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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Everything changes once one adopts the perspective of process and assemblages

Deleuze describing the structure of language in The Logic of Sense, remarks, following Levi-Strauss, that language is such that it must come all at once or not at all insofar as each term of a language is differentially determined. This point holds for the social as well when the social is conceived in terms of synchronous structure. As a result of this understanding of language, we then find ourselves at an impasse when trying to explain or envision how change might be produced.
It is thus no mistake that the sons of Althusser (Badiou, Zizek, Ranciere, Balibar, Laclau, perhaps loosely Agamben due to the elective affinities of the structure of his thought with these thinkers), have all sought an empty place or void of some sort within structure– not unlike Levi-Strauss’ “mana-signifier” –that would allow us to explain how something new comes to be. It is especially interesting that all of these thinkers, while occasionally making hand-gestures towards economy and the importance of the economic– Zizek’s “parallax” between the political and the economic, for instance –have had next to nothing concrete to say where economic and sociological analysis is concerned. Instead we get a lot of hand-waving that is very abstract and that seldom refers to determinate situations.
Of course, it is necessary, as good historical materialists, to ask why this form of thought emerged when it did and why it has proven so attractive. Moreover, it is necessary to determine what emancipatory potentials this structuralist orientation of thought contains. Nonetheless, these positions strike me as partial, at best, and as abstract negations at worse. Everything changes once one adopts the perspective of process and assemblages. Indeed, a number of problems and the solutions formulated in response to them seem to disappear altogether. Sat 16 Jun 2007 Rough Theory– Get Real!Posted by larvalsubjects under Marx , Althusser , Immanence , Assemblages , Autonomy , Materialism , Emergence , Abstraction , Agency , Critique

2 comments:

  1. Hey! It's nice to see someone else talking about Deleuze's non-coauthored work. You write, "As a result of this understanding of language, we then find ourselves at an impasse when trying to explain or envision how change might be produced." But I point out that to "differentially determine" is to generate change. I have not yet gotten to my study of Logic of Sense, but in Difference and Repetition Deleuze presses that change is only producible when difference is concerned. The impasse is how change cannot be produced, in the same way that the impasse of Anti-Oedipus is how the sliding consciousness of schizophrenia cannot be present in "healthy" subjects. The corollary and the object of many of Deleuze's polemics is that when such slippage and when difference is suppressed in order to more closely cordon off the "real", then fascistic and dogmatic thought takes control and introduces problems of stagnation.

    I'm glad I found your site; it looks like you have some really great comments on both Eastern and Western philosophy, which is rare.

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  2. Thanks for visiting. I am forwarding your comments to Levy, the writer of this post for his response, if any.

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