Theory and Accellerationism/Xenoeconomics

Initially influenced by Planomenology’s insistence that in addition to examining accellerationism’s impact on the global relation between capitalism and states, we should attempt to think through the conceptual problems raised by it in relation to “concrete social arrangements, organizations and institutions”, and subsequently Benjamin Noys’ post yesterday brilliantly criticising the tendency towards affirmation in contemporary theory, we were led to look again at some of the suspicions we have held for the last while on the status and nature of Deleuzoguattarian theory (or “Deleuzoguattarian studies”) within academic discourse. It appears to us that the increasing proliferation of Deleuze and Guattari’s work throughout the humanities, and its uncritical adoption particularly anglo-american literature and cultural studies departments, is just such an area which seems to throw up interesting, concrete examples of accellerationism at work. In many ways, we consider the ruminations below (which will continue next week) to be merely a footnote to Noys’ post.

 Although few will admit it, the practice of D&G theory closely resembles the working of capitalism itself in its tendency to alienate the discourse and conceptual apparatuses of other theoretical perspectives from the terrain in which they have originated, subordinate their historical and cultural specificities to the machinery of D&G, then subsume all under a common currency of Deleuzoguattarian terminology (by and large uncritically deployed). To take one of the worst of a plethora of recent examples (which tend to go under the title “Deleuze and…”), in Colebrook’s Deleuze and Feminist Theory, the author reads the entirety of feminist politics (including every significant feminist from Wollestonecraft to Shelley through to deBeauvoir and Irigaray) as examples of a Deleuzoguattarian practice of “inhabitation”: in contrast to interpreting, in a Deleuzoguattarian reading “one inhabits a text: set up shop, follow its movements, trace its steps and discover it as a field of singularities” (3).

 The majority of Deleuzoguattarian theorists (or what Buchanan calls “Deleuzists”, a term devastatingly criticised by Justin Clemens (cf. Social Semiotics 11:3)) are prone to claim that this is in no way a perversion of Deleuze and Guattari’s original aims, and frequently extoll the revolutionary potential of their rhizomatic reading strategy: encounters between fields or disciplines ostensibly separate from each other (in the above example: Deleuzogauttarian theory and feminism), we are told, engage a deterritorialisation of both from their sedentary usage (“through the middle”). This of course, belies the true nature of their work in which the popular usage of Deleuzoguattarian theory, as I have indicated above, creates nothing new and merely subordinates every other perspective to its totalising, brainless machinery (indeed, one of the earliest criticisms of D&G by Krista Bürger, conveniently forgotten by “Deleuzists”, was that Anti-Oedipus represented nothing but mindless totalitarianism of the rhizome, a view reiterated by Badiou, referring to D&G as a kind of “potato-fascism”…).

Yet it appears to us that the fate of Deleuze and Guattari in contemporary critical theory is far from exceptional. Rather, it merely indicates a prevalent trend (of which perhaps it is the worst example: when compared to the rapid cancerous growth of Deleuzoguattarian studies within the humanities, the self-proclaimed “parasite” of Derridean studies appears postively benign) whereby some literary/cultural theorists, in response to the demands of an increasingly commercialised academic milieu (cf. Britain’s R.A.E.), seek to connect their work to that of the philosophe du jour (Rancière in particular, as one of the last remaining soixant-huitards of late has seen his star rise in cultural studies departments) in order to maximise academic productivity… (TBC)


~ by schoolboyerrors on October 31, 2008.

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