6 Essays

2. A Story of Darkness

The dominant colour of the book’s cover is a velvety dark blue. It is not the blue used on maps to symbolise water, it is, instead, a rich matte blue, towards the violet end of the spectrum, a colour which could be used by an artist to encompass the idea of an approaching storm.

Two fine white lines bisect the cover, one runs vertically, from top to bottom, close to the book’s spine, the second, a horizontal line, crosses the cover from this vertical line to the right edge, about a third of the way down. These lines are borders that define territories. A border, to quote Jacques Derrida, is a frame, a system of edges, a margin and a limit. A border to be a border must have two features: linearity and indivisibility, a border that is not a continuous line is not a border.

Together, the two lines define three territories. The vertical line defines the territory to the west of it, this is the territory of the pennines, the book’s backbone, that which keeps it rigid, allowing the pages to fan out around it. The horizontal line, when it joins with the vertical line defines two further territories, to the north the territory of the title, and to the south the territory of the author. The realm of the author is that which authorises, makes what is to come authentic. It does this in three ways: first by naming the author, second by naming the publisher, and finally by naming the series which the book is part of. The superior territory, that of the title, continues this process of naming, by giving the book its title: Dark Deleuze. The title is given to the book by its author, and is taken by the reader to be part of the book’s story, in this case a story of darkness.

This story of darkness finds its echo in the figure named in the title; the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, who, for many years, suffered from a pulmonary incapacity, caused, in part, by excessive smoking. This led to him being “chained like a dog” to an oxygen machine, and which ultimately led to him taking his life by throwing himself from his apartment window. The packaging of French cigarettes was famously designed to be cool and attractive. A particular well known brand came enclosed in a box of blue, similar to the blue of the book’s cover, and was, in turn, enclosed on all sides by a cellophane wrapper, traversed around, top to bottom, back to front by a line, a border that must be broken to gain access to the box and its contents within.

Within, the blue box is overlain on its front, and at its centre, by a two-word name, one word on top of the other: Gitanes Internationale, “International Gypsy Women.” Below this name there is a silhouette of a dancer caught in elegant and stylised action, holding a tambourine above her head, the comb of her mantilla visible; her left hand on her waist, leaning slightly backwards, her long skirt follows the line of her left leg. She is enclosed by two short white lines, one in front and one behind, both lines follow a sinuous path outward, while fading into the blue below. These lines represent smoke and thereby the dream within which she first materialised. Below this figure a further legend appears: Melange Original. Tabacs brun luxe. The figure of the dancing gypsy, symbolises, by her colour, what is within. Here the dark silhouette indicates Tabacs brun luxe, the “luxury brown tobacco” of gitanes brunes, while elsewhere, a silhouette in yellow ochre indicates the light brown tobacco of the gitanes blonde.

Derek Hampson