Criticism of Our Time

Alberto Toscano on Deleuzian method (here in a roundtable discussion):

The criticism of our time, as you put it, is indissociable from an investigation and experience of its transcendental field(s), of the (impersonal) tendencies and haecceities which traverse it, as well as the potentialities, utopian ones perhaps, with which our present can be composed. This ‘geological’ aspect of ‘total critique’ is of course essential to a dislocation of the present as atrophy and stultifying repetition of doxa.

5 replies on “Criticism of Our Time”

  1. Glen, help me out here? Is this post intentionally ironic?

    Damn. This is what I try to do here on this blog.

    If not then:

    Maybe I’m naive? But isn’t the fulcrum of written communication clarity? Surely if one is confident in one’s ideas, one would express them in a form that can be understood by the majority of literate people who give the idea due consideration? Hence realists tend to write clearly.

    Perhaps if one’s ideas are lacking in any real merit (read – post-modern antirrealists) they feel the need to discombobulate “lay people” with esoteric and supercilious locutions. In the end, of course, one is left with nothing but pointless gibberish.

  2. Theo, with all due respect, I think I have some idea of what I have been trying to do on my blog.

    On ‘communication’, I suspect we are going to have differing approaches. I suggest you read Deleuze’s treatment of ‘nonsense’ in his book _The Logic of Sense_. Hmmm, I am not really a fan of clarity-gibberish or any other platonic error-noise-information type of continuum for deciphering communication. Hmmm, perhaps see this semi-related post of mine here. It has a few ideas but which are still quite rough-ish.

    btw, I don’t write this blog expecting many people read it, let alone understand it! I lot of the time I am writing for myself, as I use this space as something like a scrap book of ideas. Long time readers might even be able to indicate the progression of my thinking over the last year or so! Or maybe digression of my thinking… hmmm, not sure…

  3. I.A. Richards once said “If someone can’t write in language that a reasonably attentive 7th grader can understand, someone is fooling someone else.”

    I used to hold to this. And yet, the more I read –and the more I read Richards– the more I’ve come to regard this 7th grader as precisely a student of literature.

    That is, Richards quote applies nicely to students of literature, and perhaps even writers of literature.

    And yet (!), here’s a quote from Deleuze that is nearly as blunt as Richards …we might even imagine a 7th grader following its sense… but runs in a completely different direction:

    “People sometimes criticize us for using complicated words ‘to be trendy.’ That not just malicious it’s stupid. A concept sometimes needs a new word to express it, sometimes it uses an everyday word that gives it a singular sense.”

    Certainly the sense of “virtual” and “pre-individual” that Glen notes have the have earmarks of being “new words.”

    We can imagine that Richards understand Deleuze is publically calling him stupid –and not liking it!– but then there’s the private confusion, after being-reactionary, of conceding that such terms nevertheless remain opaque.

    Is the choice clear?

    One can go on being reactionary, or one can turn reaction into reading.

    It may be that after all is said and undone that Deleuze’s terms do not satisfy. (Zizek and Badiou, for example, remain unconvinced.)

    Is the fulcrum of language “clarity”?

    The sense of clear/opaque with regards to eyeglass lenses has a long history, particularly in languages of Descartes and Spinoza.

    If the fulcrum of language does come down to “clarity,” would a discussion on the sense of “clarity” as exemplified by eyeglass lenses be productive?

    Is there any value in theor-eye-zing?

    Let’s not forget that the sub-title to Glen’s blog is “Desire in Uneasiness.”

  4. I’ll go read Deleuze’s treatment of ‘nonsense’ (The Logic of Sense) in the New Year (when the library opens), but here’s a quote for you about Academic English:

    “Academic English is a horrible corrupt dialect of the English language, used by teachers in tertiary institutions in order to sound cleverer than they really are and thus to win promotion, power and money.” (Stephen Murray-Smith, Right Words: A Guide to English Usage in Australia)

    On the other hand, maybe gv’s got me pegged, and I don’t have the attention span of a seven year old (see, that proves it, I meant a Year 7). Or it could be that my area is history and philosophy of science (and I teach secondary science) and have a great aversion towards postmodernist writings. (My sneaking suspicion is if you’ve got something profound to say, you want everyone to understand it – hence the great science writers – but if it’s decidedly unimportant…)

    I also understand the need to introduce new terminology in order to define new concepts, if there is no reasonable term already. And again, I teach physics. I wouldn’t expect most people to be able to understand a paragraph from a standard physics text. But Physics is highly mathematical. Not only this, all the new terms introduced in a physics text are clearly defined and relate to the real world. They are easily looked up in any standard dictionary. It is exactly the reason – that physics is so complicated – that makes the best writers of physics texts and popular science books, the clearest, most unambiguous and least convoluted.

    Nonsense (sorry, I meant non-science) on the other hand needs to be hidden behind esoteric prose. When one paragraph contains: indissociable.. transcendental field(s)… (impersonal) tendencies and haecceities which traverse it… potentialities, utopian ones perhaps… geological’ aspect of ‘total critique’… dislocation… atrophy and stultifying repetition of doxa, how is one supposed to tell the difference between that, and bull… (you know what)?

    But you are correct, it is your blog so (obviously) do with it as you will, and all the best with it (and your PhD).

    Ps, Sincerest apologies if I have been somewhat prolix and circumlocutory in the articulation of the rationale behind the crux of my disjoint, apropos to transparent and crystalline written phraseology, but without careful and well-considered ratiocination one’s prose is liable to be misinterpreted – especially in light of recent breakthroughs in pre/post-modern, Ãœber neo, semi-feminist, textual analysis. (Okay, that last bit was somewhat disingenuous – and I actually understood it :).)

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