Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Xylem: Communal House in Berkeley, Harbin, Deleuze's Virtuality

I stayed at an old friend's communal, or collective, house in Berkeley last night. About 10 people live there in a loose community, including one 4 year old. We shared a delicious moussaka dinner, with a very tasty bechamel sauce, and salad. There are two cottages in the backyard. I was impressed that the 4 year old and everyone but one other person had visited Harbin Hot Springs numerous times. So my friend's housemates are some of the people who visit Harbin. Many of my new friends have gone to the "Rainbow Gathering" and "Burning Man," too.

In a Berkeley graduate class and in Wikipedia, I learned of Gilles Deleuze's contribution to conceiving of virtuality. Here's an excerpt:

"Like Kant and Bergson, Deleuze considers traditional notions of space and time as unifying categories imposed by the subject, that is, he considers them to be forms of identity. Therefore he concludes that pure difference is non-spatio-temporal; it is an idea, what he calls "the virtual". (The coinage refers not to the "virtual reality" of the computer age, but to Proust's definition of the past: "real without being actual, ideal without being abstract."[14]) While Deleuze's virtual ideas superficially resemble Plato's forms and Kant's ideas of pure reason, they are not originals or models, nor do they transcend possible experience; instead they are the conditions of actual experience, the internal difference in itself. "The concept they [the conditions] form is identical to its object."[15] A Deleuzean idea or concept of difference is not a wraith-like abstraction of an experienced thing, it is a real system of differential relations that creates actual spaces, times, and sensations.[16]"

14 Proust, Le Temps Retrouvé, ch. III: see the fourth line from the bottom of this page, or, in English translation, the thirteenth paragraph here.
15 Desert Islands, p. 36.
16 See "The Method of Dramatization" in Desert Islands, and "Actual and Virtual" in Dialogues.

- Deleuze, Gilles. 1977 (2nd exp. ed. 1996, with Claire Parnet). Dialogues. Trans. Dialogues (1987, 2nd exp. ed. 2002).
- Deleuze, Gilles. 2002. L'île déserte et autres textes. Trans. Desert Islands and Other Texts 1953-1974 (2003).
- Proust, Marcel. Le Temps Retrouvé.

Virtual worlds like Second Life make possible the instantiation of ideas, and, in particular, potentially, these ideas.

Friends, Harbin visitors and virtuality are all water transport systems (xylem) of the Harbin tree.

No comments: