chapter  7
11 Pages


The two dominant and most consistent political positions to come out of Lyotard's struggle with nihilism are the passive politics of Libidinal Economy and the activation of the feeling of the sublime against Ideas of reason in The Differend. I have argued that the former is more successful than the latter in escaping a fundamental reliance on negation, because it has an affirmative orientation with respect to feelings and desires defined as libidinal intensities. According to Lyotard's definition of nihilism in Libidinal Economy, this fundamental activity of negation and limitation involves a turn away from intensities, the affects that can disturb and reinvigorate a moribund structure. Given that the turn is fundamental, the drift away from this reinvigoration is final and the greatest danger then becomes a hopeless reflection on this endless deferral. So, even if a philosophy is based on the power of feelings against structures, as is the case in Lyotard's later philosophy, this philosophy can still be nihilistic.