Mythopoesis, Fabulous Images and Memories of a Sorcerer

What we’re interested in, you see, are modes of individuation beyond those of things, persons or subjects: the individuation, say, of a time of day, of a region, a climate, a river or a wind, of an event. And maybe it’s a mistake to believe in the existence of things, persons, or subjects.
— Gilles Deleuze, Negotiations

My paper will attend to what might be called “fiction as method” and, more specifically, to mythopoesis, a term I use to broadly name the “world-making” character of certain art practices and presentations. Following Gilles Deleuze I will also be concerned with the future-orientation of mythopoesis that summons forth a “people-yet-to-come”; a people appropriate and adequate, we might say, to the different worlds in question. Departing from Deleuze’s definition somewhat—though attending to some of  his other writings and especially the collaboration with Guattari—I want to suggest that these “people” are not necessarily human, at least as this is habitually thought. There are other non-human forces—other becomings we might say—that are called forth by the mythopoetic function. My paper will then turn to the writings of Félix Guattari and, specifically, the essay “Genet Regained” in which Guattari develops his own concept of “fabulous images.” The latter, found in literature and life, operate as “points of subjectification” around which other kinds of subjectivity might coalesce and cohere. Put simply, for Guattari, fiction can be a resource in the production of a different kind of subjectivity and thus, again, a different world. Guattari’s account is highly technical, involving, as it does, different levels of operation (it attempts a more analytic account of how mythopoesis might invent a people), but the general point is similar to Deleuze’s: the image function can help call forth something different from within the same.

The third and final section of my paper will turn to the collaborative writings of Deleuze and Guattari and, specifically A Thousand Plateaus. This book both utilises fiction in its particular account of a different individuation of the world, but also has its own mythopoetic character (it helps call forth this other world). A Thousand Plateaus is a book that performs its content in this sense. I will end my paper by focusing on a particular section of A Thousand Plateaus, from the central Becoming plateau, “Memories of a Sorcerer,” which, it seems to me especially evidences a certain “non philosophical” character of Deleuze and Guattari’s writing: how it has a transformative traction on reality and, in particular, involves a shuttling across both philosophy and fiction.

Refusing Movement/S: Reflections on the “Intra-Actions” of Current Social Movements and Art

Anybody who stands still in a forward-moving crowd is just as big a hindrance as if he moved against the crowd. (Robespierre in Büchner’s Danton’s Death)

 

On 17 June 2013, the very day the Turkish government prohibited demonstrations in Istanbul in reaction to the occupation of Gezi Park, Erdem Gündez, a Turkish artist and activist, became, what is now known as one of the most prominent “figures” of the Gezi Park movement, namely the “standing man.” Simply standing in the middle of Taksim square, facing the Atatürk Cultural Centre, not moving, not shouting, not doing anything but standing there for hours. At first his presence went unnoticed, but after some time more and more people not only were interested but also joined Gündez until the police banished them from the square and arrested a number of people. The “standing man” was a performance as well as a political act, criticising the prohibition of demonstrations, demonstrating without actually “demonstrating” in a classical way. Similar to Bartleby’s “I would prefer not to” the “standing man” refuses to move. Sharing a similar immobility with many characters in Beckett’s work, the standing man also creates a territory, changing the space around him; “in their trash can or on their bench, Beckett’s characters stake out a territory” (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 503). Like a standing wave or a wheel that turns so fast it looks as though it does not turn at all, the “standing man” is characterised by intensity and not by speed or extensity.

The activists squatting public squares do something very similar. In building tents, in actually living on the square, they don’t follow the rules set by the government; they don’t behave as they are told to. They are not passengers, passing the street; rather, they stand still and therefore block traffic and disturb the public policy, thereby staking out a territory. Again their actions are not characterised by speed but rather by intensity, as showcased by a slogan the Spanish 15M movement created: “We’re going slow, because we’re going far.” Modifying this slogan one could propose: we’re refusing movement, because we are a movement.

In the first part of my paper I will discuss the “standing man” and other artistic projects and their manifold “intra-actions” (Barad and Kleinmann 2012) with social movements. Drawing on these artistic practices as processes of intensity—a resisting and at the same time creative force—I will argue against current popular theories of acceleration, which promote speed over intensity. In the second part I want to explore the shared processes of “fabulation” in the “intra-actions” of political art and political practices and to what degree these fabulations are nonutopian attempts to constitute what Deleuze calls “the people to come.”

Creating not only new modes of thinking but also new modes of acting politically, art plays an important role in current social movements and the creation of new strategies of protest. As Deleuze states in the famous interview with Toni Negri: “Art is resistance.”

References

Barad, Karen, and Adam Kleinmann. 2012. “Intra-actions”. Karen Barad interviewed by Adam Kleinmann. Mousse 34: An issue about dOCUMENTA 13, 9 June: 76–81. Also available at www.academia.edu/1857617/_Intra-actions_Interview_of_Karen_Barad_by_Adam_Kleinmann.

Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. 1987. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Translated by Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

More Brilliant Than the Past

This is a proposal for a more open and communal approach to dark precursor in the sense of not suggesting a traditional presentation, but rather a production-in-time. On the basis of my experience and editorial/research/textual artistic practice, I propose to “archive” or “protocol” the conference, engaging with what is happening there directly and with the community. The focus will be on one day in particular. The taking account of the “now” may also include looking at the actual surroundings and topography of/around the Orpheus Institute: meteorologies—study of the atmo-sphere . . . which could potentially lead into a piece of printed matter or a virtual resource (score, glossary, poster, semi-fictional account) with the focus on a collective voice rather than my own individual self. An alternative format of what is called conference proceedings?!

Conference participants should be aware of my activity of collecting during the event and of the subsequent piece, which is to be published and made accessible to readers in the conference proceedings. (Former projects can be found there too, to underline my continuing work on printed matter, textualities, and re-formatting formats.)

De-authored production is the natural state of things, for artists, curators, and producers. The idea of authorship in terms of autonomy or ownership is a market term, not a philosophical one. Nothing exists in a void, and that’s why the word process always pops up (or its contemporary synonym, research)—the process of how a community or an idea emerges . . . I think what we do is editing, not publishing. (Eldahab 2011)

Unfolding the connections of the intervention to Deleuze/Guattari here is grounded in expanding the thinking around fabulation, the “act of legending,” and communities—that is, a people to come—essentially to reclaim a space and voice for futurity (the capital of time) as it is trapped in our lives, inextricably linked with the false supremacy of capitalism.

Fabulation is a superior concept because its essence is to activate the “powers of the false,” to falsify orthodox truths in the process of generating emergent truths. To fabulate, in Pierre Perrault’s words, is to “legend in flagrante delicto” (cited in Deleuze 1989, 150; translation modified), and in doing so, to summon forth a ‘people to come’. (Bogue 2011)

Further references to Deleuze and Guattari: there are sensual, methodological, intense–flat, conceptual, diagrammatic, stratigraphic, mad connections emphasised in the way my art research is one among many, whose work is heavily informed by their various elaborations. Recent interest includes specifically Guattari’s legacy in relation to the minor cinema (futurity, animation) and then again, and again, La Borde economies.

The title is a homage to More Brilliant Than the Sun: Adventures in Sonic Fiction by Kodwo Eshun (1998).

References

Bogue, Ronald. 2011. “Deleuze and Guattari and the Future of Politics: Science Fiction, Protocols and the People to Come.” Deleuze Studies 5, supplement: 77–97. Accessed 14 October 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/dls.2011.0038.

ElDahab, Mai Abu. 2011. “Mai Abu in conversation with Will Holder.” In From Berkeley to Berkeley: Objectif Exhibitions, 2008–2010, edited by Mai Abu ElDahab, 10–11. Berlin: Sternberg Press.

Dialogue I: On Performance or Untimely Fabulation

The question of the dark precursor should not be mistaken as an instant in a chronological unfolding of events. In determining intensities “in advance but in reverse, as though intagliated” the dark precursor actually lacks a sense of empirical time and it lacks its article. It is not a mere “one” but a singularity—that is, an actual occasion beyond the measure of time while being in time. What if we conceive of the performative dislodged from a simplified sense of present while accounting for its power of instauration—its capacity for making present that which is in time but never of a mere present moment? With the participants of this Dialogue, we will explore different modes of untimely fabulation, a mode of thinking and literally invoking the in-act of performance across forms of creative practice in philosophy and art. Performance becomes the point of entry for negotiating a sensibility for ethico-aesthetic attunements toward emergence, without knowing in advance how a situation, a body, or relations will play out in their actualisation. The in-act of performance designates a thought and practice in the act of its very own fabulation—that is, of the coming Dialogue.

Christoph Brunner, chair