By now we all know that the prefix “non-” does not convey the negation, but rather the extension, the generalisation, and the pluralisation of its root noun, on the model of non-Euclidean geometry. But, while true, this knowledge is merely a preliminary, superficial apprehension. The “non-” does not just add more of the same familiar stuff – it involves the radical defamiliarisation, the “strangification, the estrangement of the domain it operates on. Another way of describing this operation is by means of the concept of “deterritorialisation”, which Deleuze equates with Melville’s notion of “outlandishness” (cf. MOBY-DICK: “But Queequeg, do you see, was a creature in the transition state— neither caterpillar nor butterfly. He was just enough civilized to show off his outlandishness in the strangest possible manner”).
Trevor Owen Jones makes his own contribution to recent discussions about academia and para-academics. Rejecting the habitual terms of the debate as too superficial, he aspires to be a non-academic: “It is the intention of the author to get away from the discourse of the University, permanently” (THE NON-LIBRARY, 1). The book is a get-away car, implying that the author is making off with whatever items of value that he has been able to carry off with him. Bits and pieces of Borges, Badiou, Derrida, Laruelle, Bataille, Deleuze – whatever he can get away with – will be put to other uses elsewhere.
The Non-Library is Erewhon. One may initially aspire to it, or refuse it, as a future or parallel possibility. But the negative capacity (the author talks of “negative capability”, page 6) it embodies is revealed positively when we see that “no”-where is in fact “now-here”. As Deleuze affirms in the Preface to DIFFERENCE AND REPETITION:
Following Samuel Butler, we discover Erewhon, signifying at once the originary ‘nowhere’ and the displaced, disguised, modified and always re-created ‘here-and-now’
The Non-Library is now-here, a here and now under suspension and already estranged. It is thus both mystical and empirical at once. For what is suspended is “the authority of texts over human beings” (78), as embodied in the Principle of Sufficient Information:
The principle of Sufficient Information, which the Library always finds fit to catalog, describe, and circulate, is suspended for the Non-Library (78).
This principle is characterised variously as The Principle of Sufficient Access and Precision (identifying the Totality with the Absolute), or as the Principle of Sufficient Salvation (the pretention to save everything). This Principle of Sufficiency with its will to totality and to total salvation is in fact a principle of indigence and exclusion. Trevor Owen Jones suspends this indigence in favour of a non-principle, that we may call the Non-Principle of Abundance, affirming
that moral explosion prior to content and form’s scission that shows the multiplicity of ‘things’ as they were radically (16).
This movement of dis-reduction, which Carl Jung called “amplication” when applied to the information found by Freudian hermeneutics, was also described by Deleuze in the Preface to DIFFERENCE AND REPETITION:
Empiricism is a mysticism and a mathematicism of concepts, but precisely one which treats the concept as object of an encounter, as a here-and-now, or rather as an Erewhon from which emerge inexhaustibly ever new, differently distributed ‘heres’ and ‘nows‘.
“Getting away” from the discourse of the University is by no means the abandoning of concepts, meaning, and speech. It is the suspension of the academic illusion and of its indigent sufficiency. Not abandonment, but estrangement.