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Reterritorializing Subjectivity

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Abstract The philosophies of Deleuze, Guattari and Levinas are taken up in an effort to advance the ethical, political, and technological implications of how we interpret, inhabit, and territorialize the Earth. The difference between their views on the relation between immanence and transcendence and their respective analyses of the face and faciality are brought to bear in addressing the questions of ethics, politics, and values in relation to the constitution and liberation, or resingularization, of subjectivity. The contemporary world has produced to a historically unprecedented degree a tension between machinization and wildness—both of which are expressions of the inhuman. Somewhere in between this difference, transversing the borderlines between the human and inhuman, lies a possible way for rethinking the relation between subjectivity, identity, difference, and singularity.

1. FN11) Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987), 190.
2. FN22) Jean-Luc Nancy, Being Singular Plural, trans. Robert D. Richardson and Anne E. O’Byrne (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000), xiii.
3. FN33) Deleuze and Guattari employ an idiosyncratic use of the term “schizophrenic.” In the context of their usage, it refers to the multiplicity of signs, signifiers, and voices that bombard the subject through various channels such as the state, culture, advertising, media, etc. It is clear that they are not referring to the standard psychoanalytic use of the term, as a mental disease or disorder able to be treated through pharmaceuticals and/or therapy. In fact, it is precisely against such remedies that they align themselves. The problem, they would argue, often lies not so much in the individual but in the various machine-assemblages that continually produce various conflictual dilemmas.
4. FN44) Michel Foucault, Mental Illness and Psychology, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York, 1976), 84.
5. FN55) Michel Foucault, “Theatrum Philosophicum,” in Language, Counter-Memory, Practice, trans. Donald F. Bouchard and Sherry Simon (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977), 165.
6. FN66) Félix Guattari, Chaosmosis: An Ethico-Aesthetic Paradigm, trans. Paul Bains and Julian Pefanis (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995), 135.
7. FN77) I follow here Ihab Hassan’s distinction between postmodernism and postmodernity. See his “From Postmodernism to Postmodernity: The Local/Global Context,” Philosophy and Literature 25, no. 1 (Spring 2001): 1–13.
8. FN88) Ibid., 33.
9. FN99) Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. Robert Hurley, Mark Seem, and Helen R. Lane (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1983), 2.
10. FN1010) Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 43.
11. FN1111) Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, What is Philosophy?, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Graham Burchell (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), 85–86.
12. FN1212) Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 56.
13. FN1313) Deleuze and Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, 50; also see 9–16ff.
14. FN1414) Félix Guattari, The Three Ecologies, trans. Ian Pindar and Paul Sutton (London: Athlone Press, 2000).
15. FN1515) Verena Andermatt Conley, Ecopolitics: The Environment in Poststructuralist Thought (London: Routledge, 1997), 94.
16. FN1616) Guattari, Chaosmosis, 120.
17. FN1717) Deleuze and Guattari, What is Philosophy?, 85.
18. FN1818) Guattari, Chaosmosis, 130.
19. FN1919) Ibid., 97.
20. FN2020) Slavoj Žižek, Organs without Bodies: On Deleuze and Consequences (New York: Routledge, 2004), 16.
21. FN2121) Guattari, Chaosmosis, 108.
22. FN2222) Ibid., 111.
23. FN2323) Ibid., 54–55.
24. FN2424) Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 172–73.
25. FN2525) Guattari, Chaosmosis, 52.
26. FN2626) Ibid., 107; italics added.
27. FN2727) Ibid., 35.
28. FN2828) Emmanuel Levinas, Totality and Infinity, trans. Alphonso Lingis (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1969), 54.
29. FN2929) Ibid., 23; italics in the original.
30. FN3030) Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 168.
31. FN3131) Ibid., 172.
32. FN3232) Ibid., 181.
33. FN3333) Emmanuel Levinas, “The Ego and the Totality,” in Collected Philosophical Papers, trans. Alphonso Lingis (Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff, 1987), 34.
34. FN3434) Emmanuel Levinas, “Meaning and Sense,” in Collected Philosophical Papers, 102.
35. FN3535) Levinas, Totality and Infinity, 39.
36. FN3636) Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 181.
37. FN3737) While Levinas clearly privileges the human face-to-face relationship, the locus of all ethical interactions, in which transcendence and immanence meet producing in its wake the ethical signification, he does not completely limit the concept of the face to that of the human: “The human face is completely different and only afterwards do we discover the face of an animal” (Emmanuel Levinas, “The Paradox of Morality: An Interview with Emmanuel Levinas,” in Robert Bernasconi and David Wood, eds., The Provocation of Levinas: Rethinking the Other (London: Routledge, 1988), 172. Elsewhere Levinas states: “One cannot entirely refuse the face of an animal. It is via the face that one understands, for example, a dog. Yet the priority here is not found in the animal, but in the human face” (ibid., 169).
38. FN3838) Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 172; italics in the original.
39. FN3939) This term is used by Edward S. Casey in Getting Back Into Place: Toward a Renewed Understanding of the Place-World (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993), 201ff.
40. FN4040) Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 171.
41. FN4141) Ibid., 188.
42. FN4242) Ibid., 28.
43. FN4343) Ibid., 29.
44. FN4444) On the “wild, lawless otherness” of the Wolf-Man, see William Desmond, Philosophy and its Others: Ways of Being and Mind (Albany: SUNY Press, 1990), 201–5.
45. FN4545) Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 319.
46. FN4646) Ibid., 320.
47. FN4747) This is something that every outdoors person knows. Since animals respond as much audibly as visually, and perhaps even more so (not to mention the olfactory senses, which itself brings in a whole other range of questions and possibilities), the approach in the woods or toward the stream is vitally important. For example, unlike their hatchery-born cousins, native trout are acutely aware—at a distance—of the incautious angler’s approach. The crack of the twig that drops sediment into the stream, their territory, or the shadow that should not be there, disrupts the rhythm, the flow of things. Another example: when moving about in bear territory, and in particular grizzly country, respect is everything. A bear often will false charge just to mark its boundaries. It has been reported that assuming a subservient sidelong stance to avoid direct eye contact is enough to quell the bear’s approach. All said and done, though, bears are simply unpredictable. Death may follow as easily as the inescapable adrenaline rush. Interestingly, in Of Wolves and Men (New York: Scribner, 1979), Barry Lopez states that just the opposite is the case with wolves: a wolf will stare down its opponent, and if a certain fear is demonstrated, the wolf will often attack to the death even though it is not hungry. Cattle are often prone to such attack because the wolf perhaps perceives them as an unworthy and weak entity and therefore undeserving of life.
48. FN4848) Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 312.
49. FN4949) Emmanuel Levinas, “Reality and Its Shadow,” in Collected Philosophical Papers, 4.
50. FN5050) It is not so much the presence of a foreign entity that arouses suspicion but the comportment, the rhythm of the intruder. In the hood it is a matter of whether the stranger walks the walk as well as talks the talk. Distance and pace are definite signs of belonging and trespassing. In the wild, vision is often secondarily employed as a means of adjudicating friend or foe. But it is generally the face to face interaction, particularly among animals, that determines the outcome of the confrontation. The glance of the eye, is it oblique or direct? The tilt of the head’s as significant as the lilt of the tread. The stranger, the other, is unpredictable, always a surprise.
51. FN5151) Jacques Lacan, Ecrits (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1966), 94; translation mine.
52. FN5252) Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 13; italics in the original.

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Affiliations: 1: Rochester Institute of Technology


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