Gilles in LA II: Ziggy Bizaggy, Composing, 20/11/2015

I like this essay by Patricia Pisters about Gilles Deleuze and the weird, unexpected, non-intuitive collisions and convergences of his thought with other regions of knowledge and reality. It makes me smile.

Deleuze also explored languages and writing styles that
emerged from cultures who blended multiple influences.
Like Kafka, who wrote in German but was Czech, and
was deeply connected spiritually to the Hebrew language.
There are other, maybe less refined, examples.
When you read a book or an essay of his, you never know where he's going to take you, which conceptual intersections will turn out to be meaningful. I’ve heard this used as a reason to insult Deleuze, that he connects things at random, which have nothing to do with each other.

Is that right? Or is he revealing connections that have always been there, always mattered, but that most of us rarely see because they're counter-intuitive to us?

I mean, you can probably tell that I think so. I’ve already said that he’s one of my favourite authors. 

There are a few common ways of building arguments in academic philosophy, as a discipline, that I think are utterly wrong-headed. The dumbest of these, in my opinion, is the argument that begins from the obvious. 

“We all know that these principles are true,” he writes, “and from these intuitively and obviously true facts, we can derive the following, which must be true because they are derived from the obviously true.” Bollocks.

For one thing, human intuitions and what appears obviously true to us are the worst guides to actual truth imaginable. As far as you can say that science progresses, our improving knowledge has overturned more and more of what seems comfortably or intuitively obvious to us.

Deleuze really was a pretty radical guy. You'd never
know it to look at him, though. That's France.
But most importantly for human creativity, building an argument solely on deriving conclusions from obvious, intuitive, uncontroversial points is dull. It’s boring. It’s an exercise in conformity and self-satisfaction. Great works of art and philosophy challenge you and take you to territory you’ve never explored, along paths you never knew existed.

Those paths are what Deleuze, in his last long videotaped interviews, called zigzags. A genuinely creative person – no matter the field: philosophy, art, even business – can discover these unintuitive, but meaningful and effective, relationships in the world.

The last buzzword I remember that described creativity this way was “lateral thinking.” It eventually went the way of all buzzwords. Too many were using it who themselves had no idea how to think.

Pisters talks about what she considers one of the most useful concepts in Deleuze’s work. How he and Guattari understand the world with metaphors of geology and metallurgy. We don’t usually think that way, but when they do, it feels like they’re transforming your world.

They let us see how much of the modern industrial world is rooted in the manipulation of metals, and how scarcity of metals produces inescapable cruelty at the material centre of what makes it possible: the mine. You refuse to buy blood diamonds? You can’t turn away from blood coltan. I’m typing on it right now.

Imagine enormous mountains of rusting metal, leaking
into the earth over thousands of years. They're
everywhere.
Metal is ubiquitous in our society, but we so rarely notice it. All the press in environmentalism is about oil, and deservedly so. But mines for the metals required for industry can cause just as much pollution.

Also, I discussed e-waste dumps in Ecology, Ethics, and the Future of Humanity, and Edward Burtynky's photographs of them. We've dotted the Earth with enormous dumps of rusting metal objects. Some are massive cargo ships, and some are six-story-tall piles of motherboards. Computer part waste leaks many toxic chemicals from their production process into groundwater.

In most of our mass media and the way popular culture thinks of pollution, mining and metal pollution aren’t really on the radar. I don’t even think computer waste ever got into a Captain Planet story.

That’s one of those zigzags in thought. A particular set of metaphors to explain our social phenomena can, in a practical sense, reveal dangers and injustices that were totally invisible to us before.

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