Notes on Deleuze's book on Nietzsche
Deleuze and what is wrong with him. How he creates an ideal, out of Dionysus, See how the misconception goes far into modern interpretations of Nietzsche and it is what he explicitly repudiates in Ecce Homo.
What he makes of will to power. A clever physical, or metaphysical hypothesis which looks like the sort of thing Nietzsche was looking for.
He sees an objective, an ideal, in becoming purely 'active ' force, which would be more than human and be the creative energy of Dionysus.
Why this is all wrong. It makes will to power into a metaphysical principle.
I see Nietzsche as much more down to earth, much more nineteenth century.
This obscure ideal of happiness, this proposed object of striving.
See the relation to the nazi ideal. The misunderstanding. As if one does not already know what one wants.
As if this Dionysian state of play is something to be striven for, an ideal to be attained, rather than simply a sense of the joy that arises from satisfaction of one's projects.
His interpretation is far from unintelligent. But it is a misconception nonetheless, because it distorts the whole purpose.
What Deleuze does is to give an interpretation of will to power which gives it a kind of metaphysical standing. Like one of Nietzsche's many tries.
Misunderstanding of the nature of his aim. Making it more complicated, even making it an unhealthy ideal. For what do I care of other people's happiness if it is not of me? The Dionysian enjoyment, what of that? All it is another ideal held up, some object to be attained.
Missing the point.
Out of Nietzsche's proposals, ideas of rooting will to power as some kind of scientific principle, Deleuze manufactures an ideal of happiness which he expects other people to accept.
This is his own power he is trying to promote. What justification does he have for proposing we accept it? Is he offering them a good? Is it not incredibly patronising to claim to do this?
He is like Wagner, trying to seduce and lure.
What is the Dionysian enjoyment, the affirmation? Nothing more than satisfaction of one's own particular will.
What need is there for any scholastic array of concepts?
Much of Nietzsche is poetry, Poetic inspiration. Then there is his direct will, what he wants to achieve. All else is folly.
All lure, all seduction, all ideals.
Dionysian enjoyment is a result of satisfying the will. It is not a seductive promise that is held out.
Deleuze. His motive, what he is trying to do. The wisdom he is trying to promote. His own will to power.
What he does not do. Adequately defend the Nietzschean position he outlines against all others. His theory of active and reactive forces is no more than hypothesis.
Fist of all, the whole position has skilful philological arguments directed against it, the very reactive forces he describes.
Secondly, what grounds does he give for accepting his ideas? It all needs to be much more closely argued.
The truth stuff is all very sloppy. As if Plato's is the idea of truth, rather than a wrong idea of truth.
Criticise will to truth certainly.
Art as deception.
Also as applying to the happiness indicated by rock music.
As if the philosopher of the future is the artist.
The avant garde artist as deceiver.
Beauty is truth and truth beauty, said Keats.
A will to lie may exist in relation to a believed truth.
Look at the happiness of illusion and see how this may be taken for truth, as a criticism of the idea of truth.
To be under illusion is to be under it as a truth.
Post modernism. Incredible richness of past cultures, and how to tap it. Value of learning in bringing access to this.
Why should Deleuze's ideas triumph. Because they are true? Because they are noble? The real work lies in arguing this point. He has to accept that his ideas in the formulation he gives are highly offensive to some people.
Roots of post modernism in a nazi interpretation of Nietzsche.
What Deleuze offers. A reading of Nietzsche. But is it Nietzsche even though it is in Nietzsche? Is it Nietzschean the same way the nazi programme was Nietzschean?
What he offers is a highly specific programme or hypothesis. A programme based on ideas culled from Will to Power Genealogy of Morals and Zarathustra.
Against, it resembles Wagner more than Nietzsche. It offers like a programme for salvation, call it overcoming man, the human, or whatever. Why this is so like Wagner is that it depends on uncritical acceptance of his own formulations.
He would deny other people's wills by claiming they are to find their fulfilment through his own contentious formulations. This is like fascism in some ways but not in others.
Its great strength is getting away with itself.
Nietzsche set up uncritically as an authority becomes Wagner.
Why read this clever but far fetched interpretation?
To see what is wrong and to understand post modernism.
Nietzsche as alternative Wagner rather than as opposing Wagner for very specific reasons which he wants to preserve and to claim as his real originality.
Say Nietzsche were to put forward his hypothesis about will to power. Why should other people accept it? Only if they could be shown to have no alternative. To tell them their own fulfilment lies in accepting this is patronising and insulting.
How to turn Nietzsche into Wagner. The nazis had one way, Deleuze has another. Turning Nietzsche into an authority. One has to see the exciting quality of what Deleuze has to offer. his invitation that we join a common project accepting certain Nietzsche interpretations as authority.
If one accepted certain things as true, certain possibilities would open up. One could build a culture. See how this could seem a most exciting project.
The most exciting feelings given some symbolic value. Emotion to be guided. Nietzsche as liberator, as redeemer.
The attraction of this supposedly Nietzschean type of culture, its emotional allure. That fact that it is not Nietzsche at all, that it bears a much closer relation to what he objected to in Wagner.
What he objected to was precisely this assumption of authority, something he must therefore decline himself.
Idea that this Dionysian enjoyment lies in some particular place.
Nietzsche could usurp Wagner's place. He declines to do so for a number of reasons. One., straight inadequacy. This may be overcome. But through pursuing it he makes a higher claim, a more ambitious claim, to have discovered something. He is successful enough to have taken Wagner's place.
Closeness of his relationship with Wagner.
The imitation of Wagner, actually to enjoy what Wagner had. Even to parody him.
If he could become an authority. if some version derived from him could be believed, Try and see something of the excitement of this promise. Its promise of solutions, of salvation, happiness.
But a reason why this has to be rejected.
Deleuze's idea of the eternal return is bizarre and incomprehensible.I do not understand what he understands by eternal return.
A nazi Nietzsche, an post-modern Nietzsche. Nietzsche as authority.
The attack on this whole idea of authority. Unjustified authority. The only acceptable authority is the one that compels.
Nietzsche and the idea of Dionysian happiness. As if this is offered. Something to be got by accepting certain ideas.
As if this is what he has essentially to offer, which he could.
The happiness he found, like made into a pattern.
Like for women to ally themselves with.
The ecstasy of subjection.
Fixing him into some fixed body of doctrine, like a science.
Turning Nietzsche into Wagner. See why it can seem so gratifying. It seemingly makes Nietzsche's task so much easier. It gives an easy authority by which his opponent may easily be overthrown. A way of cheating.
With it the claim to a superior form of consciousness. A claim to know the secret of happiness. The satisfying arrogance of this claim.
To be an authority like this. The simplicity of the programme. Organising in accordance with a doctrine, a given set of values.
Postmodernism. Deleuze, popularity
of. What can be the point of this arbitrary metaphysics? Why is this stuff
appealing? A form of left wing politics. People who accept the full range of dogmas that is now expected of them. It is
fitting some sense of freedom into a framework of doctrine.
Much as Hegel was doing in his
day for the egalitarian doctrines of his day. Postmodernism is the effort
to effect a
synthesis of freespiritedness and left wingery. A dogma of equality and independence of feeling.
Some people feel they have nothing
apart from equality. Without equal rights they feel they are nothing. Therefore
they feel obliged to respect other people's rights. So they even go along with feminism. All this is incredibly inhibiting.
All kinds o aggressive feelings are quite plainly inhibited. So I imagine people like Deleuze are invoked to restore a kind
of mental freedom within the doctrinal framework.
Total tyranny that results from
the sense of equality. Alternative must be a sense of position and place
tradition and power. Everyone has so much power and so many achieved rights. Within that context we may think and
feel what we like without the debilitating pressure to be moral and responsible. This Kantian universalisable morality.
How inhibiting and repressive it is.
Aq 324 &&
Looking at Anti-Oedipus
to see what I am up against. Compare it with a certain kind of hip literature,
William Burroughs, for instance. Its so called radical views, having all the charm of advanced chic. Deleuzian type of
thought as far as I can see and judge. The Nietzschean element in it. The sadism or nihilism. The joy of destruction, or
taboo breaking. Yet a very powerful principle of restraint in the sense of collective solidarity. This can seem so
erotically satisfying, that its tyranny is not even apparent. To move out of it, to see the flaws in it, it is necessary to
have some strong impression of the pain it causes. See the supreme value of Solzhenitsyn in doing this for communism.
See how it appears to be Nietzschean. There is the Dionysian lack of restraint. Feeling of confidence in this, feeling of
health, no desire to deviate radically from a massive conformist pressure. A Latin crowd is all for equality, said Le Bon.
Try and think of a temptation I have been into and got our of.
The young person and his idea
of freedom based on lack of restraint. Victory for what he feels. A great
feeling of virtue. The so called humane and generous impulse that even De Tocqueville approved of. To set oneself
against all this. With Solzhenitsyn one can lay claim to virtue. One has been persecuted. Persecution focuses a sense
See why this youthful inspiration
is yet wrong. These figures who see themselves as deeply inspirational,
others see as
in the way, as oppressive dogmatists. Every liberator has enslaved the free.
To approve of revolution. This
generous national fellow feeling of the French. What insanity does it bring
brought over here?
Deleuze. What is the real ground
of appeal of all this garbage? No matter, we see first of all how it is
possible to attack
it. Take not the youthful fanatical enthusiasms from which I was always immune. Take the individual young person on
her own. Convinced of a certain principle that here are any number of equally valid points of view. This so called post
modernist ethos is like the imperialism of the modern west, its silly rationalism, its silly posturing. Does it destroy all
depth? How is it compatible with meaningful art?
Think of this youthful generous
spirit. My modernist interpretation of art. The way I enjoy modern art
confirmation and affirmation of my opinions. Yet people with very opposed opinions can enjoy the same art. A sort of
mystery here. Say I enjoy art in a modernist way.
To me postmodernism aims to make
everything flat. Some of the ideas it includes, like total sexual equality,
rights ideas, seems to me incompatible with aesthetic enjoyment. This seems to me an odious, philistine pressure to
believe, destructive of all special experience.
There is another point of view
that I concede, and which I oppose. That is the so called Dionysianism.
Try and see its
appeal as a sort of iconoclasm. A feeling that personal power will come from iconoclasm, from breaking through barriers
including those of sense and reason. See how from this point of view feminism does not even seem a threat but part of
the same striving. A whole lot of separate wills all working to achieve something, feeling a sort of collective solidarity
that does not conflict. Say one feels no conflict between someone else's will and one's own. The enemy being located
Anyway, how is extreme leftism
compatible with respectable pursuit of an academic career? Through weakness,
"We are all miserable sinners" The real bohemian, the real individual, will often tend towards the right.
Deleuze. Chamberlain. Question of how to avoid fascism. Deleuze's method is the collective.
Whatsoever things are cool.
Whatsoever things are chic.
Whatsoever things are hip.
Think upon those things.
The force of a great collective enthusiasm.
My idea. That we can look directly
at the most extreme, most dangerous ideas. That they need not sway us because
are secure in our own political ideas. That anti-semitism is interesting for us, but not dangerous, because we reject it.
Instead of this hysterical conformism. This irrational rejection of certain lines of thought as dangerous.
The left and the right. Who is
left and who is right? Idea that the post modernist left is somehow good
Whereas easily one can see it as ugly.
Bob Dylan and the chic, the hip.
Revolution. Total irresponsibility.
A kind of delusory freedom. The collective pressure that constrains. The
health, however strangely , however nihilistically put, even. This supposed Dionysianism, which is really only the
explication of some previously give position. Like explicating Christianity, or socialism. This postmodernism, supposed
to be like freedom, supposed to be like no idea.
It seems ugly, like Hegelianism
seemed ugly. It seems incredibly ignorant and benighted. Compare with the
ides of the
past, this one seems like crap. Antithetical to what art is about, the needs that art fulfils.
My philosophy as explicating my neurosis. Like my reaction to crowds and parties.
Repudiate the suggestion that
in rejecting the left I am led into fascism. Rather than anchoring myself
in the 'generous
spirit' of collective youth, I anchor myself simply where I am, product of all the influences that determine my opinions
within the society I live in. Like living in this democracy, I cannot remain detached. Issues become important to me, like
the European Union and penal policy. Perhaps I should detach myself. But as regards myself, there is no reason to
think I shall be blown off into some stupid enthusiasm. I am as left or as right as I want to be.
Deleuze old hat. Idea about the
oneness of desire economy and the political economy. Fantasy and reality.
have appealed to me when young?
Note how he even attacks gregariousness, as if it does not apply to himself.
My big idea. Like the Socratic idea. An offensive idea, rather than Deleuze's indulgent idea.
The magical excitement of Freud
and Marx. But what are these excitements, these enthusiasms these intense
sensations? This is the stuff of the counter reformation. This is the baroque, the ecstasies of the saints. Marx and
Freud are used in the service of an atheist form of Catholicism.
Wagner in France.
Is this the kind of thing postmodernism
is? Say one opposes to it English Protestant culture. Kind of excitement
To say I am not entirely rejecting postmodernism. Once I liked the idea.
Deleuze largely accepts Reich. I want to bring joys, excitements, alternative ones.
The confidence in being where
one is. And looking honestly at ideas that have moved past generations.
And it is
different now to what it was then. Things are different, let us say. I am not looking got these past ideas directly for an
answer to present problems.
The intellectual virtuosity of some philosophies of the past.
Because Foucault admires and respects Deleuze, I feel I should give him a chance.
Deleuze on primitive man, More
ingenious stuff, but there is an objection in his fundamental Marxism.
Like the basic
objection as with so many other thinkers who are far less sophisticated, is that he tries to link happiness, free flowing
energy, with acceptance of certain principles. In however sophisticated and subtle a fashion he is trying to impose a
standard of health.
Still Hegel underlies, the Hegel that was in Marx.
Say I begin with Satan, with
a Protestant inspiration rather than with an invitation to join. Rather
than a yearning for
What he does is make incredibly intellectual a number of prejudices of contemporary youth.
Following Freud though, he has much to say about the anus.
Religion has become obscene, or perhaps we should say medical.
Idea that the young know something.
Perspectives on America. Deleuze,
Marx etc seeing America as the ultimate essence of capitalism, decoding
the ultimate expression of some inexorable historical force. The path I am taking is not to see it like that. I see it as
strictly relative in place and time. Limited in place and time. To a large degree the product of very specific ideas which
are programmed into it.
How he seems to accept Nietzsche's
criticism of gregariousness, only applying it to the fascist crowd rather
himself and his fellows.
Then how he expresses contempt for the 'neurotic' who writes books that he cannot get published.
His interpretation of the Second
essay of the Genealogy of Morals. Stretching these brilliant apercus into
Will to power criticism of Deleuze.
His idea of the desiring machine, of the immediacy of desire. Effectively
a standard of
health. Beginning from somewhere other than where we are now. Like Hegel Marx and others telling me I ought to
desire what I do not desire.
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