Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Naïveté of Gilles Deleuze

The hip literary and philosophical kids, such as those at HTMLGIANT, love the 20th century French philosopher Gilles Deleuze. Deleuze was a good writer, judging solely from the translations I've read, and had some decent ideas, but he was extraordinarily naïve. His naïveté resembles that of philosophers of various nationalities, especially these days.

For example, Deleuze says in his book Dialogues II that asking questions is pointless. He means particularly in the context of an interview or public dialogue, but this is just nonsense. He makes a subtle distinction, or twenty, about framing problems and the importance of doing that carefully. I understand what he's saying. But really, somebody who refuses the format of an interview is just a twit.

When my favorite writers (Kundera, Woolf, Rushdie) offer a new idea, they try to draw the reader in, use simplicity and directness, and sometimes present their notions in familiar formats. From Kundera's interviews, to the Socratic method, to the tabloid five-question format, humanity likes Q&A. Deleuze posits a world beyond that. Really? How about a world beyond bullshit like that?

Let's set our sights on getting some good questions answered well (can literature change humanity?) and then we'll address the format of Q&A. In Deleuze's world everyone sits around asking themselves what it means to ask themselves these questions, etc. Utopianism like that is impractical at best, and dangerous at worst.

Where's the danger? It's in good people doing nothing but writing or reading stuff like Deleuze. Important work needs to happen, ignorance-slaying work requires cycles of thought to accomplish, and Deleuze is telling us that Q&As don't suit him? Whatever.

I want to move the conversation forward too, but I don't think we need to redefine the meaning of the word conversation.


  1. Deleuze at least wrote some worthwhile stuff about Kafka. People like Derrida and Foucault and Lacan were trying so hard to build their own monuments that they ignored lots of the greatest work in the world. In the words of Harold Bloom, if you fail to confront greatness you risk irrelevance. I'd say it's starker than that; you guarantee your own irrelevance.

  2. "Deleuze says in his book Dialogues II that asking questions is pointless. "

    Why not play this out as true, hyperbolically?

    You would have to start which information being absolutely relative, in other words, first hand perception is absolute or the closest you can get to reality.

    Leonardo Da Vinci, all our perceptions have there origin in out perceptions"

    When you take in information via questions the information side steps your own perceptions, thus no matter what you do, the information is in the form of deduction; it has a bias towards external.

    So, a way of looking at this, it is really radical inductive reasoning or sense perception.

    Side note:

    If you could visualize the formation of an idea and then world view as a tree and information coming in from the extremes, roots and or leafs ; through the informations life ( half life ) it is most formed at the trunk. The trunk, the core of the tree... < digressing

  3. Nice. Could you repost the Da Vinci quote? I think you might have repeated one of the words by accident.

  4. Leonardo Da Vinci : All our knowledge has it origins in our perceptions.

    "He who can summarize many ideas in a brief statement, is a wise man."

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Nothing exists except atoms and empty space; everything else is opinion."
    — Democritus 400 BC

    "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."
    — William Shakespeare (Hamlet)

    Relativity anyone?

    As it stands, we are the only ones aware of the theory of relativity, but in the same breathe, it is an indirect declaration of intent, we trumpet what we believe is value and worth saying, but are we living it? If we are not, might we be fighting it? If this is so, does it make use relevant ?

  7. If particulars are to have meaning, there must be universals. ~ Plato

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  9. Trying to tie back into above, as Picasso said,

    "art is a lie to reveal the truth"

    Just how powerful can the absurd be?

    It either jacks up your brain cells ( < almost said sails), runs you into a door, or make you out to be a jack ass!

  10. I like your question - we trumpet what we believe is of value, but if it's worth saying, isn't it worth living?

    And if it's not worth living, is it worth saying?

    I really think these questions are the most important ones around language.


    Have you ever felt like you were in a room full of chickens cackling loudly and no one seemed to be hearing what’s going on? A revolving talking head festival !

    Used salesman covering the Republican convention live, pondering look, light bulb realization, long time coming .

  12. Maybe we are nothing more that some twisted kids ant frame somewhere out there far, far, away !