Rough Theory

Theory In The Rough

Proximities

I unfortunately don’t have time today to write this up properly, but I wanted to post a quick pointer to the wonderful new blog proximities, whose early posts range across Deleuze and Guattari, Lacan, Badiou, Zizek, and others, to explore a set of questions related to reflexive theory and immanent potentials for transformation. Its inaugural post builds to a tantalising question, which hopefully this blog will continue to explore as it unfolds:

What is really at stake here is the content of the set of potentials available for actualization in a Lacanian critical jurisprudence. The courts and the legal institution in sum play a distinctive part in the perpetuation of a particular symbolic order or regime of signs. Given this, we are required to follow up: Is there a potential for liberation in the virtual sphere of a Lacanian approach? Psychoanalysis may run up against its limit here, or, for more sympathetic folks, may force the realization upon us that there is no such thing as liberation. Schopenhauerian as it sounds, we may be condemned to the particular brands of oppression brought out by our representational-democratic (i.e., pseudo-democratic) regime of signs. All we can hope for is to “traverse the fantasy,” to become docile with respect to the order of things through acceptance. But if this is the case, why did we bother with a psychoanalytical critique of law in the first place? (Zizek has some interesting things to say on this question, but I can’t discuss them now – certainly, I will return to Zizek’s role in developing a psychoanalytic critique of law, revisiting this question with a new immediacy; Zizek is able to discern in the law, in an institutional as well as cultural sense, a sort of de-limitation, a restriction that nevertheless enables, and so the possibility of a truly constructive psychoanalysis of law becomes real.) For my part, here is where I think the possibility of a Deleuzian, not to say “schizoanalytical,” approach to law becomes necessary. I’ll merely light the path here but will return in a series of future posts to begin actually following it, as I work out some details.

A central theme of the Anti-Oedipus is that social formations generate their own lines of escape, that laissez-faire capitalism, for instance, breeds marginal subjects that sense the means of egress, the “leaky spots,” made available by the functioning of the system itself. And this is its “proper” functioning: Deleuze & Guattari continually note, in that text, that capitalism “works,” there is no reason for it not to work; in “working,” however, variegated flows of labor (minor sciences, war machines of various types, and so on) come into being as a sort of remainder, in the form of a hold-over – and then it becomes a matter of seizing this liberatory potential in some constructive way, or, as Deleuze will say, “to be carried off elsewhere, the beyond, on a crazy vector, a tangent of deterritorialization” (”Two Regimes of Madness” in Two Regimes of Madness, 15). Does it become possible to follow such a tangent in a Deleuzian mode?

Of course, perhaps I would see this as tantalising, as it resonates with so much recent discussion here… 🙂

The current post, which picks up on recent discussions of reflexivity at Larval Subjects, is a brilliant read that I’m tempted to quote in full – but instead, I’ll just provide a teaser, and suggest you read the original in its own space:

Recall that Deleuze, for instance, celebrates the suspension of individuation we witness in the close-up in cinema – suspension here in the sense of prolongation, moving to the edge of the void without allowing the schizophrenizing-intensifying processes to bring about a collapse of cognizance, but rather to cause an excess of cognizance, a hyper-perception. This would be freedom. Philosophy requires a perpetuality of movement, an utterly ceaseless subjectification/desubjectification circuit. This is not a “leap out” of the dominant symbolic-ideological discourse. This is a productive reconfiguration of the symbolically determined structures of subjectivity, a discernment (hence “hyper-perception”) of the virtualities / potentialities available for actualization in any given social formation. “Leaping out” is impossible – it is a negation. Freedom must be produced, and produced through adjustments to the assemblage – hence my blog’s subtitle.

Running back to the conference now…

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5 responses to “Proximities

  1. Evgeni V. Pavlov October 16, 2007 at 12:39 am

    it is a nice blog – thanks for pointing it out

  2. proximities October 16, 2007 at 7:37 am

    Thanks for the plug. It’s an honor to be granted a spot on a blog that has taught me so much. Now if I can get Levi to do the same… haha.

  3. Claude Scales October 17, 2007 at 1:06 pm

    As a lawyer, I was particularly struck by these words from the quoted passage from Proximities:

    “Zizek is able to discern in the law, in an institutional as well as cultural sense, a sort of de-limitation, a restriction that nevertheless enables, and so the possibility of a truly constructive psychoanalysis of law becomes real.”

    I’ve bookmarked Proximities, and need to read more Zizek.

    Meanwhile, I’ve tagged you to participate in an experiment in Darwinian evolution. Of course, my doing so places you under no obligation whatsoever [insert whatever lawyerish words you want here], but I thought it might interest you because I recall your having participated in the “speed of a meme” experiment Acephalous did earlier this year. Incidentally, I was tagged for this by Hipparchia, who was the one who first directed me to Rough Theory.

  4. N Pepperell October 17, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    lol! Well, now that Wildly Parenthetical has seduced me into the memepool, I suppose I can’t decline. 🙂 One caveat: I’m away from home and at a conference at the moment, with somewhat limited time and net access for the next few days – is it okay if I… mutate and propagate at a bit of a delay?

  5. Claude Scales October 17, 2007 at 11:25 pm

    Do take your time. I’m sure your contribution will be well worth the wait.

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