Tuesday, December 12, 2006

How can one be Deleuzian?

Though it's always been more than this, Differences & Repetitions began in many respects as a Deleuze blog. At the time I was teaching a graduate seminar, "The Problem of the Media in Deleuze and Guattari," and so, perhaps unsurprisingly, Deleuzo-Guattarian philosophy was very much on my mind in the fall of 2005. In a way it often continues to be, though sometimes other issues and intellectual concerns need to take priority both in life and here on this blog. As this semester winds down, though, I find myself with just a little more time to think and write than when we're in full-swing. And here, in anticipation of composing an essay on the concept of critique, I've found myself more fully engaged once again with Deleuzo-Guattarian (mostly Deleuzian) philosophy.

The odd thing is, inasmuch as I'm gripped by the individual and collaborative writings of D&G, and while many in my department poke fun at my "Deleuzianism" (I bring this on myself, as I have a poster of Deleuze on my office wall), my work rarely comes across as Deleuzo-Guattarian in any clear or direct way--and readers who know my writing are welcome to correct me if you think I'm wrong. Granted, I at times refer directly to the work of D&G, and I occasionally--and I really mean occasionally--pilfer ideas and vocabulary from them. Still, I don't believe that my research reads as particularly Deleuze/Guattari-inspired, at least in the same way as that of many scholars who claim an interest in D&G. I interact intensively with Deleuze and Guattari, in other words, especially in preparation for writing, but in the end I have a tendency to leave them behind.

My question is, why? And it's this question that leads me back to Charles Stivale's brilliant question from his Two-Fold Thought of Deleuze and Guattari: how can one be Deleuzian? I suppose, for me, "being" Deleuzian (or, really, Deleuzo-Guattarian, for as someone with an alphabetically late-occurring last name, I can appreciate the travails of second authorship) means thinking with or alongside Deleuze and Guattari but doing so in the background, more than, say, employing a whole host of their concepts explicitly. So, for example, my book manuscript explores an emergent set of consumer practices that might well be describe in Deleuzo-Guattarian terms as "becoming actual." And yet, I don't use that language until the final chapter, and only then do I use it in passing. In a more general sense, my commitment to cultural studies, and thus to the idea of articulation, in many respects disposes me to think and analyze "rhizomatically." Nevertheless, I cannot really recall a time when I used that specific language in a published essay.

I'm not trying to set out here a normative prescription by which one ought to "be" (or become) Deleuzo-Guattarian. Indeed, I think of some of the most intriguing work coming out of Deleuzo-Guattarian cultural studies, much of which refers more explicitly (and successfully, I think) to Deleuzo-Guattarian language than does my published research. Here I'm thinking of the work of Greg Seigworth, Jennifer Daryl Slack, Steve Wiley, Greg Wise, and others. Still, I wonder if, in the end, the question "How can one be Deleuzo-Guattarian?" is best answered by trying to start from their work, with the intention then of trying to move away from it. That's what's seemed to work best for me, at any rate.

P.S. This might well be my last post of 2006, and if so, let me wish all of my readers the happiest of winter holidays and good cheer for 2007. Peace.


Gil said...

Last post of 2006?

WTF are we supposed to do for the next 20 days while waiting for your re-emergence from such a self-appointed exile?

Ted Striphas said...

....awwww, shucks, Gil. Is it true that D&R readers like you really hang on every word I say?

In any case, I hear there's another really good blog, Revolution on a Stick, that might tide you over until I return from my hiatus...or exile...or whatever....

gil said...

Revolution on a Stick?


Silly name for a blog.

An even sillier person behind it.

You should know that by now.