Post-Deleuze? or New Materialisms, Post-Humanism, and Speculative Realism

04Dec11

I’ve made some comments on the reception of Deleuze in the past which seemed to trouble some. In so many of the developments of SR and related movements (though OOO is openly critical of Deleuze on the whole) Deleuze is a central figure (implicitly or explicitly) usually cited alongside Guattari, Whitehead, Spinoza, James, and Stengers. Such a citation is usually a broad positional moveĀ  – to set the text against stability or sedentary thinking, set against idealism or against essences. However, it is more recently that this has been turned against some of the more privileged terms such as subject or language. But such positioning is still done as if it had the same weight it did 20 years ago which in a sense weakens the very name of Deleuze (and Guattari). In many ways I believe this stems from an uneasiness in regards to Deleuze as a metaphysician and the lingering discomfort with that word. This seems particular evident in the posthumanities and in works of new materialism such as that of Jane Bennett and William Connolly. While work such as Braidotti seems to hang onto the language of the subject perhaps a bit much work such as Bennett’s seems more willingly to let that go yet she remains close to pseudo-phenomenological narratives of enchantment/fascination (particularly evident in her recent focus on hoarding).

On the one hand this could merely be seen as being unwilling to let go (to shift from the who to the it that thinks) but it messily also invokes the problem of how the speculative turn, or realist turn, or materialist, turn deals with decidedly less-real or less material things (this is one of the concerns listed towards the end of the introduction to The Speculative Turn). This also feeds into, and is fed by, the ongoing concern about affect.

Many of these (if not all of them) can be led back to the metaphysical fuzziness of Deleuze – between Deleuze as feeling like he is a pure metaphysician and Francois Zourabichivili’s statement that ‘there is no ontology of Deleuze.’ This strange tension is clear in the approaches of Deleuzians who have made the most waves – Manuel De Landa and Brian Massumi as well as in the effects of Nick Land and other CCRU thinkers (such as Luciana Parisi and Sadie Plant) appearing in altered forms in SR and SR related thinkers. That is, Deleuze’s materialism seems to require a level of desaturation (De Landa) or libdinal resaturation (Land, Parisi, Massumi) where there is a tug of war between the virtual and the affective. Many of the solutions to this issue, or at least the approach to this tension, is to invoke a methodological parallelism but this seems to simply step around the demands of realism.

The starting-to-be-forgotten thrust of cyberfeminism rests in the gap here – the crisis of the materialization or dematerialization of the body (a large part of posthumanism as well – particularly Hayles’ book) as was pointed out in regard to Haraway’s cyborg, Butler’s materiality (‘what about the body Judy?’),and the becomings of Grosz and Braidotti. As Parisi notes in her Abstract Sex, it is the work of Irigaray that is continually under appreciated here – a nervousness over the body reinscribing essence causes a lean back towards dematerialization, discursivity, and so on. In effect, the parallel processes of actual and virtual maintain a destabilization of the procession of actualities, of the productivity of materiality which requires a middle ground between virtual and actual than is non-reductive but also non-magical, that is not too quick to jump into panpsychism or radical emergence. The only wide spread middle ground has been transcendental disjunction. It might be time to turn back to the cyborg and the hybrid. A self-critical, negativity embracing, cyborg. The it that thinks is an it that participates in actualization that is not the result of unbound thought nor already thinking materiality but trapped in ontological disjunctions/resistances that curb the dispositional nature of thought that is not different in kind from other powers and processes. The cyborg is the walking slide between grounds of powers.

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3 Responses to “Post-Deleuze? or New Materialisms, Post-Humanism, and Speculative Realism”


  1. 1 Untimely Deleuze (1) | AGENT SWARM
  2. 2 (3) On The Need For Counter-Histories: Pluralise The Temporalities | AGENT SWARM
  3. 3 Searching for Sadie Plant « Naught Thought

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