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Deleuze, The Dark Precursor

Dialectic, Structure, Being

Eleanor Kaufman

Publication Year: 2012

Gilles Deleuze is considered one of the most important French philosophers of the twentieth century. Eleanor Kaufman situates Deleuze in relation to others of his generation, such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Pierre Klossowski, Maurice Blanchot, and Claude Lévi-Strauss, and she engages the provocative readings of Deleuze by Alain Badiou and Slavoj Žižek. Deleuze, The Dark Precursor is organized around three themes that critically overlap: dialectic, structure, and being. Kaufman argues that Deleuze's work is deeply concerned with these concepts, even when he advocates for the seemingly opposite notions of univocity, nonsense, and becoming. By drawing on scholastic thought and reading somewhat against the grain, Kaufman suggests that these often-maligned themes allow for a nuanced, even positive reflection on seemingly negative states of being, such as extreme inertia. This attention to the negative or minor category has implications that extend beyond philosophy and into feminist theory, film, American studies, anthropology, and architecture.

Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press


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pp. c-viii


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pp. ix-x


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pp. xi-xiv

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Introduction: Deleuze’s Scholasticism

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pp. 1-28

Against the tendency to privilege the joint works of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari and questions of becoming and flux, nomadism, deterritorialization, lines of flight, and movements of all sorts so often associated with the name Deleuze, I offer this small study. At its most...

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The four chapters in part 1 consider Deleuze as an unlikely thinker of the dialectic. They follow from a minor strain of Deleuze scholarship that looks beyond Deleuze’s avowed renunciation of the dialectic and instead probes another, perhaps less Hegelian mode of dialectic that persists in Deleuze. In this fashion, I am attempting to think...

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1 Solid Dialectic in Sartre and Deleuze

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pp. 31-44

Not only is there a common persistence of the dialectic in the philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre and Gilles Deleuze, but linked to this there is a persistence of the solid object that cuts to the very heart of a theory of temporality. Lurking on the horizon of smooth space is the...

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2 Toward a Feminist Philosophy of Mind

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pp. 45-58

One of deleuze’s philosophical achievements is that he renders the classic mind-body dualism both more complex and ultimately beside the point. He does this by showing over and again how the body and the mind are inseparably linked to each other, how they are part of the same assemblage that is to be regarded in terms of what it can do rather...

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3 Klossowski and Orthodoxy

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pp. 59-75

In a fashion not unlike what we have seen with the mind-body disjunction, Klossowski’s oeuvre is also a preeminent illustration of what divides univocity and equivocity, and in this fashion serves as one of the twentieth century’s most instructive models for thinking the complexity...

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4 Cinema and the Tableau Vivant

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pp. 76-84

The encounter between Deleuze and Klossowski is nowhere better staged than on the terrain of immobility, which is taken up as a central motif in part 3. Immobility serves as a concept for extending Deleuze’s work on cinema to a domain that has been evoked but not explicitly...

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This section continues the work of arguing for Deleuze’s hidden dialectic, but this time in conjunction with a new grouping of thinkers and a new focus on the question of ‘‘structure,’’ another term rarely associated with Deleuze but surprisingly important in his early writings. Following from the brief discussion in the introduction, it begins...

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5 Betraying Well ( Žižek and Badiou)

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pp. 87-95

As with many prominent thinkers, there is a striking imperative that circulates among those who read Deleuze: a drive to fidelity, or more nearly to not betray the master’s thought, the trap that so many who write in his wake purportedly fall into. The world of Deleuze criticism is...

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6 Lévi-Strauss and the Joy of Abstraction

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pp. 96-108

Deleuze insists at different points that the most radical possibility for thought (if not politics) is to become more, not less, abstract. It is this potential for becoming more abstract that I locate as the hinge point between what might be narrated as Claude Lévi-Strauss’s structuralism...

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7 Extreme Formality and the World without Others

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pp. 109-122

There are numerous ways in which Deleuze’s thought might be aligned with a generally recognizable form of ethics: from his beautiful Nietzschean meditations in Spinoza: Practical Philosophy on the ethics of good and bad forces as opposed to the morality of Good and Evil, to...

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Part 3 focuses on a range of primarily literary texts that develop the connections between mobility and immobility and between becoming and being. Deleuze was an avid and laudatory reader and critic of American literature, and he seems particularly drawn to American...

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8 French Thought and the Space of American Literature

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pp. 125-136

It is something of a truism that America is integrally connected to the concept of vast unbounded space and, more precisely, to unbounded movement through that space. In other words, freedom of movement across virtually uncharted territory is taken as a cornerstone of a specifically...

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9 Bartleby, the Immobile

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pp. 137-145

These questions of immobility and of transatlantic fascination are supremely condensed in the figure of Melville’s Bartleby. As discussed in the preceding chapter, there is a powerful disjunction between a rampant tendency to generalize about America and a refusal to view the...

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10 In the Middle of Things

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pp. 146-151

Abreathtaking, terrifying verticality emanates from the skyscrapers in New York City. This verticality reflects a certain vision of space, one that is monumental, urban, large scale. Here I wish to speak of another kind of space, one that is not urban—or not necessarily so—one...

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11 Midnight, or the Inertia of Being

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pp. 152-168

There is hardly a more consistent thinker than Maurice Blanchot. His work is disarming in its weave of fiction and philosophy, in its timeless anonymity, its undoing of the dialectic, and the affirmation of worklessness and the community of those who have nothing in common....

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12 Living Virtually in a Cluttered House

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pp. 169-184

In The Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard proposes a new field of investigation or perception, one that would be attuned, like psychoanalysis, to inner psychological states, yet also attuned to the way architecture and space affect those states. He terms such a field ‘‘topoanalysis’’...


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pp. 185-220


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pp. 221-234


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pp. 235-245

E-ISBN-13: 9781421406480
E-ISBN-10: 1421406489
Print-ISBN-13: 9781421405896
Print-ISBN-10: 142140589X

Page Count: 256
Illustrations: 1 line drawing
Publication Year: 2012

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Deleuze, Gilles, 1925-1995.
  • Dialectic.
  • Structuralism.
  • Ontology.
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