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Garin Dowd (Thames Valley University)
The paper seeks to read Murphy in the light of the 'ethology' which Gilles Deleuze emphasises in his reading of the philosophy of Spinoza. As Deleuze understands it, 'ethology' goes beyond the study of behaviours, and in the hands of Spinoza becomes the analysis of relations between different velocities as these operate in forms (including life-forms), such that they problematise form itself. The result is that "life, each individuality of life" should be thought of as a "complex rapport between differential speeds, between the slowing down and acceleration of particles" (Deleuze 1981, 165). My paper seeks to add to the existing critical material addressing the question of Spinozan elements in the writings of Beckett, and notably as these are to be found in the famous chapter 6 of Murphy. To this end, the second half of the paper turns to plateau 7 of Deleuze and Félix Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus. There the authors describe in, broadly speaking, ethological terms the regime of representation they name 'faciality' (visagéité). The Face is a 'molar' regime of figuration, identity and representation recognisable by its Platonic complexion. By contrast, what the authors call "the pure abstract machine of faciality" operates at 'molecular' speeds which cannot be reconciled with the demands of the regime of the Face. From the face of Mr Endon as gazed on by Murphy at the MMM to the "deathless rump" which stares down and "downface(s)" Neary at the GPO, Murphy's shape of chaos can be read in accordance with the coordinates provided by its faces, facets and other dermic, epidermic and otherwise 'facialised' surfaces. Thus, in addition to reading Beckett's novel in the light of perspectives deriving from Deleuze (and Guattari) and Spinoza (and Deleuze's Spinoza), my paper hopes to consider afresh the often-discussed echo of the Greek word for form in Murphy's name.
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