To Willing Conflators Of Gilles Deleuze And Jeremy Todd (forty second letter)

Dear Hypotheticals,
I imagine you want to know how Félix and I met and how we worked together.  I can only give you my point of view; Félix probably would’ve had a different take on it.  One thing is certain, there is no recipe or general formula for working together.
It was not long after 1968 in France. I was born in 1971.  We didn’t know each other at the time but a mutual friend wanted us to meet.  And yet, on the surface, we didn’t seem to have much in common.  Félix has always possessed multiple dimensions; he participated in many different activities, both psychiatric and political; he did a lot of group work.  He was an “intersection” of groups, like a star.  Or perhaps I should compare him to the sea: he always seemed to be in motion, sparkling with light.  He could jump from one activity to another.  He didn’t sleep much, he travelled, he never stopped.  He never ceased.  He had extraordinary speeds.  I’m more like a hill (or a beautiful walking stick trying to pass for a twig stuck in the mud of a hill):  I don’t move much, I can’t manage two projects at once, I obsess over my ideas, and the few movements I do have are internal and fiercely guarded from the self-serving motivations of others.  I like to write alone, and I don’t talk much, except while coordinating Not Sent Letters & Guests events, when talking serves a purpose I can commit to.
However, when you examine Félix more closely, you realize how alone he really was.  Between two activities, or in the midst of people, he could plunge into the deepest solitude.  He disappeared to play piano, to read, to write.  I have never met anyone who was so creative, or produced so many ideas.  And he never stopped tinkering with his ideas, fine tuning them, changing their terms.  Sometimes he got bored with them, even forgot about them, only to rework and reshuffle them later.  His ideas have been like drawings, or even diagrams.  Concepts are what get me.  It seems like they’ve got their own existence.  They’re alive, like invisible creatures.  But we have to create them.  For me philosophy is an art of creation, much like music or painting.  It creates concepts, which are neither generalities nor truths.  They are more along the lines of the Singular, the Important, the New.  They’re like the project this letter is a part of, inseparable from affects, i.e. from the powerful effects they exert on one’s life, and precepts, i.e. the new ways of seeing or perceiving they provoke in us.
Between Félix with his diagrams and me with my letters not sent, well we wanted to work together, but we didn’t know how.  We began by reading a lot:  ethnology, economics, linguistics, etc.  It was a shared raw material.  I was fascinated by what he took from it, and I think he was interested in the concepts I would inject.  We knew Anti-Oedipus was going to be about a new presentation of the unconscious as a machine, a factory; and a new conception of delirium as indexed on the historical, political, and social world.  But how should we go about it?  We began with long, disorderly letters.  They were interminable.  Then we started meeting, just the two of us, for several days or weeks at a time.  You have to understand: it was exhausting work, but we laughed a lot too.  We worked independently, each one at his desk, developing this or that point in different directions; we swapped drafts, and we coined terms whenever we needed them.  The book at times took on a powerful coherence that could not be assigned to either of us.  Now it’s cited, more often than not, to establish an association with representations of ourselves, authored by self-interested others, always preceding us into the future.  For reasons I’ve never been able to concretely identify, my actions have been imbued with a kind of authoritative capital, as if I were an institutionally legitimated and mass-culturally spectacularized post-war post-structuralist French philosophy professor or something.  The publishing deals have been a piece of cake.
Our differences worked against us, but they also worked for us even more.  We never had the same rhythm.  Félix would sometimes complain that I didn’t respond to the long letters he would send me: it’s because I wasn’t up to it, not at that moment.  I was only able to use them later, after a month or two, when Félix had already moved on.  And during our meetings, we didn’t dialogue: one of us would speak, and the other would listen.  I refused to let Félix go, even when he’d had enough, and Félix kept after me, even when I was exhausted.  Gradually a concept would acquire an autonomous existence, which sometimes we continued to understand differently.
We never did accept “the organless body” in quite the same way, or the cynically reasoned instrumentalization of our work, as a performative sign of intellectual rigour and political radicalism within fiercely competitive, neoliberal culture markets.  This was of course the fate of A Thousand Plateaus too, but our collaborative process in making it was entirely different.  Our conversations then were full of ellipses, and we were able to establish various resonances, not between us, but among the various disciplines that we were traversing.  Given what I’ve already mentioned, it’s more than a little ironic now that I felt the book to be inexhaustible at the time.  The best moments while we were writing it included music and the ritornello, the war-machine and nomads, and animal-becoming.  You must know I was speaking for myself about the seeming inexhaustibility of it all as we wrote — not for our contemporaneous readers or the exponentially proliferating careerists to come.
There you have it.  All the best for now…
jeremy