April 20, 2006

Reading Deleuze reading Spinoza, Leibniz, etc.

Reading Deleuze is a practice which requires a certain carefulness on various levels at the same time if one will not reach reductionist conclusions in response to questions, for example, “What is immanence?” “What is a concept?” “What is a BWO?” and etc. Despite the fact that Deleuze problematizes such answer-question dialectics, there is still an insistence on a certain appropriation, disappropriation or misappropriation of Deleuzian thought which, in doing so, eliminates the question of the “undecidable.” The latter, of course, doesn’t appear as such in Deleuze and Guattari’s work, yet, on the other hand, its somehow problematic presence is what, I believe, complicates their text and also confuses the readers’ minds. For example, when Deleuze reads especially Leibniz and Spinoza, one thing that is certain is that he is – to use his favorite description – taking a philosopher from behind so that the metaphysics which conditions these texts can be burst open towards a possibility of leaving the transcendental behind. However, what is half-certain or undecidable is whether, when Deleuze writes on other philosophers, he appropriates or disappropriates them by means of producing a critique of the philosophers in question. If, for example, the Leibnizian project fails or forgets the possibilities that it points to, it is because Leibniz doesn’t consider the disjunctive synthesis as a possibility in his thought. However, disjunctive and conjunctive syntheses work side by side in Deleuze, especially, in Difference and Repetition. At such a juncture, it is quite appropriate to ask if Deleuze identifies with, or properly appropriates, the philosopher he is taking from behind so that his desire is quenched at the moment of satisfaction or he continues producing desire so that his liaison with another philosopher will turn into a courtly love affair where both obedience and betrayal will be out of question simply because an actual meeting will never occur or it will remain always as an Event. I guess the same applies to his affair with Spinoza where the question of mystical atheism can hardly be understood as a determining factor of Deleuze’s philosophy. In other words, why should Deleuze appropriate the image of thought which constituted the condition for thought for Spinoza? Moreover, as Deleuze and Guattari discuss in What is Philosophy?, the plane of immanence is a matter of construction rather than an imitation.

Such a loyalty to the model – strange loyalty indeed. Did Deleuze mean this when he wrote at the end of The Fold: “We are all Leibnizians”?


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