The Eternal Return of the Gift: Deleuze (and Derrida) contra Lacan

Gerald Moore

in Politics of the Gift

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780748642021
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671861 | DOI:
The Eternal Return of the Gift: Deleuze (and Derrida) contra Lacan

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Through the work of Deleuze and Guattari, this chapter further develops the idea of the gift as event, the giving of an existence that repeatedly and constitutively evades subjective identification. It is moreover this evasion that gives rise to politics, which is argued to consist in precisely the impossibility of identifying what it is that is given in the event. The second part of the chapter focuses on the elements of a Deleuzo-Guattarian reading of the (Maussian) gift economy suggested in Anti-Œdipus, and attenuates the long-standing and influential claim that Deleuze and Guattari naively romanticise archaic society, conflating the archaic gift economy with the aneconomic gift of the event. Referring to recent work in anthropology (e.g., Weiner, Strathern and Bourdieu), as well as to Nietzsche, it is argued that their reworking of Mauss and Lêvi-Strauss actually serves to illustrate the thesis that the political emerges in response to the gift, as an attempt to curb the prospect of an event that would jeopardise the metastability of society. The archaic gift economy becomes simply one way among several of forestalling the uncertainty, the instability that would coincide with the exposure to the event.

Keywords: Eternal Return; Gilles Deleuze; Félix Guattari; Gift exchange; Pierre Klossowski; Jean-François Lyotard; Jacques Derrida; Aneconomy

Chapter.  17212 words. 

Subjects: Social and Political Philosophy

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