What is a fold? Most people will probably think about a curtain or garment crease – or those Japanese Origami paper figures – but to French philosopher Gilles Deleuze the fold is a term which best explains the Baroque and German philosopher Leibniz. Since the start of his career, Deleuze made a point of re-reading philosophers in unusual ways, which, some might say, indicates just as much about Deleuze himself than about the thinkers he took on. But his purpose was, as he stated, to «get close to the philosophers from behind and provide them with bastard children» – so there seems no reason to complain.
Crystallising. Without a doubt, Deleuze’s books on Nietzsche, Bergson and Spinoza – to mention the most central – reactivated these thinkers to a new generation. There is not a shadow of a doubt that we, through this series of re-thinking the history of philosophy, are also able to follow Deleuze’s own step by step development as philosopher: The books can be seen as a crystallising process, where different perspectives and concepts attach to Deleuze’s own style through his writing. We may also describe his way of writing, how he made canonised philosophers his own, or rather, made them part of himself, a folding process. This outer, established way of reading which these readers were stuck in as Deleuze came closer, was rewritten into an understanding not based on respect for the authorities of history or the big thinkers. Philosophising as a way of living, an escape, or as a rhizomatic labyrinth where pondering is interchangeable from life itself.
Marker processes. Deleuze picked out concepts from all the aforementioned thinkers and put his own stamp on them. A central concept in the latter part of his authorship, though it already popped up in the 1968 Difference et Repetition, was the fold. In flight with his Spinoza reflections, where the aim was to critique the division of body and mind through the concept of spinozism immanence, is Deleuze looking for how Leibniz, in his monadology, rejects dichotomies and displays outsides and insides. What is unique about Leibniz is that the most abstract extends into the most intimate and physical, thought Deleuze: These are two sides of the same story, of «matter in motion». Simply put, we could say that the fold concept highlights that there is no limitation in objects or thoughts, as both permeate each other, and in the next stage are involved in processes where they cannot be separated without losing their transformative identity. A book, for instance, is not just a literary object, but is folded into a story on books and literature, as well as the library’s history and thoughts on what it means to read and write.
What is unique about Leibniz is that the most abstract extends into the most intimate and physical, thought Deleuze.
Creation. That every occurrence and object is contextually determined, and thus uneven, means that it forms part of contexts where it can become something other than what is was to start with – vital possibilities for Deleuze. We also see this elsewhere in his authorship whereby the virtual, the infinite possibilities, define the world around us. We must not be bogged down in concepts or objects, but that which happens between these, he states. The world consists of singular events, not autonomous objects. «The actual subject is creation », as he writes with his partner Félix Guattari in their second collaborative piece A Thousand Plateau. Or to use a more concrete example from the same book, it is not the bee’s pollination of the blossom or the flower’s use of the bee as a reproductive organ which is the important, but their mutual creation. The emphasis is on the act, not the individuals that take part in the process. What happens is that the bee becomes a blossom in the cross pollination.
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