- Our analysis
of the contemporary productive potential of Deleuze and Guattaris
musical philosophy cannot be as complete as our account of their
borrowings fromand participation inhistorical pop
music was, in part because that potential is still in the process
of being realized in diverse concrete forms, but also, more
importantly, because its mass political threshold has yet to
be crossed. At present there is no broad-based socio-political
movement, comparable to the counter-cultures of the Sixties
and Seventies, in which that potential can find smooth, open
territory for large-scale experimentation and composition. So
far it has found only small and temporary autonomous territories,
hemmed in by the market or the state and sustained precariously
by the local refrains of DJ Spooky, Richard Pinhas, and other
musicians. But the market and the state are themselves nothing
more than temporary territories, legitimated by advertising
jingles and national anthems, and yet ominously prone to mutation
whenever enough people call a different tune. Plato recognized
this instability in the Republic when he warned that
"the introduction of novel fashions in music is a thing
to beware of as endangering the whole fabric of society, whose
most important conventions are unsettled by any revolution in
that quarter" (Plato 115). If for the moment such a revolution
is effectively contained at the local level, its deterritorializing
effects summarily reterritorialized in musical niche markets,
the potential for its intensification and spread remains, awaiting
the bigger and better assemblage that we will have to construct
in order fully to realize it.
- For now,
though, we have the brief audio assemblages dedicated to Deleuze.
They are not models to be imitated, but rather distinct cases
of realization for the conjoined potentials of sound and society.
Guattari would call them molecular revolutions. We have scarcely
begun to explore the richness of invention contained in these
memorial discs and the related works of the musicians in question,
but we hope that our analysis has at least sketched a provisional
answer to our question: what use were Deleuze and Guattaris
concepts to these musicians? In brief, the musicians extracted
concepts like tools from the Deleuze-Guattari toolbox and used
them to intensify or amplify their own thinking and performing
in sound. This is not a matter of simply applying or illustrating
philosophical ideas in another medium, but of thinking in and
with what we play, what we sing, and what we hear. Atom Heart
captures this idea neatly in "Abstract Miniatures in memoriam
Gilles Deleuze" (disc 1, track 7 of IM): as the
track opens, a deadpan, synthesized voice says, "What I
see is thinking. What I hear is thinking too."
Timothy S. Murphy
University of Oklahoma
Daniel W. Smith
University of New South Wales
Two pages earlier, they offer an expanded version of this analytic
chain that implicitly demonstrates the importance of pop to their
conception of philosophy and critique: "RHIZOMATICS = SCHIZOANALYSIS
= STRATOANALYSIS = PRAGMATICS = MICROPOLITICS" (22).
2. As this essay
will make clear, we are not using the term "composition"
in the restricted sense of a notated plan for subsequent performance,
but in a broader sense that includes both improvisational production
(as in jazz or raga) and concrete sound assembly (as in musique
concrète, electronic and process music).
3. Deleuze and
Guattari draw this "dimensional" terminology from Pierre
Boulez, who proposes it in Boulez on Music Today, pp.116-121.
4. This rhizomatic
reading of the development of modern Western music also demonstrates
that the history of European concert music is not necessarily trapped
within a linear, tree model of development, as it may have appeared
from our mention of the Germanic tradition in the introduction above.
That history too may be treated as a rhizome, on the condition that
critics give up the restrictive presuppositions and exclusions of
5. For a discussion
of a specific musical example involving these issues, see "Boulez,
Proust and Time." For Boulez's acknowledgement of the value
of Deleuze and Guattari's forays into musical philosophy, see Boulez/Menger
1990, p.9, and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe program notes.
6. In its emphasis
on the dialectic of aesthetic form and subjectivity, and in its
relentless negativity, Adornos theory of mass culture draws
upon and consequently resembles psychoanalytic criticism, as many
scholars (for example Barbara Engh in Dunn and Jones, 126-130) have
noted. We will return to the issue of Deleuze and Guattaris
critique of psychoanalysis below.
7. The earliest
direct reference to a pop musician, if not pop music, in their
works appears in their third collaboration, Rhizome (later incorporated
into A Thousand Plateaus as its introduction). By way of contrasting
the hierarchical, exclusive structure of the "arborescent"
or tree model of thought to the immanent, acentric rhizome, they
cite "the American singer Patti Smith [who] sings the bible
of the American dentist: Don't go for the root, follow the canal."
(Rhizome p.57, and A Thousand Plateaus p.19). We
have not been able to locate the source for their Smith citation;
the line does not appear in any of the songs included on her two
albums released prior to the appearance of Rhizome, Horses
(1975) and Radio Ethiopia (1976), and may actually be drawn
from her published or unpublished poetry.
Italicized lyrics cited in English in Deleuze's French text. Further
citations from the song refer to this recording.
this aparallelism of distortion, the song also shares with Deleuze's
account of Bacon an emphasis on fact, but fact conceived in an
unconventional sense. "Fact" in these contexts does
not describe the relation of a representation to its material
referent or the status of a piece of information independent of
the theory that explains it. The fact for Deleuze and Talking
Heads is instead a kind of singularity prior to representation,
a point or monad isolated from generality and identity. Deleuze
draws his usage and analysis of fact from Bacon's interviews with
David Sylvester, The Brutality of Fact (Sylvester). "The
relation of the Figure to its isolating place defines a 'fact,'"
Deleuze claims. "Isolation is thus the simplest means, necessary
though not sufficient, to break with representation, to disrupt
narration, to escape illustration, to liberate the Figure: to
stick to the fact" (Francis Bacon, 9-10). Talking Heads assert
a similarly paradoxical conception of the fact as that instance
which provides no information and indeed cuts open the supposedly
ready to leaveI push the fact in front of me
Facts lostFacts are never what they seem to be
Nothing there!No information left of any kind
Lifting my headLooking for danger signs
There was a line/There was a formula
Sharp as a knife/Facts cut a hole in us
There was a line/There was a formula
Sharp as a knife/Facts cut a hole in us
. . .
The island of doubtIt's like the taste of medicine
Working by hindsightGot the message from the oxygen
Making a listFind the cost of opportunity
Doing it rightFacts are useless in emergencies
. . .
Facts are simple and facts are straight
Facts are lazy and facts are late
Facts all come with points of view
Facts don't do what I want them to
Facts just twist the truth around
Facts are living turned inside out
Facts are getting the best of them
Facts are nothing on the face of things
Facts don't stain the furniture
Facts go out and slam the door
Facts are written all over your face
Facts continue to change their shape
idea that "Facts are simple and facts are straight" while
at the same time "Facts continue to change their shape"
reveals their generative nature, their implicit virtuality. Like
Leibniz's monads, "Facts all come with points of view."
"Facts are nothing on the face of things," that is they
are not objects to be seen in specific cases of expression because,
on the contrary, "Facts are living turned inside out,"
sedentary interior life drawn outside itself, exteriorized, along
a line of escape: "Facts go out and slam the door." And
it is precisely in the form of such facts that pop music can provide
components to expressions that exceed the commodity form in all
on Pinhas' background is drawn, with permission, from his private
e-mail correspondence with Timothy S. Murphy.
11. Deleuze actually
reads from the French translation, Humain, trop humain I,
12. We would like
to thank composer/musician Stefano Scodanibbio for this information
on the Movement of '77 and much of what follows.
13. In this regard
it is instructive to compare the documents and analyses of the American
counter-cultural music experience and its antagonists, contained
in Denisoff & Peterson, with the (much more diffuse) texts on
the Italian movements and their music contained in Cowan, Alice
é Diavolo and "Radio Alice-Free Radio," and
in the special issue of Guattari's journal recherches dedicated
to the "Untorelli" or "plague-carriers," as
the Italian movements were labeled by the Italian Communist Party.
14. Martin Joughin
translates this term as "Mediators," which has rather
too Hegelian a ring to it for our ears (Negotiations, 121ff).
15. A year later
Sub Rosa released a second CD of tributes to Deleuze. Double
Articulation consists of revisions of the tracks from Folds
and Rhizomes: the artists involved swapped tapes and remixed
each others work. In order to keep our discussion of the musicians
as focused as possible, we have chosen to examine the original mixes
rather than the remixes.
16. For a Deleuze/Guattarian
sociological analysis of the techno music scene with which these
labels are associated, see Fitzgerald 1998.
17. On this significant
transition, see Born, 183-193, 207-210.
18. For example
DJ Spooky, whom we will discuss below, writes, "Based on the
notion that all sonic material can be manipulated with the same
ease that computers now generate composite images, the DJ combines
the musical expression of other musicians with their [sic] own and
in the process creates a seamless flow of music" (DJ Spooky,
"Flow My Blood the DJ Said," included as liner notes to
his debut album Songs of a Dead Dreamer , p.8).
On the technologization of everyday activity, see Hardt and Negri,
20. See Leibniz
1981, p.54: "To hear this noise as we do, we must hear the
parts which make up this whole, that is the noise of each wave,
although each of these little noises makes itself known only when
combined confusedly with all the others, and would not be noticed
if the wave which made it were by itself."
21. DJ Spooky That
Subliminal Kid (the name refers to a character in the final chapter
of William S. Burroughs' Nova Express, "Pay Color"
[129ff]) is, after Richard Pinhas, the musician whose work is most
consistently and closely bound up with Deleuze and Guattari's philosophy.
Unlike Pinhas, who comes out of the Seventies progressive rock/ambient
music scene, DJ Spooky is associated with the Nineties hip hop and
"illbient" scene. See "Flow My Blood the DJ Said,"
pp. 7 and 14.
22. Something similar
happens in the hyperkinetic form of punk rock known as "grindcore":
simple chords and rhythmic patterns are played so fast that they
begin to form higher-level gradients of sonorous density and diffusion
in which the original chord patterns are rendered imperceptible.
The early work of Napalm Death, for example the album From Enslavement
to Obliteration, is perhaps the most significant manifestation
of this form of smoothness emerging from extremely rigid striation.
23. On this technique
of overlapping or superposition in general, and Glass' music in
particular, see Richard Pinhas' discussion with Deleuze in "Vincennes
Seminar Session," pp. 209-214.
24. Charles has
collaborated with Oval on a CD entitled Dok, in which the
German musicians use Charles' field recordings as material for electronic
25. The classic
statement of this is Louis Althussers "Ideology and Ideological
State Apparatuses" in Althusser, pp.170-183. Althussers
formulation draws explicitly on Lacans reading of Freud.
26. This is a key
element in Adornos argument in "The Curves of the Needle";
see especially p.54. For the most influential exposition of this
model of the voice, see Silverman.
27. See for example
"Twenty-seventh Series of Orality" in The Logic of
Sense, especially pp.193-195.
28. See Deleuze
and Guattari 1977, chapter 2. Although they do not explicitly take
Adorno as one of their targets in this critique, his model of pop
music is clearly implicated in it; see the Adorno texts cited above.
29. See Deleuze
and Guattari's commentary on Berio's "Visage" in A
Thousand Plateaus pp.96 and 546n91. On "Thema," see
30. Chris Cutler,
who was close to the Residents and studied their techniques, describes
the production of The Third Reich and Roll as follows: it
was "made by running the songs to be copied on one track and
then playing along with them, adding part by part and finally erasing
the originalthen cutting and montaging the whole into a long
single work. A tribute to/vicious parody of pop" (Cutler 84).
31. For examples
of Fripp's work, see his albums Let the Power Fall (1981)
and the trilogy 1995 Soundscapes Live.