Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Fun of Schizoanalysis

Just like last semester, I hated reading and responding to Deleuze and Guattari. Not because of its difficulty—although that didn’t help—but because of the frustration I feel when I constantly realize how intelligent their analysis is.

I first created a post that rejected their notion of language being only for translation and not communication (A Thousand Plateaus 430), by focusing on the Pirahã people, whose language does not have (nor need) numbers. Such a language, then, could only be used for communication within the language; you couldn't successfully translate a large part of English into Pirahã because it’s such a primitive language. But I realized that even though the two languages clash with translation, translation is still the key to communicating through both languages. D&G are not wrong, then, because even a language spoken by only a few hundred people is used for both communication and translation, just the latter is apparent less frequently.

This also occurred with the impossibility of incest. Reading through the Dogon myth and D&G’s interpretation, I was thinking exactly what they later address: of course there is incest. But their explanation of how person and names are required for incest, yet there can only be one or the other, clarifies another issue that most readers are sure to raise. We have to buy into this thinking to prove the impossibility, but they successfully make their case in a convincing manner. 

I also wrote a response based on D&G’s understanding of the limits of capitalism. On my first read, I thought they departed quite severely from the kind of limit I always thought inherent to capitalist expansion. Quoting Rosa Luxemburg’s Accumulation of Capital and Slavoj Žižek’s Parallex View, I thought I cornered D&G’s conception of limits to an understanding of capitalism that ventures too far from capitalism's starting point. Rereading these passages closely, though, I realized that they’re discussing the same immanent limit as Luxemburg—a “natural economic impasse of capital’s own creating;” that, at a certain point, “the conditions for the accumulation of capital…become the conditions for the decline of capitalism” (Ch. 32)—and translating this idea into the language of codes and flows. D&G’s treatment of these limits reflect the traditional notions of an ever-expanding exterior limit (schizophrenia) that is never fully reached (Anti-Oedipus 250), as well as the Luxemburgian limit that “capitalism itself produces,” and which “it never ceases to displace and enlarge” (Anti-Oedipus 256). What I thought contradicted with Žižek’s idea—that “if we take away the [inherent contradiction of capitalism], the very potential thwarted by this obstacle dissipate[s]” (266)—was D&G’s notion of a “displaced interior limit,” which creates the opportunity for the Oedipal triangle and the rest of their schizoanalysis.

So while this response took hours to write and ultimately didn't say anything new about D&G, I wanted to highlight the unique (and frustrating) feature of reading their work: the initial desire to critique due to the transition of concepts into their schizoanalysis, followed by the realization that they've not only been there already, but have improved upon it in their own way.  

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