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  • Becoming-AnimalTransversal Politics
  • Irving Goh (bio)

This essay began as a response to the treatment of Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of becoming-animal in Deleuzo-Guattarian scholarship, in which there remains a general hesitation in considering becoming-animal’s political potentiality. There are certainly Deleuzo-Guattarian scholars who explicate the concept of becoming-animal; and while they do not hesitate to extend its application to literary works, they do not tend to discuss its political possibilities.1 Then there are those who are keen to define the ambiguous political terrain of Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophy, and yet stop short at including becoming-animal within that political cartography.2 In other words, when it comes to elucidating the politics of Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophy, becoming-animal is very much a missing concept. The motivation of this essay then became an endeavor to fill that gap, that is to say, to begin thinking the political force of becoming-animal. Such an enterprise can have critical stakes for a resistance against a certain geopolitical delimitation within which the twenty-first-century world finds itself bound, since becoming-animal can break with, or rather sidestep, this delimitation. As such, I would argue that there is both a pertinence and an urgency to finally take into account the political potentiality of becoming-animal today, so as to prevent the enclosure of the world by the aforesaid political delimitation.3

However, one must not delimit, in turn, becoming-animal within the domain of politics or the political. Certainly, becoming-animal can be effective, as said, in counteracting certain oppressive State politics; in the face of such oppression, becoming-animal can take on a resistant political trajectory. And yet, as this essay will eventually show, becoming-animal is not defined by politics or the political. Politics or the political are never the ends of becoming-animal; becoming-animal does not reduce itself to such limits. Becoming-animal understands that there is more to life than politics or the political, and that which surpasses politics or the political is none other than life itself. That there is life, there, if not here and now, beyond the confines or limits of politics or the political, is what becoming-animal always keeps in mind and strives for, even though it understands that occasionally it will have to take on a political trajectory in order to make that approach. It is on this point of life free(d) from politics that this essay finds its resonance [End Page 37] with Laurent Dubreuil’s call for a “negative” politics or “apolitics.” This is because “apolitics,” like becoming-animal as I read it, is nothing short of “leaving politics” as Dubreuil puts it in an earlier essay, “break[ing] ranks with politics” in order to recover life that has been captured by political determination, to affirm “life in excess of the political force that handles it” [“Leaving Politics” 95, 97]. The assertion of such a life becomes more insistent, if not more radical, in Dubreuil’s “Preamble to Apolitics.” There, “livable life” that is “non-political,” or life that escapes or resists all “political formatting,” is to be pursued with “the desire for an even greater defection” from politics and the political, with “the urge to get rid of politics” [7, 5]. To put in place such a rejection of politics or the political, or more precisely the rejection of the delimitation of life by politics or the political, Dubreuil also posits that one must “say and show that there is life in life. Live politics and leave politics” [“Leaving Politics” 98]. In a way, my intervention here, in its sustained elucidation of becoming-animal, is also a response to that challenge, showing how becoming-animal “lives politics” by positing a political resistance to the delimiting geopolitics of the twenty-first century, and how it “leaves politics” by going beyond such political engagement as well in order to reaffirm life free(d) from politics.4

Despite a certain commonality between my following of becoming-animal and Dubreuil’s “apolitics,” which perhaps can be expressed in Maurice Blanchot’s terms of “the right to disappear” [le droit de disparaître...


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pp. 37-57
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