[-empyre-] R: Agreement within difference

Christina McPhee christina at christinamcphee.net
Fri May 15 05:17:29 EST 2009

The "diagram' is a subtler more powerful operation than this. Deleuze  
as usual makes an incredibly intricate argument step by step.  From  
the perspective of Bacon's practice, Deleuze notes that the diagram  
arrives first and takes over the picture plane. A catastrophe.   Then  
Bacon must both engage and subdue the diagram.  Or else the diagram,  
apparition, psychic projection, takes over the possibilities of the  
painting, causes a still birth.

The act of painting involves initially smashing around with scrubs,  
scumbles, traces.  "Now this act, or these acts, presupposes that  
there were already figurative givens on the canvas (and in the  
painter's head)...it is precisely these givens that will be removed by  
the act of painting, either by being wiped, gbrushed or rubbed or else  
covered over. .. This is what Bacon calls a 'graph' or a Diagram: it  
is as if a Sahara, a zone of the Sahara, were suddenly inserted into  
the head; it is as if a piece of rhinoceros skin, viewed under a  
microscope, were stretched over it; it is as if the two halves of the  
head were split open by an ocean; it is as if the unit of measure were  
changed, and micrometric, or even cosmic, unites were substituted for  
the figurative unit.  A Sahara, a rhinoceros skin:  such is the  
suddenly outstretched diagram.  It is as if, in the midst of the  
figurative and probabilistic givens, a catastrophe overcame the canvas."

The catastrophe blows up in one's face, one is inside  it in a blind  
manual dance like Jacob wrestling with the Angel.   Without the fight  
the painting will fail.  The psychotic topology of the diagram is raw  
live material.   Without the fight the painter would have to pretend  
to have an innocent mind, like a little child with fingerpaints.  No,  
everything would go to shit-- banality and goo.  Bacon can't stand  
that, he has to get tough, 'almost blind manual marks attest to the  
intrusion of another world into the visual world of figuration'-- the  
catastrophe ensues almost blinding, 'one can no longer see any  
thing'...the painter remains entangled in the optical phenomenal of  
gesture,  but must not give into it , because giving into the diagram  
kills the diagram, or anyway spoil it: ..."botch it , so overload it  
that it is rendered inoperative (which is another way of remaining in  
the figurative: one will have simply mutilated or mauled the cliché...  
More than the cliche is also the psychic loss- Bacon risks everything  
to get through this, risks a loss of self, gives in to an extreme  
degree of aggression relative to the diagram.

Wrestling with the diagram must be to not to kill it nor subdue it but  
to collapse into it,  and embrace it while fighting--  into a  
dangerous possibly productive curve,  into the abyss, and then, maybe,  
then, a painting will build out from the sensation-dimensions that  
spring out from the dangerous curve--

"The diagram is thus the operative set of signifying and non  
representative lines and zones.... that introduce 'possibilities of  
fact' " or, contains the germ of a rhythm of new order-sensations.

Deleuze later observes Cezanne as pre-eminently to 'have produced the  
experience of chaos and catasrophe as intensely, while fight to limit  
and control it at any price".  He continues

"Chaos and catastrophe imply the collapse of the figurative givens,  
and thus they already entail a fight, the fight against the cliché,  
the preparatory work (all the more necessary in that we are no longer   
"innocent"). It is out of chaos that the 'stubborn geometry' or  
geologic lines'  first emerge; and this geometry or geology must in  
turn pass through the catastrophe in order for colors to arise, for  
the earth to rise to the sun.  It is thus a temporal diagram, with two  

(quotes from  Gilles Deleuze, Frances Bacon: The Logic of Sensation,  
Daniel W. Smith, translation, University of Minnesota Press, 2003)


On May 14, 2009, at 10:12 AM, stamatia portanova wrote:

> The notion of counterpoint is of course very much evocative of a  
> performative relation between dance and music... By looking at the  
> moving images on the site, a parallel with painting also immediately  
> came to my mind. There are different painting 'styles', or 'genres',  
> that, in order to briefly summarize, Gilles Deleuze (in his book on  
> the work of Francis Bacon) describes: the first is more   
> 'geometrical, conceptual, digital', the other is more 'organic,  
> based on the emergence of sensations, analog', and the third is a  
> more 'equilibrated' balance of the chaos of sensations, or their  
> insertion into a geometric frame. These are of course to be  
> considered only as tendencies, and not as polarizations, of  
> painting, but can very well explain how a work can contain different  
> aspects, while tending more towards one or the other... Strangely  
> enough, Deleuze's use of the term 'diagram' does not refer to the  
> clear ordering of geometric structure (as emerging for example in  
> Mondrian's painting, that he defines as digital), but to the almost  
> chaotic gestures of the hand, the disordered trace of the painting  
> gesture, brought to its extreme by Pollock's art, where it becomes  
> almost impossible to distinguish any 'intermittent or irregular  
> coincidences between organizational elements that produce an order  
> interplay'. In other words, shapes and directions becoming more  
> intricately entangled, indiscernible, and not clearly distinguishable.
> Considering these different sense of the term, I would be very  
> interested if you could say something more about the 'diagram' in  
> One Flat Thing...
> thanks!
> stamatia
> --- Gio 14/5/09, Norah Zuniga Shaw <zuniga.11 at osu.edu> ha scritto:
> Da: Norah Zuniga Shaw <zuniga.11 at osu.edu>
> Oggetto: [-empyre-] Agreement within difference
> A: "soft_skinned_space" <empyre at gamera.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
> Data: Giovedì 14 maggio 2009, 17:14
> Our choreographic resource for our work is One Flat Thing, reproduced
> (OFTr), an ensemble dance that examines and reconfigures classical
> choreographic principles of counterpoint. In OFTr counterpoint is  
> defined as
> ³a field of action in which the intermittent and irregular  
> coincidence of
> attributes between organizational elements produces an ordered  
> interplay."
> Three structural systems interact to create the counterpoint of the  
> dance:
> movement material, cueing, and alignments. These systems are  
> detailed in our
> introductory essays on the site. I'd like to share more about  
> alignments
> here because they are fundamental to how we conceive of, enact, and  
> theorize
> counterpoint. The visual languages we created really do express this  
> stuff
> best but here are a few experts from the words we use as
> anchors/frames/coordinates. Bill and I evolved this vocabulary  
> together over
> a few years in intensive writing sessions and in our working  
> practices with
> the team at OSU in creating the visualizations. Alignments are short
> instances of synchronization between dancers in which their actions  
> share
> some, but not necessarily all, attributes. Manifested as analogous  
> shapes,
> related timings, or corresponding directional flows, alignments  
> occur in
> every moment of the OFTr and are constantly shifting throughout the  
> group.
> The term alignment emerges from the working practices of the Forsythe
> Company. Other words the company uses to describe this phenomenon  
> include
> hook-ups, agreements, and isometries. Within the thousands of  
> alignments in
> the choreography, approximately 200 can be understood as a subset  
> called
> sync-ups. These are moments in the choreography when a dancer¹s task  
> is to
> briefly join with another individual or group. Alignments are a  
> concrete
> phenomenon in the dance and also a construct that I'm finding useful  
> in
> thinking about understanding complex relationships in many arenas and
> specifically in interdisciplinary collaboration.
> A great tool for interactively exploring how we think about  
> counterpoint and
> alignments is the Counterpoint Tool on the site:
> http://synchronousobjects.osu.edu/tools/counterpointTool.html
> Thoughts?
> N
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