- Chaosophy: Texts and Interviews 1972–1977
For far too long, Félix Guattari has stood in the shadow of Gilles Deleuze, with whom Guattari co-authored Anti-Oedipus (1972), Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature (1975), A Thousand Plateaus (1980), and What Is Philosophy? (1991). Fortunately, this situation is beginning to change, thanks in large part to the labors of such scholars as Gary Genosko and Jannell Watson, whose seminal studies have dramatically increased accessibility to Guattari’s challenging and often gnomic thought. Just as important, however, has been the ongoing effort to provide reliable English translations of Guattari’s many essays and books. Most of Guattai’s book-length studies are now available in English (the 1989 Cartographies schizoanalytiques being the last major untranslated work), and many of his essays and interviews have appeared in translation (although here, much work remains to be done). One important contribution to this corpus of English translations is the revised and expanded edition of Chaosophy: Texts and Interviews 19727–1977, edited by Sylvère Lotringer, the general editor of Semiotext(e) and one of the driving forces in the promulgation of Guattari’s writings in the Anglophone world.
The first edition of Chaosophy (1995) contained fourteen entries; the new edition contains twenty-two. Five of the first edition selections have been excised from the new edition, nine have been retained, and an additional thirteen have been added. (The five excised selections appear nowhere else, so serious students of Guattari will want to consult both editions.) Three of the selections common to the two editions, interviews with Guattari and Deleuze, are also available in Deleuze’s Desert Islands and Other Texts [End Page 396] 1953–1974 (2004), and three essays may be found in Genosko’s The Guattari Reader (1996). But otherwise, the contents of this important volume are new.
Rather than present the selections in a simple chronological sequence, Lotringer has grouped the essays in five clusters that reflect the broad range of Guattari’s interests and activities. The first section, “Deleuze/Guattari on Anti-Oedipus,” opens with two interviews with Deleuze and Guattari concerning their best-known work, followed by a fascinating roundtable, in which Deleuze and Guattari interact with figures from a variety of fields, some enthusiastic, a few less so. But perhaps most important is the section’s last essay, “Balance-Sheet for Desiring Machines,” an appendix to the second edition of Anti-Oedipus. Here Deleuze and Guattari clarify the notion of “desiring-machines,” first by critiquing the concept of the tool, which, they say, “is humanistic and abstract, isolating the productive forces from the social conditions of their exercise” (92), then by situating the “social technical machines” of industrial culture (“machines” in common parlance) within the broader domain of “desiring-machines,” which are defined by “their capacity for an unlimited number of connections, in every sense and every direction… crossing through and commanding several structures at the same time” (96).
The seven texts of “Beyond Analysis,” Chaosophy’s second section, concern Guattari’s indefatigable activism within what is often called the “anti-psychiatry movement” (a term Guattari rejects). In the first three essays, Guattari challenges Basaglia’s outright elimination of institutions, whereby “with the best of moral intentions in the world, one may come to refuse the mad the right to be mad” (122), and critiques the anti-psychiatry of Laing and Cooper, discerning a lingering attachment to the subject, the family, and Oedipal “psychoanalysm,” both in their theoretical statements and in their practices at Kingsley Hall. Three incisive texts articulate Guattari’s vision of institutional psychiatric alternatives within capitalist culture, and in “La Borde: A Clinic Unlike Any Other,” Guattari details his years of labor at La Borde, where he tirelessly worked to transform the interactions among patients, staff, and medical personnel and bring into reality his conception of institutional “transversality.”
“Minor Politics,” a dossier of Guattari’s interventions in the struggles against gender and sexual oppression, includes a stirring manifesto from...