Cambridge Core – Twentieth-Century Philosophy – The Persistence of the Negative – by Benjamin Noys. positivity – are the watchwords of a culture that Benjamin Noys, in his book The Persistence of the Negative,1 labels. “affirmationism”; the practice or systematicity . The Persistence of the Negative. A Critique of Contemporary Continental Theory. Benjamin Noys. Published by Edinburgh University Press.

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Ben Noys has responded to some of my remarks here: I should say that I never meant to imply that his categorizations were irresponsible, nothing even approaching the use of tne term postmodernism.

The Persistence of the Negative: A Critique of Contemporary Continental Theory

I bennamin went too far with my corpse quip, but I couldn’t resist the turn of phrase. My only point was to suggest that there is always something in each text which exceeds its category. On that note, I would like to say that I wish that I said more about Noys reading of Deleuze, onys is quite engaging.

Specifically, I was very interested in the attention that he brought to the following footnote 45 in Deleuze’s book on Foucault.

Unemployed Negativity: Negativity Employed: Benjamin Noys’ The Persistence of the Negative

More response from Posthegemony http: Saturday, January 08, negativity Jason read has written a very interesting commentary on Benjamin Noys’s book The Persistence of the Negative. It makes me all the more eager to read it–if only it weren’t so damn expensive–even though or perhaps especially because my tendency, like Read’s, is towards what we might call the philosophy of affirmation.

But in Read’s words, Noys “is not interested in positing an ontology of negativity against the ontologies of affirmation.

Negativity is a practice, not a principle, a destruction of existing positivities. I’m likewise far from convinced by say Negri’s unremitting championing of the multitude.

As I point out in Posthegemony, we still need to be able to distinguish between good multitudes and bad, and to be able to discern when the multitude turns bad. Or to put this another way: Not everything is to be affirmed.


I agree also that the problem with Latour and, I would add, Delanda is that they present something of a mirror image of Persistrnce affirmation, in which it is rather benjamni capitalist relations instead of the coming Communist utopia which is relentlessly affirmed. Where Negri claims that “What ought to be, is,” Latour and Delanda simply affirm that “What is, is what ought to be.

And I am happy to agree in principle with the notion of negativity as “an insistence on localizing thought and practices, resisting both an ontology of affirmation and an persietence of finitude. Dear Jason, Thanks again so much for the review.

On the classifications I can see what you mean, but I did think I had polemically found new commonalities and wanted to push the classifications as far as they go. I’m quite amused that the only new critical terms I’ve coined are ‘negative’, ie critical, I would also quite like them to be ‘death masks’; perhaps a critical corpse making is required Thanks also to the reference from post-hegemony, I’ve commented to offer them a copy.

Thanks for your review Jason. It seems to me that affirmationism and accelerationism should be situated within the conditions of the Keynesian-Fordist state, with its integration of labor movements. For those struggling against state capital, any force of dissolution seemed positive.

The Anti-Oedipus pits deterritorializing capital against the state as “the integral of power formations” Guattari’s phrase. Along with the Derridean exaltation of differance, plus Lyotard’s ravings and the aesthetic cooptation of the derive, all that coalesced into a cultural trend that was favorable to the transnational redeployment of capital in the s. These are undesired consequences, Noys is right.

I analyzed that ten years ago in a text called “The Flexible Personality,” where I argued for a “renewal of the negative. The forms of resistance have to change, not only according to the redeployments of capital, but also according to grassroots consciousness.

The decentering of subjectivity beyond the hegemonic figures of the white bourgeois male and the industrial proletarian is not something you can just throw away.

Also, let’s not forget how much Empire revealed about labor and exploitation in a network society. At least its “affirmationism” pointed to some real struggle, subversion and grassroots solidarities.


Still, after five years with the journal Multitudes, I saw the limits of the thinking that Noys denounces, not in Negri and Lazzarato but in Yann Moulier-Boutang, who in his book on Capitalisme Cognitif describes the network society as “the communism of capital. However, from what I can glean of Noys’ analyses, they appear to simplify some things. A Thousand Plateaus is not reducible to the exaltation of nomadism.

The Persistence of the Negative

It has a strong analysis of the emergent forms of transnational networked and financialized capitalism. In a text called “Recapturing Subversion” I show that it persistencee the conceptual tools for understanding the reconstitution of a “megamachine” in cybernetic form, which integrates broad swathes of the world’s population.

ATP is great because it opens up bejamin ambiguity of the networked society, its potentials which are what we have to work with and its formidable capacity to reconstitute a trap on a much larger scale. The problem is, most left theorists today don’t analyze the labor process, i. Neither labor nor consumption today is just about the adventitious “capture” of fundamentally free tbe fleeing energies.

Subjectivity is directly formed within controlled and coercive environments. This is why we benamin a renewal of negative dialectics. The right state of things would be free of it: Only by understanding the deeply coercive nature of contemporary persistencs can you first of all experience its meaninglessness and pain, then provoke some kind of break and begin working on possible transformations of the machines and the organizational system.

Noys talks about the power of destruction. But whether you call it a positive or a negative act, you have to confront the system itself, in its material granularity and its conceptual unity, its “real abstraction” as you say. Wednesday, January 05, Negativity Employed: Posted by unemployed negativity at DeleuzeDialecticNegriReal abstraction.

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