The Imperialism of Oedipus
Oedipus restrained is the figure of the daddy-mommy-me triangle, the familial constellation in person. But when psychoanalysis makes of Oedipus its dogma, it is not unaware of the existence of relations said to be pre-oedipal in the child, exo-oedipal in the psychotic, para-oedipal in others. The function of Oedipus as dogma, or as the "nuclear complex," is inseparable from a forcing by which the psychoanalyst as theoretician elevates himself to the conception of a generalized Oedipus. On the one hand, for each subject of either sex, he takes into consideration an intensive series of instincts, affects, and relations that link the normal and positive form of the complex to its inverse or negative form: a standard model Oedipus, such as Freud presents in The Ego and the Id, which makes it possible to connect the pre-Oedipal phases with the negative complex when this seems called for. On the other hand, he takes into consideration the coexistence in extension of the subjects themselves and their multiple interactions: a group Oedipus that brings together relatives, descendants, and ascendants. (It is in this manner that the schizophrenic's visible resistance to oedipalization, the obvious absence of the Oedipal link, can be obscured in a grandparental constellation, either because an accumulation of three generations is deemed necessary in order to produce a psychotic, or because an even more direct mechanism of intervention by the grandparents in the psychosis is discovered, and Oedipuses of Oedipus are constituted, to the second power: neurosis, that's father-mother, but grandma, that's psychosis.) Finally, the distinction between the Imaginary* and the Symbolic* permits the emergence of an Oedipal structure as a system of positions and functions that do not conform to the variable figure of those who come to occupy them in a given social or pathological formation: a structural Oedipus (3 + 1) that does not conform to a triangle, but performs all the possible triangulations by distributing in a given domain desire, its object, and the law.
It is certain that the two preceding modes of generalization attain their full scope only in structural interpretation. Structural interpretation makes Oedipus into a kind of universal Catholic symbol, beyond all the imaginary modalities. It makes Oedipus into a referential axis not only for the pre-oedipal phases, but also for the para-oedipal varieties, and the exo-oedipal phenomena. The notion of "foreclosure," for example, seems to indicate a specifically structural deficiency, by means of which the schizophrenic is of course repositioned on the Oedipal axis, set back into the Oedipal orbit in the perspective, for example, of the three generations, where the mother was not able to posit her desire toward her own father, nor the son, consequently, toward the mother. One of Lacan's disciples writes: we are going to consider "the means by which the Oedipal organization plays a role in psychoses; next, what the forms of psychotic pregenitality are and how they are able to maintain the Oedipal reference." Our preceding criticism of Oedipus therefore risks being judged totally superficial and petty, as if it applied solely to an imaginary Oedipus and aimed at the role of parental figures, without at all penetrating the structure and its order of symbolic positions and functions.
For us, however, the problem is one of knowing if, indeed, that is where the difference enters in. Wouldn't the real difference be between Oedipus, structural as well as imaginary, and something else that all the Oedipuses crush and repress: desiring-production—the machines of desire that no longer allow themselves to be reduced to the structure any more than to persons, and that constitute the Real in itself, beyond or beneath the Symbolic as well as the Imaginary? We in no way claim to be taking up an endeavor such as Malinowski's, showing that the figures vary according to the social form under consideration. We even believe what we are told when Oedipus is presented as a kind of invariant. But the question is altogether different: is there an equivalence between the productions of the unconscious and this invariant—between the desiring-machines and the Oedipal structure? Or rather, does not the invariant merely express the history of a long mistake, throughout all its variations and modalities; the strain of an endless repression? What we are calling into question is the frantic Oedipalization to which psychoanalysis devotes itself, practically and theoretically, with the combined resources of image and structure. And despite some fine books by certain disciples of Lacan, we wonder if Lacan's thought really goes in this direction. Is it merely a matter of oedipalizing even the schizo? Or is it a question of something else, and even the contrary?* Wouldn't it be better to schizophrenize—to schizophrenize the domain of the unconscious as well as the sociohistorical domain, so as to shatter the iron collar of Oedipus and rediscover everywhere the force of desiring-production; to renew, on the level of the Real, the tie between the analytic machine, desire, and production? For the unconscious itself is no more structural than personal, it does not symbolize any more than it imagines or represents; it engineers, it is machinic. Neither imaginary nor symbolic, it is the Real in itself, the "impossible real" and its production.
But what is this long history, if we consider it only during the period of psychoanalysis? It does not take place without doubts, detours, and repentances. Laplanche and Pontalis note that Freud "discovers" the Oedipus complex in 1897 in the course of his self-analysis, but that he doesn't give a generalized theoretical form to it until 1923, in The Ego and the Id, and that, between these two formulations, Oedipus leads a more or less marginal existence, "confined for example to a separate chapter on object-choice at puberty (Three Essays), or to a chapter on typical dreams (The Interpretation of Dreams)." They say that this is because a certain abandonment by Freud of the theory of traumatism and seduction leads not to a univocal determination of Oedipus, but to the description as well of a spontaneous infantile sexuality of an endogenous nature. It is as if "Freud never managed to articulate the interrelations of Oedipus and infantile sexuality," the latter referring to a biological reality of development, the former to a psychic fantasy reality. Oedipus is what all but got lost "for the sake of a biological realism."
But is it correct to present things in this way? Did the imperialism of Oedipus require only the renunciation of biological realism? Or wasn't something else sacrificed to Oedipus, something infinitely stronger? For what Freud and the first analysts discover is the domain of free syntheses where everything is possible: endless connections, nonexclusive disjunctions, nonspecific conjunctions, partial objects and flows. The desiring-machines pound away and throb in the depths of the unconscious: Irma's injection, the Wolf Man's ticktock, Anna's coughing machine, and also all the explanatory apparatuses set into motion by Freud, all those neurobiologico-desiring-machines. And the discovery of the productive unconscious has what appear to be two correlates: on the one hand, the direct confrontation between desiring-production and social production, between symptomological and collective formations, given their identical nature and their differing regimes; and on the other hand, the repression that the social machine exercises on desiring-machines, and the relationship of psychic repression with social repression. This will all be lost, or at least singularly compromised, with the establishment of a sovereign Oedipus. Free association, rather than opening onto polyvocal connections, confines itself to a univocal impasse. All the chains of the unconscious are biunivocalized, linearized, suspended from a despotic signifier. The whole of desiring-production is crushed, subjected to the requirements of representation, and to the dreary games of what is representative and represented in representation. And there is the essential thing: the reproduction of desire gives way to a simple representation, in the process as well as theory of the cure. The productive unconscious makes way for an unconscious that knows only how to express itself--express itself in myth, in tragedy, in dream.
But who says that dream, tragedy, and myth are adequate to the formations of the unconscious, even if the work of transformation is taken into account? Groddeck remained more faithful than Freud to an autoproduction of the unconscious in the coextension of man and Nature. It is as if Freud had drawn back from this world of wild production and explosive desire, wanting at all costs to restore a little order there, an order made classical owing to the ancient Greek theater. For what does it mean to say that Freud discovered Oedipus in his own self-analysis? Was it in his self-analysis, or rather in his Goethian classical culture? In his self-analysis he discovers something about which he remarks: Well now, that looks like Oedipus! And at first he considers this something as a variant of the "familial romance," a paranoiac recording by which desire causes precisely the familial determinations to explode. It is only little by little that he makes the familial romance, on the contrary, into a mere dependence on Oedipus, and that he neuroticizes everything in the unconscious at the same time as he oedipalizes, and closes the familial triangle over the entire unconscious. The schizo—there is the enemy! Desiring-production is personalized, or rather personologized (personnologisee), imaginarized (imaginarisee), structuralized. (We have seen that the real difference or frontier did not lie between these terms, which are perhaps complementary.) Production is reduced to mere fantasy production, production of expression. The unconscious ceases to be what it is—a factory, a workshop—to become a theater, a scene and its staging. And not even an avant-garde theater, such as existed in Freud's day (Wedekind), but the classical theater, the classical order of representation. The psychoanalyst becomes a director for a private theater, rather than the engineer or mechanic who sets up units of production, and grapples with collective agents of production and antiproduction.
Psychoanalysis is like the Russian Revolution; we don't know when it started going bad. We have to keep going back further. To the Americans? To the First International? To the secret Committee? To the first ruptures, which signify renunciations by Freud as much as betrayals by those who break with him? To Freud himself, from the moment of the "discovery" of Oedipus? Oedipus is the idealist turning point. Yet it cannot be said that psychoanalysis set to work unaware of desiring-production. The fundamental notions of the economy of desire—work and investment—keep their importance, but are subordinated to the forms of an expressive unconscious and no longer to the formations of the productive unconscious. The anoedipal nature of desiring-production remains present, but it is fitted over the co-ordinates of Oedipus, which translate it into "pre-oedipal," "para-oedipal," "quasi-oedipal," etc. The desiring-machines are always there, but they no longer function except behind the consulting-room walls. Behind the walls or in the wings, such is the place the primal fantasy concedes to desiring-machines, when it reduces everything to the Oedipal scene.18 They continue nevertheless to make a hellish racket. Even the psychoanalyst can't ignore them. He tends therefore to maintain an attitude of denial: all of that is surely true, but it is still daddy-mommy. Over the consulting-room door is written, "Leave your desiring-machines at the door, give up your orphan and celibate machines, your tape recorder and your little bike, enter and allow yourself to be oedipalized." Everything follows from that, beginning with the unreliable character of the cure, its interminable and highly contractual nature, flows of speech in exchange for flows of money. All that is needed is what is called a psychotic episode: after a schizophrenic flash, one day we bring our tape recorder into the analyst's office—stop!—with this insertion of a desiring-machine everything is reversed: we have broken the contract, we are not faithful to the major principle of the exclusion of a third party, we have introduced a third element—the desiring-machine in person.* Yet every psychoanalyst should know that, underneath Oedipus, through Oedipus, behind Oedipus, his business is with desiring-machines. At the beginning, psychoanalysts could not be unaware of the forcing employed to introduce Oedipus, to inject it into the unconscious. Then Oedipus fell back on and appropriated desiring-production as if all the productive forces emanated from Oedipus itself. The psychoanalyst became the carrier of Oedipus, the great agent of antiproduction in desire. The same history as that of Capital, with its enchanted, "miraculated" world. (Also at the beginning, said Marx, the first capitalists could not be unaware of ...)
excerpt from the book: Anti -Oedipus (Capitalism and Schizophrenia) by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari
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