November 2008


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I sometimes feel as if I go through a sort of eternal return, where I repeat things I have said before yet experience myself as having just thought them for the very first time. Hopefully, despite these repetitive iterations, despite these re-loops of loops, each iteration is nonetheless somehow producing something new or allowing some other thought to emerge that, for whatever reason, could not before emerge. As Spinoza argues, ideas can only produce ideas. Yet why is it that ideas sometimes get fixed or repetitive like a skipping record? Why is it, I wonder, that we obsess over certain themes and ideas– almost as if our life is a musical variation –such that we perpetually return to these things without realizing that we’re doing so? The Bird and the Bee song: “Again and again and again and again… Do it again! Do it again!” In his preface to Meillassoux’s After Finitude, Badiou remarks that in a true work of philosophy,

…it is possible to detect the sense of something new– texts which respond to the question: “What wound was I seeking to heal, what thorn was I seeking to draw from the flesh of existence when I became what is called ‘a philosopher’?” It may be that, as Bergson maintained, a philosopher only ever develops one idea. In any case, there is no doubt that the philosopher is born of a single question, the question which arises at the intersection of thought and life at a given moment in the philosopher’s youth; the question which one must at all costs find a way to answer. (After Finitude, vi)

This is a surprisingly Deleuzian thought for Badiou; one that almost stands in contradiction with his charges of a Deleuzian “aristocratism” in The Clamor of Being. I do not know that I follow Badiou in the thesis that the wound is unique to the philosopher, but, as I argued in Difference and Givenness, I would certainly agree that the wound– what I there called “the encounter” –is constitutive of thought. To think is to be wounded. That is to say, to think is to be out of step with the world, to not be at home in the world, to experience the world as unheimlich. We think because we are not at home and perhaps the degree of our homelessness marks the degree of our thought’s intensity… Unless we are consumed by a homelessness so profound that it ends in catatonia or mute autism. Thought then would be a way of attempting to sublate or overcome that wound, that crack that prevents any adaptation to the world.

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It is this that is fundamentally missing from accounts of collective assemblages such as we find proposed in Spinoza. Conatus, the endeavor to persist in one’s being, lacks– at least on the surface –the dimension of death drive in speaking-being. While the Spinozist body is indeed excessive rather than homeostatic or adaptive in its active drive to promote its power to act, what seems to be missing is this dimension of repetition, of death drive, that is at odds with action premised on benefit or enlightened self-interest.

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This can be sensed above all in Spinoza’s conception of love, where the madness of love, the willingness to destroy everything else for the sake of love, is entirely absent. Despite the fact that Spinoza asserts love can be excessive, one gets the sense that for him, the difference between a good meal (which he also characterizes in terms of love) and mad love is a difference in degree rather than kind. If, as speaking beings, we are constitutively wounded, divided by language, and therefore subjects of an irrepressible question that we cannot escape, how must we understand collective assemblages and the perils that haunt them? Clearly these assemblages will perpetually be perturbed by the repetition, the eternal return, that haunts the subjects that inhabit these assemblages. On the one hand, this will be one of the prime sources of those lethal identifications with demagogues, tyrants, and dictators where the body of these figures is encountered as an answer to the repetitive question of the wound, as that which can sublate the wound and produce the “heimlich” in the world.

On the other hand, the wound, the death drive, will be the source of our most profound creativity, political struggles, thought, love, invention, etc., as we choose the wound over adaptation. Is there a way to channel the wound, the death drive, in one way rather than another? Certainly this is one of the aims of psychoanalytic practice– to transform painful, paralyzing, and intolerable incarnations of the death drive manifested in the symptom, into productive, liveable, creative symptoms or forms of repetitive jouissance. Witness Joyce.

Or is it, as I asked months ago in another post, that the death drive, the symptom, repetition, jouissance is simply psychoanalysis’ own myth of original sin: a reactionary ideological mystification that argues that lethal and mal-adaptive repetition is natural and necessary, rather than contingent? Spinoza argues that our collective irrationality arises not from original sin, but from a set of cognitive processes that take place at the level of how our emotions function. Death drive is something quite different than the simple confusion of two things that resemble one another as in the case of an object confused with love object or object of hate that shares a quality with these objects without possessing any of the same causal properties, e.g., Hating one’s student named Tom, because one was the victim of a childhood bully named Tom, and failing to realize this completely contingent connection. Death drive is not a confusion, but a sort of ever repeating glitch in a system, that causes the perpetual return of an insistent question that places the subject out of step with the world. One might think of the people obsessed with a certain image in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (the image, ultimately, of the mountain), to such a degree that they completely neglected their bodies, families, jobs, and all the rest (viz., they were completely disjointed from the world) trying to figure out why this image would not leave their mind and what it might represent. The difference here, of course, is that for the characters in Close Encounters, they do get an answer. There is no answer to the death drive, only the repeated failure of any and all such answers– Which can be a source of a positive jouissance. “Do it again!”

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From roughly June until a few weeks ago I was in the midst of a deep and black depression. The strange thing was that I did not feel sad, but simply disengaged from everything. I wasn’t, as it were, even aware that anything had changed. I had lost all desire for everything. I no longer read. I felt no inclination to respond to emails. No books, shows, movies, or ideas interested me. Whenever I got a new paper published or received some sort of praise for my book, it left me feeling cold. I had no desire to be around other people. I slept a lot and just walked through the world like a sort of zombie. There was no malice in any of this. If I didn’t respond to an email, it wasn’t because I harbored animosity towards the person. I didn’t respond to anyone unless it was a professional matter I couldn’t ignore. I simply couldn’t bring myself to care.

The worst part is that you blame yourself for this state and experience it as a moral failing. You tell yourself that perhaps your brain has hardened and you simply can’t think fluidly in the way you once did. You tell yourself that you’ve become lazy, ceased caring, etc. Somehow it is something that you’re doing that’s led to this malaise. But just as anger in the midst of a nicotine fit seems absolutely convincing and like a matter of your will, the depression is not experienced as depression, but as some set of choices you are making. Of course, from a psychoanalytic perspective this is because somehow, at some level, you have betrayed your desire and repudiated yourself as a subject. The question is how?

Perhaps now I am in a manic period– I’ve certainly been writing a lot –but something seemed to break a few weeks ago. And even if it is manic, it feels good. It feels good to care. It feels good to write. It feels good to draw connections, to find images to represent things, to read, to dance with others in thought. I began exercising and this seemed to produce significant changes. Who knew? But what was it that brought this on? Why did I fall into this pit? In her beautiful essay, Why Psychoanalysis?, Elizabeth Roudinesco argues that depression, melancholia, is the unique malady of our time, produced by our contemporary ideological conditions and conditions of production.

If neurosis– a loud, noisy, antagonistic symptom in protest of the reigning social order — is the symptom of the late nineteenth and twentieth century, argues Roudinesco, depression is the reigning symptom of an era where great causes have collapsed, where alternatives to the social organization of this world have disappeared, where there is nothing to protest as all norms have collapsed, and where all that is left is the pursuit of happiness, the improvement of one’s body and health, and the endless pursuit of ever new and novel forms of exotic enjoyment. The depressive age is an age where the Soviet Union has collapsed and China has become capitalistic, such that the only [once] credible alternatives to the world of liberal democratic capitalism and the promise of “happiness” and a life without risk, have disappeared. Likewise, with the death of God we get a world closed to transcendent possibilities, to ideals higher than those of appetite.

Insofar as all symptoms are a protest, of sorts, against the Other– a trace of the lack in the Other or the fact that the Other is a sham, a semblance, an impostor, that the Other does not provide the answer or jouissance promised –depression, the disappearance of desire, the fading of desire, is a protest against such a closure where all alternatives have disappeared. But, like so many symptoms, what a painful symptom! Perhaps depression is what occurs in the absence of being able to even articulate what is missing, what is absent. Depression would be a sort of silent speech, a mute speech, that speaks the absence of signifiers worthy of desire. Or better yet, depression would be a marker of that which falls outside of language or that for which there are no signifiers. As such, in the borromean clinic, depression would be located at the intersection between the circles of the imaginary and the real: A mute witness of the imaginary body in response to a certain real that haunts the symbolic.

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Is there a way in which depression can be made active? Is there a way in which this mute withdrawal of the subject from the empty world of “bodies and pleasures”, this existence as undead, as zombie, that capitulates to the closure of possibilities, the absence of alternative, can make this silent and passive resistance an active resistance? Such a resistance would no longer be one that assaults the body of the depressive, such as in the case of the depressive subject that blames himself, but would be a subject that might find a way to reject the idea that happiness, exotic enjoyments, and bodies and pleasures are the only alternatives, the only things, we can hope and live for… Or rather, that we can hope and be dead for.

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Dejan of Cultural Parody Center asks how I respond to the worry that collective assemblages lead to disasters such as some of those that characterized aspects of the Soviet Union and Maoist China. In subsequent discussion he qualifies his question, indicating that he wasn’t suggesting that collective assemblages necessarily lead to this outcome, but was rather asking what proposals or thoughts I might have as to how this might be avoided. However, I do think Dejan hits on a fundamental argument that is extremely common in, at least, the United States when arguing against any form of collective action. My position is that this line of argument is always based on spurious reason. Consequently, since this spurious reasoning is so common I thought I’d take a moment to show just where it goes wrong through a formalization of its reasoning. Roughly the argument runs as follows:

Premise 1: The Soviet Union (or whatever poison you might like to choose) was a social system premised on collective assemblages.
Premise 2: Social Formation X calls for collective assemblages.
Conclusion: Therefore, Social Formation X leads to outcomes identical to those in the Soviet Union.

In the United States, at least (Thatcher gave similar arguments, I believe, in Great Britain, and arguments such as this were used throughout South and Central America to justify deregulation and privatization), we have been beaten over the head by arguments like this so often that we don’t even pay attention to them anymore. Indeed, I so commonly hear claims like this from my students (in completely unrelated contexts), that I almost wonder whether they haven’t become lodged in our DNA, manifesting themselves as “innate truths”. However, when we formalize the argument using a venn diagram we see that the conclusion clearly cannot follow from these premises:

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For those unfamiliar with venn diagrams, they work by spatially representing relations among categories represented in propositions. For universal propositions (“all A’s are B’s) you use shading. For particular propositions (Some A’s are B’s) you use x’s. When you cannot determine the region to which the x belongs in the three circles, you place it on the line separating the regions to indicate that it could be in either of the regions. To determine whether or not a syllogism is valid, you diagram the premises of the syllogism and if the conclusion follows from the premises, then it will appear after you diagram the premises of its own accord.

The argument above deals only with propositions that are particular in quantity, and therefore uses nothing but “x’s”. For the first premise, the x is to be placed in the intersection of the Soviet Union circle and the Collective Assemblage circle as the first premise asserts a relation between these two classes. We are thus indicating that at least one entity shares the property of being both the Soviet Union and a Collective Assemblage. However, we notice that there are two regions where we can place the x: region 2 or region 4. For this reason, we place the x on the line between these two regions, indicating that we do not know whether it is in region 2 or 4. For the second premise, we now look at the relationship between the circle for some unspecified Social Formation X and the circle for Collective Assemblages. Premise two again asserts an intersection between these two classes of entities. However, once again we notice that there are two regions where our x could appear: region 4 and region 6. Since we do not know whether the social formation in question is in region 4 or region 6, we place it on the line between these two regions to indicate our uncertainty.

If our argument is valid, then we should see an x appear in region 4 at the point of overlap between the circle for Social Formation X and the Soviet Union. What, in fact, do we see? We see that based on our premises it is possible for an x to be in region 2 or region 6; which is to say that there is not a relation of necessity between collective assemblages, social formations, and the Soviet Union, such that the presence of one of these properties or classes deductively entails the presence of the others. The ideological trick thus consists in implying that there is a relation of deductive necessity between collective assemblages and totalitarianism, where there is only a relation of contingency, i.e., a relation that can and often is otherwise.

This argument is, of course, stupid and any school child should be able to immediately see that it is invalid, yet nonetheless people seem to find it extremely compelling or convincing. As Dejan points out, that, in and of itself, should raise all sorts of important questions about human psychology. There is thus, on the one hand, the question of why certain collective assemblages lead to social formations that are totalitarian or fascist in character. And also, on the other hand, the question of how it might be possible to produce collective assemblages that do not lead to these results. Of course, the whole point of such an exercise lies in showing how that which appears natural and necessary is, in fact, contingent such that other forms of life are possible. Reactionary politics and ethics perpetually treats the contingent and historical as necessary and eternal. For example, it is said here in the States that “marriage has always been between a man and a woman and that God would have made same sex couples capable of reproduction had he intended them to marry.” All of this despite massive ethnographic evidence to the contrary. One of the first conditions for change lies in discerning the essential fragility and contingency of social formations. It is only in this way that the social order loses the appearance of being akin to Newtonian laws, trapping us in the iron grip of their necessity.

I apologize to readers for the silliness of this post, but it was fun, at least, to pitch an ideological claim in terms of syllogisms and venn diagrams. Hopefully I’ll be excused for finding lame ways to avoid grading.

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This semester I have been teaching Spinoza’s Ethics to close out the course. Although I have had bad experiences teaching the Ethics and Leibniz in the past, this year, for some reason, it has been a pure pleasure. Once you are finally able to penetrate the propositions and their supporting arguments, a beautiful structure begins to emerge, where each proposition builds on the previous proposition, gradually building to greater and greater complexity and taking the reader from truths that are almost self-evident and hardly in need of proof (e.g., “Substance is by nature prior to its affections or qualities”), to surprising and disturbing conclusions (that nature and God are identical; that God is not a sovereign ruling over nature and preferring one set of beings over another, but that instead God creates everything that God can create by necessity; that values and morals are not intrinsic to things, but products of how our bodies relate to other bodies in terms of benefit; that there are no purposes or ends to nature, only efficient causes; that God cannot be compelled or persuaded to act, but only acts according to the necessity of his own being; etc). One by one, Spinoza challenges the root claims of traditional theology and organized religion, showing how these claims are in contradiction with God’s essence. In developing these arguments he institutes a thorough-going immanent naturalism sans any dimension of transcendence or vertical being.

Spinoza is crafty and devious. What makes his arguments so ingenious and devious is that unlike the materialistic atheist that simply denies the existence of God on materialistic grounds, Spinoza works within the theological tradition, drawing on definitions inherited directly from Aristotle and Medieval Jewish and Christian theology, painstakingly demonstrating that when these definitions and axioms are followed through logically, they entail these conclusions and no others (granting, of course, that his arguments are sound). In other words, Spinoza shows that it is theology itself that leads to these conclusions. As a result, there is something of the uncanny in Spinoza. Just as Freud’s unheimlich is a sort of effect of the heimlich, the homely, the familiar, such that what is familiar suddenly presents itself in a completely unfamiliar way– for example, your image in a mirror begins speaking to you and moving about when you are not –Spinoza takes the familiar concepts of theology, retains them, and completely inverts them in a way that renders them thoroughly unfamiliar, unheimlich, and even a bit terrifying.

Not surprisingly, a number of my students immediately gravitate towards questions of morality in relation to Spinoza’s thought. If, as Spinoza argues, God does not reward nor punish a person for living a moral life, and if, as Spinoza argues, values are a matter of the relation of our body to other bodies in terms of whether these other bodies increase or diminish our power of acting, and if, as Spinoza argues, God has no preference for what is or is not, for how we live our lives, then how can Spinoza have any place for ethics or morality? For example, God creates Jeffrey Dahmer and Dahmer’s existence follows from God’s nature as one of the modes that can exist following from the attributes of extension and thought. Insofar as Dahmer can exist, he therefore must exist by virtue of God’s absolute infinity and the fact that God’s activity is limited in no way. God has no preference for Jesus, Mother Theresa, or Dahmer, but creates all of these modes as they are possible variations of particular attributes (the essence of substance). Any preference for one mode over another arises not from God’s will or desire, but from relations among modes themselves. In other words, one calls Dahmer bad because he diminishes your power of acting by drilling holds in your head and eating your flesh. In short, Dahmer diminishes your power of acting.

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In a very nice response to my paper on assemblages and networks, Joe Clement remarks,

I liked the paper too. However, could you say a bit more about how post-structuralists like Deleuze understand networks as opposed to how structuralists understand, well, structures. At a certain point, it sounds like they are different names for the same pomme de terre. I can get behind networks and assemblages being “things” of change, while structures are usually talked about as quasi-eternal forms. However, what is to stop us from saying that a network is structured, not according to an identity with some sort of totality, but according to its symptomatic deadlocks/exclusions/slippages? I’m thinking of Zizek’s very rudimentary lesson in commodity fetishism in the first chapter of The Sublime Object of Ideology

“rather, it [commodity fetishism] consists of a certain misrecognition which concerns the relation between a structured network and one of its elements: what is really a structural effect, an effect of the network of relations between elements, appears as an immediate property of one of the elements, as if this property also belonged to it outside its relation with other elements” (24).

You know Zizek then goes on to quote Marx on commodities A & B, and then tie that into an allusion to the mirror stage. All of this falls very neatly under the conventional structuralist rubric, but it’s the point about misrecognition that perks my interest. Zizek says misrecognition occurs as a structural effect, though this really does not pre-suppose a “structured network” (i.e. what I take to be the conventional structuralist line) anymore than it pre suppose that “this property also belonged to it outside of its relation with other elements.” That is to say, the misrecognition is about the “structured network” as much as the individual element, though that means we aren’t stuck having to unravel the “structured network” anymore than we are stuck having to stabilize the individual element. They are both “structural effects,” whose unified expression is the symptom. With my Buddhist hat on, subject and object are “structural effects” caused by ignorance (avijja), whose symptomatic expression is suffering/dissatisfaction (dukkha).

There is some similarity between structure and networks, but also quite a difference. A network is something more than atomistic individuals and something less than a structure. A structure is a set of interdependent differential relations where the terms have no existence independent of one another. Thus, for example, in language the phonemes that make up a language are not /b/, /p/, etc., but differential relations between these units. Neither /b/ nor /p/ form a phoneme, but rather only b/p forms a phoneme within a specific language. As such, /b/ has no existence independent of /p/ and vice versa. The minimal condition for being a phoneme is that the substitution of a unit produces a difference in sense: /b/at, /p/at. Sense is thus not something that precedes these differential relations, but is an effect of these differential relations.

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In the spirit of Martin Luther King, I have a dream! I have a dream that my philosophy students and myself might live passionately according to the following eight ethical principles:

Proposition 1: The intellectually honest critical thinker (IHCT) focuses not on the claim a person makes, but the argument by which the claim is supported.

Proposition 2: If the IHCT cannot demonstrate that the argument is invalid or unsound (deductive arguments) or weak (inductive arguments), then the IHCT will endorse the conclusion of the argument even if it requires them to relinquish long-held and cherished beliefs.

Proposition 3: The IHCT never dismisses a claim as being an “opinion” or “subjective”, but politely asks for an argument in support of the claim.

Corollary 1: The IHCT banishes the word “opinion” and “subjective” from their lexicon, as she knows that these words tend to invite her to ignore arguments supporting claims.

Corollary 2: The IHCT understands that theories explain facts, that facts were never theories and theories will never become facts, and that there are stronger and weaker theories depending on the support for the theory.

Corollary 3: The IHCT understands that a claim cannot be rejected because it is “just a theory”, and that the reason a theory never becomes a fact is not because it is less than a fact, but because it always maintains a structural relationship to facts such that it is an explanation of facts.

Scholium: Facts never “speak for themselves”, but are stupid, inert, and brute. It is only theories that make facts speak. A fossil in the earth is just a dumb fact. The theory of geology, the dating of strata, chemical decay, and evolution make this fact speak by coordinating it with a set of relationships that bring forth the how and the why. Far from being less than a fact, the production of theory is among the highest of human achievements.

Corollary 4: The IHCT knows that there are demonstrations through reason (e.g., mathematics) and demonstrations through observation and that observational evidence is not the sole means of “proving” or “demonstrating” a claim.

Corollary 5: The IHCT understands inductive, probabilistic reasoning and therefore understands that anecdote (single counter-examples) do not diminish the strength of an inductive argument (nor strengthen a weak inductive argument).

Proposition 4: The IHCT is prepared to provide arguments in support of claims she makes and not simply pull claims out of her ass and obstinately hold to them.

Proposition 5: The IHCT does not expect others to endorse or live by her claims when she lacks any supporting argument for these claims, and, lacking an argument, keeps such claims to herself, understanding that to make a claim public is to also enter the domain of what is public or what can be shared by others of completely different backgrounds and beliefs through reason and the capacity to observe the world (the only universally shared characteristics of humanity).

Proposition 6: The IHCT strives for humility, modesty, and a lack of ego, struggling to separate one’s sense of self-worth from the need to always be right.

Scholium: The IHCT understands that the failure to produce a good argument in support of a claim does not entail that she is stupid or worthless and that having a claim contrary to her own demonstrated, thereby overturning her own claim, actually improves her by bringing her closer to truth.

Proposition 7: The IHCT is charitable in her interpretation of the claims and arguments of others, striving to give them their most benign possible sense, avoiding the attribution of malicious motives, striving not to speculate about hidden motives, and providing missing premises where reasonable when they are not explicitly formulated.

Proposition 8: The IHCT loves truth, not what she would like to be true.

Alright, so such a dream is nearly impossible to live up to and would certainly put us at a deep disadvantage in a world such as ours, but one can still hope and strive.

Nathan Brown over at Speculative Heresy has an interesting response to Peter Hallward’s critique of Meillassoux’s After Finitude. I have not yet read Hallward’s critique of Meillassoux in Radical Philosophy, but Nathan summarizes the points as follows:

In his recent review… Hallward charges Meillassoux’s work with four major flaws:

1) An equivocation regarding the relation between thinking and being; or epistemology and ontology.

2) An equivocation between metaphysical and physical or natural necessity.

3) A confusion of pure and applied mathematics.

4) An inability to think concrete processes of social and political change.

To the fourth charge I would add an inability to think concrete processes of natural or physical change. Nathan attempts to show how these charges come up short against Meillassoux. It seems to me that these criticisms apply equally to Badiou and Meillossoux, bringing the two perilously close to idealism. Meillassoux, I think, fares a bit better but still runs into similar problems. I confess that I’m sympathetic to all of Hallward’s critiques here, as is evident from my posts on this blog years ago grappling with Badiou’s ontology.

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In a previous post I suggested that psychoanalysis became a pre-occupation for Marxist thought due to a certain impasse at the heart of Marxist theory. Here, in response to Nate’s excellent remark, my aim was not to suggest that psychoanalysis became a pre-occupation of a Marxist praxis, but rather to account for a certain strain of French Marxist theory characterized by figures like Deleuze and Guattari, Foucault, Baudrillard, and Lyotard. What was at issue was a two-fold question: First, why did the Soviet situation lead to such dire results? Indeed, why did the French communist party take on such a repressive structure despite its explicit egalitarian ideals and ideals of liberty? And second, why, despite changing conditions at the level of production did certain social formations remain the same. The conclusion of these thinkers, while varied, was that accounts of political economy were not enough, but that a theory of desire, micro-power, etc., was necessary to account for our attachment to certain forms of power. As Deleuze and Guattari so beautifully put it in providing one possible answer to this question (Foucault gives a very different answer in terms of micropower),

The truth is that sexuality is everywhere: 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. And there is no need to resort to metaphors, any more than for libido to go by way of metamorphoses. Hitler got the fascists sexually aroused. Flags, nations, armies, banks get a lot of people aroused. A revolutionary is nothing if it does not acquire at least as much force as these coercive machines have for producing breaks and mobilizing flows. (Anti-Oedipus, pg. 293)

In other words, revolution at the level of production is not enough, there must also be a revolutionary desire as well, an analysis of desire, and all of these micro-attachments that bind us to a particular world. In a lovely aside about love, Deleuze and Guattari will say that we do not fall in love with persons, but with the worlds another person envelops. And likewise in our attachment to certain institutions, forms of social organizations, and all the rest. If Deleuze and Guattari treat Kafka as a privileged political theorist in Kafka: Towards a Minor Literature, then this is because Kafka was the cartographer of this universe of desiring-machines or the eroticism that lies beneath our attachment to certain social formations. Indeed, in one incarnation Joseph K even is a cartographer… And, of course, the books of law contain pornographic pictures in The Trial. However, my aim here is not to discuss how Deleuze and Guattari solve this problem– in the first part of this essay I begin with the remark “Take the example of Deleuze and Guattari” –but to show how Deleuze and Guattari’s solution to this problem leads to a certain impasse at the level of political theory. What I ultimately hope to argue is that Lacan’s account of the sinthome provides the means for responding to these difficulties without falling back into models of Oedipally structured social formations or sovereignity as the only possible way in which the social can be organized. In other words, the sinthome provides the means of knotting the three orders of the real, the imaginary, and the symbolic in a way that 1) is cognizant that the big Other does not exist (in contrast to Oedipal totalization and obfuscation of the lack in the Other), and 2) that need not resort to the structuring function of the name-of-the-father as the only way of avoiding a fall into paralyzing psychosis that negates the social relation. In short, the work of the late Lacan with the borromean knots leads to a “psychotic solution”, where psychosis is no longer the absence of the social relation (psychoanalysts refer to this form of psychosis as “Ordinary Psychosis”), and where psychosis now becomes a generalized state (universal psychosis common to all subjects), such that neurosis and perversion are not other than psychosis but rather specific ways in which the knot of the three orders are tied together. I set this issue aside for the moment.

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