The Scream

from Susan Ruddick… Desire
, not joy, becomes the central focus of Deleuze’s work, arguably a concept of desire which draws upon Spinoza’s concept of conatus, this being an innate tendency towards self-preservation which involves a determination to act on affections however they are experienced or conceived, through body or mind, through superstition or reason (E II, P9, S; E III, def.), but in which, ‘self-preservation’ can become mobilized in all manner of distinct experiences of self, in addictions, perversions and transformations. The project, for Deleuze and Guattari, is to historicize desire and locate it in a social field, as desiring-production, which situates Spinoza’s combinatorial processes — the social nature of becoming active — in relation to a kind of infinite expression of man’s co-production with ‘the profound life of all forms or all types of beings’ (Deleuze and Guattari, 2000 AO: 4). This leads Deleuze away from an exploration of sites that express the move from passive to active joy, into more complex determinations of a range of emotional registers. Deleuze, in an inflection rather than an overturning of Spinoza’s framework, extends this argument to affect itself, arguing that baseness, stupidity, the sad passions, are not some individual failing — a matter for repentance as the Stoics might have it, ‘which complicate or inconvenience the dogmatic image of thought without overturning it’ (1994 D+R: 151). They are, rather, institutionalized: ‘one is neither superior to nor external to that from which one benefits: a tyrant institutionalizes stupidity, but he is the first servant of his own system and the first to be installed in it’ (1994 D+R : 151). The tyrant rules through the sad passions, as ‘a complex that joins desire’s boundlessness to the mind’s confusion, cupidity and superstition’ (Deleuze,  SPP 1988: 25). Continue reading “The Scream”