Magazine littéraire 406, February 2002 - Dossier: "L'effet Deleuze" [The Deleuze effect]
Deleuze, Pour Quoi Faire? 2 [Deleuze, What's the use?] - Peter Sloterdijk, 34
Comments elicited by Olivier Mannoni
"He separated the logical from neurosis,
by Peter Sloterdijk
"In the 1970s and 1980s, at the moment when Deleuze could have exerted an influence, the philosophical situation in German was marked by the absolute hegemony of the Frankfurt School. And outside of this hegemonic position, the influence of a modern, western and - how to say it - liberal Nietzscheanism seemed undesirable a priori. Adorno, for example, after his great success, did everything to obscure the Nietzschean part of his thought and to emphasize its Hegelian aspect. We encounter analogous phenomena in modern thought. Deleuze's influence could only be exerted over those who could and wanted to feel themselves a part of an ideological left, if I can say that. It is perhaps through this little widow that Deleuze's Nietzschean side was able to infiltrate into Germany from the 1970s onward. In the 1980s, the situation had worsened dramatically and completely - but we already had discerned this clearly in the 1970s: when Habermas took power, that is, when the anti-Nietzscheanism of Frankfurt School Critical Theory became the dominant tonality in Germany. As I have written elsewhere, Critical Theory established a kind of "Watch along the Rhine" (garde sur le Rhin), did everything possible to minimize French thought in Germany, whether it was people like Deleuze, Foucault or others. As authors, they were not welcome in this sector. They had to make their way through other paths, indirect paths, those linked to dissidence.
"As for my own relation to Deleuze, it's an old and very selective story. I discovered the importance of his thought very late, and after lots of other things. For me, the origin of my encounter with Deleuze was his book on Nietzsche. And in this book, I was moved by the fact that with its joyous form, non-dialectical as it were, of materialist thought, he had evacuated the dialectic, he introduced a form of positivity that was emancipated from negativity in this work of decantation. That was his great merit for me. I also want to say that still today, it's that Deleuze who interests me the most, that is, the Deleuze who describes a multiple play of positive forces, and not these concentrations of negativity that we can locate in the traditional philosophy of ressentiment.
** Peter Sloterdijk is Professor of aesthetics
and philosophy at the famous Hochschule für Gestaltung in
Karlsruhe. He has published in France, notably Critique de
la raison cynique (Bourgois, 2000), L'Heure du crime et
le Temps de l'oeuvre (Calmann-Lévy, 2000), Règles
pour le parc humain (Mille et une nuits, 2000). The first
volume of his major work, Sphères I: Bulles, appears
this month in éditions Pauvert.
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