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The Journal of English Language and Literature , Vol.65, No.3, 409 ~ 425, 2019
From the Exterminating Angel to Guattari’s Scarecrow
Joff P. N. Bradley
This paper revisits the question of desire and the desire for social transformation in Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophy through the figure of the angel. It compares several imaginations around the figure of the angel in divergent intellectual histories before offering a re-interpretation of an image of thought found in Guattari’s sole work namely the scarecrow. The paper examines Paul Klee’s angelology to invoke the Angelus Militans (the Militant Angel) as a rival to both Walter Benjamin’s understanding of Angelus Novus (New Angel) and Gillian Rose’s affirmation of Klee’s Angelus Dubiosus (Doubting Angel). The paper considers the contemporary relevance of the figure of the schizo in terms of Klee’s Angelus Militans to ask: Is the figure of the schizo trapped in another bygone age, left anachronistic and exhausted? I am arguing that the three angels―Novus, Dubiosus and Militans―and Deleuze and Guattari’s exterminating angel all suffer a form of trauma or anxiety; they are in effect pulverized and petrified. All of the angels are without a path to utopia. Heralding Guattari’s warning, the angels seem to be caught in a vertiginous whirlwind, the vertigo of abolition; they are thrown into a maelstrom of self-directed destruction. While Guattari’s scarecrow is a perfectly miserable description of where we are in the contemporary moment it is nevertheless a figure which portends the future image of philosophy and future imaginary of utopia.
Key Words
schizoanalysis, Gillian Rose, Deleuze and Guattari, Paul Klee, angels
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