There is a background to every text, a life, a thought, an obsession, a spilt cup of coffee on papers badly placed on a temporary desk. Good sex, drunken rants, flirtatious concepts, all of these form part of that which will never be said within the text, only ever sensed, occasionally and differently, by the readers and writers who follow the words along the page. This, maybe, is why people want to read biography, interviews, trivial detritus from the lifetimes of another, the writer, the author, the proper name appended to the title. When the text is one within philosophy there’s this sense that somehow knowing about the brandishing of a poker or the peculiar arrangement of garters, socks and toilet habits, somehow knowing this will help know the concepts. This betrays a latent humanism, most often, where we want to know what the author thinks, we want to discern accurately, so we think, the moments that occurred in someone elses’ mind and re-occur them in our own. There seems no reason to assume this humanistic notion of a transport of ideas from one mind to another as the central task of reading and interpreting a text. There seem many reasons to assume that a text is in fact nothing to do with an author to the extent that the act of reading occurs without any author and if the text works it works without an author other than the reader. Would it matter, say, that the images and ideas drawn from a book that had been read under one name suddenly found themselves shifted to another name? It might matter in terms of understanding the author but surely the point of reading is to understand the ideas and images not the author? Otherwise I would always be in a better position to understand an author by talking directly to them and not reading their work? The author really does seem somehow redundant, theoretically, since it is the ideas and images that we are interested by and in.
Despite this, those texts that occur on the margins of ‘real’ texts, authorised works, always seem to have a strange, uncanny necessity to them. This is no less the case than in ‘The Anti-Oedipus Papers’ by Felix Guattari, a collection of strange and varied notes and jottings produced in the course of writing, jointly with Deleuze, the work ‘Anti-Oedipus’, the first volume of ‘Capitalism and Schizophrenia’. When I first acquired this text a few months ago I read through it quickly and briefly, finding it strange and impenetrable, dismissing it as a rather weak and perhaps idiotic collection put together more as part of an attempt at hagiographical recuperation than intelligent concept creation. Guattari is increasingly viewed as an aberrant force on Deleuze, the ‘wild’ infecting the ‘pure’, lunacy implicating itself into rigour. Zizek is no doubt the main location of such a view (in his ‘Organs without Bodies’) but it’s not isolated to him alone and the increasing interest in the central and more ‘classically philosophical’ work such as ‘Difference and Repetition’ also appears at times, justifiably or not, as the result of an attempt to subtly, perhaps even subconsciously, purge Deleuze of Guattari. In this context ‘The Anti-Oedipus Papers’ (henceforth AOP) might be thought as an attempt to regain the crucial duality or pluralistic-monism of the name ‘Deleuze-Guattari’. All this, however, would be to miss the point or purpose of the AOP. There is no hagiography here, nor any attempt to somehow provide evidence for the absolute necessity of the double name. Instead there is a kind of compassion.
The AOP is first of all material. There is an introductory essay but I will ignore that, as though it doesn’t exist, since the papers themselves need to live. This time I decided to re-read the text during the xmas holiday break. I had picked the book up again a few weeks ago and for a while it sat, barely touched, on the bedside table where an ever shifting pile of texts moves through the dream-world of evening reading. These texts are usually chosen through a kind of intuition, something hinting at their interest, some curious phrase, name, image or event suggesting that, for some reason not yet clear, they will be of interest. Commonly this is the place for poetry and novels, my work-desk covered in philosophy texts, administrative bureaucracy and the portals to technological otherspace (internet, psp, mobilephone, digital camera). The bedside table texts slip inside the peripheral boundaries of reason, occasionally exploding into an event, text, lecture or image. They are the necessary distractions, the differential grenades.
As I skimmed across AOP this time I came across the odd phrases, lines and words that seemed incomprehensible and instead of dismissing this as something for which I had no time instead felt comfortable in a language of sense beyond sense. It was clear as I read that there was this enormous production of words and the further I read the more I returned to my time of reading Artaud. That was a time, during the writing of my doctoral thesis, that lasted about 6 months, when all I did was read words of Artaud, about Artaud and with Artaud. It produced almost nothing of use in the thesis, no chapter, no ‘theses’, no critiques or necessities or tools or arguments or images but instead it provided a massive affect of wonder, joy, sadness and life. Resonance. There is no reason for resonance, though it may be analysed and its genealogy traced. The production of resonance, however, is a moment of beauty in the encounter, the moment when something contracts and forms itself as a crystal of thought to be taken and warmed during the course of the following times. A quote, a phrase, an image, these are usually the tokens of such resonance, tokens that we then exchange in the snake-oil discourse that surrounds and constructs our sociality. The resonance itself is, at its purest, something that cannot be contracted, something that resists being repeated through tokens and calls, instead, for a loyalty or trust, a kind of honouring of its existence. This is the case with Artaud and it is no surprise that the doorway into Artaud led through the Deleuzian phrase ‘bodies without organs’, which I took as a token of the ‘Artaud-encounter’ and which proved no mere token but rather an introduction, in the sense in which Heidegger introduces us to metaphysics. AOP, in this sense, produced a resonance, a kind of material space of encounter in which Anti-Oedipus is introduced as no mere text but as a production of newsense, an introduction to schizo-analysis.
I am not writing a review then. A response perhaps. Last night, for example, as I sat with a friend of mine whose currently training in clinical psychology having completed his MPhil in philosophy a few years ago, we were discussing the practicalities of schizo-analysis. There is, I said to him, something that must be irresponsible in schizo-analysis. The analyst must act responsibly to achieve the state of power that constitutes ‘being an analyst’ but from them on, if they are to engage in schizo-analysis (and if they don’t then they essentially fall into the power relation they’re constituted by, with its attendant inevitability of having ‘power-over’) they must allow the irresponsible in, for this is the condition of experimentation without theory, the condition of being able to analyse without the oppression of the imposed theoretical construct enforcing a rigid and static meaning on the analysand, converting, at that point, the therapist as the rapist. To break theory, the flow of theory, and intersect instead with the actual, with the presented as presented flow, requires some irresponsibility. There is no way of being accountable for the break with theory, there lies within it a kind of megalomaniacal belief. This, I said, was found in the repetitive trope of ‘fuck it’ found in AOP, the way Guattari releases a frustration through this language. Fuck it, fucking hell, what a fucker. It’s akin to the exclamation mark, the mark of passion, another frequently used mark or word in AOP.
Then there’s this sense of Guattari struggling with words – words, words, more fucking words. The same thing that animates any writer, something that occurs in the nomination of oneself as writer, that desperation, the fact that, as Deleuze says somewhere, we only write about that which we don’t know. I write and then I read what’s written and try to understand why I wrote that, how I wrote that, who wrote that because it wasn’t me. As the project nears its formal completion and ‘Anti-Oedipus’ is finished Guattari cries that he will be held to account, people will ask questions, he will be thought to be, somehow, responsible for the words and that he has tried hard to avoid this previously. Before ‘Anti-Oedipus’, he wails, he was able to walk away, turn his back and say nothing, say something else, explode irresponsibly as a flow, rather than an in-dividual, as an endpoint to flow.
There’s this strange relation to analytic theory as well. Guattari take liquid ecstasy and tells his partner that he wants to fuck around. His molecularisation concepts impinge themselves and he holds to the delirium of the drug as a truth, somehow revealing the real Guattari, the liberated flow, when as we all know, the drugs flow, not you. That which is said on drugs is nothing other than the drugs. There is no ‘real flow’ unblocked by the chemical, just another flow which we’ll be attached to through a kind of family resemblance of filial link. “It came from mymouth thus it’s affiliated with everything else that comes from mymouth”. The reality, of course, is that a thousand angels speak through mymouth, the hiss and buzz of the goetic hordes, the insectoid machines of signification bubbling over desires incarnated in chemical interactions.
The same imposition of theory onto flow occurs as he analyses his relations to fanny and gilles, the former who he wants to fuck, and the latter whom he seems to conceive as somehow he must want to fuck even though such a desire is inapparent, hence, obviously, respressed. Fucking is taken as somehow meaningful in itself, as revealing something, other than the chimplike movement of bloodflow, hormonal interaction and a remarkably sophisticated antenna for opportunity. Everyone would fuck everything if they had the opportunity. The interesting thing is not why they do, but why they don’t. The break is the point of creation in the fuckflow. Guattari appears in these texts as classically heterosexual, for whom opportunity is inscribed in woman and not man and yet whose theories tell him such inscription is after the fact, that desire is genderfree, polymorphic. If the fuckflow is polymorphic, the breaks reveal the creation of something, indeed, but not necessarily a repression – it may as likely be a compression. That the opportunity is inscribed in woman more than man for the male heterosexual is no different, no more repressive, then if the fuckflow is inscribed predominantly in the same sex. It’s simply an asymetry. Nothing more. Where is the repression? Nowhere other than the theory, deriving its values from pre-theory, from a systemic asymetry that is no longer part of the fuckflow but which predominantly presents powerflow.
My response to AOP then is a reponse to a text that is not intended simply as the presentation of ideas, content seperable from the presentation, but like poetry or novels, contains a production that is entwined in its presentation. It’s the material for a schizo-analytical re-reading of ‘Anti-Oedipus’ and schizo-analysis itself, the non-existent form of analysis, the peripheral possibility of revolution rejected by the analytic community almost everywhere. As such, perhaps, it offers once again the glimmer of the possibility of revolution in the practical work of desirefuckedup that is the condition of possibility for analyses as a practice. This glimmer can be named; compassion.