I have been thinking of Deleuze a lot lately. His influence on my work has been instrumental, his presence in my life constant. Can I speak of his work in a coherent philosophical discourse kind of way? I don’t think so. But then I don’t think he would have wanted that anyway. I think his work was about moving away from the jargon and weight of history and moving towards the body’s presence in text and in imagination.
I can go on and on about rhizomes and plateaux and folds and repetitions but I really do not think that will help anyone access the universe that he opened for me.
I was a lowly first year grad student at Concordia (back when that meant something), I came from a hole in the wall in New Brunswick and knew I was out of my league. But I was determined… still am. We were given reading after reading of Barthes, Irigaray, Levi-Stauss, Deleuze-Guattari; when, in a moment of rare illumination, I realised I could read in French, after all I am French. So I began to visit all these readings in the language they were written. I quickly realized that the translations lacked the subtlety and playfulness these authors intended in their work.
I became a language nut.
Derrida, who has been dubbed the ruler of meaning (for a while anyway) was the most playful of the bunch. He began a paragraph saying one thing and finished it hinting that he may be full of crap. I absolutely loved this way of writing and it gave my own ideas the legs they needed to stand on.
In 1996, I was invited to meet with Christian Gattinoni of the École Nationale Supérieur de la Photographie while he was on a visit to Halifax NS. So I got in the car around 5 in the morning for the 3 hour drive from Moncton to Halifax, good tunes in the tape player (Psychic TV) and the perfect mind set to go show my work. Halifax was gray, drizzly and mean. I got to Gattinoni’s door, knocked, knocked again, to be greeted with a middle-aged man with glasses on his forehead (nice glasses at that) wiping tears from his eyes. I had entered the Twilight Zone. He simply told me that Deleuze had defenestrated himself. I started crying too, for no good reason. It was just too much. I don’t usually cry at dead stuff, human, animal or machine. So it was a big moment.