Bleyenbergh: Composition and decomposition of relations
Spinoza’s example in the letters to Blyenbergh: I am led by a basely sensual appetite or else, the other case: I feel a true love. What are these two cases? It is necessary to try to understand them according to the criteria that Spinoza gives us. A basely sensual appetite, even the mere expression, one feels that it is not good, that it is bad. It is bad in what sense? When I am led by a basely sensual appetite, what does that mean? It means that: within it there is an action, or a tendency to action: for example desire. What happens to the desire when am I led by a basely sensual appetite? It is the desire of. Good. What is this desire? It can only be qualified by its association with an image of a thing, for example I desire a bad woman.
Richard Pinhas: several! [Bursts of general laughter]) or even worse, even worse: several!
Gilles Deleuze : Yes. What does it mean? We saw a bit of it when he suggested the difference between adultery, all that. Forget the ridiculous aspect of the examples, but they are not ridiculous, they are examples! In this case, what he calls basely sensual, basely sensual appetite, the basely sensual consists in this, that the action, in all manners, even for example making love, the action is a virtue! Why? Because it is something that my body can do; don't ever forget the theme of power (puissance). It is in my body’s power. So it is a virtue, and in this sense it is the expression of a power.
But if I remained there with it, I would have no means of distinguishing the basely sensual appetite from the most beautiful of loves. But there it is, when there is basely sensual appetite, why is it? It is because, in fact, I associate my action, or the image of my action, with the image of a thing whose relation is decomposed by this action. In several different ways, in all ways, for example if I am married, in the very example that Spinoza took, I decompose a relation, the relation of the couple. Or if the other person is married, I decompose the relation of the couple. But what’s more, in a basely sensual appetite I decompose all sorts of relations: the basely sensual appetite with its taste for destruction, good we can take everything up again on the decompositions of relations, a kind of fascination of the decomposition of relations, of the destruction of relations. On the contrary in the most beautiful of loves. Notice that there, I don't invoke the mind at all, it would not be Spinozist, according to parallelism. I invoke a love in the case of the most beautiful of loves, a love which is not less bodily than the most basely sensual love. The difference is, simply, that in the most beautiful of loves, my action, the same, exactly the same, my physical action, my bodily action, is associated with an image of the thing whose relation is directly combined, directly composed with the relation of my action. It is in this sense that the two uniting individuals lovingly form an individual which has both of them as parts, Spinoza would say. On the contrary, in the basely sensual love, the one destroys the other, the other destroys the one, that is there is a whole process of decomposition of relations. In short, they make love like they are knocking each other about.
All this is very concrete. So it works.
Only we always come up against this, Spinoza tells us: you don't choose, in the end, the image of the thing with which your action is associated. It engages a whole play of causes and of effects which escape you. Indeed, what is it that makes this basely sensual love take you? You cannot say to yourself: Ha! I could do otherwise. Spinoza is not one of those who believes in a free will. No, it is a whole determinism which associates the images of things with the actions. Then what’s more troubling, the formula: I am as perfect as I can be according to the affections that I have. That is to say that if I am dominated by a basely sensual appetite, I am as perfect as I can be, as perfect as it is possible, as perfect as it is in my power (pouvoir) to be.
And could I say: I am deprived of (manque) a better state? Spinoza seems very firm. In the letters to Blyenbergh he says: I cannot say that I am deprived of a better state, I cannot even say it. Because it doesn't make any sense. To say at the moment when I experience a basely sensual appetite ˜ once again, you will see in the text, if you haven't already seen it, this example which returns ˜ because Blyenbergh clings there to this example. Indeed it is very simple, it is very clear. When I say, at the moment when I experience a basely sensual appetite, when I say: Ha! I am deprived of true love, if I say it, what does that mean to say: I am deprived of something? Literally it doesn't mean anything, absolutely nothing in Spinoza, but nothing! It merely means that my mind compares a state that I have to a state that I don't have, in other words it is not a real relation, it is a comparison of the mind. A pure comparison of the mind. And Spinoza goes so far as to say: you might as well say at that moment there that the stone is deprived of sight. You might as well say at that moment there that the stone is deprived of sight. Indeed, why wouldn‚t I compare the stone to a human organism, and in the name of a same comparison of the mind, I would say: the stone doesn't see, therefore it is deprived of sight. And Spinoza said expressly ˜ I am not looking for the texts because you are reading them, I hope ˜ Spinoza responds expressly to Blyenbergh: it is just as stupid to speak of the stone by saying of it that it is deprived of sight as it would be stupid, at the moment when I experience a basely sensual appetite, to say that I am deprived of a better love.
So then, at this level, we listen to Spinoza, and we tell ourselves that there is something which doesn't work, because in his comparison, I take the two judgments, I say of the stone: it can't see, it is deprived of sight, and I say of someone who experiences a basely sensual appetite that they are deprived of virtue. Are these two propositions, as Spinoza claims, of the same type? It is so apparent that they are not the same, that we can be confident that if Spinoza says to us that they are of the same type, it is because he wants to be provocative. He wants to say to us: I challenge you to tell me the difference between the two propositions. But one feels the difference. Spinoza‚s provocation is going to allow us perhaps to find it. In the two cases, for the two propositions, is the stone (pierre) deprived of sight, or is Pierre ˜ the name this time ˜ deprived of virtue, is the comparison of the mind between two states, a state that I have and a state that I don't have, is the comparison of the mind of the same type? Evidently not! Why? To say that the stone is deprived of sight is, on the whole, to say that nothing in it contains the possibility of seeing. While, when I say: he is deprived of true love, it is not a comparison of the same type, since, this time, I don’t rule out that at other moments this being here has experienced something which resembled true love.
In other words, the question specifies, I will go very slowly, even if you have the impression that all this goes without saying: is a comparison within the same being analogous to a comparison between two beings? Spinoza doesn't back away from the problem, he takes the case of the blind man, and he says to us quietly ˜ but once again, what does he have in mind in saying things like this to us, which are so obviously inaccurate ˜ he says to us: the blind man is deprived of nothing! Why? He is as perfect as he can be according to the affections that he has. He is deprived of (privé de) visual images, to be blind is to be deprived of visual images; that means that he doesn’t see, but neither does the stone see. And he says: there is no difference between the blind man and the stone from this point of view, namely: the one like the other doesn't have visual images. So it is just as stupid, says Spinoza, it is just as stupid to say that the blind man is deprived of sight as it is to say: the stone is deprived of sight. And the blind man, then? He is as perfect as he can be, according to what? You see even so, Spinoza doesn't say to us: according to his power (puissance); he says that the blind man is as perfect as he can be according to the affections of his power, that is according to the images of which he is capable. According to the images of things of which he is capable, which are the true affections of his power. So it would be entirely the same thing as saying: the stone doesn't have sight, and to say: the blind man doesn't have sight.
Pure instantaneity of essence
Blyenbergh begins here to understand something. He begins to understand. However, Spinoza Why does he make this kind of provocation? And, Blyenbergh [X] once again it appears to me a typical example of the point at which the commentators are mistaken, it seems to me, by saying that Blyenbergh is stupid, because Blyenbergh doesn't get Spinoza wrong. Blyenbergh answers Spinoza immediately by saying: all that is very pretty but you can only manage it if you insist upon (he didn't say it in this form, but you will see, the text really comes down to the same thing) a kind of pure instantaneity of the essence. It is interesting as an objection, it is a good objection. Blyenbergh retorts: you cannot assimilate the blind man not seeing and the stone not seeing, you can only make such an assimilation if, at the same time, you pose a kind of pure instantaneity of the essence, namely: there belongs to an essence only the present, instantaneous affection that it experiences insofar as it experiences it. The objection here is very very strong. If indeed I am saying: there belongs to my essence only the affection that I experience here and now, then, indeed, I am not deprived of anything. If I am blind I am not deprived of sight, if I am dominated by a basely sensual appetite, I am not deprived of better love. I am not deprived of anything. There belongs to my essence, indeed, only the affection that I experience here and now. And Spinoza answers quietly: yes, that’s the way it is.
This is curious. What is curious? That it is the same man who never stops telling us that the essence is eternal. The singular essences, that is yours, mine, all the essences are eternal. Notice that it is a way of saying that the essence doesn't endure. Now as a matter of fact there are two ways of not enduring, at first sight: the way of eternity or the way of instantaneity. Now it is very curious how slyly he passes from one to the other. He began by telling us: the essences are eternal, and now he tells us: the essences are instantaneous. If you like, it becomes a very bizarre position. To the letter of the text: the essences are eternal, but those things which belongs to the essence are instantaneous; there belongs to my essence only what I experience actually insofar as I experience it actually. And indeed, the formula: I am as perfect as I can be according to the affection which determines my essence‚ implies this strict instantaneity.
That is pretty much the high point of the correspondence, because a very curious thing is going to happen. Spinoza responds to this very violently because he increasingly loses patience with this correspondence. Blyenbergh protests here, he says: but in the end, you cannot define the essence by instantaneity, what does this mean? Then it is a pure instantaneity? Sometimes you have a basely sensual appetite, sometimes you have a better love, and you will say each time that you are as perfect as you can be, there as in a series of flashes! In other words Blyenbergh says to him: you cannot expel the phenomenon of duration. There is a duration, and it is precisely according to this duration that you can become better, there is a becoming, and it is according to this duration that you can become better or worse. When you experience a basely sensual appetite it is not a pure instantaneity which comes over you. It is necessary to take it in terms of duration, that is: you become worse than you were before. And when a better love forms in you, of course you become better. There is an irreducibility of duration. In other words the essence cannot be measured in its instantaneous states.
Now this is curious because Spinoza stops the correspondence. On this point no response from Spinoza. And at just the same time Blyenbergh does something imprudent, that is sensing that he‚s posed an important question to Spinoza, he starts to pose all sorts of questions, he thinks he has caught Spinoza out, and Spinoza tells him to back off. He says to him let go of me a while, leave me in peace‚. He cuts the correspondence short, he stops, he won't answer anymore.
All of this is very dramatic because it can be said: Aha! Then he didn't have anything to respond If he had to respond because the response that Spinoza could have made, and we are certainly forced to conclude that he could have made it, therefore if he didn't make it, it is because he did not want to, the response is all in the Ethics. Therefore just as on certain points the correspondence with Blyenbergh goes farther than the Ethics, on other points, and for a simple reason I think, which is that Spinoza above all doesn't want to give Blyenbergh, for reasons which are his own, he above all doesn't want to give Blyenbergh the idea of what this book is, this book of which everyone is speaking at the time, that Spinoza experiences the need to hide because he feels that he has a lot to fear. He doesn't want to give Blyenbergh, whom he feels to be an enemy, he doesn't want to give him an idea of what the Ethics is. So he stops the correspondence. We can consider in this respect that he has a response that he doesn't want to give. He says to himself: I will still have problems.
The sphere of belonging of essence
But it is up to us to try to reconstitute this response. Spinoza knows very well that there is duration. You see that we are now in the process of playing with three terms: eternity, instantaneity, duration. What is instantaneity? We don’t yet know at all what eternity is in Spinoza, but eternity is the modality of essence. It is the modality which belongs to essence. Let’s suppose that the essence is eternal, that is that it is not subject to time. What does this mean? We don’t know.
What is instantaneity? Instantaneity is the modality of affection of essence. Formula: I am always as perfect as I can be according to the affections that I have here and now. Therefore affection is actually an instantaneous cut. In effect it is the species of horizontal relation between an action and an image of a thing. Third dimension, it is as if we were in the process of constituting the three dimensions of what we could call the sphere. Here I take a word, which is not at all Spinozist, but I take a word which allows us to regroup this, a Husserlian word, the sphere of belonging of the essence: the essence is what belongs to it. I believe that Spinoza would say that this sphere of belonging of the essence has three dimensions. There is the essence itself, eternal; there are the affections of the essence here and now which are like so many instants, that is, what affects me at this moment; and then there is what?
It is found, and here, the terminology is important, Spinoza rigorously distinguishes between affectio and affectus. It is complicated because there are a lot of translators who translate affectio by affection‚, all of the translators translate affectio by affection‚ that, that works, but there are lots of translators who translate affectus by feeling. On the one hand this doesn’t say much, in French, the difference between affection and feeling, and on the other hand it is a shame, even a slightly more barbaric word would be better, but it would be better, it seems to me, to translate affectus by affect, since the word exists in French; this retains at least the same root common to affectio and to affect. Therefore Spinoza, if only by his terminology, distinguishes well between the affectio and the affectus, the affection and the affect.
Affection envelops an affect
What is it, the affect‚? Spinoza tells us that it is something that the affection envelops. The affection envelops an affect. You recall, the affection is the effect ˜ literally if you want to give it an absolutely rigorous definition ˜ it is the instantaneous effect of an image of a thing on me. For example perceptions are affections. The image of things associated with my action is an affection. The affection envelops, implicates, all of these are the words Spinoza constantly uses. To envelope: it is necessary to really take them as material metaphors, that is that within the affection there is an affect. There is a difference in nature between the affect and the affection. The affect is not something dependent on the affection, it is enveloped by the affection, that’s something else. There is a difference in nature between the affect and the affection. What does my affection, that is the image of the thing and the effect of this image on me, what does it envelop? It envelops a passage or a transition. Only it is necessary to take passage or transition in a very strong sense. Why?
Duration is the passage, the lived transition
You see, it means: it is something other than a comparison of mind, here we are no longer in the domain of a comparison of mind. It is not a comparison of the mind in two states, it is a passage or transition enveloped by the affection, by every affection. Every instantaneous affection envelops a passage or transition. Transition, to what? Passage, to what? Once again, not at all a comparison of the mind, I must add in order to go more slowly: a lived passage, a lived transition, which obviously doesn’t mean conscious. Every state implicates a lived passage or transition. Passage from what to what, between what and what? More precisely, so close are the two moments of time, the two instants that I consider instant A and instant A‚, that there is a passage from the preceding (antérieur) state to the current (actuel) state. The passage from the preceding state to the current state differs in nature with the preceding state and with the current state. There is a specificity of the transition, and it is precisely this that we call duration and that Spinoza calls duration. Duration is the lived passage, the lived transition. What is duration? Never anything but the passage from one thing to another, it suffices to add, insofar as it is lived.
When, centuries later, Bergson will make duration into a philosophical concept, it will obviously be with wholly different influences. It will be according to itself above all, it will not be under the influence of Spinoza. Nevertheless, I am just pointing out that the Bergsonian use of duration coincides strictly. When Bergson tries to make us understand what he calls duration‚, he says: you can consider psychic states as close together as you want in time, you can consider the state A and the state A‚ as separated by a minute, but just as well by a second, by a thousandth of a second, that is you can make more and more cuts, increasingly tight, increasingly close to one another. You may well go to the infinite, says Bergson, in your decomposition of time, by establishing cuts with increasing rapidity, but you will only ever reach states. And he adds that the states are always of space. The cuts are always spatial. And you will have brought your cuts together very well, you will let something necessarily escape, it is the passage from one cut to another, however small it may be. Now, what does he call duration, at its simplest? It is the passage from one cut to another, it is the passage from one state to another. The passage from one state to another is not a state, you will tell me that all of this is not strong, but it is a really profound statute of living. For how can we speak of the passage, the passage from one state to another, without making it a state? This is going to pose problems of expression, of style, of movement, it is going to pose all sorts of problems. Yet duration is that, it is the lived passage from one state to another insofar as it is irreducible to one state as to the other, insofar as it is irreducible to any state. This is what happens between two cuts.
In one sense duration is always behind our backs, it is at our backs that it happens. It is between two blinks of the eye. If you want an approximation of duration: I look at someone, I look at someone, duration is neither here nor there. Duration is: what has happened between the two? Even if I would have gone as quickly as I would like, duration goes even more quickly, by definition, as if it was affected by a variable coefficient of speed: as quickly as I go, my duration goes more quickly. However quickly I pass from one state to another, the passage is irreducible to the two states. It is this that every affection envelops. I would say: every affection envelops the passage by which we arrive at it. Or equally well: every affection envelops the passage by which we arrive at it, and by which we leave it, towards another affection, however close the two affections considered are. So in order to make my line complete it would be necessary for me to make a line of three times: A, A,' A"; A is the instantaneous affection, of the present moment, A' is that of a little while ago, A" is what is going to come. Even though I have brought them together as close as possible, there is always something which separates them, namely the phenomenon of passage. This phenomenon of passage, insofar as it is a lived phenomenon, is duration: this is the third member of the essence.
I therefore have a slightly stricter definition of the affect, the affect: what every affection envelops, and which nevertheless is of another nature is the passage, it is the lived passage from the preceding state to the current state, or of the current state to the following state. Good. If you understand all that, for the moment we‚re doing a kind of decomposition of the three dimensions of the essence, of the three members of the essence. The essence belongs to itself under the form of the eternity, the affection belongs to the essence under the form of instantaneity, the affect belongs to the essence under the form of duration.
Affect, increase and decrease of power
Now the passage is what? What could a passage be? It is necessary to leave the too spatial idea. Every passage Spinoza tells us, and this is going to be the basis of his theory of affectus, of his theory of the affect, every passage is ˜ here he doesn't say implicates‚, understand that the words are very very important ˜ he will tell us of the affection that it implicates an affect, every affection implicates, envelops, but the enveloped and the enveloping just don't have the same nature. Every affection, that is every determinable state at a single moment, envelops an affect, a passage. But the passage, I don't ask what it envelops, it is enveloped; I ask of what does it consist, what is it? And my response from Spinoza, is it obvious what it is? It is increase and decrease of my power (puissance). It is increase or decrease of my power, even infinitesimally. I take two cases: I am in a dark room ˜ I‚m developing all of this, it is perhaps useless, I don't know, but it is to persuade you that when you read a philosophical text it is necessary that you have the most ordinary situations in your head, the most everyday ones. You are in a dark room, you are as perfect, Spinoza will say: Let’s judge from the point of view of affections, you are as perfect as you can be according to the affections that you have. You don't have any, you don't have visual affections, that’s all. There, that’s all. But you are as perfect as you can be. All of a sudden someone enters and turns on the lights without warning: I am completely dazzled. Notice that I took the worse example for me. Then, no. I‚ll change it, I was wrong. I am in the dark, and someone arrives softly, all that, and turns on a light, this is going to be very complicated this example. You have your two states which could be very close together in time. The state that I call: dark state, and small b, the lighted state. They are very close together. I am saying: there is a passage from one to the other, so fast that it may even be unconscious, all that, to the point that your whole body, in Spinozist terms these are examples of bodies, your whole body has a kind of mobilization of itself, in order to adapt to this new state. The affect is what? It is the passage. The affection is the dark state and the lighted state. Two successive affections, in cuts. The passage is the lived transition from one to the other. Notice that in this case here there is no physical transition, there is a biological transition, it is your body which makes the transition.
Every affection is instantaneous
What does this mean? The passage is necessarily an increase of power or a decrease of power. It is necessary to already understand and it is for this reason that all this is so concrete, it is not determined in advance. Suppose that in the dark you were in deep state of meditation. Your whole body was focused on this extreme meditation. You held something. The other brute arrives and turns on the light, if need be you lose an idea that you were going to have. You turn around, you are furious. We hold onto this because we will use the same example again. You hate him, even if not for long, but you hate him, you say to him: „Hey! Listen. In this case the passage to the lighted state will have brought you what? A decrease of power. Evidently if you had looked for your glasses in the dark, there they would have brought you an increase of power. The guy who turned the light on, you say to him: „Thank you very much, I love you. Good.
We’ve already said that, maybe this story of increase and decrease of power is going to play in quite variable directions and contexts. But, on the whole, there are directions. If we stick to you, one could say in general, without taking the context into account, if one increases the affections of which you are capable, there is an increase of power, if one decreases the affections of which you are capable there is a decrease of power. We can say this on the whole even knowing that it is not always like this. What do I mean? I mean something very simple: it is that every affection is instantaneous ˜ Spinoza, you see how he is very very curious, in virtue of his rigor he will say: every affection is instantaneous, and it is this that he responded to Blyenbergh, he didn't want to say more on it. One could not say that he distorted his thought, he only gave one sphere of it, he only gave a tip of it. Every affection is instantaneous, he will always say this, and he will always say: I am as perfect as I can be according to what I have in the instant. It is the sphere of belonging of the instantaneous essence. In this sense, there is neither good nor bad. But in return, the instantaneous state always envelopes an increase or a decrease of power, and in this sense there is good and bad. So much so that, not from the point of view of its state, but from the point of view of its passage, from the point of view of its duration, there is something bad in becoming blind, there is something good in becoming seeing, since it is either decrease of power or else increase of power. And here it is no longer the domain of a comparison of the mind between two states, it is the domain of the lived passage from one state to another, the lived passage in the affect. So much so that it seems to me that we can understand nothing of the Ethics, that is of the theory of the affects, if we don't keep very much in mind the opposition that Spinoza established between the comparisons between two states of the mind, and the lived passages from one state to another, lived passages that can only be lived in the affects. The affects are joy or sadness There remains for us quite a few things to understand. I would not say that the affects signal the decreases or increases of power, I would say that the affects are the decreases and the increases of lived power. Not necessarily conscious once again. It is I believe a very very profound conception of the affect. So Let’s give them names in order to better mark them. The affects which are increases of power we will call joys, the affects which are decreases of power we will call sadnesses. And the affects are either based on joy, or else based on sadness. Hence Spinoza‚s very rigorous definitions: sadness is the affect that corresponds to a decrease of power, of my power, joy is the affect which corresponds to an increase of my power. Sadness is a affect enveloped by an affection. The affection is what? It is an image of a thing which causes me sadness, which gives me sadness. You see, there we find everything, this terminology is very rigorous. I repeat. I don't know anymore what I‚ve said. The affect of sadness is enveloped by an affection, the affection is what, it is the image of a thing which gives me sadness, this image can be very imprecise, very confused, it matters little. There is my question: why does the image of a thing which gives me sadness, why does this image of a thing envelop a decrease of power (puissance) of acting? What is this thing which gives me sadness? We have at least all of the elements to respond to it, now everything is regrouped, if you have followed me everything must regroup harmoniously, very harmoniously. The thing which gives me sadness is the thing whose relations don't agree with mine. That is affection. All things whose relations tend to decompose one of my relations or the totality of my relations affect me with sadness. In terms of affectio you have there a strict correspondence, in terms of affectio, I would say: the thing has relations which are not composed with mine, and which tend to decompose mine. Here I am speaking in terms of affectio. In terms of affects I would say: this thing affects me with sadness, therefore by the same token], in the same way, decreases my power. You see I have the double language of instantaneous affections and of affects of passage. Hence I return as always to my question: why, but why, if one understood why, maybe one would understand everything. What happens? You see that he takes sadness in one sense, they are the two big affective tonalities, not two particular cases. Sadness and joy are the two big affective tonalities, that is affective in the sense of affectus, the affect. We are going to see as two lineages: the lineage based on sadness and the lineage based on joy, that are going to cover the theory of the affects. Why the thing whose relations don't agree with mine, why does it affect me with sadness, that is decrease my power of acting? You see we have a double impression: both that We’ve understood in advance, and then that we‚re missing something in order to understand. What happens, when something is presented having relations which don't compose with mine, it could be a current of air.
I am going back, I am in the dark, in my room, I am alone, I am left in peace. Someone enters and he makes me flinch, he knocks on the door, he knocks on the door and he makes me flinch. I lose an idea. He enters and he starts to speak; I have fewer and fewer ideas ouch, ouch, I am affected with sadness. Yes, I feel sadness, I‚ve been disturbed, damn! Spinoza will say, the lineage of sadness is what? Then on top of it all I hate it! I say to him: „eh, listen, it‚s okay. It could be not very serious, it could be a small hate, he irritates me damn it: hoooo! I cannot have peace, all that, I hate it!
What does it mean, hate? You see, sadness, he said to us: your power of acting is decreased, then you experience sadness insofar as it is decreased, your power of acting, okay. I hate it‚, that means that the thing whose relations don't compose with yours, you strive, this would only be what you have in mind, you strive for its destruction. To hate is to want to destroy what threatens to destroy you. This is what hate means. That is, to want‚ to decompose what threatens to decompose you. So the sadness engenders hate. Notice that it engenders joys too.
Hate engenders joys. So the two lineages, on one hand sadness, on the other hand joy, are not going to be pure lineages. What are the joys of hate? There are joys of hate.
As Spinoza says: if you imagine the being that you hate to be unhappy, your heart experiences a strange joy. One can even engender passions. And Spinoza does this marvelously. There are joys of hate. Are these joys? We can at least say, and this is going to advance us a lot for later, that these joys are strangely compensatory, that is indirect. What is first in hate, when you have feelings of hate, always look for the sadness at base, that is your power of acting was impeded, was decreased. And even if you have, if you have a diabolical heart, even if you have to believe that this heart flourishes in the joys of hate, these joys of hate, as immense as they are, will never get rid of the nasty little sadness of which you are a part; your joys are joys of compensation. The man of hate, the man of resentment, etc., for Spinoza, is the one all of whose joys are poisoned by the initial sadness, because sadness is in these same joys. In the end he can only derive joy from sadness. Sadness that he experiences himself by virtue of the existence of the other, sadness that he imagines inflicting on the other to please himself, all of this is for measly joys, says Spinoza. These are indirect joys. We rediscover our criteria of direct and indirect, all comes together at this level.
So much so that I return to my question: then yes, it is necessary to say it all the same: in what way does an affection, that is the image of something that doesn't agree with my own relations, in what way does this decrease my power of acting? It is both obvious and not. Here is what Spinoza means: suppose that you have a power (puissance), Let’s set it up roughly the same, and there, first case you come up against something whose relations don't compose with yours. Second case, on the contrary you encounter something whose relations compose with your own. Spinoza, in the Ethics, uses the Latin term: occursus, occursus is exactly this case, the encounter. I encounter bodies, my body never stops encountering bodies. The bodies that he encounters sometimes have relations which compose, sometimes have relations which don't compose with his. What happens when I encounter a body whose relation doesn't compose with mine? Well there: I would say ˜ and you will see that in book IV of the Ethics this doctrine is very strong. I cannot say that it is absolutely affirmed, but it is very much suggested ˜ a phenomenon happens which is like a kind of fixation. What does this mean, a fixation? That is, a part of my power is entirely devoted to investing and to isolating the trace, on me, of the object which doesn't agree with me. It is as if I tense my muscles, take once again the example: someone that I don't wish to see enters into the room, I say to myself Uh oh‚, and in me is made something like a kind of investment: a whole part of my power is there in order to ward off the effect on me of the object, of the disagreeable object. I invest the trace of the thing on me. I invest the effect of the thing on me. I invest the trace of the thing on me, I invest the effect of the thing on me. In other words, I try as much as possible to circumscribe the effect, to isolate it, in other words I devote a part of my power to investing the trace of the thing. Why? Evidently in order to subtract it, to put it at a distance, to avert it. Understand that this goes without saying: this quantity of power that I‚ve devoted to investing the trace of the disagreeable thing, this is the amount of my power that is decreased, which is removed from me, which is as it were immobilized.
This is what is meant by: my power decreases. It is not that I have less power, it is that a part of my power is subtracted in this sense that it is necessarily allocated to averting the action of the thing. Everything happens as if a whole part of my power is no longer at my disposal. This is the tonality affective sadness‚: a part of my power serves this unworthy need which consists in warding off the thing, warding off the action of the thing. So much immobilized power. To ward off the thing is to prevent it from destroying my relations, therefore I‚ve toughened my relations; this can be a formidable effort, Spinoza said: „like lost time, like it would have been more valuable to avoid this situation. In this way, a part of my power is fixed, this is what is meant by: a part of my power decreases. Indeed a part of my power is subtracted from me, it is no longer in my possession. It is invested, it is like a kind of hardening, a hardening of power (puissance), to the point that it is almost bad, damn, because of lost time!
On the contrary in joy, it is very curious. The experience of joy as Spinoza presents it, for example I encounter something which agrees, which agrees with my relations. For example music. There are wounding sounds. There are wounding sounds which inspire in me an enormous sadness. What complicates all this is that there are always people who find these wounding sounds, on the contrary, delicious and harmonious. But this is what makes the joy of life, that is the relations of love and hate. Because my hate against the wounding] sound is going to be extended to all those who like this wounding sound. So I go home, I hear these wounding sounds which appear to me as challenges, which really decompose all of my relations, they enter into my head, they enter into my stomach, all that. A whole part of my power is hardened in order to hold at a distance these sounds which penetrate me. I obtain silence and I put on the music that I like; everything changes. The music that I like, what does that mean? It means the resonant relations which are composed with my relations. And suppose that at that very moment my machine breaks. My machine breaks: I experience hate! (Richard: Oh no!) An Objection? (Laughter of Gilles Deleuze) Finally I experience a sadness, a big sadness. Good, I put on music that I like, there, my whole body, and my soul ˜ it goes without saying ˜ composes its relations with the resonant relations. This is what is meant by the music that I like: my power is increased. So for Spinoza, what interests me therein is that, in the experience of joy, there is never the same thing as in sadness, there is not at all an investment ˜ and we‚ll see why ˜ there is not at all an investment of one hardened part which would mean that a certain quantity of power (puissance) is subtracted from my power (pouvoir). There is not, why? Because when the relations are composed, the two things of which the relations are composed, form a superior individual, a third individual which encompasses and takes them as parts. In other words, with regard to the music that I like, everything happens as if the direct composition of relations (you see that we are always in the criteria of the direct) a direct composition of relations is made, in such a way that a third individual is constituted, individual of which me, or the music, are no more than a part. I would say, from now on, that my power (puissance) is in expansion, or that it increases.
If I take these examples, it is in order to persuade you all the same that, when, and this also goes for Nietzsche, that when authors speak of power (puissance), Spinoza of the increase and decrease of power (puissance), Nietzsche of the Will of Power (Volonté de Puissance), which it too, proceeds What Nietzsche calls affect‚ is exactly the same thing as what Spinoza calls affect, it is on this point that Nietzsche is Spinozist, that is, it is the decreases or increases of power (puissance). They have in fact something which doesn't have anything to do with whatever conquest of a power (pouvoir). Without doubt they will say that the only power (pouvoir) is finally power (puissance), that is: to increase one‚s power (puissance) is precisely to compose relations such that the thing and I, which compose the relations, are no more than two sub-individualities of a new individual, a formidable new individual.
I am going back. What distinguishes my basely sensual appetite from my best, most beautiful, love? It is exactly the same! The basely sensual appetite, you know, it‚s all the expressions, we can all make suggestions, it is in order to laugh, therefore we can say anything, the sadness After love, the animal is sad, what is this? This sadness? What does it say to us? Spinoza would never say this. Or then it is not worth the pain, there is no reason, sadness, good There are people who cultivate sadness. Feel, feel what happens to us, this denunciation which is going to run throughout the Ethics, namely: there are people who are so impotent that they are the ones who are dangerous, they are the ones who take power (pouvoir). And they can take power (pouvoir) ˜ so far away are the notions of power (puissance) and of power (pouvoir) ˜ the people of power (pouvoir) are the impotent who can only construct their power (pouvoir) on the sadness of others. They need sadness. They can only reign over slaves, and the slave is precisely the regime of the decrease of power (puissance). There are people who can only reign, who only acquire power (pouvoir) by way of sadness and by instituting a regime of sadness of the type: repent‚, of the type hate someone‚ and if you don't have anyone to hate, hate yourself, etc. Everything that Spinoza diagnoses as a kind of immense culture of sadness, the valorization of sadness, all of which says to you: if you don't pass by way of sadness, you will not flourish. Now for Spinoza this is an abomination. And if he writes an Ethics, it is in order to say: no! No! Everything you want, but not this. Then indeed, good = joy, bad = sadness. But the basely sensual appetite, you see now, and the most beautiful of loves, it is not at all a spiritual thing, but not at all. It is when an encounter works, as one says, when it functions well. It is a functionalism, but a very beautiful functionalism. What does that mean? Ideally it is never like this completely, because there are always local sadnesses, Spinoza is not unaware of that, there are always sadnesses. The question is not if there is or if there isn‚t, the question is the value that you give to them, that is the indulgence that you grant them. The more you grant them indulgence, that is the more you invest your power (puissance) in order to invest the trace of the thing, the more you will lose power (puissance). So in a happy love, in a love of joy, what happens? You compose a maximum of relations with a maximum of relations of the other, bodily, perceptual, all kinds of natures. Of course bodily, yes, why not; but perceptive also: Ah good Let’s listen to some music! In a certain manner one never stops inventing.
When I spoke of a third individual of which the two others are no more than parts, it doesn't at all mean that this third individual preexists, it is always by composing my relations with other relations, and it is under such a profile, under such an aspect that I invent this third individual of which the other and myself are no more than parts, sub-individuals. That’s it: each time that you proceed by composition of relations and composition of composed relations, you increase your power. On the contrary, the basely sensual appetite, it is not because it is sensual that it is bad. It is because, fundamentally, it never stops gambling on the decomposition of relations. It is really this sort of thing: Come on, hurt me, sadden me so that I can sadden you. The spat, etc. Ha, like we are okay with the spat. Ho. Like it is long after, that is, the small joys of compensation. All that is disgusting, but it is foul, it is the measliest life in the world. Ha come on, Let’s make our scene Because it is necessary to hate one another, afterwards we like one another much more. Spinoza vomits, he says: what are these mad people? If they did this, again, for themselves, but they are contagious, they are propagators. They won't let go of you until they have inoculated you with their sadness. What’s more, they treat you as idiots if you tell them that you don't understand, that it is not your thing. They tell you that this is the true life. And the more that they wallow, based on the spat, based on this stupidity, on the anguish of Haaaa, Heu The more that they hold on to you the more that they inoculate you, if they can hold on to you, then they pass it on to you. (Gilles Deleuze looks extremely nauseated).
Claire Parnet: Richard would like you to speak of the appetite
Gilles Deleuze: Of the composition of relations?! (Laughter). I have said everything on the composition of relations. Understand, the misinterpretation would be to believe: look for a third individual of which we would be only the parts. It does not preexist nor does the manner in which relations are decomposed. That preexists in Nature since Nature is everything, but from your point of view it is very complicated. There we are going to see what problems this poses for Spinoza because all this is very concrete all the same, on the ways of living. How to live? You don't know beforehand which are the relations. For example you are not necessarily going to find your own music. I mean: it is not scientific, in what sense? You don't have a scientific knowledge of relations which would allow you to say: „there is the woman or the man who is necessary for me. One goes along feeling one‚s way, one goes along blind. That works, that doesn't work, etc. And how to explain that there are people who only launch into things where they say that it is not going to work? (general laughter). They are the people of sadness, they are the cultivators of sadness, because they think that that is the foundation of existence. Otherwise the long apprenticeship by which, according to a presentiment of my constituent relations, I vaguely apprehend first what agrees with me and what doesn't agree with me. You will tell me that if it is in order to lead to that, it is not strong. Nothing but the formula: above all don't do what doesn't agree with you. It is not Spinoza who said this first, at first, but the proposition means nothing other than : don't do what doesn't agree with you‚ if you take it out of all context. If you take this conception ˜ that I find very grandiose ˜ to its conclusion, the relations which are composed, etc. How is it that someone very concrete is going to lead his existence in such a manner that he is going to acquire a kind of affection, of affect, or of presentiment, of the relations which agree with him, of the relations which don't agree with him, of situations where he must withdraw, of situations where he must engage himself, etc. That is not at all: it is necessary to do this‚, it is no longer at all the domain of morality. It is not necessary to do anything at all, it is necessary to find. It is necessary to find his thing, that is not at all to withdraw, it is necessary to invent the superior individualities into which I can enter as a part, for these individualities do not preexist. All that I meant takes on, I believe, a concrete signification, the two expressions take on a concrete signification. [The essence is eternal.
The eternal essence, degree of power (puissance)
The eternal essence, what does it mean? Your essence is eternal, your singular essence, that is your own essence in particular, what does this mean? For the moment we can only give one sense to this formula, namely: you are a degree of power (puissance). You are a degree of power: it is this that Spinoza means when he says, verbatim: I am a part (pars) of the power of God‚, that means, literally: I am a degree of power (puissance). Immediate objection. I am a degree of power, but after all: me as a baby, little kid, adult, old man, it is not the same degree of power, therefore it varies, my degree of power. Okay, Let’s leave that aside. How, why does this degree of power have a latitude. Okay. But I say on the whole: I am a degree of power and it is in this sense that I am eternal. No one has the same degree of power as another. See, we will have need of it later, the fact that it is a quantitative conception of individuation. But it is a special quantity since it is a quantity of power (puissance). A quantity of power we have always called an intensity. It is to this and to this alone that Spinoza assigns the term eternity‚. I am a degree of power of God, that means: I am eternal. Second sphere of belonging: I have instantaneous affections. We saw this, it is the dimension of instantaneity. Following this dimension the relations compose or don't compose. It is the dimension of affectio: composition or decomposition between things.
Third dimension of belonging: the affects. That is: each time that an affection executes my power (puissance), and it executes it as perfectly as it can, as perfectly as is possible. The affection, indeed, that is the belonging to, executes my power; it realises my power, and it realises my power as perfectly as it can, according to the circumstances, according to here and now. It executes my power here and now, according to my relations with things. The third dimension is that each time an affection executes my power, it doesn't do it without my power increasing or decreasing, it is the sphere of the affect. So my power is an eternal degree‚ doesn't prevent it from ceaselessly, in duration, increasing and decreasing. This same power which is eternal in itself, doesn’t stop increasing and decreasing, that is varying in duration. How to understand this, after all? Understanding this, after all, is not difficult. If you reflect, I have just said: the essence is a degree of power, that is: if it is a quantity, it is an intensive quantity. But an intensive quantity is not at all like an extensive quantity. An intensive quantity is inseparable from a threshold, that is an intensive quantity is fundamentally, in itself, already a difference. The intensive quantity is made of differences. Does Spinoza go so far as to say a thing like this?
Letter to Meyer on infinity
Here, I make a parenthesis of pseudo scholarship. It is important. I can say that Spinoza, firstly, said explicitly pars potentiae, part of power (puissance), and he said that our essence is a part of our divine power (puissance). I am saying, it is not a question of forcing the texts, part of power‚ is not an extensive part, it is obviously an intensive part. I am always pointing out in the domain of scholarship, but here I need it in order to justify everything that I‚m saying, that in the Scholastics of the Middle Age, the equality of two terms is absolutely current: gradus or pars, part or degree. Now the degrees are very special parts, they are intensive parts; this is the first point. Second point: I point out that in letter XII to Meyer, a gentleman named Meyer, there is a text that we will surely see the next time because it will allow us to draw conclusions on individuality. I point it out from this point on and I would like, for the next time, those who have the correspondence of Spinoza to have read the letter to Meyer, which is a famous letter, which is concerned with the infinite. In this letter, Spinoza develops a very bizarre, very curious geometrical example. And he made this geometrical example the object of all sorts of commentaries and it looked quite bizarre. And Leibniz, who was himself a very great mathematician, who had knowledge of the letter to Meyer, declared that he particularly admired Spinoza for this geometrical example which showed that Spinoza understood things that even his contemporaries didn't understand, said Leibniz. Therefore the text is that much more interesting with Leibniz’s benediction.
Here is the figure that Spinoza proposes for our reflection: two circles of which one is inside the other, but above all they are not concentric. Two [non-]concentric circles of which one is inside the other. Note the greatest and the smallest distance from one circle to the other. Do you understand the figure? Here is what Spinoza tells us. Spinoza tells us something very interesting, it seems to me, he tells us: in the case of this double figure, you can not say that you don't have a limit or threshold. You have a threshold, you have a limit. You even have two limits: the outer circle, the inner circle, or what comes down to the same thing, the greatest distance from one circle to the other, or the least distance. You have a maximum and a minimum. And he says: consider the sum, here the Latin text is very important, the sum of the inequalities of distance. You see: you trace all the lines, all the segments which go from one circle to the other. You evidently have an infinity. Spinoza tells us: consider the sum of the inequalities of distance. You understand: he doesn't literally tell us to consider the sum of the unequal distances, that is of the segments which go from one circle to the other. He tells us: the sum of the inequalities of distance, that is the sum of the differences. And he says: „it is very curious, this infinity here. We will see what he means, but I mention this text for the moment because I have a specific idea, he tells us: „it is very curious, it is an infinite sum. The sum of the inequalities of distance is infinite. He could also have said that the unequal distances is an infinite sum. And yet there is a limit. There is a limit since you have the limit of the big circle and the limit of the small circle. So there is something infinite and yet it is not unlimited. And he says that it is an odd infinity, it is a very particular geometrical infinity: it is an infinity that you can say is infinite even though it is not unlimited. And indeed, the space encompassed between the two circles is not unlimited, the encompassed space between the two circles is perfectly limited. I take up exactly the expression of the letter to Meyer: the sum of the inequalities of distance‚, even though he could have made the same reasoning by taking holding of the simpler case: the sum of unequal distances. Why does he want to sum up the differences?
For me it is truly a text which is important, because, what does he have in his head that he doesn’t say? He needs it by virtue of his problem of essences. Essences are degrees of power, but what is a degree of power? A degree of power is a difference between a maximum and a minimum. It is in this way that it is an intensive quantity. A degree of power is a difference in itself.
(End of tape.)
How to become reasonable?
Like many thinkers of his time, he is one of the philosophers who have said most profoundly: you know, you are born neither reasonable, nor free, nor intelligent. If you become reasonable, if you become free, etc., it is a matter of a becoming. But there is no author who is more indifferent, for example, to the problem of freedom as belonging to the nature of man. He thinks that nothing at all belongs to the nature of man. He is an author who thinks everything, really, in terms of Becoming. So then, good, okay, without doubt. What does this mean, becoming reasonable? What does it means, becoming free, once it is said that we are not? We are not born free, we are not born reasonable. We are completely at the mercy of encounters, that is: we are completely at the mercy of decompositions. And you must understand that this is normal in Spinoza; the authors who think that we are free by nature are the ones who make of nature a certain idea. I believe we can only say: we are free by nature if we don't conceive it as a substance, that is as a relatively independent thing. If you conceive yourself as a collection of relations, and not at all as a substance, the proposition I am free‚ is plainly deprived of sense. It is not at all that I am for the opposite: it makes no sense, freedom or no freedom. On the other hand, perhaps the question has a sense: How to become free?‚ Similarly to be reasonable‚ can be understood if I am defined as a reasonable animal‚, from the point of view of substance, this is the Aristotelian definition which implies that I am a substance. If I am a collection of relations, perhaps they are rational relations, but to say that this is reasonable, is plainly deprived of all sense. So if reasonable, free, etc., make any sense it could only be the result of a becoming. Already this is very new. To be thrown into the world is precisely to risk at every instant encountering something which decomposes me.
Hence I said: there is a first aspect of reason. The first effort of reason, I believe, is very curious in Spinoza, it is a kind of extraordinarily groping effort. And there you can’t say that it is insufficient because it encounters concrete gropings. It is all a kind of apprenticeship in order to evaluate or have signs, I did say signs, to organize or to find signs that tell me a little of which relations agree with me and which relations don't agree with me. It is necessary to try, it is necessary to experiment. And my own experience, I can not even transmit it because perhaps it doesn't agree with another’s. That is, it is like a kind of groping so that each discovers at the same time what he likes and what he supports. Good, it is a little like this that we live when we take medication: it is necessary to find their doses, their things, it is necessary to make selections, and the prescription of the doctor will not be sufficient. It will come in handy. There is something which goes beyond a simple science, or a simple application of science. It is necessary to find your thing, it is like an apprenticeship in music, finding at the same time what agrees with you, what you are capable of doing. This is already what Spinoza will call, and it will be the first aspect of reason, a kind of double aspect, selecting-composing. To select, selection-composition, is to manage to find by experience those relations with which mine compose, and drawing from them the consequences. That is: at any cost flee as best as I can ˜ I can’t totally, I can’t completely ˜ but flee as much, to the maximum, the encounter with relations which don’t agree with me, and compose to the maximum, be composed to the maximum with the relations which agree with me. Here again is the first determination of freedom or of reason. So Rousseau‚s theme, what he himself called the materialism of the wise‚, you remember when I spoke a little of this idea of Rousseau‚s, very very curious, a kind of art of composing situations, this art of composing situations that consists above all of withdrawing from situations which don't agree with you, of entering into situations which agree with you, etc.. This is the first effort of reason. But I insist overall: at this level, we have no previous knowledge, we have no preexisting knowledge, we don't have scientific knowledge. It is not about science. It is really about living experimentation. It is about apprenticeship: I never stop deceiving myself, I never stop running into situations which don't agree with me, I never stop etc., etc.
And little by little is sketched out a kind of beginning of wisdom, which brings us back to what? Which brings us back to what Spinoza says from the beginning: but the fact that each knew a little, had a vague idea of what he is capable of, once it‚s said that the incapable people are not incapable people, it is people who rush to what they are not capable of, and who drop what they are capable of. But, Spinoza asks: What can a body do?‚ It doesn't mean: what a body in general can do, it means: yours, mine. Of what are you capable? It is this kind of experimentation with capacity. To try to experiment with capacity, and at the same time to construct it, at the same time that one experiments with it, is very concrete. Yet we don't have prior knowledge (savoir). Good, I don't know what, there are domains  of what am I capable? Who can say, in the two senses, there are people who are too modest who say: „I am not capable of it because I would not succeed, and then there are the people too sure of themselves, who say: „Ha that, such a nasty thing, I am not capable of it, but they would perhaps do it, we don't know. No one knows what he is capable of.
What am I capable of?
I think that one of the things, in the beautiful era of existentialism, there was as it was all the same very much connected to the end of the war, to the concentration camps etc. There was a theme that Jaspers had launched, and which was a theme, it seems to me, which was very profound: he distinguished two types of situation, limit situations and simple everyday situations. He said: limit situations could befall us at any time, they are precisely situations which we can’t anticipate. What do you want: someone who was not tortured what does that mean? He has no idea if he will hold out or if he won't hold out. If need be, the most courageous types collapse, and the types that one would have thought, in that way, pathetic, they hold out marvelously. One doesn't know. The limit situation is really a situation such as this, I learn at the last moment, sometimes too late, what I was capable of. What I was capable of for better or worse. But we can’t say in advance. It is too easy to say: Oh that, me, I would never do it! And inversely, we ourselves pass our time doing things like that, but what we are really capable of, we pass right by. So many people die without knowing and will never know what they were capable of. Once again: in atrocity as in the very good. It is the surprises, it is necessary to surprise oneself. We tell ourselves: Oh look! I would never have believed that I would have done it. People, you know, they are quite artful. Generally we always speak of the manner ˜ it is very complicated for Spinozism because we always speak of the manner in which people destroy themselves, but I believe that, finally, it is often so for discourse too. It is sad, it is always a very sad spectacle, and then it is annoying! They also have a kind of prudence: the cunning of people! the cunning of people is odd, because there are a lot of people who destroyed themselves over points which, precisely, they themselves have no need of. Then evidently they are losers, you understand, yeah, I suppose someone who, at the limit, renders himself impotent, but it is someone who doesn't really have the desire to do it, it is not their thing. In other words it is a very secondary relation for them. To budge is a very secondary relation. Good. He manages to put himself in states where he can no longer budge, in a certain way he has what he wanted since he set on a secondary relation. It is very different when someone destroys himself in what he himself experiences as being his principal constituent relations. If running doesn't interest you a lot, you can always smoke a lot, hey. We will say to you: You destroy yourself, then very well. I myself would be satisfied to be on a small chair, on the contrary it would be better like this, I would have peace! Very well. So, I destroy myself? No, not so. Obviously I destroy myself because if I can no longer budge at all, in the end I risk dying of it, in the end I would have the boredom of another nature that I would not have foreseen. Oh yes, it is annoying. But you see, even in things where there is self-destruction, there are tricks which imply a whole calculus of relations. One can very well destroy oneself over a point which is not essential for the person himself, and try to keep the essential, all this is complex. It is complex. You are sly, you don't know to what extent you are all sly, everyone. There you go.
I would call reason, or effort of reason, conatus of reason, effort of reason, this tendency to select, to learn the relations, this apprenticeship of the relations which are composed or which are not composed. Now I wouldn‚t mind saying: as you have no previous science, you understand what Spinoza means: science, you are perhaps going to arrive at a science of relations. But what will it be? Funny science. It won't be a theoretical science. The theory will perhaps be a part, but it will be a science in the sense of vital science.
The sign is the equivocal expression: I manage as best I can. And the signs are what? It is the signs of language which are fundamentally ambiguous, according to Spinoza, they are on one hand the signs of language, and on the other hand the signs of God, prophetic signs, and on the other hand the signs of society: rewards, punishments, etc. Prophetic signs, social signs, linguistic signs, are the three great types of signs. Now each time it is the language of equivocity. We are forced to set out from there, to pass by there, in order to construct our apprenticeship, that is in order to select our joys, eliminate our sadness, that is to make headway in a kind of apprehension of the relations which are composed, to arrive at an approximate knowledge (connaissance) by signs of the relations which agree with me and of the relations which don't agree with me. So the first effort of reason, you see, exactly, it is to do everything in my power (pouvoir) in order to increase my power (puissance) of acting, that is in order to experience passive joys, in order to experience of the joys of passion. The joys of passion are what increase my power of acting according to still equivocal signs in which I don't possess this power (puissance). Do you see? Very well. The question which I have come to is: supposing that it is like this, that there is this moment of long apprenticeship, how can I pass, how can this long apprenticeship lead me to a more sure stage, where I am more sure of myself, that is where I become reasonable, where I become free. How can this be done?
We will see next time.