Friday, 15 September 2017

Unseasonal Thoughts on Foucault's preface to Anti-Oedipus (after Wild Bore)

In 1977, Foucault wrote a preface to the American edition of Anti-Oedipus. Seeing it as an expression of the spirit of the 1960s, he identifies Deleuze and Guattari as writers on ethics, and suggests a manifesto for political action based on a resistance to the joylessness of politics, both in the establishment and its antagonists. 

This manifesto follow, with the crucial shift from political to theatrical activity made by swapping out 'political' for 'theatrical' action.

Free theatrical action from all unitary and totalizing paranoia.

Develop action, thought, and desires by proliferation, juxtaposition, and disjunction, and not by subdivision and pyramidal hierarchization.

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 to reality. Prefer what is positive and multiple, difference over uniformity, flows over unities, mobile arrangements over systems. Believe that what is productive is not sedentary but nomadic.

Do not think that one has to be sad in order to be militant, even though the thing one is fighting is abominable. It is the connection of desire to reality (and not its retreat into the forms of representation) that possesses revolutionary force.

Do not use thought to ground a theatrical practice in Truth; nor theatrical action to discredit, as mere speculation, a line of thought. Use theatrical practice as an intensifier of thought, and analysis as a multiplier of the forms and domains for the intervention of theatrical action.

Do not demand of theatre that it restore the “rights” of the individual, as philosophy has defined them. The individual is the product of power. What is needed is to “de-individualize” by means of multiplication and displacement, diverse combinations. The group must not be the organic bond uniting hierarchized individuals, but a constant generator of de-individualization.

Do not become enamored of power.

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