Aliens, Monsters, and Revolution in the Dark Deleuze

This is the longer version of a blog post I initially wrote for the University of Minnesota Press. You can find the shorter version on their blog here.

French philosopher Gilles Deleuze is usually characterized as a thinker of positivity. Consider two of his major contributions: the rhizome as an image for the tangled connections of networks, and the molecular revolution as transform spurred by unexpected quantum drift. These concepts catapulted the popularity of his thought as the digital age seemed to reflect social forms matching each form, namely the world wide web of the internet and the anti-globalization ‘movement of movements’ that lacked central coordination. Commentators marshaled his work to make sense of these developments, ultimately leading many to preach the joy of finding new connections to the material world (New Materialism), evolving the human at the bio-technical level (Post-Humanism), and searching out intensive affective encounters (Affect Studies).

In my new book Dark Deleuze, it is not my contention that such “affirmations” are incorrect. Rather, my argument is that Deleuze was ambivalent about their development, and later in life, became more a critic than proponent. In updating Deleuze for the digital age, I did more than restore a critical stance – I worked out how his lost negativity could be set loose on this world by destroying it.

Here I expanding on the Dark Deleuzian notion of “Death of This World,” a term I introduce as an image of negativity, by rendering it here as “the alien.” Instead of using well-worn digital examples, I instead explore the greatest looming question for the humanities: the Anthropocene.

Continue reading “Aliens, Monsters, and Revolution in the Dark Deleuze”

Book Event: Seattle, July 9

Join me for a reading of Dark Deleuze at Left Bank Books, 92 Pike St, Seattle, WA on July 9 at 7:30pm.

Dark Deleuze, Rekindling Deleuze’s opposition to what is intolerable about this world

Gilles Deleuze is known as a thinker of joyous affirmation and rhizomatic assemblages. Andrew Culp argues that this once-radical canon of joy has lost its resistance to the present. Culp unearths an underground network of references to conspiracy, cruelty, the terror of the outside, and the shame of being human to rekindle Deleuze’s opposition to what is intolerable about this world.

Andrew Culp is a lifelong anarchist who has been involved in radical collectives in Kansas City, California, Ohio, and Washington State. Dark Deleuze is part of his work on revolutionary thought inspired by the recent circuit of struggle that poses no demands, resists labels, and refuses to engage in formal political systems.

Dark Deleuze, Now Available

Dark Deleuze is now available in print and ebook. It is currently available via Amazon http://amzn.com/1517901332 and will be in bookstores soon.
Description:
French philosopher Gilles Deleuze is known as a thinker of creation, joyous affirmation, and rhizomatic assemblages. In this short book, Andrew Culp polemically argues that this once-radical canon of joy has lost its resistance to the present. Concepts created to defeat capitalism have been recycled into business mantras that joyously affirm “Power is vertical; potential is horizontal!” Culp recovers the Deleuze’s forgotten negativity. He unsettles the prevailing interpretation through an underground network of references to conspiracy, cruelty, the terror of the outside, and the shame of being human. Ultimately, he rekindles opposition to what is intolerable about this world.

Task: Destroy Worlds (Not Create Conceptions)

Skull Matchbook

The conspiracy against this world will be known through its war machines. A war machine is itself “a pure form of exteriority” that “explains nothing,” but there are plenty of stories to tell about them.[1] They are the heroes of A Thousand Plateaus – Kleist’s skull-crushing war machine;[2] the migratory war machine that the Vandals used to sack Rome;[3] the gun that Black Panther George Jackson grabs on the run,[4] and the queer war machine that excretes a thousand tiny sexes.[5] “Each time there is an operation against the state – insubordination, rioting, guerilla warfare, or revolution as an act – it can be said that a war machine has revived.”[6] War machines are also the greatest villains of the book, making all other dangers “pale by comparison”[7] – there is the constant state appropriation of the war machine that subordinates war to its own aims,[8] the folly of the commercial war machine,[9] the paranoia of the fascist war machine (not the state army of totalitarianism),[10] and worst of them all, the “worldwide war machine” of capitalism “whose organization exceeds the State apparatus and passes into energy, military-industrial, and multinational complexes” that wages peace on the whole world.[11] Continue reading “Task: Destroy Worlds (Not Create Conceptions)”

Dark Deleuze

dark 2
This is the opening to Dark Deleuze: The Power of the Outside. I am fortunate enough to be hosted by the University of Washington Department of Urban Planning and Design to finish the project during Summer 2015. Expect portions of the draft to be posted as I complete the project in the few coming weeks. Those of you near Seattle are invited to a brief presentation based on this work at the end of the month.

Summarizing his deeply idiosyncratic work, French philosopher Gilles Deleuze describes writing about others as “a sort of buggery” or “immaculate conception” that is the result of “taking an author from behind and giving him a child.”[1] Deleuze is still quick to distinguish his project from outright falsification. He strictly limits himself to what the author actually says; he attends to a thinker’s “shifting, slipping, dislocations, and hidden emissions” to give them “a child that would be [their] own offspring, yet monstrous.”[2] More than 30 years after making these remarks, Deleuze now has plenty of little monsters of his own – rootless rhi-zombies, dizzying metaphysicians, skittish geo-naturalists, enchanted transcendentalists, passionate affectivists… My aim is to give him another child that shares his last name: “Dark Deleuze.” Continue reading “Dark Deleuze”

Dark Deleuze Project Abstract


alienTitle: Dark Deleuze: A Glossary

Author: Andrew Culp, PhD, The Ohio State University

Abstract: This paper explores the Dark Deleuze by dramatizing the difference between joyfully creating concepts and apocalyptically destroying worlds. Contextualizing this dispute in recent work, the paper draws a contrast between the use of Gilles Deleuze’s thought for a realist ontology of the object and a revolutionary materialism of destruction.

The contemporary turn to realist ontology commonly adopts Deleuze’s metaphysics of positivity (DeLanda 2002; Bryant 2011; Protevi 2013). The basis for the realist side of Deleuze is perhaps best evinced by his biography: those who knew Deleuze consistently note his firm commitment to joyful affirmation and his distaste for the ressentiment of negativity (Dosse 2010 [2007]). Beatifying this sentiment, Deleuze has been used to establish a whole canon of joy. In the canon of joy, the cosmos is a complex collection of assemblages produced through the ongoing processes of differentiation (Stengers 2011, Braidotti 2005/2006; DeLanda 2006; DeLanda 2011). The effect of this image of thought is a sense of wonder but also the joy of creating concepts for knowing how the world really exists.

A different Deleuze, a darker one, has slowly cast its shadow. Emerging from scholars concerned with the condition of the present, the darkness refashions a revolutionary Deleuze; revolutionary negativity in a world characterized by compulsory happiness, decentralized control, and overexposure (Caserio et al 2005; Galloway 2006; Lovink 2014). The refashioned Deleuze forms a counter-canon out of the perfuse negativity of his concepts and affects.* On the level of concept, negativity impregnates the many prefixes of difference, becoming, movement, and transformation: de-, a-, in-, and non-. On the level of affect, Deleuze talks of indiscernibility and concealment, the shame of being human, and monstrous power of the scream. The ultimate task of this approach is not the creation of concepts, and to the extent that it does, the Dark Deleuze creates concepts only to write apocalyptic science fiction (Deleuze 1994 [1968], xx-xxii).

It is time to move from the chapel of joy to the darkness of the crypt.

There are two parts to my Dark Deleuze counter-canon project: a philosophical justification of Dark Deleuze based on textual evidence and a consideration of recent secondary literature; a description of terms that outlines the elements of the counter-canon for use.

Neither of the two parts has been published yet. I leave it up to the editors of xxxx to determine which half of the project they would prefer.

Continue reading “Dark Deleuze Project Abstract”