SubStance 64 (1991): 117-121.
Bogue, Ronald. Deleuze and Guattari. London and New York: Routledge, 1989. Pp. 196.
[Reprinted with the permission of SubStance & the University of Wisconsin Press]
The task which Ronald Bogue faced in preparing his study, Deleuze and Guattari, was undoubtedly quite daunting: to wade into the individual and collaborative works of these two prolific authors and attempt to draw from the mass of philosophical, psycho-/schizoanalytical and socio-political terms and propositions a coherent conceptual "history" of Deleuze and Guattari's activities "both as critics and philosophers" (8). That Bogue succeeds in this task is due in no small part to the specific goals of this study, "to demonstrate the importance of the work of Deleuze and Guattari for the study of literary theory and criticism" (7). To do so, Bogue focusses, in part I (entitled "Deleuze before Guattari"), on Deleuze's Nietzschean philosophy of difference, from the perspectives of his Nietzsche and Philosophy- (ch. 1), Différence et répétition and Logique du sens (ch. 3), between which he examines the specifically literary aspects of Deleuze's studies of Proust and Sacher-Masoch (ch. 2). Then, in part II ("Deleuze and Guattari"), the schizoanalytic project is studied in its successive phases, from Anti-Oedipus (ch. 4) to A Thousand Plateaus (ch. 6), between which he situates their joint literary study of Kafka (ch. 5). In order to account for the success and limitations of Bogue's presentation, I wish to examine briefly the development of these major sections while addressing the constraints which these large divisions necessarily impose.
A statement at the end of part I points to a key tension for understanding Deleuze's work and his collaboration with Guattari: Bogue insists that while his study of Deleuze's early works in Part I focused "on the continuity of his thought, it is clear that Deleuze is not a systematic philosopher. . . . Although Difference and Repetition and The Logic of Meaning bring together many of the themes introduced in Deleuze's studies of individual writers, the various syntheses of these themes represent a creative and ongoing production of interconnections, not the revelation of a prevenient whole" (79). That is, rather than envisioning Deleuze's philosophical enterprise as a static and limited systematization of the works of specific philosophers (Nietzsche, Kant, Bergson, Spinoza) and themes (difference, repetition, meaning), one must conceive of Deleuze's "multiple system-worlds" à la Borgès, says Bogue, "as works of art, and this thought as a nomadic distribution of singular points" (79). While unable to do justice to the acuity and precision of Bogue's detailed explications of these early works, I can point out generally that Bogue's task aims at plotting certain "points" of this "nomadic distribution," to ascertain how they function within the specific works examined in each chapter, but also at clarifying how these "points" also participate in what we might call a "nomadic displacement" from one work to the next.
A concise example of both this "distribution" and "displacement" of "points" can be found in the final paragraph of Part I: "The aleatory point," i.e. a single question on which each of Deleuze's works rests, "is the force of the unconscious, i.e. that which escapes consciousness and reveals itself as active, positive force. In Nietzsche and Philosophy, this force is the will to power, conceived of primarily in terms of a physics of becoming. In Proust and Signs and later in Difference and Repetition and The Logic of Meaning, Deleuze gradually situates this force within a metaphysical surface of singular points, which he differentiates from the unformed depths of bodies" (80). Rather than constituting a fixed system of precepts corresponding to individual philosophers, or to the broader problematics of simulacra and intensities (Difference and Repetition) and of (chaos-)structure and meaning (The Logic of Sense, as the title is rendered in the recent translation published by Columbia University Press, 1990), the transversal aleatory point(s) function(s) as switching posts or shifters along which the flows of Deleuze's "nomadic displacement" can proceed while nonetheless developing specific, creative distributions of concepts within each work. Moreover, this model of distribution and displacement helps us (and Bogue) establish a bridge between the early Deleuzian corpus and the collaborative work begun in Anti-Oedipus. As Bogue notes quite succinctly, by replacing psychoanalysis with a "schizoanalysis," Deleuze and Guattari insist not only that desire is social rather than familial, but "that the best guide to social desire is the schizophrenic id rather than the neurotic ego" (83). That is, rather than adopting the unitary, globalizing positions of neuroses and familialism (notably, the poppy-mommy-me triangle and its effects), Deleuze and Guattari emphasize the interconnections (or agencements, assemblages) of fragmented body parts with social formations as constitutive of singular points-in-movement along the breaks/flows of desiring production.
Clearly, the Nietzschean impetus evident in Deleuze's early works remains present in this collaborative effort. What is added, however, is Guattari's unique perspective on psychoanalytic therapy and on the relation of the individual subject to group, social desire. While one might be tempted to object that, for a study whose title includes the names of both authors, Bogue gives short shrift to Guattari's contributions, this is a limitation made necessary, at the very least, by the literary goals of this volume. However, after briefly sketching his work before Anti-Oedipus (85-87), Bogue does indicate specific elements of Guattari's contribution to this project as he examines the components of "schizoanalysis" and of Deleuze and Guattari's history of representation and social desiring production. Besides the development of concepts like the "desiring machine" and the three syntheses -- connective, disjunctive and conjunctive -- that Deleuze proposed in Logique du sens, the most dynamic development in Anti-Oedipus, and the least understood, argues Bogue, is the direct relationship that Deleuze and Guattari maintain between psychic desiring-production and production on the social plane, or the socius. Not only does this conceptualization occur generally in Anti-Oedipus with Deleuze and Guattari's critique both of Freudianism(s) and Marxism(s), they maintain their physical and social model of desire in the "universal history of representation" of Anti-Oedipus's chapter 3 through a detailed examination of the three fundamental types of socius, "the body of the earth of primitive societies, the body of the despot of barbaric societies, and the body of capital of capitalistic societies" (94). Bogue renders his treatment of this long section of Anti-Oedipus especially valuable for literary studies by examining Deleuze and Guattari's explanation of the development of the graphic system from the primitive through the despotic regimes, and then the destabilization of signs under capitalism.
As Anti-Oedipus constitutes but the opening gesture the authors' collaborative practice, Bogue completes part II by treating two subsequent moments of this work. In chapter 5, he considers Deleuze and Guattari's "study" of Kafka (Kafka. For a Minor Literature), their approach and his works both taken as examples of a "rhizomic writing machine" (107-108). Deleuze and Guattari here again emphasize debunking certain Oedipalizing and personalizing interpretations of Kafka's writing, and instead propose Oedipalization along with "lines of flight" as proliferation of possibilities of "becoming" which, in his novels, "does not stop, but branches out and produces multiple series and rhizomic connections" (113). Bogue notes some inadequacies in their treatment of Kafka's novels, but also that Deleuze and Guattari conceptualize these as "open-ended machines" (113); in The Trial, for example, parallel modes of desire are situated within the bureaucratic machine, with justice and power functioning not only as "transcendent paranoiac Law," but also as subversive anti-law, "immanent schizo-law" (115). This force of subversion is related, in turn, to literature and language: to the revolutionary potential of marginalized, "minor literatures" and, thereby, to the "deterritorializing," destabilizing force of "minor" languages in struggle with "major," dominant tongues. Although Bogue skillfully draws on Deleuze's 1981 study of Francis Bacon's painting, Francis Bacon. The Logic of Sensation, to clarify to some extent the "a-signifying usage of language" that Deleuze and Guattari propose in Kafka, it is clear that, like Anti-Oedipus, Kafka is yet another tool box in which the authors' "primary aim is to articulate an attitude toward language, a stylistic stance rather than a model or a technique," establishing the possibility of a new reading of Kafka "by giving one new instructions for the performance of Kafka's texts ('try reading Kafka's work this way'), not for their critical dissection" (121-122).
If these previous collaborative works open themselves to readers like tool boxes (although perhaps not always user-friendly), Mille plateaux, recently published in an excellent translation by Brian Massumi as A Thousand Plateaus (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989), stands as a conceptual "workshop" filled with unorthodox "tools" loosely compartmentalized in overlapping "plateaus" that might best be understood not as disciplines, but as territories of affinity (or "planes of consistency," using Deleuzoguattarian terminology). Bogue prudently limits his perusal of this workshop to those planes which illustrate most directly the functioning of language in this "grand proliferation" of plateaus: after briefly considering plateau 3, i.e. Deleuze and Guattari's "geology of morals" that situates expression and content, and their specific sub-division à la Hjelmslev into form and substance, along separate, but imbricated "strata," Bogue usefully illustrates the "machinic arrangements" of such content and expression with reference to Deleuze's essay on Foucault's Discipline and Punish, "Ecrivain non: un nouveau cartographe," an updated version of which appears in Deleuze's Foucault. This example also allows Bogue not only to explain the concept an "abstract machine" (with its own mode of organization) in terms of Bentham's "panopticism," developed by Foucault (cf. 133-135), but also how it is put into effect via the "concrete machines" of machinic assemblages "in the anthropomorphic stratum, both the social technological machines of content and the regimes of signs of expression" (132).
It is only in the final section of chapter 6, "Language and the Abstract Machine," that Bogue's explanatory powers seem to meet their match: although the opposition of major to minor usages of language was foregrounded in the earlier discussion of Kafka, the final examination of language's function in relation to the "plane of consistency" and the "mecanosphere" (148-149) tends toward an opacity that defies its illustrative function. However, the "Epilogue" recoups this rare lapse by summarizing, first, the Nietzschean conceptual line that traverses Deleuze's, then Deleuze and Guattari's works, and second, the relationship of philosophical projects between, on one hand, Deleuze and Jacques Derrida, on the other, Deleuze-Guattari and Foucault.
While Bogue's approach leaves unexamined much in A Thousand
Plateaus, this is a deliberate strategy rendered necessary
by the conceptual unruliness of this work, but any omissions can
be rectified with reference to other critical essays, noted by
Bogue in his footnotes and bibliography. However, throughout this
review, I have left unaddressed the question of whether such a
work of "vulgarization" of two authors' thought can
be justified. To the purist who argues that nothing can replace
direct intellectual engagement with the primary works, I would
respond, yes, of course, but ... this position needlessly lends
support to the all-too-prevalent opposite view, to those colleagues
(faculty and students alike) for whom no engagement with
works deemed too "difficult" or "unclear"
(often synonymous with "French") constitutes the easiest
way to dismiss these very works in "scholarly" debate.
An intelligently delimited and carefully articulated study like
Bogue's, both in terms of the primary works examined and the bibliographical
apparatus provided, leaves no excuse for the (sometimes) apologetic
ignorance which functions as an exclusionary strategy of the current
reaction against theory. Routledge is therefore to be applauded
for this series, edited by Christopher Norris (with titles on
such thinkers as Greimas, Lacan, Bloom, Barthes, Ricoeur and Derrida),
as is Bogue for his considerable efforts to provide access to
and understanding of one of the most challenging critical projects
of the post-age.
Charles J. Stivale
Wayne State University