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Intimacy without Domestication: Courtly Love in A Thousand Plateaus Janell Watson AT FIRST GLANCE ONE MIGHT WONDER what in Deleuze and Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus could possibly be of interest for a discussion of intimacy or domesticity. The text evokes numerous figures that appear to "evade domestication," like nomads, warriors, primitive societies, packs, swarms, drug addicts, and masochists.1 In her influential critique, Alice Jardine points out that Deleuze and Guattari promote a cosmic vision of the world, while denigrating the familial-psychoanalytic point of view which so many feminists have found so compelling. As a result, she observes, they spend their time analyzing "sea animals, computers, volcanoes, birds, and planets" instead of addressing more apparently feminine domains such as "the bourgeois family hearth and its books."2 Deleuze and Guattari advance explicit theoretical reasons for their apparent anti-domesticity, which stem directly from their critiques of Oedipal familialism, individualism, evolutionism, filiation, the State, and capitalism. However, while it may seem difficult to identify any kind of positively valorized domestic intimacy in either volume of Capitalism and Schizophrenia, A Thousand Plateaus does include references to nomadic configurations of home. More fully developed is the possibility for a couple-based intimacy based on courtly love, which is mentioned in several discussions of the nomadic man of war, the very figure that many feminists have found antithetical to feminine concerns. Deleuze and Guattari's nomadic man of war is also the man of love. Their chivalrous love couple, made up of the knight and his lady, modeled on Tristan and Isolde, can take off in either of two directions, one leading to the conjugality typical of bourgeois family life, and the other taking off on a "line of flight" leading to a liberating dissolution of the self. The celebration of the cosmic in A Thousand Plateaus may not be quite as starkly antithetical to feminine concerns as Jardine and others have claimed, for the concern with the cosmic is accompanied by a championing of the minoritarian. This cosmic vision is one of molecular astrophysics, which emphasizes particles rather than planets, or, in the language of ATP, the molecular (particles) rather than the molar (planets). Furthermore, if Deleuze and Guattari's cosmos seems largely masculine to many leading feminists, I maintain that their world is decidedly not patriarchal, for patriarchy relies on the kind of familial, lineal hierarchies that they denounce. Woman, as the Vol. XLIV, No. 1 83 L'Esprit Créateur minority par excellence, is the privileged sex in this molecular cosmos, although they ultimately seek liberation from the masculine-feminine binary, raising the possibility of "η-sexes." They contrast molar woman, woman as a gender category, in favor of a "becoming-woman," a molecular, minoritarian becoming for molar men as well as for molar women. However, leading feminists have rejected "becoming-woman," for compelling reasons.1 The complex debate around becoming-woman exceeds the scope of this article. I will therefore focus on a different question, namely, whether domesticity can be conceived in molecular rather than molar terms. While I agree that traditional feminine spheres receive little attention in ATP, I argue for the possibility of conceiving a domesticity compatible with the cosmic vision favored in ATP. Because the man of war must pass through a becoming-woman, it seems to me that courtly love offers a good point of departure for considering the possibility of a molecular domestic intimacy. Courtly love has fascinated French intellectuals since the 1950s. Lacan himself devoted a seminar session to it.4 Though Guattari was a student of Lacan and followed the seminars, I find more useful for understanding courtly love in ATP the work of the French historians of private life, the family, and women, even though much of it was published after ATP. A comparison of Deleuze and Guattari's version of courtly love with that of George Duby and his collaborators can be used to illustrate important concepts in ATP. One such concept is that of conventional history, which is molar, versus nomadology , a yet-to-be-written molecular version of history written from the point of view of nomads.5 While I will maintain that the history of Duby and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1931-0234
Print ISSN
0014-0767
Pages
pp. 83-95
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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