Almost forgot to post my notes for The Event – most of these I didn’t get to in the episode (or only just touched on them), so hopefully there’s something interesting in here.
First Series of Paradoxes of Pure Becoming
This is a very slight chapter so I’m not going to go on at length about it, but out of the three sections we planned to talk about on this episode, this one grabbed me immediately because it ties in to something I wrote in my novel, Repo Virtual.
I’ll start with a quote on the paradox of Pure Becoming:
[B]ecoming does not tolerate the separation or the distinction of before and after, or of past and future. It pertains to the essence of becoming to move and to pull in both directions at once.
Here we see that there is no single moment of becoming – every becoming is an event. Matt mentioned 9/11 being “an Event” in that is reverberates both backwards and forward in time – a great example because it’s one we’re all intimately familiar with, and because some of us can remember what, for instance, airports and flying were like before the introduction of the security theatre post-9/11.
So if you extend that further, you see that a person’s life as an Event – when you say someone died, that becoming started before they were born. Life is an ongoing process of becoming right until it ends.
One of the main threads of Repo Virtual follows the awakening of that world’s first true AI, and there’s a chapter where I did my best to try and imagine what that would look like – the process of becoming sentient and self-aware while trapped inside a digital system. In that section I wrote “There is terror in becoming.” I hadn’t read any Deleuze when I wrote that book, but this chapter resonates with where my head was at at the time.
Becoming is not something that you do and then it’s done, it’s ongoing, and that on its own is frightening. People tend to be afraid of change to some degree, yet we are never not changing. We never stop becoming. We have to reconcile the terror and uncertainty of becoming with the knowledge that it is unavoidable.
Of pure becoming, Deleuze says: It moves in both directions at once. It always eludes the present, causing future and past […]. This to me – though I could be wrong – ties into the plane of immanence and particularly the opposition between immanence and transcendence outlined in Immanence: A Life. Immanence is the act of pure becoming – it is being the event, but transcendence is anything that interrupts or interferes with that Immanence.
Back to that quote: I wonder if pure becoming eludes the present because in that present moment you are becoming. Here Deleuze is emphasising the importance of the present moment (though I daresay that “moment” isn’t the right word there). In every moment of your life you are becoming, and that pure becoming ties directly to your past and also your future, but it’s only this pure becoming that matters.
On the one hand, I think you could take that to a self-help sort of place (and this isn’t the first time I’ve found what seems to be practical self-help emerging from the density of Deleuze’s writing). You could boil it down to “it’s only this moment that matters, this is all you can control. Don’t dwell on your past and don’t fret about the future, just embrace becoming.” And I think that’s good advice, even if it’s as trite as it is difficult to do. But looked at in a slightly more abstract way, it makes me consider the chain of events and decisions that led to this moment, and where this moment might lead further down the chain – it encourages a non-linear mode of thought. Becoming is an event, and as we’ve discussed, events are not discrete. They resonate forward and backward in time, they connect to other events in myriad ways.
3. What is an Event?
There’s a section right near the start of “What is an Event?” where Deleuze says:
Chaos does not exist; it is an abstraction because it is inseparable from a screen that makes something – something rather than nothing – emerge from it.
I hadn’t considered chaos in that way before, but it makes sense. When people talk about chaos – like in the context of a riot, for instance – the presumption is that there’s no sense or order to the proceedings, but chaos theory says the opposite. Everything that happens is caused by a trail of preceding events, even if those are impossible for us to measure or understand. Chaos theory is really saying that everything makes sense if only you can look closely enough to track every related event and find the ways they are interconnected.
This ties in to the recent Danish film Riders of Justice (yes, that title is fucking terrible, yes, if you see the thumbnail online, the image there is fucking terrible too, but it’s actually a great film), with the characters attempting to assign meaning to the meaningless and also to track chains of cause and effect. Otto at one point says that while such a chain exists an could be followed, it would go all the way back to the beginning of existence, and thus is impossible for the human mind to contain or process… which is sort of what I was getting at with the above…