Postmodernity Ahoy! (PT7)

Chapter 6: “Nietzsche and Philosophy” by Gilles Deleuze

                Suffice it to say that Deleuze has a beef with Hegel and his dialectic. He’s like, pissed off, which is odd because how could philosophy personally wrong him? Maybe a dialectical negation ended his marriage or something; at any rate, utilizing Nietzsche and concepts revolving around affirmation, he sets out to rage against the inadequacy of the dialectic while propounding the superiority of the eternal return. It sounds religious and it borderline is but hey, most, if not all, bourgeois modes of thought are idealistic, so it is not surprising.

Deleuze begins his tirade by outlining the dialectic’s compositions: the negative as theoretical principal manifested in contradictions, positivity as a practical product of negation itself, and the idea of suffering having intrinsic value (115). To this Deleuze says that “it [the dialectic] reflects a false image of difference” for the affirmation of the self is substituted for negation of the other.  Rooted in a kind of “clerical atheism” the dialectic reproduces a master-slave relationship which in turn generates this false difference, this “phantom of affirmation (116).” Nietzsche, on the other hand, produces a relationship which is wholly anti-dialectical: “Nietzsche creates his own method: dramatic, typological, and differential.” This difference is precisely the root of the superiority of anti-Hegelian theory. Multiplicity, in other words, the ability of ‘becoming’ and ‘chance’ to be objects of pure affirmation are what makes Nietzsche a philosopher of the highest caliber; “affirmation turns back on itself, then returns once more, carried to its highest power. Difference reflects itself and repeats or reproduces itself.” This is where what Deleuze calls “the full stop” transpires- where negation is transmutated, loses its own value, and becomes active as an affirming power (116). Simply said: “Negativity as negativity of the positive… (117)” is the result of “the true dice throw necessarily producing the winning number, which re-produces the dicethrow. (116).” Convoluted, yes? It is necessarily so and hence why difference and negativity are utilized. Because in Deleuze’s understanding, through the multiplicity of these concepts, through the inherent variables contained within, they are able to evolve into new theoretical apparatus which in turn affirm the positive as seen in the negative as opposed to the classical understanding of dialectics which presumes negativity only on negativity’s basis.

This complicated structure is why Deleuze actually begins his rant on a piece regarding Dionysus and Zarathustra. He outlines his understanding of change by framing it with a reading of one of Nietzsche’s classical works. Hence why he starts off with a talk about the “eternal return”. Of cycles needing time in order to “becomes a joyful event. (113)” Truly it is close to a philosophical support group which is still finding its voice against the unruly tyrant (dialectics). Even so, the concepts of difference and negation playing with one another to eventually be stripped of the power of negation and become an affirmation, is an interesting theory. Despite Deleuze’s efforts to the contrary, it is a form of (modern) dialectics which would be worth engaging with in an effort to find a deeper meaning in its relation to history.


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