Fukushima Mon Amour : Unnatural Nuptial or Unnatural Participation in Guattarian Ecosophy

This paper belongs to my project that grapples with comparative theoretical analysis between Félix Guattari’s ecosophy (a philosophy of ecology or virtual ecology) and post- war Japanese literature or thought. My incipient attempt deals with Japanese novel The Woman in the Dunes (1962) by Abe Kobo and the film of the same title on which he collaborated (1964). (Abe was a friend of Guattari in the 1980s, while Guattari addressed Abe’s novels in his essay.) This intertextual or transversal reading leads to another film and script, Hiroshima mon amour (1959) written by Marguerite Duras, in terms of the memory of the singular event such as a fatal love or environmental catastrophe.

The paper intends to dig through potential layers of thought that clarify and reconsider the notion of “unnatural nuptials” (or “unnatural participation”) by Deleuze and Guattari, especially as the model of uncanny coupling or strange symbiosis of (in)humans. The famous example of wasps and orchids in Deleuze and Guattari here is employed to explain not only the Body without Organs or machinic assemblages but also the alliance and contagions of uncanny love and conviviality. To think and survive after the Fukushima disaster, this paper presents a trans-local critical platform for potential discussions, for loving and coupling in intimate spheres, which definitely pertains to the ecology of mind, affect, and information.

Logic of Sens/ation: Two Conflicting Conceptions of Transdisciplinarity in Deleuze and Guattari

Central to Deleuze and Guattari’s theorisations concerning transdisciplinarity, and key   to Deleuze’s ontology, is the problem of communication across a real distinction or difference in kind. The dynamic at stake is the following: this difference cannot be negated or sublated yet there is a way to bypass it nondialectically.

In this paper I propose to tackle a sequence in Deleuze and Guattari’s oeuvre absolutely central to the problematic of aberrant nuptials introduced above: the confrontation between philosophy and art. More specifically, I will be examining two conflicting approaches to this relation in Deleuze’s, and Deleuze and Guattari’s, work and exploring the reasons for this conflict.

The first is to be found in The Logic of Sense (1969), in which Deleuze shows that art— specifically literary nonsense and humour—enables philosophy to reach an understanding of univocal being as a surface ontology comprised of a play of sense and nonsense wherein both disciplines are combined.

After meeting Guattari, Deleuze’s relation to art fundamentally changed. For Deleuze after Guattari, any framework bound to a conception of being that is in some way linguistic is not sufficiently open to the Outside (force, chance). Correlatively, art can open for philosophy a privileged route to the Outside only once it has broken free from the structuralist problematic of sense and nonsense.

With Deleuze’s Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation (1981), we find the anti-structuralist answer to the overly Carrollian Logic of Sense. With the term “Figure,” contrasted to the figurative, Deleuze makes it clear that he is following Lyotard who, in Discourse, Figure (1971), had argued for the irreducibility of the plastic and visual arts to the realm of language.

This irreducibility between art qua logic of sensation and philosophy qua logic of sense  is formalised in Deleuze and Guattari’s What is Philosophy? (1991). Here they distinguish between the philosophical “plane of immanence”—now decidedly a non-linguistic plane (contra the “plane of reference” of logic)—and the aesthetic “plane of composition,” which is discussed primarily with reference to the plastic and visual arts (rather than literature).

Thanks to Deleuze’s late engagement with Leibniz in The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque (1988), Deleuze and Guattari differentiate in 1991 between the event’s actualisation in  a state of affairs by a denoting proposition (logic), its counter-actualisation by philosophy, and its aesthetic realisation in “a body, a life.” The event is counter-actualised or actualised in philosophy and logic, but it is realised only in art.

As the discipline that formalises-constructs sensation, and thus the one most familiar with the real experience of the body, art most directly encounters the Outside of force and chance imprinted via sensation. Yet with Deleuze’s “Immanence: A Life” (1995), he problematises this a final time: art’s embodied and lived logic of sensation must combine with philosophy’s plane of immanence of thought to attain the absolute—immanence: a life—as both transdisciplinary and psycho-physical disjunctive synthesis.

A Cartographic Creativity: Deleuze, Guattari and Deligny Towards New Means of Philosophical Expression

Mapping has become a popular and much commented on practice in social sciences, humanities, and art history. Although mapping is often used to furnish a global view of an idea or to clarify a situation, I would like to argue that it can be a much more complex activity—a “dark precursor” —which escapes usual representation and touches the core of creative processes whether they are of artistic or conceptual orders. In A Thousand Plateaus, maps play a discreet though important part as rhizomatic ways of escaping representation: maps are oriented toward experimentation; they do not reproduce but construct the unconscious; they have multiple entryways; they are open and connectable, detachable, reversible, susceptible to constant modification (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 12). In Schizoanalytic Cartographies, Félix Guattari (1989, 18, 32) goes further by defining maps as “existential circumscriptions” and by suggesting that mapping calls for an aesthetic account of our experiences. Maps in the frame of this paper thus perform as a means of experimentation toward an encounter between art and philosophy.

To understand how mapping can give us such an access to an impersonal plane of creativity, this paper will focus on one of the most important influences on Deleuze and Guattari on this topic: Fernand Deligny’s work with autistic children. Deligny (1913–96) was a French educator who promoted an approach to autistic children through the wander lines they trace in space. Deligny’s mapping of the children’s journeys didn’t aim to carry any therapeutic, “normalising” purpose; in fact, it was not aimed at all. Through the maps, Deligny wanted to escape our linguistically- and symbolically-shaped reality in order to bring to light the pre-personal “common” (le commun) we share with autistic people (see Álvarez de Toledo, 2013; Deligny 2007).

The main questions structuring this paper will thus concern the “aimless” and the “common” characteristics of those maps and what they can teach us of creative processes. In the preface to Difference and Repetition, Deleuze (1994, xxi) writes on the search for new means of philosophical expression. Could Deligny’s maps be one of those means? How would that affect our views on the formation of subjectivity? What would it tell us about the political production of a common space? How do the maps relate to what Deleuze calls “the virtual”? Would the performativity of those maps affect the very way we tell stories about the creation of art and the creation of concepts?

References

Álvarez de Toledo, Sandra, ed. 2013. Cartes et lignes d’erre/Maps and Wander Lines: Traces du réseau de Fernand Deligny, 1969–1979. Paris: L’Arachnéen.

Deleuze, Gilles. 1994. Difference and Repetition. Translated by Paul Patton. New York: Columbia University Press.

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

Deligny, Fernand. 2007. Œuvres. Edited by Sandra Álvarez de Toledo. Paris: L’Arachnéen.

Guattari, Félix. 2012. Schizoanalytic Cartographies. Translated by Andrew Goffey. New York: Bloomsbury.

Guattari’s Ecosophy and Nature as Machinic Assemblages: In Reading Literatures and Films by Kobo Abe

In this paper I will explore Guattari’s tactical idea of ecosophy (or virtual ecology) as the integrative moment of his itinerary in both theory and practice. In the mid 1970s Deleuze began using the term “strange ecology” in the mid 1970s, in his Dialogues with Claire Parnet, much earlier than Guattari, who began to engage with the problematics of ecology in the mid 1980s. In reference to literary authors such as Woolf, Melville, and Hofmannsthal, Deleuze (and Parnet) raised the notion of “unnatural participation” or “participation (or nuptials) against nature,” which later in A Thousand Plateaus Deleuze and Guattari elaborated further in their detailed conceptualisation of “becoming” (woman, animal, and imperceptible). Guattari, for his part, also proceeded with this line of thought by proposing the notion of “the production of subjectivity,” combined with concepts such as “absorbent subjectivity” or “partial or pathic subjectivity” in his late work Chaosmosis. As Deleuze in Dialogues made a remark on the equivalence between a literary author and a traitor (or trickster), one of tasks of the novelist is “to lose one’s identity and face.” By writing something, the writer has to (can) become something itself, at the same time he or she has to disappear, to become unknown (Dialogue 33). The writer can invent a kind of field, environment, and ambience by becoming objects in writing (referents). Such writing always consists of “working between the two” rather than “working together” (ibid., 13), where “we are desert but populated by tribes, flora and fauna” (ibid., 9). Guattari’s late writings on ecosophy were drawn from the earlier conceptions of Deleuze. In this context, Japanese writer Kobo Abe must be addressed. Even a cursory Guattarian-influenced reading of two of his novels (later made into films in which he collaborated), The Woman in the Dunes and The Face of Another, affords us a certain creative interpretation on Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophy, and Guattari’s ecosophy especially. In the mid 1980s, Guattari and Abe met for discussions a couple of times. Inspired by Abe’s avant-garde works in his novels and films, rather than merely apply the ideas of Deleuze and Guattari to Abe’s work this paper will focus on the perspective of “Nature as machnic assemblages” in Guattari’s late works.