On his “Path to the Possible,” Mark Purcell posted the text from his talk at the Political Geography Pre-Conference at UCLA. As Mark indicates, this paper is drawn in part from his forthcoming book, The Down-Deep Delight of Democracy. I was in attendance for the session, and I found the paper inspiring for its appropriation of literature and very useful for thinking the possibility of “becoming-democratic.”
I asked a question in the session, responding to Mark’s formulation that, as he was writing, David Foster Wallace “insisted on being included.” Here, I took Mark to mean that he was, in a sense, solicited by the text. Mark draws on Deleuze and Guattari to clarify the point.
reading a text is never a scholarly exercise in search of what is signified, still less a highly textual exercise in search of a signifier. Rather it is a productive use of the literary machine, a montage of desiring-machines, a schizoid exercise that extracts from the text its revolutionary force (Anti-Oedipus, p. 106).
More than Deleuze and Guattari, Mark decisively undercuts the intentionality of the author. He writes, “They [the desiring-machines in certain texts] stream their flows into your flow without you planning for it to happen.” That is, “They insist.”
My question: What does this undercutting of intentionality do for thinking the possibility of becoming-active/-democratic? In response, Mark again referred to the force of the text, and he then ventured further to formulate his use of David Foster Wallace as subsequent to a decision to embrace something that’s working on you (in this case, Infinite Jest), a decision to stop policing the dam. This works; I appreciate Mark’s formulation for the way it allows one to make a decision while also allowing that the text itself is, in a sense, both object and subject. But I think — and no doubt Mark would agree — my question signals a persisting tension in post-foundational political theory.