everything is the thought of a sick Zarathustra, sickened by the thought that seems too banal, too certain, a formula [nauseating for a philosopher].  When Zarathustra is convalescing, however, he sees a new joyful conception, that the eternal return is not just 'a natural assumption for the use of animals or a sad moral punishment for the use of men' (90).  It involves selective being which will guarantee that only affirmation returns.

This leads to the concept of the Overman, someone who is no longer beaten by nihilism, but someone who gathers 'all that can be affirmed', can perceive 'the superior form of what is, the figure that represent selective Being'.  The Overman is produced by man, but goes beyond—'he is the fruit of Dionysus and Ariadne' (92), and all this is described by Zarathustra.

It is important that we do not misinterpret Nietzsche: the will to power does not mean wanting to dominate; the strong are not necessarily the most powerful in a social regime; the eternal return is not an old idea or a banal one; Nietzsche's last works are still insightful, not excessive or mad.

Dictionary of the Main Characters in Nietzsche's Work [more allegorical shit, dignified by being called a typology!]

Eagle and serpent are Zarathustra's animals, representing the eternal return as a ring (coiled serpent) but in an animal way as a natural assumption.  Thus they can only offer a refrain.  The uncoiled serpent 'represents what is intolerable and impossible in the eternal return'.  Donkey and camel are beasts of burden in nihilism.  Donkeys say yes or no, but their no is produced by resentment, and the yes is a false yes as above, involving carrying the weight of human values.  The long ears of the donkey are meant to be seen as a contrast to the 'small, round labyrinthine ears of Dionysus and Ariadne' (94).  The spider or tarantula is the spirit of resentment and revenge, and its venom represent contagion.  'It preaches equality (that everyone become like it!)'.  Ariadne loved Theseus when she held the thread, that is in a spider like resentful way, and this connection limits her femininity.  Theseus is the higher man, wanting to bear burdens.  Dionysus helps Ariadne become truly affirmative.  They give birth to the Overman.  The buffoon, monkey, dwarf or demon is the caricature of Zarathustra, representing the risk of betrayal of the doctrine—he overcomes by being carried, the bad implication of the Overman.  Christ, St. Paul or the Buddha represent the bad conscience produced by nihilism, and the break with Judaism simply universalizes the condemnation of life and sin, at least according to St. Paul.  There might be another Christ who is kind and joyful, but who actively wants to die, representing the last man, permitting a final transmutation, represented as a synthesis of Dionysus and Christ—'"Dionysus-Crucified"' (96).  Dionysus appears in different guises.  The Higher Men want to replace divine values with human values, and thus represent 'the becoming of culture, or the attempt to put man in the place of God'.  However they use the same principles of evaluation which belong to nihilism.  The subtypes include the Last Pope, who believes god is dead, but is not free,
living on his memories; the Two Kings, who want to 'create free men and through the most violent and restrictive means' (97); the Ugliest of Men, 'who killed god, for he could no longer tolerate his pity' (97).  He now experiences bad conscience and feels the pity of the rabble.  The Man with the Leech who wants to replace divine values with scientific knowledge, 'the exact knowledge of the smallest thing' (98) without worrying about first causes.  The Voluntary Beggar has given up on knowledge and seeks happiness, among the rabble—but 'human happiness can only be found among cows'[!].  The Sorcerer, the man of bad conscience playing roles to incite pity or guilt: 'it wants to shame everything that is alive'(99).  The Wandering Shadow, the failed promise of culture to free and liberate men after god—the shadow disappears in the lights that illuminates Zarathustra.  The Soothsayer [anyone else reminded of the Tarot in all this?] who announces the last man, but fails to see what lies beyond.  Zarathustra and the Lion, the prophet of Dionysus.  It could be that his radical critique is still a No, but not the normal negation, as Zarathustra 'fully participates in dionysian affirmation' (100).  Nevertheless, he acts only to create the conditions in which man can liberate himself.

back to Deleuze page,thank God