Clinical and Critical Perversion

Zafer Aracagök

The body and mind thereupon become dissociated; the subject crosses the boundary of his own skin and stands outside of his senses. He tries to see himself, from some point in space. He feels that he is turning into space himself—dark space into which things cannot be put. [1] [itals in original]


[1] "On the 20th Lenz went through the mountains." [2]

[2] On the 20th of which month?
On the 20th of which month of which year?

[3] Already, with the very first sentence in his story, Lenz, Büchner points not only to the closure of an abyss presumed—since Plato—to be yawning between two topographically "indeterminable" edges—between mimesis and diegesis—but also to the difference between the surface and the depths, between the critical and the clinical. For if it doesn't matter anymore which month of the which year it is, there's only a minimum concern left for the temporal, which, together with the spatial, is the primary constitutive principle of the subject of Enlightenment (a forgetting of remembering of which Adorno and Horkheimer traced even in The Odyssey [3].) All it means is that the presumed abyss between mimesis and diegesis, the rejection of which has always been the main concern of the "political" (repression of which would be the mission of the psychoanalytical discourse towards the end of the 19th century) is now at stake, and the constantly upsurging problem of the distinction between the conscious and the unconscious, or the one between the immediate (as in the Kantian problem of the thing-in-itself) and the mediated had already found a novel way of expression in Lenz in the form of this "terrible voice which is usually called silence." [4] It is this undecidable question of audibility, which, we believe, raises once again the ongoing question of the political, just to be handled by psychiatry in the second half of the nineteenth century. As will be argued in this paper, the disappearance of the political, far from being only metaphorical, is basically related to the rise of psychoanalysis, or rather, the psycho-politics, and, being based upon a certain notion of "perversion," it can be re-distributed along Deleuzian distinctions, such as surface and depth, critical and clinical, oedipal-incest and schizo-incest, and thus, can lead us to a re-evaluation of what Deleuze and Guattari might have meant by "homosexual-effusion" in their book on Kafka, [5] all towards the possibility of the deterritorialisaiton of the political under a new concept, namely, critical perversion.

1. somnambulism, hypnosis and psychasthenia

Ekphrasis 1: Now Lenz is outside in nature, wandering as if under the spell of a fugue, looking for a leak through which he can sneak into space. Knock knock! No phonemes, only their traces ... sonorous but only insofar as the surrounding hum of the world prevents the tympan from shattering. Yet, yet ...

The peaks and high slopes in snow, gray rock down into the valleys, green fields, boulders and pine trees. It was cold and damp, water trickled down the rocks and sprang over the path. Pine branches hung down heavily in the moist air. Gray clouds moved across the sky, but everything so dense, and then the fog steamed up, and trailed, oppressive and damp, through the bushes, so sluggish, so shapeless. He went on indifferently, the path did not matter to him, sometimes up, sometimes down. He felt no fatigue, but at times he was irritated that he could not walk on his head. [6]

[4] On the 20th of which month?
On the 20th of which month of which year?

[5] Already, with the very first sentence in Lenz, Büchner deterritorialises the presumed emotions of the reader into various levels of intensities on the body without the organs of literature: Lenz is located at the crossroads between psychastenia and schizophrenia, deterritorialising the politico-topological by playing on the border between the conscious and the unconscious.

[6] If the question is whether the landscape is available as a distinct field of inspection as separate from the traveller, the way Büchner produces an answer to the dichotomy of man and nature offers a strange operation of separation which is—almost as if against, say, Freudian psychoanalysis in the latter part of the nineteenth century, where the division within the "self" will be attributed to an illness named "schizophrenia," which unproblematically determines the place where a possible division might have taken place—a separation from a "self" with the intention of melting into the landscape, thereby confusing the boundaries between topological and atopological. Or, as the psychotherapists of the the time, Jean-Martin Charcot and Pierre Janet would have it, it's a case of dementia, the symptoms of which are made visible in Lenz's attacks of hysteria, his attempts at self-mutiliation, which are very much reminiscent of Artaud's, almost a century later. What I will propose here is to unthread Lenz as a possible case of Janet's theory of psychasthenia (and yet and therefore) under a non-psychoanalysing and/or non-oedipalising light, just to be able to foreground how the inherent question of the atopological was appropriated by psychoanalysis and transformed into psycho-politics, as a result of which, perversion is clinicalised. It will also be interesting to note how the profound question of transference was dealt with by Janet and Freud so as not to disturb their theorisation of a self-identical subject—if as a failure in the first case, then as a success in the latter.

[7] But first of all, let's see briefly what a certain psycological disorder, "psychasthenia," means for Janet, who coined this term for some patients who had symptoms similar to those suffering from "fugue" and "dei paralysis progressiva" (Nietzche's illness as diagnosed by Doctor Wille [7]) in the nineteenth century. Psychasthenia, being a form of dementia or dissociation (which are the earlier names for schizophrenia), represents a disorder in spatio-temporal perception via which one locates oneself in time and space.

[8] As his first book, L'Automatisme Psychologique, [8] clearly demonstrates, for Janet, there's a profoundly elemental and structural state of mind which is regular and pre-determined. In this model there are two basic activities: one preserving and reproducing the past and the other directed towards synthesis and creation (integration). In other words, the integrative activity organises the present with its capacity to produce a synthesis that will enable one to readjust one's past experiences within a given changing environment. Such a view on the mind endowed him with a view on hysterics where integrative activity is diminished and can be restored during a hypnotic séance: if such integrative functions are dissociated from the hysteric mind and causes uncontrolled behaviour or perception during a crisis, then such dissociations could be cured by looking into the causes of trauma, using hypnosis. Moreover, for Janet, the patient's suggestibility is directly proportional to the degree of dissociation, which makes the patient less resistant in hypnosis. As can be observed from even such a short introduction, Janet's model of the mind is basically a Kantian one (which is even reminiscent of Hume on the matter of taste), where, given the sound state of categories that are well integrated and work in harmony, there should be no room for deficiency, especially with regard to a certain deterministic notion of temporality and spatiality, particularly as his second book, L'État Mental des Hysteriques, [9] claims that "hysteria is a defect of the unity of the mind, manifesting itself on the one hand in a diminishing of the personal synthesis, and on the other, in the preserving of past phenomena which reappear in an amplified manner." [10] Although such states of deficiency make patients liable to suggestion, Janet also finds that in cases which are ruled by some fixed ideas, patients can perform a lowered state of suggestibility. In his further researches on the causes and neuroses of fixed ideas, one of the fundamental things he discovers is related to what Freud will later on call "transference." An already known situation during his times, described as "rapport magiletique" by magnetisers, involves not only a patient's deep involvement with the therapist but also a keen interest to be hypnotised by the therapist. Soon realising that this can easily turn into an addiction, Janet calls it "la passion somnambulique," [11] and despite the erotic elements present in this rapport, he prefers to see it in terms of attachment theory. As Henri Ellenberger points out in "Pierre Janet and Psychological Analysis," "Such patients not only crave to be hypnotised, but have a permanent need to confess to the psychiatrist whose picture they keep constantly in their subconscious mind, and to be scolded and directed by him." [12] Apparently, Janet, having no concern in psychoanalysing or oedipalising this problem, turns to a solution that will restore the delicate balance between the patient and the therapist by gradually withdrawing from the guidance process. In a later book, The Major Symptoms of Hysteria, he follows the idea of the human mind being an automaton, complete and well structured at the beginning, saying, "things happened as if an idea, a partial system of thoughts, emancipated itself, became independent and developed itself on its own account. The result is, on the one hand, that it develops far too much, and on the other hand, that consciousness appears no longer to control it." [13] If in former researches somnambulism appears as a state of the patient in hypnosis, here it grows into a general symptom of hysteria in which people are so absorbed in their inner experience—caused by an earlier trauma—that a proper contact with external reality is lost. When the patient rarely responds to something in the external world, s/he perceives it as a role-playing within the domain of the inner experience so that response should be rejected at the outset . In other words, when compared to "la passion somnambulique," somnambulism, as a symptom of hysteria, is ruled by a rejection of mimesis, whereas in the case of treatment by hypnosis, it turns into a passion for obeying a higher voice, that is, for playing the role dictated by the therapist. That is, somnambulistic tendency, which is initially regarded as a symptom of an earlier trauma, turns later on into a means of healing under the guidance of a hypnotist-therapist. If dissociation is marked by the absence of such a guidance, that is, by the absence of a role to imitate, in hypnosis the situation is reversed by the presence of the hypnotist/theraphist as a model figure. Although this figure proves to be helpful in awakening the somnambulist from his dream world, in the end, it leads to some complications in the rapport established between the two. We will look into the nature of this rapport later on, particularly into how this will lead Freud from hypnosis to free association ("the talking cure") as a psychoanalytic method, but first, let's see how Janet defines "psychasthenia" and how its zoological and philosophical implications are worked on by Roger Caillois.

2. becoming space

Ekphrasis 2: Nature, described in Lenz, is shrinking into a keyhole and it is as if all the distances disappear, and no in-between left. Will he be able to be absorbed into space without carrying the flag of mom and dad, state and nation, citizenship and religion, human, all too human?

Everything seemed to him to be so small, so close, so wet, he would have liked to set the earth behind the stove, he could not understand why he needed so much time to climb down a steep slope, to reach a distant point; he felt he should be able to cover any distance in a few steps. [14]

... he thought he must draw the storm into himself, contain all within him, he stretched out and lay over the earth, he burrowed into the cosmos, it was a pleasure that hurt him ... but these were only moments, and then he rose, calm, steady, quiet, as if phantoms had passed before him, he remembered nothing. [15]

[9] According to Janet, if the hysterical fixed ideas (as in somnambulism) developed completely outside of the individual's personal perception and memory, the obsession of a psychasthenic would take place in collaboration with one's whole personality. Furthermore, it would do so without developing itself completely as a fixed idea. Instead, the psychasthenic is continuously doubting his idea. As we stated formerly, Janet's model of the mind is based on a certain notion of automatism where all the mental categories work in harmony and produce a perfect synthesis between past and present events. As his work progressed, his experience led him to expand his conceptual model and he developed the ideas of psychological force and tension [16] as well as a hierarchy of mental functions consisting of five levels, each of which had a coefficient of reality. The highest level of mental activity was the reality function. This is the function of reality in which one grasps the maximum reality of a situation. With respect to this principle of reality, psychasthenia is characterised by a complete loss of reality, or the loss of reality as an idea, where such a loss becoming the arche-fixation; the psychasthenic refuses to engage with reality in an integrative way, and resists synthesizing the past and the future.

[10] If psychasthenia in Janet is an ultimate form of dissociation the main symptom of which is a somnambulism where the patient is in a state of hypnosis with noone to mime, no model to imitate, without any form of role-playing, or, where an imitation which establishes "reality" as such is out of the question, then I'd like to claim at this point, together with Caillois, that what is at stake here is a certain relationship to the "spatial." As we will have more opportunity to stress later on, our understanding of time and space is still conditioned by a Kantian approach according to which time and space are a priori mental categories. Seen in a line of continuity with the Descartian and Kantian subject, Janet's model of the mind is based on an autonomous subject who is supposed to locate him/herself according to these a priori mental categories if it has to stay away from the fallacy of reason, if it has to construct a reality as such, if it has to stay away from the clinical. In contrast, I will argue that an understanding of time and place not as a priori mental categories but as those whose construction is experienced as always-at-stake requires a critical mind (rather than "clinical") which has a special relationship with the spatial. Moreover, I will claim, with regard to Lenz, that Freud's theorisation of perversion is aware of the fact that perversion is what dislocates a certain sense of spatio-temporal relationality which balances the social, the psychological and the political, and therefore, the measures taken against this threat start with the question of the "homosexual."

[11] But first, in order to open this mimeto-subjectivity to a critique, we should see Roger Caillois's paper, "Mimicry and Legendary Psychastenia," where he suggests an anti-mimetic, or rather, an ultra-mimetic moment which rejects the distinction between mimesis and diegesis. Discussing the Darwinian postulation of the survival of the fittest with respect to "adaptation," Caillois argues, that due to an absolute, ultra-mimetic representation of the environment, of the space where the same species become their own predators, mimetic adaptation in the insect world does not always lead to survival and can instead lead to death. [17] Basing his argument on the fact that the insect world works on smell rather than sight, Caillois claims that mimicry does not function as a means of the survival of the fittest, working instead as a means of absorption into space on the basis of "attractio similium of magic: like produces like." [18] [itals in original] Caillois refers to sympathetic magic, thereby evoking shamanism, where the possessed shaman passes from imitating the spirit he's representing to becoming the spirit itself. If, in other words, nature is the shaman, the insects go back to it as if to catch "the sorcerer in his own trap," [19] realising a complete "depersonalisation through assimilation into space." [20] [itals in original] In this atopological topography where any spatio-temporal concern disappears, "Matters become critical with represented space because the living creature, the organism, is no longer located at the origin of the coordinate system but is simply one point among many. Dispossessed of its privilege, it quite literally no longer knows what to do with itself." [21] [itals in original]

3. perversion clinicalised

Ekphrasis 3: Oberlin the Father is also possessed with nature, and possession takes the form of a voice heard at night: he tells Lenz how he had heard a voice, how it had spoken to him at night, and how God had entered him so completely that he took his Bible verse upon which Lenz is struck: how close nature came to this people. [22]

It had grown dark, heaven and earth melted together. It seemed as if something were following him, as if something horrible would overtake him, something that humans cannot endure, as if insanity were pursuing him on horseback. [23]

The urge in him, the music, the pain shattered him. For him there were wounds in the universe; he felt deep, inexpressible grief because of it. Now, another existence, divine, twitching lips bent over him and sucked his lips; he went up to his lonely room. He was alone, alone! [24]

[12] Do animals have moral codes with respect to perversion?
Is perversion a rejection of being foregrounded as a species—species as a moral concept?

[13] I ask these questions immediately at the beginning of a section named "perversion" not only because they are, for the time being, dimly related to our ongoing discussion in this essay, but also because they reflect the underlying core, postulations, or the mentalité of the people working on psychiatry in the 19th century. Despite the Cartesian dictum according to which man is distinguished from animal on the basis of an ability to speak, the 19th century psychiatric research was ridden with comparisons between man and animal, especially when the question of sexuality was concerned. For example, on the basis of a presumed presence in both man and animal, what is called the "sexual instinct" would be considered during those days as natural or normal if and only if it yielded in the end to "propogation," [25] and anything which deviated from this pathos would be named "perversion." In other words, the "naturalness" of the animal world, where there's supposed to be no perversion, and sexual instinct has only the natural function of propogation, was taken as a model of normality for man, but in the mean time, it was forgotten that perversion as a clinical term is applicable only to those who have a sense of a norm, a normality. If 19th century psychiatry formulated perversion with regard to reproduction, it was done so not only within a framework of moral codes (highly determined by rigid concepts of religion, humanity and normality) but also in an easily maintained series of comparisons between man and animal with respect to the Descartian "rational man." So, given such a stronghold of "naturalness" and "normality" in 19th century psychiatry, it does not come as a surprise to see Freud referring to this widely appreciated view in the very first two paragraphs of the first essay in Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality:

The fact of the existence of sexual needs in human beings and animals is expressed in biology by the assumption of a "sexual instinct," on the analogy of the instinct of nutrition, that is of hunger. [26]

However, he ends up in the very next paragraph with the following caution:

We have every reason to believe, however, that these views give a very false picture of the true situation. If we look into them more closely we shall find that they contain a number of events, inaccuracies and hasty conclusions. [27]

Given this conclusion, one immediately wonders whether Freud is not quite convinced with the popular opinion of the time, and therefore will challenge this aforementioned "normality" where the animal is appropriated into a model after the application of human moral codes. However, what Freud does instead is introduce two technical terms—"sexual object" and "sexual aim"—which determine the route of the sexual instinct directly from one to another: if the sexual object is "the person from whom sexual attraction proceeds," the sexual aim is "the act towards which the instinct tends." [28] As the next sections of the first essay bear witness to, Freud doesn't stop there, and after a discussion on children and animals as sexual objects, he introduces a shocking novelty into the widely held belief of the 19th century. Changing his position, he says:

It has been brought to our notice that we have been in the habit of regarding the connection between the sexual instinct and the sexual object as more intimate than it in fact is. Experience of the cases that are considered abnormal has shown us that in them the sexual instinct and the sexual object are merely soldered together – a fact which we have been in danger of overlooking in consequence of the uniformity of the normal picture, where the object appears to form part and parcel of the instinct. We are thus warned to loosen the bond that exists in our thought between instinct and object. It seems probable that the sexual instinct is in the first instance independent of its object; nor is its origin likely to be due to its object's attractions. [29]

What has happened in between? Has Freud realised now the dangers of appropriation of the animal as a model, and is therefore trying to devise some ways of getting rid of this model? Or, given the exact correspondence between sexual object and sexual aim based on propogation, does he think he won't have enough space for speculation for his upcoming psychoanalytical theory, where the norm will be established on the self-identical individual who becomes what he is via eliminating each and every possible tie to nature/animal, especially on the basis of diegesis, and thus embraces an identity free of the animal? A pure, restricted Oedipal economy of man as against the non-mimetic, unlocalisable general economy?

[14] Of course, things do not change overnight, and before seeing how this concern about the self-identical subject of psychoanalysis will lead Freud to a shift from hypnosis to association as a method of treatment, let's see what happens later on in Three Essays. Now, if the sexual instinct is declared to be independent of its object, Freud had to invent a normalising process, that is, the Oedipal family, which will shift the focus from natural/animal to the boundaries of family. As is well known, one of the main contributions of the Three Essays is that that "perversion" was present even among the healthy, and that the path towards a mature and normal sexual attitude began not at puberty but at early childhood. Looking at children, Freud claimed to find a number of practices which looked innocuous but were really forms of sexual activity, among which thumb sucking was a primary example. Such a consideration, therefore, would lead Freud to the conclusion that "the sexual instinct itself may be no simple thing, but put together from components which have come apart again in the perversions." [30] These components, then, will be said to function anarchically until the primacy of the genital zone is established. If, for example, practices like thumb sucking and kissing are thought to be a perversion in previous sections, it is mainly because such diverse components of the sexual instinct since early childhood will be normalised in time and will leave their places to the constitution of erotogenic zones proper, which are the male and female genital organs. As Freud put it:

If a perversion, instead of appearing merely alongside the normal sexual aim and object, and only when circumstances are unfavourable to them, and favourable to it – if, instead of this, it ousts them completely and takes their place in all circumstances – if, in short, a perversion has the characteristics of exclusiveness and fixation – then we shall usually be justified in regarding it as a pathological symptom. [31][itals in original]

It all means to say that perversions since early childhood are negligible until they become the determining factor of a presupposed normality which is supposed to constitute its erotogenic zones via an Oedipal education on genital organs. This move spectacularly explains why Freud initially detaches sexual instinct from its object: to be able to give it to the service of a guiding principle of topologically determinable erotogenic zones. Hence, perversion, though untied from a certain sexual object, now will become clinical per se.

[15] As will be seen in the next section, Freud will draw the boundaries between the mimetic and the diegetic with his theory of transference where the Oedipal determinations achieved by a shift from hypnosis to association will foreground representation, as the essential form of the subject and the unconscious. And, it is with this shift that Freud will be able to clinicalise perversion as a question of localisability, visibility, and audibility. In contrast, the distribution of the genital zone over the whole body, transforming the whole body into a force field of intensities, would undoubtedly undo the question of localisability.

[16] Freudian determinations are therefore Kantian ones where temporal and spatial determinations constitute the subject in conformity with a certain notion of the gestalt. What if, as Roger Caillois has shown, there are not only some animal species but also some particular cases in human species which consider gestalt as redundant? In other words, what if, psychasthenia is not only a symptom for an illness but something that presents a liberative critical moment which can be considered as psychosis only within a general economy of bourgeois psychoanalysis?

[17] Will transference be eliminated so that the constitutive critical perversion will be clinicalised?

[18] Will Lenz be absorbed into psychasthenia, or being clinicalised, will he efface the critical position he raises in the history of literature?

4. schizo-incest, homosexual-effusion, and the critical perversion

Ekphrasis 4: Lenz rejects his father's calls. He does not want to go back home, to the house of the Oedipus. Instead, hovering above the clusters of realism, he invents the schizo-incest and Oberlin simply responds with kisses.

... he believed it must be boundless ecstasy to be touched in this way by the unique life of every form; to commune with rocks, metals, water, and plants; to assimilate each being in nature as in a dream, as flowers take in air with the waxing and waning of the moon. [32]

When he was alone, or reading, it was even worse. At times, all his mental activity would hang on one thought; if he thought about or visualised another person vividly, it seemed as if he were becoming that person. He became utterly confused, and at the same time he had a boundless urge to internalise everything around him arbitrarily. [33]

... you see, Pastor, if only I didn't have to hear that anymore, that would do me good. "Hear what my friend?" Don't you hear anything, don't you hear the terrible voice, usually called silence, screaming around the entire horizon, ever since I've been in this silent valley I always hear it ... [34]

[19] According to Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen, [35] although Freud rejects hypnosis for free association, he never succeeds in eliminating the question of transference. What is decisive about this rejection is the distinction between mimesis and diegesis which can be separated along the lines of enactment/catharsis and narrative. However, as his analysis of hysteria develops, what comes to the fore is the impossibility of undermining "the emotional tie" [36] and thus the question of "transference," as the emotional tie is the pivot which preconditions one's relation to the Other and is pre-psychoanalytical and pre-representational at the same time. In other words, it is elusive because it both constructs and deconstructs the subject of psychoanalysis. As will be seen below, transference, making the subject hear the voice of silence, like in Lenz's case, brings along an invitation to a psychasthenic universe where one no longer knows where one is.

[20] At this juncture, I'd like to go back to the question of the audible in Lenz that we mentioned at the beginning of this article and suggest that it is actually against this becoming audible of silence—that Lenz has heard—that 19th century psychiatry and psychoanalysis slowly developed a tendency to put a ban on the voice of the analyst. If in Charcot and Janet the question of transference is negligible to a certain extent, it is because they, unlike Freud, do not have an overall theory of the subject or psyche based on Oedipal norms. For Freud, the voice of the analyst in a hypnotic séance opens the doors towards making the patient hear the voice of silence. [37] In a hypnotic séance, the voice of the analyst, replicating the voice of the Other, reaches the innermost boundaries of the subject and violates and shakes them down to their foundations. In contrast, during the "talking-cure," the Freudian subject should re-integrate her/his fallen boundaries if s/he has to reconstruct her/his integrity along the lines of the Oedipal family.

[21] Discussing the availability of transference in the matter of distinguishing analysis from hypnosis, Borch-Jacobsen draws up a framework for Freudian psychoanalysis where the traces of the emotional tie can be found in any kind of relationship which is basically hypnotic per se. Furthermore, hypnosis calls for a cathartic enactment which debases any notion of a self-identical subject by opening it to an invasion by the other. In other words, the analysand enacts the traumatic scene by reliving it in a mimetic (not diegetic) fashion (he or she becomes someone else at the moment of enactment) and this state is induced by the voice/suggestions of the analyst. This double invasion disturbs all the spatio-temporal relationship of the self to itself: first, as letting oneself be invaded by the voice/suggestion of the analyst, and then, as becoming someone else in enactment under hypnosis. The supposed cure is the enactment of the very scene initiated by this double invasion where the analysand's relationship to time and space is interrupted with a concern for treatment.

[22] The emotional tie, for Borch-Jacobsen is thus a "rapport without rapport," [38] where a concern for the topological is undermined by the de/constitutive role it plays in the attainment of the subject as such. The emotional tie, in this sense, triggers an understanding of perversion as a sexual instinct which does not have any a priori object of love. Yet, before that we should ask if there are possible ways of approximating an emotional tie with perversion on the basis of mimesis. If mimesis is opposed to diegesis for not being a narration or representation, but for being focused on becoming one with the one one identifies with, then there arises a situation where the "I" or ego as such does not exist. Not having an "I" means not only not being introduced to time and space, but also a moment of "becoming-mimesis" itself, where the object of love is put at stake, never being able to appear as such. It is a desire not only with no fixed object, but also one with no object where the boundaries between object and subject have disappeared.

[23] When hypnosis is understood as Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen does (as a destructive strategy for Freudian psychoanalysis based on the self-preservation of the subject), the "perversion" present in a hypnotic séance or in la passion somnambulique becomes constitutive (as it did for Janet). Although it yields to an unceasing transference between the analyst and the analysand during the séance, it can be tolerated until the "sound" state is maintained. It is right here, at this moment, that what Deleuze and Guattari call "schizo-incest" [39] in their book on Kafka [40] becomes central in our ongoing discussion on constitutive/critical perversion. What if such a sound state is never maintained and the analysand is given the freedom of enjoying his/her perversion critically before s/he is captured by the machine-clinique?

[24] Schizo-incest, according to Deleuze and Guattari, is the distribution of a relationality not on the basis of Oedipal ties but on an alliance of brothers and sisters against the mom and dad. Eventually, it is not based on a mimetic model-copy relationship but rather, if we may say so, on a simulacral relationship where identity is always at stake or fails to produce identifications. It is a state that precludes Freudian psychoanalysis, a state where emotional ties are not yet captured by and not invested in the Oedipal machine ... no identification occurs there (in the absence of an ego), or better yet, there is an identification but since the model cannot be remembered and represented it never reaches the point of an aufhebung where it will produce "mother" and "father" as exact figures of identification. We have seen formerly how the "enigmatic signifier" of Laplanche [41] is taken by Bersani [42] to force it into a celebration of failure. What I propose here is to insert Bersani's non-relational relationality (obtained as a result of the affirmation of failure—the "masochistic pleasure," if you like) into la passion somnambulique where the emotional tie, given the freedom to fail, establishes a rapport without a rapport in the absence of fixed identites, which thus gives lie to any theory of self-identity which work on the gestalt of Kantian spatio-temporality. Without doubt, here we are talking about a Deleuzian desiring machine with no fixed object on which it invests its love. Moreover, this is not only a Deleuzian desiring machine but also the affirmation of psychasthenia as a critical position which can only be obtained by an affirmation of perversion as the de/constitutive principle of the "ego."

[25] If heterosexual love is possible only where identites are fixed or distributed along the lines of Oedipalised genders, what Deleuze and Guattari describe as "the effusion" most likely delineates a horizontal expansion saturated with sound (noise? clamour?); only—as against the specular—a surface effect with no depth, as Deleuze explains so well in The Logic of Sense. [43] Moreover, as it is construed in their book on Kafka, "homosexual effusion" is an expression-machine which connects singularities on the basis of a perversion-machine; a critique of identity which centres around expression rather than aesthetics. Yes, the voice/sound/noise still exists here but having denied any transcending transcendental, it can never be tied to a composition, a song or a melody orchestrated by the voices of the god, mom or dad. Critical perversion appropriates only the clusters of a vague rhythm that date back to a primary "emotional tie" whose clamorous echoes of refrain can never be heard in the dark corridors of identity. It has no relation with the specular nor with the speculative in so far as the maintenance of the "political" is concerned. All because, 0) the critical perversion is rooted in psychasthenia and, n-1) to hear the voice of the silence is the failure to remember the primary emotional tie, remembrance of which territorialises and reterritorialises the "politics" over and over again. What we need today is to deterritorialise the politics...

[26] Clinical perversion topologically connects one only to one and the single machine, the Oedipal-machine, whereas critical perversion, having multi connection points, is atopological. It starts with schizo-incest and homosexual effusion, yet, the ultimate point is the "bachelor-machine." In fact, nothing describes critical perversion better than the "bachelor-machines" that Deleuze and Guattari talk about at the end of their chapter, "The Connectors," in Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature:

In fact, these connector characters, with their connotations of desire, incest, or homosexuality, receive their objective nature from the machine of expression, and not the other way around .... No one knew better than Kafka to define art or expression without any sort of reference to the aesthetic. If we try to sum up the nature of the artistic machine of Kafka, we must say that it is a bachelor machine, and, as such, plugged all the more into a social field with multiple connections. Machinic definition and not an aesthetic one. The bachelor is a state of desire much larger and more intense than incestous desire and homosexual desire .... His trips aren't those of the bourgeoisie on an ocean-liner ... but the schizo-voyage....His voyage is a line of escape ... He doesn't flee the world; he grasps it and makes it take flight on a continuous and artistic line .... With no family, no conjugality, the bachelor is all the more social, social-dangerous, social-traitor, a collective in himself .... The highest desire desires both to be alone and to be connected to all the machines of desire. A machine that is all the more social and collective insofar as it is solitary, a bachelor, and that, tracing the line of escape, is equivalent in itself to a community whose conditions haven't yet been established. [44]

Now, have we fallen outside psychoanalysis?

[27] I have only tried to foreground a new constellation, that is, clinical perversion with a clinically pervert desire for schizo-incest, homosexual effusion, and the bachelor-machines.


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Bersani, Leo. "Sociality and Sexuality." Critical Inquiry 26 (Summer 2000).

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Dean, Tim, Foster Hal, and Kaja Silverman. "A Conversation with Leo Bersani." October 82. (Fall 1997).

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[1] Roger Caillois, "Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia," in The Edge of Surrealism: A Roger Caillois Reader, ed. Claudine Frank, trans. Claudine Frank and Camille Naish (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2003), 100.

[2] Georg Büchner, Lenz, in Complete Works and Letters, trans. Henry J. Schmidt (New York: Continuum Publishing, 1991), 139.

[3] See Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, "Odysseus or Myth and Enlightenment," in Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments, ed. Gunzelin Schmid Noerr, trans. Edmund Jephcott (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002), 35-62.

[4] Büchner, Lenz, 159.

[5] Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature, trans. Dana Polan (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986), 68.

[6] Büchner, Lenz, 139.

[7] See Jean-Luc Nancy, "Dei Paralysis Progressiva," in The Birth to Presence, trans. Brian Holmes and others (Stanford, California: Stanford Univ. Press, 1993), 48-57.

[8] Pierre Janet, L'Automatisme Psychologique, Société Pierre Janet et le Laboratoire de psychologie pathologique de la Sorbonne avec le concours du CNRS, Paris:1973.

[9] Pierre Janet, L'état mental des hystériques: Les stigmates mentaux (Paris:Rueff & Co, 1892).

[10] Quoted from Onno van der Hart and Barbara Friedman, "A Reader's Guide to Pierre Janet on Dissociation: A Neglected Intellectual Heritage," Dissociation, 2, 1 (March 1989), 003-016.

[11] See Pierre Janette, "L'influence somnambulique et le besoin de direction", Revue Philosophique, 1897, 43, I, 113-143. Also in P. Janet Névroses et idées fixes, Vol. 1 (423-484), Paris: Félix Alcan, 1898.

[12] Henri Ellenberger, "Pierre Janet and Psychological Analysis," in The Discovery of the Unconscious: The History and Evolution of Dynamic Psychiatry (New York: Basic Books, 1970), 369.

[13] Pierre Janet, The Major Symptoms of Hysteria (London & New York: Macmillan,1920), 42.

[14] Büchner, Lenz, 139.

[15] Büchner, Lenz, 140.

[16] See Pierre Janet, La Force et la faiblesse psychologique, (Paris: Maloine,1932).

[17] "We are therefore dealing with a luxury and even with a dangerous luxury, as it does occur that mimicry makes the mimetic creature's condition worse." [itals in original] See Caillois, 97.

[18] Caillois, "Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia," 97-99.

[19] Caillois, "Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia," 97.

[20] Caillois, "Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia," 100.

[21] Caillois, "Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia," 99.

[22] Büchner, Lenz, 143.

[23] Büchner, Lenz, 140.

[24] Büchner, Lenz, 144.

[25] See for example, Richard von Krafft-Ebing, Psychopathia Sexualis, with Especial Reference to the Antipathic Sexual Instinct: A Medico-Forensic Study, trans. Franklin S. Klaf (New York: Bell Publishing Co., 1965), 34-6.

[26] Sigmund Freud, "The Sexual Aberration," in Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, vol. 7 of The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, ed. and trans James Strachey (London: Hogarth Press, 1953), 135.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Freud, "The Sexual Aberration," 135-36.

[29] Freud, "The Sexual Aberration," 147-48.

[30] Freud, "The Sexual Aberration," 162.

[31] Freud, "The Sexual Aberration," 161.

[32] Büchner, Lenz, 145.

[33] Büchner, Lenz, 157.

[34] Büchner, Lenz, 159.

[35] Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen, The Emotional Tie: Psychoanalysis, Mimesis and Affect, trans. Douglas Brick and others (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1993).

[36] As Borch-Jacobsen puts it, as the bond develops between the analysand and the analyst during treatment, the "emotional tie," is what complicates the identity of psychoanalysis, being related to what Freud calls "primary identification" or "incorporation." (Borch-Jacobsen, 39.) He goes on to say, "Yet this 'emotional tie,' which certainly remains very close to the 'hypnotic tie,' still cannot be represented or remembered, if only because it precedes the ego, the-subject-of-the-representation. 'Identification,' Freud says in Group Psychology, 'is the original form of emotional tie with an object,' and this means that the ego forms itself or is born in this devouring identification with the other....This first 'emotional tie' to another, which is also the unrereprsentable event of my 'own' birth, can never be remembered, never be recalled to memory. This is also why it can never be 'dissolved,' as Freud would have it. But (and this is what happens all the time, if it happens) it can be repeated—for example, in hypnotic trance, or in the oblivion of transference. In the end, in this strange rite of passage that today we call 'psychoanalysis,' perhaps the only stake is this: repeating, repeating the other in oneself, dying to oneself—to be reborn, perhaps, other."(Borch-Jacobsen, 60-61).

[37] As Mladen Dolar discusses, for Freud, the drives are silent and it is only the libido which can speak in the face of an attempt on the part of the analysand who restructures a language of his/her own during the theraphy where the analyst adopts a stance of silence. See Mladen Dolar, A Voice and Nothing More (Cambridge and London: MIT Press, 2006).

[38] Borch-Jacobsen, 42.

[39] I discussed the question of "schizo-incest" in a previous essay, "Deleuze on Sound, Music and Schizo-Incest," Rhizomes19 (Summer 2009), accessed December 16,2013, and in the Spanish version, "Deleuze: Sobre el Sonido, la Música y el Esquizo-Incesto," Hacer audibles ... Devenires, Planos y Afecciones Sonoras entre Deleuze y la Música Contemporánea, eds Diaz, Santiago & Sosa, Juan Pablo (Mar del Plata: Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, 2013). It was the second part of my trilogy, the first of which was "Becoming-Sexual of the Sexual," Rhizomes 17 (Winter 2008), accessed December 16, 2013. The French version of the essay was "Pour un principe d'incertitude sexuel(le)," Revue Chimères N°73 tiques meutes et larves, Paris 2010.

[40] Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature, trans. Dana Polan, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986).

[41] Jean Laplanche, Seduction, Translation, Drives, ed. Martin Stanton and John Fletcher, trans. Martin Stanton (London: ICA Press, 1992).

[42] See Leo Bersani, "Sociality and Sexuality," Critical Inquiry 26 (Summer 2000) and Tim Dean, Hal Foster, and Kaja Silverman, "A Conversation with Leo Bersani," October 82, (Fall 1997).

[43] Gilles Deleuze, The Logic of Sense, ed. Constantin Boundas, trans. Mark Lester with Charles Stivale (London:Continuum, 2003).

[44] Deleuze and Guattari, "The Connectors," Kafka: Towards a Minor Literature, 70-71.