Schizo chaosmosis (Part 1)
by Felix Guattari
"Normality" in the light of delire, technical logic in the light of Freudian primary processes - a pas de deux towards chaos in the attempt to delineate a subjectivity far from dominant equilibria, to capture its virtual lines of singularity, emergence and renewal -eternal Dionysian return or paradoxical Copernican inversion to be prolonged by an animist revival? At the very least an originary fantasm of a modernity constantly under scrutiny and without hope of postmodern remission. It's always the same aporia: madness enclosed in its strangeness, reifled in alterity beyond return, nevertheless inhabits our ordinary, bland apprehension of the world. But we must go further: chaotic vertigo, which finds one of its privileged expressions in madness, is constitutive of the foundational intentionality of the subject-object relation. Psychosis starkly reveals an essential source of being-in-the-world.
What takes precedence, in fact, in the mode of being of psychosis -but also, according to other modalities, in the "emergent self' of infancy (Daniel Stern) or in aesthetic creation -is the irruption, at the forefront of the subjective scene, of a real "anterior" to discursivity; a real whose pathic consistency literally leaps at your throat. Must we think of this real as fixed, petrified and rendered catatonic by a pathological accident, or that it was in fact there for all time - past and future - awaiting the activation of a presumed symbolic castration as the sanction of foreclosure? Perhaps it is necessary to straddle these two perspectives: it was already there as an open virtual reference, and it arises correlatively as a production sui generis of a singular event.
Structuralists were too hasty in positioning the Real of psychosis topically in relation to the Imaginary of neurosis and the Symbolic of normality. What did they achieve? In erecting universal mathemes of the Real, the Imaginary and the Symbolic -considered as a unity each for themselves -they reified and reduced the complexity of what was at stake, the crystallisation of real-virtual Universes assembled from a multiplicity of imaginary Territories and semiotised in the most diverse ways. The real complexions, for example, those of everyday life, dreams, passion, delire, depression and aesthetic experience do not all have the same ontological colour. What is more, they are not passively endured, nor mechanically articulated or dialectically triangulated to other instances. Once certain thresholds of autopoietic consistency have been crossed, these real complexions start to work for themselves, constituting nuclei of partial subjectivation. Note that their expressive instruments (of semiotisation, encoding, catalysis, moulding, resonance, ider,itification) cannot be reduced to a single signifying economy. The practice of institutional psychotherapy has taught us the diversity of modalities of agglomeration of these multiple, real or virtual stases: those of the body and the soma, the self and other, lived space and temporal refrains, the family socius and the socius artificially elaborated so as to open up other fields of the possible, those of psychotherapeutic transference or even those immaterial Universes relating to music, plastic forms, animal becomings, vegetal becomings, machinic becomings ....
The complexions of the psychotic real, in their clinical emergence, constitute a privileged exploratory path for other ontological modes of production in that they disclose aspects of excess and limit experiences. Psychosis thus not only haunts neurosis and perversion but also all the forms of normality. Psychotic pathology is specific in that for x reasons the expected toings-and-froings and the "normal" polyphonic relations between the different modes of bringing into being of subjective enunciation see their heterogeneity compromised by repetition -the exclusive insistence of an existential stasis that I describe as chaosmic and which is capable of assuming all the hues of a schizo-paranoiac-manic-epileptoid, etc., spectrum. Everywhere else this stasis is only apprehended by way of avoidance, displacement, misrecognition, distortion, overdetermination, ritualisation .... In these conditions, psychosis could be defined as a hypnosis of the real. Here a sense of being-in-itself is established before any discursive scheme, uniquely positioned across an intensive continuum whose distinctive traits are not perceptible by an apparatus of representation but by a pathic, existential absorption, a pre-egoic, pre-identificatory agglomeration. As long as the schizophrenic is installed at the centre of this gaping and chaotic opening, paranoiac delire manifests an unbounded will to take possession ofit. For their part, passional delires (Serieux, Capgras and de Clerambault) would display a grasping intentionality in a less closed, more processual chaosmosis. The perversions already involve the signifying recomposition of poles of alterity which are bestowed from the outside with the power to incarnate controlled chaosmosis, teleguided by fantasmatic scenarios. As for neurotics, they present all the variants of avoidance evoked above, beginning with the simplest and most reifying, that of phobia, followed by hysteria, which forges from them substitutes in social space and the body, ending with obsessional neurosis which, for its part, secretes a perpetual temporal "differance" (Derrida), an indefinite procrastination.
This theme of chaosmic immanence and these nosographic variations need to be developed; I have only introduced them here in order to suggest the idea that the ontological apprehension belonging to psychosis is in no way synonymous with simple chaotic degradation, with a trivial increase in entropy. It would be a matter of reconciling chaos and complexity. (It is to Freud's credit that he showed the way in the Traumdeutung.) Why describe the homogenesis of ontological referents - and, by extension, the latent homogenesis of other modalities of subjectivation - as chaotic? It's because, all things considered, worlding a complexion of sense always involves taking hold of a massive and immediate ensemble of.contextual diversity, a fusion in an undifferentiated, or rather de-differentiated, whole. A world is only constituted on the condition of being inhabited by an umbilical point - deconstructive, detotalisating and deterritorialising - from which a subjective positionality embodies itself. The effects of such a nucleus of chaosmosis is to make the ensemble of differential terms (distinctive oppositions, the poles of discursivity) the object of a generalised connectivity, an indifferent mutability, a systematic dequalification. At the same time, this vacuole of decompression is an autopoietic node on which existential Territories and Incorporeal Universes of reference constantly reaffirm and entangle themselves, demanding and developing consistency. This oscillation at infinite speed between a state of chaotic "grasping" and the deployment of complexions anchored within worldly coordinates takes place before space and time, before the processes of spatialisation and temporalisation. Formations of sense and states of things are thus chaotised in the very movement of the bringing into existence of their complexity. At the source of a world's constitution there is always a certain modality of chaotic discomfort in its organicity, functionality and relations of alterity.
Unlike Freudian metapsychology, we are not going to oppose two antagonistic drives, of life and death, complexity and chaos. The most originary, objectal intentionality defines itself against a background of chaosmosis. And chaos is not pure indifferentiation; it possesses a specific ontological texture. It is inhabited by virtual entities and modalities of alterity which have nothing universal about them. It is not therefore Being in general which irrupts in the chaosmic experience of psychosis, or in the pathic relationship one can enter into with it, but a signed and dated event, marking a destiny, inflecting previously stratified significations. After such a process of dequalification and ontological homogenesis, nothing will be like it was before. But the event is inseparable from the texture of the being brought to light. This is what the psychotic aura attests to when a feeling of catastrophe about the end of the world (Francois Tosquelles) is associated with an overwhelming feeling of imminent redemption of every possibility or, in other words, the alarming oscillation between a proliferating complexity of sense and total vacuity, a hopeless dereliction of existential chaosmosis.
excerpt from the book: Chaosmosis an ethico-aesthetic paradigm by Felix Guattari
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