One of the main difficulties I have with Deleuze and Guattari is that it is difficult for me to see how one might make decisions and evaluations within their philosophical outlook. I like to think of these evaluations and decisions in terms of boundaries, and I am convinced that a significant part of living well involves producing good boundaries and living well in and amongst these boundaries. We do this through disciplines, fidelities, and traditions, which are interwoven with and inextricable from experimentations, creativities, and rebellions. And it is along these lines where I am often baffled by Deleuze and Guattari: it is clear we can fail and we can make and do good or bad things, but I am rarely convinced that their philosophy of immanence gives us the tools to determine whether we are on track or how we can get back on track when we do realize that we are going a bad way. It is not fair to say that they advise us to simply follow our creative impulses; their analysis of the ways desire can be captured and misled is too subtle for that. But there does seem to be an optimism that desire will successfully find its own way, if we can free it from all systems of signification and teleology. Continue reading Machinic Reasons: Making Decisions with Deleuze and Guattari
Commentators often point to irony as a defining feature of postmodernity. Oddly enough, however, while, for example, there is much playfulness in a book like A Thousand Plateaus, I can find very little trace of anything one might call ironic. Indeed, in the case of A Thousand Plateaus there is a great deal of polemic directed against the detachment – one might say idolatry – of an ironic posture (even as they also find much that is problematic in what often goes under the heading of “seriousness”). Here’s one good example of this.
[I]t is necessary to ‘saturate every atom,’ and to do that it is necessary to eliminate, to eliminate all that is resemblance and analogy, but also ‘to put everything into it’: eliminate everything that exceeds the moment, but put in everything that it includes – and the moment is not the instantaneous, it is the haecceity into which one slips and that slips into other haecceities by transparency. To be present at the dawn of the world. – Deleuze and Guattari, 280
One of the most difficult aspects of reading Deleuze and Guattari is the fleetingness of helpful examples. Let me clarify. There are many quite illustrative literary examples and there are many historical examples that help to give a sense of their differentiations of the various political modes they explore. However, for this reader none of these help much when thinking about where and how Deleuze and Guattari may or may not position themselves politically, or how we might use their tools of analysis in the various political movements and landscapes of today. Having said that, I just came across a helpful one on women’s politics. Continue reading The example of women’s politics in A Thousand Plateaus
It seems to me that much current academic energy goes into two broadly contradictory tasks. The first attempts to unearth violences in texts of all sorts, to deconstruct them. The second (after showing the utter violence in all other ideas, interpretations, and approaches) moves on to present itself as the movement or position free of all problems and finally offering a truly final solution. Some have seen fit to critique the former approach. However, though I can see a potential for such a task to become pedantic or overly dismissive, I tend to find such work both judicious and important. The latter approach, on the other hand, is one that I am quickly becoming tired of. It is one thing to enthusiastically promote a good idea; it is another to dismiss all others out of hand, renounce critical self-reflection, and triumphantly present an idea as both untried and sure to success.
With that I want to present my final solution to non-violent Christian mission. I get it from a sermon preached by Lydia Harder at the Mennonite Church in Montreal around a year ago. She took three paradigms of Christian mission and worked with them, with congregational singing in between. She briefly described each, talked about their benefits and virtues, and then critiqued them, showing the ways that they can turn violent. And then we sang.