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  • 7/28/2019 Deleuze's Nietzsche and Post-Structuralist Thought.pdf


    Deleuze's Nietzsche and Post-Structuralist ThoughtAuthor(s): Vincent P. PecoraSource: SubStance, Vol. 14, No. 3, Issue 48 (1986), pp. 34-50Published by: University of Wisconsin PressStable URL: .Accessed: 17/10/2011 17:52

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  • 7/28/2019 Deleuze's Nietzsche and Post-Structuralist Thought.pdf


    Deleuze's Nietzsche andPost-StructuralistThoughtVINCENTP. PECORA

    But you should always try to replace my hesi-tating explanation by a better one. For theorigin of historical culture, and of its abso-lutely radical antagonism to the spirit of a newtime and a "modern consciousness," must it-self be known by a historical process. Historymust solve the problem of history, sciencemust turn its sting against itself.-Nietzsche, The Use and Abuseof History

    We have now had roughly a quarter century of "post-structuralism"-if, that is, one can decide that something called "structuralism" everhappened, if one uses the earliest work of Derrida, Deleuze, and Foucaultas some sort of historical marker, and if (perhaps most of all) one isinterested in calculating such things in the first place. It is clearly possiblenow to take stock of this situation and explain post-structuralism to awider audience-for example, by reading it against the current of othercompeting theoretical positions, as Terry Eagleton has most recentlydone. Yet, in many ways, the philosophical, cultural, and political densityof any mode of thought that might be called post-structuralist is stillweirdly difficult to articulate-or to hear articulated-in America; it is asif we had engaged countless tutors and adopted a wide variety of points ofview-in the truest sense of a democratic pluralism-and had remainedsomehow in the dark, groping for an intellectual wall to follow. "Post-structuralism" becomes "deconstruction" becomes "free play," andlargely what this means is a style of literary criticism that has adopted as itsgoal the displacement of any center of meaning in a text and the disrup-tion of any thematic reading, sometimes for the purposes of descrying theforces of domination inherent to the literary construction that wouldcompel the reader toward such conclusions. No matter how many theo-retical analyses are produced to correct the flat, reductive quality of thisreception, the American literary community as a whole-both "pre-"andSub-Stance N? 48, 1986 34

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    Deleuze's Nietzsche"post-" structuralist-seems constitutionally unable (or unwilling) toargue the full historical significance of the new discourse, even in itsreductive form, unwilling in many cases to penetrate or examine whatappear to be wonderful streams of jargon in order to grab hold ofsomething that could at least be wrestled with.To a large degree, of course, it is precisely the unmatched efficiency ofAmerican pluralism that has in fact stimulated such a condition-at atable with no etiquette, ingestion is often more important than taste.Post-structuralism has indeed become a fact of contemporary literary life,but, to borrow from Benjamin, merely as a "lived moment," not assomething truly experienced. In spite of the hostility engendered at first,it has quite simply been appropriated like any new commodity on themarket. Various reasons have been given, ranging from the pragmatics ofaccommodation elaborated by Stanley Fish to the Marxian indictment of alate-capitalist market environment. Though I have certain sympathieswith each view, I still sense that something vital is missing, and Benjamin'sdistinction keeps invoking itself: why has so much contemporary intellec-tual work been received here, and produced here, only as somethingpresent and useful to conscious, daily existence (for example, to a career),rather than as something that might have any effect on those more deeplyfelt levels where what is lived becomes a part of experience-a part of alasting, meaningful relationship with the world? The absence of a realprocess of confrontation and engagement that would make such animpression in this country-as opposed, for example, to shoutingmatches over the question whether a text means one thing or not-is acrucial aspect of recent American intellectual life that cannot be ex-plained simply by invoking market forces or a pragmatic spirit.What I would like to inject into the discussion is the question of tablemanners. That is, what would an etiquette that prevented a value-lessconsumption look like? The answer has in many ways already emerged inthe degree to which post-structuralism is understood in America as aschool of literary criticism rather than as a broader philosophical, psycho-logical, and political critique. The etiquette that is missing here, the set ofcommonly accepted intellectual practices that formed the heritage inEurope against which post-structuralism took shape, is a long and fruitfultradition of dialecticalthought: from Plato to Hegel, from Marx to Husserland Heidegger. It is the dialectic-understood now as a philosophical,and political, wayof life for the European thinker, and notjust as a style ofliterary analysis-that set the table and wrote the rules for a generation ofFrench writers who came, or at least tried, to reject wholesale what itoffered. And it is the Nietzsche elaborated by Gilles Deleuze that becomesa pivotal figure in the reaction against this dialectical tradition. If Deleuzeis among the least known French philosophers in America, while forFoucault we live in what might eventually be called a "Deleuzian" century,it is only one more sign of a failure here to sense where the real action was


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    Vincent P. Pecoretaking place. For that reason, if for no other, this might be the right timeto take a hard look at what Deleuze found so compelling in Nietzschenearly twenty-five years ago.

    Post-structuralism, then, if we are to follow Deleuze, may be said toemerge out of the replacement (or what I would call, polemically, thenegation) of "le travail de la dialectique" by the play of "difference." Formodern philosophy, the "dialectic" is evoked most powerfully by Hegel,whose shadow hangs large even after the intervention announced byNietzsche. But more generally, dialectics represents the entire history ofWestern philosophy after Plato and beyond Hegel's phenomenologicalscience-in a sense, that is, the history of Western "rationality"itself. AsTheodor Adorno, in his own critique of this tradition, wrote: "As early asPlato, dialectics meant to achieve something positive by means of nega-tion; the thought figure of a 'negation of negation' later became thesuccinct term."' Gilles Deleuze's reading of Nietzsche, in his Nietzscheet laphilosophie (1962), marks an important step in the subversion of thistradition in contemporary critical thinking-a step that of course has itsown predecessors, its own genealogy. But it is through Deleuze that thenegative power of the dialectic is called so radically, so categorically, ntoquestion: "Difference reflects itself and repeats or reproduces itself. Theeternal return is this highest power, the synthesis of affirmation whichfinds its principle in the will. The lightness of that which affirms againstthe weight of the negative; the games of the will to power against the laborof the dialectic; the affirmation of affirmation against that famous nega-tion of the negation."2 It is, I would suggest, in this opposition (for lack ofa better, less "dialectical," word) between the "labor of the dialectic" andthe "games of the will to power" read as the reproduction or repetition ofdifference that the beginnings of "post-structuralist" thought are to befound. It is with Deleuze's particular elaboration of Nietzsche's "will topower" as the play of difference, and with its consequences, that I will beprimarily concerned in this essay."Difference" is itself a term appropriated and reshaped by Deleuze,not one invented out of nothing. It has its own history, beginning perhapswith Saussure's description of language as a system of differences withoutpositive terms: "Dans la langue il n'y a que des diff6rences sans termespositifs."3 It is important to note, at this point, only that Saussure's de-scription obtains at the level of the system as a structural whole: therewould be no reason to introduce the notion of difference as a definingcharacteristic if meaning were immanent in individual "positive" terms.What is immanent in language as a whole is nothing but difference. Later,in his 1950 lecture "Die Sprache," Heidegger named the intimacy of theseparation between world and things "derUnter-Schied""difference," but


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    Deleuze's Nietzschewith the sense of "mutual separation") and goes on to say: "Languagespeaks, in that the command [or bidding] of the difference calls world andthings into the simplicity ["Einfalt":the one-fold] of their intimacy...Language, the ringing of stillness, exists, in that difference occurs. Lan-guage is efficacious as the occurring of difference for world and things."4That is, for Heidegger, the relationship between world and things-between what Hegel might have called the universal and the particular-is already non-dialectical: it is not man that dialectically struggles to speakthe truth-a subject naming objects-but language that speaks, and whatlanguage speaks is ... difference, the non-identity of world and thingsthat finds an "intimacy"in man. The "labor"of Hegel's dialectic is alreadybeing supplanted in Heidegger's phenomenal "intimacy."But why, it will properly be asked at this point, should the history ofphilosophy as dialectic have become so oppressive-so laborious-in cer-tain kinds of postwar European thought? The answers are naturallycomplex and range from a disenchantment in some quarters of thepolitical left with material dialectics as a practical guide after Stalin, to agrowing sense that nineteenth-century "historicism," criticized by mod-ern phenomenology for its tendency toward relativism and passive skep-ticism, had itself only been reconstituted, rehabilitated, by the twentieth-century notion of structure.The work of Jacques Derrida may provide auseful guide to this development. In a lecture on Husserl given threeyears before the publication of Nietzsche et la philosophie,Derrida articu-lates such a dissatisfaction with the notion of structure in paradigmaticterms:

    The Idea of truth, that is the Idea of philosophyor of science,is an infiniteIdea, an Idea in the Kantiansense. Everytotality, every finite structure isinadequate to it. Now the Idea or the projectwhich animatesand unifiesevery determined istoricalstructure,every Weltanschauung,sfinite:on thebasis of the structuraldescriptionof a visionoftheworld ne can account foreverything except the infinite opening to truth, that is, philosophy.More-over, it isalwayssomethinglike anopeningwhich will frustrate he structural-ist project.What I can never understand,in a structure, s thatby meansofwhich it is not closed.5

    In this early lecture, Derrida goes on to use "difference"-now with aconsciously doubled significance-to step behind, and ultimately subvert,the opposition he draws between an historical structure and an infiniteconceptual field.

    Thus, the theoryof the Weltanschauungustrevertbackorbe reduced to thestrict imitsof its owndomain;its contours aresketchedbya certaindifferencebetweenwisdom andknowledge.... This irreducibledifference is due to aninterminabledelaying differance]f the theoreticalfoundation.The exigen-cies of life demand that a practicalresponse be organized on the field ofhistoricalexistence,and thatthisresponse precedeanabsolutesciencewhoseconclusionsit cannot await."


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    Vincent P. PecoreDerrida comes to see this difference that always already delaysor deferspresence as constitutive of signification itself, of all systems of meaningand truth. But it should be no surprise to find here an echo of Hegel'sopposition of finite and infinite, particular and universal, Selbstand Sein,in Derrida's formulation-an opposition whose reconciliation Hegelcould prevent from being delayedonly by declaring an end to history itself.It is a gesture that Derrida, following Heidegger, will be led to make use ofas he situates himself at the problematic closure of philosophy-a closurenow marked, not by a Napoleon, but by the irruption of the play ofdifference into the history of dialectical thought.The point of all of this is that, after Saussure and Heidegger, "differ-ence" for Derrida already functions as an "irreducible" subversion of thedialectic, a dialectic caught between the historical finite and the infiniteabsolute, largely because"historical existence" could no longer be under-stood to provide a way of reconciling them infact. What Derrida providesin this early essay, and what will later be taken up by TelQuel,is an analysisthat finally yields a celebration of "the play of difference" as the onlyalternative to a deadlocked dialectical tradition-to reason itself-asreason tries in vain to overcome its oppositional nature. That is, "differ-ence" functions to disrupt the ideological character of any "practicalresponse" to the "exigencies of life" before an "absolute science" can beattaiied. In a later lecture, "Structure, Sign, and Play" of 1966, Derridainvokes Nietzsche's name as a source for this move:

    Turned towards the lost or impossible presence of the absent origin, thisstructuralist hematicof brokenimmediacy s therefore the saddened,nega-tive,nostalgic, guilty, Rousseuisticside of the thinkingof playwhose otherside would be the Nietzscheanaffirmation,hat is thejoyousaffirmationof theplay of the world and of the innocence of becoming, the affirmation of aworld of signs without fault, without truth, and without origin which isoffered to an activeinterpretation.Thisaffirmationhendetermineshenoncenterotherwisehan as lossof center.And it playswithoutsecurity.7

    And it is Deleuze who, in 1962, most powerfully introduced Nietzscheinto the problematics of structure outlined earlier by Derrida. For De-leuze will read Nietzsche as one who provides the alternative not only tothe "unhappy consciousness" that is one moment of the Hegelian dialec-tic, but to dialectics as the medium and support of that consciousness-todialectics as the suffering, guilty, negating thought of ressentimentwhichcan only affirm by negating twice. What must be understood is thatDeleuze's reading of Nietzsche takes place at the point where an irreduc-ible "difference" had already been elaborated, by means of the work ofSaussure, Heidegger, and Derrida, as the never ending delay between thearticulation of a particular historical structure and a theoretical founda-tion that gives it meaning, or between a particular representation and thetotal system within which it emerges. It is in a sense this delay, this"differance"within the history of dialectics, between, in the final analysis,


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    Deleuze's Nietzschethe intelligible concept and its identification with an objective reality, thatallows the play of difference to be used as an intellectual and political tool,as a means of obviating once and for all the delay inherent in all attemptsat "identity" and "presence," and the guilt that has always attended thisdelay. That Deleuze should use difference to elaborate the will to powerin Nietzsche must be seen as a way of relating Nietzsche's attempt to curethe "bad conscience" of his time through the transvaluation of all values toDeleuze's own particular historical and political circumstances. If, forDeleuze, difference is precisely that which is created and affirmed by thewill to power, we should note to begin with the full resonance of thisreading.

    All of the above forms, then, the genealogy of Deleuze's use of differ-ence in his description of the function of the will to power in Nietzsche'swork. It is important to take account of this background at the outset, for"difference"-as Unterschiedor Differenz or in any other form-is not aconcept given any particular privileges in Nietzsche's work itself. But it isfor Deleuze preciselythat which is at the root of Nietzsche's genealogicalmethod and, ultimately, of the will to power.

    Nietzsche creates the new concept of genealogy. The philosopher is agenealogist rather than a Kantian tribunal judge or a utilitarianmechanic .... Nietzsche substitutes he pathosof differenceor distance(thedifferentialelement) for both the Kantianprincipleof universalityand theprincipleof resemblancedearto the utilitarians .... Genealogy s asopposedto absolutevalues asit is to relativeorutilitarianones. Genealogysignifiesthedifferential element of valuesfrom whichtheirvalue itself derives.Geneal-ogy thus meansorigin or birth,but also difference or distance n the origin.(NietzschendPhilosophy, . 2)

    The first point that must be noted here is that Deleuze has performed aSaussurian operation on the body of Nietzsche's work. That is, treating"values"as "signs"Deleuze can show that if one were to understand valuesin their structural whole, they would appear as terms whose meaningderives from the "element," or groundwork, of difference within thesystem, and not from any origin or source posited outside the system, thatis, as some infinite absolute or Kantian Idea. Deleuze will more or lessstate this when he writes: "The whole of philosophy is a symptomatology,and a semeiology" (3). Now there is clearly evidence in Nietzsche's workfor such a view; Nietzsche will point out, for example, that "the will toovercome an affect is ultimately only the will of another, of several other,affects."8Thus, by systematizing the dominance of one force over anotheras the primary fact of all organic life, Deleuze can refer to the differencein quantity of force displayed by the affects as what is named by the will topower.But the second thing to note here is that, for Deleuze, Nietzsche'svalues are not simply relative-that is, meaningless-for "the trulygenealogical and critical element" of values is a sense of nobility and


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    Vincent P. Pecorebaseness in the origin of values as well as their differential structure. Whatthis means is that, for Deleuze, the value of values in Nietzsche is also atypological question-a question not only of a quantity of force, but of aquality:those values are noble whose origin is active, base whose origin isreactive. Thus, though values emerge only within a systematic whole thatdetermines them, this determination is itself marked by the active (that is,affirmative) or reactive (that is, negative and hence dialectical) quality ofits emergence. While genealogy will aim to evaluate all values according tothis differential process, named by Deleuze the will to power, it is theeternal return that will be the guarantee that "what is better and betterabsolutely is that which returns, that which can bear returning, that whichwills its return. The test of the eternal return will not let reactive forcessubsist, any more than it will let the power of denying subsist" (86). In thisway, will to power will not only name the "differential element" that is thestructure of mutually defining valuations, but will to power will be theaffirmation of the play of that difference, and through the eternal return,the affirmation of that which is active: thus, in the end, an affirmation ofaffirmation instead of a negation of negation.What we find in Deleuze's reading of Nietzsche is, then, what I will calla dualistic, or binary, coding of genealogy and of the will to power itself.That is, genealogy "means origin" but also "difference ... in the origin";and will to power is both the "differential element" through which values,like signs, define themselves and a motive force behind the creation ofvalues that is either active or reactive, affirmative or ... dialectical. It isthis stubborn binarism-between "will to power" as finite "element" ormechanism or structure, and "will to power" as motivating, affirmative,and infinitely creative force outside (yet within) the domain of that finitestructure-that remains fundamental to Deleuze's reading throughout,and that, I believe, is the "dialectical" turn at the heart of his interpreta-tion.

    Now it should not be surprising to anyone familiar with Nietzsche'swork and the history of its reception that the most problematic interpre-tive issues should arise out of the notion of the will to power. As much asDeleuze wants to redirect our attention away from the dialectical ques-tion, Qu'est-ce que ... ? toward the genealogical one, Qui?, he mustinevitably ask in dialectical fashion: "What does the 'will to power' mean?"(79). Deleuze's answer will try to maintain both the multiplicity, what hecalls the "pluralisme essentiel," of the will to power and a sense of value-creating "hierarchy" within that pluralism. On the one hand, when we askwhat the will to power means, Deleuze responds: "Not, primarily, that thewill wants power, that it desires or seeks out power as an end, nor thatpower is the motive of the will"(p. 79). That is, in one way, will to power isnot force or affect, not in any sense the feeling that comes with power (asNietzsche sometimes implies), but a regulative mechanism, a "structur-ing" of the evaluating process as such. But, on the other hand, if "power isthe one that wills in the will," we must ask, as Deleuze does, "what does itwill?"


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    Deleuze's NietzscheIt wills precisely that which derives from the genetic element. ... InNietzsche'sterms, we must say that every phenomenon not only reflectsatype which constitutesits sense and value, but also the will to power as theelement from which the significationof its sense and the value of its valuederive. In thisway,thewill topowersessentiallyreative ndgiving: t does notaspire,itdoes notseek,itdoesnot desire,aboveall it does not desirepower.Itgives: . power is in the will as "thebestowingvirtue," hrough power thewill itself bestowssense and value. (85)

    Leaving for the moment the apparent elision of "desire" as a psychologi-cal component here-an elision Nietzsche constantly warns against-weshould understand the inescapably binary nature of Deleuze's formula-tion: will to power is both the finite structure, and the infinite truth, ofevaluation; passive mechanism and motive force; differential elementand absolute bestower, of sense and value.None of this is objectionable, of course, if we assume a more purelyfunctional-hence arbitrary and relative-connection between value andpower. That is, power can easily be both the differential element thatdefines values, and itself the creator of value, if power is the onlyarbiter, ifall value is determined purely and simply by power, and if all values arethus relative in value. But, clearly, Deleuze is uncomfortable with thisreading, so much so that the opposition between a quantitative structuraldescription of valuation and a qualitative hierarchy within (or outside of)this structure is reformulated at the end of Nietzscheet la philosophieasDeleuze wrestles with the problem of how true valuations might beproduced out of a history of false ones, how "affirmation" can occur in ahistory marked so far only by the triumph of reactive forces, of "ressenti-ment,"the bad conscience, and the ascetic ideal. For Deleuze this means apeculiarly Heideggerian distinction: "We 'think' the will to power in aform distinct from that in which we know it.... What we in fact know ofthe will to power is suffering and torture, but the will to power is still theunknown joy, the unknown happiness, the unknown God" (172-173).This distinction is then codified by Deleuze in terms reminiscent ofscholastic philosophy. The ratiocognoscendiof the will topowerin general isthat aspect from which "by nature" derive "all known and knowablevalues" (172), that is, the history of the herd mentality, the triumph ofressentiment.But this is only one aspect of the will to power. "The unknownside, the other quality of the will to power, the unknown quality, isaffirmation. And affirmation, in turn, is not merely a will to power, aquality of the will to power, it is the ratio essendiof the will topower n general"(173). For Deleuze, "creation akestheplace of knowledge tselfand affirma-tion takes the place of all known negations."9 Thus, if the ratiocognoscendiis how values are actually known and put into use by us in theworld,thenthe ratio essendi s precisely that sense of the creation of values freed fromall particular conditions, the rational essence of the will to power itself.What, then, has happened to the will to power in Deleuze's reading? Ithas been interpreted as a structural whole that is the "differential ele-ment" by means of which force and value play-but a structural whole


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    Vincent P. Pecorethat is profoundly "dialectical"at its core. What Deleuze has achieved is aseries of sliding translations: the dissatisfaction that attends the delayinherent in formulating a particular historical response-in Derrida'swords-before an absolute science can be achieved will now be found atthe core of the will to power. Deleuze will begin and end with the replace-ment of dialectics by the play of difference, the subversion of Hegel byNietzsche. But the stubbornness of dialectical thinking will remain em-bedded in this field of difference. Dialectics will be fragmented, forDeleuze, by the will to power both as "differential element" and as"origin" of values. From there we move first to the will to power as thereactive history of ressentiment nd the bad conscience and then to the willto power as the active creator of value. Finally, the will to power is codifiedby a Kantian distinction between how it actually appears and what it is initself, or, perhaps more accurately, a Heideggerian distinction betweenthe will to power as it has been knownso far and how it may be thought nthe future. The point I would like to make in all of this is that, for Deleuze,these "oppositions" are not oppositions at all-they are simply one morekind of difference, a difference that is in time merely a function of thetransmutation of the negative into the affirmative, a transmutation that isin no sense a struggle: "Negation is opposed o affirmation but affirmationdiffersfrom negation"; affirmation is thus "the enjoyment and play of itsown difference" (188). When affirmation affirms itself, difference isreflected,"raised to its highest power. Becoming is being, multiplicity isunity, chance is necessity. The affirmation of becoming is the affirmationof being . .. " (189).But opposition can only be dissolved in this way by positing "the playof its own difference" as the ratio essendiof the will to power-that is, as anaspect of the will to power completely unconditioned, completely outof theworld of those conditions endured by the ratiocognoscendi-that is, valuesas so far known, values as the history of ressentiment,as dialectics. WhatDeleuze has not, cannot, dissolve so easily is the most fundamentalopposition (not simply difference now) in his reading: the oppositionbetween dialectics and the play of difference, between a thinking thatconstantly takes account of itself, that reflects upon itself, and a thinkingthat is allowed a claim of infinite movement as if freed from all condi-tions-physical, psychological, ideological. And the truest test that thisfinal dialectic has stubbornly remained is that Deleuze still wants his playof difference to be, through the eternal return, somehow progressive,somehow reflective:"In relation to Dionysus, dance, laughter, play areaffirmative powers of reflection and development."'0 If opposition werein fact dissolved, there would be no need for "reflection and develop-ment"-two essential features of the dialectic. In this sense, the opposi-tion between dialectics and the play of difference that is the founding onefor Deleuze is constantly recapitulated throughout his reading of Nietz-sche-not only as twin poles of the will to power, but even embeddedinside the play of difference that is the affirmative, creative pole itself.


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    Deleuze's Nietzsche"Dialectics" has not been dissolved, it has been reinscribed as an inherentand constitutive moment in Deleuze's formulation of "difference" as adevelopmental process.

    IIWhat, then, are the consequences of such a formulation, one thatfunctions not only as a radical re-interpretation of the significance ofNietzsche's work, but also as a crucial moment in the history of postwar

    European philosophy and critical theory? To begin with, Deleuze's read-ing requires a most severe psychological reduction of Nietzsche's think-ing-a reduction that goes beyond Heidegger's phenomenological dissec-tion and even the most analytical Anglo-American discussions." As notedearlier, for Deleuze the will to power "does not aspire, it does not seek, itdoes not desire, above all it does not desire power" (85). ThroughoutNietzsche et la philosophie,"desire" as a component of Nietzsche's trans-valuation of rational thought is systematically devalued-whether as desirefor power or as "struggle" of any type whatsoever-since it is precisely"desire for" and "struggle against" that represent for Deleuze the opposi-tional, dialectical, negating character of ressentiment.Yet Nietzsche isnothing if not clear about the fictional nature of any attempt to do awaywith the process of desire and struggle, to posit a "pure, will-less, painless,timeless knowing subject" which is for Nietzsche the first truth, and firsterror, of the idealist's position.'2 Deleuze will attempt to confine desireand struggle to the reactive history of ressentiment,o the herd mentalitythat Nietzsche diagnoses, but Nietzsche's work never really provides aformulation of the will to power freed from that history, outside of therealm of desire and struggle Nietzsche exploits in the service of produc-ing a cruel-and perhaps more honest-appraisal of the progress ofreason and moral truth. Indeed, it is nothing other than "desire"-thedesire to know-that is most cruelly elaborated by means of the will topower. As Nietzsche writes in BeyondGoodand Evil:

    Finallyconsider that even the seeker after knowledge forces his spirit torecognize things againstthe inclinationof the spirit,and often enough alsoagainstthe wishes of his heart-by wayof sayingNo wherehe wouldlike tosay Yes, love, and adore-and thus acts as an artist and transfigurerofcruelty. Indeed, any insistenceon profundityand thoroughnessis a viola-tion, a desire to hurt the basicwillof the spiritwhichunceasinglystrivesforthe apparentand superficial-in all desire to know there is a dropof cruelty.(sec. 229)

    The elimination of desire in Deleuze's analysis means that, for Deleuze,will to power in the end can suddenly function somehow outside thehistory of "the basic will of the spirit." It is in the very next section ofBeyondGoodandEvil, in explanation of what he means by that "basicwill of


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    Vincent P. Pecorethe spirit," that Nietzsche offers what could serve as a precisof Deleuze'sproject and a model of the proper genealogical response to it:

    Here belongs also, finally ... that continual urge and surge of a creative,form-giving, changeableforce: in this the spirit enjoysthe multiplicityandcraftinessof its masks,it also enjoysthe feeling of its securitybehind them:after all, it is surely its Proteanarts that defend and conceal it best.This will to mere appearance, to simplification, o masks, to cloaks, inshort,to the surface-for everysurface sacloak-is counteredythatsublimeinclination of the seeker after knowledgewho insists on profundity,multi-plicity, and thoroughness, with a will which is a kind of cruelty of theintellectual conscience and taste. (sec. 230)Through his elimination of desire and struggle, through his notion of aratioessendiof the will to power posited outside the history of a "basic willof the spirit" to appearance, simplification, and masks, Deleuze has alsomanaged to eliminate an absolutely central motif in Nietzsche's genealog-ical method: the cruel and insistent willingness to oppose, and not simplyto "differ from," that history.But beyond this elision of desire, yet intimately related to it, is De-leuze's larger attitude toward Nietzsche's project as a whole, an attituderooted in Nietzsche's celebration of the dance and laughter of Dionysus inthe face of the gravity of traditional metaphysics. For Deleuze, Dionysus'dance suggests a context that, like the psychological reduction of the willto power, disengages Nietzsche's thinking from the philosophical andcultural history Nietzsche himself is always aware of. That context, reiter-ated several times in Nietzsche et la philosophieand summarized at theconclusion, is "le jeu": the games of the will to power, of the play ofdifference, that replace the labor of the dialectic.

    Nietzscheis right to oppose his own game to the wagerof Pascal."Withoutthe Christian faith, thought Pascal,you will become for yourselves, likenature and history, a monster and a chaos: wehave ulfilledthisprophecy."Nietzschemeans:we havebeen ableto discoveranothergame, anotherwayof playing; we have discovered the overman beyond two human-all-too-human modes of existence;we have been abletoaffirmallchance,insteadoffragmenting t andallowingafragmenttospeakasmaster;we havebeen ableto make chaos an objectof affirmation nsteadof positingit as somethingtobe denied.'3

    There is, I think, a rather large gap between Nietzsche's sense that he hadfulfilled Pascal's prophecy and become, in his own work, a monster and achaos, and Deleuze's comment that this means that Nietzsche has foundanother way of playing, indeed, another game altogether, outside theparameters of Pascal's consciousness. Nietzsche does, of course, opposePascal (opposer-not diffrer-a curious verb for Deleuze to use if he isgoing to insist on Nietzsche's nondialectical methodology), but nowherein the sense of constructing "sonpropre eu," as if it could simply be a


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    Deleuze's Nietzschereplacement for another's, never as having discovered merely a different,more carefree, game to play. It is well to remember that Nietzsche is rarelyso straightforward, so un-ironic, for in the middle of BeyondGoodandEvilwe find a rather different approach to monsters and chaos: "Whoeverfights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become amonster. And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks intoyou" (sec. 146). Or again, in Ecce Homo: "To mix nothing, to 'reconcile'nothing; a tremendous variety that is nevertheless the opposite of chaos-this was the precondition, the long, secret work and artistry of my instinct.Its higherprotection ..."914 That is, just as surely as Nietzsche maintainsthat he has become the monster and chaos that Pascal warned against, healso retains a full awareness of the profound difficulty of such a position,of the suffering and pain that must be surmounted, transformed, nce sucha position has been reached. First, if we look at the section of The Will toPower from which Deleuze is quoting here, it is obvious that what Nietz-sche finds denied by Pascal, and later by Schopenhauer, is not simplychaos or chance, and that it is not simply chaos or chance that Nietzsche isaffirming in response: "In an important sense, Schopenhauer is the firstto take up again the movement of Pascal: un monstreet un chaos, conse-quently something to be negated.-History, nature, man himself."'5 Thatis, by wagering on the Christian faith, Pascal has bet against "history,nature, man himself." If Nietzsche has become a chaos, it is not merely toaffirm "all chance"; rather, it is to embrace this decidedly "gentile" (inVico's sense) trinity he finds systematically denied in the philosophicaltradition before him.

    Second, integral to this complexity of tone that is more or less cen-sored in Deleuze, there is Nietzsche's constant return to the pain such anattitude nevertheless produces for him, pain that can only be overcomethrough Dionysus' lightness of spirit. Citing the pessimism of Voltaire("Un monstre gai vaut mieux / Qu'un sentimental ennuyeux") and Gal-iani, and chastising "the inconsequence of pessimism a la Schopenhauer,"Nietzsche claims to have gone beyond them to "the most quintessentialforms (Asia)." He then continues: "But in order to endure this type ofextreme pessimism (it can be perceived here and there in my Birth ofTragedy)and to live alone 'without God and morality' I had to invent acounterpart for myself. Perhaps I know best why man alone laughs: healone suffers so deeply that he had to invent laughter. The unhappiestand most melancholy animal is, as fitting, the most cheerful" (Will toPower, sec. 91). Now it is precisely this peculiar conjunction of profoundsuffering and superhuman laughter that is at once mostNietzschean, andmost dissolved by Deleuze's scholastic distinctions that serve to insulate derUbermensch rom ressentiment, hat posit both a ratio essendi and a ratiocognoscendiof the will to power. In Nietzsche, such absolute distinctionsare never made: the overman never comes to be outside the progress ofthe ascetic ideal, and there are not merely two mutually exclusive aspectsof the will to power but many forms that have appeared throughout its


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    Vincent P. Pecorehistory, even to the moment at which Nietzsche is writing. If the overmanis something Nietzsche sees on his horizon, it is clearly not anything thatwill be achieved easily, or as the spontaneous result of an affirmative,pluralistic dance and play. Rather, the dance of Dionysus appears forNietzsche as the only means of accommodating the nearly unbearablepsychological strain the overman must confront.On the Genealogyof Morals elaborates the paradoxical nature of thismoral history in the final essay devoted to an analysis of the ascetic ideal:

    Everywhereelse that the spiritis strong,mighty,and at workwithout coun-terfeit today,it does withoutidealsof any kind-the popularexpressionforthis abstinence s"atheism"-exceptfortswill otruth.But thiswill,this remnantof an ideal, is, if you will believe me, this ideal itself in its strictest,mostspiritualformulation,esotericthrough and through, withall external addi-tionsabolished,and thusnot so muchits remnantas itskernel.Unconditionalhonest atheism(andits is the only airwe breathe,we more spiritualmen ofthisage!) is therefore notthe antithesisof thatideal, as it appearsto be; it isratheronlyone of the latestphasesof itsevolution,one of itsterminalformsand inner consequences-it is the awe-inspiringcatastrophef two thousandyears of trainingin truthfulnessthat finallyforbids itself the lie involvednbelief n God....As the will to truththusgainsself-consciousness-there canbe no doubtof that-morality will graduallyperishnow: this is the great spectaclein ahundred acts reserved for the next two centuries in Europe-the mostterrible,most questionable,and perhapsalsothe mosthopeful of all specta-cles. (Geneologyf Morals,Third Essay,sec. 27)Unmistakable, both in the content and tone of these passages, is a metho-dological irony-an intellectual "cruelty"-directed first at Nietzsche'scultural heritage and then at Nietzsche's thinking itself, as it is inevitably aproduct of that heritage. That Nietzsche's own desirefor truth should bethe result of an ascetic ideal he stands most opposed to, that the coming toconsciousness of the truth of such a relationship should be simultaneously"terrible," "questionable," and (perhaps) "hopeful," is a state of mind-atonce narrowly analytic and grandly historical in its implications-totallyobscured by Deleuze's choice of emphases. Deleuze wants to show that thewill to power is a subversion of traditional rationality-that is, dialectics-by the introduction of difference as a determinant of values. But ifNietzsche subverts the history of reason, it is not through an affirmationof the play of difference, but through a transvaluation of the very notionof dialectics-so that the history of reason in the West becomes, not thedialectic of pure conception, or pure representation, with an objective"reality,"but instead the dialectic of reason as power. It is not so much thatdialectics is replaced by a new game of difference, but that dialectics isshown to be shot through and through by a will to power-by a will that isalways first a question of domination, appropriation, and assimilationeven as it understands itself as "rational."

    Thus, by describing Nietzsche's achievement as having discovered


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    Deleuze's Nietzsche"another game, another way of playing," and by making the focus of thatgame a play of difference in which "becoming is being, multiplicity isunity, chance is necessity," Deleuze has muted, indeed practically eradi-cated, the intellectual tension that is so crucial to Nietzsche's thought: thatsense of walking a tightrope between the seemingly inevitable reproduc-tion of one more rationalization of Judeo-Christian morality and thedestructive apathy of late nineteenth-century European nihilism. It is notthat Deleuze is wrong to remind us of Nietzsche's Dionysian playfulnessaimed against a metaphysical gravity that had by Nietzsche's time pro-duced, even in spite of itself, psychological repression, nihilism, anddespair. Rather, it is Deleuze's unfortunate-and perhaps wishful-idealizationof Nietzsche's work that is objectionable, so that this playful-ness appears over no obstacles, in spite of no suffering, without anystruggle.16We find in Deleuze's reading of Nietzsche, then, first an attempt toreveal the nondialectical nature of Nietzsche's thought, a claim that therecould be "no possible compromise" between Nietzsche and Hegel;second, a codification of this thought in the will to power's "playof its owndifference"; and finally, a transformation of the significance of the"chaos" Nietzsche has become from "history, nature, man himself' to "allchance," to "another game, another way of playing." Clearly, there issome basis for each of these moves in Nietzsche's work; but takentogether, in the exclusive treatment that Deleuze provides, they amountto a very interesting revision of Nietzsche's writings that systematicallypurges them of the "human-all-too-human" marks of their own incep-tion, marks Nietzsche is always very careful to leave visible-desire, espe-cially desire for "the truth"; struggle, against one's own heritage, againstone's "instincts"; suffering; opposition; tension; reflection; and, perhapsin the end, the inevitable error of reflection at the very heart of one's needfor it. If any of these factors is an important part of the program ofNietzsche's critique of philosophy and culture in the late nineteenthcentury-his transvaluation of values-then Deleuze has indeed given usa very limited view of this critique. And it is this limited view that, I wouldsuggest, lies beneath many of our present difficulties with "post-structuralist" thought.None of this is meant to deny the importance of Nietzsche for contem-porary critical thinking, nor to deny the importance of much of thatthinking itself. Derrida's critique of the phenomenological voice andlinguistic "presence," Foucault's journey from structural to archeologicalto genealogical methods, Barthes's emphasis on an "ecriture" that seemsto write itself, and the more or less ubiquitous subversion of the epistemo-logical subject by networks of codes, practices, and discourses-all owe agreat deal to Nietzsche, and all have been central to the flourishing ofcritical theory in our time. (The other central line-the German one-has, of course, been the Frankfurt School and its branches, and the debthere to Nietzsche is equally apparent.) But there is another far less


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    Vincent P. Pecorepersuasive side to this critical history, one that emerges at various pointsin Derrida, Foucault, Barthes, and their inheritors and that can be traced,I believe, to Deleuze. A glimpse of this "other" side may be obtained,perhaps, by returning to Derrida's 1966 lecture, "Structure, Sign, andPlay." Here, the Nietzschean affirmation represents a becoming that is"innocent," signs that are without "fault," "truth," or "origin," and "play"that takes place without the "security" of a center. Not only do suchconclusions depend, as I have tried to show, on a severely limited view ofNietzsche's critique, but they presuppose a "world"that has in fact neveryet appeared and that doesnot now exist. For Nietzsche, "becoming" is nomore innocent than guilty-it is a fact of organic life, at once destructive,exploitative, and creative; signs may be without truth or origin, in thesense that they are subject to constant reinterpretation, but it is thespecific genealogy of those interpretations that reveals a "truth," even inthe absence of an origin. And if the Nietzschean affirmation "playswithout security," this is not in any sense equivalent to a "joyous affirma-tion of the play of the world"-it is an affirmation of a particular historicaldramathat, in fact, must inevitably take certain forms, must, in followingits own perhaps destructive-logic, take certain courses and denyothers, must indeed "love" its fate.Nietzsche's many-eyed perspectivism (" . .the more eyes, differenteyes, we can use to observe one thing, the more complete will our 'concept'of this thing, our 'objectivity,' be" [Geneologyof Morals, Third Essay, sec.12]) is central to Deleuze's pluralistic notion of a play of difference. Butthis pluralistic methodology is for Nietzsche always inevitably "in theserviceof knowledge" emphasis mine): "To see differently in this way foronce, to want to see differently, is no small discipline and preparation ofthe intellect for its future 'objectivity'-the latter understood not as 'con-templation without interest' (which is a nonsensical absurdity), but as theability tocontrolone's Pro and Con and to dispose of them ... "(Geneologyof Morals, Third Essay, sec. 12). To the degree that thinkers like Derridahave elaborated "difference" as a "discipline and preparation" for theability to control values, rather than be controlled by them, Nietzsche'swork has been actively, fruitfully extended. But to the degree that "differ-ence" has come to signify a freedom of play that does not in fact exist, andthat does not seem capable of reflection upon such a condition, Nietz-sche's work has only been turned into a fantastic escape from "history,nature, man himself"-an escape Nietzsche warned against perhapsmore often than he warned against any of the manifold "escapes" philoso-phy has so far invented.It is for this reason that we should be so suspect of Deleuze's denigra-tion of labor or struggle or "reason" itself in Nietzscheet la philosophie,andof his later views of schizophrenia and psychoanalysis. For, despite all theservice Deleuze has provided in helping to re-awaken a generation ofintellectuals to the power of Nietzsche's writings, there remains the un-easy feeling that Nietzsche has been once more appropriated and ex-


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    Deleuze's Nietzscheploited-a task he would perhaps not have discouraged-but without thecruel irony of his reflection that would then have attempted to articulatethe reasons for, and effects of, such an appropriation. Of course, thisbrings us back to the "delay"between the elaboration of a finite historicalstructure and absolute knowing, between Weltanschauungand philoso-phy, that Derrida analyzed in 1959. It is precisely this dialectical delay thatDeleuze claims Nietzsche overcomes in the affirmations of the will topower. Ironically, however, it may be a master dialectician-Adorno-who best sums up the Nietzschean tension Deleuze seems to have putaside: "The freedom of philosophy is nothing but the capacity to lend avoice to its un-freedom. If more is claimed for the expressive moment, itwill degenerate into a weltanschauung; where the expressive momentand the duty of presentation are given up, philosophy comes to resemblescience."'7 In a sense, this serves as a description of the peculiar habit ofmind-a peculiar joy as well as a sadness-that runs throughout Nietz-sche's work. It is perhaps most powerfully expressed by Nietzsche in thefinal section of BeyondGood and Evil:

    Alas,what areyou afterall,mywrittenandpaintedthoughts!Itwasnot longago thatyou were still so colorful,young, and malicious,full of thornsandsecretspices-you made me sneeze and laugh-and now?You havealreadytaken off your novelty,and some of you areready,I fear, to become truths:they already ookso immortal,so patheticallydecent,sodull!And hasiteverbeen different? Whatthingsdo wecopy,writingandpainting,we mandarinswithChinesebrushes,we immortalizersof thingsthatcanbe written-whatarethe onlythingsweare ableto paint?Alas,alwaysonlywhat son thevergeof witheringand losing its fragrance! . . We immortalizewhat cannot liveand fly much longer-only wearyand mellow things! And it is only yourafternoon, ou, my written and painted thoughts, for which alone I havecolors, many colors perhaps, many motley caresses and fifty yellowsandbrownsandgreensand reds: butnobodywillguessfrom thathowyoulookedin your morning, you suddensparksand wondersof mysolitude,you myoldbeloved-wicked thoughts!

    Unless the Sehnsuchtof such writing is recognized-the wistful yearningfor a means of representing that which actually "lives"and "flies,"ratherthan always only those "things that can be written," the vital force thatpropels Nietzsche's work will be missed; and critical thinking will come tobe satisfied with the false colors of an intellectual afternoon it pretendswill never fade.

    NOTES1. Theodor Adorno, NegativeDialectics,rans.E. B. Ashton (New York:Continuum,1983), p. xix. In this context, however, we should also note J. N. Findlay's remarks onnegation and difference in his introduction to ThePhenomenology fSpirit,remarks that are insharp contrast to Deleuze's attempt to distinguish rigorously between the two: "On Hegel'sbasic assumptions negation, in a wide sense that covers difference, opposition, and reflectionor relation, is essential to conception and being: we can conceive nothing and have nothing if


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    Vincent P. Pecorewe attempt to dispense with it" (The Phenomenologyof Spirit [Oxford: Oxford University,1979], p. ix). It will be Deleuze's contention that Nietzsche makes the play of differencepossible without "negation."2. Gilles Deleuze, Nietzscheetlaphilosophie Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1962),and Nietzsche and Philosophy, trans. Hugh Tomlinson (New York: Columbia University,1983), p. 197. Unless otherwise indicated, I have used Tomlinson's translation in subsequentcitations. Where Tomlinson deviates in any significant way from Deleuze's original, I haveprovided my own translations and have so marked them. Nietzscheet laphilosophiepresents anumber of problems for translation and scholarship; Deleuze usually quotes Nietzsche fromavailable French versions, but often without precise references, and these naturally providean interpretation of Nietzsche's thinking, often with a change of emphasis or sense. Tomlin-son generally uses Walter Kaufmann's translations of Nietzsche in place of these Frenchversions, and the confusion multiplies. See especially my note 13 below.3. Ferdinand de Saussure, Cours de linguistiquegenerale (Paris: Payot, 1967), p. 166.4. Martin Heidegger, "Die Sprache," in Unterwegszu Sprache Pfullingen: Neske, 1959),p. 30, my translation. I am indebted to Susan Lhota for her suggestions concerningHeidegger's terminology.5. Jacques Derrida, "'Genesis and Structure' and Phenomenology," in Writing andDifference, trans. Alan Bass (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1978), p. 160.6. Derrida, "'Genesis and Structure,"' p. 161.7. Jacques Derrida, "Structure, Sign, and Play," in Writingand Difference, p. 292.8. Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York:Vintage, 1966), sec. 117. All subsequent references are to this edition.9. Nietzsche et la philosophie,p. 199; my translation (Tomlinson, p. 173).10. Nietzscheet la philosophie, p. 222; my translation (Tomlinson, p. 194).11. See Martin Heidegger's Nietzsche,2 vols., one part of which has been translated byD. F. Krell (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1979); and Arthur Danto's Nietzsche asPhilosopher(New York: Macmillan, 1965).12. Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals, trans. Walter Kaufmann andR.J. Hollingdale (New York: Vintage, 1969), Third Essay, sec. 12. All subsequent referencesare to this edition.

    13. Nietzscheet la philosophie,p. 43; my translation (Tomlinson, p. 37). Tomlinson substi-tutes Kaufmann's translation of Nietzsche here, but alters Nietzsche's (and Kaufmann's) useof italics to approximate Deleuze's French translation and its emphasis of the fulfillment of aprophecy, as well as its de-emphasis of Nietzsche's concern for the problem of the Christianfaith. Tomlinson also omits the entire clause beginning with "we have been able to affirm allchance...."

    14. Friedrich Nietzsche, EcceHomo, trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Vintage, 1969),"Why I am so clever," (sec. 9). All subsequent references are to this edition.15. Friedrich Nietzsche, TheWill toPower,trans. Walter Kaufmann and R.J. Hollingdale(New York: Vintage, 1968), sec. 83. All subsequent references are to this edition.16. Nietzsche may have claimed in certain sections of that last original work, EcceHomo,that he had never "struggled" for anything-"I do not know any other way of associatingwith great tasks than play"("Why I am so clever," sec. 10)-and Deleuze makes much of suchpronouncements. But Nietzsche's irony is never far removed. When Nietzsche ends thatsection of Ecce Homo with a reference to his "formula for greatness," amorfati, his tone ishardly an unconditioned affirmation of all chance as necessity: "Not merely bear what isnecessary, still less conceal it-all idealism is mendaciousness in the face of what is neces-sary-but love it." Nietzsche's particular fate-for that is his topic here-can in no way bedescribed as a game, still less as "allchance" or "chaos."Nietzsche, never more aware of howhe would appear to later generations than in this final review of his work, consistently strovetoward a particular affirmation of a particular fate-"my truths," he called his perspectivethinking. That the will to power in general should be seen as the affirmation of the play of itsown difference is a formulation that in the end has little to do with the personal and historicalconditions Nietzsche constantly returns us to.17. Negative Dialectics, p. 18.