Using the example of the caucus-race in Alice in Wonderland, Deleuze lays out the principles of the ideal game (The Logic of Sense, "Tenth Series of the Ideal Game"):
- There are no preexisting rules, each move invents its own rules; it bears upon its own rule.
- Far from dividing and apportioning chance in a really distinct number of throws, all throws affirm chance and endlessly ramify it with each throw.
- The throws therefore are not really or numerically distinct. They are qualitatively distinct, but are the qualitative forms of a single cast which is ontologically one.
He offers some further description:
The unique cast is a chaos, each throw of which is a fragment. Each throw operates a distribution of singularities, a constellation. But instead of dividing a closed space between fixed results which correspond to hypotheses, the mobile results are distributed in the open space of the unique and undivided cast. This is a nomadic and non-sedentary distribution, wherein each system of singularities communicates and resonates with the others, being at once implicated by the others and implicating them in the most important cast. It is the game of problems and the question, no longer the game of the categorical and the hypothetical.
(pp. 59-60, Deleuze's emphasis)
The ideal game can only be thought as nonsense, and for that reason "it is the reality of thought itself and the unconscious of pure reason" (p. 60). Is freedom then nonsense? Is freedom the affirmation and ramification of chance, the reality of thought and the unconscious of reason? We'll see if that isn't beside the point.
Deleuze revisits the eternal return, noting two types; one which is cyclical, the other which occurs on a straight line. "Do we then sense the approach of an eternal return no longer having anything to do with the cycle, or indeed of the entrance to a labyrinth, all the more terrible since it is the labyrinth of the unique line, straight and without thickness" (p. 64). I'm a bit confused about the relation between the line of Aion and the living present:
The present does not contradict the Aion; on the contrary, it is the present as being of reason which is subdivided ad infinitum into something that has just happened and something that is going to happen, always flying in both directions at once. The other present, the living present, happens and brings about the event. But the event nonetheless retains an eternal truth upon the line of the Aion, which divides it eternally into a proximate past and an immanent future.
I'm lost. I'm looking to the living because Deleuze asks whether the terrible labyrinth of the straight line commands an ethics of Effects (p. 62), and I can imagine at least an ethical relation to living beings. On what model, though, do I think an ethics of Effects? Not morality, for that is the model for games with other principles, and I have the impression that Deleuze has laid out the principles of the ideal game in order to get at a new model for thought and conduct. The ideal game is "without responsibility" (p. 60). The thought implies that the ideal game has no relation to ethics. We could look to an ethics inscribed in its principles (which must not be confused with rules in this case), but if there is an ethics in its playing it does not involve responsibility. Do voices carry in the labyrinth of the straight line, calls and responses, any voice whatsoever? It has no thinkness. It is not a tube, but precisely a line. Would Deleuze's ethics of Effects then be an ethics without communication, or would it be totally enveloped in communications and resonances? Does it matter to whom something communicates? Does the labyrinth of the straight line communicate with the living present?
How is that we have personal relations with ideational configurations? The question's been passing through my mind and that may explain some of the questions I am posing about the ethics of Effects. Deleuze's philosophy, it may be said, is not personalistic. However, the effect of calling for an ethical relation to Effectsand in addition Deleuze's idea of the eternal return asks to be thought of as ethicalis to call forth a person for whom projects and relations can be ethical. This may be a profoundly self-centered ethics, about the proper care of the Thinker; yet on the other hand it may be extremely broad, commanding us to accept responsibility for farflung Effects. I can only speculate. The labyrinth of the straight line has me tied in knots.
For those who might say my concern for the personal in an ethics of Effects is out of place, I am genuinely curious to learn how an ethics without persons is being thought. We might begin with the question, What is an ethical relation to nonsense?