Thursday, August 30, 2007

Another Draft chapter from Shaviro

Steven Shaviro has posted another draft chapter from his forthcoming book, and can be found here.

The focus of the chapter is on Deleuze and A.Whitehead's emphasis on creativity, novelty, innovation, and the new, which is at the centre of both their philosophical speculation. As with most of Shaviro's chapters I've read so far he tries (convincingly) to argue Deleuze and Whitehead's philosophy needs to be understood from Kant and the emergence of post-Kantian philosophy. This is clear from one of his footnotes, which expresses 'I am arguing, however, for a more generous reading of Kant - one that is warranted by the overall pattern of Deleuze's borrowing from, and criticisms, of Kant' (p13).

The only (slight) concern from this, and other, chapters is the omission of references to Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-Oedipus. I only mention this because Shaviro goes into great detail about Deleuze's ontology, but never, from my knowledge, discusses Deleuze's machinic ontology. Reading other Deleuzians, especially Manuel DeLanda, they appear to erase Anti-Oedipus, putting it down to the 'bad' influence of Guattari, which was sorted out and corrected for A Thousand Plateaus. I feel this could be a worrying trend as it risks Anti-Oedipus being marginalised from a Deleuzian image of thought.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Cheney in 1994 on Iraq

I wonder why he didn't keep to this logic???

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Upcoming Blog Carnival

There is a blog carnival happening on the 1st September. The subject is dedicated to the critique of the post-modern condition - within the framework of the discourse.

You can submit an article here.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Paul Patton's Deleuzian freedom (Part 2)

Here is the second section of Patton's Deleuzian concept of freedom. Part 3 will appear soon(ish):

Patton on the concept of freedom and V for Vendetta:

Freedom, in terms of life, for Patton is considering life as a series of points at which decisions are made or events are experienced, where critical points are the ‘events’ that ultimately determine the shape of a life. Following Deleuze and Guattari, Patton argues these ‘events’ can be considered in terms of different lines, which produce identity, and are relational to the concept of freedom (or actualisations of freedom). These lines are molar lines, corresponding to rigid segmentation (e.g. man/female), molecular lines, corresponding to fluid overlapping forms of division, and lines of flight, that are paths where things change and become transformed. Rather than use Patton’s example of F. Scott Fitzgerald to illustrate the different lines and critical points (events) of experience, I shall describe them using the film V for Vendetta and the main character V, and then relate them to critical freedom.
In the film V for Vendetta the United Kingdom is ruled by a fascist and totalitarian state, which has gained power through the use of politics of fear. This, mainly, has been achieved through releasing poisonous chemicals on the population, which the government only has the cure for, and then blaming these attacks on terrorists. However, the previous war on terror (in reference to the present one in the ‘real’ world,) is also linked into how the party gain governmental power. They therefore create the sensation of fear within in the state, and claim they can offer security against this terror. This is done through more politics of fear and the curtailing of civil liberties. Those thought to terror the UK are basically regarded as anything non-white, non-heterosexual, and non-British. This describes the molar lines, which represents the segmentation found in bureaucratic and hierarchical institution, ‘creating’ molar identities such as the binary ‘terror threat’ and ‘non-terror threat’, which affirm molar freedoms through molar identity. It also demonstrates that molar lines of segmentation are not fixed, but rather transform through challenges and events, even if this occurs in a reactionary manner.
The character V, who starts/brings the downfall of this government, is a victim of government testing in their attempt to find a cure to the poisonous chemical. These people are some of those rounded up in the reformation and regarded as terror threats. V is the only one to build up a resistance to the poisonous chemical and from him the cure is created. However as a side effect V gains super-human strength, and (more importantly) undergoes other experiences that change him and represent the second line of experience (the molecular line). Now this should be taken at the literal level. The body of V, which holds his mind, goes through physical alterations, through a mixture of the testing and a fire that breaks out at the lab. There are also the other (molecular) transformations of V, where V is changed as a person from reading notes given by the women in the next-door cell. As a culminate effect all the molecular changes that happen to V in the testing facility create a different person, and importantly, a new person emerges that finds new things to care about. This leads onto the third line – the line of flight.
From his experiences in the testing lab V becomes committed to bringing down the government, and creates this trait as an abstract line, which is created from a break of who he was and the character V that emerged from the testing lab. In many of the senses V’s subject is the same person after as a before, but not in the sense that matters for the liberal concept of freedom. V no longer has the same interests nor the same desires and preferences. As Patton notes about Fitzgerald and can be said about V is ‘his goals are not the same, nor are the values that would underpin his strong evaluations’[1] as V and Fitzgerald experience, in their own way, a ‘clean break’, which is what interests Patton, Deleuze, and Guattari. The ‘clean break’ for V is also a clean break from the molar lines of the state, as he no longer associates himself with these values and virtues, and instead creates his own virtues and values, which arguable weigh heavier on him than the molar ones. There is a lot of similarities between Deleuze and Guattari’s line of flight, which can be related to the manifestation of critical freedom, and Nietzsche’s overman, which will be the focus of the next section.
However, at this point there may seem a linear progression between the three lines from the manner I have written about the subject, where the order is molar -> molecular -> flight. This should not be viewed in this style as the three lines co-exist, and are not ever finalised (i.e. they are open concepts).

[1] Paul Patton, Deleuze and the Political p85

(Or can we call him an overman???)....

Monday, August 20, 2007

Baudrillard, Aphorisms, and Research

I am in the process of writing a paper on Baudrillard and International Politics, and want to argue Baudrillard can offer the discipline/subject a lot if we read him as a writer of aphorisms (especially post 1980 Baudrillard). These aphorisms within Baudrillards texts can trigger thinking through their creation of sensation in the reader, which fills them with the desire to produce research, even if this sensation is one of disgust. In particular I create the paper form a small aphoristic section in Simulations, which argues Disney Land is a deterrence machine. I then transform this insight/opinion into considering and examining the International Relations of tourism through analysing Caribbean tourism websites.

It is in the early stages, and here is the first section I have written. The other sections will be posted as I write them. (comments are gratefully received):

Reading Baudrillard as a writer of aphorisms:
The various controversial and antagonistic interpretations of Baudrillard, demonstrate reading Baudrillard is no easy task. Such readings have either encouraged us to forget Baudrillard, to concentrate on his earlier work and dismiss the later for its rejection of Marxism (Kellner), or to read Baudrillard from the radical Durkhiem tradition (Hegarty & Merrin). This paper does not intend to argue for one of these suggestions as being the ‘correct’ interpretation of Baudrillard, but rather constructs another way of (productively) ‘interpreting’ Baudrillard and furthering Baudrillard’s multiplicity. This interpretation argues Baudrillard, especially post 1980 Baudrillard, can be read as a writer of aphorisms, which can propel ‘Baudrillardian’ research that goes beyond Baudrillard.
Nietzsche, one of the greatest writers of aphorisms, wrote ‘he who writes in blood and aphorisms does not want to be read, he wants to be learned by heart’ and ‘aphorisms should be peaks, and those to whom they are spoken should be big and tall of statue.’[1] Aphorisms may lack the complexity of other forms of writing, but have the appeal of projecting short sharp blasts of arguments and opinion that disturb the reader, forcing a pause that instigates thinking. It is these (unsettling) pauses that Baudrillard creates in his writing the paper finds attractive, arguing these aphorisms offer a wealth of insights into International Politics. Instead of interpreting Baudrillard’s oeuvre, the aphoristic reader of Baudrillard waits in anticipation of that moment when the reading is paused, creating a sensation of disgust, interest, amazement, confusion… which then has to be thought through. The reader is then fixated on a particular statement or section from Baudrillard, which remains lodged in their thoughts. In short, the reader should feel intensely about their pause. This pause, which instigates thinking, creates what Deleuze and Guattari term a line of flight from the text, forcing the reader to think about (other) experiences of the world, and how one can use this aphoristic section to understand/contemplate the world – even in areas that Baudrillard did not intend or consider.
As expected, there are many dangers in reading Baudrillard as an aphoristic writer, and the greatest danger (or critique) is the accusation the reader avoids reading Baudrillard carefully or without rigor, completely misses his point(s). In addition large sections of Baudrillard’s writing are left aside and even disregarded as the reader concentrates on these aphorisms. However, while this critique is fair, it also fails to consider how aphorisms, or more accurately, reading Baudrillard aphoristically, avoids creating an idle reader of Baudrillard. The main danger of the idle reader is that they endless repeat Baudrillard without creating something new. Instead, the reading is propelled into thinking through the Baudrillardian aphorism, which provides the starting point of research. Baudrillard then merely provides a statement, opinion, or principle that research can build from. This means the research, while starting from Baudrillard, does not need to necessarily emerge as Baudrillardian.

[1] Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Penguin: London, 1969) p67

Monday, August 13, 2007

Paul Patton Deleuzian 'freedom' (part 1)

As an earlier blog stated I am co-authoring a paper reviewing Deleuzian inspired politics. At present I am reading Paul Patton and his Deleuzian concept of freedom. This is the first part, which looks at Patton's critique of two classical concepts of freedom. The next section, which I will post at a later date, will describe Patton's concept of freedom.

Patton on the concept of freedom:
As part of Patton’s philosophical and political project he considers how Deleuzian philosophy can alter and construct one of the fundamental concepts of Anglo-American political philosophy: freedom. Patton’s Deleuzian freedom is constructed through encountering two classical definitions of liberal freedom. The first is the negative freedom of Isaiah Berlin, and the second is the positive freedom of Charles Taylor.
Negative freedom is defined as the ‘area of non-interference’, where the subjects are left to do or be what they are able to do or be.[1] This concept of freedom contains two elements. Firstly, a majoritarian subject, who represents a ‘normal human being’ with ‘desires, goals, and capacities for action which fall within the range of normality for a given time and place’[2], and, secondly, the presence of external limits to the subject. The result of Berlin’s spatial concept of freedom is it lies between two agents – the subject and the external limits. Freedom is therefore ‘a matter of where the line is drawn at any given moment’ and ‘presupposes a static subject with capacities and interests.’[3]
In contrast, positive freedom, defined by Charles Taylor ‘is based upon a more complex concept of the subject as action as an individual capable of “strong evaluation.”’[4] This involves the subject internalising limits and ‘exercising control over one’s life.’[5] Talyor therefore implies that the control over ones life ‘demands that one have a sense of one identity…on the basis of which one can discriminate between one’s authentic or essential desires.’[6] Talyor’s concept of freedom critique’s Berlin’s negative freedom as it already presupposes ‘this kind of qualitative judgement about the purposes or kinds of action that are significant to persons.’[7] The result, for Taylor, is that negative freedom is only possible because of positive freedom and the characteristics of ‘strong evaluation.’
However, Patton critiques Taylor’s concept of freedom for remaining tied to the concept of the subject as a given. This ‘concept of positive freedom overlooks the importance sense in which a person is deemed free only to the extent that they are able to distance themselves from the structure of values with which they grew up and acquires others.’[8] Taylor is therefore unable to understand, or contemplate, how ‘ freedom must allow for the possibility that agents will act in ways that lead them to alter their desires, preferences, and goals.’[9] While Talyor may argue that ‘strong evaluation’ in the subject can transform and affirm freedom, he does not consider how forces may cause this ‘strong evaluation’ to occur. In other words, the important point to ask is how people, or groups, are affected, or have the capacities to be affected, that transforms and re-evaluates their desires, preferences, and goals. This could occur, for example, when a mono-cultural society receives an influx of immigrants who hold different values and beliefs, which may challenge both the core beliefs of the newcomers and the residents.[10] Patton’s main critique of Taylor is his inability to consider the forces of what Deleuze (and Guattari) term subjectivication.

[1] Isaiah Berlin, ‘Two Concepts of Liberty’, Four Essays on Liberty (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969) p16
[2] Paul Patton, Deleuze and the Political (London: Routledge, 2000) p83-84
[3] Paul Patton, Deleuze and the Political p84
[4] Paul Patton, Deleuze and the Political p84
[5] Charles Taylor, ‘What’s wrong with negative liberty?’ in Charles Taylor, Collected Papers II (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985)
[6] Paul Patton, Deleuze and the Political p84
[7] Paul Patton, Deleuze and the Political p84
[8] Paul Patton, Deleuze and the Political p84
[9] Paul Patton, Deleuze and the Political p84
[10] Paul Patton, Deleuze and the Political

Sunday, August 12, 2007

recommended new blog

Have just found this blog site through Steve Shaviro's blog, and highly recommend it. It is called worlds of possibility, and is written by Steve Colgan.

Check it out. there is some interesting blogs on evolution, organic, and inorganic life.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Baudrillard Quote, Cool Memories 1990

I read this quote from the second edition of Jean Baudrillard's 'Selected Writings' (ed, Mark Poster):

'If we consider the superiority of the human species, the size of its brain, its powers of thinking, language, and organization, we can say this: were there the slightest possibility that another rival or superior species might appear on earth or elsewhere, man would use every means at his disposal to destroy it. Human's won't tolerate any other species - not even a superhuman one: they see themselves as the climax and culmination of the earthly enterprise, and they keep a vigorous check on any new intrusion in the cosmological process. Now there is no reason why this process should come to a halt with the human species, but, by universalizing itself (though only over a few thousand years) that species has more or less fixed it that an end be put to the occurrence of the world, assuming for itself all the possibilities of further evolution, reserving for itself a monopoly of natural and artificial species.' p223

Now there is a lot in this quote, but what struck me, unsurprisingly, was the closeness of Baudrillard to Deleuze, which comes from their indebtedness to Nietzsche. I do not have the time at present, but I think the connections (and deviations) between Deleuze and Baudrillard has so far been unexplored, and a worthwhile event. Either I have not come across a book that takes this analysis, or maybe one still does not exist? This is why the next few months the blog's main focus is (attempting) to find connections and deviations between these two french thinkers. You never know, there might even be a book that emerges out of this!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Call for Abstracts for Baudrillard Workshop (Newcastle University)

Just in case any one out there may be interested:

Baudrillard and International Politics
Newcastle University
Wednesday November 28th, noon-6pm

The translation and publication of Jean Baudrillard’s The Gulf War Did Not Take Place (1995) marked the first significant awareness of Baudrillard’s work among international politics scholars and was the source of a highly engaged debate. In the years since, Baudrillard’s work on the media, simulation, hyperreality, terror, and technology has continued to provide unique insights into contemporary international politics and the discourses in which it is framed.

International politics staff and graduate students at Newcastle University are hosting a half day workshop to explore the value and relevance of Baudrillard’s work for international politics studies and seek papers on the following (and other) themes:

Political discourses of hyperreality
Baudrillard on the USA
The political commitments of Baudrillard’s early scholarship

We envisage presentations will be of approximately 20 minutes duration with plenty of time set aside for general discussion. It is our intention to produce an edited collection focusing on Baudrillard’s contribution to the study of international politics and so wish to solicit papers that are not committed to other projects.

Please forward 250 word abstracts to either Mark Edward ( or Simon Philpott ( no later than Friday, September 28th 2007.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Some quotes from Brian Massumi

If the politics of Deleuze and Guattari seem implicit or are lost in their rhetoric then Brian Massumi comes across explicitly. Here are some quotes from his 'Introduction to Capitalism and Schizophrenia' book about gender and singularities:

"Man" and "Woman" as such have no reality other than that of logical abstractions. What they are abstractions of are not the human bodies to which they are applied, but habit forming attractors to which society expects it bodies to become addicted.' (p86-87)

'No body is "masculine" or "feminine"' (p87)

'A body does not have a gender: it is gendered' (p87)

'Gender is a form of imprisonment, a socially functional limitation of a body's connective and transformational capacity' (p87)

'The ultimate goal, for Deleuze and Guattari, is neither to redefine, misapply, or strategically exaggerate a category, nor even invent a new identity. Their aim is to destroy categorical gridding altogether, to push the apparatus of identity beyond the threshold of sameness, into singularity.' (p88)

Some thoughts:

From reading through Massumi's Deleuzian politics and the quotes specifically the main attack is set against the system of the general (the category) and the particular (the entity). It is not that Deleuze and Guattari don't see benefits of feminism, where they argue for a becoming of women in A Thousand Plateaus, but is just that they want rid of categories that are abstract and try to code behaviours of particulars that are 'members' of a general category. This is why Deleuze and Guattari view language as prescriptive and not referential, where someone can say 'its a boy!' as a means of using particular bodies designated for the general categories. For Deleuze and Guattari each species and each body is a unique singularity, and such designations of 'male' and 'female' should be destroyed in favour of realising each singularity undergoes and obeys far more complex rules of formation. In short, each singularity undergoes its own highly individual historical formation, which the logic of the general and the particular fails to recognise. While Deleuze and Guattari do understand gender does play an active role in todays' society, they argue for an ethics that opposes the general and the particular as they feel these are systems of over-coding and determinism.

One afterthought:

Deleuze and Guattari do not argue this from a social constructivist position, as Manuel DeLanda makes clear in this public lecture at the European Graduate School.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Jean Baudrillard

I'm in the begining of (co)organising an event looking at the (ir) relevance of Jean Baudrillard for political-thought/politics. We are at the point of thinking about panel presenters and would be grateful for suggestions of Baudrillardian influenced academics - specifically in the United Kingdom or Ireland due to funding limitations.

We are looking for people to speak on:
- The Discourse of Politics and the Reality of Politics
- The (Marxist) Politics of Early Baudrillard
- Baudrillard on the USA
- Baudrillard on War

The event should be taking place at Newcastle University, either late November or early December