Study Guide

Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari Quotes

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There is always something genealogical about a tree. It is too a method for the people. A method of the rhizome type, on the contrary, can analyze language only by decentering it onto other dimensions and other registers. A language is never closed upon itself, except as a function of impotence.

The book is not an image of the world. It forms a rhizome with the world, there is an a parallel evolution of the book and the world. [From A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia]

If a book were like an acorn, it would mean that each book would have to become an oak tree and only an oak tree. That book would have only one option—to grow up or down—and so it would be limited; it wouldn't be as great a book as it could be, because there would only be one meaning and one interpretation.

Some people would probably love it if books were acorns—ahem, Structuralists and New Critics, anyone?—but we think differently. We think of books as rhizomes, which means that we think that books can grow and have meanings that not only extend up and down but also go left to right underground and then grow tubers (potatoes) along the horizontal stems, then grow roots out of the tubers, and then... well, you get the idea.

Basically, we think that meanings are complex and numerous, and the only way to get grasp them is to think schizophrenically, to be unfixed and open to all those possibilities.

We might as well say that minor no longer designates specific literatures but the revolutionary conditions for every literature within the heart of what is called great (or established) literature. [From Kafka, Toward a Minor Literature]

Members of minority groups can be the best literary critics and authors. They see things in the dominant language and culture that members of the dominant social class cannot see.

Minor literature contains expressions by a minority group writing in the dominant language, expressions that challenge the dominant language and culture to change. Think of the English word gay. The gay community is not just a group of happy people. The word gay refers to people who are sexually and romantically attracted to members of their same sex.

The meaning of this word has nearly completely changed from what it used to mean. It changed because members of a minority group took it and applied it to their lives, and voilà—the English language (or at least the meaning of one English word) is becoming-minor. It's changing because of big things happening at the margins of the dominant language and the dominant class.

As to those who refuse to be Oedipalized in one form or another, at one end or the other in the treatment, the psychoanalyst is there to call the asylum or the police for help. The police on our side! —Never did psychoanalysis better display its taste for supporting the movement of social repression, and for participating in it with enthusiasm.

Oedipus is one of those things that becomes all the more dangerous the less people believe in it; then the cops are there to replace the high priests. [From Anti-Oedipus]

Freudian psychoanalysis and fascism are very much alike. Desire (according to Freud) has one source and can be explained in only one way—Freud's way.

Since Freudian desire centers on a child's relationship to Mom and Dad, and since Mom and Dad are beholden to the State for employment and protection, if Mom and Dad send Junior to a psychoanalyst, and that psychoanalyst says the kid is sick, then Mom and Dad will call the State. The State will step in and put Junior into a hospital, or it will hand Junior over to other Freudians, or it will simply slap some category of mental illness on Junior that will follow him around for a lifetime.

Newsflash: we think that's fascism.

How does this relate to literary analysis, you may ask? Easy. If and when you see a critic psychoanalyzing a character in a literary text, attack. Show that critic that desire acts on characters in literature through many other operations—economics, hunger, ethnic persecution, and politics. Desire isn't just about killing your dad and sleeping with your mother. If you analyze everything that way, you're forcing everything to fit into one, neat, Freudian box.

The weed is the Nemesis of human endeavor. Of all the imaginary existences we attribute to plant, beast and star the weed leads the most satisfactory life of all. True, the weed produces no lilies, no battleships, no Sermons on the Mount. The weed exists only to fill the waste spaces left by cultivated areas. It grows between, among other things. [From A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia]

More simply put (if that's at all possible for me), look for meanings that live in between, under, and wrapped around the obvious. Think like a weed. Is there a sexual subtext to the Sermon on the Mount? Absolutely not, you say—but are you sure? Ask a gay person to analyze or write about religious texts, and you may get a different answer.

So yes, I mean to say that gay literary critics are like weeds living in the dominant language of critical theory. (There's this thing call queer theory. Check it out.) That's a positive thing, in case you were wondering.

You may find these kinds of meanings lurking in the spaces left open by the dominant, more traditional methods of literary criticism, like structuralism or formalism. Minor literary criticism, like minor literature, can help you think like a weed and find meaning in the in-between spaces.

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