by Terence Blake
Zizek: “my thesis is that in Anti-Oedipus Deleuze/Guattari do to Lacan what Carl Gustav Jung did to Freud”. (Zizek, Notes on a Debate“From Within the People”). It is often a good idea with Zizek to interpret his references to his major philosophical adversaries under the sign of the anxiety of influence. Zizek procedes by violent denegation based on micro-differentiation, i.e. whenever some thought is to close to (and I would add prior to) his own thought he concentrates on one little detail that differentiates the position he defends from that of these predecessors and influences, then he proceeds to denounce them vociferously, ignoring both the affinity and the probable influence. His critiques of Deleuze , of Jung, and of Gnosticism are of this type: a smokescreen of quibbles and travesties to hide the family resemblance and the lines of influence. Some of his reflexions on the Holy Spirit as the community of those who live beyond the death of the big Other could be cosigned by such gnostic thinkers as Carl Jung and Philip K. Dick, yet Zizek fulminates against “gnosticism”.
My thesis is that Deleuze and Lacan resemble each other to the extent that they follow in Jung’s footsteps of rejecting ego-psychology and of schizophrenising the unconscious. Both of these are key aspects of THE RED BOOK which is the subterranean source of all the works that came after. They differ in that Lacan provides a structuralist and linguistic encoding of such a break in the signifier, and needed Deleuze and Guattari’s impulsion to slowly and timidly “schizophrenise” in their wake. Lacan’s dissolution of the ego and his concept of subjective destitution take the same schizophrenic turn as Jung originally did with regard to Freud’s imperative “where there was id there shall be ego”. Even his signifiers are linguistically reductive versions of archetypes, once you take into account the difference between the archetype and the archetypal image. For Jung, there can be no fixed closed list of archetypes, and we can only speak of them analogically.
Jung is not trapped in the signifier, as Lacan is. The archetype is an ambiguous concept that can be interpreted biologically or intensively. Freud borrowed the biological version of archetypes from Jung, further his work is full of archetypes, despite his excoriations of Jung. What he didn’t borrow is the intensive aspect. Jung says over and over again that experience, autobiography, and individuation (ie intensities) have primacy over all theoretical formulations; The biologism is not at all essential to his vision and post-Jungians like Hillman have entirely discarded it.
It is impossible to read Deleuze and Guattari in terms of the Freudian paradigm, which is based on the reduction of the fluid multiplicities of the unconscious to static monist categories. Jung gives us the vision of a pluralist unconscious where Freud systematically recodes everything in monist terms. Jung gives us a relation to the unreduced image, that he encourages us to amplify. Freud seeks to reduce it all. A Freudian reading of Deleuze and Guattari is possible but it leaves out the immersion in the world of intensities that Freud always resisted, and condemned in his more radical followers. The concept of “follower” is moot in the psychoanalytical movement, as Freud often recuperated ideas, and adulterated them, from those he persisted in positioning as followers until a rupture was provoked.
Jungian reading of Deleuze gives us the non-philosophical leap out of the Continental Philosophy enclosure. Reading Deleuze as a successor to earlier German idealism is a valid academic research project, since for example Deleuze positions himself as an inheritor of Hegel for his espousal of the movement that deconstructs the dogmatic image of the dialectic. Yet Deleuze favours reading in terms of intensities (“everything is to be interpreted in terms of intensity”, proclaims ANTI-OEDIPUS). That is the link to Jung. Not the ponderous Germanic Jung, but the pragmatic and hermetic Jung of THE RED BOOK and of MEMORIES, DREAMS AND REFLECTIONS.
Deleuze and Guattari elaborate an affirmative concept of desire as assemblage. This is far from Freud’s eros thanatos divide, which is a superficial coding of desire. Thanatos is just as important an ingredient of desire as eros is. Deleuze and Guattari argue that Freud does not understand death. Deleuze following Blanchot distinguishes between death as the end of our physical life, and dying as an interminable event that is a component of every event in its virtuality. Writing with Guattari was dying as loving and being multiplied, death as transformative escape from the ego’s limits. This is the meaning of the body without organs: Death to the organism as unified totality that subordinates the parts to a socially constructed mode of functioning and signifying.
Deleuze and Guattari further argue that Freud does not understand multiplicity and is afraid of it. He must always have some robust unity that submits the multiplicity to its will and projects, domesticating the unconscious in the name of civilisation. In his book on Foucault Deleuze talks about the Self as not the ego but the fold that permits us to maintain a fragile but minimal coherence in the outside of untamed singularities and multiplicities.Their critique of Freud is total. Certainly, there remains the unconscious,but this is not Freud’s discovery but something he got from the German idealists. Freud is utterly unoriginal, except for submitting everything to transcendent codes.
Deleuze, Foucault, and Laruelle want to be both inside and outside the Continental tradition, ie have a free relation to the tradition without being enclosed. Literature, politics, quantum theory, schizos, are all more than just subjects of reflection for philosophy, but concrete exemplars of its outside. Read Deleuze on the schizophrenic voyage and read THE RED BOOK and you will see that Freud is dragging far behind and his system is unable to contain such experiences without distorting and reducing them to stereotypical categories. For our pluralist thinkers it must be possible to slide from one philosophical vocabulary to another, to translate between worldviews. At the same time what counts is practice, the practice of writing, of loving, of resisting. There is no point in changing the words if the rest remains unchanged. This is why the correct reply to Freud’s “where there was id there shall be ego” is not its naive irrationalist inversion (“where there was ego there shall be id”, or the “dictatorship of the unconscious”), is Jung’s insight that the ego is a metaphor. In the words of Deleuze and Guattari’s slogan from RHIZOME: “Not to reach the point where one no longer says I, but the point where it is no longer of any importance whether one says I or not”.
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