Sunday, 20 February 2022

Deleuze Vs Representation

No time for proper writing tonight, which is just as well as I've been looking for an excuse to share this vid. Having braved A Thousand Plateaus last year, I know how difficult Deleuze and Guattari can be. Especially if, like me, you're not steeped in philosophy. This video from Jonas ńĆeika, author of How to Philosophise with a Hammer and Sickle is about as clear an explainer you can get for breaking open a crucial aspect of DeleuzoGuattarian thought: their critique of representation in art, music, and politics. As such, his video explaining their argument with drum machines comes highly recommended.


Dialectician1 said...

Oh dear. This is dreadful stuff.

"I know how difficult Deleuze and Guattari can be."

Sorry Phil, but this is postmodernist mumbo-jumbo of the worst sort. For these two academics, the 'desire of the body' is the source of freedom, not class struggle. They view 'decentring' as path to liberation, and see a progressive movement of schizophrenics and the lumpen proletariat as the groups who will free us from the ideological dogma of rationalism (definitely not a unified working class!). 'Let your thoughts run free' and everything will be resolved and your desires will be realised!

They are a throwback from the hippy/student movement of 1968, repackaging the ideas of some of the worst forms of anarchism and old-fashioned liberalism in the most tedious metaphysical abstractions.

Phil said...

I completely disagree. For one, Deleuze and Guattari are hard materialists - not "postmodernists" (who, btw, is a postmodernist?). 2nd, their language is no more mumbo-jumbo than the rarefied language philosophy has long used, including Marxist philosophers. The negation of the negation, anyone? And third, class struggle is central to both their books, which were heavily influenced by May 68 and the Italian strike wave of 1969. Class struggle is, among other things, the attempts by capital to force people into the grooves of the worker/employee. This forcing means resistance is inevitable, and why it takes on individualist and collectivist forms. It's all there for anyone prepared to read them carefully.

Dialectician1 said...

“For one, Deleuze and Guattari are hard materialists - not "postmodernists”

I’m not sure what you mean by a ‘hard’ materialist. However, Deleuze in particular would be described as a ‘New Materialist’, or as Terry Eagleton would describe it as, ‘a brand of materialism which is really a species of poststructuralism in wolf’s clothing,,,,it is thus possible to move from New Materialism to anti Marxism is a few excessively rapid steps. As Eagleton concludes, ‘Deleuze’s cosmic vitalism is virulently anti-materialist, (Eagleton 2016, Materialism pp 8-19)

“Who is a postmodernist?” Apparently no one these days because it is so discredited, even in universities.

“2nd, their language is no more mumbo-jumbo than the rarefied language philosophy has long used, including Marxist philosophers”

From Francis Wheen (2004), ‘How Mumbo Jumbo Conquered the World’. pp 87-88

A passage from Gilles Deleuze: “In the first place, singularities-events correspond to heterogeneous series which are organised into a system which is neither stable nor unstable, but rather ‘metastable’, endowed with a potential enemy wherein the differences between series are distributed….In the second place, singularities possess a process of auto-identification, always mobile and displaced to the extent that a paradoxical element traverses the series and makes them resonate, enveloping the corresponding singular points in a single aleatory point and all emissions, all dice throws, in a single cast”

As Wheen states, ‘One can gaze at this paragraph for hours and be none the wiser. Read it back to front, break it up into constituent parts, ingest a few hallucinogenic drugs to aid comprehension: it remains gibberish.’

“It's all there for anyone prepared to read them carefully.”

Well, yes. I’ve attempted to read a bit of Deleuze and Guattari in my time but I really struggle with its impenetrability. Can you suggest any ‘accessible’ texts where they write about class struggle & resistance to capitalism?