Academic journal article Journal of Philosophy: A Cross Disciplinary Inquiry

"There Will Never Be Enough Done:" an Essay on the Problem of the Worst in Deleuze and Guattari

Academic journal article Journal of Philosophy: A Cross Disciplinary Inquiry

"There Will Never Be Enough Done:" an Essay on the Problem of the Worst in Deleuze and Guattari

Article excerpt

Perhaps it is cliche to speak of signs. But it is a sign that people have emerged who kill themselves in order to kill others, leaving no one behind. The question confronting thought today is: what is a suicide bomber? But this question-even that we feel compelled to ask it-is a sign of a greater problem confronting thought today. This greater problem is the problem of the worst. The problem of the worst, it seems to me, is the problem of our "today." In the simplest terms, the problem of the worst is apocalypse, complete suicide. We are able, however, to formulate this complex problem with precision by relying on the philosophical concepts provided by Deleuze and Guattari and Derrida. In A Thousand Plateaus, Deleuze and Guattari have defined our "current situation" in terms of the post-fascist figure of the war machine, a figure that is worse, more terrifying, than fascism itself. Similarly, Derrida has defined our epoch in L'animal que donc je suis in terms of a holocaust of animal life that is worse than any sacrifice of animals seen in the Old Testament. The problem of the worst then is so bad today that it requires that we make every effort to find a solution.

The essay that follows constructs the beginnings of a solution to the problem of the worst. The first section will present the formal structure of the problem; it will also outline the kind of thought that the problem calls forth. Then the second section will make the formal structure more concrete by looking at the dangers Deleuze and Guattari describe at the end of Plateau Nine in A Thousand Plateaus; this second section will also take us beyond the dangers to the current situation today. This essay examines primarily the contribution that Deleuze and Guattari's concepts can make to the formulation of the problem and the solution. The third section will present the solution (based on Deleuze and Guattari's concepts). The solution will come about by means of the mechanism of a reversal. Since the problem is hyperbolic, the solution will be hyperbolic (or even revolutionary). If the problem consists in unconditional im-passage, the solution will consist in unconditional passage. As we can see already, the concepts being developed here imply mode of existence or possibilities of living. Therefore we shall conclude with the possibility of living that is the reversal of the suicide bomber; we shall conclude with the mode of existence called "the friend of the outside." And since we started with a sign, we shall conclude with a dream, a dream of every single animal, of every single plant, of every single rock on the earth and every single star in the sky, a dream of the whole world becoming.

The Problem of the Worst and What Must be Thought Today

While the worst alludes to the old problem of the theodicy (the best possible world as in Leibniz), we must say that the problem of the worst does not consist in the worst possible world. It consists rather in the loss of the world itself. Here we could quote Deleuze and Guattari, from their 1991 What is Philosophy (and when we hear the word "loss" in their works we should always make the association to Proust: in search of lost time); speaking of us today, Deleuze and Guattari say, "We have lost the world, which is worse than losing a fiancee, a son, or a God." (2) Or, we could quote Derrida writing about Paul Celan in his 2003 Rams, "the world is gone, I must carry you." (3) Both of these quotes allude to the event, in Western metaphysics, of Platonism being overcome. The world, the second world, the world in itself or essential world is gone, lost, leaving only this world. (4) Before losing the essential world, we would have called this world the "world of appearance." Yet, without an essential world behind it or above it, we see that this world is no longer unified; it is cracked, fragmented, with borders everywhere. The problem of the worst arises then because what defines a crack, a fragment, a border, or a limit is essential divisibility. …

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