Finished Andrew Culp’s Dark Deleuze this morning. In a previous introduction: Andrew Culp: Dark Deleuze – A Short Summary I summarized the basic task Andrew set forward. In this short review I add a few thoughts and impressions on finishing this work. It’s a short read and in some ways acts more like a toolbox of tasks, a heuristical conclave of tuning devices that chart the dark thought of Deleuze, making visible the shadowy sensations and counter-logics of a new escape plan that has been covered over in so many positive and joyous commentaries over the years; shining the light on his creative rather than destructive projects. Andrew seeks redress this by teasing out those various concepts and abstract engines hidden this more critical apparatus. As Andrew states it he task has been to bring about the “death of the World” by which he does not mean the physical annihilation of the earth so much as the destruction of our false Image of a certain kind of Thought that has captured Deleuze’s conceptuality, hijacking it into capitalist modes of affirmation and joy that have twisted and corrupted the very power of his war machines. Instead Andrew seeks to critique “connectivity and positivity, a theory of contraries, the exercise of intolerance, and the conspiracy of communism” (66).
In fact, what he means by this “World” he seeks the destruction of is the very one that the Deleuzian bandwagon of joy and positivity, connectionism have built, the one based on notions of “rhizomes, assemblages, networks, material systems, or dispositifs” (67). For Andrew this World of the Light Deleuze of Joy has worked in apposition to Deleuze’s intent, and instead has been easily hijacked by capitalist modes of productivism, accumulation, and reproduction. Against this he proposes to attack what he terms the “greatest crime” – that of the joyousness of tolerance. Following Wendy Brown he sees this regulatory ethic of political correctness as part of the “grammar of empire,” a discourse of ethnic, racial, and sexual regulation, and as “an international discourse of Western imperialism on the other” (67).
Ultimately this new intolerance is not about becoming “obstinate,” rather it is about finding “new ways to end our suffocating perpetual present” (69). We have been cut off in an eternal present without future for some time now: what some term “presentism”: the notion of using or abusing past to validate ones own political beliefs. We heard this from the Neoliberals starting with the demise of Socialism in the old regimes of Soviet Russia and Maoist China. The notion of the End of History, no other alternative to capitalism, etc. This notion that we are now living in a totalistic or global civilization where there is no escape, no exit, etc. It’s against this false presentism that Andrew offers “escape,” saying:
“Escape need not be dreary, even if they are negative. Escape is never more exciting than when it spills out into the streets, where trust in appearances, trust in words, trust in each other, and trust in this world all disintegrate in a mobile zone of indiscernibility. It is in these moments of opacity, insufficiency, and breakdown that darkness most threatens the ties that bind us to this world. (70)”
Ultimately we must “all live double lives” (69): “The struggle is to keep one’s cover identity from taking over.” By which he means one’s life with one foot in the old world of neoliberal fakery and compromise, and the other foot moving into the flight path of escape, crafting “new weapons while withdrawing from the demands of the world” (69).
Andrew Culp’s work is an open promise more than a fulfilled abstraction, a set of questions more than solutions; yet, in the end it offers one a “thousand flowers” of thought one can absorb and incorporate into one’s daily struggles while one forges links of solidarity with others not by way of joy and connectivity, but rather through the conspiracy and secrecy of darkness and escape.
Read Dark Deleuze: https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/dark-deleuze