Fabulation is the artistic practice of fostering the invention of a people to come. The concept of fabulation firstappears late in Deleuze‘s career in Cinema 2 (D 1989: 150–5; note: the term fabulation here is translated as ‘story–telling‘), where it is linked to the ‘powers of the false‘, but the concept has related antecedents in Deleuze‘sdiscussion of the Nietzschean artist as cultural physician (D 1983: 75), his analyses of Sade and SacherMasoch asgreat symptomatologists (D 1971), and the comments in Kafka on the writer‘s relationship to the people (D & G 1986:84). (See Smith‘s Introduction to D 1997b for a detailed treatment of this line of development.) Deleuze takes theterm from Bergson, who in The Two Sources of Morality and Religion (1936) identifies fabulation (‘myth–making‘ inthe English translation) as the instinctive tendency of humans to anthropomorphise and attribute intentionality tonatural phenomena, such as lightning and earthquakes. This innate tendency, Bergson claims, leads humans toinvent the gods, religion, and the social rules that enforce group obedience within traditional societies. For Bergson, fabulation ultimately is a negative faculty, in that it reinforces ‘closed societies‘ of ‘us versus them‘, as opposed to‘open societies‘, which promote the universal love of humankind. Deleuze finds a positive potential in the concept, however, arguing that we should abandon the notion of ‘utopia‘ and instead ‘take up Bergson‘s notion of fabulationand give it a political meaning‘ (D 1995: 174).
Modern artists often want to create for ‘the people‘, but no viable collectivity exists. ‘It‘s the greatest artists (ratherthan populist artists) who invoke a people, and find they «lack a people«: Mallarmé, Rimbaud, Klee, Berg‘ (D 1995:174). Hence, artists must invent a collectivity that does not yet exist, a ‘people to come‘ (D 1989: 223).