Divinatory Chances


Two issues for Deleuze’s thought converge in its encounter with combinatorial divination: (1) the problem of a philosophical affirmation of the “whole of chance” or of “all chance in a single moment” (Difference and Repetition [DR] 198; Logic of Sense [LS] 180); and (2) the serial and habitual nature of relations between the virtual and the actual (DR 208-212; LS 36-41). Both issues concern an incidence or overlap of ethics and metaphysics in Deleuze’s philosophy: to affirm chance as a whole is to repeat differently the Stoic ethical submission to the unity of a rational cosmos by means of a Nietzschean conversion to the creative influx of a metaphysical “throw of the dice;” to contract the habits of a creative ethos through repetition is to index and unfold a metaphysical encounter of actualizing and virtualizing forces in some determinate context. It is solely through an affirmative and serial exercise of thought (its real practice rather than representational function) that these philosophical concerns may themselves be properly addressed. Such exercise becomes manifest most clearly in the linking of philosophy to various non-philosophical practices, and this is why in what follows we connect Deleuze’s thought to modes of practice involved in systems of aleatoric divination–specifically those finite, combinatorial systems such as the I Ching and Tarot, which organize a subset of fixed elements in singular “throws” or “casts.” It is hoped that this construction will shed light on Deleuze’s own creative dice-cast within philosophy and that perhaps this latter may then appear less like a turn at some philosophical game of chance than a reimaging of philosophy itself through creative forms of esoteric or spiritual exercise.

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