Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Screen

"Chaos does not exist; it is an abstraction because it is inseparable from a screen that makes something - something rather than nothing - emerge from it. Chaos would be a pure Many, a purely disjunctive diversity, while the something is a One, not a pregiven unity, but instead the indefinite article that designates a certain singularity. How can the Many become the One? A great screen has to be placed in between them. Like a formless elastic membrane, an electromagnetic field, or the receptacle of the Timaeus, the screen makes something issue from chaos, and even if this something differs only slightly. In this way Leibniz had long been able to ascribe several approximations to chaos. According to a cosmological approximation, chaos would be the sum of all possibles, that is, all individual essences insofar as each tends to existence on its own account; but the screen only allows compossibles -and only the best combination of compossibles -to be sifted through.

Following a physical approximation, chaos would amount to depthless shadows, but the screen disengages its dark backdrop, the "fuscum subnigrum" that, however little it differs from black, nonetheless contains all colors: the screen is like the infinitely refined machine that is the basis of Nature. From a psychic point of view, chaos would be a universal giddiness, the sum of all possible perceptions being infinitesimal or infinitely minute; but the screen would extract differentials that could be integrated in ordered perceptions. If chaos does not exist, it is because it is merely the bottom side of the great screen, and because the latter composes infinite series of wholes and parts, which appear chaotic to us (as aleatory developments) only because we are incapable of following them, or because of the insufficiency of our own screens.' Even the cavern is not a chaos, but a series whose elements remain caverns filled with an increasingly rarefied matter, each of which is extended over the following ones."

What Is an Event? by Gilles Deleuze from the Fold, Leibniz and the Baroque, translated by Tom Conley, the University of Minnesota Press, 1992.

image: Matthias Dittrich music visualization Java-Applet

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