Public Talk: Dark Deleuze


You are cordially invited to a public talk, “Dark Deleuze,” on Thursday, June 25th at 11am in Gould Hall 442. The event is hosted by the University of Washington Department of Urban Design & Planning’s Built Environment Reading Group.

Deleuze once told a friend that a “worthwhile book” performs at least three functions: polemics, recovery, and creativity. In writing the book, one must reveal that (1) other scholarship commits an error; (2) an essential insight has been missed; and (3) a new concept can be created.[1] My task is to present all three. First, I argue against the ‘canon of joy’ that celebrates Deleuze as a naively affirmative thinker of connectivity. Second, I rehabilitate to the destructive force of negativity that pervades his work. Third, I argue for learning a ‘hatred for this world.’

Emerging from scholars concerned with the intolerable condition of the present, the darkness refashions a revolutionary Deleuze; revolutionary negativity in a world characterized by compulsory happiness, decentralized control, and overexposure.[5] The ultimate task of this approach is not the creation of concepts, and to the extent that it does, Dark Deleuze creates concepts only to write apocalyptic science fiction.[6]

[1] Letter to Arnaud Villani (August 1, 1982). Published in La guêpe et l’orchidée, 125-126.

[2] A sampling of works taking this approach include Jane Bennett’s The Enchantment of Modern Life (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001), Manuel DeLanda’s Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy (London: Continuum, 2002), Levi Bryant’s The Democracy of Objects (Ann Arbor, MI: Open Humanities Press, 2011), and John Protevi’s Life, War, Death (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2013).

[3] François Dosse, Intersecting Lives, trans. Deborah Glassman (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010 [2007]).

[4] Isabelle Stengers, Thinking with Whitehead: A Free and Wild Creation of Concepts, trans. Michael Chase (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011), Rosi Braidotti, “Affirming the Affirmative: On Nomadic Affectivity,” Rhizomes 11/12 (2005/2006), Manuel DeLanda A New Philosophy of Society (London: Continuum, 2006), and Manuel DeLanda Philosophy & Simulation: The Emergence (London: Continuum, 2011).

[5] Robert Caserio, Lee Edelman, Judith Halberstam, José Esteban Muñoz, Tim Dean, “The Antisocial Thesis in Queer Theory, “PMLA 121.3 (2005), Alexander Galloway, Protocol (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006), Geert Lovink, “Hermes on the Hudson: Notes on Media Theory after Snowden,” e-flux 54 (2014), Geert Lovink, “Speech at Franco Berardi’s PhD Defence in Helsinki,” net critique (2014).

[6] Deleuze proposes philosophy as a form of apocalyptic science fiction in the preface of his primary dissertation, Difference and Repetition (1994 [1968]), p xx-xxii. The task is taken up by Gregory Flaxman as “sci-phi” in the final chapter of his Gilles Deleuze and the Fabulation of Philosophy (2011), “Coda.”

3 thoughts on “Public Talk: Dark Deleuze

  1. I really, really respect this approach. I’ve been reading Thomas Ligotti’s work “The Conspiracy against the Human Race” recently at the suggestion of my husband as well as Pessoa’s “Book of Disquiet.” Your “ultimate task” resonates with how Deleuze kept popping into my mind as I read these two books together. Esp. given Ligotti’s penchant for writing in the vein of Lovecraft. I am so happy to have run across your talk on Steven Power’s Facebook post of it.

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