Deleuze valued Lovecraft for the estrangement (which he called “deterritorialisation”), not for the horror (which he probably found funny). I do not think the estrangement, or weirdness, to be found in Lovecraft is “separable” from the horror, just as style is not separable from content. However, I wish to emphasise that the one is not reducible to the other.

Deleuze and Guattari distinguish between the enunciation and the enounced. For example they condemn Oedipal readings of Kafka as allowing the Oedipal content to capture the enunciative act (which is not Oedipal but schizoanalytic). The miserabilism of the content is in tension with the humour and joy of the enunciation. “Style” is an ambiguous word as it can qualify the style of the content or the style of the enunciation.

Discussing Lovecraft Deleuze tells us that

” ENTITY = EVENT, it is terror, but also great joy. Becoming an entity, an infinitive, as Lovecraft spoke of it, the horrific and luminous story of Carter: animal-becoming, molecular-becoming, imperceptible­-becoming” (DIALOGUES, 66).

So the problem is not so much one of establishing a demarcation between the style and the content as a demarcation within the enunciation between horror and joy that leads to a one-sided depiction of Lovecraft’s work. Becoming an “entity” can be a process of horrific transformation and demolition but it can also be a luminous process of affirmation. Too many commentators  seem to focus on the horror as the “real” Lovecraft and forget the luminosity.

The horror in Deleuze is not superficial, it is horror all the way down, but it is not all, it is not the last word. Deleuze cites Melville’s PIERRE for the terrifying descent to the central chamber and the terrifying discovery that it is empty. But he adds:

“however terrible this line may be, it is a line of life that can no longer be gauged by relations between forces, one that carries man beyond terror…This is the central chamber, which one need no longer fear is empty since one fills it with the self” (FOUCAULT, 121-2, I have replaced the English translation of “le soi” as “oneself” with the more accurate “the self”).

I am dissatisfied by those writers who create a demarcation in Lovecraft between the pure horror works and the dream cycle. I think the same estrangement underlies both, and that over-emphasis of the horror forecloses that unitary vision.

Trying to move beyond the traditional opposition between style and content, Deleuze and Guattari get a lot of mileage out of the distinction they make between the enunciation and the “enoncé”, the enounced sentence or proposition. This distinction need not be one of opposition, but can also be the basis of a composition. For example the act of desribing the indescribable in Lovecraft’s works leads to a richness of vocabulary in the enunciation that does not only compensate for the poverty of referential content but heightens its horrific affective impact.

Lovecraft does not write in hysterical identification with the horror he describes nor as a paranoiac expert in horror (or academic cosmic pessimist), but he is trying to transvaluate the horror just as Kafka transvaluates the Oedipal elements.

I have been trying to explore on my blog a notion uniting both science fiction and fantasy as the literature of noetic (and not just cognitive) estrangement. So in more familiar terms I think that Lovecraft is more a matter of the noetic “weird” than of affective horror. 




  1. I am convinced that we mean the same thing. That we understand the same thing. The issue is the terms that we use.

    But also I tend to focus less on the emptiness what does that might even call the nail subject what I tend to say is a conflation of objects. I just turned away from emphasizing the reduction to nothingness; to me it is exactly the opposite it is the entirty of objects. The fullness of objects.

    And I understand how or why or what you were talking about so far as enunciating and such. It is exactly what I say and what I mean when I say that from the moment I read Kierkegaard it was as if I was writing it myself, and indeed Lorelle. Nd Derrida, and Deluezea.

    It is a particular apprehension of discourse that to me does not refer to any ontology. Or rather I think in the same spirit that you talk of here, that which sea is discourse referring to an argument of ontological basis is what I call real. Because the entire tea of what you are describing what do you describe what you seem to be referring to through these authors meaning to me in my encounter with the world I find it as non-solute. The horror is exactly from the real. The horror that occurs when someone who is invested in this real way this real manner of coming up on the world who undertakes a certain type of meaningful course of thought to find out it’s route the end of the path is nothing. What I’m saying is that meaning is real it is based upon a real route of meaning. What I’m saying is horrible what is weird is what is not real: exactly is a condition to which you refer all through your posts by referring to these other authors. That condition that situation I have found is not real because apparently to me there is this other sort of understanding that I encounter all the time with people everywhere that did not understand what I’m talking about and indeed think the descriptions I have of the situation of D of L a H of K etc. makes no sense, and I see this is because they really do not understand what these authors are saying. But it seems you do.

  2. … and if I understand you correctly I would say that in my situation at least there is no transvaluation, as however I try. The kind of wholeness that is pluralist, which is Innoway very similar to Dasien, inasmuch as spirit is world, I feel does not come about, and indeed this is the meaning of the destitution of spirit. As well this is why I am working on a discourse of failure along these lines. Because it is the success involved in the overcoming of the non-communicative gap such as with Zizek. As well Lyotard noticed, that i see as the fullfillment of the ideal of the enlightenment. Namely that there can be some sort of reconciliation. With me the destitution of spirit concerns big knowledge meant of reconciliation but where it cannot be enacted, having full knowledge of the situation and yet being totally incapable of having it come to bear upon the situation of world.

    To me it that’s concerns a difference of teleology rather then a common and unitive ontology.

  3. Pingback: Truth & Actuality (04) | dwmasten

  4. Pingback: DELEUZIAN LOVECRAFT: undoing the face, esoterising the lexicon | AGENT SWARM

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