Monday, June 27, 2011

What Is Love According to Postmodernism?

I am reading (attempting to read, that is, to be more precise) Deleuze’s and Guattari’s massive book titled a thousand plateaus : capitalism and schizophrenia. I understand some of it. Maybe I understand schizophrenia more than I do capitalism? There are other “understandings” dancing about the periphery of my general sense of “Oooh. I get it. Maybe?” And this is where the terrain becomes worth it. The almost mind. Perhaps I could call this the domain of intuition, before the rest of my mind catches up with the signs. The place where meaning begins to stretch into a different kind of knowing; a new set of questions arise from the abyss of my ignorance and prompt me to discover what, for instance, a rhizome is. So I check the (internet) dictionary. After all, a mere 22 pages of jargon rich prose is dedicated to this word, rhizome, so why not put my mind to the test and plow through?
Now, my intent was to come here and copy out a few sentences on love that I found to be particularly striking. After all, love is a simple enough human entanglement to discuss, right? No. Look at all the poets and philosophers, religions and laws regarding this simple…what? Feeling? Chemical reaction (feeling again)? Human bonding agent. Muse? Let’s see what these fellows have to say about it, right before they bring Kafka in:

What does it mean to love somebody? It is always to seize that person in a mass, extract him or her from a group, however small, in which he or she participates, whether it be through the family only or through something else; then to find that person’s own packs, the multiplicities he or she encloses within himself or herself which may be of an entirely different nature. To join them to mine, to make them penetrate mine, and for me to penetrate the other person’s. Heavenly nuptials, multiplicities of multiplicities. Every love is an exercise in depersonalization on a body without organs yet to be formed, and it is at the highest point of this depersonalization that someone can be named, receives his or her family name or first name, acquires the most intense discernibility in the instantaneous apprehension of the multiplicities belonging to him or her, and to which he or she belongs (35).

Well. These are some potentially deep waters. There is either a profound set of truths here or it is a giant vat of jargonese bullshit. Much of the book reads in a similar vein, of course. I’m not sure if this is how they conversed over dinner, over the telephone, to their colleagues or students, friends, lovers, and other folks within their intimate circle. I would like to hear them explain their writings, via video or whatever, so I could get a better sense of what they are conveying. (Think of Zizek, with his wild gesticulations and subtle sense of humor…something you might miss if you were reading his words only.)
But there is a tickle of intrigue that keeps me going.
I recognize that there are enthusiasts out there who swallow this stuff up whole hog. People who could probably dance circles around me with loooooong words that mean something very simple, who would bury me in philosophical dust clouds then wipe their hands clean of my uncomprehending intellect.
But they wouldn’t waste their time.
So, if you are reading this and you have some insight into Deleuze / Guattari and you feel like you could enlighten me further, please, please, please leave a comment.
Otherwise, thanks for making it to this sentence.

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