“Dark Deleuze”: A Glossary


Those who knew Gilles Deleuze consistently note his firm commitment to joyful affirmation and his distaste for the ressentiment of negativity. Beatifying this sentiment, Deleuzians have established a whole canon of joy. But what good is joy in this world of compulsive positivity?

It is time to move from the chapel to the crypt. There is sufficient textual evidence to establish this counter-canon. And from it, we can create a glossary of the “Dark Deleuze.”

Joyous: Dark:
Our Task Create Conceptions Destroy Worlds
Substance Techno-Science Political Anthropology
Existence Genesis Transformation
Ontology Realism Materialism
Subjects Assemblages Un-becoming
Speed Acceleration Withdrawal
Diagrams Complexity Asymmetry
Affects Intensity Cruelty
Flows Production Interruption
Difference Inclusive Disjunction Exclusive Disjunction
Organization Rhizome Unfolding
The Sensible Experience Indiscernibility
Distribution Crowned Anarchy The Outside
Cinema The Forces of Bodies The Powers of the False
Nomadism Pastoral Barbarian
Politics Molecular Cataclysmic
Ethics Processural Democracy Immanent Communism

13 thoughts on ““Dark Deleuze”: A Glossary

  1. It is time to move from the chapel to the crypt. There is sufficient textual evidence to establish this counter-canon. And from it, we can create a glossary of the “Dark Deleuze.”

    An intriguing post as always, AWC! Would you mind elaborating a little more on the textual, philosophical and political influences on the formulation of a Dark Deleuzian praxis? I can see hints of Tiqqun and also the asymmetrical-network media theories of Galloway, Thacker, etc.

    1. Sure!

      Textual: Each of the concepts that I list comes from a Deleuzian text. The “destroying worlds” is the Niezschean thread that is spun from the beginning to the end of Deleuze’s oeuvre. One place in particular is the beginning of Difference & Repetition, where he says that philosophy should be “the writing of apocalyptic science fiction.” Cruelty comes from Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty, which is in D&R, but also the Coldness & Cruelty essay.

      Philosophical: I’m quite aware of the tension between the “celebration of difference” (also: process, chaos, complexity) and the somewhat humanist project of expanding human capacities (vitalism, passive syntheses, etc) in D&G. It seems that the first is usually emphasized by those looking for D’s normative project while the second is perhaps more difficult (and perhaps political). The Dark Deleuze explores the second half, usually through un-becoming in the sense of Grosz, Braidotti, and others. The risk is to fold Deleuze back into esoterics – Negarestani does this – which is something that I think should be warded off (esp w/ his reading of Nietzsche through Klossowski). Additionally – Deleuze would want his concepts to change with history to remain critical of capitalism rather than more realistically descriptive (the essential lesson from Anti-Oedipus).

      Political: You’re right to pick up on Tiqqun & media theory. I would also add the critiques of D&G as being complicit with neoliberalism. I think the joyous Deleuze does share complicity with recent advances in capitalism, and it takes a refiguring of his work to retain its political edge. Within D&G’s work, we see this in their use of Virilio, their critique of technology (which they say is social before it is technical), and Deleuze’s late critique of Foucault (“desire not pleasure,” he argues).

      Aesthetics is crucial, too. It holds a punk attitude, but also an appeal to the depths of the unknown (“we do not know what a body is capable of”). These negative spaces are not to be construed to be as mysterious as the sublime or as limitless as the depth of hell. Rather, they use the power of refusal, hatred, and withdrawal as a resource made more power by a system of compulsory accession, camaraderie, and connection.

  2. Definitely intriguing. Lots of resonances between the ‘dark Deleuze’ and Badiou (esp. regarding exclusive disjunction, interruption, but also definitely important differences around the powers of the false). There has been some speculation that Tiqqun, while drawing a lot on Deleuze, Agamben, et. al., have been silent on the question of Badiou but only because they share a good number of affinities with him. I’d be curious what you think. And as always, thanks for a great post.

    1. Wish I had something intelligent to say on the Badiou question! Something tells me that he’s a relevant enough thinker to draw a lot of great ideas from – there are people who have made these connections – but that they are so allergic to his specific brand of Marxism/communism that they would rather not admit these appropriations. This is a classic French philosophical move that shows how they imagine citation to be a sign of lineage and alliance whose importance far exceeds the demands of tracking down references.

  3. Deleuze’s negativity can be seen in the abundance of negative prefixes (de-, as in decoding, a-, as in asignifying, in-, as in informal, non-, as in non-formed). This negativity is thus present in his concepts of difference, becoming, movement, and process. It is to be understood as underlying his affirmation of the primacy of deterritorialisation, of the thesis that deterritorialising comes first. This omnipresent negativity is to be found not just at the level of the concept, but at that of affect as well. It is to be found in Deleuze’s constant talk of solitude and becoming-secret, of ascesis and striking a blow against stupidity, of seeing the intolerable and the shame of being a man. Berardi does not hesitate to talk about the presence of depression in Deleuze and Guattari’s work, especially in WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY?.

    1. Wonderful observation, Terence! I hadn’t thought of looking to all of those wonderful prefixed – and it’s a wonderful way to clarify how negativity is internal to the operation of positivity in his metaphysics.

  4. Reblogged this on AGENT SWARM and commented:
    Very interesting project on the dark Deleuze. Graham Harman is “dark” from reinforing the dimension of shadowy depth and esoteric élitism, Deleuze is dark in refusing the pure Platonic light and in affronting the shadow inside the cavern and befriending it. I have often commented on the plethora of negative prefixes in Deleuze’s texts (in-, a-, de-), which are the markers of the de-stabilisation of signification and of the emergence of new meanings. Such is the free play of interpretation. Harman condemns interpretation to the sensual, unreal, realm. Yet for Deleuze the sensual realm is that of intensity, and its pluralism of interpretation goes with his battle cry: “Everything must be interpreted in terms of intensity”.

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