I came across this review of Lampert’s Deleuze and Guattari’s Philosophy of History over at the outstanding Continental Philosophy, written by, of all people, Keith Ansell Pearson. Pearson writes,

With this book Jay Lampert has set new standards of clarity and rigour by which future studies of Deleuze will need to be appraised. It is among the very best studies of his work published to date, and one that should ensure Deleuze’s work does not remain the sole possession of a lunatic fringe. It is not a complete success. Some of its decisions about Deleuze and about the philosophy of history need to be questioned, and not all of its main theses and arguments equally persuade. Where it does succeed is in laying out with great clarity and precision some of the critical questions that need to be addressed to Deleuze’s project, and in showing that there are rich resources in his oeuvre for invigorating questions of history, time, memory, and the future.

Unfortunately I have not yet had the opportunity to read Lampert’s book as it is outrageously priced and I have all too often been burnt by secondary sources on the work of Deleuze and Deleuze and Guattari. Nonetheless, Pearson’s review does make it sound enticing. The focus of the review strikes me as reflective of a growing sense that the bar of scholarship needs to be raised where the work of Deleuze and Guattari are concerned. All too often we’ve been given secondaries that are simply introductions and, in the most egregious cases, show little adequate familiarity with the history of philosophy. Many of these studies content themselves with sloganeering, quoting this racey passage there on difference, this other one here on nomads and rhizomes, and this other one on the writing of the history of philosophy as a buggary designed to produce monsterous creations (somehow the remaining part of the passage about how these readings must be careful and rigorous is always ignored), without doing the hard work of unfolding the conceptual apparatus and arguments Deleuze develops. What we get is a postmodern Deleuze that is more personal fantasy and what one expects to find, rather than a Deleuze who has constructed a formidable and elaborate ontology in close, vigorous dialogue with thinkers such as Parmindes, Plato, Aristotle, Scotus, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Kant, Maimon, Hegel, Husserl, Sartre, Heidegger, Bergson, Nietzsche, Simondon, the Stoics, Lucretius, and a host of other thinkers that currently escape my recollection.

Moreover, there’s been a tendency for this scholarship to be organized around unproductive friend/enemy distinctions (Plato, Descartes, Kant, and Hegel are bad guys and Hume, Spinoza, Leibniz, Nietzsche, and Bergson are good guys) where arguments and thinkers can simply be rejected as being “philosophers of the State” without argumentation. Admittedly I take delight in writing about Hegel, Descartes, phenomenology, or Lacan in part simply because it violates and disrupts this code that I see to be unthinking and unphilosophical; though this probably is not good for my credibility as a Deleuze scholar. Oh well, I’m not certain I ever wanted to be a scholar anyway, but would prefer to draw on thinkers that give me conceptual resources to articulate what I only vaguely am trying to say (a lot of times I feel like a croaking frog, unsure of what I’m trying to get at).

Nonetheless, in recent years we’ve seen a whole spate of outstanding studies. In part I think this is due to Badiou’s pathbreaking book Deleuze: The Clamour of Being. This is not because Badiou’s book is particularly accurate, but because it forced those that would defend Deleuze to focus on argumentation and the careful development of concepts. We’ve also seen excellent works by Pearson such as Germinal Life and Philosophy and the Adventure of the Virtual, along with the absolutely brilliant and stunning work of de Beistegui in Truth and Genesis: Philosophy as Differential Ontology. Toscano has graced us with his stunning Theatre of Production, and Hallward has set the bar for careful argumentation and commentary in Out of This World, even if one ultimately disagrees with many of his interpretations as I do. DeLanda has opened new paths with Intensive Science & Virtual Philosophy. All of these works are characterized by what I suspect Scott Eric Kaufmann is referring to by “Hegelian seriousness” or the careful working through of the concept and argument. I find it breathtaking and hope it continues. I’m tickled by Pearson’s reference to a “lunatic fringe”. One cannot simply exempt themselves from the rigour of philosophical argumentation as enthusiasts of Deleuze so often appear to wish, while still dogmatically making assertions that are expected to be adopted. Deleuze is a far more rigorous and careful thinker than his defenders often give him credit for being.

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