Monday, April 4, 2011

Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia

Deterritorializing "Deterritorialization": From the "Anti-Oedipus" to "A Thousand Plateaus"
Deleuze and Guattari theoretically and politically destroy psychoanalysis and its basic foundation and propose that the way out of the Oedipus complex is to be found in the schizophrenic who challenges the attempt to be placed into a familistic isolation.

Passage for close reading:

We no longer believe in the dull gray outlines of a dreary, colorless dialectic of evolution, aimed at forming a harmonious whole out of heterogeneous bits by rounding off their rough edges. We believe only in totalities that are peripheral. And if we discover such a totality alongside various separate parts, it is a whole of these particular parts but does not totalize them; it is a unity of all of these particular parts but does not unify them; rather, it is added to them as a new part fabricated separately. (42)
This passage bears resonance of a temporal and spatial rupture with the repetition of the verb “believe” accompanied with the adverbs “no longer” and “only’. The first sentence marks this temporal and spatial disjunction by its use of the attenuating adverb of negation, “no longer.” The combination of the adverbs “no longer” and “only,” along with the combative echo of the adjectives “dull gray, dreary, colorless” create a playful and combative language that warns us against any exclusive disjunction.  The adverbs create a connective synthesis that lays out the cartography of Deleuze and Guattari’s conceptualization of multiplicity and flux in the second sentence. The latter playfully anticipates the juxtaposition of “totality” and “whole” to suggest an open-ended series of inclusive disjunctions that pay attention to circumferences.  The third sentence does a set of multiplication with the terms “totality, a whole of particular parts, a unity of all these particular parts.” One may wonder what is the effect of these combinations in this passage?

 The temporal and spatial opposition between the first two sentences of the passage along with the deceitful juxtaposition of synonyms (whole, unity of, totality) performs the fundamental opposition between the Anti- Oedipus-paranoia and schizophrenia. The opposition is re-located in the passage and had its own way of undermining the binary opposition between paranoia and schizophrenia. As such, the passage performs a mode of discourse that is paranoid and schizophrenic at the same time. As such, I suggest that we read this passage about multiplicity and flux as a condensation of the gap between paranoia and schizophrenia.  One can think of condensation in Freudian term where two elements that occupy opposite ends in the libidinal spectrum designate the freeing of desire. The condensation of the “w/hole of these particular parts of totalities” produces a kind of revolutionary unified field for the passage, while at the same time the "schizophrenic tendencies" of the language reduces such an apparently all-encompassing reading to a set of playful signifiers from which it is difficult if not impossible to draw any definitive conclusions. This characteristic of the passage echoes one of my main questions while reading Anti-Oedipus as well as Deleuze and Guattari’s implied question in the following quote: “It is often thought that Oedipus is an easy subject to deal with, something perfectly obvious, a “given” that is there from the very beginning. But that is not so at all: Oedipus presupposes a fantastic repression of desiring-machines (3). The implicit questions raised in this quote and the accompanying footnote is: How did Freud appropriate the authority of the Greek tragedy to legitimize his psychoanalytic concepts? How does this relate to the second chapter's critique of the institution of psychoanalysis as a new secular religion set up by the followers of Freud and institutionalized by the industrial-military complex? I also wonder whether Deleuze and Guattari’s appropriation of Freud’s Oedipus complex is a condensation or a displacement of Freud to fulfill their wish for social theory of desire?

1 comment:

  1. I follow you with the identification of spatial and temporal rupture, though I'm not quite sure how "believe" fits into that. How then, do you link this temporal and spatial rupture to paranoia and schizophrenia? Could you lay that out a little more meticulously for us? Why is it necessary that we see both paranioa and schizo working in this sentence (as opposed to just the latter?)? And I am really curious how you then arrive at your last two questions, eliciting them from the text (rather than bringing them to your reading). It's not about the value of these questions but rather how they emerge from the text.