---- by Jonathan Roffe
  The term 'utopia' designates for Deleuze the political vocation of philosophy: the attempt to bring about different ways of existing and new contexts for our existence through the creation of concepts. The word 'utopia', however, has been associated with many different conceptions of political thought and action in ways that would seem antithetical to the philosophy of Deleuze. On the one hand, there is the real naīvety with which doctrines of utopia are often propounded. On the other, as the word itself indicates (u-topia, no-place) the idea of utopia seem to refer to a world totally disconnected from the real social engagements that characterise life here and now, as if we could leap outside of our concrete existence into a fundamentally different kind of society, free of any kind of strife. Despite these concerns, Deleuze makes pivotal use of the concept (while noting these potential problems), even if these uses are few in number.
  The primary location of the use of utopia in his philosophy is in What is Philosophy?, written with Guattari. Utopia names the point of contact between the present state of affairs and the activity of philosophy. No ideal future is involved, but rather the view that the present can always be negotiated with philosophically in order to bring about more freedom. Philosophy therefore has two temporal loci: the present and the future. While engaging with the concrete present situation as it in fact is, philosophy's aim ought to be the breaking with or resisting of the present for the future. We can think here of Friedrich Nietzsche's statement in his Untimely Meditations, that philosophy acts on the present, and therefore against it, for the benefit of a time to come. This task is undertaken by philosophy because it is, according to Deleuze and Guattari, the creation of concepts. Unlike many other ideas of philosophy, concepts are not to be thought of as representations of reality, or tools for uncovering the truth. Rather, concepts are true creations, and philosophy as the creation of concepts makes possible new ways of existing through them. Art and science also undertake the same creative task, but through their own ways of thinking that do not include the concept. In the context of discussions about the creation of concepts, Deleuze often brings up the artist Paul Klee's claim that the audience for a work of art does not preexist the artwork itself - the people are lacking, as he says - but is called into being by it. For Deleuze, all creative thought calls for a new people and a new earth.
  So utopia is what links philosophy with its own time, but is also that which gives it the forum for its critical political activity that has its focus in the future (D&G 1994: 99). This conception of politics clearly does not concern statements about the ideal nature of social existence (unlike many utopian philosophies), but sees politics as those acts that offer resistance to the norms and values of the present. Finally, for Deleuze, we cannot claim in advance that certain concepts will necessarily lead to a better future. While resisting the present and opening up the future for us, there is no guarantee that the world thus opened will be freer. These decisions can only be made on the difficult path of practical, empirical learning and careful attention.
   § art
   § concepts
   § freedom

The Deleuze dictionary. . 2010.

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