Anti-vitalism: Kaufman's Deleuze of inertia

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There is quite a lot one might say, and that has already been said, about Gilles Deleuze. In the wake of the first wave of general guides and overviews, there are now a number of Deleuzes from which to choose. There is the political, revolutionary, and transformational Deleuze who co-authored with Guattari, supplementing the latter's anti-institutional mode of psychoanalysis with a broader notion of life as desire, which in turn inflected Deleuze's single-authored works. There is the Bergsonian Deleuze focused on time, the Spinozist Deleuze of immanence, the Humean Deleuze who poses the problem of the imagination in its social and political forms, the Leibnizian Deleuze who affirms the perception of the infinite, and even the Kantian Deleuze concerned with the distinct and divergent faculties of thinking. There is-against all this-an anti-Deleuzian Deleuze: a Deleuze who (according to his better known critics) is so rarefied in his vision of the virtual that he has nothing to say about practical political intervention. Slavoj Žižek has insisted that it is this Deleuze-the Deleuze of the single-authored works, and not the political and revolutionary Deleuze who worked with Guattari-who arrives at a sterile dualism, in which thinking is isolated, subjective, and cut off from the world of action and events. Deleuze, Žižek insists, wants to be an immanent monist with a world of being that just is becoming, but ultimately something like a subject as nothingness returns: This, then, is w hat Deleuze seems to get wrong in his reduction of the subject to (just another) substance. Far from belonging to the level of actualization, of distinct entities in the order of constituted reality, the dimension of the "subject" designates the reemergence of the virtual within the order of actuality. "Subject" names the unique space of the explosion of virtuality w ithin constituted reality. According to The Logic of Sense, sense is the immaterial flow of pure becoming, and "subject" designates nor the substantial entity w hose "predicate" (attribute, property, capacity) is the sense-event but a kind of antisubstance, a negative/inverted substance-the immaterial, singular, purely abstract point that sustains the flow of sense. This is w hy the subject is not a person. To put it in Deleuzian terms, "person" belongs to the order of actualized reality, designating the wealth of positive features and properties that characterize an individual, w hereas the subject is divided precisely in the Deleuzian sense of "dividual" as opposed to individual.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPostmodern Culture
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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