Subscription 790/year or 190/quarter

An anti-fascist life

Deleuze in the west
The anthology Deleuze in the West is a collection of texts that highlight the tools of the philosopher Gilles Deleuze for resistance to contemporary times. And all resistance begins with an effort.


For the past two decades, the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze has become known as the thinker of the creative, the joyful affirmation and non-linear (rhizomatic) compositions. But it is as if these concepts have lost their resistance to a contemporary if
Network Capitalism has no problems being affirmative, creative, non-linear and horizontal. Everywhere you hear the creative business mantra: "Power is vertical, potentials are horizontal!" The new Norwegian anthology on Deleuze goes against this flow and shows that Deleuze's philosophy provides tools for resistance to the contemporary. The book is an attempt to develop an "anti-fascist philosophy of liberation".

Despotism of the network culture

In an excellent chapter on the web and the rhizome, Roar Høstaker writes that while creative resistance in the 1970 – political, philosophical, social and
literary – tried to break free from patriarchal, institutional, social and transcendent patterns, creativity in the 80s and 90s finds its primary expression in film, literature and art. The opposition finds it more difficult to make a political impression. The reason must be found in the communication and the media flow itself. The rhizome (known from biology) as an image of the twisted plant growths, in Deleuze, the branched that breaks with the linear root thought, has with the net culture created its own despotic version: Reading habits are characterized by rapid stimuli, short-term memory, low concentration. The term «channel rhizome» describes the fact that information has become identical with a constant movement through floating channels, which not only centers power and through Google and Facebook profiles capitalizes our lives, but which makes our thinking «more conventional and less thorough and critical ».

Deleuze's philosophy provides tools for resistance to the present.

Bjarne Oppedal writes that what separates the control community from Foucault's disciplinary community is self-governance. While the power of the disciplinary community was governed by prohibitions in the factory or school (with the prison as a model), today it is controlled through incentives, flexibility and motivation – thus communicative self-management. Deleuze's nightmare came true: "That the company has a soul. … Marketing has today become a social control tool and is a shameless men's race of our time. ”(Deleuze). Therefore, communication and information becomes the real problem. IN What is philosophy? he writes: «We do not lack communication, on the contrary we have too much of it, we lack creation. We lack resistance to the present. " One does not break with the circulation of information by creating counter-information. Deleuze sees the work of art as perhaps the last place of resistance. A strong work of art is not about communicating a message, about information, but about exploring new opportunities for life in the world. Another way to be.

An anti-fascist life

The anthology lends itself to the difficult: the struggle for an anti-fascist life. The starting point for Deleuze is that man "is not a deficiency, but a vital surplus, a fullness of life, which previous social and psychological set-ups of man have inhibited and harmed". Life is not primarily something personal and individual, but a force one connects with. When lust connects to other lust, it produces life. And life is always more than what can be held in certain forms, for example, family structures, the state's discipline of the citizen, the cultivation of the fatherland and the past, and so on. “Why do we desire our own oppression?” Spinoza asked. The answer is not only that the state, through work, religion and patriarchal patterns, keeps man in place and power hierarchies status quo. The answer is rather that real liberation hurts. One must first fight one's own inner fascist, one's own resentment (envy and sense of deficit), one's own tendency to constantly make shameful compromises through indifferent consumption, pseudo-work, a little green economy here and there that does not address the root, self-optimization and networking etc. Anyone who gains insight into the pseudo-work in their workplace, that one just plays the game, must take the consequence and leave the shot, find something else. Middle-class talk of individual slowness and self-realization (Brinkmann) and afterwards continue as hitherto is hypocrisy. Antifascist liberation is about gaining the insight that changes one's whole way of existence. And it is a struggle against the very shame of being human.

The struggle is bodily

One must excavate this negativity in Deleuze if one is to find a friction in his philosophy of resistance. To spot «a darker Deleuze» (Terje Hellesen). The key here is the body. Spinoza saw it. Nietzsche saw it. And many do it intuitively without having read philosophy. Why the body? Because the ability to be receptive to something from the outside (the shock) that affects one is the source of the thought that transforms. As Hellesen writes, part of the problem is that we think of experience as something current and present to us as emotional people. "We do not manage to see ourselves as events within a much wider area of ​​experience that goes beyond what we know." When we say that concepts and thoughts lock us in (psychoanalysis), it is because we have not yet found the concepts and thoughts that unlock us. For Deleuze, liberation is an empirical practice and a matter of making oneself receptive to events (and seeking them out) whose effects one can often not predict in advance, even where one experiences control.

What separates the control society from the disciplinary society is self-government.

In a strong chapter on Deleuze's film philosophy, Helge Petterson writes that the transformative potential of film art is the presentation of «a combat situation in which the bodily stands». When Antonioni's films show the exhausted bodies (think of the drained students you see in the country's colleges and universities), they say at the same time: Give me a new body! So, another life. Also, the revolutionary writer can not only write good stories, he must make us feel life, make us hear the scream behind the meaning-driven fossils of language (Artaud). No liberation without the encounter with a sensuous force and no new strong sensuality without a social dynamic.

It's been a long time since I stopped reading books about Deleuze. Too much namedropping, too much creativity talk, would rather return to the master himself. I have made an exception with this book. Have I been disappointed? No, certainly not. The reason: that it does not try to apply Deleuze to reality, because it is not about the reality of Deleuze, but about life. And life is about thinking, and the book shows how difficult it actually is to think that all resistance begins with an effort, concentration, then patience and repetition, the source of better quality. The result is a different sensitivity.

See Notes on Masoch, Deleuze and Radical Fashion

Alexander Carnera
Alexander Carnera
Carnera is a freelance writer living in Copenhagen.

You may also like