Cutupidité: Becoming-Radically-Stupid
a report to an academy II

Zafer Aracagök
Istanbul Bilgi University

[1] This report was written before.

[2] It was written to an academy.

[3] Considering the urgency of the renewal of this report, I have almost decided to write another report to the academy – the richest, the noblest, the most famous, and the most universal academy.

[4] Therefore, at the cost of ridiculing myself, even at the cost of making a fool out of myself, for the first time in my life I will leave behind my stupidity and, thereby, I will show an attempt at outlining my suggestion to you, to all of you – except animals, plants, and rocks – that is, becoming-radically-stupid.

[5] In my attempt, I know I have to be sincere and therefore I will start with a new tool – an assemblage of sorts – in order to draw a sharp line of distinction between me and you. What I dare to call "cutupidité" is actually made of two words: "cut-up" and "stupidité" the joint form of which should be reminding you three mentors I had as I was passing through the stages of my stupidity.

[6] Let me introduce first the preliminary conditions of my concept:

  1. Cutupidité is a discontinuous plane of consistency resisting any plane of immanence.
  2. Cutupidité is a non-organic rhizome made of multi-dimensional, infinite cuts where each cut lays bare an unique event which cannot be repeated.
  3. Cutupidité is the art of hyperbole where each negation of space triggers an aerial fugue, completely non-traceable.
  4. Cutupidité is not serial but aerial; actually it is an aerial fugue, which, soaring above the surface of the rhizome, traverses each and every cut inflicted on it.
  5. Cutupidité is to become-spectral without coordinates; it is not becoming-immaterial but becoming-gaseous.
  6. Cutupidité is Cotard delusion: le délire de négation – to demolish the dimensional with a discontinuous multiplicity of dimensions so as to open up a psychasthenic frontground.
  7. Cutupidité is Contigentia absoluta (potentiality without will): state zero of wanting, failure before failure.
  8. Cutupidité is the affirmation of paranoia as a form of extreme wakefulness.
  9. Cutupidité is suicidal in content and disastrous in form.
  10. Cutupidité is the smoke of the cliché and the last breath of wisdom.
  11. Cutupidité is to know all the styles but appropriating none.
  12. Cutupidité is the "instinct d'abandon" vs "élan vital".
  13. Cutupidité is infinite dividuation.
  14. Cutupidité is to be done with anthropocentrism.
  15. Cutupidité is incorporation of stupidité.

[7] Probably you don't like this, most probably you hate this because you think I have a strong sense of aspiration to identify with at least two of my mentors; or, more probably, this comes to you less as an insult than an assault because you particularly sense that it will bring along the end of the academy. I can clearly see in your eyes that "insane look of the bewildered half-broken animal" which the earlier report described perfectly. However, as a humanimal who has "managed to reach the cultural level of an average European," I must invite you to consider "cutupidité" as the final solace of humanity.

[8] I have arranged the items above in such a way that, as you read my report, you will be alarmed by your memory of them, and return to them sporadically and erratically. They will act upon your structure of reading/thinking habits in a non-organic-rhizomatic way. The situation in which you will find yourselves will be like that of a Red Indian in a short story from another of my mentors:

If one were only an Indian, instantly alert, and on a racing horse, leaning against the wind, kept on quivering jerkily over the quivering ground, until one shed one's spurs, for there needed no spurs, threw away the reins, for there needed no reins, and hardly saw that the land before one was smoothly shorn heath when horse's neck and head would be already gone.

This is truly an image, an example, in a humble way, of a certain 'image of thought' as described by Gilles Deleuze in his Difference and Repetition. In this image, yes, the horse and the act of riding disappear yet we never learn what happens to the Red Indian. What is left to thought is actually a smooth movement with no direction, that is, a non-topological movement and a big question as to what happens to the rider. Will the Indian maintain himself after this double-ungrounding (as the land on which the horse is galloping disappears, the horse on which the Indian riding disappears as well); will he resist the lure of the groundless groundlessness?

[9] Therefore, this is our primal question: What happens to the Red Indian?

[10] Things will get a bit complicated from now on because I will have to talk to you about dividuation instead of, or, together with, individuation as the possible determinants of the fate of our Red Indian. "Let's go a bit theoretical, Or should we go a short way further to see for ourselves, be a little alcoholic, a little crazy, a little suicidal, a little of a guerilla—just enough to extend the crack, but not enough to deepen it irremediably?"

[11] In a chapter, entitled, "The Image of Thought" in Difference and Repetition, Deleuze produces a distinction between man and animal on the basis of "bêtise." The latter, "bêtise" or "stupidity" (if I may be allowed to translate it as such), for Deleuze "is not animality. The animal is protected by specific forms which prevent it from being 'stupid' [bête]." Then comes a more fundamental question which foregrounds stupidity as a "properly transcendental question: how is stupidity (not error) possible?" by means of which Deleuze relates stupidity to the question of form. If the animal is separated from stupidity it is because of the "explicit" forms it is endowed with, whereas the man, gifted also with implicit forms, has a capacity to recognise and represent the explicit forms in the form of the "I." Therefore, stupidity is possible "by virtue of the link between thought and individuation." In other words, the animal cannot be stupid because it lacks the component of "individuation," whereas the man can individuate his forms because he is given the freedom to shuttle between the "I" and a ground.

Individuation as such, as it operates beneath all forms, is inseparable from a pure ground that it brings to the surface and trails with it. It is difficult to describe this ground, or the terror and attraction it excites. Turning over the ground is the most dangerous occupation, but also the most tempting in the stupefied moments of an obtuse will. For this ground, along with the individual, rises to the surface yet assumes neither form nor figure. It is there, staring at us, but without eyes. The individual distinguishes itself from it, but it does not distinguish itself, continuing rather to cohabit with that which divorces itself from it. It is the indeterminate, but the indeterminate in so far as it continues to embrace determination, as the ground does the shoe. Animals are in a sense forewarned against this ground, protected by their explicit forms. Not so for the I and the Self, undermined by the fields of individuation which work beneath them, defenceless against a rising of the ground which holds up to them a distorted or a distorting mirror in which all presently thought forms dissolve. Stupidity is neither the ground nor the individual, but rather the relation in which the individuation brings the ground to the surface without being able to give it form (this ground rises by means of the I, penetrating deeply into the possibility of thought and constituting the unrecognised in every recognition).

Stupidity, in this sense, is the failure of thought in creating new forms of thought in each attempt of thinking, and therefore it ends up producing clichés, a repressive structure of thought echoed between the tyrant and the slave.

[12] All is fine here, ladies and gentleman, all is fine up until this moment but here, right at this moment, I would like to raise a fundamental question which will be beneficial for both of us, for both the human and the animal: Why are we, the animals, despite all the universal anthropocentrism in all areas of sciences, humanities and arts exempted from this shuttling between the I and the ground? Why are we given only explicit forms and forewarned against this ground?

[13] I would like to interrupt our flow of discussion here with Derrida's critique of Deleuze's thought on stupidity if only be able to maintain a different position from Derrida and offer a deeper account of Deleuze's theorisation. As Derrida explains, Deleuze borrows this idea of ground, even the "groundless ground," from Schelling:

I think that one could not understand anything in Deleuze's argumentation on the subject of stupidity – which implies thinking as human freedom in its relation to individuation, as a phenomenon of individuation, Vereinzelung, which is determined on the ground, on the background of the ground – one would understand nothing of this argumentation if one could not reconstitute the whole of Schelling's discourse on freedom and human evil and, notably, what Schelling called ground, the originary ground, Urgrund, which is also a nonground, a groundless ground, Ungrund. [...] He says (Schelling) "How could we call this anything other than originary ground (Urgrund) or, better, nonground (Ungrund)" or groundless ground; "since it preceeds all oppositions, these oppositions cannot be discerned or present in other way in themselves. It cannot be thus characterised as identity but only as absolute indifference as to principle (die absolute Indifferenz)."

I have quoted this long passage from Derrida because what I'd like to underline is the fact that nowhere in Difference and Repetition does Deleuze call this ground a "groundless ground," although his intention might have been to do so. I am telling this not because I am critical of Derrida's insertion of this concept of "groundless ground" into Schelling's and Deleuze's texts, but because of another possibility this insertion endows us with, that is, of expanding Deleuze's perspective onto a new field via our Red Indian. In other words, if what is mentioned as the ground in Deleuze can be interpreted as "the groundless ground" via a Schellingian reference because it is only on the basis of this groundless ground that the relation between individualisation and I can be established; and thus the human can be differentiated from the animal on the basis of freedom; can we not both agree and disagree with Derrida at the same time as follows? Although Derrida's critique sums up Deleuze's position as a continuation of a Descartian/Kantian line of thought ( "...the animal cannot constitute itself as an I. That's a constant prevailing belief with philosophers, that the difference between animal and man, between animality and humanity, is that the animal cannot say "I", but also with anthropology, that the essence of what is proper to man is circumscribed by the possibility of saying "I", even the ability, the power, to say "me/I"), cannot we claim, by referring to his other works, that Deleuze reserves for the animal a groundless groundlessness against which it practices an infinite process of dividuation? Given the huge philosophical corpus of Deleuze and Guattari on a series of becomings, and the position of the transcendent in a plane of immanence, that is, a transcendental which does not transcend but remains immanent to the plane of immanence as the immanent is only immanent to itself, I believe there is still a place which can be maintained in Deleuzian philosophy for the animal's right to stupidity, "bêtise", if only in the form of a radical stupidity the basic tenet of which is not failing to produce singular forms but completely denying the production of forms, which will eliminate also the question of the transcendental as critiqued by Derrida. If Derrida's critique centers around Deleuze's insistence that stupidity is a transcendental category and, therefore, it is maintained as a result of a predecision on the basis of a transcendental distinction between human and animal, can't we propose that this move can be disappropriated by inserting a new form of being, "humanimal," who, instead of individuating itself against this groundless ground and running the risk of producing stupidity as a transcendental category, appropriates a moment of dividuation which is an invitation to a radical stupidity on the basis of another becoming, that is, becoming-stupid, or better, becoming-radically-stupid?

[14] Moreover, no matter if Deleuze said that we are forewarned by our explicit forms against this ground, that is, the groundless ground, isn't it obvious right now, at the moment of my exposition, the ape that I am addressing this report to you, to the members of an academy, that what is described as explicit forms do not have any transcendence but remain in the same immanence as well as the implicit forms? And also that the ground which we've been always face to face with is a groundless groundlessness against which, in opposition to you, we dividuate ourselves?

Artwork by Bora Başkan

[15] Let's go back to our Red Indian and to the point where Kafka left him floating in the air directionless. Doubly ungrounded, that is, first the ground and then the riding horse disappear, his movement takes the form of a non-topological dissemination with undeterminable coordinates without foreground and background, or, rather, an invisible flow in a "frontground" with no concern for form. Moreover, in the face of the fact that we are not given any clue if the Red Indian exists as such after this double-ungrounding, we can also claim that all the ingredients that dividuation is made of are being miraculated here. As we learn from Deleuze and Guattari, dividuation never being a structure of anything, precludes any notion of preontology, presocial, or prediscursive existence; it is not the production of desire but is the desire itself; being purely machinic, it is a call for a Body Without Organs to replace the body as such with fragments immersed into immanence, thereby challenging any notion of the transcendental. Or, dividuation is biology without the biological. A field of study which has lost its object. Otherwise, dividuals are immune to internal states of the self; no question of freedom, desire, will and intention can emerge here as well as the failure to create forms, and stupidity; in the absence of a concern for forms, a radical stupidity can be embraced by all the dividuals – humanimals.

[16] Without doubt, the basic distinction between you and me is still your stupidity and the radical stupidity on the one hand and, on the other, the question of freedom in the middle and the distinction between identity and disposition– or should I say the politics and the political? Let me try to finalise my report with a case where these distinctions were deterritorialised and human and animal created the "humanimal" on the basis of becoming-radically-stupid.

[17] Now, although my story is similar to the ape's in the first report to an academy, I must confess that I am an ape from Gezi Park, Istanbul, June 2013. What happened in Gezi Park, Istanbul all throughout June 2013 can be briefly described as the rise of the political against the politics of the repressive structure of the Turkish state machine which culminated in the fascist dictatorship of the AKP government. Thousands of human-beings gathered in the park, and in Taksim Square, dividuating themselves on a groundless groundlessness as against the politics of erasure of AKP and its predecessors, which have produced nothing but the clichés of individuation under the rule of islamist-capitalisation. Humans and animals (a big number of which suffered and died then and there – whose deaths went unnoticed – under the tear-gas bombs, water-cannons, and state terror created by the despot), rocks and trees, they were all there. All the creatures, except human beings have an imaginary party, protocols of which are determined by élan vital; yet what united all of us, the "humanimals" dividuating infinitely on a groundless groundlessness in the Park, was an imaginary party constituted on the basis of instinct d'abandon. Tiqqun described the former so well in This Is Not a Program, but what happened to the imaginary party in Gezi Park was the abandonement of the form/formless distinction as a source of resonance: that is, neither form nor the formless could be occupied there, hence its distinction from the other Occupy movements all around the world. Dividuation worked on all levels and from such a groundless groundlessness arose the power of the political. Structures of repression, given their stupidity of forms, could do nothing in the absence of the form/formless dichotomy but send tear-gas, bombs, and water cannons. They were afraid, terrified, because they were profoundly stupified in the face of the radical stupidity of the peaceful protesters, who rejected form, even the formless, continuously dividuating themselves. Hence, what happened in Gezi Park, was an invitation to the humanimal, infinite dividuation, the possibility of a passage from stupidity per se to becoming-radically-stupid.

[18] At the time of my report, the dividuation is what can still persist in so far as the image of the Red Indian, an image with no signifier and signified, hangs in our heads without being visible.

[19] Let's hope that you are convinced; let's hope that we can "become" together, let's hope that you can leave your stupidity behind and embrace the radical stupidity of the humanimal.




  1. Franz Kafka, "A Report to An Academy", Collected Stories, tr. Willa and Edwin Muir, New York: Everyman's Library, 1993, p. 204.
  2. This term came into being during 2013 New Year's Eve party with contributions from Manola Antonioli where she even claimed, "Next century will truly be 'cutupide'".
  3. Collected Stories p. 204.
  4. Collected Stories, p. 204.
  5. Franz Kafka, "The Wish to be a Red Indian", Collected Stories, tr. Willa and Edwin Muir, New York: Everyman's Library, 1993, p. 20.
  6. Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, tr. Paul Patton, London and New York: Continuum, 2001.
  7. Gilles Deleuze, The Logic of Sense. Ed. Constantin Boundas, tr. Mark Lester with Charles Stivale, London: Continuum, 2003, pp.158-9.
  8. Difference and Repetition, p.150.
  9. Difference and Repetition, p. 151. For Deleuze, the basic distinction is not between true and false, or true or error; but between true and stupidity.
  10. Difference and Repetition, p. 151.
  11. Difference and Repetition, p. 152.
  12. Jacques Derrida, "The Transcendental "Stupidity of Man" (Bêtise) of Man and the Becoming-Animal According to Deleuze", Derrida, Deleuze, Psychoanalysis, ed. Gabriele Schwab, New York: Columbia University Press, 2007, pp. 50-51.
  13. Derrida, Deleuze, Psychoanalysis, p. 57.
  14. See, Gilles Deleuze, "Immanence: A Life", Pure Immanence, tr. Anne Boyman, New York: Zone Books, 2001, p.26 and Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, What is Philosophy?, tr. Hugh Tomlinson and Graham Burchill, London and New York: Verso, 1994, p.45.
  15. Roger Caillois, "Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia", The Edge of Surrealism, ed. Claudine Frank, trans. Claudine Frank and Camille Naish, Duke University Press, Durham and London: 2003, p. 102.
  16. Tiqqun, This Is Not a Program, tr. Joshua David Jordan, Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2011.
  17. See my "Whatever Image" as a possible relation to the Red Indian in Postmodern Culture, Vol 13, Number 2, January 2003, Johns Hopkins University Press.