Charles J. Stivale -- Deleuze & Guattari

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Magazine littéraire 406, February 2002 -- Dossier: "L'effet Deleuze"

Updated February 26, 2003

Magazine littéraire 406, February 2002 - Dossier: "L'effet Deleuze" [The Deleuze effect]

Deleuze, Pour Quoi Faire? 7 [Deleuze, What's the use?] - Brian Massumi

Comments elicited by Elie During

"Deleuze's America: An Unruly Pragmatism"
by Brian Massumi

"Gilles Deleuze… our new world. Deleuze's America: the 'Beat' line of flight away from Cartesian interiority, the 'itinerant' truth of an unruly pragmatism. As if there were an opening… that would be a world, that would allow something to happen, lots of things to happen… as ift there would be a swarming in the possible (Henri Michaux). This world of the possible, for those of us who lived in it, long ago ceased being so… if it ever had been that way. The America of the 1980s that slowly awoke to Deleuze's texts was no longer 'swarming.' It was grousing [elle grognait]. The time was ripe for denunciation - all the more ferocious since America had turned against those who practiced it. A moral imperative had spread broadly in intellectual milieus, little by little replacing thinking. We were told that one had to take advantage of one's social place and address, laboriously acquired, in the trendiest critical methods in order to denounce the ubiquity of the effects of power. But these same methods taught us that power is inseparable from knowledge. Here's the problem: one ends up by exercising power by dint of separating oneself from it knowledgably. Result: if one must indeed denounce, it's by denouncing oneself, admitting one's own ideological complicity. The imperative comes down to this: never take a position without positioning oneself. In the long run, every intervention required that it be prefaced by a bizarre ritual of legitimation via a confession of guilt. One earned the right to speak by performing one's 'responsibility': cynicism. In this way, the eventual line of flight ended up connecting itself in a vicious circle, between the stupefying sincerity of an a priori guilt and postmodern cynicism, the only conceivable liberation.

"Deleuze's America: the excluded third party. That is, the affirmation: our impossible possible. Reading Deleuze, between sincerity and cynicism, was to throw oneself into an apprenticeship of thought as a practice of reopening. Line of flight, unruly pragmatism. An entire world perceived through philosophical action. Phenomenal teeming of possibles, that all want to be… or not.

"The time is again ripe for denunciation. More precisely, post-9/11, it is ripe for vengeance - so pure a negation of thought that it goes beyond cynicism at the same time as it has not need for sincerity. The return of the vicious circle: the only conceivable liberation? Could be, could be, could be… [Pourrait, pourrait, pourrait]

"Much more effort is yet needed to be 'Americans'! [Encore un effort pour être 'américains!']"

* A teacher in the Communication Department at the University of Montréal, Brian Massumi is the author of the User's Guide to Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Deviations from Deleuze and Guattari (MIT Press) and Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation (Duke University Press). He translated A Thousand Plateaus into English.

CJ Stivale

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