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The Return of the Water Spirit talks of the erosion of the ethical and moral values that underscored the anti-colonial struggle in Angola. As such, it takes its place in the great swathe of African writing that takes as its motor the failure of the revolutionary state. Paul Zeleza is an important voice for those who are interested in learning a little more about such things.

But there is something quite novel in this text. It is expressed in the naked revolution in which the figure of Honorio takes place. Rather than a manifestation of a political ideology, this revolutionary movement of the people comes straight from a collective desire.

The desire to which I refer is not that most commonly associated with “lack” – desire as the want for something -, but rather that outlined by Gilles Deleuze. For Deleuze, desire is not about lack; it is the thing that makes such wants and “needs” possible. If you like, it is the object that stands before us and draws desire into it. Put another way, Deleuzian desire is innovation and creation – the very processes that make possible our wants and needs.

Once a state controls the means by which its citizenry can innovate and create – the terms of a true production -, it necessarily controls our desires. Nothing is more powerful than being able to tell another what they “desire.”

Honorio and his group eventually realize that we actually need very little. But we certainly need to be able to produce, to innovate, to claim the means by which we create. This acknowledgement destabilizes the state which puts its longevity into the project of controlling desire. The naked revolution is an affirmation of a people’s desire and in it the erasure of need and want.

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