Post 1: Beginning

I have reservations about this blogging business but I’ve been won over by Cary’s optimism. Any help, advice, corrections you’ve got, I’d be glad to hear them.

My dissertation basically consists of two main sections: 1) an interrogation of Deleuzian thought based on an immanent critique of the theory of affect, juxtaposed with 2) an elucidation of the atomistic materialism of the thought of Pierre Guyotat. These two sections will be bracketed by a contextualisation of the work of both writers, which will seek to position them within the socio-political climate of 1960s-70s France.

The large and ever-increasing body of secondary material on Deleuze can be mainly divided into two strands: those works which seek to elucidate Deleuze’s often mind-bogglingly dense philosophy by explaining his slippery conceptual apparatus (sometimes, but not always, in terms of the debt he owes to other thinkers) and those other works which seek to appropriate Deleuze or Deleuzian concepts in order to illustrate a given literary/cinematic text or a certain theoretical framework. Without doubt, both of these approaches have their merits. In the first instance, Deleuze’s philosophy as “the invention of concepts” deserves to be slowly and patiently teased out lest it remain tremendously difficult for and misunderstood by those unfamiliar with his work. In the second, Deleuze explicitly affirms the potential for the meeting (or “conversation”, “becoming”) of two seeming-divergent fields of study and the genesis of true creation in-between, or “through the middle”. Leaving aside for the moment interesting and no-doubt important investigations of the dependence of each of these strands upon the other and the emergence of both from an increasingly production-oriented academic milieu (one concern of Gregg Lambert’s new book), what is clear is that there is very little published work which seems to critically engage with Deleuze on his own terms. Certainly Badiou offers a now-infamous critique of him in The Clamor of Being and Peter Hallward produces an ingenious yet not-unproblematic Badiouian (not-unproblematic because Badiouian?) reading of Deleuze’s so-called mysticism in Out of this World, but it is arguable whether either reading stands up to prolonged investigation: do they actually adhere to Deleuze’s words or are they merely out-Deleuzing Deleuze, “taking [him] from behind and giving him a child that would be his own offspring, yet monstrous”. In any case, the determinedly critical perspective which grounds these works is by far in the minority. Here’s where this chapter comes in: what I am proposing is an immanent critique of Deleuze’s thought (specifically his theory of affect), which will take Deleuze at his very word and try to assess the consistency of his work. It will be concerned with notions of judgement, ethics, and interpretation. Interpretation will be the key here…

So, I guess that’s not much to go on but anyway.

Go n-eirigh an t-ádh libh!


~ by schoolboyerrors on June 18, 2008.

3 Responses to “Post 1: Beginning”

  1. I think the Hallward book is interesting in many ways, not least because I think it is an immanent critique, albeit of a very partial nature, which reads the entire corpus via a particular interpretation of the virtual-actual schema. The end result is a Deleuze who emerges as weirdly Agambenian in character. Its the Zizek book which is far more marked by a post-Badiouian imprint, but its really only of value for the jokes (“pickets to titsburg” indeed!) as poor old Slavoj can’t even get to grips with the distinction between difference between concepts and difference-in-itself…

  2. Yes Alex! While I was working on Agamben I was struck by what I saw as the real importance of his work to Hallward’s critique of Deleuze, but also his critique of Nancy in The Oxford Literary Review, in which he performs the same basic and to my mind, terribly reductive operation: sundering creative force from that which is created, cause from effect. (If you haven’t read the Nancy piece, I recommend it, if only because shoehorning two such radically divergent thinkers into the same box inclines me to think that Hallward has a chip on his shoulder…) And we all saw how partial he was to Agamben in class. There’s definitely and interesting relation there I reckon.
    Have you read Agamben’s essay on Dz, “Absolute Immanence”? I’d be interested to hear what you, Matt & Cary think of it. Either he has a deep misunderstanding of Dz (eg. the importance of an “originary non-relation” in Dz’s work?) or he’s only interested in appropriating Deleuze for his own orthodox Heideggerian ends.
    Anyway, cheers mucka.

  3. I’ve just come across your blog, and am very interested in what you’re doing with Deleuze, affect, conatus, Land, and so on. Without having had time yet to read what you’re doing at length, I think I may be trying something similar with this. Perhaps I’m wrong…

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