Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts


Theory and Criticism


John Vanderheide


Gilles Deleuze’s monograph on Francis Bacon, The Logic of Sensation (1981), proposes a theory of aesthetic experience that prioritizes the material depths of sensation over stable, identifiable forms. Deleuze’s key references in The Logic of Sensation to playwright Antonin Artaud arouse the suspicion that Artaud’s schizophrenic experience of language, wherein words are reduced to phonetic ramblings, illuminates how Deleuze interprets this chaos of sensation in Bacon’s art. My work therefore calls back to The Logic of Sense (1969) and the first section of his book on Masochism (1967) to explore the waves of consistency between Deleuze’s understanding of language and the body, which is also to say between literature and painting. Yet while The Logic of Sensation may read like an exhaustive theory of art, Deleuze subtly indicates in this text that his system has its limits. Along with the molecular, material depths of sensation, Deleuze alludes to a cosmological, immaterial function of art. He observes this to exist almost exclusively in music and its force of floating time. Rather than turning solely to Plateau 11: Of the Refrain, I also adopt his earlier writings on Proust to explore a Deleuzian musicology. This Proust-music aesthetic schema (which I coin the musical pole) contrasts sharply with that of Bacon-Artaud (the painterly pole). Through an examination of the painterly and musical poles and to what extent the two can be synthesized, my work examines the enthralling disjunction in Deleuze’s aesthetics.