"Nobody can deny that to be able to swim is a conquest of existence, it is fundamental that you understand: I conquer an element; it is not so obvious to conquer an element. I can swim, I can fly; wonderful. [But] what does it mean? It is very simple: not being able to swim consists of being vulnerable to the confrontation of the wave. Then, you have the infinite ensemble of water molecules that compose the wave; it composes a wave, and I say it's a wave because it is composed of elementary bodies called “molecules”. Actually they are not the most elementary; one should go even further than water molecules. Water molecules already belong to a body, the aquatic body, the ocean body, etc…
What is the fundamental mode of acquiring knowledge? It is ... the experiential acquisition of knowledge: I dare, I wade, like one says. What does it mean to wade? … the word indicates pretty well, one clearly sees that it is an extrinsic relationship: sometimes the wave cuffs me and sometimes it takes me away; they are shock effects… meaning, I don’t know anything of the relationships that compose themselves or decompose themselves, I receive the extrinsic effects. The parts that belong to me are being shuddered; they receive a shock effect coming from parts that belong to the wave. Therefore sometimes I laugh, sometimes I weep, depending if the wave makes me laugh or knock me out, I am within the passion affects…
On the contrary, ‘I can swim’ does not necessarily mean that I have a mathematical, physical, or scientific knowledge of the wave’s movement; it means that I have a skill, a surprising skill; I have a sense of rhythm. What does ‘the rhythm’ mean? It means that I know how to compose my characteristic relationship directly with the wave’s relationship. It does not happen anymore between the wave and me, meaning it does not happen anymore between the extensive parts, the wave’s wet parts and my body’s parts; it happens between the relationships. Relationships that compose the wave, relationships that compose my body and my skills when I can swim, presenting my body under some relationships that compose themselves directly with the wave’s relationships. I dive with synchronicity; I come out from under the water with synchronicity. I avoid the coming wave, or on the contrary I use it, etc… All this is the art of the composition of relationships.”
Translation of short excerpt extracted from a class by Gilles Deleuze's on Spinoza in Cours Vincennes University in Paris during the 70's.
Video: 'Drowning' by Luke Brown
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