chapter  1
17 Pages

Rip the veil of the old vision across, and walk through the rent: thinking through affect in D. H. Lawrence and Deleuze


Although D. H. Lawrence does not appear to be a key influence on Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari like Marcel Proust, Antonin Artaud or Franz Kafka, he is a consistent reference in their work from the 1970s onwards.1 One cannot help being struck by similarities in vocabulary (polarities, planes, intensities, vibrations, singleness) and modernist imagery (machines, wireless communication, oddly mixed with natural and cosmological metaphors) in Lawrence and Deleuze and Guattari. The curious way Deleuze and Guattari paraphrase Lawrence’s minor texts, especially the essays, betray a great familiarity.2 In this light, it is surprising so little critical attention has been devoted to LawrenceDeleuze and Guattari.3 Examining the extent to which preconceptual images such as the impersonal unconscious, sexuality and the unconscious as flow, the line of flight, the writer as athlete of becoming have been directly borrowed from Lawrence and modified may illuminate how Deleuze and Guattari deal with sources (assemblage) as well as their conception of art and philosophy. Deleuze and Guattari’s involvement with D. H. Lawrence can roughly be

organized around interrelated moments and themes.4 First, Lawrence’s idiosyncratic critique of psychoanalysis is a model for Deleuze and Guattari in AntiOedipus. Second, Lawrence’s criticism of literature influenced Deleuze and Guattari. In the dialogue with Claire Parnet on “The Superiority of AngloAmerican Literature” (1977) and in A Thousand Plateaus (1978), they remain very close to Lawrence’s Studies of Classical American Literature (1923).5 (Third, Deleuze casts Lawrence as a direct heir of Nietzsche and Spinoza in the preface to Fanny Deleuze’s translation of Lawrence’s Apocalypse, “Nietzsche and Saint-Paul, Lawrence

and John of Patmos” [Deleuze 1992], and in his essay “To Have Done with Judgment” [Deleuze 1992].6 Finally, the figure of Lawrence reappears once more in What is Philosophy? [1996].) Unexpectedly, Lawrence’s essay “Chaos in Poetry” (1928) figures quite extensively in the concluding chapter of their attempt to distinguish between three domains of thinking: philosophy, science, and art. Deleuze and Guattari’s frequent returns to Lawrence illuminate their distinc-

tion and interference between philosophy and art.