Authors
John Protevi
Louisiana State University
Abstract
In this essay I’d like to help readers prepare to learn from Gilles Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition.1 Such an essay is needed, as truer words were never spoken than when Deleuze said of it in his "Letter to a Harsh Critic": "it's still full of academic elements, it's heavy going"2 Now part of the “academic” aspect of the work comes from Deleuze having submitted Difference and Repetition to his jury as the primary thesis for the doctorat d'Etat in 1968.3 But that doesn’t lessen the need for help when first approaching the book. The context of Deleuze’s remarks in his “Letter” should be noted: he has just been noting that "the history of philosophy plays a patently repressive role in philosophy, it's philosophy's own version of the Oedipus complex."4 Deleuze continues that he tried to subvert this repressive function by various means. First, by writing on authors such as Lucretius, Hume, Spinoza and Nietzsche who contested the rationalist tradition by the "critique of negativity, the cultivation of joy, the hatred of interiority, the externality of forces and relations, the denunciation of power [pouvoir]." Second, and quite notoriously, by “a sort of buggery [enculage] or (it comes to the same thing) immaculate conception.” That is, by making the author say something in their own words that would be “monstrous.”5 These are famous lines, and the last is certainly amusing in an épater les bourgeois sort of way. But what's really important in my view comes next, when Deleuze explains what it means to finally write "in your own name," as he claims he first did in Difference and Repetition
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