The unexpected objects you find when wandering in a labyrinth!
The labyrinth I’m talking about is the one I described in my last post, where I’m lost in passageways trying to understand Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus.
The ‘found objects’ include a book that arrived in the mail at the end of last week (Kathleen Stewart’s Ordinary Affects) and something I wrote about 15 years ago. Both seemed surprisingly connected to the D&G concept I’m trying to understand at the moment: the three syntheses or functions of part-objects as desiring-machines.
So far I’ve been writing about the first two, the conjunctive synthesis of production (the instinctual and libidinal) and the disjunctive synthesis of recording (something to do with consciousness, I think, manifested in memory, dream, noticing). This second synthesis is disjunctive in that it blocks or redirects flows, it pushes the flows back on itself, and therefore accounts for difference. I’m getting a vague sense that the third synthesis (the conjunctive synthesis of consummation/consumption) has something to do with the formation of a sense of shifting identity, but I’ll come back to that later; that’s still in another passageway in this labyrinth and I haven’t got there yet.
Instead, I’ve ‘found’ some objects.
Kathleen Stewart’s book is surprisingly welcome. D&G are so theoretical, so conceptual, and I struggle to bring it down to a level where I can really get my head around it. This is what Stewart’s book seems to do. It talks about the ways in which flows and energies are made visible in recognisable moments, in everyday events, in ordinary affects. It has some theoretical positioning, but much of it is made up of description of scenes: two bikies come into a restaurant, their presence has an immediate affect, stories are told, life’s flows and energies take on new directions. It all seems like an earthed commentary or illustration of sections of Anti-Oedipus.
So that was the first ‘found object’.
Then, yesterday, I came across a bundle of notes from my PhD days; I must have written these notes in around 1998. Amongst them are 17 aphorisms I wrote while trying to distil what I felt I was learning from my psychotherapeutic encounters with a client I called Peter. Again, the shadow of D&G seemed to hover over these aphorisms, though I was only vaguely aware of who Deleuze was at the time.
Here are the first six:
A metaphysical distraction: Too much concentrated searching for the ‘thing-in-itself’, the reality behind the appearance, leads away from what is, from life.
Working with the dreams: Trusting that a dream expresses an essence or aspect of a person’s current state, appreciating the dream for its aesthetic beauty and symbolic aptness, and being prepared to speak out of this trust and appreciation are all possible and helpful; revealing to the dreamer the dream’s meaning is neither.
Play: To much earnestness, too great an iron focus on getting to the essential meaning of things, gets in the way of the most important therapeutic activity, which is play.
Awareness of the hidden: Knowing that there is something hidden is more important than knowing what it is: being restlessly aware that all is not being revealed allows an energetic encounter and the possibility of an animating outcome whereas a belief that the truth has been fully (or even essentially) revealed and described drains the life out of the therapeutic encounter.
Sitting with the tension: My uncertainty, the necessary ambivalence I feel towards Peter’s impulses, moods and reticences, contributes to a developing tension which threatens the efficacy of the therapy and at the same time gives it a potential life which the two of us can share and make something of.
Aspects and essences: Aspects and essences of a person reveal themselves in anecdotes, body language, voice inflexions, facial expressions, dreams, fantasies, pauses and play, and above all in the interactions with the social world, in the points of contact which are the successful and failed attempts at relationship with people and other objects.