Conspiring Against The World

I finished Andrew Culp’s Dark Deleuze late last night, not realising I was sitting in almost total darkness. The book is exhilarating and exhausting. For anyone engaged in any kind of activism as (at the same time) philosophical praxis it’s a long overdue rejoinder to the Spivak/Badiou/Zizek image of Deleuze as, at best, a-political or, at worst, a Eurocentric imperialist.

I share with Culp a fascination with those pages of What is Philosophy? that are contemptuous of the politically and philosophically stifling work of ‘opinion’, as well as the authoritarian image of ‘dialogue’ which emerges (where Socrates becomes, in fact, a profoundly anti-discursive thinker). Perhaps it’s the monotony of tedious liberal think-pieces that fill the pages and pixels of the post-Brexit UK media that aren’t already outright fascist, fretting about the rise of the new ‘post-truth’ politics, and utterly oblivious to the concept of ideology (let alone noology).

That’s not to say that these processes aren’t important, but to register the need to think about them materially, as the assemblages of enunciation that go hand in hand with the way in which social media has become the dominant mode of both production and consumption in capitalist societies. We’re all content providers now.

As such, Culp’s notion of ‘conspiracy’ as a semiotic strategy in the era of compulsory transparency that characterises the societies of control, is a potent one. The frequent criticism of anarchist actions ‘we don’t know what you stand for!’ is a sign of health, as long as it isn’t fetishised as an end itself.

What’s more perplexing to me as someone interested in both the ‘post-anthropocentric’ turn in philosophy and the rise of ‘post-anarchism’ that (I think) counts AC as a co-conspirator, is the disconnect between ‘new materialism’ (in Culp’s view) and any political project. In contrast to the white-male dominated ‘speculative realism’, those aspects of new materialist thought influenced indirectly or directly by Deleuze have, from the beginning, been transversally engaged in thinking about the ‘matter’ of race, gender, indigeneity and sexuality.

When Manuel Delanda talks about complexity as the ‘technical backbone’ of Deleuze’s philosophy we should all cringe. But that’s not to say that all thinkers of the loosely termed ‘new materialist’ moment have a reductionist view of thought. The problem lies in the involuntariness of thinking, the cruelty of affect, which has to come from an outside that is not transcendent. Rather, what arises for me in Jane Bennett’s Vibrant Matter is a material vitalism stripped of any kind of organicist or positivist intonation, that approaches the involuntarist image of thought as, precisely, the unbecoming of the world—the thought from outside. Perhaps there is no ‘ontology of Deleuze’ but that’s not to say there isn’t a politics of ontology of Deleuze. “Politics precedes being”.

The immediate political ramifications of ‘the non-human turn’ are for me crucial in the era of Black Lives Matter, where Frank B. Wilderson III’s concept of Afro-Pessimism is at once a politicisation of ontologies of presence that are organised structurally via anti-blackness, for which the logical forms of resistance are the principles of non-communication, conspiracy, and a refusal of the world.

I don’t intend these scattered thoughts to be part of a dialogue or critique for the above reasons, so much as the beginnings of a conspiracy by which we might weaponize ‘the non-human turn’ along a line of flight that incorporates anarchist praxis in its resistance to the present.



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