Manual Sensation, Contemporary Poetry and Deleuze Transformative Intensities

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Or does the third line indicate a different object altogether? Is it something or someone else who was a big freak? If it is the latter, is the line, within the diegetic space of the poem, emitted from the same source, the same speaker, as the first line? These questions, it seems to me as I read, are by no means answered either way by the following lines:.

These lines shed little or no conventional light on the preceding ones, at least not as I read them. There is uncertainty here, a sense perhaps of the chaotic, the poem both drawing on and producing chaos. However, it does so by default; it does not do so through an active mastery. It is a passive principle of coherence, itself produced out of the multiplicity, each element of the latter being an element of it , without it ever being in control.

The poem presents a collective that cannot be assigned a distinct place within the social and cultural structures, it is without identity, a collective within which no discernibly individual utterance is lost, each retaining its specificity. For example, across the six lines I have quoted from the beginning of Set 1 of The Commons it is possible to identify three or possibly four utterances, but none of these has an identifiable source, other than that one of them seems to issue from a pre-modern historical past.

Therefore, looking only at the play of sensation and signification, each line and phrase is both drawn together with each of the others and yet individuated in such a way that a straightforward identification is rendered as at least problematic. The Commons , then, would seem to be what most readers would very likely recognize as an experimental text: it mixes utterances of different register and, it seems, source, even if the latter cannot be clearly identified; it combines modern and archaic lexis; it interrupts itself with violent outbursts; what coherence it has does not seem to be either semantic or syntactic, though there are suggestions of the possibility of coherence through these — and this is just across the first six lines.

Moreover it is suggestive of a mobility of register, focus and lexis in a way that begins at least to turn away from, or present an alternative to, the dominant expression of Man as the natural, stable identity against which difference is defined. There is no territory of assumed or recognizable or fixed landmarks, no open space within which a subject can move with apparent freedom.

Rather there is a continually evolving series of blockages and checks to be escaped or transformed through the production of experimental trajectories. Every move made by a necessarily illegitimate because not major which, as Nature, is the Law minor literature will be connected to questions of identity, authority, legitimacy, territorialization and reterritorialization.

These are social and political questions that, if answered in the affirmative on their own terms, will lead to reterritorialization and assimilation to the majoritarian, even via an apparent opposition to it. An assertion of identity, for example, leads inexorably to a claim for the legitimacy of that identity; which is to say a claim for inclusion within the majoritarian, for assimilation to the mainstream.

Further, such a claim and such an inclusion will also lead to claims for authority and dominance — over those who accept that identity, or who might be drawn into it whether they like it or not, at least. This is also why a fascist or right-wing poetry can never be minoritarian — fascist and right-wing poetry will always lay claim to authority, to being the ultimate majoritarian, will always aim to dominate.

For similar reasons, some forms of left-wing poetry cannot be minor. Authoritarianism and the drive to dominate are incompatible with minor literature as they claim the impossible perspective, the space and the distance, necessary for claims to ultimate political or social authority. The Commons lays no claim to any privileged perspective; there is no space from which to gain such a perspective on anything.

The perspective is one of being up against it, nose to nose or nose to the wall, turns of line or phrase always running up against a new phrase, a new situation, a new sensation:. There are two constants running through these three lines: capitalism and patriarchy and the way they infect sexual or romantic desire through unequal power relations and material scarcity, and provide both motive and opportunity for exploitation.

However, there is no privileged position from which to take a view on these things and see them clearly; rather, as I read the poem I am performing and embodying the sensations that compose these plaits of desires and social relations, which for the purposes of analysis need to be unpicked from within the cramped space of both thwarted and exploited potential. Though of course, through the algorithms of Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple, our minds are read daily through our purchases and consumptions, of a ribbon bow or of anything else, so that paranoia is not simply insane but is rather a clear understanding of the real situation.

A measure of such pleasure may be cathartic, however it is sourced primarily in the force of its sensual immediacy, the sensations of which it is composed, its visionary impact. There is beauty in that power and in the overall image that is produced, whatever the horror, whatever the misery. This coexistence of seemingly incompatible affects is of great importance — the horror is of course important to the politics of the landscape I move through as I read, it is the landscape I am within and up against.

Sensation, Contemporary Poetry and Deleuze : Transformative Intensities

As the same time, the beauty and the excitement of the aesthetic force of that image and of the sensations of which it is composed immediately not only suggest but, however briefly, produce an escape from that landscape through its concurrent transformation. As a minor poetry carved out of cramped conditions and claiming no authority for itself, communist poetry ought to be defined, at least in part, negatively: it must not claim to speak for or to represent a working class or proletarian identity.

This is because, if it does so, it will fall immediately into the trap of attempting to territorialize itself on the majoritarian — it will be, in effect, a call for the recognition on majoritarian terms of the humanity, the legal rights, or the interests of the working class.

The Commons does not do this, although there is a sense in which it asserts the humanity of the proletariat precisely through the anger and the violence of its presentation, even while recognition of that humanity on majoritarian terms is beside the point, just as any assertion of the rights or interests of working class people is beside the point. This is because the existence of the working class is a logical result of the operations of capital and the existence of the working class is always the existence of a class at the bottom of the social and economic pile.

In other words, it is a necessary result of the social relations that capitalism needs in order to exist. The interests of the working class, beyond palliative measures, lie in not being working class. An attempt to represent that existence in a straightforward way would be an implicit call for its recognition by the majority, something that for the communist is irrelevant. The Commons is a cramped space within which something, an experience composed of sensation, akin to working class existence is produced but is not represented.

As I read I am not given a view of working class or proletarian life, no mirror is held up. Rather I am plunged into a real experience that refers to and resembles that life. It is an experience that is utterly singular, unique — not least because it is a conjunction of me, a reader, with my entire, specific situation, and the text; and yet it is also utterly collective, produced through language, and through a resurfacing of archaic collective forms like the folk song. The Commons , then, does not fix or valorize working class identity and it does not issue from a fixed or stable centre or subject — which is to say neither an individual nor a collective subject.

The poetry eschews the production of identity by refusing a simple coherence, a refusal that is managed through a non-subjectification. However, the poem is not simply a composition of statements, quotations, poetic phrases and images either. The first two words of this section, then, draw on different collective sources of speech or discourse, different traditions, with different affects. There is, then, a division in the first line here, which can be located around the comma and the following space. However, the force of this division is also derived from the fact that it composes the production of an unexpected connection.

The fragmentation and discursive clash has a deterritorializing affect on me as I read. Deterritorialization is of course a well-known term, and it is one I have used a number of times already, but is not always clearly understood. It is the operation of the line of flight. It is an encounter with irreducible difference and a provocation to difference — of experience, of thought, of perception, conduct, or feeling, or all of these at once.

It is a consequence of a genuine event and, frequently, an affect in and of innovative poetries. There is a mode of individuation very different from that of a person, subject, thing, or substance. We reserve the name haecceity for it. A season, a winter, a summer, an hour, a date have a perfect individuality lacking nothing, even though this individuality is different from that of a thing or a subject.

They are hacceities in the sense that they consist entirely of relations of movement and rest between molecules and particles, capacities to affect and be affected. An individual is always in movement in relation to its context; this is different from the bourgeois notion of the subject, because the latter is an image of a centre of its own universe — it might be affected, it might affect, but these are, according to most bourgeois ideologies of the subject, epiphenomenal to its essential nature, its own essential truth or reality. The haecceity, on the other hand, is an individual — perfect, lacking nothing — that is distinguished from other individuals only by that individuality, not by any essential central nature.

An individual human being is not to be distinguished in this sense from, for example, a period of time — a season or an hour.

Sensation, Contemporary Poetry and Deleuze - Transformative Intensities (Electronic book text)

You have the individuality of a day, a season, a year, a life regardless of its duration — a climate, a wind, a fog, a swarm, a pack. The significance of all this for my current argument is simply that the individual proletarian is an assemblage and an event, a life , that is composed of, and with, the society, the economic structure and the collectives of which he or she is a part.

He or she is a part of them; they are a part of him or her.


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She is her membership of the proletariat; the proletariat is what it is in part because of her membership of it. There is no opposition between the individual and the collective. The proletariat is itself an individuation as an event that becomes through the individuals that compose it who are themselves, along every trajectory, events and collective assemblages. This phrase is a somewhat surreal percept in that it has no apparent or direct reference in what way can a frequency — a radio or other wavelength — be burnt? It is an image that, for me, composes a violence-affect as an element of the broader deterritorialization-affect, one that is suggestive of violent damage done to communication.

This raises a question around the concepts of end-stopping and enjambment. Only one of the lines in this section of the poem is end-stopped, yet the lack of this feature does not necessarily mean that there is enjambment; lines do not necessarily or unambiguously flow one into the other. This is, of course, a case in point: the second line here could flow from the first line, or into the third line or the three lines could flow together. On the other hand, there is no compelling semantic reason why any of them should do so at all, other than, perhaps, the fact that lines two and three both make use of deixis.

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All of this ambiguity feeds an overall and generalized deterritorializing affect; however this latter still needs to be characterized more precisely. The question is: who or what is being deterritorialized? However, if, as I think, the actualized poem is a conjunction of text and reader, then for the duration of the reading-performance the poem is the reader is the speaker is the poem.

Therefore a deterritoralization of the speaker is a deterritorialization of a reader — me, in this immediate case. Underlying all of this is the constant problematic of the poetic speaker or lyric subject, which returns me to the questions of individualization and collectivity. When a reader reads a poem, she or he performs that poem, even if the reading is silent and in private. This performance is not a purely mental operation but a somatic process, one that engages the entire living animal-in-a-situation that a reader is.

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During a reading-performance, the reader is the poem and the poem is the reader. Matthew Feldman.

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Bestselling Series. Harry Potter. Popular Features. New Releases. Description Poetry is composed of sensation: this Deleuze-Guattarian assertion is central to a Deleuzian poetics that provides a fruitful approach to the difficulties of innovative literature and poetry in particular. This book is a clear exposition of a Deleuzian approach to literature that treats the literary text, particularly the poem, as something that exists in its own right.

As such poetry is presented as something that must be encountered, actualised and embodied by readers on its own terms, rather than providing access to something else that it represents. Far from being a hermetic, ivory tower encounter, the Deleuzian poetics of experimental reading reveals sensational significances that are not only philosophical and social but political.

What's more, through a close examination of a range of contemporary innovative poems, Jon Clay suggests that a Deleuzian way of reading offers a firm purchase on notoriously difficult texts, providing concepts and a language that aids their understanding. Other books in this series. Magical Realism and Deleuze Eva Aldea. Add to basket. Active Reading C. Beckett's Books Matthew Feldman. Masculinity in Fiction and Film Brian Baker. Modernism and the Post-colonial Peter Childs.