Academic Differends

I have written a rather long-winded a-grammatical reply to a post by Steve Shaviro on what he calls the “differend between dialectics, with its notes of crisis, contradiction, and antagonism, and pluralism of the Deleuzian variety, with its rejection of any thought of the negative and its insistence on the metastability of the virtual as the source of change.” (I am pretty sure ‘differend’ is meant in the Lyotardian sense.) When I get to the point of my reply, I eventually ask:

“Does everyone have to become Deleuzian just to understand what is going on [in the work of Deleuzians]?!?! Is the labour of ‘translation’ (as you phrase it between ‘dialectic’/’multiplicity’) something that is expected of people who use Deleuze and Guattari in their work? Why? How much should Deleuzians ‘expect’ of their readers/audience (to know the Deleuzian metalanguage)?” 

This is troubling to me as I need to do this work in my dissertation! Should I just assume that I am writing for someone who has read all the ‘theory’ stuff (and more than) that I have read? Do I need to do translate work, not only into ‘common’ academic jargon, but ‘everyday’ language, too? Why should I?

Jon at Posthegemony also has a post on Steve’s post.

One thought on “Academic Differends”

  1. Glen,

    thanks for your comments on my original posting. I will say here that I think your (quoted) question is an important one — the problem I have with a lot of Deleuzian work these days, though I am greatly in sympathy with it, is that it remains stuck in Deleuze’s vocabulary, in a way that turns it into a blockage rather than a tool of exploration. Terms and jargons are useful shorthands, and hence necessities of thought: by using them you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you say something. But they can all too easily become a self-enclosed, “scholastic” langauge for initiates — at this point, which Deleuzian studies recently have come perilously close to, they no longer encounter the world, no longer translate/transduce, but instead perform a constrictive capture, bring everything back to the same stock of fixed concepts. So I do feel a need to break out of Deleuze’s language, the better to put his concepts to work.

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