Let me get started by positioning the point at which “Of the Refrain” enters into the discussion. It opens up in the middle of the world that I have just painted using Whitehead’s concepts, a cosmos in which two immanent powers (God & World) enter into communication with each other, a cosmos in which consciousness flickers along and between the feelings that are an expression of the world in flux. The ‘refrain’ defines a point at which consciousness and feeling find a rhythm between themselves that puts them in sympathy with the immanent powers composing them.
The refrain of Deleuze & Guattari operates at a point where nascent self-consciousness and self-expression fuse with understanding and insight into the situation we are caught up in. Sense and reference, signifying and signification, arise within the refrain. Articulating and articulated that process becomes, the more it tends toward cosmology (in both the ‘literary’ and ‘scientific’ senses of the term) and mythology. Those begin in the womb of experience, in the intuitions that they develop, and they cast tall shadows, suggesting a height and depth to experience that lies beyond us.
This creates new domains through which consciousness and feeling can relate to each other, but with risks. The new domains have a degree of freedom from feeling and consciousness and that freedom can conceal their dependence on both, much like how we can forget about the dependence of our being on our parents’ relationship. They can model a poisonous conflation of consciousness, feeling, and expression, or support solipsism that gives pride of place to consciousness, or identify the well-differentiated refrain with the feeling and intuition that makes it possible.
“Of the Refrain” provides is an alternative, a vision rooted in the inseparability of consciousness and feeling in constituting near and far, person and cosmos, without presuming the inevitable collapse of one into the other. The refrain creates a mythocosmos as a theatrical stage through which we can magnify consciousness and feeling and set them to a rhythm that makes is possible to change either and both, as well as set them into communication with the immanent and structuring powers of World and God (y’know, magic).
As a stage, as theater, the worlds delineated by the refrain are true lies, or lies that can reveal truths, and set us on the way to reclaiming myth and cosmology for lively religious purpose, ones that are much more than the willful ignorance of true belief.
Slow going into the last stretch, I know. Patience & Courage, friends.