Can someone help me understand the 11th and 13th series of Delueze's "The Logic Of Sense"

I am struggling to fully understand what he is trying to get across with the ideas of:

  • nonsense
  • the phantasm (I recorded these notes regarding it)

    1. Phantasms are events but are not reduced to states of affairs (internal causes) or language (external causes); they are the event as it appears Phantasm events are quasi-caused: they are not reduced to their states of affairs or language but must be represented in them
    2. Then phantasm is not based in the person (ego, consciousness, mind)
    3. The phantasm is not reduced to the state of affairs of the event nor to the language representing that state of affairs. Instead, it is the infinitive verb



1) Nonsense: Say there are two laws, one which states that the first level of denotation is a member of a higher order type or a class, than the objects which are in or referenced by it. The second says that an element must belong to a distinct set, and cannot belong to the subsets of that set. When these laws are broken you create paradoxes and nonsense. Sense thus presupposes nonsense as types of expression for which rules against infinite regression and disjuctive syntheses are based, as they can kill sense. When the description of the two series of "word = x", "thing = x" explains the functioning of denotation, manifestation and signification, it's eliding the explicit description of the rules that prevent sense from not being created. This chapter is an explanation of that which is later explored explicitly with the chapter on paradoxes, but in the form of the raw material of expression that doesn't follow the rules that produce sense. In a way these are multiple presentations of the same process, just from different angles. The ultimate point here is to uncover the process by which sense is produced, and to explore in what sense sense operates on the surface of things.

2) The phantasm is a bit more difficult to explain in simple terms but I'll try..

Try to recall the first time you were to exposed to sexuality --something that left a clear mark on your development psychologically. That scene as emotionally experienced by a subject leaves some latent as well as explicit mark on ones psyche would be considered an example of a phantasm.. Something that lingers, that operates on multiples levels of your mind (conscious and unconscious). Another example might be some early experience where you're acting out some type of aggression or urge for freedom from ones parents and you're marked by an originary experience of fighting or doing something risky that leaves resonates intensively inside your body, and marks your psyche without being the slightest bit conscious of it... and that comes to signal at some unconscious way who you end up becoming. That originary marking is the meeting of your biology with individual expression of culture (human psycho-social creation). Those are phantasms. You continually create/repeat. You are caught up in them.

These are essential to understanding the messy depths of the latter half of the Logic of Sense but you've already passed the chapters on language, orality, sexuality, you're in the heart of the pathic as the bodily conditions for the arrival of thought.


See : James Williams, Gilles Deleuze's Logic of Sense (2008), page 68:

Deleuze answers critical questions about the necessity and form of paradoxes and of nonsense in the eleventh and twelfth series ‘of nonsense’ and ‘on paradox’. Put simply, his arguments are that nonsense is not the absence of sense but rather the presence of an important kind of sense that can only operate through nonsense. Paradoxes are not puzzling and detrimental contradictions generated within logical systems, but forms that reveal how contradiction is generated, thereby revealing the limits of common sense and good sense, and making space for a different sense sited in language and in things that embraces impossibility against common and good sense.

And see page 187:

When asked for an example of this combination of unconscious and conscious processes, of bodily and ideal series, and of event and sense, the surprising answer dominating many of the closing series of Logic of Sense is ‘the phantasm’. The word has at least two roots useful for following its role within Deleuze’s philosophy. First, derived from Plato and then appearing regularly in the philosophical tradition, a phantasm is a mental image or belief derived from the senses. In Platonic philosophy, the phantasm is negative, in the sense of illusory and as leading to lesser or false knowledge when compared to the Idea; it is a lesser copy of an original because it is acquired through the senses. Thereafter, the concept varies in value, from a necessary if potentially misleading aspect of thought in some branches of empiricism to a downright false one that we should strive to avoid in the Platonic heritage. In line with his reversal of Platonism, Deleuze’s position is with those who hold the phantasm not only to be necessary, but also productive and valuable. He develops this idea of overturning in relation to the phantasm in the first appendix to Logic of Sense. In psychoanalysis, the phantasm is a fantasy, a set of scenes and beliefs, which is produced by the imagination, by the unconscious and consciously to differing degrees. At one end of the scale, we simply produce phantasms and can release ourselves from them. At the other end, phantasms occur to us unconsciously, in dreams and awake; we can entertain them and flex them, but essentially we are in their grip. In the thirtieth series ‘of the phantasm’, Deleuze gives his version of the phantasm according to the following main characteristics:

  1. The phantasm is the result of actions and passions.
  2. It is the chance-driven movement where the ego opens onto novel impersonal and pre-individual intensities.
  3. The phantasm is a pure event that expresses infinitives (for example, to murder, to save, to witness).

So Deleuze’s version of the phantasm is that it combines actions and passions, not as an image or representation, but as something that expresses them. The phantasm is not a conscious or unconscious picture that we can give rise to or that happens to us; it is a process resulting from passive situations and active ones. It is therefore not ‘in the mind’ but rather party to thinking processes.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.