Destroying the World: Reviewing Andrew Culp’s “Dark Deleuze”

Review by Curtis Cole

                Published under the University of Minnesota’s “Forerunners” series, or, short titles “written between fresh ideas and finished books”, Andrew Culp’s bold academic novella Dark Deleuze, initiates a great, albeit unfinished project—re-oriented Gilles Deleuze, that ceaseless thinker of the joyous, to a negative standing in which the inherent revolutionary communism of Deleuzianism may be unleashed.

It is, in other words, a fine endeavor. But it is not an endeavor which will appeal to the serious Deleuze scholar. Why is because of the nature of the title: short and choppy, this is a work which aims at putting forward hypotheses supported only by the scantiest of philosophical argumentation. Though I did not find this troublesome since I wholly accepted the nature of Culp’s publication, as a work-in-progress reconceptualization, it will likely not appear that way to the mainstream Deleuze researcher, especially those liberal agents of counterrevolution which Culp belittles; liberal social-fascism, after all, spurns polemics, essential insight, and the creativity of finding the new. Such and such withstanding, though, I found Culp’s thesis to be worth engaging, especially for those academic iconoclasts who delight in tearing down orthodoxy.

The basic thrust of Culp’s argument is to abandon “this world”. The world in his usage, as the third such formulation of humanist dogma (the first being the Death of Man, the second being the death of God), is the idea of the present with all of its underpinnings—the biopower, legalism, and philosophy and theory which tries to preserve the order of capitalist interconnectivity and accumulation. Culp argues that this world must be utterly destroyed: conspiracy must be embraced, nothingness advanced, and the call of the outside answered in order to move past the false gods of this decayed postmodernism.

Culp accomplishes this by a whirlwind reading of Deleuze’s outstanding corpus. From his works on cinema to both volumes of Anti-Oedipus, along with his magnum opus Difference and Repetition, Deleuze is mined for his essential theory and then uncharacteristically backhanded to the negative of destruction. Culp does keep some primal Deleuzian elements intact, though; one example of this is Deleuze’s rejection of Marxist dialectics (or, materialist theory of transformation). Instead, Culp offers his conceptualization of “nondialectical negation”, or the “’contrary’” (Loc. 290). This would function, then, as “the distance between two exclusive paths”, something which takes Deleuze to his own logical end and rejects that “’golden mean’ whereby the optimal place is found somewhere in between each extreme” (Loc. 319). Since “each contrary is a forking path” one which is “an alternate route for every instance one is tempted by affirmation”, Culp’s theory of nondialectical negativity is one which festers in extremism. Something which, though a heartwarming gesture in our present age of Social Fascists screaming for non-violence and freedom of speech, irks me in the wrong way since, fundamentally, it seems too closely wedded to the airy theoretical masturbation of post-Marxism.

There is, of course, many additional points to explore in Culp’s work. But, these points are not as fully developed as the contrary is and so I feel it is better to leave them to the reader to discover for herself. Suffice it to say, there is a lot here which the inquisitive mind will find attractive and even more for those people who are actively looking to push Deleuzian theory in new and audacious directions. These other points, though not as fleshed out as the first half of this novella, are still worth engagement; for the purposes of this review, however, I am happy in ending this review here and saying that Culp’s Dark Deleuze will be a tract I should return to time and time again, each moment with a different engagement, each engagement a different inquisitorial regime.

Dark Deleuze

Andrew Culp

90 pages. Published by University of Minnesota Press. $4.49 (Kindle), $7.95 (Paperback), $2.99 (Matchbook Price)[1]. 2016.

[1] Page estimates and prices were taken from Amazon.com and were accurate at the time of writing.

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