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And what about Gilles?

by on February 8, 2013

It’s always interesting, the manner in which the discourses of my various grad seminars seems to overlap and engage with each other, usually around this time, one month in to the semester. Perhaps I’m projecting, or simply cozying up with my inner correlationist, but I can’t help but impose a theme upon each semester – this semester, Deleuze seems to loom large over my coursework and readings. Which, given his current hipness in the academy – and the fact that I, and the majority of people in this SR seminar, are also enrolled in Prof. Copjec’s “Deleuze and Repetition” seminar – is unsurprising. Deleuze has, likewise, popped up in the context of my more literature-oriented courses, specifically my seminar on American Literature and the 1960’s, with regards to questions/notions of affect – an issue that, if the table of content to The Speculative Turn is any indication, is raised in one of the included essays, John Protevi’s “Ontology, Biology, and History of Affect” (hopefully, I’ll be able to find time to give it a read at some point in the near future.

With regards to our readings for this upcoming weeks, I found myself thinking about Deleuze most pointedly while working my way through Steven Shaviro’s essay, “The Actual Volcano: Whitehead, Harman, and the Problem of Relations” (I have to confess that I cannot yet comment on the other two essays, which are on my reading agenda for this Friday and Saturday – perhaps Monsieur Gliles will make an appearance there as well?). This past Wednesday, Prof Copjec devoted a substantial portion of her lecture to addressing the question of materialism – specifically, the speculative variety outlined by Meillassoux in After Finitude – in the context of Deleuze’s notion of univocity, its resistance to categorization, and the conceptualization (still somewhat hazy to me, as I prepare myself to jump into the first chapter of Difference and Repetition) of the virtual and the actual. I wonder at the resonance (perhaps causal (non)relation) between the Deleuzian actual and the description, by Shaviro, of Whitehead’s formulation of causal efficacy, through which “all actual entities in the universe stand on the same ontological footing” (281).

Anyway, I’m mostly just collecting my thoughts at this point – I wonder, where does Deleuze fit in with all of this? I know he has been influential, to varying degrees, on various camps of SR/OOO. And he is mentioned, in the back cover material of the anthology, as an apparent antecedent, of sorts (?), to current developments in continental philosophy. What are we to make of him? He certainly seems weird, in the (non)sense of one of SR’s favorite words. Was he, perhaps, a closeted weird realist? I have no answers at this point, only further questions.

Enjoy the snow, everyone!

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4 Comments
  1. 7sshare permalink

    My understanding of the virtual and the actual is elementary, but maybe it will help you out. It comes from the “How do We Recognize Structuralism?” chapter of…whatever book that was that we read from last week. The virtual is the status of the structures of structuralism. They are not real, but also not fictitious. They occupy a precarious place in the human experience, and to describe this place Deleuze uses the word ‘virutal’. The actual is, then, the actual ‘real’ manifestation of the virtual.

    Again, I haven’t even read Deleuze yet, but I have tried to glean a sense of where he fits in with all this stuff from our readings. He seems to be (concerngingly) cast aside by a lot of these new realists as a filthy reducer of being to difference. They think that he circumvents the truly difficult problems of philosophy by providing a single ‘univocal’ answer to everything. Brassier deflates the whole Deleuzian project of ascribing the cosmic principle of difference to everything by noting that the concept of difference is not the same as actual conceptual difference.

    But we will see, won’t we? Excited to start reading Deleuze.

    Also, it’s ‘Gilles’ not ‘Giles’.

  2. Oh dear, my apologies to “Gilles”! How embarrassing – I’m sure I’ve been pronouncing his name incorrectly as well. And I just now finished reading through the Brassier, by the way – probably should have started with him first, seeing as Deleuze’s notion of the univocity of being is addressed in the essay’s second page. It will be interesting to read through ‘Difference and Repetition.’

  3. Yes, I have been incessantly drawing parallels between Prof. Copjec’s course and this one. Unfortunately, I think at this stage I’m starting from the middle with all of these philosophies. Things are starting to pull together for me, and connections between the two courses are certainly being drawn. Shaviro really clarified certain aspects of Harman for me, even if in disagreement. For that matter, in Harman’s response to Shaviro, though I took great issue with several of his points (I completely disagree with Harman’s statement that “no knew qualities can ever be produced for Whitehead” (298) for various reasons that I am hopeful will come up during our discussion of the text during tomorrows class), I feel that Shaviro’s critique forced Harman to draw out several points which he failed to in The Quadruple Object, though he still glossed over several statements that I felt really warranted explanation. That being said, I think the complimentary subject matter is helping with my understanding; even it is a bit of a slow emergence.

  4. Levi Bryant takes up the virtual and the actual extensively in The Democracy of Objects, so that will be relevant for you as well.

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