Posted February 18, 2013on:
Originally posted on AGENT SWARM:
Joshua Ramey’s excellent book and his recent explications on the blogosphere contain one puzzling feature. Despite the invocation of a “gnosis” based on”seeing beyond clear divisions” (p202) Ramey retains certain dualisms that hinder his message and limit its scope. For example he happily endorses Jacob Sherman’s contrast between “making oneself receptive” (baptised the “Hadot-Foucault” approach, although Foucault’s emphasis on “thinking differently” makes of truth itself a matter of non-recognitive creation) and “making oneself creative” (one could call this the “Klossowski-Deleuze” approach, although strangely Klossowski is absent from Ramey’s book). This he ties to the contrast between individual private ordeals and collective public ones. He finds Deleuze “conflicted” between an egalitarian rationalist impulsion and an élitist esoteric tendency.
These dualisms, and various others that crop up in the discussion, are foreign to Deleuze’s text. “Hermeticism” or “spiritual ordeal” leaps to the eye on every page that Deleuze wrote, from his dissolution of the unitary ego to his vision of Aionic time. His whole discussion of minority becomings is there to overcome the dualism between élitism and democracy. He talks of a pluralism of reason, proceeding by affects and percepts just as much as by concepts, and explicitly denounces any great bifurcation between Reason and Unreason as a vacuous playing with transcendent abstractions.
That academic history of philosophy may find bibiographic and conceptual links between Deleuze’s philosophy and hermeticism as a historically delimited corpus is no doubt interesting, but is no surprise. To take a quite different example, the whole history of modern science from its origins to the present day has been fecundated by the conscious or unconscious reception of Hermetic influences. If Deleuze really wanted to exclude from his “canon” his explicitly hermetic earlier articles, the reason could be that he found them too caught up in a dualism that he had spent the most creative part of his life overcoming and superseding.