Gilles Deleuze

From Geography

Jump to: navigation, search
Gilles Deleuze, [1]


Gilles Deleuze

Gilles Deleuze was born on the 18th January 1925, he was born and raised in Paris where he spent most of his life. He had a middle class upbringing going to a public school for secondary school. Deleuze was on holiday in Normandy when France was invaded by Germany and he remained there at school for a year. During this time his brother was arrested by the Germans for alleged resistant activities and died on the way to Auschwitz. Whilst in Normandy he became inspired by one of his teachers and that was the first time he started to take an interest in his academic studies. When he returned to Paris he completed school and went on to study philosophy at the University of Sorbonne. He spent the next ten years working as a teaching assistant in a number of French universities. During this time he met Foucault, who he had an important friendship with. In 1969 he became a professor at University of Paris VII where he stayed until his retirement in 1987. It was here where he met Felix Guattari, with him he wrote two volumes of Capitalism and schizophrenia: Anti-Oedipus (1972) and A Thousand Plateaus (1980), work that he is best known for. Deleuze en Guattari worked together for many years, and the most important work of both Guattari and Deleuze is written during their cooperation.

Deleuze was one of the most influential French Philosophers of the late twentieth century. Doel describes him as a creator of concepts while others have called him a ‘philosopher of difference’ and a remorselessly ‘horizontal thinker’ (Doel, 2000). He argued, that there is no good and evil, but rather only relationships which are beneficial or harmful to the particular individuals. This ethics influences his approach to society and politics, especially as he was so politically active in struggles for rights and freedoms (Roffe, 2005). In November 1995 Deleuze committed suicide after battling a serious respiratory problem for many years and become increasingly unwell in his old age (Marks, 1998). Deleuze also did work on the idea of becoming and that becoming does not tolerate the separation or the distinction of before and after, or past and future (Deleuze, 1993). He also looks at study of language and how there are two ways of treating the same language known as major or minor (Deleuze, 1993). Deleuze also looks at the Doel’s concept of Pointillism which is a good example of his post-structural thoughts. All of these ideas and concepts will know be looked at in more detail.

Major and minor language

A major language is a language spoken by the majority of the population, it is the main language of a country. It is given official status and used by the officials of a country. A minor language is less prestigious than a major language (Ufomata, 1999). Deleuze has a problem with language: the imperialism of language which means the dominance of language over other structures of meaning (Dorney, 2003). Majority implies a constant, of expression or content, serving as a standard measure by which to evaluate it. Man holds the majority, even if he is less numerous than others. Majority assumes a state of power and domination. A person has to deterritorialise the major language so it is a problem of becoming (Deleuze, 1993). Language deals with the art of the possible and is therefore fundamentally political. We can distinguish major and minor languages because there is a distinction between a power of constants and a power of variables. The minor language is a variant on major language. A character element of a minor literature is that it is written in a major language. Usually in formerly colonized countries the major language is the colonizers’ language (Speck, 2001). Every language imposes power relations by means of the grammar and syntax use, lexical and semantics but such relations are not that stable. The use of a major language organizes and controls, regulates and limits. All languages, whether dominant or marginalized, can be used in a major or minor way (Parr, 2010). But why do minorities like governments etc. use major language instead of minor language. Because the intent and effect of the major language is control, power and uniformity. That’s different from the minor language which is a language of fragmentation and resistance. So minor language is a language which can be opposed to power structures and major languages. Government support the major languages that are able to survive alone on the number of the speakers of the languages. But, the minor languages need for survival emotional attachment and the defense of the group identity. The major languages are used for pragmatic purposes, official functions and of educated people. The minor languages are used socially, ritually, communally, economically and especially in the informal sector (Ufomata, 1999). You will choose the language which will give you the most influence. The more a language has the elements of a major language, the more it likely is to be affected by endlessly variations which can end in a minor language. All major languages do have minor languages behind it (Parr, 2010).

(The part about minor language will follow a.s.a.p.)

Origami Cosmos

The World is always changing due to interaction between places and people. The world is not a constant which is undergoing changes but a places that is constantly changing. A flow upon flow, variation upon variation (Doel, 2000, p. 125). So when a company polluted the soil other people immediately want to do something about it. One change is always followed by another and together all these processes together are making a place. Doel compares this with origami because for example when someone folded a swan, not one fold is the swan but all the folding together are the swan, they all influence each other. The same can be seen in the real world, not one process makes a place but all the processes together. Because of this it would be better to approach space as a verb and not as a noun because it is always moving ( Doel, 2000, p. 125). One process ( a fold) can always be refolded by another person. So you get one process upon the other there are always things to add. As Marcus Doel points it: “The minimal element is not a given One, but a differential relation, not an ‘is’ but the open fold, not a given one but a differential relation, not an ‘is’ but an ‘and’. So space has no constant factors like points, integers or identities, it exist out of manifolds, and these folds can be folded again this is why there is never a constant place. There are only packets of singularities that form a place and that also become undone in their turn. So space has no points of constancy, only folds that lend consistency. What appear as points or constant are really folds upon folds ( Doel, 2000, p. 126/127). So the world is always moving, different flows or processes than those before make a place complete different than it was before. Like a origami swan, one extra fold and you get a hole other animal.

Deleuze in regards to pointillism

“I don’t like points” (Deleuze, 1995, 161)

In regards to Doel’s pointillism, Deleuze argued to break up all the connections and relations that exist between the different theories of spatial science (points). Breaking up ‘being’ to be replaced by ‘becoming’. Every stable, fixed point is always in the process of becoming something else, whereby theories only apply to a specific being at a specific point in history. “Post-structuralist geography emerges from the deconstruction of pointillistic articulations of space, time and place; with the joyful realization that oneness simply lacks consistency” (Doel, 2000). Deleuze’s view to pointillism exemplifies his post-structural thoughts.


"Becoming" is a basic concept of dialectical logic, which is to describe the procedural aspect of the world, the birth and death of beings, things and situations. In contrast to “change” describes "becoming" a developing event in itself.

"Becoming" is the process of change, flight or movement with an assemblage. Instead of conceiving all the pieces of an assemblage a whole, within which the specific pieces are placed by organisation of unity, "becoming" accounts for relationships between the "discrete" elements of the assemblage. In "becoming-" one piece of the assemblage is drawn into the territory of another piece, changing its value as an element and bringing about a new unity. There is no central organizing principle to the interconnected things in the assemblage.

Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari see "Becoming" as a process but not one of imitation, identification or analogy, it is generative of a new way of being that is a function of influences rather than resemblances. The process is one of removing the element from its original functions and bringing about new ones. But it is rather seen as an infection than as a genealogical sequence

Deleuze and Foucault

From around the same time as Deleuze where Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida. Deleuze can be identified as a proponent of the Continental theory. This theory questions some of the dominant assumptions of modern thought and works on a problem of a specific author or in a specific area (Marks, 1998).

There was already mentioned that Deleuze worked with Foucault. Deleuze looked beyond the panopticon of Foucault (O. Kramsch, personal communcication, 20 september, 2011). According to Deleuze there is no central point in social life. The world is heterogeneous interconnected without a central organizing principle. There is looked at the world from below, from the eye level as the people, there is no God-eye as there is in the theory of Husserl.

Deleuze and Action Theoretical approach

Similar to the concept of speech act in Language Pragmatics approach of the action-theoretic tradition, Deleuze introduces the notion of "discursive collective assemblages of enunciation" which transform elements of the world through speech-acts. Language and discourse is again central to Deleuze as seen in his work on minority and majority languages. Language is also a starting point to Deleuze and Guatarri in analysing the ordering power within the complex network of practices, institutions, goods, tools, materials that language is part of (Khalfa, 2003).


Crang, M. & Thrift, N. (eds.) Thinking space. Routledge, London

Deleuze, G. (1995). In: Crang, M. & Thrift, N. (2000) Thinking space. Routledge, London.

Deleuze (1993) What is becoming?

Deleuze (1993). What is Language?

Deleuze, G. (1993). Language: major or minor. In: Boundas, C.V. (ed.) .The Deleuze reader. Columbia University Press, New York, p. 145-151.

Doel, M. (2000). Un-glunking geography: spatial science after Dr. Seuss and Gilles Deleuze. In:. Doel, M,A. Un-Glunking Geography: Spatial science after Dr. Seuss and Gilles Deleuze 2000

Dorney, K. (2003). Book Reviews: Deleuze and Language. Language and literature 12, p. 375-378.

Khalfa, J. (2003). An Introduction to the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze. Continuum. London.

Marks, J. (1998). Gilles Deleuze: Vitalism and Multiplicity. Pluto Press, London

Parr, A. (2010). The Deleuze Dictionary. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Roffe, J. (2002). In: Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Accessed on 17 October 2011, on

Speck, O.C. (2001). Mastering the Major Discourse. Ephemera 1(2), p. 182-189.

Ufomata, T. (1999). Major and minor languages in complex linguistic ecologies: the Nigerian

Zizek, S. (date unkown). Organs without Bodies - Gilles Deleuze [electronic version]

Written by:

Robbert Wilmink, Laura Brunning, Jobke Heij, Lars Schopen, Michiel Wouters, Tim van Ham, Jens Lübben.

Page enhanced and image inserted by Aafke Brus --AafkeBrus 16:07, 18 October 2011 (CEST)

Links added by Aafke Brus --AafkeBrus 16:51, 25 October 2011 (CEST)

Deleuze and action-theoretic section added by KolarAparna--KolarAparna 16:55, 3 November 2011 (CET)

Personal tools