Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Anti-Oedipus Papers

Yes, I's been awhile. I've been plodding away on my book, feverishly trying to finish my chapter on Oprah's Book Club. I'm near to wrapping it up, thankfully, and so now seems like as good a time as any to write. Thanks for bearing with me. I know it seemed as though D&R had gone dark.

A few weeks ago, I was thrilled to receive Felix Guattari's The Anti-Oedipus Papers (Semiotext[e], 2006). Admittedly, I haven't yet found the time to give it a thorough read. My own book's just taken too much of my energy. I have managed to read some of it, however, and I've given all of it at least a thorough skim for now. The book's brilliant--but not for the reasons you might think.

What's striking to me about the book is the look it affords into both Deleuze and Guattari and Guattari's own process. What's also striking is the welcome, vulnerable portrait of Guattari that emerges in The Anti-Oedipus Papers. Anti-Oedipus, and indeed most of Guattari's individual and collaborative work is so forthright, declarative, and argumentative. I don't fault him for that; indeed, part of what makes that body of work so compelling is precisely its tone, not to mention the way in which tone helps convey the creativity of D+G's ideas. At the same time, though, I'm pleased to see here Guattari's more tentative, perhaps even insecure side, in addition to the experiments-in-action of such an experimental thinker. The book that I think most closely resembles this one is Harold Innis' Idea File, which likewise consists of half-baked ideas, thoughts, quotations, random stream-of-consciousness, and other such things that lend insight into how a voracious thinker works. You really have to be pretty bold to put your "process" out there like that.

I'm also pleased to see how both the introduction and Guattari himself draw attention to the work of Fanny Deleuze, Gilles Deleuze's partner. Too often, the significant contributions women have made to the production of landmark texts have gotten systematically erased. I'm glad to see at least a palimpsest beginning to form here.

I'd be curious to hear how others are responding to the book, as well as to Deleuze's latest release, Two Regimes of Madness.

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