2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deleuze is a monster
Difference and repetition struck me as nothing I've ever read before has struck me. The fun thing about "reading" it, is that, when you think about it, the act of reading itself makes understanding parts of this work more clear. Reading this becomes a "machinic" activity as it were: immediate, affective, with its own unpredictability, with many gaps,...
Published on June 19 2003 by Lou
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars unconvinced
It amazes me that many of the reviews point to the obscurity of this text, but only insofar as this obscurity supposedly supports its greatness. I, however, remain unconvinced that the arguments Deleuze makes, which are practically impossible to follow, are anything more than words on a page. The obscurity of the text seems to me to be a drawback, not a praise. Deleuze...
Published on March 9 2003
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deleuze is a monster,
This review is from: Difference and Repetition (Paperback)Difference and repetition struck me as nothing I've ever read before has struck me. The fun thing about "reading" it, is that, when you think about it, the act of reading itself makes understanding parts of this work more clear. Reading this becomes a "machinic" activity as it were: immediate, affective, with its own unpredictability, with many gaps, moments of insight, despair, and so on. It seems contradictory, because I think it is the most rigorous and analytic of all of Deleuzes works. But it is immensely dense, as other reviewers also say.
It is certainly the crucial work in his oeuvre. Really if you have tried it a few times, you will notice that many ideas of his later work are based on the crucial notions of this grand exploration. Anti-Oedipe is such a delight to read and easy to understand after this one.
And I think it is good for those who want to approach Deleuze's thought, to start with the Anti-Oedipus and Mille Plateaux, then read some of the smaller and intensive works (What is philosophy, Leibniz et le Baroque). Then try this book. You will get many references and want to read all others once again.
It is clearly in this work that you will find the first monstrous and frontal attack against Hegel's dialectic. The fun thing is that this is a complete "anti-work". Every conceivable concept of modern philosophy (from the concept of "common sense", "history", or "being") gets an "anti", with which Deleuze consistently builds his grand idea of the immediate, the pre- or non-representational and the virtual--against any metaphysics. It is moreover his first, and I think also his last work where he builds his philosophy in a consistent manner.
5.0 out of 5 stars Grounding a Philosophy of Difference,
This review is from: Difference and Repetition (Paperback)This is (arguably) the most important work written by Deleuze for a reason that seems to me is often obscured or merely forgotten: it is (maybe) the only work that seeks to lay the foundation for a systematic treatment of 'difference' and by ex-tension (or in-tension) 'repetition'. It does not seek to derive 'difference' and 'repetition' (simply) from identity and the in-dividual. It seeks to think of 'difference' and 'repetition' in themselves. And this is what is important here: thinking (and not some petty play of figures and words in the frontal attacks or soul mating with particular thinkers) in its rhizomatic form rather than its arborescent one.
What is therefore central in this work is 'idea', and (therefore) 'perception'. In simple terms, Deleuze has managed to provide us with some foundational links with the philosophies of mind, language and time (and moreover besides). He has given to the philosophy of difference a central and unifying role (across such and other disciplines) to play.
In this sense 'difference' and 'repetition' are not only (simply) linked between them (in the sense that one leads to the other), but also linked with other important notions usually discussed and developed in other (philosophical) disciplines. Let me provide some brief indications.
Chapter 1 is concerned with 'difference', not as mere 'diversity', 'otherness' or 'negation', bur rather as 'general' or 'specific' difference, where the latter refers to the moment when difference is reconciled with the concept in general. In this manner, Deleuze sees 'difference' as a concept of reflection in relation to 'representation' that involves 'movement'. He further discusses the notion of 'eternal return' and questions the adoption of a 'meta-viewpoint' for thinking about 'difference' and 'repetition' - the latter being the relation between originals and simulacra.
In chapter 2, Deleuze lays out the relation between (the dualities) 'repetition' and 'sensing', 'habit', and 'difference', under the guise that "difference inhabits repetition", in that it "lies between two repetitions" (p.76). He also makes the distinction between 'natural' and 'artificial' signs, hence the distinction between two types of 'difference', one being the expression of the other. In parallel, he distinguishes 'active' from 'passive' synthesis (relative to time) in that "the activity of thought applies to a receptive being, to a passive subject" (p.86). Finally drawing on Bergson, he distinguishes the 'real' centre from where emanates a series of 'perception-images' from a 'virtual' centre from where emanates a series of 'memory-images'.
Chapter 3 is for Deleuze the most important (sic) because the thinking of 'difference' and 'repetition' is based on a dogmatic image of thought characterised by eight postulates, each with a dual form, the artificial and the natural.
In Chapter 4, this duality underlies the development of the notion of 'idea' in that it is problematic, hence dialectical, an "n-dimensional, continuous, defined multiplicity" (p.182) in a 'perplication' as the distinctive and coexistent state of ideas. Each 'idea' is thus linked with 'difference' and 'representation' in that "the representation of difference refers to the identity of the concept as its principle" (p.178). In this manner he makes the claim for the superiority of problematic-questioning approach over the (traditional) hypothetico-apodictic approach because questions are imperatives.
Chapter 5 starts with the claim that "difference is not diversity. Diversity is given, but difference is that by which the given is given, that by which the given is given as diverse" (p.222). Difference is therefore (a given) 'intensity' expressed as 'extensity'. There is 'depth' that unites intensity and extensity. Therefore, 'depth' is the intensity of being from where emerge at once extensity and the qualities of being. In this manner Deleuze accepts a dual condition of difference: one natural and one artificial.
In the concluding chapter Deleuze argues that 'representation' is a site of transcendental illusion which comes in four interrelated forms relative to 'thought', 'sensibility', 'idea' and 'being'. Hence the problematic of 'grounding' representation and his argument (or Idea) for 'groundlessness', and the justification of the use of (systems of) 'simulacra' as sites for the actualisation of ideas. Hence that of 'difference' and 'repetition' where the former is not only located between the levels and degrees of the latter, but also has two faces, namely, habit and memory.
Overall, despite the difficulty of the text itself as it takes for granted knowledge of the philosophies of some other thinkers (e.g. Bergson), it is a central text in the philosophy of difference and for just this reason, a text one must have read!
5.0 out of 5 stars The Crux of Thought,
This review is from: Difference and Repetition (Paperback)It took me reading Deleuze's books on Kant, Bergson, Nietzsche, Foucault and his collaborations with Guattari in Thousand Plateaus and Anti-Oedipus to finally get through this book . Difference and Repetion explains all the others, but is incredibly dense and in no way an introduction to his thinking. If you're familiar with his project, however, then this brings the rest of his readings into focus.
It's in this book that Deleuze gets as close as he ever comes to replying to Hegel, and in that sense it's here that he contends with the master and the dialectic--a battle or contest characteristic of his French compatriots (see Vincent Descombes' fantastic book: Modern French Philosophy; and Michael Hardt's summary of the early Deleuzian projects: Gilles Deleuze: An Apprenticeship in Philosophy). Difference and repetition are such an alternative to the dialectic that they're difficult to grasp without a serious grounding in metaphysics (see his books on Kant and Hume especially), Spinoza, and Bergson.
Deleuze wants to show that there is a materiality of expression that is also a movement within time, an unfolding that is also a becoming ( and in this sense in contrast to Being). This movement image (which founds his analysis in the Cinema books) grounds for Deleuze a transcendental empiricism, which is to say a non-conceptual and material, positive and affirmative idea of thought. Read his books on Kant and Hume first for an overview of his critique of representation.
I think this book is stunning, and i hope to read it over and over. The first three chapters are incredible, and amount to nothing short of a complete undoing of representational thought, or what he characterizes as a logic of the same.
5.0 out of 5 stars Deleuze wasn't messing around here, seriously.,
This review is from: Difference and Repetition (Paperback)Many people consider this to be the cornerstone of Deleuze's body of work, and in many ways it is. In many ways it is also invaluable, and perhaps the most significant piece of philosophy to emerge in the last half-century (though I don't think so, but I also don't think we're ready for this book yet, so I await Deleuze's Kojeve eagerly). Difference and Repetition is a front to back masterpiece, and on every page Deleuze's colossal creative genius is on full display. But, that doesn't mean you'll like it--in fact, I bet you (in your heart of hearts) won't. And I'm not challenging anyone--I don't even like it. Even stronger: I can't really fathom how it is POSSIBLE to like it. Let me tell you why, if you haven't already tried the beast a few times (in which case you know already).
D&R runs at a pace and a level of sophistication that perhaps no one in the world besides Deleuze himself could completely follow. It is assumed that not only are you familiar with the ins and outs of some of the most obscure aspects of people like Kant, Leibniz, and Bergson--but that you also be familiar with Deleuze's take on those aspects (which I just dont see how you could grasp in any way but superficially from this book). It's also assumed that you have experience in differential calculus and its theoretical underpinnings (granted mostly from Leibniz and Structuralism, but come on, who can really explain what a "singular point" is without it?). And to top all of that off, it is, very apparently (I won't say really) unwieldy and circulates between all of the above mentioned and more and much more in the snap of a finger. No doubt part of the book's affect and greatness, but, no doubt, more than part of the reason why no one can (under)stand it.
I'm not kidding when I say this: D&R is indisputably the most difficult piece of philosophy I've ever read. It will run off 15-20 dense pages at a time that are not just prolix and turgid, but sometimes senselessly so. Yeah, you wrestle with it about three or four times, you have your moments of lucidity, little chunks here and there that are admittedly shining examples of what sort of a writer Deleuze was and would become. But I repeat: you think Kant, Heidegger, Whitehead, Derrida, Jameson, and Hegel are difficult? I swear before everything holy and unholy this book that you might buy today is infinitely more difficult than anything any of them ever wrote.
But don't take my word for it. Try it, and be honest with yourself. Don't just get it so you can say "oh, come on, it's not that bad." Try and explain it, try and give accounts for your explanations, try and tie it all together, or not. Until I see a lucid exposition of this book (like Holland's for AO), I refuse to believe that anyone really likes it or understands its SPIRIT (not of course the letter, which anyone can get, and parrot). Yet--undoubtedly worth every minute of your time. Such is the enigma of Deleuze...
5.0 out of 5 stars An explosion in philosophy that is still going on.,
This review is from: Difference and Repetition (Paperback)Difference and Repetition is a megaton bomb exploding in Twentieth-Century philosophy. So why is it so many have never heard of it? Because the explosion is still happening, and will continue to happen, as thinkers inevitably go back to this text again and again. If we do not see the flames and the rubble, that is because this explosion is happening at a different speed, as Deleuze would say, in a time span that began in 1968 and will continue well into the decades to come.
It's a funny thing-while Derrida became a sensation in the 70s and 80s explicating the play of signifiers, this explosion of Deleuze's philosophy was already happening, but as yet with little notice. When people look back some day, this will be hard to understand.
Difference and Repetition is perhaps Deleuze's most difficult book, but everything from his later work is already here. It is a book to read over many times. If you're just starting with Deleuze and want to understand his philosophical project of overturning Platonism, perhaps it would be better to start with the essay, "Plato and the Simulacrum," which appears in the appendices of The Logic of Sense, a book Deleuze wrote the year after Difference and Repetition and one that is almost as important.
So what of D&R? What is about? No brief summary could do it justice, so the following must be thought of as grotesque parody whose only purpose is to send readers to the real thing. Difference is Being, which is ever and again expressed in Repetitions that are never the same. We are Repetitions. This is a philosophy of immanence-it is about what passes through us, through things, through thought. It is an attempt to think what is unthinkable and unsayable. Its philosophical precursors are Heraclitus, Lao Tzu, Spinoza, Nietzsche, and Bergson. It is a repetition of those philosophies, and yet fresh and new, a difference. As Deleuze says, a philosophy (or work of art) is to be evaluated by what it does to us, how it affects us, what it sets in motion within us and beyond us. On those terms, D&R is full of riches, but don't expect it to "hit you" all at once. This explosion is still happening ...
5.0 out of 5 stars A Boomrang of Fun!,
This review is from: Difference and Repetition (Paperback)At first the text overwhelmed me; but soon after throwing the text against the walls a few occasions. It bounced back to me; and then everything seemed clear. Quite honestly, this is the most difficult text by Gilles Deleuze in relation to his later works; very important and vital to the studies of theory. Highly recommend!
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Deleuzian Century,
This review is from: Difference and Repetition (Paperback)The ontological relativity advocated here is inseparable from enunciative relativity. Knowledge of a Universe, Deleuze maintains, is only possible through the mediation of autopoietic machines. A zone of self-belonging needs to exist for the coming into cognitive existence of any being or modality of being. And it is the same for their enunciative coordinates. The relativity of points of view of space, time and energy does not, for all that, absorb the real into the dream. Residual objectivity is what resists scanning by the infinite variation of points of view constitutable upon it. Existential machines are at the same level as being in its intrinsic multiplicity. They are not mediated by transcendent signifiers or subsumed by a univocal ontological foundation. They are to themselves their own material of semiotic expression. Existence, as a process of deterritorialization, is a specific inter-machinic operation which superimposes itself on the promotion of singularized existential intensities. And, as Deleuze clearly shows, there is no generalized syntax for these deterritorializations. Existence is not dialectical, not representable.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars unconvinced,
By A Customer
This review is from: Difference and Repetition (Paperback)It amazes me that many of the reviews point to the obscurity of this text, but only insofar as this obscurity supposedly supports its greatness. I, however, remain unconvinced that the arguments Deleuze makes, which are practically impossible to follow, are anything more than words on a page. The obscurity of the text seems to me to be a drawback, not a praise. Deleuze makes the argument that before the difference and repetition of representation is "real" difference and repetition; it is unclear that these "real" differences and repetitions are anything more than a projection of Deleuze's cumbersome ramblings. Neither is it clear that Deleuze is anything more than a new Platonist, dividing all things between the vitual and the actual, following Bergson; it often appears as if the so-called virtual is really real, like Plato's forms, while the actual is merely an appearance or instance of virtuality. Of course, others could argue that I've understood it wrong, but insofar as Deleuze's arguments are illegible (something the other reviewers celebrate), one wonders on what grounds they could argue against me. Of course, there are many secondary sources on Deleuze available which will explain what he is "up to." However, I have been unable to see the relationship between their legible reconstructions and Deleuze's illegible text.
The other reviewers are right, unfortunately, when they assert that this is, indeed, a very important text for understanding Deleuze and contemporary French thought or critical theory. Despite its drawbacks, this was an influential text, and we must continue to read it.
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Difference and Repetition by Gilles Deleuze (Paperback - May 18 1995)
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