DELEUZIAN ACTS OF ENUNCIATION: ortho-forms and dis-contents

When I critique the “little Deleuzians” I am saying no more (and no less) than Deleuze himself does in his multiple polemics against the dogmatic image of thought, against the dominance of the history of philosophy, against “state” thinking, and his insistence that we relate his texts to forces from the outside, including the texts of other theorists. I think that Zizek for example, who mostly gets Deleuze wrong, sheds new light on him in a small number of texts (for examples see Chapter 1 of LESS THAN NOTHING, the recent talk AM I A PHILOSOPHER?, the introduction to the new edition of ORGANS WITHOUT BODIES).

I reject Zizek’s thesis of the “two ontologies” in Deleuze, that he discovers by putting in opposition the works that Deleuze signed alone and those written in collaboration with Guattari. He argues that the Deleuze-Guattari books contain a dogmatic realism that the Deleuze alone books don’t share. However, even in his wrong-headedness he is useful as he warns against a reductionist reading of Deleuze that is a constant temptation.

Badiou in his recent METAPHYSICS OF HAPPINESS tells us he can see in Deleuze that “sense” is Deleuze’s name for what he calls “truth”. This is an astonishing Deleuzian turn, as Badiou was unable to see such a convergence before, and indulged himself in a reductionist reading of Deleuze’s philosophy as “bio-materialism”. Whether Badiou intends it to be read that way or not, this Deleuzian turn is tantamount to a strong auto-critique of his prior discussions of Deleuze.

I think that despite himself Laruelle in his critique of “philosophies of difference” helps us to see how Deleuze is much better characterised as a philosopher of multiplicity than a philosopher of difference.

I nowhere say that the living philosophers I cite are right whereas dead Deleuze is wrong. I argue rather that they are transformative of our vision of everything, including of Deleuze. They allow us to see things we otherwise wouldn’t in the physically dead philosophers that help us keep them noetically living.

Note: Another example that I wish to analyse and discuss is the recent book by Andrew Culp, DARK DELEUZE, which dares to think Deleuze in terms of negativity, when he presented himself as the philosopher of affirmation. I think that the very possibility of this re-visioning of Deleuze is due, at least in part, to the theoretical problematics opened up by Badiou and of Zizek, despite their own, often erroneous, visions of Deleuze. This is a case where the enunciative form (along with its ontological import) primes over the enunciated content and can be used to correct it.

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7 Responses to DELEUZIAN ACTS OF ENUNCIATION: ortho-forms and dis-contents

  1. Carl Looper says:

    Yes, Deleuze (his ghost rather than his corpse – to follow a Derridean line) is to be found in the interference patterns that can be created when crossing Deleuze with other theorists (philosophers). Deleuze himself did as much.

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  2. Carl Looper says:

    Have only just started reading Dark Deleuze – the introduction – but already finding it quite a powerful read. There is certainly to be found in Deleuze (here, there and everywhere) inspiration for that which needs to say “no to those who tell us to take the world as it is”. And such can easily be lost if otherwise skirting passages in search of support for “joyous affirmations” (of, for example capitalism). The concept of “disjunction” is an important one in Deleuze. The relationship between things is not just to be found in that which connects A and B, but equally in that which disconnects A and B. While a crude example, digital technology exploits this very insight: a switch which is off (a disconnection) is as fundamental as those switches which are on (a connection). If this is a crude analogy it is because it easily lends itself (unintentionally or otherwise) to affirmations of the assemblage (the set of switches) as an emergent function of their constituent parts (each and every switch). The Deleuzian rhizome is precisely a concept in direct opposition to such an affirmation. Anyway … must get back to reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    • terenceblake says:

      This is another place where negativity is intrinsic and important in Deleuze’s system. Deleuze is often thought of as the philosopher of fluxes, but he is just as much a philosopher of the cuts, breaks and ruptures of the fluxes.


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  4. Carl Looper says:

    Have finished reading Dark Deleuze, by Andrew Culp, and found it a completely compelling argument. I must admit that I was not fully aware of how institutionalised and watered down Deleuze had become over the decades. But I can see it must be so. For it is in relation to such watered down forms of Deleuze, that Culp is writing. And I would certainly lend support to Culp’s Dark Deleuze project (in the all the ways such might be done).

    However I don’t have any real notion of which present (which “today”) would constitute the problem (to be defeated) any more so than any other present. It is easy to become trapped within a “today” that would be “more pressing, more urgent”, than any other day, To be taken by a “today, more than ever” that urged us to think today more than ever.

    But it is that which has been thought, and that which is yet to be thought, which creates the present (creates today). Or creates the illusion of such. And by the same token it will constitute the means to destroy whatever needs to be destroyed in such a present.

    An important concept developed in (post)-structuralism (and Deleuze amongst others) is a deconstruction of the present. Any present. Or to put it another way: there is no such thing as the present. No such thing as today. Or more specifically, there is no such thing as now. Or to be even more precise: no such thing as zero time. There is always an interval, large or small, that connects/disconnects the past and the future. It is though such an interval that thought operates.

    Or to put it another way, it is the history and future of all “todays” that operate against thought. Not just today.

    In relation to the posted video in the comments, which I found of interest, I’d say that narrative (amongst other means), be it chronological or elliptic, is that which is capable of short circuiting those moments which otherwise seek to arrest thought. Ozu’s shots of still life are not a snapshot. They are not a photograph. They constitute a duration (a narrative or part thereof) but one in which life will rest for a little while. To meditate. To think. A photograph is certainly not incapable of reaching for the same thing, and indeed many photographs will aspire to something similar, if not as effectively. But what a photograph has the power to do, in contrast to the cinema, is the ability to bring into focus, within a very short interval, all of the forces external to such – to make such entirely visible within it’s particular moment. It differs from cinema in this regard. And this is not to be dismissed. But it is not time which is in anyway withdrawn from such work – for one thing, it takes time to appreciate such photographs (any photograph). But also, in the moment of taking a photograph, time is able to compress itself. To fit itself into that short moment.

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