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“it is contradictory for us to believe that that which thinks, at the very time when it is thinking, does not exist” (Descartes, 5). Yet, twentieth-century philosophers and writers alike seem to reject this concept and endeavor to extrapolate a way in which there can be presence without subjectivity, thought without an I. Gilles Deleuze writes that there is: “… a language III (langue III) that no longer relates language (le langage) to objects that can be enumerated and combined, nor to transmitting voices, but to immanent limits that never cease to move about – hiatuses, holes or tears you couldn’t account for … This something seen or heard is called image, visual or aural, provided it is liberated from the chains it was kept in by the other two languages” (Deleuze, 8).
Language I – “a language of names” – exhausts the possible with words and language II exhausts words themselves by relating them “to the Others who pronounce them” (Deleuze, 7). Language III, on the other hand, instead retains “nothing of the personal, nor of the rational” (Deleuze, 7). It operates, therefore, without a subject whatsoever. It is here, within language III – now that both subject and object have been thoroughly exhausted – that one discovers the Image: a presence without any subjectivity. By reading Not I through a Deleuzean standpoint – namely, through a consideration of his essay, “The Exhausted” – it becomes clear that Mouth is one of the entities that can be understood as representations of the image. It is through this reading that presence is desubjectified and experience is consequently objectified.
Reading a text is never an act of interpretation, it is never a scholarly exercise in search of what is signified, still less a highly textual exercise in search of signifier; rather it is an act of experimentation a productive use of the literary machine, a schizoid exercise that extracts from the text its revolutionary force. In fact, it is the writer who becomes a stutterer in language. So the writer makes language as such stutter, an affective and intensive language and no longer an affection of the one who speaks. In fact, for reading a text is never a scholarly exercise in search of what is signified, still less a highly textual exercise in search of a signifier. Rather it is a productive use of the literary machine, a montage of desiring-machines, a schizoid exercise that extracts from the text its revolutionary force. The exclamation “So it’s . . . !”, or the meditation of Igitur on race, in an essential relationship with madness. As for ideology, it is the most confused notion because it keeps us from seizing the relationship of the literary machine with a field of production, and the moment when the emitted sign breaks through this “form of the content” that was attempting to maintain the sign within the order of the signifier. Yet it has been a long time how an author is great because he cannot prevent himself from tracing flows and causing them to circulate, flows that split asunder the catholic and despotic signifier of his work, and that necessarily nourish a revolutionary machine on the horizon. That is what style is, or rather the absence of style—asyntactic, agrammatical: the moment when language is no longer defined by what it says, even less by what makes it a signifying thing, but by what causes it to move, to flow, and to explode—desire. For literature is like schizophrenia: a process and not a goal, a production and not an expression. In other words, at the level of the literary machine means how to produce, how to think about fragments whose sole relationship is sheer difference—fragments that are related to one another only in that each of them is different—without having recourse either to any sort of original totality (not even one that has been lost), or to a subsequent totality that may not yet have come about? It is only the category of multiplicity, used as a substantive and going beyond both the One and the many, beyond the predicative relation of the One and the many, that can account for desiring-production: desiring-production is pure multiplicity, that is to say, an affirmation that is irreducible to any sort of unity.
Language produces order. As Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari argue, in A Thousand Plateaus, “Language is made not to be believed but to be obeyed, and to compel obedience” ( A Thousand Plateaus 76) and, to this end, it is composed of order-words. Although Deleuze and Guattari’s declaration emphasizes an imperative force of language, order-words need not be imperative as such; this is clear from any everyday enunciation. Rather, language not only gives orders, it produces order. It does this in any number of ways, from the repetition of cliché to the reliance of signification on convention for its operation.
However, language can also produce a sense of chaos or an encounter with the chaotic; a literary or enunciative practice that disrupts convention or reveals language beyond signification is a practice that both draws on chaos and, to an extent, releases chaos, even if it also produces a new order. This is, in particular, characteristic of modern literature. In A Thousand Plateaus, Deleuze and Guattari write of classical art as that which organizes chaos and creates order (338-340), and of romantic art as ‘deepening itself’ via ‘the forces of the earth or the people’ (340-342). They write, however, of modern art as ‘cosmic’, saying that it ‘no longer confronts the forces of chaos … but instead opens onto the forces of the Cosmos.’ (342). Further, Deleuze and Guattari claim that an opening onto chaos is definitive of poetry per se, let alone modern poetry:
In a violently poetic text, Lawrence describes what produces poetry: people are constantly putting up an umbrella that shelters them and on the underside of which they draw a firmament and write their conventions and opinions. But poets, artists, make a slit in the umbrella, they tear open the firmament itself, to let in a bit of free and windy chaos and to frame in a sudden light a vision that appears through the rent … artists struggle less against chaos (that, in a certain manner, all their wishes call forth) than against the “clichés” of opinion. (What is Philosophy, 204)
It seems necessary to accentuate the relationship between order and chaos in a dramatic text to attribute a significant role to Deleuze and Guattari’s. One can observe great sobriety and control in their uses of language. Nevertheless they draw chaos into their works with enormously powerful effect. In Not I Samuel Beckett presents, on one level, an ambiguous attempt to produce order:
was on the point . . . after long efforts . . . when suddenly she felt . . .
gradually she felt . . . her lips moving . . . imagine! . . her lips moving!
(379).
The movement from ‘suddenly she felt’ to ‘gradually she felt’ might be read as a correction, implying a search for a more accurate expression and therefore an attempt to produce an order of representative truth. This kind of order, of representative truth, is prompted at a number of points in the play by an inaudible interlocutor who apparently offers corrections that are taken up, for the most part, by the speaker, Mouth; although they are also refused at certain vital points. However, this particular pattern, the movement from ‘suddenly’ to ‘gradually’ is repeated precisely at a number of points throughout the play but does not appear to involve any external intervention.
It is also worth remarking that the movement is not, in fact, from a vague to a more accurate expression of a separate content but is rather between antonyms. This indicates not a correction but an experiment: experimental attempts to produce order from the chaos of a virtuality of language in which all enunciative or narrative possibilities exist simultaneously. Such simultaneous virtual existence on a collective plane of enunciation (all enunciation being first and foremost collective practice) would be a plane of chaos from which individual acts of enunciation emerge to actualize specific possibilities and so produce order. In this case, however, such order is left in the balance: two virtual acts of enunciation are actualized, with no satisfactory way of settling on one rather than the other without assuming a significance for linear order that would be difficult to justify. Even if such a significance were justified, then the linear movement to ‘gradually’ would still fail to erase the existence of ‘suddenly’. Thus order becomes unstable; the actualised enunciation fails to signify and has a deterritorialising affect that opens onto the chaotic.
The play begins with Unorthodox textual ellipses and if one concentrates on the text for the moment, what one notices first of all on a graphological level are the ellipses that do not mark omissions but rather breaks in the movement of the text. These breaks do not slow the text down, but instead produce rapid shifts, implying a search for and a grasping after language. The ellipses are miniscule hesitations, flickers in the movement of the language as it attempts to produce expression. They are fractures in the flow of enunciation, lines of disturbance; the text is segmented. Segmentation can be, as Deleuze and Guattari say, ‘well determined, well planned’ (A Thousand Plateaus 195) and as such is the segmentation of a life of habit and the production of order. The supple segmentations of Not I, however, ‘are like quanta of deterritorialisation’ (196); the lines are not lines that separate and connect well-ordered areas of a life but are cracks in discourse, shifts of enunciation. The repetitions, hesitations and interruptions of enunciation are movements along the lines of the ellipses that mark struggles. Everything in the language of this play marks a struggle for nonsignification by means of disruption of order:
. . . . out . . . into this world. . . this world . . .

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