Machines, Faces, Neurons Towards an Ethics of Dance Andre Lepecki Concluding this series on dance and philosophy, the reader will find three essays that reveal, through different national perspectives and theoretical frames, how a supposedly stable rela- tionship between the terms "dance" and "choreography" becomes quietly shaken by certain philosophical concepts and theoretical concerns.
Particularly relevant in the essays composing this installment is the prevalence and relevance for dance studies of certain concepts and concerns derived from the "practical philosophy" of Gilles Deleuze-as it is made explicitly clear in the contributions by Gerald Siegmund and
Victoria Anderson Davies. And, even if only in an implicit way, we can also find in Christine Greiner's exposition of contemporary Brazilian dance research and practices-framed theoretically by an exposition of recent advances in cognitive science and their implications for dance studies-a deep resonance with Deleuze's philosophical project; one where an ethical imperative (inspired by Spinoza) gets deeply entangled with an "ethology."
What is this very particular project that we find in Deleuze: the aligning of an ethics with an ethology? We can see it as a project of affirming life-as a desire to activate powers (pouissance) and affects that are not bound to organizational tyrannies or majoritarian imperatives on how to live one's life. Deleuze articulates quite beautifully how this immanent affirmation of life is simultaneously an ethics and an ethology of being (and of desire) in his short book on Spinoza ( 1988). With caring words, words filled with complicity-perhaps even to the point where they become projective words, as if Deleuze was creating or imaging Spinoza even as he wrote him (the philosopher as sorcerer)1-Deleuze explains Spinoza's fascination with spiders, particularly when fighting:
Animals at least teach us the irreducibly external character of death. They do not carry it within, although they necessarily bring it to each other: an inevitable bad encounter in the order of natural existences. But they have not yet invented that internal death, the universal sadomasochism of the tyrant-slave. ( 1988:12-13)
1. Writing about Delueze's portrait of Spinoza in his book Deleuze, Alain Badiou states that Deleuze's Spinoza is "unrecognizable" (1999:1). Andre Lepecki is Associate Professor in the Department of Performance Studies at New York University.
Throughout the late 1980s and 1990s he worked as dramaturge for choreographers Vera Mantero, Francisco Camacho, Joao Fiadeiro, and Meg Stuart. He is the editor of Of the Presence of the Body (Wesleyan University Press, 2004) and, with Sally Banes, of The Senses in Performance (Routledge, 2006). He is the author of Exhausting Dance: Performance and the Politics of Movement (Routledge, 2006).
TDR: The Drama Review 51:3 (T195) Fall 2007. (c)2007 New York University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology This affirmation of life that does not deny or foreclose death, this desire for the creation of a mode of living, a mode of being, a mode of relating, that refuses the tyranny/disease that prevents "someone from speaking [and living] in his or her name"-for Deleuze, a mode of living that refuses all tyrannical mechanisms and powers (pouvoir) that force anyone to "have them say 'I'"-this is the ethics Deleuze finds in ethology; a word that no longer names exclusively a practical science of animal behavior, but that becomes now, for Deleuze, a practicalphilosophical concept. As he and Guattari explain in A Thousand Plateaus:
"Ethology" [as a concept. . .] can be understood as a very privileged molar domain for demonstrating how the most varied components (biochemical, behavioral, perceptive, hereditary, acquired, improvised, social, etc.) can crystallize in assemblages that respect neither the distinction between orders nor the hierarchy of forms. ( 1987:336)
Now, we must remember that these disrespectful assemblages are but bodily, performative, and linguistic experiments necessary to break any one being from the chains that enslave the constitutive multiplicity of its subjectivity into a "fictitious expressing subject, an absolute I" (2006:86). No other art form in modernity has been responsible for physically creating a cohort of absolute "I's" as much as choreography-an "I" so absolute that it becomes transcendental, as