In Difference and Repetition, Deleuze proposes what we may be permitted to term a differential phenomenology capable at last of setting mathematics and logic themselves upon a proper “ground” — that of difference, and multiplicity… Not only is it possible to overturn representation, but we can begin right away — if we immediately cease to encode relationships between singularities as identities, oppositions, analogies, and so on — but instead in terms of constitutive inequalities.
Deleuze’s project, as always, is pure affirmation without negativity or contradiction. Here he challenges all of us to affirm a Difference capable of constructing the very system which then cancels it — precisely by explicating it! — so that, strictly speaking, difference ought to be (and always will have been) inexplicable. What does this mean? How does this affirmation work?
Difference resists inclusion within the symbolic network which it produces as its destination and even “discovers” as its origin. Qualities, especially when taken as signs, present us with these same two faces. For on the one hand, they indicate “an implicated order of constitutive differences”; but on the other hand, the quality “tends to cancel out those differences in the extended order in which they are explicated.” (Difference and Repetition 228) It is also in this sense that signification is at once an origin and a destination (or directing agency, an “ordering” machine.) But the two functions are uneasily fused together: the destination denies the origin. Difference cancels itself by extending itself, covering itself with a quality. What happened? What is this uncanny “empirical” effect of qualitative distortion?
For Deleuze, “[t]he peculiarity of ‘effects,’ in the causal sense, is to have a perceptual ‘effect’ and to be able to be called by a proper name (Seebeck effect, Kelvin effect…), because they emerge in a properly differential field of individuation which the name symbolises. The vanishing of difference is precisely inseparable from an ‘effect’ of which we are victims.” (D&R 228) The unblinking (or “indifferent”) victims of a vanished Difference which nonetheless lives on, in itself, even as it is being evacuated, cancelled, and mutilated by its own explication. Deleuze returns again and again to the the two distinct “faces” of pragmatics, characterized by the fixation upon a particular “extensity” guaranteed by an illusory functionalization of difference (for example, the empirical or sensible as opposed to the transcendental.)