So I finally got my hands on Pierre Levy’s Collective Intelligence and I am making my way through it. However, I am disturbed by the 20 or so pages I have read so far. The explicit Cartesianism of Levy’s argument combined with his obvious D&G influence is bizarre. Utterly bizarre. As Levy is a Francophone I am assuming he has read most if not all of D&G without having to wait on translations (a lot of the key solo texts from Deleuze especially were published in English after or around the same time as Levy’s book).
Did Levy actually read the introduction to What is Philosophy?!?!?! Here is my extract and extended comments (orig. posted here). :
Their last co-authored text together sought to wrest the practice of creating concepts from â€œcomputer science, marketing, design, and advertising, all the disciplines of communicationâ€ (Deleuze and Guattari, 1994: 10). Cultural Studies has always walked a fine line between being complicit in â€œdigital capitalismâ€ and taking a critical stance towards it. Worse is the prospect of authoring a text that is thoroughly â€˜Deleuzianâ€™ for the sake of a scholarly cultural industry, as McKenzie Wark writes:
Among other things, philosophy is a tool to be used to escape from the commodification of information as communication, but only when it escapes the commodification of knowledge as education as well. [â€¦] [Deleuze and Guattariâ€™s] version of escape from history can easily take on an aristocratic form, a celebration of singular works of high modernist art and artifice. These in turn are all too easily captured by the academic and cultural marketplace, as the designer goods of the over-educated. D+G all too easily become the intellectualâ€™s Dolce and Gabbana. (Wark, 2004: 283, fn. xix)
In a book co-authored with Deleuze, Claire Parnet railed against such â€œrelationships of forceâ€ that combined writing practices with the cultural industry, or as she put it â€œwriters or intellectuals have passed into the service of journalists, or become the servants of journalists, journalists of themselvesâ€ (Deleuze and Parnet, 2002: 26-27). It is ironic that Deleuzian enthusiasts are serviced by an academic or scholarly cultural industry in such a fashion that is not dissimilar to the way enthusiasts of modified-car culture have their constant supply of publications, scandals, and festive events. Perhaps, critically speaking, some aspects of Cultural Studies come from the other side of the coin, that is, as Theodor Adorno might have said, from the â€œintellectualization of amusementâ€ (Adorno and Horkheimer, 1996: 143)?
OK, so I am collapsing two gripes that have already emerged. One may be a non-gripe, ie Levy as an ‘entrepreneur’ of the publishing arm of ‘digital capitalism’, I shall have to wait for the rest of the book’s argument to play out. The first 20 or so pages really does read like a dot-com start-up prospectus!!
However, the other gripe, regarding the explicit Cartesianism, remains; how could Levy possibly argue such a position after all the feminist interventions regarding the ‘body’ and more recently (admittedly after this book was written, but not removed from D&G’s concerns) regarding ‘affect’? Maybe Levy reconciles this aporia in following books? Anyone else have similar problems? Or not?