Busted: Félix Guattari and the Grande Encyclopédie des Homosexualités

Gary Genosko


[1] In March of 1973, CERFI – Centre d'Etudes, de Recherches et de Formation Institutionnelles – published in its house journal Recherches a special issue (#12) devoted to homosexuality in France, 'Trois milliards de pervers: Grande Encyclopédie des Homosexualités'. The director of the publication was the late French activist-intellectual Félix Guattari. Those familiar with Guattari's writings will know that his 'Liminaire' ['Introduction'] to the special issue has been reprinted here and there and translated into English, with additions, in The Guattari Reader. [1] The outline of events that followed the issue's publication are well-known and summarized in a footnote: 'The March issue…had been seized, and Félix Guattari, as the director of publications, was fined 600 francs for affronting public decency. Number 12 …was judged to constitute a "detailed display of depravities and sexual deviations," and the "libidinous exhibition of a perverted minority." All copies of the issue were ordered destroyed.' [2]

[2] Readers of Guattari are aware of these circumstances, but very few persons have actually seen a copy of the issue in question. In 2002, however, a copy surfaced on the Internet on the site of the French journal Critical Secret. [3] Access to the issue is password protected. To this day, then, the issue is censored since, it is explained, 'l'intrépidité séductive des 32 pages libératoires sous le titre générique Pédo-Philie fait ici l'objet, sans en juger moralement, d'une auto-censure décidée' ['the seductive boldness of 32 liberatory pages under the generic title Pedo-Philia was the object, without issuing a moral judgement, of a resolute self-censorship.'] [4]

[3] In an interview with George Stambolian, Guattari explained that at the time 'among the things that most shocked the judges was one of the most original parts of this work – a discussion of masturbation. I think that a work devoted to homosexuality in a more or less traditional manner would have had no difficulty. What shocked perhaps was the expression of sexuality going in all directions. And then there were the illustrations – they were what set it off.' [5] From masturbation to pedophilia, the issue still attracts censorship, either by force of law, or as a cost of doing business on the Internet where international police and judicial forces have been assembled against 'pedophilia', often regardless of critical content or context, for better and for worse.

[4] The list of original contributors runs to at least 35 persons. Many of the best known contributors have passed away – Guattari, Deleuze, Foucault, Sartre, Châtelet, Genet, Hocquenghem. The issue remains something of a mystery, though the story of its creation has been recounted in part by Anne Querrien. In 1972, several members of the Front Homosexuel d'Action Révolutionnaire (FHAR) crossed over into CERFI and, eschewing funding or the quaint term 'commissions' from the French state, produced the issue in question and thus: 'Avec eux le CERFI est devenue ce que nous avions désiré et craint depuis le début, un lieu de rassemblement des résistances, d'interconnexion des singularités' ['With them CERFI became what we wanted, and feared, from the outset: a gathering place for resistances and interconnecting singularities.'] [6] Querrien adds that the issue took six months to put together, with the aid of Guy Hocquenghem.

[5] Three Billion Perverts mixed politics with pleasure, amateur with professional academic debate, journalistic modes of address with diaristic writing, and the photos (often no more than snapshots) and drawings of a delightful lasciviousness (ribald and ridiculous), are playful and at times silly, but obviously in debt to Tintin, wonderfully détourné. But the overwhelming effect is that of the volatile sexual dimension of French colonialism in North Africa. Indeed, if there is a 'problem' the issue tackled across its different sections, or subject (group) positions, it is that of the Arabs (the use of scare quotes around this term will be reserved for later in the discussion) who populated certain articles and were the (displaced) subjects of several submissions which sought to grapple with the racist and fascist desiring machines unleashed in the publication.

[6] This essay is not, then, a history lesson, but a selective reading of Three Billion Perverts to the extent that it survives intact through the problem of the status of the figure of the Arab in French homosexual desire at a specific moment in a transversal social ecology. What is it to write, as one contributor put it, 'on Arabs, but without Arabs?' This is the lesson of Deleuze's 'Letter to a Harsh Critic' inasmuch as it concerned issue #12, especially Michel Cressole's contribution to 'Us and the Arabs', soundly criticized as 'completely Oedipal' – 'more Oedipal than my daughter' – by Deleuze in his comment on the text 'Sex-Pol en Acte.' [7] The status of the figure of the Arab is made a subject of critical reflection and lively debate within the journal's pages, without canceling out the masturbatory fantasies and field reports of several contributors, cruising immigrant neighbourhoods in urban France, or on sex junkets to Morocco or Algeria. This field of desire is heterogeneous and complex, and as soon as we wade into it, apparently progressive political statements arise beyond the superficially correct, adequate to the period, that is, the late 60s and early 70s in French-North African relations. Who is an 'Arab' anyway? What about the Arab/Berber distinction? What would Fanon have said?

[7] Politics also joins with play, for it needs to be acknowledged that the issue is staged as a game, a bit of Snakes and Ladders, suitably queered, and viciously parodied – what else can one say about a little hand-drawn penis the head of which is wrapped in a turban and bears a sultanate moustache ('Sexe Arabe')? What about the high-rise HLM (habitation à loyer modéré – council estates) penis? Three Billion Perverts, Guattari explained, gave voice to homosexual desire without the mediations, the vast apparatuses of representation and interpretative scaffolding, of social science and the media – Kinsey for France. To this extent, then, directness and freedom appear as affronts before the court, as pornographic in their vividness, and perhaps even as academically lewd.

On the Stand

[8] It is worth revisiting in some detail Guattari's defense before the 17th Magistrate's Court. In 1973, the social and political predicament was very much a matter of the opportunities and consequences of 'giving voice' to an oppressed minority. Guattari rejected or, rather, reformulated this issue in a two-fold manner: first, he rejected the 'formal and Jesuitical' version of 'giving voice' to one's 'research subjects' under the guise of a problematic pseudo-objectivity; second, he wanted to use the special issue to 'create the conditions for a total, indeed a paroxysmic, exercise [of that scientific enunciation].' [8] These conditions would entail a decentered scientificity in three senses: against the logic of the survey à la Kinsey; beyond psychoanalytic prejudices (sameness fixation); and outside the isolated conditions of a classical militancy that did not yet connect with the burgeoning social liberation movements. Indeed, for Guattari, the problem of militancy is its (in)ability to connect with other progressive movements and currents. This was the institutional task that CERFI attempted to ameliorate by engaging the expressive desires of FHAR and MLF (Mouvement de libération des femmes) during this period. By the same token, this did not mean that Guattari was hypervalorizing the figure of the gay activist: 'Incidentally, for the deaf: the gay, no more than the schizo, is not of himself a revolutionary – the revolutionary of modern times!' [9] Rather, Guattari considered the potential of what the gay activist could become to constitute a critique of sexuality as such to the extent that homosexuality 'concerned all normal sexual life.' In this expanded field of becoming, 'homosexuality would be, thus, not only an element in the life of each and everyone, but involved in any number of social phenomena, such as hierarchy, bureaucracy.' [10] Not an ethnographics of a minority, but a non-uniform becoming in which opportunities are pursued and tendencies mined across the social field. In the process, for Guattari, homo- becomes trans-sexuality: 'From this perspective, the struggle for the liberty of homosexuality becomes an integral part of the struggle for social liberation.' [11] Recall here the three principles of minoritarian becoming: i. Dig: burrow, carve, crack open and find what is foreign within the familiar, and then carry it off; ii. it's not pornographic representation at stake, as Guattari put it, Recherches wasn't competing with the sex shops, but that everything minoritarian is political ('impropriety is political'); iii. and an assemblage of enunciation (collective, implying cooperation). Guattari explained: 'We dispensed here with the notions of an author and a work. When the examining judge asked me, for example, who had written this or that article, supposing I would even answer, I was not able to do so… Even the layout was done collectively.' [12] The refusal of individuation operated on a number of levels.

[9] These are rather abstract considerations, to be sure. What Guattari found himself facing was a day in court. His lifelong passion for the work of Kafka was about to be put to the test in a becoming Joseph K. The 'ridiculous side' of the charge began with his return from a conference in Montréal, Canada in April 1973. Upon return to his flat he was met by several patients sitting on the stairs awaiting their consultations, and his door padlocked shut. His flat on the rue de Condé had been trashed by police executing one of dozens of warrants for the seizure of Recherches #12. All the while, Guattari wrote, it had been available for weeks in bookstores around Paris: 'When I protested these proceedings to the examining judge, I must say that he remained largely perplexed. I thought then that there had been a mistake and that the case would be adjourned sine die.' [13] No such indefinite adjournment would be offered. Anyway, it may be regained from The Trial that certain drawbacks, the prevention of actual acquittal, most certainly, are entailed by preventing the trial to progress toward the accused's sentencing. Limbo of a sort described in these very terms by Deleuze, but with reference to the passage from disciplinary to control societies: an endless postponement to which Guattari's case does not accede. [14] Guattari stood next to Kafka in this shift, but failed to convince the 'perplexed' judge who was stuck in the disciplinary society. Hence, the fine of 600FF.

[10] The other side of this Kafka machine is [perhaps, just as] 'serious'. The issue was 'indefensible', Guattari believed, if the representational illogic of the court was granted. Of course, defense counsel would not grant this. Firstly, he was held responsible for a collective assemblage of enunciation as a matter of convenience:

What does the fact of holding someone responsible
for something signify?
– I am responsible, I represent Recherches
– You represent the law
– Members of Parliament represent the people
– The President of the Republic: France
– Universities: knowledge
– Gays: perversion
Recherches wishes to have done with this sort of representation, with all the bad theatre to which officials and institutions resort. [15]

The 'convenience' for court and counsel was the effect of a signifying semiology that specified in advance a regime of signs from which there would be no deviation. Second, on the levels of content and form the issue was both 'rich' and uncategorizable. Guattari did not distinguish between contents, citing a range of specific examples that included the sexual misery of youth, masturbation, among two explicit mentions of race and ethnic themes: 'the way in which different immigrant groups from North Africa live their homosexuality' and 'the racist fantasies which are sometimes invoked in relations of sexual dependency.' [16] The form of the publication did not answer to any 'pre-established category' (i.e., it was not tied to a specific discipline or national professional society). That it let some gays and straights communicate directly their experience 'without precautions and without supporting documentation' made it dangerous. The shock issued from the absence of interpretive 'screens' and ambience of a deterritorializing semiosis.

Game On, Reader

[11] There are six players: Arabe, Petit Garçon, Femme, Enseignant, Travesti, and Pédé. The board is numbered 1 through 30 from Start to Finish along an involuted, segemented penis. The Rules of the Game dictate movement forward and backwards. Land on segment 1 – 'Les Arabes et Nous', which corresponds to the first article – and you are directed to 'Sirotez un thé à la menthe jusqu'à ce que vous avez tiré un 6' ['Sip a mint tea until you have rolled a 6'], which is 'Les Arabes et les Blancs'. Or, if you find yourself on segment 16, then 'Faites venir l'Arabe pour vous enculer et gardez-le vous dans le cul jusqu'à ce que l'un ou l'autre tiré un 5' ['Get the Arab to fuck you and keep his cock in your ass until either one of you rolls a 5'] which is 'L'autre côté des ténébres'. And so on and so forth, with a range of substitutions, trips to the hospital, indications of sadism or masochism, and even the fate of having to read most of the issue, etc. [17]

[12] This is a 'screen', of sorts, not of interpretation, but of deferment (of important questions) in a fully parodic mode. For as much as interpersonal intellectual politics shaped the issue – Cressole could be counted among other oedipal 'guilt cops' from Gay Lib, as Deleuze suggested. [18] – and a certain reflexivity was achieved with regard to the overtly racist content on display, the game-form was up-front: Jeu de l'oie or Snakes and Ladders, with instructions, no less.

Mode de l'emploi:
Le jeu se joue à 6 personnages correpondant
aux 6 pions ci-dessus à decouper et avec 1 dé
et 2 exemplaires de Recherches. A chaque coup de
dé, consulter la règle du jeu au numéro correspondant
à la case où vous arrivez. En cas d'attente, lisez l'article
correspondant à votre case sur le second exemplaire.

['The game is played by six persons corresponding to the
six detachable pieces beside the board and 2 copies of this issue.
On each roll of the dice, consult the Rules of the Game for the number upon which you have landed. Between turns, read the article in the second copy corresponding to your position on the board.'] [19]

This editorial contrivance suggests a device that keeps one moving along the segments, according to the roll of the dice. This gaming doesn't permit an easy reduction to a static identity of the player/reader because in the next game you can try your luck as the Arabe or the Travesti, or…. An overcoding would freeze these player tokens into subject positions with inventoried attributes and stable identifications. Patience. After all, the game complements the organization of the Table of Contents. Game on.

Arab and Berber

[13] Let's begin with one of several collective 'political' statements in support of indigenous North Africans: 'Vivent Nos Amants de Berbérie.' [20] 'Long Live Our Berber Lovers' is a pictorial tableau of young North African men assembled for a group photo. The supporting text is a manifesto and declaration of love that begins with the recognition that 'Berbers' are not reducible to 'Arabs'. In fact, the authors continue, Berbers have been oppressed for centuries, and their struggle continues today: 'Arabs destroy their language and culture'. This problem is 'taboo', but we do not know for whom. A few historical facts are mentioned: 'The first great rebellion of North Africans against colonial oppression was the war of Rif. The first experience of freedom we want to acknowledge here was the République berbère des Rifains, founded in 1921 by Mohamed Abdelkrim Alkhaltabi.' The text continues:

We, the homosexuals who have found a voice in this issue
of Recherches are in solidarity with their struggle. Because we
have sexual relations with them. Because their liberation will also
be our liberation. Long live our friends from Rif, Atlas, the Aurès,
and the Kabylie! Long live Berbérie! Long live our Berber lovers!

The facts are correct: the Riffian (Berber) Republican State was declared by Moroccan tribal leader Abd el-Krim in 1921 in a war against the Spanish (surrendering to French and Spanish troops in 1926/27). That el-Krim, a heroic precursor of anti-colonialist struggles, instituted Sharia Law (mixing it with tribal traditions at odds with certain Islamic prescriptions) is not mentioned for the obvious reason that homosexuality is condemned in the Koran and is punishable as either adultery or sodomy. This makes the declaration of love, even despite itself, an intense provocation. The fact that this declaration is not signed, as opposed to the statement in support of a French schoolteacher fired for being gay, [21] creates ambiguity beyond the obvious fact that the only 'voice given' to the loved ones by the lovers is pictorial.

[14] The declaration is, however, grounded in a fundamental focal point of French-North African relations, that is, the role of language. For in the Maghreb there are two major language groups: Arabic and Berber. Language proved to be a key point of division since both the Arabs and Berbers in question are largely Sunni Moslems, but with different tribal traditions thrown into the mix, not discounting numerous dialects, local traditions, and hybridities. There are thought to be many other relevant distinctions that, despite their deconstructability, inform us about perceived social and political realities: urban (Arab) versus rural (Berber); veiled (urban Arab women) versus unveiled (rural Berber women). [22] As Fanon subtly explained, this latter observation was used by the colonizing French to emphasize the positive aspects of Berber identity against the 'opacity' of veiled Arab women in the cities, despite the fact that Berber women in urban settings may be veiled as well. [23]

[15] The politics of language under the colonial regime is merely an expression of a typical 'divide and rule' [24] strategy, in which co-optable aspects of cultural identity were emphasized, while resistant aspects were criticized, criminalized, or re-categorized as 'foreign'. For example, the colonial curriculum rendered Arabic a 'foreign' language and even the post-colonial 'psycho-existentialist' problematic favoured French as the language of the elite – of the writer, thinker, and modern citizen (and private school teachers and students). Jacques Derrida once exclaimed, in reflecting on his linguistic choices as a French Algerian lycéen, that Arabic was an option permitted but interdicted: 'Arabic, an optional foreign language in Algeria!' [25] In Algeria, the post-colonial linguistic policy of Arabization stumbled on the colonialist legacy since Arabic (classical versus spoken dialects) had to be 'recovered' and elevated to the official language. [26] On the side of multilingualism, Fanon wrote stirringly of the radio station The Voice of Fighting Algeria in the anti-colonialist struggle and the significance of the use of Arabic, Kabyle and French which 'had the advantage of developing and of strengthening the unity of the people' in the cities and in the countryside. [27] The term Kabyle is misused when it describes a linguistic territory from which political consequences (separatism) are therefore drawn by those far removed from the territory. [28]

[16] Does one exacerbate the colonialist legacy by signalling the Arab/Berber distinction and underlining in a declaration of love the oppression of Berbers by Arabs? Pierre Bourdieu once observed, after remarking on a series of obvious differences, that 'it would be dangerous to exaggerate the opposition between Arabs and Berbers. Between these two ways of life there are frequent transitions and deeply rooted affinities.' [29] Obviously, these observations differ from place to place, from Algeria to Morocco, across different periods. [30] These considerations might compel one to read 'Long Live Our Berber Lovers' as a fundamentally incoherent document that does not make clear, beyond its dichotomizing, how it is breaking a 'taboo': the official post-revolution Arabization (linguistic) and then Islamicization (religious erasure of civil society) of Algeria and Berber resistances with longstanding colonial shadows. Yet in a way this declaration is actually prescient since it would not be until the late 1980s that the spectre of an accelerated Islamism would help to articulate the predicament of linguistic minorities, especially the Kabyle political elite (or any elite for that matter) who were francophones and profited from colonial favoritism (or capitalized on the failures of decolonization). [31] The real 'taboo' at issue here still seems hidden: Algeria's independence.

Minoritarian Becomings

[17] Although it was not Guattari who was being interrogated in the previous section, it is helpful to refer to his basic orientation with regard to both sexuality and racism. In an interview published two years after the Three Billion Perverts affair, Guattari explained that 'Toute sémiotisation en rupture implique une sexualisation en rupture. Il ne faut donc pas, à mon sens, poser la question des écrivains homosexuels, mais chercher plutôt ce qu'il y a d'homosexuel, de toute façon, chez un grand écrivain, même s'il est par ailleurs un hétérosexuel'. ['All disruptive semiotization involves a disruptive sexualization. Thus it is not necessary, in my view, to pose the question of homosexual writers, but rather to search for what is homosexual, at any rate, in a great writer, even if in other respects, s/he is heterosexual.'] [32] The excavation of the minoritarian becoming, the becoming homosexual of the heterosexual writer, has its parallel in Guattari's tactics of anti- racism. Circa 1983 he wrote: 'Tous les peuples ont besoin d'immigrés et du rapport d'altérité posé par l'intermédiare de leur venue. J'affirme même que la vitalité d'un peuple correposnd à sa capacité d'être lui-même engagé dans toutes ses composantes dans un devenir immigré'. ['All nations require immigrants and the relations to alterity posed though their coming. I am claiming that a nation's vitality corresponds to its capacity to engage itself in all the components of a becoming immigrant.'] [33] Hence this becoming immigrant of all is a refusal of racism in a rather bleakly neo-liberal period in which the opportunities for subjectivization were being limited and/or tightly scripted through failures of the socialist government and the reemergence of dangerous archaisms and fictions that quickly filled the void ('France is France' of the Poujadists all the way to Le Pen). Becoming immigrant was for Guattari a tactic for 'refusing the kind of uniformity that breeds anguish and general powerlessness'. Becoming minoritarian, whether gay and/or immigrant (becoming beur), has been soundly criticized in feminist theory as sterile if it actually reduces particularity and fails to deliver on the passages into the cracks and the release of components the assemblage of which would build new solidarities and opportunities (at least for a practical modification of racism). Now, a gay becoming Berber would not entail a Gallic embrace or liberal-minded statement of sympathy and solidarity, but would burrow into the majoritarian dichotomy Arab/Berber in order to find the site of detachable components in a transformative process that would need to acknowledge hybridity, exchange, alterity and at the same time deflation, slowing down, sticking. The valorization of Berbers must reckon with a partial becoming Arab and Gallic (not a becoming majoritarian) that reveals paradoxical elements (does the absence of a transnational Berberism entail a rapprochement with Islamism?) that attach to all lines of escape/inscape.

Racist Desire

[18] The controversial 'transcription of a discussion' between P. 22, G. 32, and M, 24, 'Les Arabes et Nous', is quite ordinary in its prejudice towards so-called Arabs, a bloc that is barely differentiated and only vaguely identified. The conversation is peppered throughout with negative stereotypes - stealing, lazy, lying, greedy – tempered at times with self-recognition that such things are not particular to this targeted group. This is no politics of fucking: it is either politics or fucking. At one point M reflects: 'Quand j'étais militant, on expliquerait qu'il s'agissait de descendre dans la classe ouvrière et d'avoir des rapports politiques avec des jeunes ouvriers. Parce qu'on nous demandait au fond d'établir avec eux un rapport de séduction, de les draguer pour l'organisation. En même temps, je ne l'acceptais pas. Tandis qu'avec les Arabes, à l'hôtel, c'était vrai, pas camouflié dans de la drague politique.' ['When I was a militant, we would explain that it was a matter of descending into the working class in order to have political relations with young workers. Basically, our requirement was to establish with them a relation of seduction, and cruise them for the organization. I just couldn't accept that. Whereas with the Arabs, whether at the hotel or elsewhere, it's true that our relations were not hidden behind political cruising.'] [34] This is the moment at which Deleuze dug into the text. He wrote: 'Cette remarque peut s'interpréter comme celle d'un ancien militant laissé, qui a substitué à l'activité politique une activité homosexuelle et qui fait de celle-ci l'épreuve de vérité'.['This remark is understood to be that of a lapsed former militant who has substituted homosexual activity for political action, making the former the litmus test.'] [35] What interested Deleuze was not so much the many scattered examples of racist or fascist desire expressed by the interlocutors, but the magical appearance ('diffuse and mobile') of racism (informed by a basic sexism) in those Arabs who did not speak. Things have gone from bad to worse: 'la bête Arabe' (to whom G is happy to deliver himself) may himself be racist towards 'us' (G and others), it is claimed, because 'pour eux [Arabes], le rapport homosexuel est le même que le rapport les femmes. Il y a beaucoup de mépris là-dedans, et du goût de domination'. ['For them, the homosexual relation is the same as their relation to women in which there is great contempt, and a taste for domination.'] [36] For Deleuze, this was just one displacement among many in which Oedipal traps were set by the interlocutors themselves – the distinction between Europeans (parents) and Arabs (husbands), disdain for the former functioning, snapped Deleuze, as an incest prohibition, while the animalization motif served as a focal point of racist desire. Deleuze even ventured a symptomatic reading of the telephone call that interrupts the proceedings at one point as 'the sign of Oedipus and Cain.' Oedipus, Oedipus, Oedipus. Deleuze's Oedipus, as Slavoj Žižek has argued from a fortified Lacanian position, is sometimes a reductionistic straw man. It functions as an order word that precludes so much, for example, gay conjugality is Oedipal because it crystallizes a micro-fascist trap for desire set by coupledom. By repeatedly trumping the discussion with Oedipus, Deleuze says too little and too much, because Oedipus is supposed to contain within it a knockdown argument – evidence that serious thought has failed - yet the trump card seems infected by the very failure it identifies, that is, it is a trap for critical thought. [37]

Activist-Intellectualism Redux

[19] 'Sex-Pol en Acte' is not the only response to 'Les Arabes et Nous'. The beautiful cocks ('je trouve que leur bite est belle') extolled by G, despite the serial sameness of Arab men complained about by L ('ils se remplacent les uns les autres'), are not really the issue in 'Le Sexe "Arabe".' [38] As disagreeable as 'Les Arabes et Nous' may be, the author of 'Le Sexe "Arabe"'38 observes, it is acceptable if it provokes discussion – but among a small group and like-minded audience. What returns immediately is a set of provisos: to always refer to 'Arabs' in scare quotes and to invoke in this qualification the Arab/Berber distinction: the men at issue are Berbers, more or less Arabized and Islamicized, but in the political context that 'le vrai nom du Maghreb, c'est la Berbérie.' The socio-sexual context is also significant. The author underlines the same distinction that Deleuze saw as Oedipal: it is easier to cruise 'Arab' men than Europeans, both in Europe and in North Africa. Why? Because, as knowledgeable members of FHAR will attest, that is, for those members who only sleep with 'Arabs' (the so-called 'Arabophiles'), Europeans live their homosexuality 'pathologically,' while 'Arabs' live theirs 'sans problèmes' and 'sans culpabilité' There is a constant recourse to sans: without Arabs, who are then marked diacritically as a qualified referent 'Arabs,' and are without problems and without guilt. Imposing a negative, qualified existence is the very violence of colonialist representation.

[20] This article is staged as vaguely sociological and proto-ethnographic (asking for the responses of 'Arab' students in Paris to 'Les Arabes et Nous', but receiving nothing but promises and signs of danger that Zionists will seize upon the racist desires expressed there and use them to fan the flames of anti-Arab French racism). This study took place in the Parisian university milieu, among Maghrebian students whose metropolitan sexuality is fundamentally 'bisexual' owing to the character of homosexuality in Islamic countries ('un fait culturel collectif'). By the time these students graduate, they will have apparently broken with their bisexuality, and thus separated off their homosexuality, for the sake of a normalized desire for a European opposite-sex partner.

[21] These so-called findings are not worth disputing. Their truth or falsehood is not at issue. Rather, readers may ask themselves how this academic call and response is being played out as it fills the pages of the issue. The effect, as M explains at length in a brief exchange (with G) embedded in a series of texts under the heading 'Les Arabes et les "Blancs"' [39] is alienation. M is a 'real "white" straight male, non-university-based writer ('white-hetero-bourgeois'), among 'imaginary Arabs'. The editorial committee, in rejecting his contribution as 'too literary', showed its true face: 'A section was done on cruising without cruisers, another on Arabs but without Arabs, and only the thinkers of homosexuality can speak about homosexuality.' But the 'blancs' are likewise the 'blanks' at the heart of a journal in which the editors publish themselves, and it is necessary to 'sublimate' before Guattari. Sour grapes or excavation of a syndrome? There is a crowd of subjects expulsed from the issue.


[22] Three Billion Perverts was a masterpiece of political impasse, implosive queerness (Oedipal, phallocratic, myth of primitivism…), and legal transgression. Perhaps it should be stated, along with the author of the delirious and interminable contribution 'Les Culs Énergumènes,' that in the end when all is said about 'Les Arabes et Nous,' we are truly stuck between 'the ivory cock and the ivory tower.' [40] And everybody is a dupe. But it doesn't end here.

[23] Three Billion Perverts appeared only a year after Hocquenghem's important book Homosexual Desire. [41] The one is a foundational text of queer studies avant la lettre; the other, a 'lost' period piece. But that is a matter of circumstance. The queering of Deleuze and Guattari studies can find its own 'original' points of reference in this issue, if it so desires, and there is no shortage of lingering notoriety attached to the recovery operation. My reading does not attempt to present an overview of the issue's contents. There is more work to be done on that point. Rather, I wanted to work through some of the problems associated with the figure of the Arab as it circulated through the text because it was on this point that desire and revolution seemed to part ways, yet great effort was taken to put them back together again, like the King's men and Humpty Dumpty. And we know how that story turned out. There is little doubt for the author of 'Les Culs' that any reader of 'Les Arabes et Nous' would classify it as a 'pathological episode' between 'phalluses without penises and penises without phalluses' [42] – Us (with editorial privileges intact) and the 'Arabs' (who are without a number of real and imagined attributes). My selection of the figure of the Arab is not random – it is the little contraption at work in the issue that exposed the soft tissues to longer overdue critical scrutiny. With all of its problems, such a figure is a broken down machine of missing parts and replacement representations that within its limits has the virtue of probing the worst attitudes, blunders, and repressed values circulating in one French intellectual circle at the time.


[1] 'Three Billion Perverts on the Stand', trans. Sophie Thomas, in The Guattari Reader, ed. G. Genosko, Oxford: Blackwell, 1996, pp. 185-92. This version appeared in French in Guattari's La révolution moléculaire, Fontenay-sous-Bois: Encres/Recherches, 1977, pp. 110-19.

[2] GR, p. 192.

[3] See «http://www.criticalsecret.com/n8/quer/4per» under the direction of Aliette Guibert and courtesy of Florence Pétry of Editions Recherches. «http://perso.wanadoo.fr/.editions-recherches/»

[4] Statement by Guibert and Pétry at «http://www.criticalsecret.com/n8/quer/4per/pedo/01.html»

(5) GR, 'A Liberation of Desire', p. 204. The only critical comment on the illustrations is in the 'New Introduction' to the 1993 edition of Hocquenghem's Homosexual Desire, trans. Daniela Dangoor, Durham: Duke UP, 1993. Michael Moon tarries on a cartoon that appeared in Three Billion Perverts, 'La Pouissance ou la Jouissance?' ['Power or Pleasure?']. Although he does not comment on any other of the contents of the issue that he dutifully lists off, the cartoon by Copi held his attention. Perhaps Guattari was correct about how gripping the illustrations were and that they set many machines in motion. However, the cartoon is a parody of the type 'what's on a man's mind' but with anal (active, passive, homo-hetero-intergenerational) rather than vaginal sex as the answer. What Moon does is read the comic's construction – all the little line drawings illustrating the point are contained within a speech bubble issuing from the mouth of one of two women who it turns out have on their minds' lovemaking with one another. What strikes Moon is the absence of 'liberated gay men' in the cartoon; but not only this since the insight into blocked male desire enables lesbian desire.

[6] Querrien, 'CERFI 1965-1987', (2002) at «http://www.criticalsecret.com/n8/quer/1fr/index.html»

[7] 'Letter to a Harsh Critic', trans. Martin Joughin, in Neogotiations: Gilles Deleuze, New York: Columbia University, 1995, pp. 3-12. And Joughin's helpful footnote on p. 183. And 'Sex-Pol en Acte'. «http://www.criticalsecret.com/n8/quer/4per/arab/18.html»

[8] 'Three Billion Perverts', p. 186. This rejection is revisited through the figure of the 'native informant' that Gayatri Spivak deconstructs along its displacements beyond the ethnographic literature; See A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward a History of the Vanishing Present, Cambridge, Mass. Harvard University Press, 1999, p. 6.

[9] Ibid.

[10] 'Three Billion Perverts', p. 187.

[11] Ibid.

[12] 'Three Billion Perverts', p. 191.

[13] Ibid, p. 190.

[14] Kafka, The Trial, trans. Willa and Edwin Muir, New York: Schocken, 1968, pp. 160-61. See also Deleuze, 'Postscript on Control Societies', in Negotiations, p. 179.

[15] 'Three Billion Perverts', pp. 188-89.

[16] Ibid, pp. 190-91.

(17) See Regle du Jeu and the illustrated Playing Board at «http://www.criticalsecret.com/n8/quer/4per/intro/13.html» and «http://www.criticalsecret.com/n8/quer/4per/intro/12.html»

[18] 'Letter to a Harsh Critic', p. 4.

[19] 'Jeu de l'oie: Mode de l'emploi'. «http://www.criticalsecret.com/n8/quer/4per/intro/12.html»

[20] See 'Vivent Nos Amants de Berbérie'. «http://www.criticalsecret.com/n8/quer/4per/intro/06.html»

[21] See 'Sale Race! Sale Pédé!' « http://www.criticalsecret.com/n8/quer/4per/intro/01.html»

[22] On numerous distinctions of this kind in the Moroccan context see David M. Hart, 'The tribe in modern Morocco: two case studies', in Arabs and Berbers: From Tribe to Nation in North Africa, eds. Ernest Gellner and Charles Micaud, London: Duckworth, 1972, p. 26ff.

[23] Fanon, 'Algeria Unveiled', in Studies in a Dying Colonialism, trans. Haakon Chevalier, New York: Monthly Review Press, 1965, p. 36, n. 1.

[24] In the words of William B. Quandt: 'In a period when national independence was the one overriding objective that Algerians could agree upon, any tendency to distinguish sharply between Berbers and Arabs was seen as playing into the hands of the French colon whose strategy was one of "divide and rule"'. 'The Berbers in the Algerian Political Elite', in Arabs and Berbers, p. 286.

[25] Catherine Malabou and Jacques Derrida, 'Of Algeria', in Counterpath: Traveling with Jacques Derrida, trans. David Wills, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004, p. 81.

[26] See Philip C. Naylor, France and Algeria: A History of Decolonization and Transformation, Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2000, pp. 63-4. See also Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism, New York: Vintage, 1993, p. 267. After 1962, Arabic was the only language of instruction and administration.

[27] Fanon, 'This is the Voice of Algeria', Studies in a Dying Colonialism, p. 84.

[28] Jeanne Favret, 'Traditionalism through Ultra-Modernism', in Arabs and Berbers, p. 321.

[29] Bourdieu, The Algerians, trans. Alan C.M. Ross, Boston: Beacon Press, 1962, p. xiii.

[30] See Paul Rabinow, Symbolic Domination: Cultural Form and Historical Change in Morocco, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1975.

[31] Naylor, France and Algeria, pp. 180-81.

[32] Guattari, 'Une sexualisation en rupture', La Quinzaine littéraire 215 (1975): 15.

[33] Guattari, 'On a le racisme qu'on mérite', Les Annés D'Hiver 1980-1985, Paris: Bernard Barrault, 1986, p. 40.

[34] 'Les Arabes et Nous', «http://www.criticalsecret.com/n8/quer/4per/arab/09.html»

[35] 'Sex-Pol en acte', «http://www.criticalsecret.com/n8/quer/4per/arab/19.html»

[36] 'Les Arabes et Nous', «http://www.criticalsecret.com/n8/quer/4per/arab/07.html»

[37] Slavoj Žižek, Organs without Bodies: Deleuze and Consequences, New York: Routledge, 2004, p. 83.

[38] 'Le Sexe "Arabe"', «http://www.criticalsecret.com/n8/quer/4per/arab/23.html»

[39] 'Les Arabes et les "Blancs"', «http://www.criticalsecret.com/n8/quer/4per/inst/01.html»

[40] 'Les Culs Énergumènes', «http://www.criticalsecret.com/n8/quer/4per/inst/19.html»

[41] Hocquenghem, Homosexual Desire [Le Désir homosexuel, 1972], Durham: Duke University Press, 1993; Bill Marshall doesn't discuss the Three Billion Perverts special issue, despite spending some time on the influence of Anti-Oedipus on Hocquenghem, Guy Hocquenghem: Beyond Gay Identity, Durham: Duke University Press, 1997.

[42] 'Les Culs', «http://www.criticalsecret.com/n8/quer/4per/inst/18.html»