A manifesto for nonsense: the Futurist drive in Deleuze’s poetics

Palmer, Helen. 2012. A manifesto for nonsense: the Futurist drive in Deleuze’s poetics. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis presents a critical analysis of Deleuze’s philosophy of language, using and examining Russian and Italian futurist manifestos to draw out the ‘futurist’ aspects of Deleuze’s language and thought. These aspects constitute a poetics of Deleuze as well as a poetics of the avant-garde, presenting in both areas the celebrated, utopian state of language as dynamic, performative matter. The way in which futurist manifestos often attempt to perform and demand their aims simultaneously, and the temporal problems which arise due to this, is an operation which can be perceived in Deleuze’s writing. The difference between writing which describes a linguistic practice and writing which performs this linguistic practice is a temporal gap requiring a double operation of description and enactment, which the performative manifesto purports to fulfil. In both Deleuzian and futurist poetics, however, the fulfilment of this double operation can lead to problematic territory.

Deleuze presents several linguistic practices in The Logic of Sense which can also be located in the writings of both Russian and Italian futurists, despite the differing political and aesthetic programmes of these variants of the movement. The common element identified and examined in this thesis is an accelerative drive to eliminate the temporal gap between items in an analogical equation so that synonymy is no longer an inexact science; the conjunction and the copula are truncated and cleave together, resulting in radical linguistic becoming. My argument is that minute technical linguistic modifications such as these operate synecdochically within futurist and Deleuze’s poetics, standing for their creators’ entire conceptual systems. Ultimately, the paradoxes inherent in the relationship between the radical fluidity of futurist nonsense and the radical fixity of its ensuing formalism provide a new way of thinking about Deleuze’s approach to language.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)


Futurism, Khlebnikov, Deleuze, language, poetics, manifesto, structuralism, neologism, formalism, temporality, avant-garde

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature


29 June 2012

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

02 May 2013 09:59

Last Modified:

06 Sep 2022 22:05



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