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Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Infinitisms in representation and in difference

This week I finished my course on Deleuze's D&R. We closed the reading with the contrast between representation and repetition - and how the privilege of the latter ushers in an ontology of the concrete. This contrasts with Leibniz' manoeuvre to make indiscernibility the ultimate criterion for identity in concreta - which amounts to taking concrete items in the same vein as abstract ones. Dressed repetitions (répétition vetue) is taken to be prior to naked ones (répétition nue). Representation bears on a repetition that exorcises deviation because it is not based on a genuine succession but on a masked simultaneity: that is, there is no diversity of media between the repetans and the repetanda. Naked repetition - that supports representation - doesn't really happen in concrete media; among concreta, where representation is secondary, repetition is always dressed because it wears the clothes of all sorts of other events that take place among concrete things. There is always a plurality of series in concreta and nothing makes sure that there is a convergence of all towards something. Dressed repetition takes place in a plane of immanence where contact and contagion rule. Abstraction comes after: naked repetition is subordinate to concrete repetition - repetition is ubiquitous among concreta, but it is primarily dressed.

In fact, Deleuze appeals to concrete, dressed repetition to place difference in an infinitist context. After criticizing the infinitist thoughts of Hegel and Leibniz because they appeal to the infinite to tame difference and make representation prevail, he presents the eternal return as his own version of infinitism. Repetition goes back to infinite because difference resides there and being is not in the maximal common factor between the repeated instances but rather in the difference that appears in the gaps of the repeated series. Repetition brings about what there is because it brings about difference - but only among concrete. In Leibniz, all repetition is naked (because everything is treated as representations). In Deleuze, difference is being because it resides in concreta and it is alien to representation. Infinitism here is tied to the univocity of being - as opposed to the analogical thinking connected to the naked repetition. Difference is infinite because of eternal return - infinite repetition brings about all chains and varieties of beings.

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