Clayton Crockett on Deleuze

I wanted to bring to the attention of readers a new book by AUFS affiliate, Clayton Crockett. As the title suggests, Deleuze Beyond Badiou presents an account of Deleuze’s philosophy by taking as its occasion Badiou’s polemical reading of Deleuze. The account that emerges will be very useful to many readers of Deleuze. Though I am not here offering anything like a proper review, I should say that I found particularly compelling the way that Crockett emphasized certain concepts or themes — most notably the interstice, the three syntheses of time, and the time-image. Continue reading “Clayton Crockett on Deleuze”

Laclau’s post-foundationalist humble-brag

Let us accept that all identity is a differential identity. In that case two consequences follow: (1) that, as in a Saussurean system, each identity is what is is only through its differences from all the others; (2) that the context has to be a closed one – if all identities depend on the differential system, unless the latter defines its own limits, no identity would be finally constituted. But nothing is more difficult – from a logical point of view – than defining those limits. If we had a foundational perspective we could appeal to an ultimate ground which would be the source of all differences; but if we are dealing with a true pluralism of differences, if the differences are constitutive, we cannot go, in the search for the systematic limits that define a context, beyond the differences themselves. Now, the only way of defining a context is, as we have said, through its limits, and the only way of defining those limits is to point out what is beyond them. But what is beyond the limits can only be other differences, and in that case – given the constitutive character of all differences – it is impossible to establish whether these new differences are internal or external to the context. The very possibility of a limit and, ergo, a context, is thus jeopardized. (Laclau, Emancipation(s), 52)

This far, Laclau’s argument seems pretty reasonable, and the consequence presumably would be that, indeed, “no identity would be finally constituted,” that is, the differences that establish any identity would be indeterminate, there would be no point at which we could say we could say we “had” the full determination of the identity, and so any discussion of a particular identity would always be open to further questioning and the need for further investigation into the specificities of that identity. Oddly, though, that’s not the conclusion Laclau draws. Having “jeopardized” the possibility of a total context, Laclau nonetheless goes on to assert that a total context is possible, with the limit being provided not by a difference, but by an antagonism, which “poses a threat to (that is, negates) all the differences within that context.” Continue reading “Laclau’s post-foundationalist humble-brag”


I spent most of today reading Laclau’s On Populist Reason. I still have a good chunk left — and in any case it’s too soon for me to respond intelligently to the theoretical content as such — but I thought that it was worth remarking that one thing I have always admired about Laclau is the clarity and rigor of his arguments. When I read Laclau and Mouffe’s Hegemony and Socialist Strategy, for example, I came away convinced that the economy really can’t be determinative “in the last instance,” and I don’t think that would’ve happened had they presented that portion of the argument in a more stereotypically “continental” style. (This book holds fewer surprises for someone familiar with Laclau’s previous work, so no such epiphanies have resulted so far.)

Even in the most extreme instances of “continental” style, though, such moments of crystal clarity do occur and are very powerful — for instance, early on in Nancy’s Inoperative Community, he lays out a very straightforward and compact argument that the “metaphysics of the absolute” is simply logically incoherent, and to my mind, the only possible response there is, “Wow, I guess you’re right.”

It seems possible, however, that if a text were simply the accumulation of such moments of crystal clarity, it would paradoxically lapse back into an absolute opacity.