Notes on the creation of something new

In putting together and assembling notes for this new blog, I was struck by a passage from Andrew Culp’s recent breakout philosophy book Dark Deleuze. Writing on the creation of new concepts, Culp notes that for Deleuze “[t]rue thought is rare, painful, and usually forced on us by the brutality of an event so terrible that it cannot be resolved without the difficulty of thought”.[1] Not only is Deleuze’s project informed by a similar destructive strain, Culp argues, but it is necessary to think Deleuze in contrast to the “happy means of construction” of today, which are “conflated with capitalist value, the empty promises of democracy, or just plain helpfulness”.[2]

The severing of the old connection allows one to make new connections. This is something we learn after the painful experience of our first break-up. It is something we continue to learn with every subsequent break-up. The connections we make are always ones we intend to keep, but seldom do. We continue to grow, to outlive our worst mistakes.

Pierre Bonnard – Le bain (deuxième planche)

Enter Bad Academia. It is not my first attempt at an ongoing blogging project. It is not even my first academic blog. There have been countless others before it, each with their own brand and style of entering the world.

But these worlds, for whatever reason, didn’t work out. In writing, I was paralysed. Each time, I was attached to an old style of thinking. I outgrew my obsessions without realising it. This is what led to me to continue remaking myself – to continue to redefine my mark on the world. I wanted to destroy everything, to start at ground zero once more. How to break the cycle?

Derrida notes that for philosophers, the act of making the mark – the signature – is one of the founding anxieties of writing. Including himself, he complains of how “no philosopher will have signed his or her text, resolutely and singularly, will have spoken his or her own name, accepting all the risks in doing so”.[3] This resistance, notes David Farrell Krell, makes the “spiritual ownership” of creating concepts mournful. It is another kind of breakup – a breaking up of the self. It means a “certain tension persists […] between the obligation to sign and the impossibility of signature”.[4]

heads – 2.004 – Mark Klink Digital Art

Bad Academia is my attempt at a lasting signature. It takes on board my current record of academic progress (the good and the bad), and boldly attempts to stand by every claim (for as long as they are useful).

What is Bad Academia? The octopus logo tells us a few things. It lets us know that the world can create anything. It starts as a nexus of bad ideas and then branches out into new territories – one thousand tentacles. It eddies and flows along crevices and corners. A monstrous, alien, rhizomatic thing.

It is violent too – a war machine that spills black ink and ensnares its victim. It is a hungry, ferocious, devouring thing. It comes from a place at once deeply personal and secretive, and all the same both destructive and intolerable.

It can grow. Or it can wither and die.


[1] Andrew Culp, Dark Deleuze (Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 2016), 10.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Jacques Derrida, Signéponge/Signsponge, trans. Richard Rand (New York: Columbia University Press, 1984), 32.

[4] David Farrell Krell, The Purest of Bastards: Work of Mourning, Art, and Affirmation in the Thought of Jacques Derrida. (Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000), 13.


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