November 2nd, 2010 / 7:29 am

Sartre v. the Bombing of Billancourt

“Deleuze devoured Being and Nothingness over the course of the week, and on Sunday, he and Michel Tournier went to the Sarah Bernhardt Theater to see a production of Sartre’s The Flies. They were forced to leave the theater when a bomb alert sounded, but while the crowd rushed to the underground bomb shelter, the two friends decided to ignore the warning and enjoy the lovely sunny afternoon.

‘We strolled along the quays in a totally deserted Paris. The city was completely empty. Night in mid-day. Then the bombs began raining down. The RAF was targeting the Renault factories in Billancourt. . . . We have nothing to say about this mediocre event. We were only concerned with Orestes and Jupiter struggling with the “flies.” The sirens sounded, the bomb alert was over a half hour later, and we returned to the theater. The curtain rose. Jupiter-Dullin was there, shouting for a second time, “Young man, do not blame the gods.”‘”

– Francois Dosse, Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari: Intersecting Lives, pp. 93-94 (Columbia U. Press, 2010)

Tags: , ,


  1. Tyler

      Thanks for this Kyle, quite a great moment. I need to go back o “The Flies” as well:

      “You are a tiny little girl, Electra. Other little girls dreamed of being the richest or the most beautiful women of all. And you, fascinated by the horrid destiny of your people, you wished to become the most pained and the most criminal … At your age, children still play with dolls and they play hopscotch. You, poor child, without toys or playmates, you played murder, because it is a game that one can play alone.”

  2. Christopher Higgs

      I’m a little over halfway through the Dosse book. Have been enjoying it. In particular, I’ve been surprised by what I’ve read about Guattari, who seems more like a madman than I had previously thought, and who, according to Dosse, had a lot more input in their collaborations than I had deduced.

  3. M Kitchell

      I am interested in this book, primarily, because intellectual life at the time was AWESOME and i’m JEALOUS of it. It’s like in Houellebecq’s Elementary Particles where he rants about Deleuze & Benazeraf arguing about pornography at a party… he paints that as a portrait of emptiness, whereas I just totally nerd out to it. So yeah, I’m excited about this, but I’ll probably wait for paperback. Or not. Who knows.

  4. deadgod

      One thing about (I guess it’s) Deleuze’s memories/assumptions rings false: “Night in mid-day. [. . .] The RAF was targeting […].”

      The British mostly bombed at night for most of the war. It was the American bombardiers, along with fighter escorts, who preferred to bomb European targets during daylight.

      A bit of checking shows that, indeed, the RAF bombed the neighborhood where the Renault factory stood (Boulogne-Billancourt) the night of March 3/4, ’42, and the USAAF bombed the factory during the afternoon of April 4, 1943.

      For us ‘world’ does not at all signify beings or any realm of beings but the openness of Being. Man is, and is man, insofar as he is the ek-sisting one. He stands out into the openness of Being. Being itself, which as the throw has projected the essence of man into ‘care’, is as this openness. Thrown in such fashion, man stands ‘in’ the openness of Being. ‘World’ is the lighting of Being into which man stands out on the basis of his thrown essence. ‘Being-in-the-world’ designates the essence of ek-sistence with regard to the lighted dimension out of which the ‘ek-‘ of ek-sistence essentially unfolds. Thought in terms of ek-sistence, ‘world’ is in a certain sense precisely ‘the beyond’ within existence and for it.

      –Heidegger, Letter on Humanism