“Second hypothesis: The analogy or analogical language by or as a language of relations. It’s Bateson’s hypothesis, who is also a very interesting author. The analogical language would be a language of relations in opposition to what? In opposition to the conventional language: the language of codes. What would be that? That would be, says Bateson ―who sticks to very simple things to try to make us understand something very curious―, a language of states of things. Our codified language, our digital language would be a language appropriate for the designation, for the determination or the translation of the states of things, while the analogical language would serve and express the relations. What does Bateson mean? He points out what is meant to understand by relation. It is a curious story. I need it because this strange detour will return us to painting. There is a famous text of Bateson on the language of dolphins. Indeed, Bateson has done all kinds of activities in his extremely rich life. He still lives. He was the husband of Margaret Mead, an ethnologist. Then he began with ethnology, but it results that he was much better than Margaret Mead. He has made very very curious, very deep, very important ethnological studies. Besides, it is about really a race in the American style. He’s great. It is said: “Ugh, no no …”. He is a good case of the American hero. They do not stop to be going, to be going… he is a kind of hippie … He is the hippie of philosophy. Then he has divorced from Margaret Mead and divorced from the savages. Then he fell on the schizophrenics. He had done a great theory about schizophrenia, one of the most beautiful, a well-known theory today in France under the name of theory of the double-bind. All this with an application of the theory of types to schizophrenia ―he is very familiar with the logic of Russell―.
Anyway, very good. Then he got disinterested. Then he has thrown on the language of dolphins. That was even better. Schizophrenia seemed too human for him, too monotonous. ‘Dolphins’ he says. And the he works with the dolphins. Obviously has many credits the U.S. Army, who is very interested in dolphins. But the results of Bateson are very funny, because they are not properly suitable for the Marines themselves. That is wonderful, it is a good job. And you’ll see why I invoke this race. He begins by telling us some very rudimentary things, because it is really the American way. They do not know our western development, ala European. They start with extremely simple things. We deduce, they knot simple things, make a sort of nest of vipers and draw a paradox. This is not at all our mental functioning. That’s why they invent many concepts. I’m talking about Americans who can achieve it. They invent many more concepts than we do because we do the invention of concepts very deductive. They make their kinds of knots gathering very different things. Bateson then puts a schizophrenic, a savage and a dolphin, and then, well … something will go. I think it’s a great philosophy. And it involves as much rigor as ours, because the last word will be to make the logic of paradox. That’s why they are fundamentally logical. Still, they are open to everything. It is outdoors logic. While in our case it is about of the deduction in a closed medium. It’s kind of what I say, we finally do easel-philosophy. You understand, the history of philosophy is our easel. With the Americans it’s not. But anyway, rarely they are in the level of Bateson. Well, never mind.
Bateson says then: “You understand, the conventional language is the left hemisphere of the brain ―that commands the right side of the body― and analogical language is the right hemisphere”. This is about the right hemisphere against the left hemisphere. Let us return to one of our benchmarks: the conventional or digital language is fundamentally articulated. Then the analogical language is not articulated. You see that here we turn around to our question: since it is not articulated, what is it? If we find what it is, perhaps we would have then our definition of painting. Well, it is not articulated, it is non-articulated. What is it made of then? It is made of non-linguistic things, not even sound; it is made of movement, of kinesis ―as they say―. It is made of the expression of emotions; it is made of inarticulate sound data: the breathing, the screams … You see that if we talked about music we would find also a problem, because what is the song? Is it articulated or unarticulated, analogical or digital? We don’t know, so we don’t put music on our backs. But you see then that this analogical language is somewhat a bestial language. But we have it, and it is made of very heterogeneous data ―and here Bateson is only testing―: hairs that stand on end, a rictus of the mouth, a scream, for example. Everything is analogical language. What resembles the hairs that stand on end? It is not a language of similitude. A scream does not resemble at all the horror that has given birth to that scream. It is not simple then. What is going to define the analogical language? Bateson says that it is a language of the relations. What does he mean by relations? He does not mean whatever relations though it seems he does ―there are texts in which he says this―, because if he would say whatever relations, we would relapse into similitude. That is, the analogical language would be the one that works by transportation of relations. Example: in a diagram it must be represented a large amount and a relatively small amount, and they do then two levels, one smaller than the other. It’s similitude, and it is indeed a language of relations. But that’s not what it means, since we have already eliminated the hypothesis of similitude.
What Bateson means is about a language that supposedly expresses the relations between the sender and the receiver, between the one who emits it and the one to who it is destined. The analogical language is a language of relations. Only implicit: of relations between a sender and an addressee. In other words, it expresses above all the relations of dependency under every of its possible forms. You see that is very different than similitude. The analogical language would express the relations, and would express the dependency relations between a sender and a receiver. Well, that’s what the analogical language would make. Whenever Bateson has a small acquisition, feels the need to joke. But they are always very good jokes. He calls this function mu. Why mu? because mu is the Greek letter that corresponds to our m. And you see, the example which I always return to is that of the cat: the cat meows in the morning ‘Meow’. The function mu is the ‘meow’. The British and Americans have never gotten themselves out of Lewis Carrol… What is the mu function or ‘meow’? Bateson says that when the cat meows in the morning at the time you get up, it does not tell you through that meow, which is analogical language: ‘Milk, milk’. It tells instead, “Dependency, dependency, I depend on you’. There are all variables that you want. There are ‘meows’ of anger that say: ‘I depend on you, and I’m sick of it’. It is a very rich language. But with all the modifications that you want, it always expresses the relations between the sender and recipient. It is the mu function. And Bateson says it is a language in which there are many deductions. See the structure of such language: it directly expresses the mu function, ie, the functions of dependency, the dependency relations, and we must infer right from there the state of things. That is, I must deduce, ‘Oh, my little cat wants milk’. And if it is a beast who speaks with another beast in analogical language, there is also place to deduce something. Bateson has pointed out for example the famous ritual of wolves or dogs, in which the one who recognizes its inferiority tends its neck and in that moment makes an act of dependence upon the leader or towards a more potent beast: they have a dependency relation of which follows a state of things. It would be the equivalent in our language, ‘I will not do it again’. The states of things are mainly deduced from the relations, the relations of dependency. Thus, that is how Bateson defines analogical language”.
*Extrait audio d’après la voix de Gilles Deleuze en ligne, peinture cours du 05/05/81. Transcription de Guy Nicolas.
Translated by Naxos.