To Have Done With Negativity

Authors: John-David Dewsbury*, UNSW Canberra
Topics: Social Theory, Cultural Geography, Political Geography
Keywords: Deleuze, Nietzsche, Events, Ethics, Problematisation
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 5:20 PM / 7:00 PM
Room: Regent, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


"If you don’t admire something, if you don’t love it, you have no reason to write a word about it. Spinoza or Nietzsche are philosophers whose critical and destructive powers are without equal, but this power always springs from affirmation". (Deleuze, 2004:144)

Like Gilles Deleuze, for me the negative is an anathema. In this paper I choose not to do any thinking, philosophically speaking, that reductively relies upon the presence and the power of the negative to operate. It is negativity’s poor formulation of the dialectic, and its natural relationship between thought and truth, that sets up the labour of the negative. The logic of this labour necessarily implies that truth is a reality, not just a belief, achieved by the removal of error. The upshot of this is that the negative notion of critique presupposes a morality to act as the guarantor of the relationship between thought and truth. Where errors are only to be fought, resentment soon follows, so why start there? Such an enterprise is a maligned habit of thought and mode of living, and, for Nietzsche, betrays, and wants to terminate, the experiment of immanent development in all forms of life. To have done with negativity, and why I write now, is to start instead with a vitalism of disembodied potentialities (where “there are ideas or events that are then actualised in bodies” (Colebrook, 2010:110)). Consequently, rather than writing a geography of negatively defined possibility, we express metastable definitions of immanent potential.

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