The work of [Laura] Mulvey and those who extended her theories on the gender politics of representation is hardly forgotten, but it is no longer front and center. Indeed, Mulvey's name is nowhere to be seen in the stack of proposals for the 2006 conference. And I found only one mention of Jacques Lacan, the French psychoanalyst who was a major influence on Mulvey. . . . Lacan is no longer a central figure. Even Slavoj Zizek, the flamboyant theorist who revived Lacan in the 1990s, is absent from the proposals. The one theorist who pops up repeatedly in the proposals is Gilles Deleuze, another Frenchman, but one with little patience for the old therapeutically based models of psychoanalysis and cultural politics.
I was at once thrilled and saddened to read these words. When I taught my graduate seminar, "The Problem of the Media in Deleuze and Guattari," last term, I felt like my class and I really were on the cutting-edge of work in media studies. I still think we were. On the other hand, I'm somewhat bothered by the prospect of such cutting-edge work going mainstream. What put me off more than anything in Gabbard's Chronicle piece was his subsequent explanation of Deleuze's work, which (a) reduced it merely to the concept of the rhizome, and (b) forgot that Guattari was an integral party involved in advancing that concept.
I worry that, like Lacan before him, Deleuze might be spawning something of an industry. And here I'm reminded of Ken Wark's prophetic words in his Hacker Manifesto:
D+G [Deleuze and Guattari] describe in somewhat formal, general terms the space of possibility of hacker thought. But their version of escape from history can easily take on an aristocratic form, a celebration of singular works of high modernist art and artifice. These in turn are all too easily captured by the academic and cultural marketplace, as the designer goods of the over-educated. D+G all too easily become the intellectual's Dolce and Gabbana. (n. 91)
Is a Deleuze industry something to be welcomed or something from which to recoil in horror?