Saturday, July 05, 2008

Return of the Rerun

We intend to discover or invent an affirmation worthy of the project of creating a repetition with difference of the Enlightenment, or to say it with more specificity (and risk), to create a multiplicity-Enlightenment.

Very recently, Orla had this to say about Deleuze’s powers of affirmation,

“In much the same manner Deleuze’s philosophy is an absolute rejection of the powers of the negative. His theory of the event, his redefinition of the concept, and his open system of thought protects his work from nihilism.”

Deleuze is here thought to achieve the affirmative because of his “absolute rejection” of the powers of the negative, and the workings of his “open system” of thought, which protects his work from nihilism.

However, this characterization of affirmation fails to take into account the negation and denial of “absolute rejection” or to consider how we can speak, (if we can,) of a Deleuzian “open system” which is based at least in part on actions of “absolute rejection.”

I think my own philosophical preoccupations become clear quickly enough to anyone reading this blog, but I want to point out that I do not consider this activity I frequently engage in where I point out the negativity of this or that form of “affirmation”, or the closure of this or that “openness” to be of my true concerns.

I think what Orla’s concept of affirmation comes down to in the above-quoted statement is a negation of negation—affirmation is seen as a negation of negation…We get to the affirmative by absolutely rejecting (negating) the negative. Whether this is the best concept of affirmation does remain contested on many levels but what I do know is that this conception of affirmation is not Deleuze’s, and to take it as such is a mistake.

The role Deleuze appears to play (and Nietzsche, too) in this Orlaen (at least it’s not Orwellian!) psychodrama of affirmation is revealing: he’s the Thunder God who has hurled bolts of lightning down upon the dirty, weak, insolent, and unwashed “negative forces” and banished them from his own wondrous Kingdom of Heaven.

Orla elaborates what he meant by Deleuze’s powers affirmation, quoting from André Pierre Colombat(in Three Powers of Literature and Philosophy from A Deleuzian Century? ed. by Ian Buchanan, 1999, p. 207),

“He combines the affirmative forces of Nietzscheanism with the active powers of Spinozist thought so as to strive for Rimbaud’s reinvention of life itself. Death is not characterized in a negative manner. To use a neo-Kantian and constructivist distinction, death is not considered the passive negation of life, but rather to be endorsed as the active negation of actual forms of life.”

I don’t think it would be fair to criticize Colombat’s lack of specificity in speaking of Nietzsche’s affirmative forces or the active powers of Spinozist thought—maybe he does elsewhere in this essay—I don’t remember. For our purposes, it is dangerous to take examples from anyone’s philosophy—Deleuze’s,Nietzsche’s, or Spinoza’s—and declare they are indeed affirmations, because we don’t yet own the power to make the distinction between affirmation and negation and therefore can’t know what is or is not an example of one or the other. I think Deleuze does better than to take what he likes from Spinoza, combine it with what he likes from Nietzsche, and declare it a reinvention of life itself, but how he does better is not really in our sights yet. We must remain critical of claims that even these,our philosophical or poetical heroes,achieve a mode of affirmation. And we must question much further and more deeply whether active negation works as an understanding of affirmation, for Deleuze or anyone.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is good work, Yusef.

A few clarifications: I never envisioned Deleuze's project as "the Thunder God who has hurled bolts of lightning down upon the dirty, weak, insolent, and unwashed “negative forces” and banished them from his own wondrous Kingdom of Heaven."

Maybe I was also too absolutist in the statement about his "rejection of the powers of the negative".

And yes, we must be relentlessly critical of our philosophical poets!

But don't you think we need to come to a better understanding of "affirmation" (see my recent comment to your previous post)?

As a start how do you define and interpret "affirmation" philosophically in Nietzsche and Deleuze?

For myself, I need to work some more on this.


PS: I won't be away for the next month. I'll check in daily. I never go anywhere without my Mac laptop! And I never stay in hotels without wireless :-)

1:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, btw, you may have forgotten, but in an earlier comment to my Eternal Return posts you wrote,

it was through Heidegger's interpretation, and it was brilliant, that I was ever able to guess will-to-power and eternal return were so intimately related.

Could you point me to where in Heidegger's works he writes about this? I would REALLY like to read it.


1:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Orla,

I got carried away in the remarks about you fashioning Deleuze as a Thunder God-- it relates to some sort of personal problem (obsession) I have...Sorry.

Heidegger says that about the eternal return somewhere in his 4 volume work entitled "Nietzsche." Where exactly in these 4 volumes he says that I will try to find this weekend at my cabin, which is where I keep those books.



7:12 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home