dangerous emotions

Emotions color the line drawings with which cognition represents reality. The philosophical distinction between the cognitive sense and private feelings can be traced back to Aristotle; it continues to our day in the concept of objective scientific knowledge. We take emotions to be distinctively human phenomena. Outside the crystal ball of the human psyche, there are only grass that does not wince when we tread on it, trees that are impassive as the chain-saw slashes them, water that does not shiver with pleasure when we stroke it, atoms drifting through the void without anxiety and colliding without pleasure or pain. If these things move us, it is because we are moved by the colors we project onto them. All colors, according to John Locke and seventeenth-century epistemology, including the “color” of emotion, are subjective effects within the pscyhe of the viewer.

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Affect, like many other psychoanalytic concepts, was stratified by ego psychology. Just another box to check or a short line to scribble one- or two-word phrases — “Affect: __flat___”. Little did these clinicians know that they suffered from the same condition: “blunted affect.”

Massumi injects a little Bergson into cultural studies in an attempt to extend Foucault’s archaeological project — assume motion not arrest (or in Foucaultian shorthand: “assume discontinuity, explain continuity”). Continue reading “becoming-affective”


What is the reasoning, perceptive, ‘singing’ monad that is only in the passions, affection, and perceptions that it expresses?

Claire Colebrook suggests it’s a queer passive vitalism. Consider this:

In concrete terms, we might begin by thinking of gender. Active vitalism, at least in the form that Deleuze and Guattari trace back to Kant, regards all concepts and categories as originally imposed by the subject upon an otherwise meaningless life. Active vitalism might regard gender as one of the ways in which life or the social ‘constructs’ categories that differentiate an otherwise general or undifferentiated humanity: so the criticism of stereotypes (as clichés or rigid forms imposed upon life) would lead to an overthrow of rigid categories in favour of what we really are (as unique individuals) or would expose that there are no such things as individuals, only effects of gender as it is represented. Genders and kinds are known in the vague and general opposition between male and female, distinctions that are imposed upon life and that need to be reactivated by being traced back to their social and familial origins. By contrast, for Deleuze and Guattari’s passive vitalism genders, kinds and stereotypes are not categories imposed upon life that might be overcome or criticised in the name of a universal and self aware humanity; instead, it is life as a multiple and differentiating field of powers that expresses itself in various manners. Continue reading “Forms-of-Life”

From Commune to Commun-ication in the Heat of Insurrection

From Raúl Zibechi, Dispersing Power, p 60-4:

Maturana and Varela argue that in communication there is no “information transmitted” but only a linkage of behaviors. They question the so-called “metaphor of the tube,” according to which ‘communication is something that is generated in one spot, carried by a conduit (or tube), and delivered to another at the receiving end.” Continue reading “From Commune to Commun-ication in the Heat of Insurrection”

“Forget the Dialectic”

Heres a _rough_ version of the paper I gave at the Marxist Literary Group – Institute on Culture and Society 2010 in Antigonish at St. Francis Xavier University:

Forget The Dialectic

Too many

Movement philosophers,

not enough

moving philosophy.

The curse of





make a motion,

fake e-motion.

We need more





in the heat

of resistance.

–Ron Sakolsky, Swift Winds


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MLG Paper: Sloppy Notes on a Deleuzian Metaphysics

I have begun fleshing out the abstract I wrote for the upcoming MLG.

Here are my notes:

Time: Bergson

Following Deleuze and Guattari’s “assemblage” theory, all matter is connected through a set of singularities into ensembles without becoming a totality or whole. Bergson’s notion of duration helps distinguish between the intensive and extensive properties of multiplicities (ATP 484). The first sense of multiplicity are extensive numerical multiplicities (Space — see Riemann), the second continuous intensive multiplicities (Time). Maybe the most self-evidently Bergsonian aspect of multiplicities is found within intensive multiplicities, the idea of the virtual — the real immanent openness to change in in every particular situation. Following Proust on memory, Deleuze argues that the virtual is “real without being actual, ideal without being abstract”.

Here’s a wonderful graph I took from the wiki page for multiplicity:

Continuous multiplicities Discrete multiplicities
differences in kind differences in degree
divides only by changing in kind divides without changing in kind
non-numerical – qualitative numerical – quantitative
differences are virtual differences are actual
continuous discontinuous
qualitative discrimination quantitative differentiation
simultaneity succession
fusion juxtaposition
organization order
subjective – subject objective – object
duration space

Continue reading “MLG Paper: Sloppy Notes on a Deleuzian Metaphysics”