Posted in Deleuze, Philosophy, Slow Reading

Slow Reading (1.34): Deleuze’s DR (pp. 34-35)

In the final paragraph of this section on Aristotle’s Metaphysics, Deleuze seeks to clarify the point he has just made. Generic / categorical difference and specific difference are not identical, he repeats, but they are, nevertheless, co-constitutive; “the univocity of species in a common genus,” he writes, “refers back to the equivocity of being in the various genera: the one reflects the other” (DR 34).


It might be worth noting that Deleuze anticipates here his and Guattari’s extensive account of philosophical creation (What Is Philosophy?). He approaches Aristotle simultaneously as a creator of concepts and as a constructor of a plane of immanence (an Aristotelianism) on which these concepts co-exist, reinforce, and resonate with one another (WIP 35).

Despite the conceptual difference between specific and generic difference, they nevertheless make sense together and work together in the Metaphysics. They are “tied together by their complicity in representation” (DR 34). Continue reading “Slow Reading (1.34): Deleuze’s DR (pp. 34-35)”

Posted in Deleuze, Philosophy, Slow Reading

Slow Reading (1.33): Deleuze’s DR (pp. 33-34)

Deleuze ends the paragraph at the top of pg. 33 with a series of questions regarding an alternative concept of difference—that is, generic or categorical difference as the key to understanding “Difference in Itself.”

This is something of a ruse, however.

Deleuze has already shown—through prose that is torturous to a non-specialist—that specific difference, which Aristotle defines as the greatest difference, is only relatively great (contingent to members of a shared genus). Perhaps moving up the differential ladder from species to genus or category (i.e., from specific difference to generic or categorical difference) might help a philosopher shed this relativity . . .

The differences among genera or categories, after all, are distinct from the differences between species of a single genus (at least in Aristotle’s work). There is no super-genus or super-category that determines the content of all genera or categories.The only possible super-genus or super-category, for Aristotle, would be Being itself.

But Being “is not collective” in the way that genera are (DR 33). Being does not have content.

Why? Continue reading “Slow Reading (1.33): Deleuze’s DR (pp. 33-34)”

Posted in Literature, Poetry, Teaching

58 Poems: Visualizing Intellectual Labor

During the first six weeks of the semester, each of my Introduction to Criticism students composed three “close readings” of three poems of their choice. Most poems (per my suggestion) were chosen from Poetry Foundation‘s online archive.

Below is a complete list of the poets and poems students chose to analyze, along with links to texts of these poems. Next to the titles, I’ve included “Paper #1,” “#2,” or “#3” to indicate which round of close readings the poems correspond to. By chance, some students chose to analyze the same poem, which is why a few of the entries have more than one “Paper” designation.

Why compile this list?

It’s instructive and enlightening to visualize the intellectual labor of students and to remind oneself of their efforts, no matter the particular skill of individual students.

This list expresses just a fraction of their work this semester.

Our work.
Continue reading “58 Poems: Visualizing Intellectual Labor”

Posted in Deleuze, Philosophy, Slow Reading

Slow Reading (1.32): Deleuze’s DR (pp. 29-33)

How do I speed up a slow reading which has come to a full stop?

How do I find a place to begin again?

How do I find the slow lane of the track I’ve lost?

Over the past two years, I’ve only posted four entries on Difference and Repetition, a book that has obsessed me for the better part of eight years. I had originally envisioned “slow reading” as a project I might take to other books (even composing a few entries on Virginia Woolf’s Three Guineas), but now I begin to wonder: Have I, without knowing it, given my life to this book?

I imagine Deleuze would be horrified that I’ve spent so much time with it.

Or perhaps, upon learning I’m a nonphilosopher, he’d be delighted…

… whether or not he’d feel joy or sadness, I need to remind myself what I’ve “slow read” thus far (at least in Chapter 1). Continue reading “Slow Reading (1.32): Deleuze’s DR (pp. 29-33)”

Posted in Literature, Philosophy, Teaching

Preparing to Teach Learn Deconstruction Anything

After several weeks of reading Cleanth Brooks’s essays, my Intro to Criticism students turned to The Barbara Johnson Reader (2014) and the theory / practice of deconstruction.

This word—”deconstruction”—has a funny effect on people. Whenever I say, “My students are reading Derrida,” or, “We’re beginning a unit on deconstruction,” I tend to get pessimistic responses.

“Ouch.”
“Yikes.”
*eyes widen*
*sadistic grin* (at the thought, presumably, of the trap students are walking into)
*sigh*
“Glad I’m not in that class.”
“Have fun with that.”
*chuckle* “Good luck.”

I’m used to this. People occasionally smile or clap at the prospect of teaching or studying deconstructive criticism or Derridean philosophy, but I think they’re really just happy for me.

Or just happy that they don’t have to teach it.

Or they’re kind, encouraging me because they know how much it might matter to me. Continue reading “Preparing to Teach Learn Deconstruction Anything”

Posted in Literature, Poetry, Teaching

“If We Are Sufficiently Alive”: On Cleanth Brooks’s The Well Wrought Urn (1947)

My students and I nearly read the entirety of Cleanth Brooks’s The Well Wrought Urn (1947) over the last four weeks. We skipped the chapters on Milton, Pope, and Tennyson, but that still left us quite a few: eight chapters out of eleven.

No one envied us. Continue reading ““If We Are Sufficiently Alive”: On Cleanth Brooks’s The Well Wrought Urn (1947)”