Tag Archive: Deleuze

The conceptual machine

I’ve always been more of an improviser than a long-range planner, but my job requires that I occasionally dabble in long-range projections of my work. Here’s one.

While a number of concerns have framed my scholarship over the years — ethical, political, cultural, ecological, and theoretical concerns — the philosophical core of it has been solidifying around a certain conceptual machine, which I am setting to work in different contexts.

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Among the books coming out in this fall’s Duke University Press catalog (pdf) is one I’m particularly looking forward to: Elizabeth Grosz’s Becoming Undone: Darwinian Reflections on Life, Politics, and Art.

Grosz is among the most exciting thinkers in the post-Deleuzian landscape — a tremendous synthesist of the biological (especially Darwinian), philosophical (especially “vital materialist”), and feminist (notably drawing on Luce Irigaray here), whose work offers rich insights for bridging the sciences and humanities.

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The beatnik brotherhood

Graham Harman’s note reiterating his position that Whitehead, Latour, Deleuze, Bergson, and Simondon (among others) do not make up a coherent philosophical “lump” — “pack” or “tribe” might be more colorful terms here (if philosophers were cats, how herdable would they be?) — makes me want to clarify my own position on these thinkers.

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Thinking with Whitehead

Isabelle Stengers’s Thinking With Whitehead arrived in the mail today. The publication of the English translation of this tome, a long nine years after the French original, is a genuine Event in the world of process-relational philosophy (or whatever you’d like to name the “beatnik brotherhood,” as Harman calls it, of philosophers of immanence and becoming — a brother/sisterhood that Harman asserts does not constitute a counter-current to the hegemonic alliance of philosophies of essence, substance, and onto-theological transcendence, but that Deleuzians and others would like to think does).

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Chris Vitale at Networkologies has a great series going on Gilles Deleuze’s Cinema books. It’s rich with insights and video clips. It starts here and continues for several lengthy posts. Or scroll down the right here to the “Mini-Essays” links on “Reading Deleuze’s Cinema Books.”

It riles me up when intelligent people whose work I respect a lot say ill-considered, if not outright indefensible, things. Jodi Dean’s post arguing that communism “worked” strikes me as such a thing. I’ve provided a lengthy counter-argument on her blog, the gist of which is that the political projects that were actually carried out (rather than merely dreamed) under the flag of “communism” were colossal failures, for a whole host of reasons. This is thoroughly documented, and anyone who has spent much time in the former Soviet Union, or I imagine in China, has encountered the many levels of failure: social, economic, ecological, and, perhaps most disturbingly, a kind of deep spiritual failure.

Gilles Deleuze argues that what we need are artistic and philosophical experiments that would revive our belief in this world. (That’s what this blog has argued since its inception.) While the Soviet experiment did produce such a belief in its earliest stages — and these are worth learning from — it lost it rapidly and decisively. Whether we date that loss to the long slow decline after Khrushchev, or to Stalin’s ascent and totalitarian takeover in the 1920s (and the killing fields that followed), or to the suppression of leftist dissent (such as the Kronstadt Rebellion of 1921, or others even earlier), is all a matter for debate. View full article »

At Space and Politics, Gaston Gordillo continues his Spinozan-Deleuzian account of the “revolutionary resonance” of the tumult spreading across the Arab world.

“The longer a resonance lasts and the farther it expands the stronger it becomes. During most of human history, the maximum speed at which a revolutionary resonance traveled was the speed of the bodies carrying it within them. [...]

“In the Egyptian Revolution, the synergy between the velocities generated on these networks of instant communication and in the urban terrain was decisive in allowing the multitude outmaneuver state violence and state propaganda. The revolution was fought at different yet inseparable velocities: the speed of swarms of bodies clashing with the police on the streets and the much-faster speed of the affective resonances generated by those clashes and amplified over the internet and TV networks not controlled by the Egyptian state like Al Jazeera. Disembodied and projected instantly as images, sounds, and text onto countless computers and TV screens, these resonances became embodied again by affecting the millions of bodies watching, listening, and reading. Not all bodies were affected the same way. Yet millions resonated positively, and not just in Egypt.”

Read the entire article here.


Here’s a version of the theoretical model I develop in Ecologies of the Moving Image. (An earlier version can be found here.) Following Peircian phenomenology (or “phaneroscopy”) and Whiteheadian ontology, that model is process-relational and triadic. (*See Note at bottom for more on the relationship between Peirce, Whitehead, and their leading synthesist, Hartshorne.)

This means:

Everything is three. Or, everything there is can be thought of in terms of three relational processes:

(1) The thing itself, which is a qualitatively distinctive phenomenon. Let’s call it the thing-world, since it is an unfolding of a particular kind, which sets up a formal structure of internal relations and (externally) interactive potentials as it unfolds, and since our relationship to it is generally from its ‘outside,’ though we can enter into a relationship with it.

(2) The interaction of that thing with another. Let’s call this the thing-experience, since we (or others) experience it from the ‘inside.’ This experience is what happens with us when we enter into the relationship with (1). (Other things may be happening with us simultaneously; this thing-experience doesn’t exhaust us. It’s just what we’re trying to understand here.)

(3) The relating of the thing-world and thing-experience with the whole world. To keep things simple, we can call this the thing-world/extra-thing-world relation (with the thing-experience being a subset of this whole relation, and the only piece of it that is distinctly “ours”). Or we can call it the world-earth relation, or the world-universe relation, with the ‘world’ being the thing-world and the ‘earth’ or ‘universe’ being the unencompassable ground (considered either in its earthbound or its cosmic aspect) within which all thing-worlds have their being/becoming. This relation is the full set of connections and interdependencies within which the thing has its action. To map out this relation in its entirety is impossible, but to understand the more proximal and direct parts of it is possible and useful. It is, in effect, the thing come into its fullness: both its full glory and its full dispersion into (other) things.

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Process-relational theory primer

One of the tasks of this blog, since its inception in late 2008, has been to articulate a theoretical-philosophical perspective that I have come to call “process-relational.” This is a theoretical paradigm and an ontology that takes the basic nature of the world to be that of relational process: that is, it understands the basic constituents of the world to be events of encounter, acts or moments of experience that are woven together to constitute the processes by which all things occur, unfold, and evolve. Understanding ourselves and our relations with the world around us in this way, it is argued, can help us unwind ourselves from out of a set of dualisms that have ensnared modern thought over the last few centuries. In contrast to materialist, idealist, dualist, and other perspectives that have dominated modern western philosophy, a process-relational perspective more explicitly recognizes the dynamic, complex, systemic, and evolving nature of reality.

What follows is a brief summary of the process-relational perspective. It is followed by some bibliographic starting points and by a list of links to some of the more substantive posts on this blog that have dealt with process-relational theory.

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“immanence is itself real, or reality itself. It is nothing other than reality in the making. But this reality is not reducible to actuality: what is actual may be rational, as Hegel claimed, but reality is also virtual, and it is with virtual singularities that philosophy is concerned. As a result, to think immanently is to render thought immanent to reality, to its chaotic becoming, its variations, and its vibrations. It amounts to constructing an image of thought that is not posited in advance, independently of the real itself, and orienting it from the start, but that grows from within the real, or Being.”

- Miguel de Beistegui, Immanence: Deleuze and Philosophy, p. 192