Study Guide

Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari Biography

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Basic Information


Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari




Male and Male

Home town

Gilles Deleuze: Bonjour, y'all—my name is Gilles Deleuze. I'm going to tell you a bit about Félix Guattari. He's quite the intellectual ruffian. Félix Guattari: Excuse me? GD: Sorry. Félix was a French militant. FG: Better. GD: Félix was born in Villeneuve-les-Sablons, in 1930, in a working-class suburb of our beloved Paris. FG: Which is in France, for any of you American capitalists who never bothered to learn European geography. GD: Easy. FG: Sorry, please continue. GD: He was good in school, but he was also hyperactive and unruly, and as a teenager, he became active in left-wing politics. Paris in the '60s suited him marvelously. FG: Hello, I'm Félix Guattari, and I'm here to tell you about Gilles Deleuze, who is my intellectual partner in crime. He, too, is from a middle-class background. He was born in Paris in 1925 and was raised by anti-Semitic parents. He came of age during the Nazi occupation. He's got a militant's mind but a hermit's body. GD: Hmm. FG: Too much? GD: No, no. FG: He was also a good and agreeable student. He never leaving Paris, but like me, he could not escape the political and intellectual instability of the '60s. We're both middle-class kids born into crazy, turbulent times. How's that? GD: Sufficient.

Work & Education


GD: You didn't waste any time did you? FG: Nope. GD: By fifteen, Félix was going to Communist Party meetings, and by the age of twenty-five, he had been all over the world fighting for the independent rights of colonized communities. FG: Then the "Freudians" got a hold of me, and it was all over. GD: I wouldn't say that. But for most of your life, you worked as a radical psychoanalyst, introducing group therapy into traditional therapeutic practice while at La Borde clinic in the Loire Valley. FG: Gilles—or should I say Mister Professor?—held several professorships, including at the University in Lyon, the Sorbonne, and the University of Paris. You loved sitting behind that desk, didn't you? GF: Loved it. FG: I have no idea why, but thank God you did. GD: Nothing we discussed would have been written down. FG: We could have recorded everything. GD: It would never have made sense. FG: To anyone! GD: It took some time to weed our own intellectual garden. FG: And so I thank you and your dear desk, my friend. GD: It sends its love.


FG: We just got to it, didn't we? GD: Yes, we did. After high school in La Garenne-Colombes, Félix studied with Jacques Lacan at the Sainte-Anne psychiatric hospital, and by twenty-five, you and your buddies were working for Lacan's pupil, Jean Oury. FG: He called us "the barbarians." GD: You were also analyzed on Lacan's couch. FG: Yes, and he rejected me as his successor in the Freudian School of psychoanalysis. After that disappointment, and after I met you, I stopped being a "Freudian." GD: We'll get to that. FG: Can't wait. FG: Gilles studied at the University of Carnot, then at the Sorbonne among the most muckity of the muckity-mucks. GD: Many, many smart people. FG: Many, many muckity… GD: We get it. FG: Gilles attained the equivalent of a Ph.D. in Philosophy in 1948. Staying behind that desk really paid off, didn't it? GD: I was behind the desk, and you out in the world raising hell. FG: A match made in heaven to raise hell? GD: Indeed it was.


Political views

GD: I don't want to speak for you on this topic. FG: Good call. It's pretty simple: I'm a Trotskyite, and I believe in perpetual revolution. I'm not a follower of Lenin or Stalin; I am a purely egalitarian anti-capitalist. I think I was born this way. I was participating in this stuff from the time I was a kid. GD: Ditto. FG: Really? GD: Mostly. I grew up in Nazi-occupied Paris, where my brother was captured and killed by the Germans. I hate all forms of fascism, and Lenin and Stalin turned communism into fascism. I, too, am anti-colonial, and I have a huge beef with imperial capitalism—hello, United Kingdom and United States... but I'm also looking at you, French Empire. The ideas of Leon Trotsky and Karl Marx come close to my own political views, but I do think these ideas are hard to put into practice. G: So we just raise hell with protests and words. GD: And by attacking King Freud, a fool's errand that in 1969 God himself would hardly have attempted.

Religious views

FG: Oh, brother, Gilles—are you really going to try and explain your religious views? GD: Why not? FG: Do you have religious views? GD: My ideas on religion are not that difficult to understand. I believe in an organized universe that constantly reorganizes itself. FG: That's philosophy, not religion. GD: Religion is one way the universe organizes itself. But I guess you're right: religion is only a small part of a grand desire that runs through one metaphysical whole, and that whole changes each time we think about it and reevaluate it. Everything is always in flux. FG: My religion is protest. GD: That's a political philosophy, not a religious view. FG: Marxist politics is my religion. GD: Fair enough.

Activities & Interests


Félix Guattari Likes:
Communist protests
Large groups of people
Thinking and talking
Gilles Deleuze Likes:
Being smart and socially uninteresting
Communism with a smile


Félix Guattari Dislikes:
Colonial governments
Quiet time
Writing papers
Gilles Deleuze Dislikes:
Groups larger than two
Psychoanalysts who turn into fascists
Talking about sex inside the family


Félix Guattari Interests:
Housing political dissidents
Friedrich Nietzsche
Beat Literature
Group therapy
Gilles Deleuze Interests:
Listening to Félix
Franz Kafka
Philosophy of all kinds


The Trotsky Globetrotters
The Left Bank Lefties
The Minor Book of the Month Club
Writers Without Borders
D&G Fashion, "Clothes for Communists on the Go"
Philosophers Named Desire

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