Mapping Thought IV: But You Can’t Live in a Tornado, Research Time, 27/04/2018

A book that I just started reading recently is Andrew Culp’s Dark Deleuze. I won’t be getting into it in more detail, but a few of his words are relevant to a final thought I want to get out of my head about that concept of becoming.

As you can tell after five years of writing this mad experiment in blogging, I think our universe is fundamentally a matter of processes and transformations. Existence is contingent, all will change, nothing is ever permanent.

Everything is temporary, just sticks around for a little longer or a little less.

From a very visceral perspective, that is genuinely frightening. As I express it here, I’m aiming for the tone of a smirking sage for the 21st century. Think of it as a persona I’m trying out as a voice for writing approachable philosophical texts.* But accepting mortality is seriously frightening.

Talk all you want about the potential of a revolution to transform
society – When the riots and police actions are tearing your home
and your business apart, utopia isn't the first thing on your mind. It's
whether you and your family will survive this chaos. Radical
change is a fact of life, but you can't live for long in the chaos of a
* It would be a little more inspiring than the hectoring didactic tone of Jordan Peterson. If there’s anything I hope he inspires, it’ll be a generation of philosophical self-help writers who’ll at least be a little bit nicer than he is.

Culp sets his book at that self-satisfied clique of secondary material writers specializing in Deleuze Studies™. There’s a conventional way of writing about Deleuze as an author who celebrated existence with joy. Now, these people are all university-based scholars, so they aren’t that simple. But that’s the theme running through a lot of mainstream academic Deleuze criticism.

Culp sets himself in his introduction as a total radical breaking new ground among academics. This is because that’s what every academic has to do – with so much pressure to publish, we hype up our works more than they might deserve.

Because Paul Patton was writing about the more terrifying aspects of that kind of thinking about becoming years ago. He wasn’t emphasizing it, because his book was about another issue. But it was a component of his own thinking.

There’s a passage where Patton discusses what happens to a society in a revolution. All the structures break down in a society – that’s why terror and violence so frequently arrive. A society brought to an intensity of energy high enough to shatter everything that’s stable in it has incredible transformative potential.

If you only want to emphasize the joyful aspects of the ontology, you’ll focus on that potential of a society agitated until it’s pure flow – glowing white hot, glaciers become raging rapids. The potential for the purely new in that moment of practically total destabilization is awe-inspiring.

It’s also horrifying for anyone actually swept up in it. The institutions, routines, and moralities you could always rely on fall away or are smashed beyond recognition. You see your society tearing itself apart because that’s what a social-political revolution really is.

Every moment of genesis is a moment of destruction too. And if you’re caught up in it, you’ll do whatever you can to avoid being destroyed.

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