Ktismatics

28 March 2007

Schizoanalysis

Filed under: Culture, Ktismata, Psychology — ktismatics @ 2:36 pm

Raise your ass to your mouth… ah, my ass burns like fire, but what can be the meaning of that? Perhaps a turd will come out… Yes, yes, turd, I know you, I see you, I feel you. What is this — how is such a thing possible?

– From a letter by Mozart, cited by Deleuze and Guattari

In Anti-Oedipus Deleuze and Guattari show the vague outline of what they call “schizoanalysis,” a praxis of purposeful deterritorialization that doesn’t fall into the usual trap of reterritorialization. They say, for example, that Freud deterritorializes the flows of desire but reterritorializes them — channels the flows — in terms of the Oedipus complex and a predefined, structured, unifying relationship between conscious and unconscious. Deleuze and Guattari want to avoid the restructuring of what’s been blown apart in Freudian analysis. Here they invoke as early exemplar the name of Lacan (Guattari was a psychoanalyst trained and analyzed by Lacan), who recognized the essentially unrepresentable, unstructurable nature of desire. For Lacan, the signs of desire, being nonsignifying, become signifying in representation only in terms of a signifier of absence or lack. Even Lacan imposes structure on the psychic chaos he unleashes, trying to interpret symptoms as a nonverbal language of the unrepresentable. Too constraining, too structuralist, too much of an attempt to trap schizoid freedom in the channels of a neuroticism that, D&G contend, are characteristic of capitalism’s rechanneling of desire. Destroy, destroy, is D&G’s presription.

The task of schizoanalysis goes by way of destruction — a whole scouring of the unconscious, a complete curettage. Destroy Oedipus, the illusion of the ego, the puppet of the superego, guilt, the law, castration. It is not a matter of pious destructions, such as those performed by psychoanalysis under the benevolent neutral eye of the analyst. For these are Hegel-style destructions, ways of conserving.

That is why, insist D&G,

inversely, schizoanalysis must devote itself with all its strength to the necessary destructions. Destroying beliefs and representations, theatrical scenes. And when engaged in this task no activity will be too malevolent… Schizoanalysis on the contrary must disengage the deterritorialized flows of desire… In its destructive task, schizoanalysis must proceed as quickly as possible, but it can also proceed only with great patience, great care, by successively undoing the representative territorialities and reterritorializations through which a subject passes in his individual history.

What’s the point of all this destruction and deterritorialization? The creation of a new land, say D&G, which can be arrived at only by traversing the many old lands, studying and understanding them, then passing through and beyond them — an intensive voyage that undoes all the lands for the benefit of the one it is creating.

In sum, D&G outline a negative praxis of schizoanalysis, or “antipsychiatry”:

(1) undoing all the reterritorializations that transform madness into mental illness; (2 ) liberating the schizoid movement of deterritorialization in all the flows... It should therefore be said that one can never go far enough in the direction of deterritorialization: you haven’t seen anything yet — an irreversible process.

The most important positive task of individual schizoanalysis is to identify the client’s desires, stripped of interpretation: the nature and function of the “partial engines” that make up the person’s psyche. The subconscious directs the various flows and breaks of desire emitted by these partial engines, building them into a whole engine that is the self. The schizoanalyst is a mechanic, breaking down the engine to see what makes it tick, why it’s not firing on all cylinders. Eventually it becomes clear that the whole engine built by the subconscious has been reified by the consciousness into an entirely separate and self-contained structure — a self — that operates independently of the desires. The various desires flow not from the integrated self but from some deeper, primal, undifferentiated substance that is the source of creativity. That’s why breaking down the engine doesn’t make everything fall to pieces. Instead it “deterritorializes” the flows of desire, setting them free from the conscious structures that repressed them.

The product of analysis should be a free and joyous person, a carrier of the life flows, capable of carrying them all the way into the desert and decoding them… Shit on your whole mortifying, imaginary, and symbolic theater. What does schizoanalysis ask? Nothing more than a bit of a relation to the outside, a little reality.

Once the desiring flows are set loose, the territorialization — of tradition, of parents, of government, especially these days of money — loses its force. The successful clients — the schizos — don’t just withdraw, living quietly on the fringe in artificial refuges. Instead, the schizos begin burrowing and gnawing, making holes for the desires to flow, undermining the system, doing revolution. They won’t stratify into social classes or merge into a herd, but their outflows of desire will draw them together. Schizos don’t need to devise intentions, interests, or goals to motivate them, because motivation itself flows from desire.

The great individual and collective endeavors of the schizos are art and science. Art, as soon as it attains its own grandeur, its own genius, creates chains of decoding and deterritorialization that serve as the foundation for desiring-machines, making them function. Not schools of art or art as commodity, but the process of art as outflow, as experimentation. Likewise, science not as goal-driven technical innovation but as an experimental process, as potential, as decoded flows of knowledge that lead who-knows-where. The flows of experimental art and science, the revolutionary desires that are always moving toward their fulfillment as potential — they will always overflow the territories assigned to them by capital, discovering and pursuing lines of escape, creating the new earth on which the territories are continually being re-inscribed.

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26 Comments »

  1. Interesting stuff from D & G…I’m just entering into conversation with the continental side of things so it is fascinating to hear this perspective. The post about territorialization reminded me of a book by Philip Cushman (a psychotherapist with a history degree, as well as rabbinical training) entitled, “Constructing the self, Constructing America: The history of psychotherapy in the U.S.” which traces out the manner in which psychoanalysis went down the road of the “interior” to the exclusion of the manner in which social forces construct “selves” (what D & G would call territorialization?).

    Here’s my question that stems from your post on D & G. You write, “The most important positive task of individual schizoanalysis is to identify the client’s desires, stripped of interpretation…” How does this occur? It seems like any type of “identification” requires interpretation…how do D & G get around this? Also, is their “free and joyous person” just a description of a “new territory” that they have constructed?

    As a psychotherapist, I desire for my clients to become aware of the manner in which social forces construct their “selves”…but it is hard to understand how D & G seem to move from this to what seems like a pure and pristine life flow beyond interpretation…I would appreciate your thoughts on this, if this question makes any sense.

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    Comment by Ron — 28 March 2007 @ 7:20 pm

  2. Ron –

    I looked at the Amazon description of Cushman’s book: it does sound like it moves along a similar path. For D&G the self is in league with society, trying to align the desires with whatever channels the cultural territory will permit. As a consequence selves mirror the sociohistorical context in which they’re embedded.

    How do D&G propose to identify the client’s desires, stripped of interpretation? Good question — I’ll give it my best shot. The desires flow out of an undifferentiated substrate beneath consciousness. As they flow and intersect, the desires becomes separable trajectories. But the trajectories are indeterminate, like arrows shot into the world without being aimed anywhere in particular. In linguistic jargon, the desires are signifiers that don’t signify. When a desire intersects with something else — consciousness, the other, the world, another desire — its flow is interrupted, channeled, territorialized. The arrow wasn’t aimed anywhere, but it does eventually hit something. To interpret the desire as if it had been aimed is to impose a territorializing function to the desire, to force it to signify something, to assign it a meaning that’s just an artifact of the traces it leaves behind on things as it passes through on its way who-knows-where next. The traces can be territorialized — obsessions, ideas, paintings, neuroses, etc. — but for the desires that left the traces everything is possible — they can signify anything, mean anything, create anything.

    The question I have is whether the desires are distinguishable at the level of mulitpe un-aimed forces, or whether desire is some generic life force. So is there a force called libido that seeks one thing, another called happiness that seeks another thing, another called cruelty, or creation, or destruction, or whatever? Can you identify and codify them by the kinds of activities they engage in and the kinds of functions they perform when they land somewhere? Presumably D&G say yes. They do not, however, clarify how someone might go about doing so. Presumably any active force bubbling up from within is a desire; anything that seems generated by an interruption in the flow can point back upstream to the desire that left its trace. And the traces perhaps have diagnostic value: which desire made this happen, and was the result something creative or something dead/neurotic? But here I’m speculating.

    The “free and joyous person” D&G envision coming out of the successful schizoanalytic process: I think probably it is a new territorialization. In this phrase they’re alluding to Wilhelm Reich, an eccentric and possibly nutty analyst who was interested in flows of sexual energy and the neurotic pscyhophysiological symptoms that result from blocking the flow. Mostly D&G are reacting against Freud, for whom any release of libido would always be limited by the countervailing force of the death instinct that generates anxiety and repression. D&G say that people don’t have an instinct for death; rather, the territorializing operations of society create dead-ends that desire runs into if it gets out of the approved channels. And even in the channels that which is desired is a something that’s always missing, an act of production that never produces anything, an act of consumption that’s always hungry. The social system runs on these unfillable gaps, these false fulfillments. Say D&G: Death is not desired, but what is desired is dead, already dead: images. So, if the desires stop being aimed at dead stuff and start flowing freely again, maybe some sort of joy becomes conceivable that isn’t automatically offset by a built-in braking mechanism.

    Your question makes sense, and is a lot like my question. I’m not sure this answer adds any clarity. Anti-Oedipus is highly theoretical. It’s a difficult book to understand, but I’m pretty sure they don’t offer many suggestions about how to do what they claim can and should be done. If that makes any sense…

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    Comment by ktismatics — 29 March 2007 @ 12:18 pm

  3. In many ways schizoanalysis seems to mirror stuff taught in philosophical hinduism, an unleashing of the primal forces within oneself at their most fundamental, uncharacterizable, stage. In another sense one wonders if this is not an exercise that has not already been attempted by Voltaire, Rousseau et al? The results might be a spate of de Sades, which in a Neitschean way might be what is being sought…

    The question of interpretation and characterization-identification of these fundamental desires does pose its own bit of a problem doesn’t it?

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    Comment by samlcarr — 30 March 2007 @ 8:02 am

  4. I was thinking the same thing…that D & G seem to stand in a line of tradition of which Rousseau is a part. As I was reading the posts on D & G I kept thinking about Rousseau’s quote, “Man is born free but everywhere he is in chains” and saw D & G’s project as a postmodern thread of this.

    Would D & G see the newborn infant (sorry, I need concrete examples to help my thinking) as their “prototype” of a joyous and happy person? This is the example that came to mind of desires not being aimed at anything (although there might be an argument that relationship is aimed for) but than slowly becoming territorialized. I would imagine than that D & G would have difficulty with Freud’s desire to turn primary process into secondary process (“Where Id is, Ego shall be”), but are they wanting to argue for a “good enough” territorialization (e.g. can a parent provide a “territory” for their child’s desires that doesn’t deaden?) or no territorialization at all? If it is the former, than I can go probably go a long way with them, if it is the latter than I am not sure how they get there.

    I would love to hear your thoughts as I try to muddle my way through this.

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    Comment by Ron — 30 March 2007 @ 10:25 am

  5. Sam –

    Very interesting. I know so little about Hinduism I can’t say, but it does sound like a comparable idea. D&G cite specifically Spinoza’s “immutable immanent substance” as the undifferentiated but not homogenous “numen,” the wellspring of the desires. Here’s a quote from my most trusted source on Spinoza, Wikipedia: Spinoza argued that God and Nature were two names for the same reality, namely the single substance (meaning “to stand beneath” rather than “matter”) that underlies the universe and of which all lesser “entities” are actually modes or modifications. For Spinoza God is one but has an infinite number of discrete attributes. That sounds rather Hindu to my untrained ears. It also sound Gnostic, the influence that Jason is always looking for. So the desires are comparable to attributes of God or demiurges or whatever is the comparable entity/quality in Hinduism. I’d be interested to hear the Hindu version of this idea.

    I think you and Ron are right about the Rousseau connection, the idea of natural man being corrupted by society and infusing him with an ego that becomes self-serving and gets in the way of the free flow of desires. Very good connection. D&G acknowledge that, in contrast to Freud’s “dark and somber” unconscious, their “naturalistic and idyllic” characterization is reproached for its “Rousseauism.” D&G respond:

    But doesn’t one indeed lend to the unconscious horrors that could only be those of consciousness, and of a belief too sure of itself? Would it be an exaggeration to say that in the unconscious there is necessarily less cruelty and terror, and of a different type, than in the consciousness of an heir, a solier, or a Chief of State?… It is not the slumber of reason that engenders monsters, but vigilant and insomniac rationality. The unconscious is Rousseauistic, being man-nature. And how much malice and ruse is there in Rousseau? Transgression, guilt, castration: are these determinations of the unconscious, or is this the way a priest sees things?

    Nietzsche is a forerunner of D&G in his emphasis on the pre-conscious forces in man, but Nietzsche is also the guy to undermine Rousseau — see today’s post. I don’t think Nietzsche advocates ruthless exercise of cruelty — I think his job is to alert us to its immanence and its primal force as a desire in its own right. He wants to point out that there’s no sure way of knowing what’s a desire and what’s a corruption. Sweetness and harmony isn’t a surefire indicator of natural man.

    Ron –

    Looking back at my own kid as an infant, I see both purer happiness in outflow and satisfaction of desire and purer unhappiness when the desires are frustrated. D&G frequently cite Melanie Klein and her notion of “partial objects” as attached to the desires. So for the infant the desire for food is attached to the partial object of the breast. D&G see the rediscovery of these partial objects as a task of schizoanalysis. “Real” schizophrenics start seeing exploded bodies, but they sink back into the undifferentiated numen and become catatonically immobilized. D&G wants to set them free again. So I suppose they are advocates of the “release the inner child” school of therapy.

    Presumably a “good enough” parent would fulfill the desires consistently enough to provide satisfaction, and would not impose neurosis-inducing territorializations that might take shape as compulsion or shame or castration anxiety. D&G envision “good” territorializations that form themselves at the intersections of one’s desires with another’s desires. I’d presume one of those happy intersections would occur at the infant’s interface with a parent whose flows of love and nurturing aren’t blocked and distorted. I’ll look for more evidence in the book to confirm this idea, because they spend so much time bashing Freud’s picture of child-parent interaction it’s hard to see what their picture is.

    And I too am muddling through. I wonder how much of D&G is already implicit in other schools of psychotherapy that hold sway at least in America. I think the main thing is this radical effort at continual and repeated deterritorialization rather than trying to impose a normalized territory. Is that how you see it?

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    Comment by ktismatics — 30 March 2007 @ 4:00 pm

  6. Hear ye hear ye…I shout it from the hilltops…from the riverbed…from the illusory dungeon of man’s impositions upon himself…everything is Gnostic. Climb the ladder to your real desires!

    I’m kidding…of course. At least mostly.

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 30 March 2007 @ 5:10 pm

  7. I would agree that the main focus is on the deterritorialization and that is what I am digging about D&G. What I dislike about psychoanalysis in general, and D&G seem to fall into this too (from the little that I am understanding), is that the vision of the “good life” which guides the theoretical vision and which is a moral claim, is often obfuscated behind the deconstructive elements and the “pure”, “natural” language that attempts to ground theory into a universal “we’re just describing the way things are” status.

    D&G seem to be wanting to deconstruct a particular historical/cultural understanding of the self (the desiring of deadness, restless and empty self which is constructed by and the pawn of consumeristic capitalism) which I applaud and which for me really resonates with what needs to be deterritorialized in therapy (and which makes psychotherapy moral discourse about what the good life is). I guess what I wish they would than do would be to locate themselves within a moral community or tradition from which their vision of the good life emerges and argue that position. When theorists use “natural” language, it seems like it is just another modern grab for power and therefore masks the new territorialization that is being marked out.

    I’m not sure this is a fair picture of D&G, as my understanding is minimal, so please correct any misunderstandings. Like I said, this frustration is more with psychoanalytic theory in general in which every new theorist lays out the “natural” way things are for the psyche/self/unconscious/etc.

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    Comment by Ron — 30 March 2007 @ 5:11 pm

  8. D&G’s proclamation of “what is” ssems like a “what ought to be.” I think from an evolutionary standpoint you could identify distinct built-in desires that would have survival value: food, safety, nurture, sex, aggression, fear, and so on. The food desire manifests itself in part in a taste aesthetic: you’re prewired to like the taste of stuff that’s good for you and not to like stuff that isn’t. People who liked the taste of poison ate the poison, died, didn’t pass on the love-poison gene. And so on. And I can imagine how the taste aesthetic can get abstracted away from nutrition, such that people begin to savor taste for its own sake, refining their palate for fine wines, and so on. All this I can see as supportive to D&G’s description of separate desires.

    What’s missing is the transition from “is” to “ought.” They’ve got the Rousseauian idyll, such that all the desires are good desires. That’s where somebody like Nietzsche comes in to make you doubt the natural goodness of a desire like cruelty. I think he’s right: there is probably an innate instinct to enjoy inflicting harm that comes in handy when making yourself kill prey, attack enemies, etc. But to refine the taste for cruelty as an aesthetic of sadism? Dude, that might be natural, but it makes you reconsider the all-natural ethos.

    I’m kind of a fan of civilization and consciousness. I think consciousness does more good than harm, including its rational and empirical capabilities that a lot of the postmodern crowd dismiss as symptomatic of modernism. In this regard D&G reflect an overlap between postmodernity and Romanticism, with its valorization of premodern man, the subconscious, and the passions. It is surprising that D&G include science along with art as a hallmark of the deterritorialized community of free-flowing passion. But I think good science and art demand more than just letting your juices flow. There’s a discipline, a concentration, a perseverance, an exercise of judgment, a willingness to pursue beauty and truth at the expense of self-gratification and self-glorification — a conscious separating of oneself from one’s passions. Similarly with justice, as our friend Nietzsche points out. Some kind of restraint, abstract evaluation, moral judgment needs to mediate between desires of affiliation and vengeance.

    I think D&G are offering a corrective to analytic theory that operates within the analytic tradition. And I suspect that they still offer a corrective to all the overterritorializing that goes on in the name of family, religion, success, etc.

    Oh, and I had another thought on my run this afternoon. The relationship between child and parents ought to reterritorialize periodically, rather than getting stuck in a stereotypic arrangement. Is it parental instinct that lets you know when to react to your kid as if she’s getting a little bit more human as time goes on, or is it a conscious decision to adjust the paradigms? I suspect there’s a lot more instinct involved, but if the instincts go awry then at least there’s the consciousness to help try to get back on track. But it’s a lot harder than when it just comes naturally.

    I had some other thought on my run that was relevant here, but I’m afraid dinner has deterritorialized it right out of my consciousness.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 30 March 2007 @ 8:51 pm

  9. I remembered the thought, territorialized the comment box with it, but then clicked off the page and it deterritorialized. Hopefully strong enough traces remain in my memory to recreate it.

    For D&G, the sick schizo is someone whose flows of desire have been completely cut off from fulfillment in the world. Their world is populated by a confusion of inaccessible organs: breasts, genitals, mouths, anuses, eyes. Disembodied voices float around the room emitted from undetectable sources, conveying indecipherable messages to each other. The world is populated with zombies, walking dead with whom it is impossible to establish connection. Cut off from the outside, the schizo’s desires retreat back into their undifferentiated source, the numen, what D&G call the “body without organs.” There the desires move around aimlessly, inscribing traces on the body without organs, but because they cannot land anywhere they never territorialize, never signify. It’s an inner senseless roil that on the outside is inert, catatonic, zombie-esque.

    For D&G the sick schizoid state is the limit of tyrannical and rigid territorialization. The desires always overflow the prescribed channels of expression. If there’s nowhere else to go then they curve back on themselves. What they find is the self. We become connoisseurs and artists and scientists of the self, creating a grotesquely huge, labyrinthine, rococo playhouse for the desires. The self becomes a parasite on the bottled-up energies of desire. If the self too becomes excessively rigid and prescribed and territorialized, then the desires have to head back underground. They become neurotic symptoms. If those too get cut off they sag back into the body without organs. A schizo zombie is the result.

    D&G want to reverse the process. The desires will flow whether you try to bottle them up or not. If you give the desires more access to the outside world, more possibilities for fulfillment, then people become less self-absorbed, less egocentric. Instead of creating ever more complex and parasitic versions of themselves they can create new territorializations in the world: science, art, relationships, political revolutions.

    D&G are offering a corrective to a society obsessed with self. Psychoanalysis reinforces the obsession by focusing on building the ego. Arguably religion has become a connoisseurship of personal morality, turning the believers inward toward building intricate structures of personal holiness instead of creating in the world without worrying so much about whether their motives are right. Certainly the marketplace feeds the cult of the self. offering stuff to consume and to assemble around yourself as a kind of personal shrine. Even the new version of work as “doing what you love” becomes focused on your own job satisfaction rather than on what you’re able to create individually and collectively that would be different and good contributions to the world.

    In such a world D&G position themselves as what Richard Rorty calls “edifying philosophers.” Theirs isn’t a timeless and full system. It’s a corrective, purposely tailored to a particular place and time, extreme in its expression, ultimately unachievable (reterritorializations always follow the deterrritorializations).

    When I think about a practice I think about redirecting energy away from self and toward the world. Instead of creating more ego apparatus it might be necessary to dismantle some of it. Certainly some of the rigidities need to be loosened up. Even some of the seeming flexibilities of late-modern global capitalistic democracy turn out to be insidious territorializers, locking people into self-absorption and the production of more useless and ugly crap for the other self-absorbed people to consume. I think D&G envision a whole client base of potential Mozarts and Einsteins. I do too. I think, though, that when most people “follow their passions” they end up more like Britney clones and the guy who opens up yet another coffee shop. Convergence on the “dreadful average” may be built into the passions themselves. The question becomes whether D&G is building a praxis for the outliers, the remnant, Nietzsche’s supermen, not for the Rousseau’s herd of naturally domesticated animals.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 31 March 2007 @ 6:50 am

  10. Ok, now you are really piquing my interest! I’m glad you remembered the “traces” because they rocked! I’m going to have to pick up Anti-Oedipus, as I really liked the description of D&G’s intentions in this last post. It reminded me of Erich Fromm (a fav of mine) and his constant critique of both totalitarianism and democratic capitalism (his critique of a democratic capitalism creating “pseudo-thinking” began in 1941…prophetic I think) pushing for a society where “spontaneous acts of work and love” could occur. I think the turn to the interior and the obsession with the self is also harmful and neglects the manner in which society does “territorialize” us…which makes us blind to the forces which shape us and unable to be “loving resistance fighters” (to quote Neil Postman). I wonder whether we can do this alone or whether we might need communities of resistance (knowing that this brings the temptation for a new territorialization)? What would recommend as a good starting place to becoming familiar with D&G? Thanks for this dialogue, I have found it enlivening (in a non-territorialing way)!

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    Comment by Ron — 31 March 2007 @ 7:39 am

  11. Thanks, I’ve been enjoying it too. I don’t know Fromm’s work; I’ll have to check him out. His linking psychological disorder to larger cultural forces in which individuals are embedded does resonate with D&G. D&G are writing in post-Nazi France so they’re not particularly focused on Soviet totalitarianism. They regard capital as the great late-modern reterritorializer, regardless of whether capital flows through capitalistic or socialistic channels.

    Communities of resistance I think are desirable. Some way of framing the conversations, the expectations of intervention, the trajectories. Some kind of mutual support in seeing what each other is trying to do, perhaps even collaborating. But yes, something that doesn’t require a secret handshake. I was disappointed to find out that the surrealists used to kick members out of the club.

    I don’t know about other D&G sources. Here’s a review of a recent book about Deleuze, who casts a longer philosophical shadow than Guattari does as a psychiatrist. There’s a second book after Anti-Oedipus called A Thousand Plateaus which I understand takes a more collective look at ideas initiated in the first book.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 31 March 2007 @ 12:55 pm

  12. K: “D&G are offering a corrective to a society obsessed with self. Psychoanalysis reinforces the obsession by focusing on building the ego.”

    I’ve been thinking a good deal about “pilgrimage,” as you know. Recently, I’ve been realizing that this has many different strands, one of which is the idea of “displacement.” A pilgrim claims no place, no territory. S/he owns no land, refuses to settle.

    I’ve been also wondering if the idea of “displacement” is what is at the heart of Genesis 3, or what is commonly referred to as “the fall of man.” Why is this “the fall”? I see it as the event that triggered the displacement of humanity. The result of eating of the tree was “the knowledge of good and evil,” a sort of moral consciousness. Somehow this knowledge results in the man and woman being banished from the Garden. It’s like the text is saying: your place is no place. Abraham is called to leave his territory and settled land.

    I think about this notion of “self,” then, as you mentioned, and I think of Paul’s death-to-self theology. Paul insists that we all died (past tense, always, from what I can tell) and were “buried with Christ.” The result is to live a new life.

    K: “Arguably religion has become a connoisseurship of personal morality, turning the believers inward toward building intricate structures of personal holiness instead of creating in the world without worrying so much about whether their motives are right.”

    So, religion shows little of real death of the self, it also shows little of a real life–not one distinguishable from the rest of the consumeristic impulses of the crowd. A life of joy, as D&G seem to be describing is non-existent.

    Genesis 3 doesn’t seem to be prescribing morality, or good and evil. This knowledge of good and evil sets us adrift, as a race. Radical displacement seems to go hand in hand with our consciousness as moral, responsible beings. For Paul, the life of the Spirit is manifested by “fruits.” These fruits are not really “moral” in the sense of referencing a “law.” One gets the sense that they just flow. However, these fruits are contrasted to the “works of the flesh,” which certainly seem to be the manifestations of the consumeristic impulse: self-serving and at the same time sucking the joy out of life.

    K: “Certainly the marketplace feeds the cult of the self. offering stuff to consume and to assemble around yourself as a kind of personal shrine. Even the new version of work as “doing what you love” becomes focused on your own job satisfaction rather than on what you’re able to create individually and collectively that would be different and good contributions to the world.”

    So, where does that put the pilgrim?

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    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 29 June 2010 @ 2:33 am

  13. Picking up where i left off…..So, where does that leave the pilgrim?

    K: In such a world D&G position themselves as what Richard Rorty calls “edifying philosophers.” Theirs isn’t a timeless and full system. It’s a corrective, purposely tailored to a particular place and time, extreme in its expression, ultimately unachievable (reterritorializations always follow the deterrritorializations).

    When I think about a practice I think about redirecting energy away from self and toward the world. Instead of creating more ego apparatus it might be necessary to dismantle some of it. Certainly some of the rigidities need to be loosened up. Even some of the seeming flexibilities of late-modern global capitalistic democracy turn out to be insidious territorializers, locking people into self-absorption and the production of more useless and ugly crap for the other self-absorbed people to consume. I think D&G envision a whole client base of potential Mozarts and Einsteins. I do too. I think, though, that when most people “follow their passions” they end up more like Britney clones and the guy who opens up yet another coffee shop.”

    Right. I think I see something similar. The pilgrim deliberately positions himself or herself outside of the fray. S/he doesn’t just open another coffee shop. The pilgrim is content to be displaced and deterritorialized, refusing a quick-fix reterritorialization. They refuse a swift integration of their glimpse of death of self into the marketplace. They will sit with it, maybe even adopt displacement as a way of life: “this world is not my home.”

    That’s what is intriguing about Fight Club. They are willing to lose everything, to undergo a death-of-self, and to live with the consequences. In the film, this is a violent undertaking. There is also the scene where Jack deliberately burns himself (or “Tyler” burns “Jack”)—so there is pain in this death. What there is none of, however, is joy. Perhaps because that which is deterritorialized is then reterritorialized into a Fascist movement of violence against others.

    I’d like to explore Deleuze and this idea of deterritorialization a bit more. I’m intrigued, because it kind of intersects with some of my current interests.

    What do you think? Are these some legitimate parallels?

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    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 29 June 2010 @ 2:39 am

  14. And perhaps as one final thought….the displace, deterritorialized pilgrim also might find herself to be now more highly creative and imaginative. Rather than just opening the same type of coffee shop with their own little twist, the pilgrim sits with her displacement long enough to envision something entirely different. So, I’m seeing that the pilgrim develops a vision for the world precisely because she has been willing to allow the self to die (and stay dead?). Whereas allowing one’s self to stabilize as a self (i.e. territorialize, place, settle) means that one must necessarily revert back to the conventions that define, delineate, and identify the self (for example, “a creative type will open a coffee shop”).

    Is this new creativity a part of the joy? I am no longer confined to “the self” with its conventions and I can enjoy my own imaginations, setting them free for infinite possibilities for creation and invention.

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    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 29 June 2010 @ 2:51 am

  15. You and Tamie must be about ready to embark on the big Eastern voyage into the unknown. It sounds exciting.

    “I see it as the event that triggered the displacement of humanity.”

    In Genesis 3 deterritorialization is imposed on Adam and Eve by the landowner, who evicts them from the land they’ve been working as a punishment for taking some of the fruits of their labor for their own enjoyment. This becomes the original sin: violation of property law, as defined by those with the power to control the territory to which the law applies. Humanity becomes deterritorialized not as a proactive adventure but in response to an eviction notice. Still, already in Genesis 4 we see that the nomadic freedom of the deterritorialized race is already compromised by a longing for the stability of a master-subject hierarchy. Cain and Abel are sacrificing to the God who kicked them out of the Garden, squabbling over who will earn His favor. Did God follow the humans out into the wilderness, claiming that territory as His own too, demanding a share of their crops and livestock? Or were the humans afraid of the wilderness, and so they bribed the Lord to take them over?

    As you may recall, Erdman, I’m old-school on defining Pilgrimage: not a quest into the unknown, but a return voyage. It seems that the Hebrew Bible is about a forcefully deterritorialized people trying to find their way back to a well-defined territory that they can call their own. Even Abraham: he’s called from his home, but he’s also promised a better place, one which he and his descendants would own and control forever, a place like Eden from which he would never be evicted. According to the historians the proto-Hebrews were nomadic herdsmen, so even if Abram lived in Ur he probably wandered far and wide. Maybe he longed to settle down, like the landowning peoples he would pass through on his endless nomadic wanderings.

    So too the Law is a pilgrimage, a return to a presumably lost territorialization of the human soul and society that guaranteed a sense of individual and collective identity by clearly defining their boundaries and the legitimate channels in which their desires were permitted to flow. Is this a slave morality, as Nietzsche insisted — a yearning to be held captive? Or is it the story of the new landowners who invented a myth whereby God is the ultimate enforcer of the territorial markings on land and social order and individual compliance?

    Deleuze and Guattari present themselves as agents of deterritorialization, of nomadic discovery and creation without end. They acknowledge, though, that reterritorialization is a seemingly inescapable consequence, either through complacency or the will to power or the capitalist class taking ownership of what the nomad has discovered/created. So it’s always partly a matter of being forced out of the ruts and past the border lines, to keep moving without that longing to settle down forever. I don’t think D&G valorize this reiterated cycle as just a series of upheavals for their own sake. I think they see progress, but it’s not in the direction of any predefined Promised Land, which is always a return to territorialization. Instead it’s a continual creating of the territory as you move into it.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 29 June 2010 @ 5:22 am

  16. Just following along with your train of thought, Erdman…

    So now I think about morality and whether it’s integral to our humanity or rather something we impose on ourselves — or is imposed on us by the Lords — in order to limit our humanity through artificial territorialization. And I tend to think that it is both. There are some a priori standards to which we, individually and collectively, can commit ourselves if we are to keep moving forward, continually creating/discovering ever better worlds without either settling in too deeply or getting evicted. Many of these commitments aren’t usually regarded as moral: keep creating, keep discovering, don’t settle, as individuals and as a collective. It seems to me that morality gets dangerous in D&G’s sense when it attempts to restrict movement, to establish/protect territorial markers over physical and intellectual property, to assert private ownership over the fruits of one’s own or (especially) others’ labor. Morality is a mutual commitment to abide by these ethical principles even if it means sacrificing some personal advantages. But these advantages entail territorialization, which is dehumanizing anyway.

    D&G, and also Marx, contend that capitalism itself is a deterritorializing machine, continually staging its own crises. But instead of freeing up the territory for all, these crises serve primarily to strengthen the owners’ control. Crisis squeezes out the less powerful, allowing the bigger powers to consolidate their territory. Crisis also stimulates the workers to more creative energies, which the owners then get to exploit through the opening up of new market opportunities. So there’s always this sense that capitalist deterritorialization is really just a temporary phase for consolodating around an even larger and tighter hegemonic territorialization. I think this is one reason why the a priori mutual ethical commitments are important: deterritorialization is a principled, progressive movement toward more knowledge, truth, beauty, freedom, and equality, rather than the no-holds-barred unprincipled anti-ethos of laissez-faire capitalism, which always seems to serve the interests of the rich and powerful.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 29 June 2010 @ 5:41 am

  17. I’m not sure how joyful this pathway really is, Erdman. The territorial markings are strong, and in many ways it’s easier just to settle in. Does it require some sort of discipline to push your way out of the channels, to escape across the border, to forge a path into the unknown? In the myths and movies it’s always a big and glory-laden adventure meant for heroes, and maybe the heroes are those who can continually find joy in these dangerous forays into the unknown. On the other hand there’s the sense of absurdity: why bother taking on the Great White Whale when inevitably you’re going to be dragged under by your own futile efforts to achieve something heroically worthwhile that no one really gives a damn about other than yourself? And maybe that’s why something like commitment a nomadic ethos is just as important in the long run as the joy of traveling.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 29 June 2010 @ 5:51 am

  18. K: D&G, and also Marx, contend that capitalism itself is a deterritorializing machine, continually staging its own crises. But instead of freeing up the territory for all, these crises serve primarily to strengthen the owners’ control. Crisis squeezes out the less powerful, allowing the bigger powers to consolidate their territory. Crisis also stimulates the workers to more creative energies, which the owners then get to exploit through the opening up of new market opportunities.

    Here is a related quote from my current novel, Orlando by Virginia Woolf:

    “It was clear that the gypsy thought that there was no more vulgar ambition than to possess bedrooms by the hundreds–they were on top of a hill when they spoke, it was night, the mountains rose around them–when the whole earth is ours. Looked at from the Gypsy point of view, a Duke Orlando understood, was nothing but a profiteer or robber who snatched land and money from people who rated these things of little worth and could think of nothing better to do than to build 365 bedrooms when one was enough, and none was even better than one.”

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    Comment by Erdman — 1 July 2010 @ 8:08 pm

  19. Thanks for working through my comments and leaving some thoughtful responses. Sorry to be a while in getting back to this post. I am really intrigued by the discussion. Yesterday was the last day to get all of our stuff out of the apartment—talk about deterritorialization!

    So, question. What do you see as the relationship between pilgrimage and deterritorialization? Is a pilgrim deterritorialized and (by definition) in search of territorialization? I was kind of picturing the pilgrimage as a deliberate pursuit of deterritorialization. The pilgrim recognizes that this world is not the place to settle. From a Christian perspective, this seems to be a diverging point between Christianity and Judaism. In Judaism, the religion is connected with a territory–the Promised Land. Christianity has no physical land, it is looking toward the future redemption, which is not of this world. (Though, perhaps Judaism has a similar sense: the Messianic.)

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    Comment by Erdman — 1 July 2010 @ 8:16 pm

    • Historically, Christian pilgrimage has mostly been Orthodox or Catholic, associated with the veneration of saints and holy places; e.g., Santiago de Compostela, where the bones of St. James, one of the twelve disciples, are supposedly buried. So too with other religious traditions: Hindu, Islam, etc. The intent isn’t to go home to these places, but to retrace the steps of the saints, to participate vicariously in the holiness of their lives. There’s deterritorialization from home, but the pilgrimage trail is very strictly laid out; e.g., the five converging paths leading to Santiago, which have been clearly marked for centuries and which now possess as it were the accumulated holiness of all those pilgrims who have walked the trails before you. You can’t just go to the destination; you have to follow the designated trail. It’s an alternate, temporary territory which you occupy for a temporary interval of time. When you’re finished and you reach the predesignated end, you return home to your prior life presumably renewed by your contact with ancient holiness.Protestants were iconoclasts and didn’t go in for this sort of thing. Maybe contemporary Protestant interest in pilgrimage goes along with other catholicizing tendencies, though saints and icons still aren’t very popular with the Protestants. So I think historically the pilgrimage urge has been a temporary setting-aside of modern ways and a return to an earlier, holier way of walking through the world, with the ancient trails and venerated sites serving as spiritual portals.

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      Comment by ktismatics — 1 July 2010 @ 10:09 pm

  20. You cite D&G as saying, “The product of analysis should be a free and joyous person, a carrier of the life flows, capable of carrying them all the way into the desert and decoding them…” And you say, leading to this quote: The various desires flow not from the integrated self but from some deeper, primal, undifferentiated substance that is the source of creativity. That’s why breaking down the engine doesn’t make everything fall to pieces. Instead it “deterritorializes” the flows of desire, setting them free from the conscious structures that repressed them.

    It’s this part of the post that got me thinking (at 2 or 3 in the morning!) that this life was “a life of joy.” Probably not the right line of thought. However, I imagine that if one were able to truly develop a deep appreciation for one’s own creativity, the way in which the flows of desire are deterritorialized, then might that lead to a life of joy?

    I would like to hear some of your further thoughts on this.

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    Comment by Erdman — 1 July 2010 @ 8:22 pm

    • You’re right: that’s D&G’s contention; I’d forgotten and hadn’t reread the post. This is my skepticism showing through — maybe it’s because I’ve undertaking self-schizoanalysis without the supervision of a fully certified professional. I think about this issue of creatorly joy a lot, usually involuntarily. Earlier today I was listening to a song by Todd Rundgren called Bang the Drum All Day, which appeared on his album The Ever-Popular Tortured Artist Effect, a title which I’ve always quite liked. I think the Tortured Artist is the alter-ego of the Joyful Creator, with both holding a revered place in the romantic imagination. There are plenty of other variants that perhaps get less press coverage, about whom I will say nothing further for now.

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      Comment by ktismatics — 1 July 2010 @ 10:18 pm

  21. K: There’s deterritorialization from home, but the pilgrimage trail is very strictly laid out

    Do you think there can be a legitimate move to merge pilgrimage and deterritorialization? If pilgrimage is historically “very strictly laid out,” then is there no intersection?

    Jesus, for example, said “the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Jesus was deterritorialized, homeless prophet. Is there some sense in which one might embark on a pilgrimage to become deterritorialized, merely for the sake renouncing those elements of common society that one find repulsive? I’m not talking about a hermitage or a monastic life. These, in my view, seem to be a form of reterritorialization.

    Another saying of Jesus comes to mind, his commentary on hating one’s father and mother. This, combined with other sayings seems to suggest that Jesus had in mind followers who had no attachments. The young rich ruler came to Jesus, and Jesus merely told him to sell all of his possessions and give them to the poor. It’s like he wanted those who had nothing to lose, and only then were they fit to teach and proclaim the kingdom.

    Might one begin to deterritorialize themselves and call this itself a pilgrimage? Or does this stretch things too far, in your mind?

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    Comment by Erdman — 3 July 2010 @ 10:50 am

  22. You know, Erdman, that this was a central concern in my novel The Stations. Even the deterritorialized launch into the unknown, where you think you’re creating something different, is a retracing of some old pathway, perhaps Jesus’s as you point out. If so, then isn’t every Quest already a Pilgrimage? An excerpt from the novel:

    In the isolation of his movements the traveler finds strength and singularity, motive and trajectory. Having taken the first hesitant steps beyond the pale, he begins to conceive of a longer journey. And yet the world is fully discovered and charted pole to pole. To be a traveler in such a world is to retrace the steps of countless others who have gone before. The world is become mundane and diminished, and no pilgrimage will bring it back to itself. The apocalyptic vision attracts us in its repulsiveness: a world restored to desolation, formless and void, a place worth exploring again. Though other worlds beckon, we find ourselves marooned on this self-limiting planet. The mass of humanity has always respected the frontiers. Nature, culture, maybe even the gods, conspire to limit our options. Even when we are most certain that we choose and act freely, our freedom may be an illusion, our choices predetermined, our actions inevitable. We seem predestined to living someone else’s life…”

    But even in this authorial filigree I’m retracing Melville’s trail — here’s the passage I cite from Moby Dick in The Stations:

    “Were this world an endless plain, and by sailing eastward we could for ever reach new distances, and discover sights more sweet and strange than any Cyclades or Islands of King Solomon, then there were promise in the voyage. But in pursuit of those far mysteries we dream of, or in tormented chase of that demon phantom that, some time or another, swims before all human hearts – while chasing such over this round globe, they either lead us on in barren mazes or midway leave us whelmed.”

    Or are there still unprecedented travels? Like the scapegoat, the unchosen one who walked into the wilderness on the Day of Atonement: we know his departure, but not his route or his destination. If Jesus had walked into the wilderness, leaving no record behind of his fate, would a pilgrimage in his footsteps have meant something different? The Stations again:

    “If you fail you will be ignored. If you succeed you will be ignored. You no longer live in the civilized world of sunny skies, mild breezes, and pleasant conversation. You are embarked upon a murky way of many windings. Your adventures thereupon witnessed by none save yourself, your accounts neither heeded nor remarked, you are become as one without name, without voice. If the chronicles of your homeland ever mention you, it is always and only as the Traveler.”

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    Comment by ktismatics — 3 July 2010 @ 11:53 am

  23. Aha. Ah yes. Well, that makes sense. Thanks for taking the time to write in those citations.

    So, would you say that we are questers who are doomed to be pilgrims? Or are we pilgrims who are bound to be questers? Do we seek to chart a new path, only to find that the trail is a bit worn? Or do we tread the path of others, only to find that leave our own prints?

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    Comment by Erdman — 8 July 2010 @ 4:40 pm

    • I’d say you’re presently in an excellent position to explore these questions, Erdman. I hope the voyage is treating you well. Maybe while you’re back East you can get yourself hired on as a deckhand, sail the seven seas, find your own Job’s whale, write your own mighty book…

      Like

      Comment by ktismatics — 8 July 2010 @ 5:02 pm


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