"That brief instant": desire before subject

Authors: John-David Dewsbury*, UNSW Canberra
Topics: Social Theory, Cultural Geography, Sexuality
Keywords: Non-representational Theory, Subjectivity, Desire, literature, Gilles Deleuze
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In this paper I examine aspects of Gilles Deleuze’s conceptualizations of desire to think the world as its creative potential before matter and idea become too quickly, always already, reductively repressed into the material and idealism of the subject. The world as creative potential emerges as event, that is always and everywhere, past-times again and elsewhere, pre-tending the future in nowhere that does not exist yet. Against this backdrop of creative potential, which we might also call life, “immanence, a life” (Deleuze, 2001), we worry about the subject, we think ourselves through the subject, we subject our many desires of folding matter and idea into the singular constraint and pre-given forms of, and for, a signifying subject position. Such a positioning allows us to make claims for a subjectivity, one that is already prescribed, full of cliched pathologies achieved through a language that is never enough nor able to fully express what is becoming in the instant of life. Thinking the unconscious is, for me, precisely about the false problem of trying to square the impossible act of trying to think the emergence of matter and idea (which are forces of desire) by giving account of that emergence through knowable forms of expression without losing the force of the different. Social science, psychoanalysis too, most often starts from the known, the knowable forms of the object(ified), and works backwards; a non-representational social science that I propose here, after Deleuze and Thrift, starts with the event as mattering desire before subject.

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