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A Suicide And The Politics Of Affirmative Life

Twenty-five years later, Deleuze has become more of a contemporary for us. He foresaw the new techniques of power: networks of data as the vital arteries of ‘control societies’.

A Suicide And The Politics Of Affirmative Life
Philosophers |
A Suicide And The Politics Of Affirmative Life
outlookindia.com
2020-12-10T00:46:12+05:30

Is a philosopher’s suicide a ‘historical’ event, whose proximity can be measured chronologically by anniversaries? A quarter of a century has passed since Gilles Deleuze ended his life from the window of his Paris apartment. He was suffering from an acute respiratory ailment for years and had recently had a tracheostomy. There was nothing dramatic about his end: no suicide note, no statement to the world. A few months earlier, his conversations with Claire Parnet, held on condition that they will be aired only after his death, were telecast in what was perhaps his only app­earance on television. When permitting this, he said: “Considering my actual state, it is a little bit as if I were already gone.” His voluntary exit from the world a few months later, far from a complaint or lament, seemed like an act of affirmation, exp­ressed as the flight from a life which was no longer alive.

Twenty-five years later, Deleuze has perhaps become more of a contemporary for us than when he was alive. He was of course known and read in the Anglophone world, but much less than his peers Foucault, Derrida or Lacan. The English translations of some of his major works appeared only in the late eighties or early nineties. In India, despite small pockets of close readers, Deleuze’s books did not initially sync well with the then-prominent idioms of reading and thinking. His early radical monographs on Hume, Kant, Nietzsche and Spinoza seemed too academic; his major philosophical works like Difference and Repetition and Logic of Sense recondite; and Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus, jointly authored with Félix Guattari, wild, too far out from the terms of discourse that shaped debates about society and politics in Indian universities and intellectual circles. An encounter with Marxism or postcolonial politics—the principal gateways for political reanimation of contemporary western thought in India at that time—which was possible to an ext­ent in the case of Foucault and Derrida, proved difficult with Deleuze. This situation has changed over the past decade: new work in the humanities in India has been increasingly turning to Deleuze and drawing on his work on cinema and society, on becoming and affect.

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