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(Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000 (orig. pub. 1997)). Paul Patton, Deleuze and the Political (New York, Routledge, 2000). John Rajchman, The Deleuze Connections (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000).
In the small but growing circle of Deleuze scholars on this side of the Atlantic, there has been a notable shift in recent years regarding the aspects of Deleuze's thought that receive emphasis. Early on, with the publication and subsequent translation of (and the stir in France about) Anti-Oedipus, Deleuze was treated here as primarily a political philosopher in the Nietzschean mold. AntiOedipus, co-authored with Felix Guattari, was (justly) taken to be political theory that was influenced by the events of May '68 in France, and was also (not quite so justly) taken to be emblematic of the entirety of Deleuze's thought. In recent years, however, there has been a shift from the study of his political views toward his ontological ones, and with that shift has come a corresponding shift in attention from the later works, many of
Paul Patton's Deleuze and the Political. appeared in translation by Paul Patton (one of the authors under review here) in 1994. Combined with the focus placed on Deleuze's ontology by Constantin Boundas. concerns itself mostly with Deleuze's later work. or has an epistemic commitment to any of his ontological posits. his most significant promoter in North America. scholars of Deleuze's thought are now as likely to read the collaborative works with Felix Guattari through the eyes of Deleuze's earlier studies as the other way around.two of them focus largely on Deleuze's ontology. It is less surprising. John Rajchman.them co-authored with Guattari. 3. than it once would have been that of the three books under review here -. allows English speakers a full range of study of all of Deleuze's major early works. Whether or not Deleuze "has" an ontology. long neglected here. However. Alain Badiou's Deleuze: The Clamor of Being (originally published in French in 1997) and John Rajchman's The Deleuze Connections both approach his thought by means of his ontology. alongside other earlier works. I want to be a bit cautious. 4. by contrast. When I use the term "ontology" in reference to Deleuze's work. Deleuze's central work Difference and Repetition. is a source of debate among Deleuze scholars. then. that book also has significant chapters on Deleuze's ontology. for 2 . toward the earlier ones.all of them major contributions to Deleuze studies -. and.
a formidable ontologist in his own right. comments that Deleuze's thought "puts experimentation before ontology. argues that Deleuze's project. This philosophy is organized around a metaphysics of the One 2." he writes. 17) Of these three. 11) In arguing for this claim. 5. According to Badiou. It proposes an ethics of thought that requires dispossession and asceticism. 6) In invoking the term.'" (p. it is the first one that founds the other two and thus receives the bulk of 3 . in contrast to most of the interpretations given to it.instance. Badiou places himself squarely in context of Difference and Repetition and The Logic of Sense. and not necessarily to any overarching ontological structure that may or may not lie there. is to articulate a thinking rooted in not multiplicity but rather in univocity. I mean only to refer to the ontological concepts that find their way into Deleuze's work. 'And' before 'Is. then. 3." (p. It is systematic and abstract. Badiou's text is perhaps the most well known and most controversial of the three. 6. I would like to spend a moment rehearsing Badiou's interpretation and criticism of Deleuze before turning to the alternatives provided by Rajchman and Patton." (p. Badiou. "Deleuze's fundamental problem. "is most certainly not to liberate the multiple but to submit thinking to a renewed concept of the One. there are three central principles governing Deleuze's thought: "1.
his attention. "The price one must pay for inflexibly maintaining the thesis of univocity is clear. is that this dual angle of vision cannot be maintained without resort to transcendence. Badiou notes that if Deleuze takes this path. Where it does develop difficulties. however. From the beginning of his work Deleuze rejects the intervention of any sort of transcendent into philosophy. it precludes the resort to some sort of transcendent by which this world would be judged. Deleuze's strategy is to hold that Being is to be conceptually approached from two different angles. It is the first side that Deleuze privileges. In Badiou's view. Deleuze endorses this view. How can Being be univocal and yet seem to be multifarious. and the univocity of Being is in keeping with that rejection. This lineage holds that Being is said in one and the same sense about all things of which it is said. this multiple can only be that of the order of simulacra. In Difference and Repetition. Deleuze traces a historical lineage that begins with Duns Scotus and runs through Spinoza to Nietzsche that takes Being to be univocal. In itself. 26) 9.ultimately.. 8." (p. that position is not problematic. 4 . one from the side of univocity and the other from the side of multiplicity.. in Nietzschean fashion. in large part because. As Badiou puts it. which is what Deleuze 7. one of the hurdles he has to clear is that the world appears as a multiplicity.
John Rajchman." (p. in Deleuze's distinction between the virtual univocity of Being and its actualization in the multiplicity of things. 11. in contrast to Badiou. In focusing on the univocity of Deleuze's concept of Being. but it is not at all clear that it is unavoidable. this move. then. Badiou may have conflated univocity with identity. In The Deleuze Connections. follows the more standard route of focusing on Deleuze as a thinker of multiplicity. 46) Although Deleuze tries to maintain immanence by invoking the idea of the virtual and the actual as distinct but indiscernible.wants to avoid in the first place by invoking the univocity of Being. a move that would certainly lead to transcendence but which Deleuze himself rejects. undercuts the possibility of the virtual serving as a univocal ground of Being. Let me only suggest here that I believe Badiou is right in saying that transcendence is a threat to Deleuze's thought. It would take a much longer essay to assess the charge that Badiou has leveled against Deleuze. For instance. 10. When Deleuze claims in Difference and Repetition that Being is difference in itself and in Bergsonism that Bergson's ontological past is pure difference in kind. in Badiou's eyes. the virtual cleaves from the actual and becomes transcendent: "Deleuze's virtual ground remains for me a transcendence. he is opening up the possibility of a virtuality that is as multiplicitous as the actualities that emerge from it. In 5 .
it requires a logic entirely different from the traditional logic of predication. the driving force of Deleuze's thought is the promotion of experimentation. he offers an empiricism that unfolds (to use a later image of Deleuze and Guattari's) rhizomatically. For such a thought to occur. "Deleuze would see a 'superior empiricism' prior to any transcendental subjectivity or intersubjectivity -. again in Difference and Repetition. either subjective or objective. claims that Deleuze focuses on the And rather than the Is. 13." (p. in the quote cited earlier.Rajchman's view. in shoots and connections emanating from a middle without ends: a free multiplicity that allows for all sorts of nomadic couplings and connections that are irreducible to an overarching structure. It requires a logic of conjunction and connection. Deleuze does not by any 6 . In contrast to what Deleuze calls. and this promotion requires that there be many different and not predetermined ways in which various things can connect with one another (thus the book's title) with no transcendent guiding or evaluating principle. the "dogmatic image of thought. or which would not be immanent to anything prior.' with no first or transcendental elements. 17) 12. That is why Rajchman." which unfolds hierarchically from first principles as a universal explainer or guide and ultimately requires some sort of grounding transcendence.a sort of philosophical experimentalism that would suppose a 'pure immanence.
While Badiou. conjunction. 14. Near the end of The Deleuze 7 . and inclusive disjunction. For Rajchman. he embraces it. 15. on the other hand. is uncomfortable with any univocity and thus seeks to discredit it in Deleuze. Deleuze's logic. I believe that there are tensions in Deleuze's thought that tend toward transcendence. according to the requirements of his own thought. and have addressed some of them in my own work. in seeing that for Deleuze univocity is a way to maintain both immanence and multiplicity. For Rajchman. because of his overriding commitment to the univocity of Being. by contrast Rajchman. then. but I find them more at the margins than at the center of his work. It is based on a logic of connection. an interpretation that seems to me more in keeping with the movement of Deleuze's thought than the univocity ascribed to Deleuze by Badiou. gives it a more sympathetic and to my mind proper reading. For Badiou.means reject ontology. must always be a dualist tension of the One and the Many. the placement of multiplicity rather than univocity at the core of Deleuze's thought issues out into a logic as multiplicitous as the ontology it seeks to construct. the univocity of Being is quite clearly a univocity of difference. But Deleuze's ontology is not based on a logic of predication. Here we can see the sharp contrast between Rajchman's view of Deleuze and Badiou's.
I will focus on the political contribution Patton sees Deleuze as making. It is probably not out of place to confess here that when I began to study Deleuze. routine. multiple way of thinking and saying. 16. has offered an excellent guide to it. a vital. in his view. has offered that way of thinking. Patton's essays had more influence on me than any others I read. 125) Deleuze. Rajchman. cliché. mechanical reproduction or automatism.Connections Rajchman offers a motivation for reading Deleuze that seems to me to be right on target and that offers a transition into Paul Patton's more political reading of Deleuze. is a clear and incisive interpreter of Deleuze. in the thicket of Deleuzian concepts with which I was confronted. This is partly because of their political character and partly because. not a substitute theology or 'auratic object. like Rajchman. in my view. Rajchman writes that. Patton. "In a modern world of stupefying banality. What Paul Patton does is to show how that way of thinking might be read on the political level. Deleuze and the Political brings together the themes that dominated those essays into an overview of Deleuze's political thought (which he engaged in largely in collaboration with Felix Guattari) and how that thought emerges from the context created by his ontological approach. he always seemed to prove a clear guide. 8 . Since Patton's ontological approach is largely consonant with Rajchman's.'" (p. the problem is to extract a singular image.
but also at the pre-individual." "Critical freedom differs from the standard liberal concepts of positive and negative freedom by its focus upon the conditions of change or transformation in the subject. He does not ask what a just society would be or inquire into the nature or conditions of justice or rights. Patton introduces the concept of "critical freedom. whose own views stem from his interpretation of the dominating forces of a given sociopolitical arrangement. and supra-state levels as well. As Patton notes. That is why his politics does not simply occur at the level of the individual or the state -although they do make appearances -. focusing upon the multiplicity of active forces that can be released rather than on the question of what people deserve as members of a given society. Nietzsche saw himself as a political diagnostician whose goal was to see in the symptoms of a situation its arrangement of active and reactive forces. Further. 83) A few pages later he writes. Deleuze does not do political philosophy in any traditional sense. "It is the freedom to transgress the limits of what one is 9 . His political views are influenced by Nietzsche. he saw himself as trying to promote the active ones while discouraging the reactive ones. In order to capture what Deleuze is after in his political work.17. Deleuze takes up this approach in his own work." (p. and by its indifference to the individual or collective nature of the subject. 18. supra-individual and pre-state.
"minoritarian. 19. 85) In Nietzschean terms. like Nietzsche's active and reactive forces. there is inherent in any socio-political arrangement a destabilization between those forces that seek to maintain order -. the Deleuzian concept of "becoming" is central to this way of seeing things. to use another Deleuzian term. A becoming is not a state of being but a transformation. it is a movement away from the given toward that which a society refuses or is as yet unable to recognize. critical freedom concerns the ability to allow the active forces to be in play rather than taming them in the name of the current values of a given community. to be interpreted in a given context in order to 10 . Given this view. It is. a movement between things. rather than just the freedom to be or do those things. but it is always. 20." (p. the vital. and the multiple.what Deleuze calls "reterritorializing" forces -. As Patton notes.and those "deterritorializing" forces which subvert that order. in short. That movement may be between any number of things (think here of Rajchman's concept of connections). a disruption of current understandings and ways of being in the name of what Rajchman above called the singular. He sees societies as composed of various lines or vectors of territorialization and deterritorialization which need." A becoming is always a matter of becoming something other than what is offered by the dominant conceptual categories of a given society.presently capable of being or doing.
since the outcome of any given intervention cannot be accurately predicted. however. Patton notes that the history of societies is never a matter of whether the deterritorializing or reterritorializing forces prevail at a given moment. 107) 22. at times. because the "lines of flight" that these deterritorializations take intersect with the other lines or vectors of a given society in unforeseeable ways. and. non-hierarchical. when Deleuze and Guattari argue that societies are defined by their lines of flight or deterritorialisation. In both he seeks to undermine what might appear to be inescapable or rigid categories by introducing ways of thinking that are multiple. Given this overview. 21. they mean there is no society that is not reproducing itself on one level. can only be by experimentation. while simultaneously being transformed into something else on another level. Whether a given deterritorialization will be successful or interesting or will liberate active forces cannot be assured in advance. intentionally ambiguous. Whether in the end the difficulties that Badiou ascribes to Deleuze's thought will undermine its ability to offer a coherent and interesting 11 . All proceeding." (p. "Thus.discover how to proceed. In both cases Deleuze attempts to disrupt stasis and identity by means of concepts that are fluid and differential. but of how they are interacting in the unfolding of that society. it is not difficult to see the continuity of Deleuze's political thought with his ontological approach.
remains to be seen. Foucault once wrote. without express written permission from the JHU Press is expressly forbidden. He can be reached at mayt@CLEMSON. in an oftquoted remark. such predictions can never be known in advance.EDU Copyright © 2001. What it Means to be Human. or fax to one person at another location for that individual's personal use. As Deleuze himself would be the first to suggest. Todd May and The Johns Hopkins University Press all rights reserved. or whether. Todd May is a Professor of Philosophy at Clemson University. Or.approach to understanding ourselves and our world. Our Practices. distribution of this article outside of the subscribed campus. has just been published by Penn State Press. even if it possesses the power that Rajchman and Patton find in it. He has written extensively on the thought of Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze. NOTE: members of a subscribed campus may use this work for any internal noncommercial purpose. it will be taken up as a guide. Our Selves. print. but. His fifth book. 12 . in whole or in part. other than one copy sent by email. that one day the century (which is now the last century) might become known as Deleuzian.
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