"MACHINIC ECOLOGIES", the 5th Annual Deleuzian Conference, ASCA, University of Amsterdam.
I can't say anything bad about the conference itself. It was perfectly organized by the local doctoral students, without any "grown-ups" intervening at any moment. Is this a university without staff, a kind of anarchic commune where the students rule and live all by themselves?
Smooth is the term to render it. All too smooth, I would say, too much pervaded by a kind of thoughtless, unmeditated excellence. They are good at it and, between their late 20ties and early 30ties, they seek no more, they achieve.
Those kids have been born rich; except for those who come from outside: Turks, Egyptians, East-Europeans. For the latter, the status of late comers is the direct reflection of their marginalized origins. Yet there is a striking and paradoxical confluence of those two origins: marginality of the margins and marginality of the centre, the epigonism of rich kids. I've seen it on two old portraits in the Rijksmuseum: a Dutch burgomaster, the great achiever dressing black, and his showy, fashionable son, overfed and obese before the time. That is a story that repeats itself, to be found in Ibn Khaldun: mere four generations between rise and fall...
In some of them the pretence is almost palpable. At the same time, I felt a severe crisis of academic prestige that haunts them. All those people seek for something that might make "a real difference" in their CVs. And nonetheless there is no "real difference", the structure of prestige had crumbled long ago. But still they disparately try to get editors, the editors that might "make a real difference", to publish their dissertations. Forgetting, all this time, that the books differ significantly by their content, no matter how prestigiously or shabbily are they published... But who am I, a professor of the University of Warsaw, where pretence reigns and stakes higher than perhaps anywhere else in the world, to tell them such things...
I do not regret having come; the travel gave me insight into the shallowness that lurks at the interior of a brilliant institution, the cheap and deceitful sort of creativity that is sold to those young people. Yet the advantage is even more important, as if scales suddenly fell off my eyes. I realized how ridiculous, how misplacing it is to use any open Deleuzian reference today. How mistakenly it locates me. I still think I should finish the Battlements, give it the full shape and publish it somewhere. But this work done, I should give them both, Deleuze and Guattari, a long-deserved requiescat in pace. And I swear, from that day on, I will think twice before I ever use the verb "become"...