5/11/2011

notes on Michel Foucault'spreface to Anti-Oedipus by Muindi Fanuel Muindi (My notes are in red and excerpts from Foucault's text are in black) Paying a modest tribute to Saint Francis Sales, one might say that Anti-Oedipus is anIntroduction to the Non-Facist Life.The art of living counter to all forms of fascism, whether already present or impending, carrieswith it a certain number of essential principles which I would summarize as follow if I were tomake this great book into a manual or guide to everyday life.•Free political action from all unitary and totalizing paranoia Do not develop actions using slogans and theories that rely on the concept of one (e.g., "we are one people", "we need to act as one ", "we must speak with one voice").Do not develop actions using slogans and theories that rely on the concepts of everything , all , and everyone (e.g., " everything must change", " everyone must contribute", "we all are going to suffer", "we must all takeresponsibility").Gestures done for the sake of "all", "everything", "everyone", and "one" suppress concrete differencesbetween people and within particular persons in the interest of a reified generality.Instead, develop actions using slogans and theories that rely on the concept of connection . Connections donot suppress concrete differences between entities or within a particular entity. A connection is establishedbetween two or three or n different entities. A connection between a set of entities does not exhaustivelydetermine the particular entities involved nor does it not combine those entities in order to form one super-entity. Rather, it determines common notions between the entities, relations of agreement or disagreement.Moreover, references to connections demand some measure of specificity that allow for some form of empirical verification—one acts on the basis of the connection between taxes and social infrastructure, theconnection between education and income inequality, or the connection between the compensation of CEOs, corporate bailouts, and the federal deficit. •Develop action, thought, and desires by proliferation, juxtaposition, and disjunction, andnot by subdivision and pyramidal hierarchization. Subdivision and pyramidal hierarchization, i.e. logic trees, the system of dissemination that these trees imply,and their restrictive "either/or" logic. Subdivision and pyramidal hierarchization of a set of entities reduces theset of possible connections that those entities can utilize. Think and act through proliferation—to be used as a model: contagion, the spread of digital and biologicalviruses, memes. Think and act through juxtaposition—take seemingly opposed positions or seemingly divergent approachesand put them in proximity to one another, attempt to discover zones of indiscernability between them, toidentify flows of energy and information from which they mutually draw sustenance, and to locate points of terminal disconnect. Think and act through disjunction—don't use the "either/or" that "claims to mark decisive choices between immutable terms (the alternative: either this or that)", utilize the inclusive disjunction of "either... or... or ..." ("asystem of possible permutations between differences that always amount to the same as they shift and slideabout"). •Withdraw allegiance from the old categories of the Negative (law, limit, castration, lack,lacuna), which Western thought has so long held sacred as a form of power and an access tor


Some eality. Prefer what is positive and multiple, difference over uniformity, flows over unities,mobile arrangements over systems. Believe what is productive is not sedentary but nomadic.
Not freedom from, but freedom to. Always seek out the positive assertion that lies behind negative assertions of the sort "it is against the law", or"there is no law", or "it is beyond the limit", or "we lack the resources". A statement of this sort always hasan affirmation at its core (e.g., "insider trading undermines stock markets and therefore it is against the law","we have chosen to prioritize defense spending and tax cuts and thus we lack the resources for welfareinitiatives"). We gain an understanding of social arrangements and the flows of information and energy thatconstitute them when positive assertions are extracted from negative assertions. Positive assertionsdemonstrate the tentativeness of the arrangements in place, providing room for us to ask whether there arealternative arrangements that are solutions to the problem, and to go even further and question the validity of the problem itself.
•Do not think that one has to be sad in order to be

militant, even though the thing one isfighting is abominable. It is the connection of desire to reality (and not its retreat into theforms of representation) that possesses revolutionary force.

Here it will suffice to quote from a lecture given by Deleuze on on December 9, 1980 in a seminar Spinoza :


...what Spinoza calls the impotent ... a mode of existence, what is it? The impotent are the slaves. Good. But whatdoes the slaves mean? Slaves of social conditions? We feel, well, that the answer is no! It is a way of life. There arethus people who are not at all socially slaves, but they live like slaves! Slavery as a way of life and not as socialstatus. Thus there are slaves. But on the same side, the impotent or the slaves, he puts who ? It will become moresignificant for us: he puts tyrants. Tyrants! And oddly, there will be plenty of stories, the priests. The tyrant, the priestand the slave. Nietzsche will not say more. In his more violent texts, Nietzsche will not say more, Nietzsche willmake the trinity: the tyrant, the priest and the slave. It’s Odd that it is already literally so in Spinoza. And what isthere in common between a tyrant who has power (pouvoir), a slave who does not have power, and a priest whoseems only to have spiritual power. And what is there in common? And how are they impotent since, on thecontrary, they seem to be, at least for the tyrant and the priest, men of power. This something in common is what is going to make Spinoza say: but they are impotent; it is that, in a certain way ,they need to sadden life! Curious, this idea.Nietzsche will also say things like this: they need to make sadness reign! He feels it, he feels it very deeply: theyneed to make sadness reign because the power that they have can only be founded on sadness. And Spinozamakes a very strange portrait of the tyrant, by explaining that the tyrant is someone who needs, above all, thesadness of his subjects, because there is no terror that doesn’t have as its basis a kind of collective sadness. Thepriest, perhaps for completely other reasons, has need of the sadness of man on his own condition. And when helaughs, it is not more reassuring. The tyrant could laugh, and the favorites, the counselors of the tyrant could alsolaugh too. It is a bad laugh, and why is it a bad laugh? Not because of its quality, Spinoza would not say that, it isprecisely a laughter which has for its object only sadness and the communication of sadness. What does thismean? It is bizarre. The priest, according to Spinoza, essentially needs an action motivated by remorse. Introducingremorse. It is a culture of sadness. Whatever the ends, Spinoza will say that at that moment the ends are equal tous. He judges only that: cultivating sadness. The tyrant for his political power needs to cultivate sadness, the priestneeds to cultivate sadness...there is a complicity, and this is Spinoza‚s intuition: there is a complicity of the tyrant, the slave, and the priest.Why? Because the slave is the one who feels better the more things go badly. The worse it goes , the happier heis. This is the mode of existence of the slave! For the slave, whatever the situation, it is always necessary that hesees the awful side. The nasty stuffnotes on Michel Foucault's


preface to


Anti-Oedipus


by Muindi Fanuel Muindi
I got rid ofthe red

(His  notes are in red and excerpts from Foucault's text are in black)


Paying a modest tribute to Saint Francis Sales, one might say that Anti-Oedipus is anIntroduction to the Non-Facist Life.The art of living counter to all forms of fascism, whether already present or impending, carrieswith it a certain number of essential principles which I would summarize as follow if I were tomake this great book into a manual or guide to everyday life.•Free political action from all unitary and totalizing paranoia


Do not develop actions using slogans and theories that rely on the concept of


one


(e.g., "we are


one


people", "we need to act as


one


", "we must speak with


one


voice").Do not develop actions using slogans and theories that rely on the concepts of 


everything


,


all


, and


everyone


(e.g., "


everything


must change", "


everyone


must contribute", "we


all


are going to suffer", "we must


all


takeresponsibility").Gestures done for the sake of "all", "everything", "everyone", and "one" suppress concrete differencesbetween people and within particular persons in the interest of a reified generality.Instead, develop actions using slogans and theories that rely on the concept of


connection


. Connections donot suppress concrete differences between entities or within a particular entity. A connection is establishedbetween two or three or


n


different entities. A connection between a set of entities does not exhaustivelydetermine the particular entities involved nor does it not combine those entities in order to form one super-entity. Rather, it determines common notions between the entities, relations of agreement or disagreement.Moreover, references to connections demand some measure of specificity that allow for some form of empirical verification—one acts on the basis of the connection between taxes and social infrastructure, theconnection between education and income inequality, or the connection between the compensation of CEOs, corporate bailouts, and the federal deficit.


•Develop action, thought, and desires by proliferation, juxtaposition, and disjunction, andnot by subdivision and pyramidal hierarchization.


Subdivision and pyramidal hierarchization, i.e. logic trees, the system of dissemination that these trees imply,and their restrictive "either/or" logic. Subdivision and pyramidal hierarchization of a set of entities reduces theset of possible connections that those entities can utilize. Think and act through proliferation—to be used as a model: contagion, the spread of digital and biologicalviruses, memes. Think and act through juxtaposition—take seemingly opposed positions or seemingly divergent approachesand put them in proximity to one another, attempt to discover zones of indiscernability between them, toidentify flows of energy and information from which they mutually draw sustenance, and to locate points of terminal disconnect. Think and act through disjunction—don't use the "either/or" that "claims to mark decisive choices between














immutable terms (the alternative: either this or that)", utilize the inclusive disjunction of "either... or... or ..." ("asystem of possible permutations between differences that always amount to the same as they shift and slideabout").


•Withdraw allegiance from the old categories of the Negative (law, limit, castration, lack,lacuna), which Western thought has so long held sacred as a form of power and an access tor there. There are people who have a genius for this: these are the slaves. Itcould be a painting, it could be a scene in the street, there are people who have a genius for it. There is a genius of





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