Negative

 

Setting affirmation against “the negative” to explain and argue for the latter’s persistence and necessity misses the point. Affirmation is not opposed to the negative; in fact, the negative is one of its moments. As Deleuze writes in his Nietzsche book, the negative “is a result of activity, of the existence of an active force and the affirmation of difference. The negative is a product of existence itself: the aggression necessarily linked to an active existence, the aggression of an affirmation.” As an expression of affirmation, the negative merely names what is not identical and declares its wish not to subsume or be subsumed by the other.

What affirmation is opposed to is negation, which is very different than the negative. While the negative announces differences, negation wants to solve the differences that the negative proliferates. Not able to tolerate opposition and contradiction, negation eradicates and resolves them. The fact that in current advocations of negation (mislabeled as the negative) there is an insistence on the formation of a “disruptive agent” is not a surprise: negation necessarily privileges a new subject, difference-free and unified.

While affirmation does not consist in only saying Yes — despite Deleuze’s annoying tendency in the Nietzsche book to act as if it does — negation is always only a No.

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