What a Relief

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One of my colleagues always signs his emails with this passage, below, from Gilles Deleuze's "Mediators."  In our era of compulsory Facebook status updates, in a time when teenagers photograph themselves doing nothing and report the most boring drivel of their lives to someone at the other end of their cell phones (is there really someone on the other end, listening to whole streams of the stuff of which I catch snatches at street corners?), I have to say:  I like this passage. 

Of course, the irony is that I'm blogging about it.  (Of course, another irony is that I write memoir.) 

I may just be feeling curmudgeonly as my days fill up with meetings and classes where I'm compelled to utter things, and where (the weakest of) my students feel that mere self-expression is entirely sufficient--that no craft, reasoning, or particular significance is required.  I may just be grieving for solitude and silence.

Be that as it may, here's your Deleuze du jour:

The problem is no longer getting people to express themselves, but providing little gaps of solitude and silence in which they might eventually find something to say.  Repressive forces don't stop people from expressing themselves, but rather, force them to express themselves.  What a relief to have nothing to say, the right to say nothing, because only then is there a chance of framing the rare, or ever rarer, the thing that might be worth saying.
It's not wholly true, obviously, because sometimes "[r]epressive forces" do "stop people from expressing themselves," as you know and I know.  But it's an interesting way of thinking about where we are now.   


Faye said:

I like the "Categories" at the bottom the best.

August 26, 2009 10:20 PM

Marco said:

yes, "repressive forces" DO "stop people from expressing themselves" but what's not stated in this quote is that from GD's pov/analysis/opinion (?) those are actually the less effective ones (which doesn't do the people who are at the short end of them any good, but on a diagnostic level that may not be a small point when all is said and done). I.e., there's a reason that brute totalitarian regimes have historically had a much harder time surviving than the much more smoothly running (relatively speaking) desiring machine called capitalism and its engine of communication. In the end, though, from GD's pov it can't possibly be a matter of "either/or" but always has to be one of "both ... and...": not either fight this OR that but both X and Y and...
Thanks so much for your wonderful presentation. Very rich and hands-on, which I know the class appreciated a lot.

September 4, 2009 4:16 AM

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