DGSF. Pages 5-11

§ 2nd contrast of generality and repetition –from the perspective of conduct; Kierkegaard and Nietzsche: two philosophers of repetition (pg.5-11)

Based on his aforementioned considerations, it is clear for Deleuze that the domain of generality and repetition are not only distinguishable from the perspective of law; for this reason, he again contrasts the domain of repetition to the domain of generality –however, now from the perspective of conduct, i.e. our conduct involved in an act of exchange. This is the 2nd of his three contrasts.

(‘There is a force common to Kierkegaard and Nietzsche…[for each] in his own way makes repetition not only a power peculiar to language and thought, a superior pathos and pathology, but also a fundamental category of a philosophy of the future. To each corresponds a Testament as well as a Theatre, a conception of the theatre, and a hero of repetition as a principle character in this theatre: Job-Abraham, Dionysius-Zarathustra…’)

Deleuze periodically introduces textual breaks throughout DR in order to artificially compartmentalize the subtopics of his chapters –albeit as with the synthetic, attempts to compartmentalize in final prove futile, the synthetic overflows the rafts. Regardless, page 5 is the first of these breaks.

The text picks up with Deleuze’s introductory consideration of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, two philosophic operators of repetition –or as he calls them, two philosophers of the future. Deleuze asserts that each of these two philosophers in his own way provides a derivative proposition about the same univocal Being, and that each works with the conviction that the value of their work will have been determined and determinable in an as-yet unspecified and to-be-arrived-at future date.

Our reader will learn that just as elements of Euclid-Plato-Hegel’s ontology infuse Marx’s political economic flat space concept of (cardinal) value, so too Nietzsche-Kierkegaard’s ontology work their way into and through Deleuze’s own political economic revaluation of (ordinal) value. Deleuze understands himself to be one more derivative of a philosopher of the future. It is still, however, and of course, a question of knowing what this means –i.e. of what it means to practice a derivative conduct that makes of repetition a category of futures.

(‘What separates [Kierkegaard and Nietzsche] is considerable, evident, and well-known. But nothing can hide this prodigious encounter in relation to a philosophy of repetition: they oppose repetition to all forms of generality. Nor do they take the word “repetition” in a metaphorical sense: on the contrary, they have a way of taking it literally, and introducing it into their style.’)

Deleuze is claiming –and throughout DR will illustrate– that Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, despite an evident, actual separation between the two general orders of their work, nonetheless virtually repeat, and quasi-causally operate on, two different singularities expressive of a univocal Being. Of course, if we were to possess the necessary time and inclination, we could proceed to show that this ‘style’ of difference in repetition marks the entirety of Deleuze’s oeuvre as well –from his initial work on Bergsonism, all the way through his last work with Guattari, What is Philosophy? If we were to perform such a voluminous task, we would witness that Deleuze is constantly making, unmaking, and remaking his ‘concepts along a moving horizon’ of topics and concerns; he was ever thinking and writing ‘from a decentered centre, from an always displaced periphery’ (Preface pg. xxi), in which we are, on the one hand, at first surprised to learn that Deleuze has suddenly and apparently ceased to use a concept whose term had earlier functioned as a protagonist, or was a ‘hero’ in the ‘theatre’ of a particular text, only to later, on the other hand, stumble into an awkward encounter with a repetition of its conceptual content in a different term in some subsequent text (note: the difference in repetition of ‘the Idea’ (DR) –‘rhizome’ (TP) –and ‘philosophical concept’ (WP) is a good example of this). It is as if between or underneath two general orders of actual texts we glimpse a repetition of an earlier Deleuzian concept. We will also see that Deleuze practices this method on a micrological scale in DR –i.e. ‘of taking [repetition] literally, and introducing it into his style.’


Deleuze introduces the principal propositions which, despite different actualities (e.g. in terms of Testaments, Theatres, and Heros) separating them, are coincidental to Kierkegaard and Nietzsche.

(‘We can…list the principal propositions which indicate the points on which they coincide:

            1. Make something new of repetition itself: connect it with a test, with a selection or selective test; make it the supreme object of the will and of freedom…

            2. In consequence, oppose repetition to the laws of nature…

            3. Oppose repetition to moral law, to the point where it becomes the suspension of ethics, a thought beyond good and evil…

            4. Oppose repetition not only to generalities of habit but also to the particularities of memory…’)

Deleuze will later more fully elaborate the meaning of these propositions. The reader should try to stay relaxed here. For now, we need merely observe that with these four principals Deleuze seeks to establish the following:

1. First, to ‘make something new of repetition itself’ is to make repetition –which in economics, is always the exchange qua repetition of an object for and into its image of value as money– an economic object, as such; while yet constituting ‘something new of repetition’, i.e. of constituting through repetition a pure difference in itself. To elaborate this is the principle objective of Chapter 1 (Difference in Itself).

2. Secondly, to ‘oppose repetition to the laws of nature’ is to oppose repetition in the convocation of value to that which is found in the domain of generality and resemblance. We will later illustrate why it is scientifically-rigorous from the perspective of dynamical systems theory and the sciences of morphogenesis to posit repetition as opposed to the law. But also, insofar as there is no repetition in itself, it will be a matter of examining repetition for itself. To elaborate this is one of the principle objectives of Chapter 2 (Repetition for Itself).

3. Thirdly, to ‘oppose repetition to moral law’ entails a patent rejection of conducting a science of political economy whose impetus is morally-motivated. And yet we must do this without unwittingly backing our way once more into a political-economic-ethical project whose impetus is a morally-motivated purging of morality from our project –that is, the force of our project can neither be ethical, nor an ethic of a ‘suspension of ethics’. To move our conduct in economics ‘beyond good and evil’ is the objective of Chapter 3 (The Image of Thought).

4. Lastly, if we are to ‘oppose repetition not only to generalities of habit but also to the particularities of memory’ we are required to understand the role and relation of virtuality in and to the determination of the actual. Indeed, our financial-economic models exclusively concern themselves with actuality (whose epistemological correlate, as we will discuss below, is infinite comprehension) and potentiality (subject to a probability distribution, and as we will also discuss below, whose epistemological correlate is finite comprehension), while yet neglecting the reality of the virtual (which is neither actual nor subject to a probability distribution, and as we will also discuss below, whose epistemological correlate is indefinite comprehension). To correct this myopia afflicting political economics is the objective of Chapters 4 (Ideas and the Synthesis of Difference) and 5 (Asymmetrical Synthesis of the Sensible).

 (‘Kierkegaard and Nietzsche are among those who bring to philosophy a new means of expression. In relation to them we speak readily of an overcoming of philosophy.’)

By practicing the four aforementioned propositions, Deleuze is repeating the move made in philosophy by Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, but now in political economy –a speculative materialist political economy of finance as its method, and a speculative materialist communism as its goal.


(‘Furthermore, in all their work, movement is at issue. Their objection to Hegel is that he does not go beyond false movement –in other words, the abstract logical movement of ‘mediation’.)

This is a theme we see repeated throughout Deleuze’s periodic assessment of Hegel.  To be clear, it is not that Deleuze is ‘critical’, as such, of classical exchange –whatever that would mean (i.e. any class of exchange is beyond true or false). Rather, he is critical of those who represent classical exchange as true movement, as the true essence of change. If classical exchange consists of the rigid motions of an object into its image, and if these rigid motions constitute a congruence transformation, whereby the metrical properties of the object remain invariant under their force of motion (i.e. in exchange), how can we call this true movement? For this reason, Deleuze counterposes Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and his own heterodox political economy of the synthetic against Hegel’s ‘false movement’, ‘the abstract logical movement of mediation’, whereby an economic object is transformed into its image in space, yet without the structure to that space undergoing any transformation whatsoever. Again, this is an ‘empty form of difference’, an ‘invariable form of variation’, a rigid motion whereby nothing truly moves in the course of its transformation –and thus, for Deleuze, this is a ‘false movement’, which operationalizes a far too conservative notion of symmetry. Deleuze aims for a much more radical symmetry –the symmetry of synthetic symmetry. As we will see, this is the symmetry at work in synthetic finance. This is the symmetry operationalized in the course of our exchange of synthetic financial objects.  


(‘[Nietzsche and Kierkegaard] want to put metaphysics in motion, in action. They want to make it act, and make it carry out immediate acts. It is not enough, therefore, for them to propose a new representation of movement; representation is already mediation. Rather, it is a question of producing within the work a movement capable of affecting the mind outside of all representation; it is a question of making movement itself a work, without interposition; of substituting direct signs for mediate representation; of inventing vibrations, rotations, whirlings, gravitations, dances or leaps which directly touch the mind. This is the idea of a man in the theatre, the idea of a director before his time. In this sense, something completely new begins with Kierkegaard and Nietzsche.’)

Deleuze clearly understands himself to be working within –i.e. to be repeating in this tradition– but differently than Nietzsche and Kierkegaard, insofar as he is first illuminating for us the metaphysics always-already built into our economic system(s), our acts of exchange; of rethinking that metaphysics; of then putting his own metaphysics ‘in motion, in action’, i.e. of inventing ‘vibrations, rotations, whirlings, gravitations, dances or leaps which directly touch the mind.’ In this sense, and in the study of political economy, ‘something new begins with [Deleuze].’

(‘[M]ovement, the essence and the interiority of movement, is not opposition, not mediation, but repetition. Hegel is denounced [by Kierkegaard and Nietzsche] as the one who proposes an abstract movement of concepts… Hegel substitutes the abstract relation of the particular to the concept in general for the true relation of the singular and the universal in the Idea. He thus remains in the reflected element of “representation”, within simple generality.’)

Pages 8 and 10 contain Deleuze’s first of several passing and periodic treatments of the work of Hegel in DR. One increasingly sees that –with an appreciable amount of nuance, of course– Deleuze ultimately believes that Euclid’s conservative invariance requirements are infused in Plato, that Plato’s model of representation gets reworked and then reproduced in Hegel, and then Hegelian metaphysics terrorizes Marx’s ontology of capital from within, constantly, forever, and as a special form of outer darkness. Our reader is encouraged to be vigilant of this fact on the one hand, when examining Deleuze’s treatment of Hegel, and on the other hand, when attempting to grasp Deleuze’s critique of Hegel from the perspective of his contraposition of the ‘mediated’ domain of generality against the domain of repetition.

Many a crude commentary on Deleuze has so often dubbed his ontology a “philosophy of becoming”, or “philosophy of movement”, that one will be initially excused for momentarily forgetting the fact that becoming and movement in general rather go without saying –and so the assignation of this label to Deleuze is not so much wrong as it is poorly worded, or at least insufficiently explained. In Deleuze’s treatment of Hegel –and by indirection, the Hegel in Marx– our reader will observe the false movement of “opposition”, since opposition is one of the four shackles of representation, and therefore of the domain of generality. Our analysis of Chapter 5 (Asymmetrical Synthesis of the Sensible) will cause us to observe what, precisely, Deleuze means by ‘the essence and the interiority of movement’ of repetition.

(‘[Hegel] represents concepts instead of dramatizing Ideas; he creates a false theatre, a false drama, a false movement. We must see how Hegel betrays and distorts the immediate in order to ground his dialectic in that incomprehension, and to introduce mediation into a movement which is no more than that of his own thought and its generalities.’)

Deleuze will give full philosophical exposition to this point –and in particular to the drama of Ideas (viz. multiplicities)– in Chapter 4 (Ideas and the Synthesis of Difference). We will clarify therein that markets (and the objects that populate them) are theatres of multiplicities, and that they are marked by a highly peculiar kind of drama –albeit, it is a matter of understanding the ontological difference in kind of the dramas which characterize numerical multiplicities from those which characterize qualitative multiplicities. This is a crucial distinction for Deleuze in elaborating his ontology of the synthetic.

(‘When we say, on the contrary, that movement is repetition and that this is our true theatre, we are not speaking of the effort of the actor who ‘repeats’ because he has not yet learned the part. We have in mind the theatrical space, the emptiness of that space, and the manner in which it is filled and determined by the signs and masks through which the actor plays a role, which plays other roles; we think of how repetition is woven from one distinctive point to another, including the differences within itself.’)

Progressively this will have been a very profound passage as the meaning of it becomes increasingly clear throughout the course of our Guidebook. However, because Deleuze again is getting ahead of himself, the reader’s feeling of puzzlement is only to be expected. We feel yet unprepared to grasp the significance of the ‘emptiness’ of a theatrical space called economic space, wherein that space is distributed along with the coterminous distribution of the objects which comprise and populate it. We will see Deleuze speak of objects which are ‘masks behind which are only other masks’, and assert that their difference is constituted by their derivative repetition from one distinctive point to the next. But perhaps at this early stage (i.e. at pg. 10 of DR) we are still too inculcated with our time-honored political economic ideology of flat space, our dogmatic presumption of a Cartesian-coordinated space of exchange, wherein objects are only ever like actors’ lines insofar as their metrical properties pre-exist their motion, and insofar as they are constantly repeated over and again –and always so that the actor will ‘learn’ his script precisely so that his lines will remain ever-unchanged in their course of motion. Deleuze is saying that we proceed too conservatively with this conception of the distribution of economic space, we act too conservatively when we expect that our economic objects populate a space which is pregiven, when we expect the behavior of those objects to play the role of an actor’s lines, and when we behave with the expectation that our own acting is always a distribution in space rather than the distribution of space. It is true that we always yet expect to see faces behind masks, rather than ‘masks behind which are other masks’. However, the observation of our natural puzzlement over such statements by Deleuze early on is merely a manner of observing that we are unprepared as of yet to fully grasp repetition and difference, we are yet unprepared to critically scrutinize Deleuze’s ontology of the synthetic, and so are therefore unprepared to understand that difference and repetition is truly a radical concept of value predicated on the monstrous power of synthetic symmetry. Deleuze will allow us to clarify our puzzlement over the course of our careful reading of DR if we are prepared to follow his wager for a time.

 (‘The theatre of repetition is opposed to the theatre of representation, just as movement is opposed to the concept and to representation which refers it back to the concept. In the theatre of repetition, we experience pure forces, dynamic lines in space which act without intermediary upon the spirit, and link it directly with nature and history, with a language which speaks before words, with gestures which develop before organized bodies, with masks before faces, with specters and phantoms before characters –the whole apparatus of repetition as a “terrible power”.’)

Deleuze continues to illustrate his assertion of the existing isomorphism between the space of the theatre and the space of the market –and that the latter as a space of the representation of value is opposed to a space of repetition as constitutive of value. Deleuze speaks of the latter kind of space as ‘theatre of repetition’. Our reader should be alerted here that in the course of imputing to this space ‘dynamic lines without intermediary’, of ‘a language before words’, of ‘gestures before bodies’, of ‘masks before faces’, and so on, Deleuze is introducing us to the content of the concept of the virtual much earlier in DR than we actually encounter it in its explicit conceptual form. This move is both telling of the way the virtual operates, i.e. its movement, logic, and so on, and is also instructive of the ‘style’ of thought that Deleuze shares in common with Nietzsche and Kierkegaard, as referenced above. The conceptual (i.e. virtual) content of the virtual pre-arrives its conceptual (i.e. actual) invocation precisely because its dynamic lines pre-exist its intermediation by the concept; it is a language formed before words, gestures prior to organized bodies, masks before faces, specters before their corporeal form. Although in truth throughout the whole of DR our reader will observe that Deleuze is performing this methodological exercise of practically illustrating his philosophical exposition of the peculiar phenomenology of the virtual, we will immediately witness this practice as early as the opening of Chapter 1 (Difference in Itself).

Because we are now considering the concept of virtuality, we must specifically draw our reader’s attention to a consideration of the context, meaning, and reason for the final line of the above-quote, insofar as it serves as a quilting point for the whole project of DR. Following Deleuze’s preliminarily rumination on the functional role of the virtual as the distribution in and of the space of repetition, he calls ‘the whole apparatus of repetition’ ‘a terrible power’. Why? This is neither a passing hyperbole nor cheeky-comment. One of Deleuze’s principal philosophical leaping points in DR is to investigate the historical, multidiscursive, moral disrepute befalling the synthetic as a realm of simulacra. Deleuze pokes at this topic as one pokes at a strange animal lying prone to see if it will move. As we know, for Deleuze the movement of this animal is the history of western philosophy; and when it moves, Deleuze shows us that at its inaugural canonical moment, i.e. with Plato’s Socrates, philosophical thought has already assumed a morally-motivated critical disposition against the synthetic as an instantiated bad-copy of model, a perversion of nature, her essence and organicism, i.e. a virtual truth which is no actual truth at all. We will consider this, as Deleuze does, near the end of Chapters 1 (Difference in Itself) and 2 (Repetition for Itself).

Of course, while Deleuze probes a widespread opposition to the synthetic in its modality of western philosophy, the reader will also know that the modality of our own examination of this pathology is political economy’s morally-motivated ill-regard of derivatives as an evil realm of simulacra, of simulated capital, a bad copy of a model of value, a perversion of the commodity, her concrete essence and organicism, i.e. a virtual commodity which is no actual commodity at all –and above all else, the outstanding poor regard of this derivation of classical exchange that yet falls short of the representation of “true” value. This is the ‘terrible power’ of the ‘whole apparatus of repetition’: it is such a power of synthetic exchange our Guidebook seeks to examine anew, for purposes of it’s a radical revaluation by and for a project of political economics –a new materialist political economics in an age of synthetic capital.

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