The Eyes of the Fourth Person Singular

Deleuze and Guatarri Studies 9 (2):185-207 (2015)
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By tracing the genealogy of Lawrence Ferlinghetti's outlandish notion of the fourth person singular and its appropriation in The Logic of Sense, several keys concepts in Deleuze's thought such as the nonpersonal and pre-individual subjectivity can be rendered clearer to the understanding. While there is poetic licence in the use of the term by Ferlinghetti, the fourth person singular is heuristic for exploring the notion of free indirect speech and, more speculatively, the ideas of impersonal death and suicide. The fourth person singular is thus a trope that sheds light on the ideas of humour, irony, lightness and becoming ‘without a verb’ in Deleuze's thought. Under close scrutiny is what Ferlinghetti designates as the ‘cool’ eyes of the fourth person singular. We shall work to differentiate these from so-called mad, Dada-esque ‘unblinking’ eyes. We shall ask how the poet in ‘obscenely seeing’ the impossible possibility of life can envision – perspicaciously – the immanent sense of death-in-life. From what standpoint does the poet gain access to the real? To consider this fully it is necessary to follow the Deleuzian interpretation of singularities as true transcendental events so as to clarify what gives life a ‘non-personal power, above individuals’.



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Joff Bradley
Teikyo University

References found in this work

A thousand plateaus: capitalism and schizophrenia.Gilles Deleuze - 1987 - London: Athlone Press. Edited by Félix Guattari.
Difference and repetition.Gilles Deleuze - 1994 - London: Athlone Press.
Spinoza, practical philosophy.Gilles Deleuze - 1988 - San Francisco: City Lights Books.
Logique Du Sens.Gilles Deleuze - 1969 - Columbia University Press.

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