La chute

Douglas Edric Stanley


For various reasons, I was looking for Deleuze’s writings on the fall, or “la chute”, just yeasterday. It’s a concept I discovered just at the time of his death when he had thrown himself out of a window. Interresting coincidence. Suddenly I remember that I had discussed this matter on an old discussion list on Deleuze & Guattari’s work way back in the Mosaic era of the Internet (ah, I could almost shed a tear). I looked it up, and sure enough it was still there (cringe). I actually thought it was interresting, so here is the link [C’est ton chagrin idiot]. Unfortunately I hadn’t learned to keep out of flame wars back then (allow me my youth), so there’s a little whining, but that old archive generated a few ideas during the night, so I wanted to put it here — if only for myself — so as to have an easy access to it.

File spoon-archives/deleuze-guattari.archive/d-g_1995/deleuze_death, message 48

Date: Wed, 8 Nov 1995 13:17:04 +0100
From: douglas edric stanley <>
Subject: Oh, its just your stupid grieving

>Nietzsche writes in TWILIGHT OF THE IDOLS and also in ZARATHUSTRA of 'dying at
>the right time'.  When it is no longer possible to live well, it is time to
>die well, against the farce that Christianity has made death into.
>I'm not sure if jumping out a window constitutes 'dying well', but it's
>probably best to get some more details first.

On television, under the letter A for Animal, Deleuze talked about "un bon
coin pour mourir". He was in a sense making fun of Heidegger's notion of
animals perishing rather than dying (for of course only humans would
"die"). In response to this "idiocy" he described one of his family's cats
("Il y a toujours des chats qui trainent ici" - I'm working by memory) and
said that one of them was very sick and simply went into an "encoignure", a
corner, huddled itself into a ball and waited to die. He spoke of finding a
"bon coin pour mourir". That a writer for example (and I really should find
a recording of this because it was quite lovely) is just looking for a "bon
coin pour mourir". His writing is just so many attempts at finding a "bon
coin". I still remember how important this comment was for my own writing
and not simply because I had already written just such a scene for
something I was working on...

I remember when telling my wife of Heidegger's "perishing" animals, she too
laughed it off. Apparently, elephants are quite aware of their death and
look too for a "bon coin pour mourir".

As for Deleuze's petit coin, I can't say much for now. However the day I
found about all this (Tuesday), I had been working on "La logique de la
sensation" and one of the chapters (number X) deals with "la chute", the

"Le primat chez Bacon est donne a la descente. Bizarrement, l'actif, c'est
ce qui descend, ce qui tombe. L'ACTIF, C'EST LA CHUTE, mais ce n'est pas
forcement une descente dans l'espace, en extention. C'est la descente comme
passage de la sensation, comme difference de niveau comprise dans la
sensation. La plupart des auteurs qui se sont confrontes a ce probleme de
l'intensite dans la sensation semblent avoir rencontre cette meme reponse:
la difference d'intensite s'eprouve dans une chute. D'ou l'idee d'une lutte
POUR la chute....Chez Bacon la chair descend des os, le corps descend des
bras ou des cuisses dresses. La sensation se developpe par chute, en
tombant d'un niveau a l'autre. L'idee d'une realite positive, active, de la
chute est essentielle ici." (p.54)

The fall is active. It is the passing of sensation from one level to
another in its descent, descent as immanence, rather than the loss of
energy by a physical loss of height. It is the affirmation of these levels
by sensation's passing through them that makes the fall active. Strange
perhaps to imagine a piece of flesh falling off a body as an active
affirmation of sensation. But this is the case. "C'est que la chute ne doit
pas du tout etre inerpretee de facon thermodynamique, comme si se
produisait une entropie, une tendance a l'egalite de plus bas niveau. Au
contraire, la chute est la pour affirmer la difference de niveau comme
tel." It's not a loss of energy or a development of chaos as a loss in
energy. Rather it is a production of energy, or better, a production of
sensation. The fall as accumulation of passages from one level to the next,
felt in, developed through sensation.

Interesting then that Deleuze's petit coin might not be a the corner of a
room, or the pavement, but the fall. And as concerns the pavement, by then
it was no longer his affair.

But again, all of this has nothing to do with Deleuze, which is precisely
why it has everything to do with him and with the affirmation of life it
entails: "Cette idee de chute n'implique aucun contexte de misere, d'echec
ou de souffrance, bien qu'un tel contexte puisse l'illustrer plus
facilement. Mais de meme que la violence d'une sensation ne se confond pas
avec la violence d'une scene representee, la chute de plus en plus profonde
dans une sensation ne se confond pas avec une chute representee dans
l'espace, sauf par commodite et par humour. La chute est ce qu'il y a de
plus vivant dans la sensation, ce dans quoi la sensation s'eprouve comme
vivante." (p.54-5).

I'll blindly translate it if I can because it's too important: "In no way
does this idea of the fall imply misery, failure or suffering, even though
it could easily be illustrated by just such a context. Just as the violence
of sensation cannot be confused with the violence of a scene in its
representation, the ever deepening fall into sensation does not confuse
itself with a fall represented in space. Except of course in a humorous or
convenient case. The fall is what is most alive in sensation, that in which
sensation experiences itself as alive."

I didn't really read that closely all of the postings from these last two
days because they all seemed to be "Oh please tell me that bitch is lying",
"How will we talk about his death?", "Let us talk about his death
correctly", "We are reducing his texts to platitudes", " I know better than
you how to talk about his death", etc... You sharks you. Deleuze jumped out
of a window and it must have been horrible and wonderful, or perhaps the
most banal footnote in all of history. A body goes thump and some miserable
concierge pulls out a bucket to clean it up. Point final, if you really
want to know. The rest is up to you, take your own responsibility damn it,
write your own brilliant obituary if it's that important to you.

Yesterday I found a Liberation hanging out of a trash can. It smelled like
someone's lunch. In it there were philosophers like Badiou, Lyotard,
Derrida and Nancy talking about their friendships with Deleuze. Some guy I
don't know reported that Deleuze used to tell him something like, "C'est
ton chagrin idiot...." Enfin.

Douglas Edric
Paris. 8.11.1995