DIALOGUE UNBOUND: on the value of repeating oneself obsessively about the same old things

When I say that dialogue is avoided by some academics as it would be too traumatic for them, and that their careers are based on refusing, controlling, or repressing it, I am not just giving grandiloquent form to merely personal resentments and disappointments.

What some could call grandiosity is the simple truth, and this idea of dialogue as trauma is not original with me, it can be found in Deleuze, Zizek, Stiegler, etc.

Thinking means turning repetitively in a spiral around one’s own traumas to extract new impulses and new ideas from them. Our existential and conceptual territories are made out of  constructed with ritornellos, as Deleuze confirms.

The whole point of my argument is that the supposedly “Deleuzian” notion of just going off on a line of flight to create your concepts is only a superficial reading of Deleuze, let’s call it “bright Deleuze”, if it ignores the underlying dialogue woven with sympathies and antipathies.

So-called “object-oriented ontology” and speculative realism are the least of my worries. They served at the beginning of my blogging career as a source of ideal types to get a handle on the de-concepting of philosophy that I have diagnosed as a rampant disease.

This de-concepting is my real concern. People read texts without seeing the underlying problematics. They see ideas – mostly familiar ones, along with a few vaguely unfamiliar ones. Then when they write, they produce the sort of thing that they have read, or think they have read. Dialogue is impossible with such people, as their interpretive filter is too strong.

My preoccupation is dialogue, not critique. I am certainly not against critique, as anyone can see in scanning my posts. However, critique is only an emphatic foregrounding of conceptual difference.

I do not give the slightest damn about particular people, but I use them as figurations of particular mind-sets (and life-sets). For example, I want to open a fundamental debate or discussion over points raised by Laruelle, Zizek, and Latour. Whether Laruelle himself, or his disciples, or Zizek, etc. participate in such a dialogue is only of secondary concern.

My whole argument is that a particular set of people do not take an interest in critiques, they do not understand them, nor do they feel threatened by them. This is not a point against critique, only a shortcoming of these people’s mind-set and habitual practice. It is the same people who are “anti-critique”, because it suits their lifestyle quite well.

The contemporary rejection of criticism is a bright Deleuzian ploy. I use “bright Deleuze” here as an emblem for what has been called “de-noetisation” (Stiegler), the “new spirit of capitalism” (Boltanski and Chiapello), “democratic materialism” (Badiou), the obligation of “enjoyment” (Zizek). These expressions designate the dominant postmodern synthesis of neo-liberal practice and hedonist subjectivity that abhors and abjures negativity in all its forms.

What binds and blocks dialogue, in a word, is de-noetisation: treating ideas as dogma or doxa, as marketised commodities, status symbols or tokens of membership, as anything but concepts that provoke us to think and to share our thoughts in words or acts.

Deleuze himself, the real Deleuze, was a master of critique. He wrote a whole book with Guattari, ANTI-OEDIPUS, critiquing psychoanalysis. Yet even Deleuze and Guattari were unable to open a dialogue with the Lacanians, because Lacan himself gave the order not to discuss the book, to kill it with silence.

So in this case as in so many others the desired dialogue did not happen, but other dialogues did, and the book was quite influential, and it opened up a new phase, a twenty-year period of creative collaboration.

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