The ironic reference to illegitimacy in the title is not an invitation for a renewed maieutics to judge whether or which of the “several Deleuzes” is/are legitimate offspring(s) of the master’s work, deserving life. The bastardy of the master’s own creations, his Spinoza, Nietzsche, Leibniz, and so on, casts doubt precisely on the legitimacy of any such enterprise. Instead of passing judgment, I will try to develop in three steps the meaning of another question: “what does it mean to be ‘Deleuzian’”?
First, I cite an exchange with René Schérer, a colleague and friend of Deleuze at Paris VIII, and certainly a reader of his work. Returning from a conference in Latin America, infected by the enthusiasm of “disciples,” “deleuziens inconditionnels” (both are Schérer’s terms), Schérer writes to G. D.: “nous deleuziens,” to which Deleuze replies: “je ne crois pas que tu sois ‘deleuzien,’ mais, en revanche, que nous sommes amis, donc dans cet état d’entente préalable, ou, encore mieux, dans cette hospitalité.”
Now, we know that “hospitality” is a concern close to Schérer. He wrote in praise of hospitality (éloge de l’hospitalité). But as we develop the meaning of “Deleuzian,” we will have to ask what unique inflection Deleuze himself gives to this term “hospitality” as his preferred alternative, not only to the “unconditional” or the “zealotry” of whose danger in the future the ghost of the master, Bergson, writing from one ghost to another, so presciently warns him in his third and last “letter,” penned by – or was it dictated to? – a disciple of Bergson. As one suspects, in fact, knows, Deleuze would also object to the title “disciple,” whether in relation to Bergson or Schérer, a precursor, a contemporary, or a successor.
My second step takes the form of another question: how are we to live, work, and write in a desert time (“traverser un désert ce n’est pas grand-chose, ce n’est pas grave, ce qui est terrible c’est naître dedans, c’est grandir dans un désert”)? Or, to ask a related question, or the same question with a different inflection, this time borrowing from Badiou, who himself adopts a phrase of Frederick Worms: how does one live/write/work after the “‘fort’ moment philosophique” of the ’60s and the ’80s (this is Badiou’s dating) – that is, after the disappearance (disparition) of the great generation – Blanchot, Deleuze, Althusser, Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard, Lacan, and the list is long – whose “capital” works, now our heritage, destabilized the field constituted by modern thought, and with it, every concept of tradition, legacy, and heritage?
To be sure, the “desert” does not mean the drying up of works and words. On the contrary, there is great industriousness, an industry (in every sense of this word), a feverish but artificial and excessive productivity – the cult, the fetish of productivity. The scene of writing is one of uninhibited proliferation, as if the rules regulating the production of discourse defined by Foucault in his “discourse on language” were suspended; as if precisely the rarefying functions were allowed to lapse in the absence of the vigilance exercised by those whom Cixous called “les incorruptibles.” The condition of the desert applies (“you do not notice that what you do not know about is not there,” “quand les choses disparaissent, personne ne s’en aperçoit, quand quelque chose disparait, ça ne manque pas”) because production, like the ashes of time, covers over everything.
This proliferation takes different forms on the two sides of the Atlantic. In Badiou’s diagnosis of the French predicament, philosophy is everywhere. There is no space here to develop either the French situation (which may fill Badiou’s “American friends” on the other side of the Atlantic with envy) or the very different form the desert takes on the North American continent. But whatever the form, the very real problem this excess, this fever, “le mal de production” to paraphrase Derrida on archive fever, poses is how to resist this powerful productive machine, which, like capital, turns everything into its own nature, appropriates any and every gesture of resistance, every “writing-against” as product to its own machinery. (A no longer hypothetical case in point is this very writing, destined to be counted as proof of my worthwhile productivity. Needless to say, those who will count it as such will not have read it and, even if they should, would not change either their habit or method of counting because of it.)
To be sure my text here is not the resistance I speak of or an example of counter-productivity, for resistance cannot be silence, the withholding of writing. I confess that I do not know what forms either may take or whether I am capable of it (I doubt it). I would however advance, as hypothesis, that it would need to affirm – or indeed, perform, for resistance is also production, although not of a thing but of an effect – the “Yes” that closes Badiou’s “Introduction” to his Second Manifeste pour la philosophie: “Oui, la philosophie peut être ce que vous désirez qu’elle soit,” and that such a philosophy would be, would be still, a response to the ultimate question, which I have recently and posthumously posed to two great actors of the “fort moment,” Derrida and Deleuze: “qu’est-ce qu’une vie digne de ce nom?” What is a life worthy of this name?
My third step returns to where I was planning to begin a year ago at the Cardiff conference, and I do not think that the condition of our speech situation have changed much since. It is not that Deleuze, a little over a decade after his death, is forgotten. (We may recall the oblivion into which Bergson’s name fell: for the last twenty years of his life he is practically forgotten; only after this death, in 1967, does the Republic make amends by designating, in the presence of Malraux, the minister of cultural affairs at the time, February 23 a day in Bergson’s memory and placing a plaque honoring him in the Pantheon. At the same time, that is to say, in our desert time, how could we not be impressed by such a gesture of recognition, even if belated, paid not just to a philosopher, but to philosophy itself?) Today, Deleuze is not only not forgotten but is everywhere. A glance to the session titles of the Köln conference, “Connect Deleuze,” will confirm this fact. So does the list of titles received a day before the conference courtesy of amazon.fr: Deleuze, une introduction; Aux source de la pensée de Gilles Deleuze; Deleuze, La passion de la pensée de Gilles Deleuze; Deleuze, philosophie et cinéma; Deleuze et une philosophie d’immanence, followed by Matérialisme d’aujourd’hui: Deleuze et Badiou, which opens yet another inexhaustible series, the comparative one.
It is against the background of this disquieting phenomenon that I frame my text here, against the “phenomenon ‘Deleuze’,” that is, the “event” of Deleuze, or better still, the “Deleuze-event” being flattened out and dispersed over many fields (gender studies, education, political and film theory, art history; in one particularly bizarre example, an essay on theology invokes Artaud’s famous formula “to have done with judgment” – which it attributes to Deleuze – to claim that Jesus is the end of judgment). It is in the context of this reduction – the singular (“zig-zag”) effect that the proper name designates turning into a generic case that cor-responds to a common noun – that I take my third step and introduce here two citations. The first is a question by Lacan: “how can we be sure that we are not imposters?” (emphasis in original). The second is a “thesis” of Blanchot: the relation between master and disciple, “le rapport maître/disciple,” is one of infinity, “un rapport d’infinité.”
I begin with Lacan, whose question regarding imposture certainly pertains to the phenomenon of proliferation, but not exclusively so. In any case, I will not reduce it to this one concern alone. In fact, I will not spend more time on the “phenomenon” itself.
Nor will I associate it with the charge of imposture that is common to “schools” (something G. D. did not want to found), movements, and founded communities, but also, as warns Badiou, to “survivors and inheritors of a great epoch.” (Is there a schism already diving “us, Deleuzians”?) I am certain that a genealogy of schisms could trace the latter all the way to the evangelists, while also linking it to all the vanguards and their “isms”: christianisme, Leninism, Marxism, surrealism. “Sectarianism” is itself a sectarian charge. Freud experienced it in his own life-time. The “Lacan school” was itself a “schism,” split off from the dominant tendency of ego-psychology, claiming to be the true inheritor of Freud’s teaching. And after the death of Lacan, it was the Lacanians’ turn to splinter into competing factions, each claiming to be the guardian of the teaching of the master.
All this is well known and does not come as a surprise. Freud himself taught us that the thought of murder is never far away wherever there is a founder. (Derrida was keenly aware of this problem: at one place, in Circumfessions, he laments: “they are already writing my writing”; at another, in a seminar, he asks: “how would you like me to die?” “Comment voulez-vous que je meure?”) But it is not in this direction, of the meta-psychology of individuals or groups, that I wish to take Lacan’s question. It is as a singular, a limit and extreme case that Lacan’s example interests me. With regard to our question “what does it mean to be Deleuzian?” it is more than just instructive, it is exemplary: Lacan is the disciple par excellence, the Freudian to our figure of the Deleuzian. He dedicates his life-work, the life of his seminars, to a massive but single corpus of a single founder, Freud, whose teaching he never ceases to interrogate.
The possibility of imposture – that the unique reading practiced by Lacan, by virtue of which he claims the title of the unique (only) successor to Freud, may in fact constitute a falsification of the work, or worse, be non-work – arises in the milieu of these interrogations. The question – how can we be certain of knowing what we are talking about? that the obtuse discourse of our critique which claims to contribute to the master’s work is not just empty speech, a clever trallala? – is interior to the discourse of the seminar; it is addressed to a reading of Freud, in the course of reading Freud. It is in fact already a reading of Freud in the sense Blanchot gives to this term: “the form in which thought advances to encounter that which it seeks.”
The limit case, however, is not without precursors; it gives a new expression to an old concern. As we learn from Deleuze, the anxiety over deception is a quasi-permanent theme at the heart of philosophy. Plato’s question in the Sophist, “how not to be deceived by others?,” returns to or is inverted by Descartes: “how not to deceive myself?” With Lacan, it receives a new and double inflection. First, the question is asked by someone who positions himself in a particular way in relation to an inheritance, a precursor and a “master”: it asks what does it mean to be Freudian in a rigorous and precise way? What does it mean to speak after Freud, that is, after the interventions of Freud in the field, and, at the same time, in and through a rigorous reading of Freud? And the two requirements do not overlap and are not continuous. Second, the question is posed by someone in a particular speech situation, in face of a vexatious paradox: the unique science of the founder, his inheritance, is the “science of non-knowledge” (Blanchot).
It is not the case therefore that Lacan would suspect his own motives, or that he be insecure about his own talents. Far from it. It is because he has already encountered Freud (“to encounter is to find, to capture, to steal,” says Deleuze, “but there is no method for finding other than a long preparation”) that he understands the difficult conditions the founding work imposes on anyone who will claim to speak both after it and following it. It is not just the matter of the truth that the founder’s work communicates regarding truth as such – the truth of the subject and, in so far as it is human endeavor, the truth of the work itself: that it communicates by negative signs, evasions, displacements, slippages, negations, forgetting; or that the master’s work is itself inscribed in an economy wherein the truth it seeks flees from its science and will not let itself be “dis-covered” or “unveiled.” The other lesson Lacan “finds” in, or “captures” or “steals” from Freud, which lesson is more instructive with regard to that which concerns us here in so far as we too are inheritors, is that the truth of the work, the truth-effect it is, transforms, like an earthquake, all at once, the terrain of discourse. Or to phrase it in the language of Deleuze: “a clean break is something you cannot come back from; that is irretrievable because it makes the past cease to exist.” To speak after Freud (or Deleuze) cannot be the same as speaking as Freud (or Deleuze). It is to speak in the aftermath, or in even stronger formulation, it is to speak without guidance. Such is the difficult condition of faithfulness that is imposed on the disciple.
Lacan’s question thus is literally fundamental. It concerns the foundation, the ground of his own discourse. But rather than representing or repeating the orthodox gesture of a self-reflective turn, the question arrives from, is inspired or whispered to Lacan, by Freud; in fact, it constitutes a reading of the missive of Freud; it is because Lacan has advanced “toward that which it seeks” that he understands that the risk of imposture is inherent in the disciple’s relation to the founding work, which will not authorize his discourse, will not serve as its ground and origin. The seminar will not trace its reading back to the work, for whoever speaks after and following Freud speaks over an abyss that his or her own very discourse opens between itself and the master’s work, which is irretrievable and unrepeatable.
Something always remains – inaccessible, inappropriable. It remains not unsaid but unsayable. In the case of Freud, the singular form the remainder takes is precisely the meaning of the teaching of Freud. Or as Blanchot, whose thesis is still ahead of us, will say: the master does not give to know anything which would not remain determined by an “inconnu indeterminable” that he represents. The disciple is all alone. The infinite distance that separates him from the master is the abyss of an interval, which is the very condition of his reading him. Not because the master is wiser, has a great erudition, but because the master himself is inseparable from the unknown that his “research” encounters. The disciple therefore does not know and cannot know whether or not he is an imposter, cannot know, that is, outside the evidence of his own groundless discourse, which he knows speaks over an abyss.
The question regarding imposture is a symptom of this void, this vide. And the vide itself is a symptom of truth.
Now, we know Lacan’s response to this void – it is to protect it in all its multiple forms, to shelter it as the essential discovery of Freud’s work. The discourse of the seminar will cultivate it, develop it, take up residence over the void of the abyss. Yes, Lacan will say, psychoanalysis is an encounter with the unknown, which, in the unique case of the human situation, flees from knowledge, assisted by an arsenal of ruses, strategies, evasion, forgetting, repression, denegation, condensation, distortion. The texts of Freud trace this flight of truth (as flight, in the movement of flight), but in so far as they themselves are part of that endeavor, they are simultaneously sites where another truth flees just as invisibly, just as actively. This latter, however, becomes visible only in light of the former, itself ungraspable without a remainder.
How does the thesis of Blanchot intervene in this singular formulation, in the unique and aporetic case of succession that is Lacan’s? It intersects with it in the space of the concept of the unknown, where it depersonalizes this most personal and intense of relations. For what does Blanchot say of the relation master/disciple? That it is one of infinity, “un rapport d’infinité.”  Not infinite but infinity. The master is not placed at an infinite distance by virtue of his prestige, infinite erudition, wisdom, virtue, courage, etc., from the disciple, whose lack of the same qualities in turn prevent him from ever being at the same place, meeting him in the same space, and even more so, from taking his place (which, however, remains the eternal desire of the son who is also a disciple. Derrida provides an illustrious example for both sides, for the “uneasy conscience/consciousness of the disciple” who rises in the public to unseat his master, Foucault, and for the anxiety of the master himself, conscious of the sons seeking to appropriate his future, the grammar of his writing.) The relation master/disciple is not inter-subjective or inter-personal. It corresponds to an original structure, in which master and disciple are two terms. The “infinity” of their relation refers to an anomalie, a distortion and curvature of the interactional space such that the distance between the two is not the same in both directions. Asymmetrical and irreversible, the two are without a common measure.
In other words, the obstacle to a discourse that would be continuous and homogeneous with the master’s discourse is structural. This in turn explains the predicament of the disciple, of which I recently wrote:
She must begin to speak (for speak she must) in the virtual or actual presence of the master, or better still, after his interventions have radically reworked the field, changing the very condition of speech itself.
One temptation – which only intensifies with the death of the master, in the face of a future without more future words or works to come – is a false (corrupting) faithfulness. Foucault called it ‘commentary’. Deleuze himself contemptuously described it as turning the master’s works into a container of content to be mined for ‘significance’. Ironically, such reading (writing) too opens the path towards an infinite: the infinite exhaustion/rarefaction of the work. ‘One will comment, one will interpret, one will ask for explanations, one will write the book of the book, to infinity.’
The other temptation is disputatious contrariety – a re-activity whose self-deceiving comedy Deleuze ever so gently but mercilessly exposes in a patient and long letter to his ‘severe critic’. Needless to say, both of these tendencies fail to break with and out of the binding asymmetry.
Given the slightly different case that I am trying to develop here, a modification to the formulation of the dilemma is required. Accordingly, the disciple may choose the Sisyphean labor of filling the gap, of laying his carefully woven discourse over it. Against Deleuze’s advice, he may enter the text that leaves no way out other than the way in and “won’t stop returning to the question in order to get out of it.” (“But getting out never happens like that. Movement always happens behind the thinker’s back, or in the moment when he blinks.”) In other words, the disciple may choose to embark in vain on straightening the curvature that is the unique mark of the discourse of the master (subjectification: “bringing a curvature to the line”). Hence we may speak of the other “bastards” of Deleuze – the false prophets of clarifications, of explanations, explications (“Deleuze for beginners”), who promise to give nothing less than that which the master does not give but in relation to which his discourse is situated and becomes possible: the “inconnu.”
Or, on the contrary, the disciple may choose to say “Yes” to the interval as opening the space of hospitality, the hospitality of which Deleuze speaks in his letter to Schérer, of which Blanchot writes: “une bienveillance qui ne saurait être limitée à nos personnes.” Hospitality to what? To the future or futures to come. For this interval is creative, productive of differences. The abyssal separation from the master that the disciple laments is also the structural possibility of the future, that the master’s word and work – even though they may determine the conditions of speech – will not legislate the future, but leave open the space precisely for finding, theft, abduction, in short, for discourse to speak after the founding event as a Paul rather than a John, situating itself right away on the other side of the interval. (“Getting out is already achieved, or else it never will be.”) This is certainly what Lacan does: he writes the future of psychoanalysis, or rather, a future for psychoanalysis. This is what the clever ghost writer, himself a ventriloquist for a ghost writing to another ghost, means by suggesting that Deleuze has “philosophical talents”:
En bien des passages, vos mots expriment si bien le fond de ma pensée qu’il me semble me lire ou me relire moi-même. Mais cette espèce de ventriloquie s’accompagne, d’un bout à l’autre, de toutes sortes de glissements, de décentrements et parfois de cassures, qui me font penser que ce “bergsonisme” […] porte déjà toute une philosophie personnelle.
“Questions are aimed at a future.” But the real question is how to think of this “future,” or rather, how to think this future, since the condition that pertains to the “multiple” applies here as well. The Bergson who is fantasized by Elie During in his letters understands this well, he ventriloquizes Deleuze himself: “Il ne suffit pas de crier ‘Vive le multiple!’; le multiple, il faut le faire.” The future needs to be made, although it cannot be arbitrary, a sheer willful invention. If continuity is never continuous enough, discontinuity is never discontinuous or divergent enough, as Blanchot says. The future difference/divergence is the question of a clinamen, a however minor and imperceptible deviation from the model. Or as the ghost of Bergson in the passages already cited above suggests: slippages, decenterings, and sometimes breaks, forceful cuts and violent interruptions which drag the model in another direction.
Now you may say that Deleuze did not give a hoot about the future of his work. This is certainly debatable. He intended L’Abécédaire as a posthumous missive, only for the future (“Je parle après ma mort,” he muses as the recording begins).
What cannot be claimed, however, is that Deleuze did not care about the future. He had no other concern. He may not have wanted disciples and had no plans to become the “little leader of a little school.” But we know the importance that teaching and his seminars – “this noble manner of being together and thinking together according to the division of master and disciple,” says Blanchot – had for Deleuze. He may have shown infinite patience toward his interlocutors and their often interminable questions, the thinking however is thinking according to the division. (As he often pleads with his audience before the brief question period: pas de théorie, rien que du sentiment!) The thinking gives birth to the future – the future of Bergson, Spinoza, Leibniz and to the future Bergson, Spinoza, and Leibniz, who are our contemporaries today.
Now these figures or philosophical portraits are not pure inventions but resemblances (“it seems [il me semble] I am reading or rather rereading myself,” writes the ghostwriter for the ghost of Bergson who read so well Deleuze). The resemblances, however, are absolutely new: incalculable, at once unforeseen and unforeseeable. (You have invented me, suggests the same very perceptive ghost in his last letter.) A resemblance of this kind does not imitate or copy but instead re-claims (from “behind”) the other, forcing it to become a posteriori the model for its own originality.
* The essay was prepared for the Second International Deleuze Studies Conference, “Connect Deleuze,” Universität zu Köln (University of Cologne), August 10–12, 2009. It also makes reference to the first of these now annual gatherings of Deleuze scholars, which took place at the University of Cardiff the year before (August 11-13, 2008), with the question “One or Several Deleuzes?” serving as theme and title.
 René Schérer, Regards sur Deleuze, Paris: Éditions Kimé, 1998, p. 7.
 Zeus hospitalier: éloge de l’hospitalité, Paris: Armand Colin, 1993.
 “Il me semble que le livre que vous projetez d’écrire devrait en quelque sorte devancer les objections qu’on ne manquera pas de vous faire, et ce qui est peut-être pire, les déformations que vos propres zélateurs feront nécessairement subir à votre pensée” (emphasis added). The author of the three fictional letters of Bergson to Deleuze, one can presume, is the Bergson scholar Elie During. If I rely on them, despite their fictional character, it is because their critique anticipates mine. Moreover, During so masterfully uses the double prosopopoeia as device – the mask of Bergson from behind which he writes itself masks the presence of Deleuze – that it is the latter who appears to have inspired the letters; it is as if Deleuze hallucinated a Bergson who anticipates, projects into the future, the appropriation of his work. Indeed, phrases in the letters are often citations from Deleuze.
The three letters were first read at the Centre Georges Pompidou on the occasion of an evening in homage to Gilles Deleuze and were subsequently reprinted as “Trois Lettres ‘inédites’ de Henri Bergson à Gilles Deleuze” in Critique, no. 732, May 2008, p. 408. Henceforth cited as “Trois lettres…”
 According to Deleuze three conditions define the desert: journalists write the books; writing is generalized, is a private affair, “une petite affaire privée”; the “client” is the editor and the distributor. L’Abécédaire de Gilles Deleuze, 1996, letter C.
 Deleuze’s counter metaphor is not the luxurious garden, the great forest, or the fertile river bed. It is the steppe. “Steppe, the grass and the nomads are the same thing.” “The steppe always grows from the middle, it is between the great forest and the great empires.” Gilles Deleuze and Claire Parnet, Dialogues, trans. H. Tomlinson and B. Habberjam, New York: Columbia University Press, 1987, p. 31.
 “The Conspiracy of Imitators,” a section title laments in Negotiations. “What gets imitated is always itself a copy. Imitators imitate one another, and that’s how they proliferate.” Gilles Deleuze, Negotiations, 1972–1990, trans. M. Joughin, New York: Columbia, 1995, p. 128.
 Cited by J. Derrida in Apprendre à vivre enfin, Paris: Galilée, 2005, p. 28.
 L’Abécédaire, letter C.
 Alain Badiou, Second Manifeste pour la philosophie, Paris: Fayard, 2007, p. 13. Henceforth cited as Second Manifeste.
 Zsuzsa Baross, “Lessons to Live (1): Posthumous Fragments for Jacques Derrida,” Derrida Today, 1:2, 2008; “Lessons to Live (2): Deleuze,” Deleuze Studies, 3:2, 2009.
 Second Manifeste…, op. cit. p.21.
 The First International Deleuze Studies Conference, “One or Several Deleuzes?,” Cardiff University, August 11–13, 2008.
 “À Henri Bergson, 1859–1941, dont la vie et l’œuvre ont honoré la France et la pensée de l’humanité.”
 Jacques Lacan, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, trans. Alan Sheridan, Penguin Books, 1977, p. 263.
 Maurice Blanchot, “La parole plurielle,” in L’Entretien infinie, Paris: Gallimard, 1969, p. 5. “Plural Speech,” in The Infinite Conversation, trans. S. Hanson, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 1993.
 “A school is already terrible: there is always a pope, manifestos, representatives, declarations of avant-gardeism, tribunals, excommunications, impudent political volta-faces, etc.” Dialogues, op. cit., p. 26.
 Second Manifeste…, op. cit. p. 8.
 Circumfession, trans. G. Bennington, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993, p. 26. French edition by Seuil, 1991.
 Cited in Hélène Cixous, Insister. À Jacques Derrida, Paris: Galilée, 2006, p. 60.
 “Plural Speech,” op. cit. p. 5.
 L’Abécédaire, letter P.
 Dialogues, op. cit., p. 7.
 Dialogues, op. cit., p. 37.
 “La parole plurielle,” op. cit., p. 5.
 I am referring to Derrida’s own “severe critique” of what may be considered Foucault’s inaugural and founding work, Madness and Civilization.
 Zsuzsa Baross, “Lessons to Live (2): Deleuze,” op. cit., p. 179.
 Negotiations, op. cit., p. 1.
 Ibid., p. 113.
 L’Entretien infini, op. cit., p. ix.
 Negotiations, op. cit., p. 1
 “Trois Lettres…”, op. cit., p. 402-403.
 Ibid., p. 408.
 “The two dangers are the intellectual as master or disciple,” warns Deleuze in the Dialogues (op. cit., p. 28). On the other hand, he dedicates a text to a great precursor with the title, “Sartre, my Master.”
 “Plural Speech,” op. cit., p. 5.
 “A course is a kind of Sprechgesang, closer to music than to theater […] I never told that audience what they meant to me, what they gave me,” in Negotiations, op. cit., p. 139.