How we may think

“N as in Neurology”

Parnet announces this title as linking both neurology and the brain. Deleuze says that neurology is very difficult for him, but has always fascinated him. To answer why, he ponders the question of what happens in someone’s head when he/she has an idea. When there are no ideas, he says, it’s like a pinball machine. How does it communicate inside the head? They don’t proceed along pre-formed paths and by ready-made associations, so something happens, if only we knew. That interests Deleuze greatly since he feels that if we understood this, we might understand everything, and the solutions must be extremely varied. He clarifies this: two extremities in the brain can well establish contact, i.e. through electric processes of the synapses. And then there are other cases that are much more complex perhaps, through discontinuity in which there is a gap that must be jumped. Deleuze says that the brain is full of fissures , that jumping happens constantly in a probabilistic regime. He believes there are relations of probability between two linkages, and that these communications inside a brain are fundamentally uncertain, relying on laws of probability. Deleuze sees this as the question of what makes us think something, and he admits that someone might object that he’s inventing nothing, that it’s the old question of associations of ideas. One would almost have to wonder, he says, for example, when a concept is given or a work of art is looked at, one would almost have to try to sketch a map of the brain, its correspondences, what the continuous communications are and what the discontinuous communications would be from one point to another.

Something has struck Deleuze, he admits, a story that physicists use, the baker’s transformation: taking a segment of dough to knead it, you stretch it out into a rectangle, you fold it back over, you stretch it out again, etc. etc., you makes a number of transformations and after *x* transformations, two completely contiguous points are necessarily caused to be quite the opposite, very distant from each other. And there are distant points that, as a result of *x* transformations, are found to be quite contiguous. So, Deleuze wonders whether, when one looks for something in one’s head, there might be this type of combinations , for example, two points that he cannot see how to associate, and as a result of numerous transformations, he discovers them side by side. He suggests that between a concept and a work of art, i.e. between a mental product and a cerebral mechanism, there are some very, very exciting resemblances, and that for him, the questions, how does one think? and what does thinking mean?, suggest that with thought and the brain, the questions are intertwined. Deleuze says that he believes more in the future of molecular biology of the brain than in the future of information science or of any theory of communication.


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Communications and Media Senior Lecturer at SAE Byron Bay Australia

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