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Gilles Deleuze and the Ruin of Representation

Gilles Deleuze and the Ruin of Representation

Dorothea Olkowski
Copyright Date: 1999
Edition: 1
Pages: 310
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  • Book Info
    Gilles Deleuze and the Ruin of Representation
    Book Description:

    Dorothea Olkowski's exploration of the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze clarifies the gifted French thinker's writings for specialists and nonspecialists alike. Deleuze, she says, accomplished the "ruin of representation," the complete overthrow of hierarchic, organic thought in philosophy, politics, aesthetics, and ethics, as well as in society at large. In Deleuze's philosophy of difference, she discovers the source of a new ontology of change, which in turn opens up the creation of new modes of life and thought, not only in philosophy and feminism but wherever creation is at stake.

    The work of contemporary artist Mary Kelly has been central to Olkowski's thinking. In Kelly she finds an artist at work whose creative acts are in themselves the ruin of representation as a whole, and the text is illustrated with Kelly's art. This original and provocative account of Deleuze contributes significantly to a critical feminist politics and philosophy, as well as to an understanding of feminist art.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-92223-5
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. 1 Women, Representation, and Power
    (pp. 1-31)

    If I begin this book by writing about difference or announce that I am interested in the question of “difference,” this is hardly a startling statement. If I write that I think difference, as it is understood in contemporary philosophy, is almost always tied to a system of iconic or imagistic representation and discourse about that representation, this too is hardly startling. If I write that the notion of identity (including the identity of the “I” who speaks or writes) is also a key aspect of what I am trying to analyze, no one would be surprised. And if I...

  6. 2 Can a Feminist Read Deleuze and Guattari?
    (pp. 32-58)

    In a text that introduced many American feminists to the work of Gilles Deleuze, Alice Jardine forcefully lays out her view of the status of Deleuze and his sometime collaborator Félix Guattari in contemporary philosophy and linguistic and literary studies.¹ Largely ignored in the early 1980s by most academics, Deleuze and Guattari had found an American audience consisting, she claims, chiefly of a “vocal [male] student minority.”² The largely male character of this audience extended, not surprisingly, to France, to the point that, even in France, where Deleuze and Guattari publicly supported the feminist movement, by the mid 1980s only...

  7. 3 Against Phenomenology
    (pp. 59-88)

    In spite of their many theoretical and practical differences, each of the feminist thinkers examined in the previous chapter shares some commitment to phenomenology as well as to psychoanalysis. It varies from person to person, with Grosz, perhaps, maintaining the highest level of skepticism toward or distance from both phenomenology and psychoanalysis.¹ In my refutation of Jardine, specifically, I began to point to certain objections to a phenomenological approach to feminist concerns in particular and philosophy in general. I cited the arguments of Boundas, who cautions that the phenomenological supposition that the subject of a narrative constructs a self that...

  8. 4 Bergson, Matter, and Memory
    (pp. 89-117)

    InBergsonism, Deleuze organizes his reading of Bergson around the constitution of the rules of what he calls Bergson’s strict method. First, he argues, no problem can be properly resolved, for Bergson, unless it has been properly stated. In philosophy, but also in the rest of social life, problems come to us in the form of ready-made language. Language transmits the society’s “order-words” and, in them, the ready-made problems that society seeks to force us to solve.¹ So there is a sense in which in order to even begin to address the issues of the first three chapters—issues surrounding...

  9. 5 Creative Evolution: An Ontology of Change
    (pp. 118-146)

    In the previous chapter, the Deleuze-Bergsonian interpretation of memory as ontological unconscious was placed at the intersection connecting human life and intelligence to the life of the cosmos, I wanted to propose that the psychic component of human life is intimately connected with the cosmos as a whole and to suggest that it is an aspect of the first articulation in its many occurrences. The contraction and folding over of the outside to the inside operates among the single-celled creatures as well as in complex human life, from the flows of the body without organs called earth to all forms...

  10. 6 Beyond the Pleasure Principle
    (pp. 147-176)

    Let me begin here by repeating some points made in the previous two chapters, for now we can bring them to the fore in thinking about biopsychic life. I have argued on the basis of a wish to avoid both what can be taken as an idealist position and a pure empiricist position in philosophy. In order to do this I have followed Bergson in criticizing the usual problematic of perception and action, as well as matter and thought. That is, I have recognized that the usual idealist and empiricist approaches to these issues are snared in the language of...

  11. 7 The Ruin of Representation
    (pp. 177-210)

    In the Freudian etiology of the narcissistic ego, mechanistic death always has the last word. The transformation of erotic libido into ego-libido (narcissism) has a decisive repercussion: the abandonment of sexual aims. Desexualization or sublimation of unconscious desire (what Freud calls the id’s sexual drives) already places the ego in opposition to Eros and puts the ego in service to the death drive. Do not imagine that this is desire for death; it is the death of desire. Desire is dead; the id and ego are desexualized because in Freud’s conception of narcissism Eros is “turned back” upon the ego,...

  12. 8 The Linguistic Signifier and the Ontology of Change
    (pp. 211-234)

    The claim I am making in this book will be interpreted cynically or worse if it is distorted by being placed back in the framework of representation’s organic hierarchy and static order. That is, it will be embraced or rejected as a kind of idealism or fantasy. For many contemporary thinkers, for numerous artists and writers, representation is inevitable and the conception of a kind of thinking and a series of practices that constitute the ruin of representation is nonsense. However, from the point of view of an ontology of change and becoming, fluid series and system-series, creative practices, and...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 235-278)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 279-290)
  15. Index
    (pp. 291-299)