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Deleuze and Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus

Lecturer: Jon Roffe

Originally Taught: Evening Sem 1 2020

Gilles Deleuze called it ‘our most immoderate and worst received book’, but A Thousand Plateaus, written with Félix Guattari and published in 1980 remains one of most influential texts of twentieth century European thought. It also remains a daunting challenge to readers, ranging as it does from metallurgy to music, wolves to warfare, lobsters to linguistics.

This course will present a detailed, thematic and systematic account of all of the major arguments of the book, moving from its dynamic cosmological vision to the minutiae of capitalist economics that it presents. Particular attention will be given to teasing out the various layers of the book’s argumentation, with the aim of clarifying its discrete goals as a philosophical account of reality. The course will also aim to identify the normative goals of the book, what it thinks we should do as human beings. To do this, we will pay close attention to the nexus of three concepts: violence, politics and ethics.

  1. Introduction. Structures, signs and play.
  2. Deleuze and Guattari’s broad cosmology. The strata and the assemblage.
  3. From biology to behaviour. From the milieu to the territory.
  4. Signs-Languages. From tropical fish to the Financial Times.
  5. Human being. The face over the head, and the body beneath the body.
  6. Becoming-other. Deleuze and Guattari’s ethics.
  7. Components of a social theory I. Lines and segments.
  8. Components of a social theory II. Space and society.
  9. States and nomads. Warfare.
  10. The pre-State, the State, and the city. Deleuze and Guattari’s noourbanography.
  11. Capitalism and beyond.
  12. Conclusion. Mechanosphere.