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Thinking Through Tragedy and Comedy A Symposium on Performance Philosophy and the Future of Genre

Russell Ford

In 1967, Deleuze presented a paper to the French Society for Philosophy entitled, “The Method of Dramatization.” Much of the paper would find its way into Difference and Repetition which was published in the following year. Throughout his works, Deleuze has recourse to the language of drama and performance – I’m thinking especially of the discussions of tragedy in Nietzsche and Philosophy, and of comedy in Coldness and Cruelty, both of which are extended in other works. His comments in “The Method of Dramatization” allow these discussions to be seen not as aesthetic diversions but as integral parts of his critique of interiority, of the philosophical tradition of the cogito. When he argues against any kind of philosophy that starts from “inner life,” Deleuze is often in dialogue with one of his teachers, Jean Wahl. The philosophy of difference is a project initially conceived by Wahl (in his work on Kierkegaard) and, like Deleuze, Wahl finds comedy to be an essential part of such a philosophy. My comments will connect Deleuze’s work and Wahl’s work on Kierkegaard and discuss the difference between representation and dramatization as philosophical methods.

I am an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Elmhurst College. I have published several essays on twentieth century French philosophy, especially Deleuze, and translated Pierre Klossowski’s Such a Deathly Desire (SUNY, 2007). Currently I am working on a book that places Deleuze’s early philosophical work in its historical context, tentatively entitled The Invention of a Philosophy of Difference, Gilles Deleuze, 1953-1957.