Reading Seminar: Deleuze

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Posted by Rainer Ganahl on April 14, 1996 at 20:01:45:


The aim of this RS is to stage a forum of discussions for creating a complicity
of language, desire, and social as well as intellectual responsibility.

This RS project here can be seen in relationship of a series of Reading
Seminars I have kept over the last 2 years in Japan, Russia, USA, Germany and
France. A BBS version of this RS was also held on The Thing BBS in Fall and
Winter 1995.

All contributions are welcome. English is preferred but French and German
entries are also possible (in these cases, I might provide an English
translation). Usually shorter comments work better for keeping up a dialog. In
case of questions and comments that do not concern everybody on this dialog
please use my e-mail address:
Please, do always use RS as a subject header.

The text I propose to "read together" is Gilles Deleuze, Presentation de
Sacher-Masoch, La Venus a la fourrure, written in 1967. It is translated in to
English and published by Zone books as "Coldness and Cruelty, Venus in Furs, by
Leopold von Sacher-Masoch". This is basically a book on Masochism and its
psychological order. In order to have some "introduction" I am quoting directly
from the back cover of the American edition:

Deleuze's stunning essay is an attempt to restore to Masoch's work the rigorous
and informed philosophical examination that is due it. It will also restore to
literary history and to our own culture of ideas the systematic form of desire
whose central mechanism of the "contract" poses a fundamental challenge to our
psychoanalytic world view. Thus the idea of Masochism presented here is
something far more subtle and complex that the mere enjoyment of pain. What's
more, Masochism is shown to have absolutely nothing to do with Sadism; their
worlds simply do not communicate, just as the geniuses of those who created
them - Masoch and the Marquis de Sade - lie stylistically, philosophically and
politically poles apart. Deleuze's essay - the most profound study yet
produced on the relations between Sadism and Masochism - seeks to develop and
explain Masoch's "peculiar way of "desexualizing" love while at the same time
sexualizing the entire history of humanity."

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