This article develops what Deleuze and Guattari call an assemblage around Debussy's L'Isle joyeuse in order to account for its signifying power in terms of territory, time, and desire. An assemblage is a multiplicity that territorializes natural, cultural, biological, and artistic phenomena in search of objectives that are fueled by desire. In this article, the assemblage around L'Isle joyeuse begins with a study of the interpretive aporias concerning time and place in Watteau's Le Pelerinage a l'Isle Cithere, a putative inspiration for Debussy's piano piece. After a discussion of the parallels between Watteau's Cythera paintings and Debussy's L'Isle joyeuse, the article turns to the problem of apotheosis in the latter work, using Chopin's Barcarolle as an intertext. The article turns next to Debussy's compatriot, Bergson, whose early philosophical writing conceives of time as duration, freed from spatial metaphors. From the Bergsonian perspective, we can hear Debussy's piano piece as a musical correlate to a conception of time far from the linearity of space. The article concludes with a discussion of Deleuze and Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus with particular emphasis on their ideas about chaos and ecstasy, illustrating how the desire and fulfillment in L'Isle joyeuse renew themselves as they participate in assemblages.
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Michael Klein; Debussy's L'Isle joyeuse as Territorial Assemblage. 19th-Century Music 1 July 2007; 31 (1): 028–052. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/ncm.2007.31.1.028
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