“The spider’s semiotic strategy”. Signs, time and death between Proust and Deleuze

  • Franco Forchetti


Deleuze describes Proust’s Recherche as a “great feat of schizoanalysis” where narrator is compared to a spider and where there is a “very lively presence” of the “madness”. Recherche can be thought not so much as a “documentality” of Memory but as prophecy of the deleuzian’s century (Foucault). We aim at explaining the semiological system of madness (a double system, paranoid and schizoid) which can be connected with the possibility to provide more interpretation concerning the metaphor of spider. We attempt at focusing three interpretations about it that are connected by a deep structure which transforms reality and aesthetics (a single line where spider, body without organs, egg and death instinct are the same thing): spider as metaphor of dark precursor what makes it possibile to work out for signs and signals; as metaphor of repetition and, consequently, of eternal return; as diagram; as metaphor of Thirdness. In Difference and Repetition, Combray, defined as “an itself of the past”, works out like a virtual object and generates two series: pure past and actual present. Proust’s sentence (“a bit of time in the pure state”) is intelligible within the deleuzian framework of pure past and death instinct (i.e. the empty form of time) which is influenced by Nietzsche’s eternal return and will to power. We set out to show how Time’s machines (partial objects-machine, resonance-machine and death machine), concepts founded in Recherche and influenced by desire-machines in Anti-Oedipe, could be connected with the three synthesis of Time in Difference and Repetition, with infinite semiosis (Peirce) and, under certain conditions, with the Q-model interpreted by Eco. The aim of the paper is to outline the coordinates of a “deleuzian Meta-Proust: a semiotic-narrative structure (a kind of spider-repeater) made up of love repetitions, series of signs, references, as found by Deleuze, to the theory of “original hermaphrodite” – which can be also interpreted in a semiotic’s way – and to the hybrid nature of sexuality. It’s no accident that Recherche is defined as a pluralist "system of signs", within a platonic (or neoplatonic) frame of essences (or ideas). Deleuze might seem to be interested to find in or by Proust the tracks of a semiotics of Thirdness – a framework identified and studied by Peirce, Eco and Paolucci – that, although in a system that continues to be platonic (or neoplatonic), shows how the Essence-Sense could be conceived as difference and literary creation. This Thirdness might be read by the Sartre’s idea of transcendental field, received and transformed by Deleuze, even within the Proust’s interpretation, in order to establish a transcendental field conceived as an effect of sense (fourth dimension of the sentence) that works out as a dark precursor or virtual object (love series in Recherche) that Deleuze attempts to connect to Joyce’s epiphany. The semiotic strategy of the spider, to paraphrase the title of a well-known film by Bertolucci, is not only that of the “spider Proust” which reacts to the signal emitted by its characters, but also that of the “spider Deleuze" whose web vibrates and captures the signs of literature so as to place literature (a field where literary criticism and psychoanalytic clinic could be connected), included in Foucault’s archeological territories of knowledge, into the game of interactions between human sciences.

How to Cite
Forchetti, F. (2020). “The spider’s semiotic strategy”. Signs, time and death between Proust and Deleuze. E|C, (33), 30-63. Retrieved from https://mimesisjournals.com/ojs/index.php/ec/article/view/1710