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January 22, 1978 - Image 9

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Michigan Daily, 1978-01-22
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Page 8-Sunday, January 22, 1978-The Michigan Daily

anti-oedipus
(Continued from Page 6)

direction. This is evident from page
one. The opening lines of the book
revolve around a French pun (unac-
countably left unindicated in the
translation) - a pun based on the
fact that in French the same word,
"ca", is used to render the meanings
of both "it" and "id". ("Id" is' the
Freudian label for that part of us
which holds our instincts and drives.)
The book begins,
It is at work every where, functioning
smoothly at times, at other times in fits and
starts. It breathes, it heats, it eats. It shits and
fucks. What a mistake to have ever said the
id. Everywhere it is machine.s.-.-
The pace of the prose never really
lets up. The endurance of the reader
may flag, but the energy of the
authors seems boundless.
Deleuze and Guattari mean many
things at once when they say they are
anti-Oedipus. For one thing, they
mean that they are against psychia-
trists whom they say are too eager to
explain human phenomena in terms
of the Oedipus complex. The authors
assert that psychoanalysts accom-
modate human realities to their the-
ories, to- the detriment of their
patients. Pierssens remarks, "De-
leuze and Guattari say that psycho-
analysis isn't only a means of under-
standing, it is also a means of impos-
ing something on the patient. Psycho-
analysis, in a way, makes a slave out
of the person who is analyzed. The
patient comes to the psychoanalyst,
and the psychoanalyst castrates him,
Deleuze and Guattari say. The
psychoanalyst imposes incomplete-
ness; the psychoanalyst imposes the
Oedipal triangle on the patient, trian-
gulates him, organizes him into that
structure of misery and dependence.
And it's on the basis of this view that
they say, 'No, that has to change
completely."
T HE AUTHORS ARE anti-
Oedipus also as a result-of their
conviction that the so-called
Oedipal conflicts which people feel
within their families are actually ex-
pressions of conflicts with society as a
whole. Deleuze and Guattari inisit that
the social structure protects itself by in-
fluencing people to express their anti-
societal feelings by struggling within
their families. The authors write,
Oedipal desires are the bait, the disfigured
image by means of which repression catches
desire in the trap. If desire is repressed, this is
not because it is desire for the mother and for
the death of the father; on the contrary,
desire becomes that only because it is
repressed, it takes on 'that mask onlv under
the reign of the repression that models the
mask for it and plasters it on its face.
Society protects itself by deflecting
the energy of human desire which

could shake up or destroy estab-
lished structures, Deleuze and Guat-
tari say. And they see the suppres-
sive and perverting influence of
society at work in every human
sphere. Desire, they insist, is present
in everything that involves people,
and wherever society encounters
desire, it harnesses or diverts it.
According to the authors,
The truth is that sexuality is everwhere: the
way a bureaucrat fondles his records, a judge
administers justice, a businessman causes
money to circulate;- the way the bourgeoisie
fucks the proletariat; and so on. A nd there is
no need to resort to metaphors . . . Hitler got
the fascists sexual/y aroused. Flags, nations,
armies, banks get a lot of people aroused, A
revolutionary machine is nothing if it does
not acquire at least as much force as these
coercive machines have for producing breaks
and mobilizing flo ws. It is not through a
desexualizing extension that the libido invests
the large aggregates. On the contrary, it is
through a restriction, a blockage, and a
reduction that the libido is made to repress its
flows in order to contain themi in the narrow
cells of the type "couple, " "fami/y, " "per-
son, " "objects. "
Anti-Oedipus is a call for social
revolution in that it presents an
accounting of what the authors feel
must change in society. But, notes
Pierssens, the book is not a standard
political tract in that it does not
recommend a new social order to
replace the current order. Pierssens
says, "Deleuze and Guattari have
said that they don't have a political
program. There are things that they
know very precisely: that such and
such a thing doesn't work, or that
such and such a thing is an oppres-
sion, or a repression, and one has to
fight against it. But it isn't a political
theory in the traditional sense. They
aren't trying to substitute one system
with another, but in the system as it
exists, they want to heighten the con
tradictions."
IERSSENS ADDS, "For them,
capitalism exists everywhere,;
even in the so-called socialist
countries. And for them, it's in the
capitalist countries- that transfor-
mation, multiplication, proliferation of
differences, are most visible. And
that's what they want- For them,
capitalism is delirious, but it heightens
delirium to such a point that it finally
has the greatest possibility of
liberating."
This social criticism advanced in
Anti-Oedipus attracted many French
radicals. It attracted radicals
frustrated by the difficulty of effecting
basic social change in their country
through familiar political means. Pier-
ssens points out, "There is a deadlok
in politics in France, particularly in.
certain groups on the left. People are

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Deleuze and Guattari

ideologically cornered. So it was attrac-
tive for certain people in these political
movements to try to find a new route of
access to politics through something
which on its face is radically non-
political - the libido, for example."
Rallying around Anti-Oedipus was a
way of "trying to escape the deadlock
of strictly political debate about
politics. It was a way of permitting non-
political debate about politics."
Although Anti-Oedipus was attractive
to many leftists, the book clearly
does not present a conventionally leftist
ideology. But neither is it conservative.
It's nearly impossible to determine its
location on the standard ideological
spectrum. Pierssens says the book is
"on the extreme left in so far as it flows
over into problems of politics, of power,
et cetera." But, he says, on the other
hand, "there are certain aspects of the
book that are anti-left, in so far as the
left, especially in France, is identified
with the seizing of power, with the
mechanics of power, with all of what
Deleuze and Guattari call the paranoic
structure of politics. And they are ab-
solutely against that. On the one hand
they are on the extreme left - ob-
viously they don't support Giscard
d'Estaing, Georges Pompidou, et
cetera. But on the other hand they are
also against the 'paranoia' of the left,
which is why they are sometimes called
right-wingers, and sometimes fascists.
"They admire the United States,"
he continues. "But what they admire
about the United States is not its mili-
tary-economic structure; rather,
they admire what they call the con-
stant 'deterritorialization' which is
typical of what happens in the United
States. For them, capitalism in its
most advanced stage means deterri-
torialization: impossibility making
things secure, impossibility of creat-
ing a power which can hold on. From
that point of view, the state of affairs
in the United States is very positive
to Deleuze and Guattari. Capitalism
is a grand decomposition; it's a su-
per-decadence, it's something which
perpetually destroys itself. And for
them, that's a positive thing. For
them, it's something which is - I
wouldn't say it's a model, but it's
to traditional leftist thought..
"Deleuze and Guattari are fer-
ocious critics of classical Marx-
ism," Pierssens says. "Deleuze was a
member of the Communist Party, and
he rejected the party totally. Their
criticism against Communism is very
violent."
Before the publication of Antj-
Oedipus, Gilles Deleuze was a
philosopher who had published an im-
portant study in the field of logic. He
was also a loyal disciple of Lacari. Pier-

ssens comments, "With Anti-Oedipus,
Deleuze blended his two interests - his
interest in logic, and his interest in
Lacanian psychoanalysis. The book is a
sort of a translation of Lacan into the
logic of Deleuze."
Felix Guattari was a relatively
unknown psychiatrist before the book
appeared. He was (and is) the admin-
istrator of a unique mental hospital in
France, the La Borde-clinic. Guattari's
participation in the writing of the book
lent interest, Pierssens says, "because
for once, one could read something
about psychology written by someone
who wasn't just speculating about the
unconscious, but who had real ex-
perience."
The way in which Guattari and his
colleagues run the La Borde clinic gives
some insight into practical aspects of
how the theories of Anti-Oedipus can be
applied -- at least in the area of
psychiatry. Says Pierssens, "La Borde
isn't a clinic like all the rest. It's more
or less self-managed; that is to say that
the people there - the mentally ill
people - participate in the
management of the clinic, in so far as
they can.
"Guattari is the chief of therapy
there. And it's a clinic where people
function with their differences. If they
need help they get help, but if not, they
function in their own lives, in their own
paths. When you go to visit La Borde,
you're a little surprised at first. You see
people doing bizarre things
everywhere. It has a completely
chaotic atmosphere. But for Deleuze
and Guattari, it would have to be that
way."
The extreme -popularity of Anti-
Oedipus dismayed Deleuze and Guat-
tari. That may seem paradoxical, but
actually it's consistend with their
philosophy. The book is a criticism of
the structures of society. Says Piers-
sens, "They wanted to try to destroy or
undermine" societal apparatusses. And
the last thing they wanted to do was-to
add a new structure. Pierssens Adds,
"Deleuze is someone who believes very
much in liberty, and he doesn't want to
be made into a sort of fetish. And Anti-
Oedipus was in the process of becoming
a fetish."
Anti-Oedipus was originally planned
to be the first volume of a two-volume
'work. But the authors didn't want to
add fuel to the Anti-Oedipus movement,
so they put off plans for the second
volume. It now appears unlikely the
second volume will be published.
But the danger that the Anti-Oedipus
movement might turn into a Franken-
stein appears to have passed. "I would
say that the book is now much less im-
portant than it was," says Pierssens.
"The movement has almost disap-
peared."

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Sundamaem1azine

Susan Ades

Jay Levin

inside:

Co-editors

Elaine Fletcher

Tom O'Connell

Revolt and

Associate Editors
Cover Photo of Cathy Guisewhite
by Patty Montemurri
"Cathy" comic strips courtesy
of Cathy Guisewhite

revision on the
Freudian front

Gael Greene:
"Blue Skies"
turn grey

Supplement to The Michiganaily T

Ann Arbor, Michigan-Sunday, January 22, 1978

t

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