Psyched Out — A Review of Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari: Intersecting Lives

Gilles DeleuzeScott McLemee’s recent review of Francois Dosse’s Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari: Intersecting Lives in Bookforum (registration req’d but it’s free!) praises the joint biography for making the academicized Deleuze “mysterious again.”

The review also looks at the biography in light of the reception of Deleuze and Guattari in the United States and within the context of intellectual developments over the last thirty years. McLemee writes:

“There is a history of thought that cannot be reduced to games of influence,” Deleuze said in a late interview. “There is a whole becoming of thought that remains mysterious.” For all its tireless unearthing of texts and contexts, Dosse’s biography isn’t reductive, nor does the book try to interpret its subjects using their own conceptual idiom (creating a pastiche that domesticates ideas while pretending to radicalize them). For twenty years, we’ve had an academicized Deleuze—the totem symbol of a safe anarchism that would never do any thing too crazy. In these pages, he’s paired up again with his co-conspirator, a strange figure who haunted all kinds of revolutionary circles and manic gatherings. Staid as he is, Dosse makes Deleuze and Guattari mysterious again.

McLemee also singles out Dosse’s biography for shedding more light on Guattari, whose reputation frequently lies in the shadows of Deleuze’s:

Dosse’s reconstruction of the network of youth hostels, Trotskyist factions, and offbeat discussion circles adds a great deal to our understanding of the tone of Guattari’s work, as well as of its implications…. The usual ’60s antinomian he wasn’t. He could recognize the realities of suffering and vulnerability; the revolutionary project involved opening oneself to the possibility of solidarity across vast differences in experience, with schizophrenia as an extreme. Guattari also seems to have been a calming influence on some of his violence-prone comrades—working quietly, behind the scenes, to persuade them to explore more creative options than armed struggle.

1 Response

  1. Forget rappers, ialeltectunls know how to battle for real, they don’t take prisoners. It’s not surprising that a marxist critic wouldn’t find much meaning to produce out of postmodern texts, much less out of Derrida’s, whose sum of work indeed amounts to absolutely nothing.

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