Thursday, August 6, 2009

Aimless Reading: The D's, Part 16 (Gilles Deleuze)

Deleuze, Gilles
Nietzsche & Philosophy

I may have purchased this for a course with Elizabeth Grosz in graduate school, in which case I bought it at the UB Bookstore. However, I may have bought it for some other class, in which case I bought it at Talking Leaves Books. I feel like I had already bought and read the book before Grosz arrived, but I can't say for certain.

Before we begin or little foray into Deleuzeland (7 titles), let me say this: I love Gilles Deleuze, but I can't stand Deleuze and Guattari together. I tried to to read Anti-Oedipus. I tried to read A Thousand Plateaus. I found both of them incomprehensible and wholly devoid of pleasure. I did not find it in any way liberating to float along on the lexical sea of wordplay and allusion and so after years of having them on the shelves and not reading them, I sold them to Rust Belt Books last year when we moved across town.

There, I said it. I did it. I am not sorry.

That said, this is one of my favorite books by Deleuze, possibly one of my favorite all-time books of philosophy, possibly one of my all time favorite books.

If I were asked to point to a book that delineated in a clear, concise, convincing and inspiring manner as definitive an answer as possible to the question, why make art? I would point to this book. In short, the answer is to put something novel into the world. I use the word "novel" instead of "new" because I don't think Nietzsche would subscribe to the fetishization of "the new." Rather, I think the point would be that to put something into the world that needs to be there, not as an argument against something one feels shouldn't be. This kind of negative assertion of art he would call "ressentiment," art which only reacts but has no active force of its own outside its reaction to that which it opposes. Art, then, as an argument for itself, not against something else.

from From Ressentiment to the Bad Conscience:

The imputation of wrongs, the distribution of responsibilities, perpetual accusation. All this replaces aggression. "The aggressive pathos belongs just as necessarily to strength as vengefulness and rancor belong to weakness"... Considering gain as a right, considering it a right to profit from actions that he does not perform, the man of ressentiment breaks out in bitter reproaches as his expectaions are disappointed. And how could they not be disappointed, since frustration and revenge are the a prioris of ressentiment?....We can guess what the creature of ressentiment wants. He wants others to be evil, he needs others to be evil in order to be able to consider himself good. You are evil, therefore I am good


tyrone said...

U agree re Delueze v. Deluze and Guatarri...Guess that's why I like Garfunkel solo better than Simon and Garfunkel...

rdeming said...

I agree--I prefer Deleuze on his own. You're not alone. And this is a great book.

Chris said...

I really don't get your distinction between "new" and "novel" here, but perhaps the two words' cognatey sameness is overwhelming me.

K. Silem Mohammad said...

One more vote for solo Deleuze--and solo Garfunkel.

Michael Kelleher, Buffalo, NY said...

Ok, I can't say I have actually ever listened to Art Garfunkel solo, but I do think he's a serviceable actor.


I know, it's a bit tricky, and maybe the terms are too "cognational" to distinguish; however, if it were possible, the distinction I would make vis-a-vis Del. and Nie. would be this:

The "new" as a reaction against the "old." Therefore, it falls into the realm of ressentiment in that it is necessarily negative in its posture.


The "novel" (I am thinking "cognatively" of "innovate" here) as that which comes into being in an active or positive posture, or, as I stated earlier, that which makes an argument for itself, not against something else.

Does that make some sense?

Chris said...

Sure, the distinction makes enough sense, at least tentatively. Still, French and Latin have made it so I see "novel"/"nouvelle"/"nova" and read "new".