Deleuze and Guattari: Creative versus Utopian Thinking

It’s been almost a year since I last posted here, and it feels like it’s about time I explained what happened with those three “projects” I described in my last post.   The projects were to be: a follow-up to the “Deleuze, Guattari and May’68″ paper I posted in 2011; an account of Hegel’s logic of the Concept; an examination of Hegel’s account of the state.  Today I’ll start by looking at what I did on the subject of Gilles Deleuze and May ’68, and I’ll discuss how I got on with the two Hegel-related projects in later posts.

My follow-up to the “Deleuze, Guattari and May’68” essay became a paper entitled “Deleuze and Guattari: Creative versus Utopian Thinking” which I presented at the London Conference in Critical Thought in June 2012.  You can read the paper here.

In the paper I compare what Deleuze and Guattari have to say about history and resistance to what William E. Leuchtenburg writes about the history of the New Deal in the USA and the creative approach to politics that we see in America at that time; I then look at some of the things that Henry Miller said about the individual’s search for meaning in life to illustrate how the problems that people face today in the USA, Europe and elsewhere are quite different to those that the New Deal was supposed to tackle, even if they evolved from those old problems.  In sum, the old problem was how to allow people to find work; the new problem (or rather, the old problem that we are hopefully slowly coming to recognise) is to allow people to find meaning in their lives.  For Miller, getting people into work is not enough; we also need to ensure that the work that people do does not make them mean and miserable.

I do feel that the conclusion of the paper is quite unsatisfying, as I don’t explain how the processes described by Miller could spark a creative political approach that would lead to anything but failure.  My next paper on this topic will look at Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus in more detail and show in what way Deleuze and Guattari claim to get further than Henry Miller, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and all the other writers who fail to escape the “neurotic impasse” in which they find themselves trapped.

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