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

Toshiya Ueno

conference: DARE 2015: the dark precursor
date: November 10, 2015
venue: De Bijloke Music Center, Mezzanine
format: in words
practice: writing
keywords: assemblage, Dialogues, Félix Guattari, film, Kobo Abe, literature, nuptial, pop, subject

abstract video about the author(s)


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.


about the author(s)

Toshiya Ueno

Toshiya Ueno is a professor, critic, and TJ/DJ at the Department of Transcultural Studies, Faculty of Representational Studies, Wako University, Tokyo, and a visiting professor at the Department of East Asia Studies, McGill University, Montreal 2007–12 (winter semesters). In the 1980s he was involved with free pirate radio in Tokyo, which Felix Guattari visited and did a workshop with. He has published numerous books in Japanese on critical theory, cultural studies, and social philosophy and is currently preparing a book on Guattari. Among his publications in English are “Guattari and Japan” in Félix Guattari in the Age of Semiocapitalism, edited by Gary Genosko (Deleuze Studies special issue 6 [2], 2012) and “Unlearning to Raver,” in The Post Subcultures Reader, edited by David Muggleton and Rupert Weinzierl, Berg, 2003.

info & contact


Wako University, Tokyo, JP