Date10 December 2003
Published date10 December 2003
AuthorNathan Moore
Nathan Moore
Gilles Deleuze and Alain Badiou are two very different philosophers, and
yet they touch upon many similar themes. Perhaps most noticeable is their
respective concerns for developing philosophical systems freeof the concerns
of so-called post-modernism. In this paper I look at some of the themes in
their work, and consider what might thereby be enabled within thinking about
law. In so doing the paper argues that Deleuze’s work is particularly useful,
as it allows for a polymorphous practice of thought, appropriately named as
In this paper I am concerned to contrast Badiou and Deleuze, and to suggest some
consequences, in either case, for how we think of law. In so doing I have not
attempted to produce a comprehensive “introduction” to either thinker. I am not
concerned to isolate particular words or concepts from each, so that a definitive
meaning might be given. For different reasons, “what does it mean?” is the wrong
question to ask of both Badiou and Deleuze. It follows from this that I am not
interested in contrasting Badiou and Deleuze in order to discover who has the
most consistent system. This type of dialectical play-off is again inappropriate for
the type of thought each pursues. My project is ultimately Deleuzean inasmuch as
I want to discover what can be done. Therefore, I adopt, by necessity, Deleuze’s
Studies in Law, Politics, and Society
Studies in Law, Politics, and Society,Volume 31, 143–173
© 2004 Published by Elsevier Ltd.
ISSN: 1059-4337/doi:10.1016/S1059-4337(03)31006-3
virtual ontology of the relation,1in which case the issue is one of force: I want to
the force in his system of thought (which is just about linguistics and consistency),
but the force of his system of thought. This is how Deleuze always proceeded with
a writer, for what seemed to attract him was always the affect that writer had.
This is just the opposite of building a “grand narrative,” but it is not the cessation
of thinking, and it most certainly is not a “play of texts.” Rather, it is a practice
undertaken by many other writers, noticeably Spinoza, Nietzsche and Foucault, to
understand Being, not in strictly metaphysical terms (which we might call agape),
but instead as an ethics (which we might call eros).
In my opinion, the paramount problem one faces when writing on Deleuze
is, what does it mean to be Deleuzean? With Deleuze, form and content cannot
be divorced because of his insistence upon their immanence, so description
is often futile: an account cannot be given. So it is not a question of trying to
uncover any ultimate sense in his work. However, as we shall see, there is very
definitely a Deleuzean system, but it is one where a description achieves little.
Such an approach in itself would be non-Deleuzean. Instead, what is required is
the uncovering of the virtual systematisation of any particular case. To be clear,
Deleuze’s system is not to be described and then applied. Rather, it is the practice
of thought whereby application is indistinguishable from systematisation: system
and application are reciprocally determining. This is philosophy (as opposed to
systems theory) because the ontological expression of this reciprocal process is
thought itself.
In many ways, Deleuze is like a character dreamt up by Lewis Carroll because
his system of thought, his concepts, are equivalent to the particular text in which
they are set out – he says what he means! Deleuze’s concepts do not refer; they
do not mean something else, but are movements immanent to themselves. In this
way, Deleuze’s texts are like music, so describing him is like trying to describe a
piece of music. As Frank Zappa said, “writing about music is like fishing about
architecture” meaning that no writing can be equivalent to what it describes –
it cannot give even the remotest indication. So the task is something different
– to produce writing with musical affects. Just to draw the point a little more
sharply: not only is there no writing about music, there is no writing of music
(not even musical notation). There is only musical writing. So this means that I
must compose a complementary theme with Deleuze, but with affects unique to
me because Deleuze is there to be used, and this is the heart of the problem for
me. Setting out Deleuze in a table, equating terms, saying this means that and so
on, is not a proper use of him. Instead, Deleuze has to be inhabited like a piece of
music, and similarly, he must inhabit you like a small refrain. This creates a major
problem in what it means to write: we cannot approach Deleuze in terms of thesis,

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