Reading Orwell Through Deleuze

Deleuze Studies 4 (3):356-380 (2010)
George Orwell has often been accused of articulating a naive version of empiricism in his writings. Naive empiricism can be said to be based on the belief that an external objective world exists independently of us which can nevertheless be studied and observed by constructing atomistic theories of causality between objects in the world. However, by revisiting some of Orwell's most well-known writings, this paper argues that it makes more sense to place his empiricism within the contours of Deleuze's empiricist philosophy. By recourse to Deleuze's ideas the paper argues that far from being a naive empiricist Orwell in fact engages in a reflexive exploration of his virtual affects through the particular events he writes about. The assemblage that is ‘George Orwell’ is thus comprised by a whole array of affects from this unique middle-class socialist as he crosses through particular events. Orwell subsequently acts as a ‘schizoid nomad’ who transverses the affects of others. As a result Orwell takes flight from his own middle-class surroundings in order to reterritorialise his identity within the affects, habits and sensations of others. By becoming a schizoid nomad Orwell is able to construct a critical and passionate moral standpoint against forces of domination.
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DOI 10.3366/dls.2010.0104
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Gilles Deleuze (1988). Foucault. Univ of Minnesota Press.

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