Forever Becoming


These becomings animate the possibilities of life, constantly moving through what we know to be real or true and running beyond the limits, boundaries and constraints that make those realities and truths what they seem to be.

Becoming explodes the ideas about what we are and what we can be beyond the categories that seem to contain us: beyond the boundaries seperating human being from animal, man from woman, child from adult, micro from macro, and even perceptible and understandable from imperceptible and incomprehensible.

Becoming moves beyond our need to know (the truth,what is real, what makes us human); beyond our determination to control (life, nature, the universe); and beyond our desire to consume or possess (pleasure, beauty, goodness, innocence).

So becoming offers a radical conception of what a life does.

Positive ontology

Deleuze's work is often applauded for the "positive ontology" it pursues. By this, scholars acknowledge that Deleuze is concerned with unfettering possibility to experiment with that a life can do and where a life might go. In other words, Delueze affirms the possibilities of becoming something else, beyond the avenues, relations, values and meanings that seem to be laid out for us by our biological make-up, our evolutionary heritages, our historical/political/familial allegiances, and the social and cultural structures of civilized living.

There is in this a radical affirmation of the sort of possibilities for becoming that we cannot think of in logical or moralistic terms: becomings that can only be felt or sensed or conjured, that require us to take risks and experiment in ways that affirm the vitality, the energies and the creative animations of existence.

The block of becoming

We might be tempted to think of becoming in terms of where or who we were when we started and where or who we are when we end up. But becoming is not about origins, progressions and ends; rather it is about lines and intensities ...

Deleuze and Guattari have described the movement of becoming as "rhizomatic", a term that refers to underground root growth, the rampant, dense propagation of roots that characterizes such plants as mint or crabgrass. Each rhizomatic root may take off in its own singular direction and make its own connections with other roots, with worms, insects, rocks or whatever, forming a dynamic composition of "interkingdoms [and] unnatural participations" that has no prescribed form or end.


As Deleuze and Guattari observe, "the self is only a threshold, a door, a becoming between two multiplicities". While we might think of the self as that which is ours, the site of our uniqueness and that which most distinguishes us from others, in this observation Deleuze and Guattari cast the self as preceding these forms and functions of self-organization.

So the importance of thresholds is that these "in-betweens" are becomings. When we are "in-between", on the threshold, what keeps us distinct from this or that can become indiscernible or indistinct or imperceptible.


Deleuze's philosophy is often called a philosophy of immanence because it is concerned with what a life can do, what a body can do when we think in terms of becomings, multiplicities, lines and intensities rather than essential forms, predetermined subjects, structured functions or transcendent values.

... a plane of immanence has no structure and does not produce predetermined forms or subjects; instead, there are "relations of movement and rest, speed and slowness ... molecules and particles of all kinds".


Becoming-woman disrupts the rigid hierarchies of sexual binaries such as male/female, heterosexuality/homosexuality, masculinity/femininity that organizes our bodies, our experiences, our institutions and our histories.

Both men and women must become-woman, Deleuze and Guattari argue, in order to deterritorialize the binary organization of sexuality; sexuality then becomes "the production of a thousand sexes, which are so many uncontrollable becomings". This is the unleashing of desire, the opening of a life, and the threshold to imperceptibility.

... "knowing how to love" is the "immanent end of becoming". And since everybody and everything is the aggregate of molar entities, becoming everybody and everything, that is, becoming-imperceptible and indiscernibly in-between, is to make a different world.

As philosophical concepts, becoming-woman and the girl allow us to think differently, imagine new modes of becomings, animate forces of desire, and open doors and thresholds into new worlds.

[Patty Sotirin]
Gilles Deleuze, Key Concepts, p.99, 100-1, 103, 108-9

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