“Being sensitive to signs”. Knowledge, truth and sociability in Deleuze’s Proust: Hypotheses for a Spinozist Proust?
The purpose of this paper proposal is to start from Deleuze’s study, Proust and the Signs. To describe and, if possible, to re-actualize Deleuze’s reading of Proust. The work concerning Proust, as for many other Deleuze books, even if it was written at a time before the essays that brought Deleuze to fame (such as Difference and Repetition, or the books on Spinoza or, in the following decades, those on cinema), already bears a typical character of Deleuze’s work: that of a “breaking in” in fields, apparently, not directly belonging to the field of philosophy. Sometimes arousing, at first, an irritated reaction or, worse, the indifference of “specialist” scholars, historians of literature, critics. But which points it is important to take up and actualize from Deleuze’s work?
On the one hand, we want to focus on the general evaluation of Proust’s work: as it is well known, Deleuze insists on a fundamental point that he takes directly from Proust, but that breaks a commonplace, at least with regard to the period of Deleuze’s book publication. The Recherche is a great work not about memory but on knowledge, and even about a “truth”: achieved through perception, and the stratification of different types of signs. However, this knowledge passes through types of figures and dynamic and complex chainings (such as series, groups); certainly, through characters and situations that nevertheless always refer, for Deleuze-Proust, to worlds from which the characters themselves work to extract other signs. So, we will try, in the first place, to take up these dynamic maps and typologies. But also, secondly, to formulate a hypothesis: to ask ourselves whether Deleuze’s work on Proust is also a work of “refoundation”; ahead of its time, of a semiotics; linked, perhaps, to a philosophy that, as we know, lies at the heart of Deleuze’s work, that of Spinoza.