Undigesting Deleuze

DeleuzeBrian Massumi at the LA Review of Books:

The uptake of Deleuze’s work in the world of English-speaking academia was remarkably slow. A first flurry of interest was occasioned by two key publications in 1977: the translation of Anti-Oedipus, co-written with Félix Guattari, and an eponymous special issue about that two-headed book from the renegade journal Semiotext(e). The excitement these two publications inspired was for the most part felt outside the academy. Where it registered was on the political and artistic fringe (remember that this was a time before the internet, and the recuperative powers of neoliberalism’s data-mining and niche-marketing of all aspects of emergent existence, had robbed that concept of its force). Within the academy, the least amenable corner was Deleuze’s own home discipline of philosophy. A tentative welcome was extended by literature departments, the traditional landfall site of the successive waves of European thought that swept through the late-20th-century Anglo-American intellectual landscape. Deleuze’s thought did not sweep so much as drizzle. Sweeping were the Foucault power wave, and Baudrillard simulation wave, the Derrida deconstruction wave, the Lyotard postmodern wave, waving to Deleuze as they passed him by.

To illustrate part of the reason for the pass-by, imagine what epitomizing qualifier could have been inserted between “Deleuze” and “wave.” The candidates that come to mind — micropolitical, rhizomatic, virtual, singular, becoming, superior-empirical, asignifying-semiotic, anorganic-vitalist, affirmative — seem more apt to have sealed his marginal position than transform it into swell.

more here.