Friday, June 15, 2007

Towards a Materiality of Affirmation


We are in the process of exploring the “desiring of one’s own repression” as a social, political, and even geological force shaping our sense of the world.

We attempt to understand “desiring of one’s own repression” in terms of force.

We attempt to understand this “thing” ( a concept is a thing - the concept which is named by "desiring of one's own repression" is a thing,) along the lines Deleuze describes as, “the force which appropriates the thing, which exploits it, which takes possession of it or is expressed in it. A phenomenon is not an appearance or even an apparition but a sign, a symptom which finds its meaning in an existing force. The whole of philosophy is a symptomatology…..”

In this manner, we are attempting a symptomatology of “desiring one’s own repression,” but at the present time, I want to concentrate a little more seriously on the notion of force upon which this symptomatology would ultimately rely.
If we succeed in understanding the "desiring of one's own repression" in terms of force, we'll have gone some distance toward achieving a capacity for affirmation which will be more than a capacity for empty gesture.

“Desiring one’s own repression,” understood in terms of force relies upon, among other things, these Nietzschean-Deleuzian conceptions of force: 1) that there are some forces that can be appropriated or dominated by other forces; 2) there are forces which can do what they can do; 3) forces can be separated from what they can do; 4) there are forces which can be ( or have been) separated from what they can do.

Although I want to get to work grinding my axes and gathering my pounds of flesh and giggling with lunar intensity at my own imaginary mind appreciating its own imaginary superiority, I will reserve this for later. What I want to do right now is marvel at the bold move Nietzsche and Deleuze make by naming these above items as characteristic of “force”; at how central this conception of “force” is for making the whole Deleuzian-Nietzschean conceptual apparatus swing into motion; its deep cover within the whole “hermeneutics of suspicion” apparatus; and how utterly preposterous these characteristics of “force” are, at least on the face of it.

I’m calling these characteristics of “force” preposterous: I hope I will be able to give reasons for that strong accusation, later. One thing I want to say now is that perhaps it isn’t so preposterous to think that there are forces which can be appropriated or dominated by other, stronger forces, but the appropriation or domination by stronger forces isn’t what concerns Nietzsche, ( or Deleuze so far as I can tell.) Nietzsche is primarily concerned to portray the appropriation or domination of stronger forces BY WEAKER forces, which nevertheless do not cease to be WEAKER. Nearly everything in Nietzsche collapses if such a peculiar, preposterous action or relation of forces proved to be impossible.

When Nietzsche speaks of the eagle and the lambs, he sees nothing whatsoever wrong with the strong eagle sweeping down from the skies to pluck up a tender lamb with his iron talons (and neither do I); he sees nothing wrong with the lambs hating eagles for subjecting them to this treatment (and neither do I); Nietzsche only sees wrong in the lambs getting together and convincing the eagle that the eagle SHOULD NOT do this. How exactly lambs ever could do such a thing to eagles is not something that I will bother myself with quibbling about – I’m not a literalist. I do however think that there is a terrible theoretical problem here which we can’t allow ourselves to skirt, and that is how problematic it is that a force (the eagle) COULD in any unmetaphorical form be separated from what it can do( carry away and devour tender lambs.)
When we began to consider "things" in terms of the forces which dominate, exploit, and appropriate them, it seemed as if we were making a huge stride in the direction of thinking of "things" without recourse to an idealism, but when we began to change our understanding of "forces" to include the feature that they can be separated from what they can do, I wonder whether we took one step forward in order to fall backwards two.

In other words, we need to carefully consider the possibility that to believe that a force can be separated from what it can do is to believe something which is simply absurd.

2 Comments:

Blogger Orla Schantz said...

Thank you, Yusef, for taking our project of "desiring one's own suppression" onto another level.

(And what a great picture: a Nietzschean Mona Lisa = now that alone is intriguing!)

But I'm scratching my head at what you write:

What I want to do right now is marvel at the bold move Nietzsche and Deleuze make by naming these above items as characteristic of “force”; at how central this conception of “force” is for making the whole Deleuzian-Nietzschean conceptual apparatus swing into motion; its deep cover within the whole “hermeneutics of suspicion” apparatus; and how utterly preposterous these characteristics of “force” are, at least on the face of it.

Could you please elaborate on this.

I guess I'm not familiar enough with this concept of "force" in Deleuze to understand what you're saying.

Please explain.

Orla

6:06 PM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

Thank you for asking for clarification. I'm often not aware when I've become obscure or confused.

I think that this idea that "a force can be separated from what it can do" is an important one in deciphering the meaning of "desiring one's own repression"- I think it's at the heart of the material meaning of this phrase. But I think it is entirely questionable that there is such a thing as " a force separated from what it can do."

The whole Deleuzian theory of forces was attractive to me because it gave me an idea of how to think of phenomena without any recourse to idealism - that's what I was trying to do when I came across Deleuze's account, so I appreciated it very much when I saw that Deleuze had accomplished this.

Unfortunately, I'm not so sure that forces acting the way Deleuze has them act is very credible. I don't want to be gullible and simply take it at Deleuze's word -- I want to think it through AS IF it is not at all credible. It certainly isn't obvious that a force, qua force, can be separated from what it can do; I can see how through slyly suggesting this as if it were obvious a kind of backdoor gets created by which a lot of phooey is allowed to enter our thinking, undetected, unscrutinized.

Has this helped?

12:35 AM  

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