Practicing the Abject: Deleuze and the Analog Uncanny

Cara Judea Alhadeff

[1] As a Deleuzian nomadic feminist, my photographic work explores a dynamic disequilibrium. My photographs play with inter-relating imbrications—concurrent, multiple, contradictory tendencies. My pedagogical and art-based research explores the possibilities of radical citizenship by actively cultivating vulnerability through corporeal inquiries. Irreducibly allusive corpo-visual language unfolds as embodied rhizomatic vulnerabilities. My project is intricately rooted in the potential of a rhizomatic uncanny—"reducible neither to the One nor the multiple" (Mille Plateaux 22). I ground my theoretical investigations within narratives of personal experience [1]—sexual becomings and analog photography. As a strategy to elucidate my theoretical queries, I refer both to my philosophical underpinnings and the international public reception of my photographs—which frequently has led to censorship. In doing so, I practice an embodied theory that advocates a politics, philosophy, and pedagogical commitment rooted in everyday behavior and interaction. A commitment to this heterogeneous embodied thinking has the potential to rupture cultural assumptions. It explores the cross-fertilization of Deleuze's enfoldments as disarticulated membranes. This awareness awakens the possibility of fully inhabiting our bodies—bodies that pulse with the multiplicity of the 'I'—as inherently interdisciplinary. Revitalization of both individual and social bodies produces enfoldments of psyche-somatic consciousness. No hierarchies survive these monstrous, heterogeneous, multiple entwinings of body intelligence and wisdom. The body becomes a condition for participatory democracy—a lived erotic politics.

[2] Becoming-animal performs the interpenetrations of the irreducible difference of erotic politics. Like Deleuze and Guattari's becoming-animal, the swarm of naked pregnant women in public spaces (see within my photographs suggests over-abundance, proliferation, contagion: "Sexuality is the production of a thousand sexes, which are so many uncontrollable becomings. Sexuality proceeds by way of the becoming-woman of the man and the becoming-animal of the human: an emission of particles" (Mille Plateaux 279). My Gestation Project materializes Deleuze and Guattari's philosophical connective tissue that wanders, improvises, intersects, flows,

What is always crucial to their writing is that all this diversity of image and idea invariably defines a unity at the same time as it explores multiplicity, understood plurally as an infinite set of multiplicities that at the same time characterise the individuated unity of self or world or cosmos. These are materialising multiplicities in which 'each individual is a multiplicity, and the whole of Nature is a multiplicity of perfectly individuated multiplicities' (Deleuze and Guattari 1987: "A Preface to Pornotheology" 181).

Congruently, self-portraits are a central element in my visual art practice. As the photographer, filmmaker/videographer, I am ob-scene until I invite my body/body fragments into the pictorial frame. An inverted domesticity deterritorializes my precarious interiority. Instinct and vulnerability converge with the psyche-somatic integrity of becoming-animal.

[3] In his book, Sexuality: The New Critical Idiom, Joseph Bristow challenges scholars to form a political project rooted in Deleuze's rhizomatic and schizoanalytic lines. As a color photographer, my exhibitions have been repeatedly censored as a result of ambiguous representations and interpretations. Intended as strategies for social action, my work explores Deleuzian corporeal topologies. Creative and critical focus is on corporeal politics—in particular, vulnerability and the seemingly unfamiliar. Images and writings illuminate a call and response between anxiety and beauty: anxiety in the moment of recognizing the uncanny, the familiar within the unfamiliar. Identifying a connection with the other, yet clinging to a separate identification, beauty inhabits the uncanny in the moment of response to our undeniable connectedness. The characters in my photographs and videos represent a Deleuzian simultaneity of inside and outside, of private and public, and play with the illusory distinctions between us and them, the familiar and the unfamiliar, what is apparently comfortable and what puts us on edge. I create my large-format color photography and video work by finding natural and architectural sites that I relate to human gestures and psychological states. I then choreograph scenarios within these environments. My models simultaneously splay their bodies into the distance, like a smear or echo of memory, and compress themselves into the confines of the photographic field, the tension of the present-moment.

[4] Within this migratory expanse, I feel compelled to discuss what I see as a dangerous phenomenon of digital photography: a reflection of our addiction to certainty and the familiar, and our fear of the ambiguous nature of interpretation. Throughout the 90s, because my photographs explored the unfamiliar or immediately unrecognizable, viewers reduced my images to the categories of pornography or abstraction. Today, viewers assume they are digitally manipulated. Photoshop is the norm in commercial and fine art photography, in which order, rationality, and the familiar are sanctioned as "the real" within the domain of the public and the everyday. As a result of this shift in perception, my photographic images are frequently interpreted as "not real". What I see as my reality through the camera lens invokes Deleuze's non-teleological flux—a continual exchange of differences; deviations from the tyrannical laws of normalcy that digital imagery may inadvertently impose. In fact, nothing is manipulated during the analog developing/printing process which I do myself—now rare among contemporary color photographers. The assumption that my photographs are digitally manipulated coincides with our learned compulsion to be categorically certain in the illusion of absolute truth:

Borrowing from Comolli, I call the visual, hard-core knowledge-pleasure produced by the scientia sexualis a 'frenzy of the visible.'... [T]his frenzy is neither an aberration nor an excess; rather, it is a logical outcome of a variety of discourses of sexuality that converge in, and help further to produce, technologies of the visible.... [T]he very reverse can be true: the very invention of cinema develops, to a certain extent, from the desire to place the clocked and measured bodies produced by the first machines into narratives that naturalize their movement" (Williams 36).

Our technological age has seemingly colonized our imaginations. We render ob-scene (off screen/off stage) others, otherness, what we see as different, unfamiliar, out of our range of habit. It is "the experience of a hesitation and suspension concerning the very nature of the explicable" (Royle 30). This construction of sight pre-determines the status of reality. I am not making a case against digital manipulation itself as an art form. What concerns me is how digital imagery is considered the next frontier, the edge of progress in a vertical hierarchy of imagination—obliterating the infinite possibilities of exploring what already exists, while ignoring both the messiness and the magic and intensity of our everyday worlds:

Since the flesh is the frontier zone in the development of pancapitalism, and the situation and apparatus of invasion change with every passing moment, strategic commitment requires a very radical gamble on the part of resistant forces.... [B]y attacking the flesh machine, which has been presented as a progressive boon to humanity, the attacker is immediately put in the position of a neo-luddite. Science and technology in and of themselves are not the problem, nor have they ever been. The real problem is that science and technology are developed, deployed, and controlled by the predatory system of pancapitalism (Critical Art Ensemble 7).

[5] My intention is to play with relationships amongst actual, liminal anatomical characteristics, and not to create artifice. Zizek tells us that "...Deleuze's Spinoza is the Spinoza of the real, of 'anarchic' bodily mixtures" (Zizek 188). The relationships among the "objects" within my photographs play out a process of continual de-centering and excess. I hope this language of critical imagination becomes an erogenous life-affirming power, breaking up predetermined taxonomies of knowledge, suspending what we think we know: "...the uncanny is destined to elude mastery, it is what cannot be pinned down or controlled. The uncanny is never simply a question of a statement, description or definition, but always engages a performative dimension, a maddening supplement, something unpredictable and additionally strange happening in and to what is being stated, described or defined" (Royle 16). This Deleuzian language of the uncanny cannot be taxonomied, classified, binarized.

[6] How can we challenge, personally and collectively, our socialized fear and distrust of self-doubt, what comes out of our bodies, and what goes on inside them? For the past twenty years, these questions have compelled me to collaborate on cross-disciplinary projects with choreographers, composers, architects, philosophers, anthropologists, and geographers. Although I am a photographer, I experience my work as sculptural, cinematic, and performative—a two-dimensional manifestation of dance, sculpture, poetry, sociological investigation, and philosophical engagement rather than solely as "photography." I shoot my still images with an analog large-format SLR Hasselblad camera. This is one reason why collaborating with artists from other disciplines is critical to my working process. This visual improvisation requires that each of us give up ownership and entitlement and enter a rhizomatic field of vulnerability, a surrender to dialogic self-sacrifice. This surrender becomes a dialogic relationship in which collaboration thwarts binary, reductive thinking. This self-sacrifice, not only in the sense of release of entitlement and ownership, but also as precisely the openness of vulnerability, if used consciously can become an explicit and emancipatory strategy for erotic agency. What evolves, then, is a recognition of our species' de-centrality—deterritorialization establishes this new community— as an ever-unfolding statelessness of Becoming. Within this field of vulnerability, we are embedded in an interdependent rhizomatic dialogue. A dialogic self-sacrifice, inherent in the erotics of the uncanny, becomes a practice of the abject, which provokes terror because it shows, demonstrates, monstrifies how we are all connected. This sacrifice invites collaborative citizenship in which "the experience of oneself as a foreign body" (Royle 2) is paramount. Congruently, Spinoza's "feeling" of surrender occupies the real. This self-sacrifice, inherent in uncanny rhizomatic vulnerabilities, becomes a practice of the real, of being open to the raw exposure of participating in unknown territory.

[7] During each of my collaborations, my intention is to employ various versions of a post-humanist perspective as a bridge, an active "connective tissue," binding viewers' interpretations of my images to an unexpected language of imaginative archeologies (depending on my collaborator's subject matter). This process is critical in order to amplify the uncanny "otherness within" quality inherent in my visual and theoretical work—when I am collaborating with a choreographer, we are magnifying the movement tendency of my work; with an architect, the structural quality; with a composer, the musical tendency; with a philosopher, the life-examination quality. In each case, I am driven to emphasize the haptic, the visceral, in contrast to the dominating faculty of sight which photography privileges. I insist on deploying a medium that I must simultaneously resist—an urging beyond its boundaries. The photograph is no longer strictly a photograph—its making and its viewing must be interchangeably experiential, otherwise the photograph's ocular hierarchy subsumes the viewer and myself as the image-maker.

[8] The characters in my photographs become hybrids of machine and animal that populate dream-like worlds. The quotidian in relation to the sensual spectacle sets up a ritualistic narrative—a strewn collision of bodies and space is simultaneously purposeful and haphazard. Through a carnal visual language, these polymorphic bodies are engaged in ambiguous ceremonies. My photographs disentangle the body's porous boundaries among hyperbole and austerity, reactivity and compliance. They display a consciousness of organized excess. My intention is to disrupt the distinction between the interior and exterior of both psychological and physical encounters.  

[9] Uncertainties help me explore my ambiguous desires and fears about my body—its internal and external designated "disorder"—my encounter with my own monstrosity. The word monster shares its root with the verb to demonstrate. Although my images are consciously constructed, the relationships are born out of an improvised collaboration in which the physics of touch, gravity, and balance establish an unfolding of the performance of photography and the performance of its viewing.

[10] I am again reminded that there is no solid ground—no clear‐cut or absolute answer—only tension, suspension, anticipation, enfolded readings. Tension animates connective tissue, the web that binds us together, while distinguishing us as autonomous. My photographs are rooted in an acute awareness of these contingent encounters—psychic, imagined, palpable, and projected. When I photograph my menstrual pads stuffed into rusting copper cylinders, covered by earthworms, compressed under plate glass on bright green carpet, or when I balance a found decapitated mouse's head between the interweave of the encrusted pad and wire plate glass, I am celebrating this tension.

[11] Both the content and the structure of my project are intricately rooted in the potential of the uncanny—the simultaneous exchange of the familiar within and throughout the unfamiliar. Thus, the nature of interpretation itself becomes an uncanny act. Interpretation manifests as reading and communication—multiple and relational—demanding from us an acute awareness of Deleuze's mutually implicated becomings. This uncanny is my political strategy—an erotic ethics and a commitment to aesthetics within the permanent flux of the corporeal. Deleuze's philosophy of the productive, connective potential of sexuality becomes a process of entanglement. He asserts that Foucault's critique of scientia sexualis evinces the molar organizations that reduce sexuality to sex (Deleuze 2007a: 126). This is precisely the distinction I must make between Foucault's critique of a contraction of possibility and my project as a liberatory expansion. I am proposing a socio-erotic ethics of erotic politics as an erotics of the uncanny which advocates actively denuding connections between ideas, between objects; actively recognizing intermedialities as a technique through which we can embrace and engage our vulnerabilities. My choice to unapologetically insinuate and implicate the "I" is not simply a reaction to our socially constructed reductive vernacular, but a vital commitment to embodied thinking through a conscious encounter with rhizomatic vulnerabilities. For example, it is culturally assumed that it is men, and not women, who are capable of ejaculation. The fact that millions of women do indeed ejaculate is not at the core of my research. Nor is my project an attempt to replicate or usurp male tendencies or to render my body within a systematic functionality, thereby reifying hierarchical/dichotomous power relationships in which sexuality is reduced to a generic hydraulic model (Elizabeth Grosz's critique of recent discourses on the female body). As a woman who ejaculates without specific physical stimulation, the socio-political implications of what my body represents are vast: a rhizomatic, molecular sexuality/ corporeality, with no end-point, no arrival, no derivation. My body inhabits and produces haecceities and affects in a chiasmic dissolution of binary codes and social expectations: "infinite, open, and unlimited in every direction; [they have] no top nor bottom nor center; [they do] not assign fixed and mobile elements but rather distribute a continuous variation" (Mille Plateaux 476). Whether I am viewing my process of ejaculation, my becoming, through the uncanny Deleuzian masochist [2] or a Taoist field of immanence, [3] I am positioning myself within an intuitive re-configuring of socialized sexuality. Creativity and subjectivity become pedagogical strategies for social change. This Deleuze-Guattarian "model of the production of subjectivity...animates the biopolitical economy" of "becoming different." The chiasma of female ejaculation [4] unfolds, thus "in a becoming, one is deterritorialized" (Mille Plateaux 291).

In Deleuze and Guattari, a plateau is reached when circumstances combine to bring an activity to a pitch of intensity that is not automatically dissipated in a climax. The heightening of energies is sustained long enough to leave a kind of afterimage of its dynamism that can be reactivated or injected into other activities, creating a fabric of intensive states between which any number of connecting routes could exist (Brian Massumi, "Translator's Foreword" xiv).

This Taoist rhizome offers an irreducible difference amongst becomings. Both mindfulness and unpredictability play in perpetual dynamic disequilibrium. We are incessantly undergoing radical transformation that sheds the object while embracing the process. I am proposing a peripatetic sexual agency that engages sexual relations as both mobile and strategic positions. Whether I am exploring my own sexuality, a pedagogical imperative, or my photographic possibilities, my process incarnates a libidinal-somatic intensity.

[12] Because we are so entrenched in normative/normalizing behavior, the public is unaware of our constitutional rights and the vast extent to which we are oppressed. We don't know what we are missing. As the physicist Stephen Hawking exclaims, "Everything we need is already within us just waiting to be realized" (87). There is magic in witnessing what already exists; paying attention to the constantly shifting unknown that is right in front of us. "What we are talking about is not the unity of substance but the infinity of the modifications that are part of one another on this unique plane of life" (Mille Plateaux 254). Instead of being attached, thus constrained by our perceptions, I would like to create environments in which there are nomadic margins that transfigure as they overlap—a continuous folded edge in which several equilibriums co-exist. This continuous folding edge, in which several equilibriums co-exist, recalls Deleuze's investigation of Leibniz's curvilinear time-space architectural foldings, a peripatetic imbrication which thrives in a conscious awareness of the Law of Impermanence: "...a Baroque mathematical physics whose goal is curvilinearity. With Leibniz, the curvature of the universe is prolonged according to three other fundamental notions: the fluidity of matter, the elasticity of bodies, and the motivating spirit as a mechanism" (Deleuze and Conley 5). My work inhabits this stripping away of habit—a re-reading of the familiar. Incalculable peregrinations as corporeal cognition become an opportunity for collaborative citizenship. A Deleuze-Guattarian commitment to heterogeneous investigations as embodied thinking ruptures cultural corporeal assumptions: "the scintillating zig-zag path of creative thought...that criss-cross the univocity of Being so as to enable and bring to actuality new assemblages, new concepts, new affects and new interminglings and co-minglings of bodies" (Blake, "A Preface to Pornotheology" 183).

[13] This is an opportunity to investigate and share psycho-somatic subtleties in order for viewers to re-inhabit their bodies' potential for presence and pleasure; to remember what already exists within themselves and in relation to one another. Departing from Deleuze's philosophy of space and his particular way of connecting art, science and philosophy, I reflect on the ways in which spaces can be defined, quantified and measured and the ways in which they resist our tendency to make them comprehensible. Deleuze describes our environment as a world in which two different kinds of spaces are present in continuous flux and mixture: a 'smooth space' and a 'striated space.' Striated space is a measurable space, a space that is quantifiable and understandable – a space of over-coding, centralization, hierarchization, binarization and segmentation.

[14] Smooth space, on the other hand, is one of continuous development and variation, a space hardly measurable, difficult to grasp: "Smooth space is filled by events or haecceities, far more than by formed and perceived things. It is a space of affects, more than one of properties. It is haptic rather than optical perception" (Mille Plateaux 479). Thinking about our surroundings as 'Smooth and Striated,' my images explore Deleuze's corporeal philosophy to examine the simultaneous love of both organization and disorder. I play with the processes of (de-)quantifying, (de-)stabilizing and (de-)composing the world—affecting the illusion of order convenience consumption breeds. Affect is not an extensive sensory motor act, but an intensive vibration. Within this context, I realize that one reason why my images have been repeatedly censored in multiple cultural contexts is because striated space tends to dominate our cultural norms; people confuse optics with politics. In contrast to these reductive binary approaches, rhizomatic smooth space, as the height of collaborative trans-disciplinarity, offers us a model for integrating art with life, politics, and unapologetic complex thought.

Deleuze and Guattari's notion of the body as a discontinuous, non-totalized series of processes, organs, flows, energies, corporeal substances and incorporeal events, intensities, and durations may be of great relevance to those feminists attempting to reconceive bodies, especially women's bodies, outside of the binary polarizations imposed on the body by the mind/body, nature/culture, subject/object, and interior/exterior oppositions (Grosz 135, cited in Bristow).

Generating subjectivity through interpellation, my photographs play with non-teleological becomings. These erotic conjunctions, like the surrealist arrangement of a peculiar incident, provide a framework for perceiving the world through possibility rather than prescription:

The body, then, is no longer a question of form. It is a question of velocities. Invoking Spinoza, Deleuze will not define a body 'by its form, nor by its organs and its functions, nor as a substance or subject...we will define it by its longitude and latitude' (Deleuze 1988: 127). Deleuze advocates a corporeal cartography, a map of the body's inextricably extensive and intensive dimensions.... The...bodies...enter into relations of velocity with one another, extending a corporeal surface, a territory or what Spinoza calls a composite body" (Riordan, "Haemosexuality" 81).

My photographs trigger this kind of surrealist practice in which corporeal cognition presents an opportunity for viewers to re-inhabit their bodies. The nature of this collaborative emancipatory project transgresses internalized, invisible assumptions that are unwittingly accepted within capitalist Oedipal superstructures.

[15] Structural inequality locks the discussion in an either-or of Being-Man or becoming-animal. Becoming-animal demonstrates a poetics of relation, not a practice of denying potentialities. Habitually dichotomous constitutive conditions of patriarchy vilify the potentialities of embodying the psyche-soma. Pre-determined agendas obliterate the equivocality of creative intelligence. As with any irreducible irritant, the host interrogates: What must be done with that which cannot be assimilated, that which will not submit to equality? As I investigate this question, vulnerability surfaces as a prostheticized, shared deterritorialization between host and parasite: "Consistency is neither totalizing nor structuring; rather, it is deterritorializing (a biological stratum, for example, evolves not according to statistical phenomenon but rather according to cutting edges of deterritorialization)" (Mille Plateaux 160). Becoming vulnerable means that we are in a continual state of transition. Because identities, in this realm, are in flux and unfixed, they become relational.

[16] Difference establishes this condition of vulnerability. The Other, the immigrant within, is positioned as perpetual outsider, internalizing the illusion that difference is deviant and obscene, and that such vulnerability must be categorized and contained by institutionalized authority. In cultural production, as in reception, vulnerability [5] becomes a vital intervention in public-private discourse. The private is construed and constructed as deficient and pathological, requiring unquestioned taxonomies of regulation and normalization. Insidiously, this sanctity of normalcy constitutes a hegemony of representation that colonizes our relationships with our bodies. It silently breeds distrust of our innate corporeal humanity. Institutionalized constructions of vulnerability bind the psychological to the physical: every day of our lives we learn that to be accepted we must suspect and contain our bodily functions. In contrast to this dominant cultural perception, in my photographs, self-portrait videos, and theoretical practice, I am exploring the fluidity of sex as a key to encouraging social agency—the creative potential of erotic politics. [6]

[17] Erotic politics reorients our cultural concepts of pleasure and vulnerability and ultimately of who has imaginative power and control over our bodies. Improvisational communication within the self and with the other underlies my exploration of eroticism. Eroticism is any intensely satisfying sensation of connectedness to oneself, to others, and to one's environment in which creativity and play enhance our own and others' sense of vitality. Eroticism can be a key to examining the unconscious mind by interweaving the very interactions that are often prohibited or suppressed under social norms. This conscious practice embodies various responsibilities to ourselves and to others. My images reflect this fecund dynamic process between erotic politics and Deleuze's philosophical discourses. The lived concept that all is in flux, every "thing" (not as things in themselves, but the a-substantive), moves in a double orbit by helping us understand the relational tension embedded in each interaction. This rhizome of contingent encounters embodies erotic politics.

[18] I am proposing a dialectic of possibility—an affinity through difference (Haraway 92). This elliptical continuum decodes, trans-codes, translates, and critiques ''the real". Just as Deleuze and Guattari borrow and proliferate BwOs, in my photographic work, I play with an assemblaged space, objects, and bodies (including my own) in such a way that blurs the lines that separate us. Luminescent excess inhabits both the domestic and the animalistic. Like Deleuze's masochist, my photographs explore the body as a membrane between sensuality and restraint, surrender and resistance—de-solving the distinction between interior and exterior psychological and physical experiences: D&G refer to this molecular/molar double articulation as disjunctive synthesis, which is repeated differently as minoritarian and majoritarian language... Referred to as schizo-analysis, this disjunctive process deterritorializes and reterritorializes pre-existing, reductionist assumptions, representations, and systems of analysis by way of the BwO and rhizomatic assemblage, and from which heretofore anomalous, unknown, and unforeseen multiplicities of knowing and understanding difference can emerge (Mille Plateaux 18).

[19] For a differential social movement to take root (rhizomatically, that is!), it is crucial to recognize that the fluid relations between art, bodies, daily life, and politics are absolutely essential to participatory democracy at a time when reactionary, divisive hegemonies dominate our worlds. The vitality of this unknown zone and the fertility of vulnerability [7] undermine the illusion of an intact static body. No longer trapped by binaries, the BwO incorporates and shares the fluid exchange of autonomy and contingent encounters:

[BwO] where sedimented organizational assumptions are destratified, and where they manifest as unprecedented and unfamiliar, contiguous and disjunctive entities...destratifies ontological and organizational impediments and reconstitutes them as difference, subjects-in-process, as nonstratified bodies. This boundless process of becoming-other, becoming-intense, which is constituted as the incorporeal embodiment of the BwO, enables getting "outside be-between, to pass between, the intermezzo...never ceasing to become (Mille Plateaux 277).

This networking of intensive states becomes an erotic politics—the intertwining of ethics and creativity. Such a deterritorialisation disrupts social anxieties by aligning our sexual potential [8] with an uncanny menage a trois: the self within the other, the other within the self, and the disidentified self and other with a zone of indiscernibility proper to "becoming" (Mille Plateaux 488). Within the context of conscious fractal sexuality as social action, I explore Deleuzian topologies of sexuality as a continual non-arrival in which ambiguity no longer signifies a lack of clarity, but presents a multiplicity of clarities.


[1] In her exposition on her friendship with the late Kathy Acker, and of the problematic of friendship itself, Avital Ronell self-interrogates: "I have to interrupt myself here and confess my uneasiness as I write: in the first place, so unaccustomed to saying "I" in my texts, so comfortable in the practice, nearly Zen, of the attenuation of the subject, the effacement of self and the radical passivity exacted by writing—it is very shocking to me to have to include myself in this unnuanced way. I could handle myself as a barely audible trace in the service of some alterity to be addressed, but saying, for me, brazenly, "I" makes me shudder. "I" is vulgar, or so goes my prejudice and practice" ("Kathy Goes to Hell," in Lust for Life: On the Writings of Kathy Acker, ed. Carla Harryman, Avital Ronell, Amy Scholder, (London and New York: Verso, 2006). Elizabeth Grosz praises the "rare combination of openly expressed personal obsession and scholarly rigor, the rigorous reading and analysis of [Roger Callois's and Alphonso Lingus's] driving personal preoccupations" (Sex Time Perversion 189). She continues, "[W]hat seems rare is not the combination of scholarship and personal obsessional--this could be said to characterize much if not all theoretical and scientific discourse--but the open acknowledgement that the research is based on personal concerns" (ibid, 246, ftnt.2).

[2] "The masochist's suffering is the price he must pay, not to achieve pleasure, but to untie the pseudobond between desire and pleasure as an extrinsic measure. Pleasure is in no way something that can be obtained only by a detour through suffering; it is something that must be delayed as long as possible because it interrupts the continuous process of positive desire. There is, in fact, a joy that is immanent desire as though desire were filled by itself and its contemplations, a joy that implies no lack or impossibility and is not measure by pleasure since it is what distributes intensities of pleasure and prevents them from being suffused by anxiety, shame, and guilt. In short, the masochist uses suffering as a way of constituting a body without organs and bringing forth a plane of consistency of desire" (A Thousand Plateaus 155). In contrast to a psychoanalytic interpretation/pathologization, the masochist's absence of fear, shame, guilt can serve as a template for active conscious citizenship. It is this "...becoming-animal essential to masochism" (A Thousand Plateaus 155) that I advocate.

[3] "It is not a question of experiencing desire as an internal lack, not of delaying pleasure in order to produce a kind of externalizable surplus value, but instead of constituting an intensive body without organs, Tao, a field of immanence in which desire lacks nothing and therefore cannot be linked to any external or transcendent criterion...The field of immanence or plane of consistency must be constructed. This can take place in very different social formations through very different assemblages (perverse, artist, scientific, mystical, political) with different types of bodies without organs. It is constructed piece by piece, and the places, conditions, and techniques are irreducible to one another" (Mille Plateaux 157). For further discussion on the rhizomatic nature of Taoist sexuality, see Mantak Chia and Douglas Abrams Arava's The Multi- Orgasmic Man.

[4] "Deleuze consistently criticises models of sexual desire that are in any way goal oriented, in the sense of a pursuit of pleasure or a discharge of libidinal energy or a fortiori a release and exchange of bodily fluids as ends in themselves. His claim is far greater than this, however, for he criticises these models as being not metaphysically incorrect, but also as politically repressive--as having evidently material consequences for populations...for the Earth" (Blake, "A Preface to Pornotheology" 179). Deleuze's disgust for ejaculation can be read as an abhorrence of consumer culture's construction of desire: "...desire is lived as such a disagreeable tension that--a horrible, hideous word is required here, that's how bad this thing is--a discharge is necessary. And this discharge, this is what pleasure is! People will have peace, and then, alas! desire is reborn, a new discharge will necessary" (Deleuze 2001: 96). Grosz goes on to distinguish between an Oedipal conceptual system of the citizen-via-family economy and a libidinal economy of an erotics of the unknown: "Desire need not culminate in sexual intercourse, but may end in production. Not the production of a child or a relationship, but the production of sensations never felt, alignment never thought, energies never tapped, regions never known" (Sex Time Perversion 250).

[5] As the photographer and model in my visual work, I consciously inhabit the l'informe of vulnerability. See Yve-Alain Bois and Rosalind Krauss's Formless: A User's Guide.

[6] Deleuze's realization of puissance expresses an erotic politic: It is the "capacity for existence"; "a capacity to affect or be affected"; "a capacity to multiply connections that may be realized by a given 'body' to varying degrees in different situations" (xvii Massumi's foreword in Mille Plateaux).

[7] My photographs unravel vulnerability into/within a Riemann field of conscious subjectivity: "When you will have made him a body without organs, then you will have delivered him from all his automatic reactions and restored him to his true freedom" (Mille Plateaux 377).

[8] "How does one introduce desire into thought, into discourse, into action? How can and must desire deploy its forces within the political domain and grow more intense in the process of our overturning the established order? Ars erotica, ars theoretica, ars politica" (Foucault's introduction to Anti-Oedipus, xii).


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