1. Though they do not limit their conception of pop to the traditionally defined market sector of mass-produced pop music, Deleuze and Guattari do emphasize that their thought often passes or resonates by way of what any Anglophone reader would immediately recognize as pop music.7 From their work in the Seventies onward, Deleuze and Guattari demonstrate a familiarity with many of the most respected and influential pop/rock songwriters and performers of the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties that goes well beyond the superficial humor and "street credibility" that such allusions provide. Ultimately, their references to pop music provide them and their readers with stabilizing refrains, points of connection and passage for rhizomatic thought, that are often as complex and functional as their more common readings of canonical European philosophers and artists. The first significant connection to pop music arises in the first chapter of Deleuze's 1977 collaboration with Claire Parnet, Dialogues. In the only section of the book explicitly signed by Deleuze alone (the remainder of the chapters are unsigned, leaving the particular contributions of the individual collaborators impossible to define, as they are in Capitalism and Schizophrenia), he cites a poem by Bob Dylan in an attempt to exemplify his conception of conversation (and by extension teaching) as becoming, as double capture or aparallel evolution. The most relevant portion of Deleuze's citation is the following:
    […] not t' worry about the new rules
    for they ain't been made yet
    an' t' shout my singin' mind
    knowin' that it is me an' my kind
    that will make those rules…
    if the people of tomorrow
    really need the rules of today
    rally 'round all you prosecutin' attorneys
    the world is but a courtroom
    but I know the defendants better 'n you
    and while you're busy prosecutin'
    we're busy whistlin'
    cleanin' up the courthouse
    sweepin' sweepin'
    listenin' listenin'
    winkin' t' one another
    your spot is comin' up soon. (Dylan 112-13, quoted in Deleuze/Parnet 1987, 8-9)
    Deleuze cites these lines from the Seghers edition of Dylan's Writings and Drawings, but modifies the published French translation, which suggests that he has taken some pains to study them in the original idiomatic English (Deleuze/Parnet 1977, 14n1); otherwise he offers no specific commentary on them. It is no hyperbole for him then to insist upon
    How proud and wonderful—also modest—is this Bob Dylan poem. It says it all. As a teacher I should like to be able to give a course as Dylan organizes a song, as astonishing producer rather than author. And that it should begin as he does, suddenly, with his clown's mask, with a technique of contriving, and yet improvising each detail. The opposite of a plagiarist, but also the opposite of a master or model. A very lengthy preparation, yet no method, nor rules, nor recipes. (Deleuze/Parnet 1987, 8)
    Song, like philosophy and teaching, requires a long apprenticeship, as Deleuze has always insisted, though one that implies no master or privileged subject who might dictate the prefabricated or dialectical terms of the contract. Relations are produced by improvisation, which is to say by the encounter with the unforeseeable or "imprévisible" in each situation. As free jazz innovator Ornette Coleman writes, "none of these forms existed before their relation to each other" (Coleman) yet they constitute as sophisticated and sensitive a network of connections as any constructed according to the prefabricated, hierarchical logic of notational composition. Pop music too is music without an original, privileged form or instance, music that exists entirely in its disseminated actualizations, as Benjamin argued of film.

  2. In 1981, Deleuze invoked the American New Wave band Talking Heads (and their collaborator Brian Eno) in his study of Irish painter Francis Bacon. In order to help explicate what he perceived to be the system of becomings embodied in Bacon's paintings, Deleuze offered a quotation from Talking Heads' song "Crosseyed and Painless" from the album Remain in Light:
    There is indeed a change of form, but the change of form is a deformation, that is, a creation of original relations which are substituted for the form: the meat that flows, the umbrella that seizes, the mouth that is made jagged. As the song says, "I'm changing my shape, I feel like an accident." (Deleuze 1981, 101)8
    Change of form, deformation, is here defined not as deviation from or distortion of a normative or recognizable form, but as the "creation of original relations," spontaneous transversal re-formation, immanent invention or creativity. Becoming is the externality and exteriorization of relations, the accident that destructures the essential form and decenters the substantial subject. The warped bodies in flight from their own identities expressed in Bacon's paintings find themselves captured, momentarily, in the aparallel images of "Crosseyed and Painless": "Lost my shape—Trying to act casual! /Can't stop—I might end up in the hospital/I'm changing my shape—I feel like an accident…"9 Clearly, for Deleuze, pop music can serve as well as painting or literature as an intensifier of becoming.
  1. If we have so far established that pop music is potentially an important element in the assemblages of expression according to Deleuze and Guattari, we have not established the sources or causes of this sudden, apparently unphilosophical interest. We might expect that Guattari, as the more directly engaged and militant of the two at the outset of their friendship, was the conduit that brought pop music into the collaboration through his contacts with members of the French student movements before and after May '68. This expectation would not be entirely accurate, however plausible it may seem (though Guattari certainly did bring to the collaboration a sensibility that made connections with pop more conceptually productive); in fact, it was apparently Deleuze who had the first direct contact with the regime of pop music through the intermediary of his student and friend Richard Pinhas.

  2. From the point of view of the American reception of French theory, Pinhas' career constitutes a veritable rehearsal of the coming era. He studied history at the University of Paris X—Nanterre for a year starting in late 1968, then switched to sociology and ethnology, in which he received a master's degree under the tutelage of Jean Baudrillard. In 1969 he began to study philosophy under Jean-François Lyotard; ultimately he received a doctorate in that field in 1974, and taught briefly at the University of Paris I—Sorbonne. He met Deleuze in 1970, at Lyotard's dissertation defense, and followed Deleuze's courses from that moment until Deleuze's retirement from the University of Paris VIII—Vincennes/St. Denis in 1987. Along the way, Pinhas became friends with Serge Leclaire, head of the Vincennes department of psychoanalysis who was later forced out by the Lacanian "coup" of 1975, and through Leclaire's influence became a member of Lacan's École freudienne de Paris (from which Pinhas resigned in 1976).10 Pinhas is also the author of several published and unpublished texts on music and philosophy that figure strongly in Deleuze's writings on music and aesthetics in general; for example, much of Deleuze's discussion of analogical and digital language in chapter 13 of Francis Bacon is drawn from Pinhas' unpublished manuscript Synthèse analogique, synthèse digitale (Francis Bacon, 75-76), while the discussion of the refrain in plateau 11 of A Thousand Plateaus makes use of Pinhas' article "Input, Output" from 1977 (A Thousand Plateaus 551n53).

  3. But the influence of Pinhas' philosophical writing on Deleuze (and Guattari) would concern us little were it not for Pinhas' primary activity as a rock musician. In the early Seventies Pinhas formed a progressive rock band called Schizo, which released two singles before metamorphosing into Heldon, one of the most original and influential French bands of the era. Heldon might best be described as a sort of Gallic King Crimson: a band that based its musical productions not only on the permutational structures of blues and pop but also on the improvisational openness of jazz and the timbral experiments of electronic music synthesis. Pinhas was to Heldon what Robert Fripp has been to King Crimson: a restless experimenter driven not by the demands of the music market, but by a desire to create new sounds and new structures that is, from Deleuze and Guattari's point of view, the fundamental drive of all philosophy. Like Bacon, Boulez, or Jean-Luc Godard, Pinhas is an example of an artist who creates an art-philosophy, a set of percepts, out of the materials of his/her art rather than one who attempts to imitate or represent established philosophical concepts in aesthetic terms.

  4. In fact, Deleuze himself participated in such an act of musical philosophy when he joined Pinhas and his fellow musicians in a Schizo recording session in 1972. At a studio sixty kilometers from Paris, the musicians laid down a bolero-like backing track over which Deleuze recited a passage from the final aphorism, "638: The Wanderer," in the first volume of Nietzsche's Human, All Too Human (Nietzsche 203-04).11 This track, "Le voyageur," [Requires Real Player] was one of the two Schizo singles released in 1973, and was shortly thereafter incorporated into Heldon's first full-length album, Electronique Guerrilla (Heldon 1973). This album, which was re-released on compact disc by Cuneiform Records (U.S.) in 1993, sold quite well upon its initial release in France and allowed Pinhas and Heldon to commit themselves to music full-time. They built a private recording studio and subsequently released six more albums between 1974 and 1979. As of 2001 Pinhas has also released nine solo albums, several of which (Rhizosphere [1977], L'Ethique [1981], on which Deleuze also appears, Cyborg Sally [with John Livengood, 1994] and De l'un et du multiple [1996]) show clear Deleuzean influences. Deleuze and Pinhas remained close friends until Deleuze's death in November 1995. Thereafter Pinhas established the Deleuze Web, an Internet archive containing transcriptions of Deleuze's seminar sessions, and joined the editorial board of Chimères, the journal founded by Deleuze and Guattari in 1987. He has recently toured Europe and the U.S. with his current project, Schizotrope, which consists of live and tape-looped electronic music accompanying readings of unpublished texts from Deleuze's seminars.

  5. Our focus on Deleuze's relations with the world of pop music does not imply that Guattari did not forge his own links to that world, but that he did so in less simple and continuous ways. Though references to pop music are rare at best in his writings, Guattari was involved for most of his public life with militant mass movements in France and abroad, movements that were themselves constituted in part by the circulation of pop protest music through the international student communities. Among the left-wing groupuscules, French student life before May '68 may have been poverty-stricken, but it was not without a soundtrack cribbed from British, American, and local rock bands. Likewise, and more relevantly, elements of the Italian leftist Movement of '77 with which Guattari was directly associated coalesced around unlicensed "pirate" radio stations like Radio Alice in Bologna. A contemporary report sets the scene:
    Radio Alice's broadcasts are an amalgam of music (rock, jazz, some classics, many folk and political protest songs), news (reports on left-wing and working-class struggles in Italy and abroad, reports on the local student movement, readings from newspapers published by groups of the "extra-parliamentary" left, up-to-the-minute accounts of activities organized by feminists, homosexuals, and radical civil-rights activists), and comments on a wide variety of topics by anyone who cares to telephone or drop in to the station's headquarters. These consist of two dilapidated rooms located on the top floor of an apartment building in a rather run-down residential section of Bologna. (Cowan, 67)
    This "Free Radio" movement, one of the components of the Movement of '77 (others included the "Metropolitan Indians" who registered their dissatisfaction with the politics of austerity and the Historic Compromise between the Italian Communist Party and the reigning Christian Democrats by adopting "primitive" fashions and lifestyles), used pop music as one of the elements of its subversive assemblage. Guattari wrote a laudatory preface to a book documenting the stormy career of Radio Alice in which he characterized the station as "Alice. A radio line of flight. Assemblage of theory—life—praxis—group—sex—solitude—machine—affection—caressing" (Guattari 380). That is, for Guattari, Radio Alice was a kind of cultural metonym, a spontaneously generated territory assembled out of dissident subjective and affective points, freed from the margins of society, and articulated in the context of a broad political movement. The special issue of Semiotext(e) that is dedicated to Italy and Autonomia contains a summary manifesto by the organizers of Radio Alice, Collective A/Traverso, which includes a photograph of Guattari working with station staff in September 1977, just prior to the day it was shut down on charges of obscenity. The manifesto concludes with an imperative that alludes directly to Deleuze and Guattari's theory of desire: "Let's not talk about desires anymore, let's desire: we are desiring machines, machines of war" ("Radio Alice-Free Radio," 133-34).

  6. The Movement of '77 also produced its own directly musical regime of expression, in affiliated pop singers like Eugenio Finardi (who had a hit with his tribute to the fledgling free radio movement, "La Radio," in 1976—see Finardi) and Claudio Lolli who articulated some of the partial perspectives and desires of the new militants.12 The earlier Autonomist militants had been involved primarily with jazz and avant-garde musicians, exemplified in Autonomist novelist/poet Nanni Balestrini's collaboration with composer Luigi Nono on the electronic tape piece "Contrappunto dialettico alla mente [Dialectical Counterpoint in the Mind]" (1967-68) and Nono's own "La Fabbrica illuminata" ["The Illuminated Factory"] (1964) and "Non consumiamo Marx" ["We Do Not Consume Marx"] (1969). Though these connections between aesthetic avant-gardists and political radicals persisted, the involvement of pop musicians substantially broadened the reach of the social movements, much as similar contacts between pop musicians and student radicals in the United States precipitated the counter-culture of the Sixties through the proliferation, hybridization, and feedback of mass expression. And like the American counter-culture, the Italian mass movements were hobbled by disagreement within their ranks and constrained by incomprehension, ignorance, and hostility from without. In short, both movements were in the middle, like refrains, and their musics (among other elements) also acted as refrains that both deterritorialized the enforced social relations of capital, and provided hooks for the reterritorialization of alternate futures.13 Certainly this connective quality, which made of the movements what Deleuze calls in French "intercesseurs," contributed not only to their protean vitality but also to their ultimate dissolution in the face of the rigidities of State control (Pourparlers, 165ff).14

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