This book is an engagement with Gilles Deleuze and collaborative writing. We ask here: how might we think of collaborative writing if we think with the concepts that Deleuze has generated? And, how might we begin to write, together, on what Deleuze would call an immanent plane of composition? On such a Deleuzian plane, or plateau, it was not appropriate to make Deleuze external to us, as if he were the authority who might inform us on the correct way forward. Instead we sought to make Deleuze one of us, and to open up, with him, a new stream of thought, and of being, in order to explore our topic of Deleuze and collaborative writing.
So why an immanent plane of composition? Immanence derives from the Latin, meaning “to remain within”. In Deleuzian philosophy this does not mean within the bounded individual self, but within life; not just human life, but all life, organic and inorganic, which Deleuze refers to as Being. Deleuzian immanence indicates a conceptual space in which one seeks to dissolve all binaries, and the categorizations that divide one from another; and to locate the Divine in all things. On this immanent plane God and matter are not separable, any more than mind and body, interior and exterior, self and other, theory and practice, man and animal, organic and inorganic. The question is never this or that, but always this and that. “Or” becomes “and” in what Deleuze called stuttering: and and and. Deleuze struggled to find a way of bringing together this idea that we are all part of the same Being, and at the same time, that we are multiple and emergent. In opposing binary thought and categorisation, he was not interested in making us all the same, but in finding how to think the multiple singularities within what he called the One-All: “A single and same voice for the whole thousand-voiced multiple, a single and same Ocean for all the drops, a single clamour of Being for all beings” (Deleuze, 1994: 304).
On the immanent plane of composition we are all part of the same Being and, at the same time, the interesting aspect, the creative life-giving aspect, does not lie in sameness but in divergence. Deleuze drew from the creative evolution that Bergson (1998) had mapped out in 1910, where creative affirmations lie in new experiences, through which the not-yet-known, the not-yet-imagined, can unfold—can be composed. Divergence is not to be thought as a feature of the individual of phenomenology, whose conscious intentions lie at the centre of a somewhat narcissistic, bounded ego (Davies, 2010a). Deleuze is interested in multiplicity, not of multiple identities, but in an “ontology [that] merges with the univocity of Being” (Deleuze, 2004c: 179), where univocity is the creative voice of matter.
Deleuze does not thus seek to populate the world with anarchic, sovereign individuals, whose will or choice is paramount, as many have thought. His concept of the automaton, for example, “strictly precludes any idea of ourselves as being, at any time, the source of what we think or do. Everything always stems from afar—indeed, everything is always “already-there,” in the infinite and inhuman resource of the One” (Badiou, 2000: 12). Thinking and being on a plane of immanence in the Deleuzian sense is not a celebration of the autonomous individual of phenomenology, but rather, it “requires that you place yourself where thought has already started, as close as possible to a singular case and to the movement of thought. Thinking happens “behind your back” and you are impelled and constrained by it” (Badiou, 2000: 14).
Our challenge, then, in writing on an immanent plane of composition with Deleuze, has been to find our own way of mobilizing this resource of the One, of thinking and being where thought has already started – in this case thought about Deleuze and collaborative writing. But unlike Deleuze, who, as philosopher, could identify the multiplication of concepts as his way of approaching the problem of infinite divergence and creative evolution, we, as social scientists and educators, must find our own way of engaging in thought, and our own way of engaging in being, that opens up the not-yet-known within itself. We must work with experience, multiplying it, while also drawing on, or, more correctly, playing with Deleuze’s multiplicity of concepts.