pajbre

Well-known member
i'm curious, craner, as to why you (and zizek, although zizek less so) think guattari was a bad influence on deleuze?
 

poetix

we murder to dissect
(a blog post of today, x-posted here as it seems relevant)

I’ve never come away from any of Deleuze’s texts feeling that I understood any more (about) mathematics than I did when I started. There’s enough in Deleuze about differential calculus, Riemannian manifolds and so on to make you think that there ought, at some point, to be a settling of accounts with mathematical formalization; but the settlement never arrives, and the reader who undertakes (like Manuel DeLanda) to put things in some sort of scientific order must wrestle with the fact that Deleuze’s texts frequently resist such organization through a combination of willed incoherence and masterful pronouncements about the “nomadic” untameability of the matter at hand. They do so with the fine, pleasant and anti-dogmatic intention of evoking a virtual, problematic field behind every conceptual solution or actualization, so that the reader might not be enslaved by a system or held captive by an image of truth. But what is sacrificed by this approach is any experience of what Lacan called the impasse of formalization (Valéry: “Une difficulté est une lumière. / Une difficulté insurmountable est un soleil.”). It would be illuminating for example to be shown just why the “arborescent” cannot fully comprehend the “rhizomatic”, by means of a demonstration of the exact limit of its ability to do so. As it is, one is sometimes left feeling that some of the most stirring passages of “Capitalism and Schizophrenia” amount to little more than the varied and passionate affirmation of an emotional commitment to untidiness.

There is, nevertheless, something still troubling about Deleuze’s faintly hauntological harping on about old mathematical problematics curtly “obsoleted” by the inhabitants of Cantor’s paradise. Rather than a scientifically normalizing move, DeLanda’s projection of Deleuze’s concerns into the (now not quite so especially) brave new world of chaos and complexity theory can be seen as an attempt to show how science at its very frontiers remains receptive to the Event, continually developing “abnormal” concepts in response to the perennial problems of change, flux and turbulence. Badiou’s account of the (recent, European) history of mathematics is one in which the generation of mathematical novelty occurs through a series of formal impasses resolved by the setting of new foundations: the heroes of this history are the geniuses (collective as may be) who boldly posit new axioms and faithfully elaborate the systems of thought that unfold from them. But the beginnings of chaos theory, as narrated in James Gleick’s tremendously readable Chaos, were to be found in a new assemblage of heterogeneous mathematical techniques, advances in computer technology, problems thrown up by natural science and somewhat maverick metaphorical thinking (e.g. Mandelbrot’s “How long is the coastline of Britain?”). One cannot without distortion represent this development as a militant truth procedure faithful to the vanished trace of an ontological infraction; it seems much closer to Deleuze’s “minor science”, an abnormal enterprise, attending to the little embarrassments of normal theory, that only later submits to regulation by the “royal science” of axiomatics.

I’m reminded here of Lyotard’s suggestion, in The Postmodern Condition, that postmodernity precedes modernity, as the generating matrix of new modernisms. Every modernism is a new foundationalism, albeit often in the guise of a radical undermining of existing foundations; but the postmodern moment is that in which thought and language drift or err away from foundations, forsaking correctness as a criterion in favour of productivity or what Lyotard called “legitimation through paralogy”. It seems that even Badiou, in his call for an “experimental” politics pending the next great foundational upheaval, acknowledges the role of the postmodern moment or modality in the gestation of new modernisms; but for him the role of that moment is precisely to act as a fils conducteur leading towards the revolutionary instant. Deleuze’s “lines of flight”, for better or worse, seem to lead nowhere of the sort.
 

pajbre

Well-known member
poetix, this might sound like a cop out, but i'd suggest that it's not necessarily helpful to read D&G as philosophy per se... it seems like most of the qualms with D&G (and, apparently, especially guattari) revolve around their inability to eventually actualize some kind of coherent scientific or philosophical system (more or less craving an oedipal daddy to assure, no?)

well, i think kodwo eshun has it right when he argues that D&G are more about concept manufacture, 'circuit diagrams of the present.'

kind of an aside, where i went to school there was a half-serious feud between the philosophy dept. and the rhetoric dept (in which much D&G was taught), the rhet. kids basically being seen as too promiscuous, and the philosophy students too moral and imponderable.
 

josef k.

Dangerous Mystagogue
Deleuze and Guattari teach people how to think for themselves.

Badiou teaches people how to obey, unthinkingly, the fatal seductions of intellectual authority. Which is why so many Badiouvians sound like robots.
 

faustus

Well-known member
I’ve never come away from any of Deleuze’s texts feeling that I understood any more (about) mathematics than I did when I started. There’s enough in Deleuze about differential calculus, Riemannian manifolds and so on to make you think that there ought, at some point, to be a settling of accounts with mathematical formalization; but the settlement never arrives, and the reader who undertakes (like Manuel DeLanda) to put things in some sort of scientific order must wrestle with the fact that Deleuze’s texts frequently resist such organization through a combination of willed incoherence and masterful pronouncements about the “nomadic” untameability of the matter at hand.
hmmm. well its by no means my area of expertise, but I did once read a very interesting paper linking D&G with geometry, Riemann, etc, and Derrida with algebra, Cantor, Mallarme's stuff on metaphor and number. I could try and remember who it was by if its of any interest (wasnt online though)
 

poetix

we murder to dissect
Deleuze and Guattari teach people how to think for themselves.
Nomad this, rhizome that, flavour of the month.

Badiou teaches people how to obey, unthinkingly, the fatal seductions of intellectual authority. Which is why so many Badiouvians sound like robots.
Name two Badiouvians. Give examples of robotic articulation.
 

poetix

we murder to dissect
But you are being silly nevertheless. Deleuze is no better than anyone else for learning how to think for oneself (assuming that this is possible) - unthinking knock-off Deleuziana is as easy to churn out as unthinking knock-off Derridiana, and there's been plenty of both over the past couple of decades. Badiou is nowhere nearly as widely cloned, and is in some respects a good deal more difficult to clone convincingly (have a go, some time, at getting something that looks like a proper philosophical argument to cohere neatly with the formal exposition of some mathematical theme; it's quite a trick). My guess is that the next generation of earnest pasticheurs will jump right over him and go straight for Laruelle.
 

josef k.

Dangerous Mystagogue
Perhaps so. But Badiou is the leader of the emerging power-block, and the weapon of choice for puritanically-minded modern-day militant intellectuals, like yourself. Cold in here, no? Deleuze vs. Badiou is in some sense a fight between the (academic) philosophers (and their colonized captives) and the (institutionalized) artists (and their curatorial allies). But if you read Deleuze carefully, he doesn't take sides in this futile pseudo-war; Badiou does, asserting authority over other forms of creativity (15 Theses on Contemporary Art) in the name of his troops and the Truth, accessible through "weighty demonstrations" (Being and Event) in the teeth of his sophistic/running-dog enemies. Badiou says, once again: "Philosophy takes command." It takes command because finally it will always come back, with his blessing, to a language (jargon) of sets, of "seizures" of "something that looks like a proper philosophical argument"; a master discourse of capitalized (capitalist?) mediation (Event) in which neighboring fields can be tolerated, but in which the terms of engagement have been settled already. Arrogance, power, and willful self-delusion. Or do you disagree?
 
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poetix

we murder to dissect
Perhaps so. But Badiou is the leader of the emerging power-block
I think this is a hallucination. The up-and-coming thing in academic philosophy is, by all accounts, speculative realism. Latour's getting some serious play at present. Badiou is where, exactly? Nowhere amongst artists, who find him inimical to their creative freedom (yuck! maths!). Nowhere in literature departments, which are still ostentatiously voiding the last traces of their former infatuation with Advanced Notions. Is there a Badiouian school of architecture? Of music? Ironically enough, he seems most popular with the theologians.

, and the weapon of choice for puritanically-minded modern-day militant intellectuals, like yourself. Cold in here, no?
I think you'll struggle to find the thematics of "coldness" and affective withdrawal developed at length anywhere in Badiou. It's really not his tone.

Deleuze vs. Badiou is in some sense a fight between the (academic) philosophers (and their colonized captives) and the (institutionalized) artists (and their curatorial allies).
Well, I'm all for putting the boot into artists*. But not, I hope, in the name of academic philosophy.

* Joyce: "I am an olive - squeeze me".

But if you read Deleuze carefully, he doesn't take sides in this futile pseudo-war; Badiou does, asserting authority over other forms of creativity (15 Theses on Contemporary Art) in the name of his troops and the Truth, accessible through "weighty demonstrations" (Being and Event) in the teeth of his sophistic/running-dog enemies. Badiou says, once again: "Philosophy takes command." It takes command because finally it will always come back, with his blessing, to a language of sets, of "seizures" of "something that looks like a proper philosophical argument"; a master discourse of mediation in which neighboring fields can be tolerated, but in which the terms of engagement have been settled already. Arrogance, power, and willful self-delusion. Or do you disagree?
Again this notion that what the "weighty demonstrations" demonstrate is supposed to be "the Truth" - that Badiou is gifting his readers with the esoteric knowledge of forms, elevating them to a position of supposed intellectual authority. This is a very severe, and I suspect malicious, misreading. What one gets out of slogging through such demonstrations may be sublime - it's great when the penny drops - but it doesn't, in my experience, leave one with the feeling that one now understands reality better than other people. What Badiou calls "truths" are not accessible through the solitary study of settled mathematical topics. They are the coming into being of new forms, not the private comprehension of elite knowledge. None of Badiou's books communicates, or claims to communicate, a single "truth" of this kind.

Undoubtedly, Badiou's a Platonist. Philosophy for him is not a "form of creativity"; it's fundamentally not the same sort of thing as music, poetry or daubing yourself with woad. The arts are a "condition" for philosophy, and "theses" on art are a means by which philosophy can reflect on its own conditions and pose problems - or, better still, insurmountable difficulties - for artists. But the philosopher creates nothing - philosophy is in this sense a wholly second-order discourse. If philosophy "takes command", what it takes command of is - fleetingly - itself. It cannot hope to legislate over the domain of its conditions.

Deleuze has a more energetic notion of the relation between philosophy and the arts, one in which philosophers and artists (or psychiatrists) enliven each other's creative work by liberating "flows" in both directions. That's nice and non-antagonistic and all, but no more particularly immune to effects of institutional authority and the power of big publicity machines than any other arrangement. "Libidinal flow" can be a convenient cant for the circulation of hype.
 

vimothy

yurp
And still more -- it is possible to "read" an author in a variety of ways. Where is any author in our reading of them? Perhaps their location is not that important, nor ever really the point.
 
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