Thinking About Thinking

The ultimate purpose of my conference presentation at the Invent-L conference was to think about thinking–how can new technologies change the way we think? And the more I think about *that* the more I return to the question of thought itself. And ever since I asked the question, I continue to bump into this question in the books of philosophy that I dip into. So I’m not far off the track….

For example, I grabbed Gilles Deleuze’s Deserted Islands and Other Essays 1953-1974 from the shelf tonight and read the one titled, “On Nietzsche and the Image of Thought.” He writes that he’s interested in Hume, Bergson and Proust b/c in their work are

elements for a new image of thought. There’s something extraordinary in the way they tell us: thinking means something else than what you believe. We live with a particular image of thought, that is to say, before we begin to think, we have a vague idea of what it means to think, its means and ends….Proust, for example, has the idea that every thought is an aggression…and that we think only when we are forced and constrained to think. (139)

As I read this, I thought of the images of mixture I’ve developed after thinking about the elemental pre-socratic philosophers: mud bubble dust lava: mud (earth + water), bubble (air + water), dust (earth + air) and lava (earth + fire). What I need to do is to figure out how to think like these mixtures: think like mud, like bubble, like dust, like lava. For as Deleuze writes, “What we’re looking for these days is a new image of the act of thought, its functioning, its genesis in thought itself” (140).

This will require “formal renewal” as well. Deleuze points to this problem:

in philosophy, we’re all experiencing this problem of formal renewal. It’s certainly possible. It begins with little things. For example, using the history of philosophy as a ‘collage’… Also, the medium in philosophy is the concept (like sound for the musician or color for the painter), the philosopher creates concepts. He executes his creation in a conceptual ‘continuum’ just like the musician does in a sonorous medium. What’s important here is this: where do concepts come from? What is the creation of concepts? A concept exists no less than characters do. In my opinion, what we need is a massive expenditure of concepts, an excess of concepts. (141)

So how can the mixture-concepts I have created guide the formal execution of my philosophies? That is the question I am wrestling with (in the mud? mud-wrestling the question?).


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