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Schizophrenia and the Proyecto Diaspora(s)
The Limits of the War Machine as a Political Concept
The work of the Proyecto Diaspora(s) is characterized by a paradoxical political premise consisting in desiring both the law’s presence and its absence. In Deleuzianguattarian terms, we could understand this paradox as the simultaneity of the flows of energy that configure the structure of power in their theory. This structure consists of the simultaneity of flows of both territorialization (imposition of the law) and deterritorialization (absence of the law). For Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, these two forces always act together by creating a system that is constantly moving from one force to the other and never acquires the nature of either. As I argued at the beginning of this chapter, the political circumstances of the nineties produced a law that is symbolically empty, and that is constituted by a fallen ego-ideal. In schizophrenic logic, the law always oscillates between two positions. It goes from the ideal ego as utopia to the fallen ego-ideal as repulsive. In fact, this logic is very similar to the Deleuzian-Guattarian imaginary that I have just described. That is, in both models the liberating (or utopian) forces and the coercitive (or repulsive) forces become undifferentiated. But a problem arises with this logic.
If liberating and coercitive political forces become undifferentiated, how are we to imagine a politics of resistance? It is true that the Diaspora(s) was not interested in a politics of resistance. Rather, the group’s goal was to create a poetics of the war machine. In an interview with the group, Lil- iane Giraudon asks the following question: “En nuestra entrevista Rolando Sanchez Mejias habla de Diaspora(s) como ‘una vanguardia enfriada durante el proceso,’ una ‘avanzada sintactica de guerra.’ /Podrian explicar ese con- cepto? [In our interview Rolando Sanchez Mejias speaks of Diaspora(s) as ‘a vanguard that cooled off during the process,’ a ‘syntactical outpost of war.’ Could you explain this concept?]” The authors respond by arguing that the journal is a war machine: “Algo de resistencia, por cierto, pero sin esas cantatas misionistas que calcan una pobreza mal entendida, reticente y tan poco moderna. En fin, una literatura que se despliega como maqui- nita de guerra sin caer en posiciones ronosas o partidistas [An element of resistance, certainly, but without those missionary hymns that sketch out a poorly understood, reticent, and quite unmodern poverty. In the end, (ours is) a literature that is deployed like a little war machine without falling into mean-spirited or partisan positions]” (Giraudon 2001, 58-59). The war machine, however, also articulates an undifferentiated flow of forces of liberation and coercion. Is it the case, then, that the Diaspora(s)’s politics are a reflection of a state politics subjected to the effects of an empty law? Although Marques de Armas’s work is clearly influenced by Deleuze and Guattari’s theories, his poems point to the limits of their theoretical system.
Cabezas, Marques de Armas’s collection of highly conceptual poems, use the word cabeza (head) as a referent that thematizes thought and representation. Drawing on Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus, these poems use botanic or organic imagery to talk about writing and thinking. Cabezas focuses on the physiological aspects of the brain, while referencing the ontological and epistemological dimensions of thought. In the following poem, for example, the fields are libidinally connected, like a rhizome. Deleuze and Guattari argue that a rhizome has many entryways, which allows one to access it from a deterritorialized space, and also from a constrained one such as an oedipal formation or a rigid territoriality that opens the way for a transformational operation.
fincas de 1914
de cafe criollo con seca/
deros de sol y
marmitas de crujiente lepra
bioticos del terreno
pero adyacente y sin solucion de continuidad
voluptas) en la de/
vastada serrania32 (Marques de Armas 2002, 35)
The poem takes us on a journey through a rhyzomatic movement, as I will explain. The poem begins with the year 1914, an emblematic date for capitalist formation in Cuba, characterized by the centralization of production and capital accumulation.33 At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Cuban sugar industry transformed as it transitioned from a slave economy to industrial manufacture.
The poem describes an abandoned and unproductive old ingenio soon to be replaced by the more modern centrales. With the central also came colonos or campesinos parcelarios, a new kind of farmworker specialized in cane production. In the Eighteenth Brumaire, Marx explains that “campesinos parcelarios” [small-holding peasants] were part of the largest working class in Napoleonic France, impoverished and isolated subsistence farmers (Marx 1990b, 123). This class without class consciousness forms the expandable remnants of sacarocracy, a pathologized social body infected with leprosy and inhabiting a dry and unproductive coffee plantation soon to be transformed into a central azucarero, thanks to the new flows of capitalism coming from the United States.34 Paradoxically, however, the poem has replaced a materialist and class-based rendering of society with its post-Marxian version because the text “is opposed in every way to the classical or romantic book constituted by the interiority of a substance or subject” (Deleuze and Guattari 1996, 9). Political subjectivity has no place in this representation of a reality made of machinic assemblages of free-flowing libidinal energy separated from any relation to its cause.
This is not to say that these flows depart from liberating forces. In fact, these forces are produced in the coercitive world of sacarocracy. Hence the paradox that the poem presents: the “serrania” is “de/vastada,” both “devastada” (devastated) and “vasta” (vast, enormous). In other words, saca- rocracy’s ideology has left its imprint in the social and physical configuration of the fields. There are only two liberating forces in the poem: “(numen/ voluptas)” that transform the “serrania” into a “vast” space. Deleuze and Guattari argue that these flows (liberating and alienating) form what they call a “machinic assemblage.” Alienating or negative forces are represented as trees (ontologically grounding subjectivity), but liberating forces are represented by rhizomes. In the poem, the fields are affected by rhizomatic forces that have produced the vastness and the greenery of the “serrania.” These rhizomatic and positive forces are defined as “(numen/voluptas).” For Deleuze and Guattari, numen represents desire, and voluptas represents consumption. Desire and consumption (deterritorializing forces) coexist with the alienating forces of sacarocracy (reterritorializing forces). Paradoxically, liberating forces can be produced in deterritorialized or reterritorialized spaces. That is, forces can be liberating (deterritorializing) even if they come from a rigid territoriality (a tree), because they can be produced in a free space (line of flight) or in a space of subjection (territorialization). In political terms, this means that desire is everywhere and can be produced through negative or positive events. If desire can be produced in the coercitive space of sacarocracy, then we could posit that numen and voluptas come from the economy of sacarocracy. In fact, they cannot come from anywhere else, because as a social and economic space the fields have been determined and shaped by sacarocracy. The poem, however, represents these two forces in parenthesis, which indicate that we are trapped by the laws that create our desires. In other words, in the last instance the social configuration of the fields is determined by the repressive social forces of sacarocracy. The parentheses graphically enclose desire and consumption, indicating that they are repressed forces that strive to be liberated from the law that produces them. For Deleuze and Guattari, the political is conceived as a force or affect whose intensity and direction are successively transformed into territorializing and deterritorializing flows. The poem, however, shows that some of those flows still need to be liberated.
“Hueso de la raicilla [Pit of the Rootlet]” is another poem that calls into question the metaphoric nature of the war machine’s theoretical apparatus:
en cual liston de tierra pones mi cabeza la rodante—cabeza— como artificio de letra falaz35
The poem functions at three symbolic levels: the botanical, the epistemological, and the metapoetic. On the one hand, we have the botanical representation, which is the most literal one. The poem refers to the pit of a fruit (hueso) as it germinates (raicilla). It could be, for example, an avocado pit, which is a very common Cuban fruit. The pit has germinated and is now ready to be planted and grow into a tree—the poem mentions the dividing lines between different plants as a “liston de tierra.” This explains the gray color of the pit and its transformation/removal (two senses of the adjective removido). On the other hand, the poem articulates an epistemology clearly represented by Deleuzian-Guattarian terminology. The “raicilla,” which is originally considered a rhizome, transforms the fruit into a radicle-system as it grows. It reterritorializes as it gets planted to develop into a tree. This also functions at the level of subjectivity, thoughts coming from the “cabeza” (subjectivity) to the nonsubjectivity represented by the “cabeza rodante.”
Much like A Thousand Plateaus, the poem describes different aesthetic and ideological regimes by drawing botanical comparisons. In their work, Deleuze and Guattari distinguish three types of epistemologies that correspond to different poetics and that they represent with botanical metaphors. First, the root-book, which comes from the Aristotelian and Platonic tradition (Deleuze and Guattari 1996, 5). In this genealogy, representation is a mimesis of nature that results in two different realities. That is, through representation nature becomes a dual reality (artistic and real or essential). The second mode of envisioning the world corresponds to the radicle-system or fascicular root. This system is no longer dual, because the center changes. But there is still an essence, and therefore the system is considered metaphysical. The authors exemplify this idea with James Joyce’s Ulysses, where the meaning of words is unstable and multiple but still constitutes an overall system, which in this case is cyclical. The radicle-system is still considered metaphysical as it differentiates between subjects and objects, which is no longer the case in their third mode or representation. The rhizome or their last epistemology undoes the duality and systemicity of the other two. It is a heteregenous system without a center and infinite points of connectivity. Meaning is multiple and forms an assemblage where the categorization of the world into subjects and objects no longer applies: “There are no points or positions in a rhizome, such as those found in a structure, tree, or root” (ibid., 8).
The “hueso de la raicilla” is a rhizome which, unlike the radicle-system, is not rooted in metaphysics. It creates words with multiple roots that do not produce mimetic or systemic narratives, but, while the rhyzome is unstructured and without attachments, the radicle gives access to a higher unity of meaning that encompasses all singularities (Deleuze and Guattari 1996, 6). The “rolling head” (cabeza rodante) is another Deleuzian-Guattarian metaphor that references their notion of “faciality” (visageite). For them a head that is no longer attached to a body represents faciality, a notion that entails the production of alternative modes of organization (nonmetaphysical and nonpsychological). In the poem the metaphysical mode of organization is represented by the “liston de tierra.” The plant’s bone (pit) is going to reterritorialize space by anchoring to the earth to grow a new tree. Thus, the rhyzomatic nature of the bone will be transformed into a root.
Marques de Armas’s poem discusses the aesthetics of rhizomes that become radicle-systems. Bones grow roots as poetics grow rhyzomatic literary assemblages, and, like bones, writing is nude and bare. This is also why these poetics do not create subjectivities, and this lack of subjectivity is represented as a “cabeza rodante.” When the root of this ryzhome is planted, it reterritorializes the space and becomes a radicle-system that produces subjectivity (a “cabeza”). The same movement occurs in poetics where the word is displaced or trans-posed (“removido”) into another word. Words reterritorialize the poetic space to become metaphors. We are interpellated by metaphors, which assign different subjectivities that identify us. Metaphors transform poetics “como artificio de letra falaz.” That is, when metaphors are purely ornamental and not conceptual they produce false words that attract us with false appearances. This last line introduces the poem’s irony at different symbolic levels. It first criticizes a trope by explicitly using the same trope (the metaphor “como artificio de letra falaz”). The irony at this level would be very simple, since it can only be interpreted as affirming the contrary of what it means. But this also implies that the poem clearly introduces a poetic voice or a subject that clearly establishes an ethical rule in reference to what is false (or “falaz”).
It is now up to the reader to find out what creates falseness or fallacy. Is it that metaphors as tropes are always false and deceptive, or is it that false thinking creates deceptive metaphors? In “Hueso de la raicilla,” however, the question takes on a different nature because of the ludic tone it introduces. The last line adds a new meaning to the poem, especially as we reconsider the meaning of “falaz.” What is false and what is deceitful? Is it the poem itself and the type of thought that it conveys? In other words, is the poem not pointing to the limits of the Deleuzian-Guattarian tropologi- cal system? Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophical system attempts to create an antimetaphysical space by creating a new vocabulary that neutralizes the ontological dualities identifying subjects, objects, and sciences. Marques de Armas’s poem, for instance, shows how their scientific terminology breaks with conceptual divides (subject/object, law/nature, etc.). But conceptually speaking, their method is purely rhetorical. It consists of borrowing scientific terms and reassigning them new meaning through a metaphorical process. By borrowing Deleuzian-Guattarian vocabulary the poem follows the same process of metaphorization, but it also questions this process. The poem is pointing to its own hermeneutic limit and simultaneously rejecting hermeneutics altogether.