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Re: <nettime> Deleuze, and (Which) Politics?
. left | coast | lurker . on Fri, 8 Oct 2010 14:26:47 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Deleuze, and (Which) Politics?

Indeed, one of the comments I hear reiterated like a mantra these days is
"We don't know what a body can do!"

Apparently, this is supposed to be a revelatory proposition, sampled by
Deleuze from Spinoza, that opens the concept of the body to its populations,
and its virtual/potential, and so on.

Yet it also seems to come across as some kind of statement of new age hope
in the face of adversity, when its empty logic is just as usable by any
program of eugenics, as Mark Stahlman somewhat suggests.

But what I find disturbing about this statement is that by eschewing the
logic of impossibility as a limit that is constantly overcome, adopting
instead the everything-is-possible field of potential, there is rarely asked
the question -- in contemporary D&G research -- of what a body has done. And
what it can't do. And what it can or can't do, sometimes, in different
contexts. In short, questions of limits in the face of power, or limits in
the face of shortcomings. And rather than pretend ignorance (we don't know
what it can do!) I would rather dig into research (what have other bodies

In short the research dimension of historicity, all that endless digging
through odd sources & archives, as well as their normative problematics,
found throughout D&G's ATP and especially Foucault is replaced with endless
theorizing and mantra-repeating in the current crop of Deleuzo-inspired
thought. Not all, and I don't want to paint with a tarred brush, but in the
last 3 or 4 books I've slogged through.

For example, it would be useless to say to an athelete or a wheelchair bound
accident victim: "We don't know what a body can do!"

As a catalyst to start exploring the limits of a body, sure, it makes sense,
but it would make even more sense to say: "We have all these examples of
what bodies can or can't do, test them, surpass them!"

And I am not sure that these two statements are saying the same thing. One
might imply the other, but the former also implies a kind of blind naivety
when taken as literally as it seems to be.

I am not sure I am fully getting at my frustration with this mantra, for it
appears in several recent Deleuzo-books at key points where actual thought,
based on research, and not a mantra, would have been so much more rewarding
and innovative. It feels like a let down and an easy opt-out phrase. If
you're unsure what to say, then repeat after me ...

/ tV.

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