Rene — Deleuze — What Children Say

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What Children Say
Gilles Deleuze
Essays Critical and Clinical. 1997. Translated by Daniel W. Smith and Michael A. Greco.
Children never stop talking about what they are doing or trying to do: exploring milieus, by means of dynamic trajectories,1 and drawing up maps of them. The maps of these trajectories are essential to psychic activity. Little Hans wants to leave his family’s apartment to spend the night at the little girl’s downstairs and returns in the morning—the apartment building as milieu. Or again: he wants to leave the building and go to the restaurant to meet with the little rich girl, passing by the horses at the warehouse—the street as milieu. Even Freud deems the intervention of a map to be necessary.2
As usual, however, Freud refers everything back to the father-mother. It is as if parents had primary places or functions that exist independently of milieus. But a milieu is made up of qualities, substances, powers, and events: the street, for example, with its materials (paving stones), its noises (the cries of merchants), its animals (harnessed horses) or its dramas (a horse slips, a horse falls down, a horse is beaten …). The trajectory merges not only with the subjectivity of those who travel through a milieu, but also with the subjectivity of the milieu itself, insofar as it is reflected in those who travel through it. The map expresses the identity of the journey and what one journeys through. It merges with its object, when the object itself is movement. Nothing is more instructive than the paths of autistic children, such as those whose maps Deligny has revealed and superimposed, with their customary lines, wandering lines, loops, corrections, and turnings back—all their singularities.3 Parents are themselves a milieu that children travel through: they pass through its qualities and powers and make a map of them. They take on a personal and parental form only as the representatives of one milieu within another. But it is wrong to think that children are limited before all else to their parents, and only had access to to milieus afterward, by extension or derivation. The father and mother are not the coordinates of everything this is invested by the unconscious. There is never a moment when children are not already plunged into an actual milieu in which they are moving about, and in which the parents as persons simply play the roles of openers or closers of doors, guardians of thresholds, connectors or disconnectors of zones. The parents always occupy a position in a world that is not derived from them. Even with an infant, the parents are defined in relation to a continent-bed, as agents along the child’s route. Lewin’s hodological spaces, with their routes, their detours, their barriers, their agents, form a dynamic cartography.4
Little Richard was studied by Melanie Klein during the war. He lived and thought the world in the form of maps. He colored them in, inverted them, superimposed them, populated them with their leaders: England and Churchill, Germany and Hitler. It is the libido’s business to haunt history and geography, to organize formations of worlds and constellations of universes, to make continents drift and to populate them with races, tribes, and nations. What beloved being does not envelope landscapes, continents, and populations that are more or less known, more or less imaginary? But Melanie Klein—who nonetheless went a long way in determining the milieus of the unconscious, from the point of view of substances or qualities as much as events—seems to misunderstand the cartographic activity of Little Richard. She can only see it as an afterward, a simple extension of parental personages, the good father, the bad mother … Children resist psychoanalytic forcing5 and intoxication more than do adults: Hans and Richard inject all of their humor into the analysis. But they cannot resist for very long. They have to put away their maps, underneath which there is no longer anything but yellowed photos of the father-mother. “Mrs. K. interpreted, interpreted, interpreted …”6
The libido does not undergo metamorphoses, but follows world-historical trajectories. From this point of view, it does not seem that the real and the imaginary form a pertinent distinction. A real voyage, by itself, lacks the force necessary to be reflected in the imagination; the imaginary voyage, by itself, does not have the force, as Proust says, to be verified in the real. This is why the imaginary and the real must be, rather, like two juxtaposable or superimposable parts of a single trajectory, two faces that ceaselessly interchange with one another, a mobile mirror. Thus the Australian Aborigines link nomadic itineraries to dream voyages, which together compose “an interstitching of routes,” ” in an immense cut-out [découpe] of space and time that must be read like a map.”7 At the limit, the imaginary is a virtual image that is interfused with the real object, and vice versa, thereby constituting a crystal of the unconscious. It is not enough for the real object or the real landscape to evoke similar or related images; it must disengage its own virtual image at the same time that the latter, as an imaginary landscape, makes its entry into the real, following a circuit where each of the two terms pursues the other, is interchanged with the other. “Vision” is the product of this doubling or splitting in two [doublement ou dédoublement], this coalescence. It is in such crystals of the unconscious that the trajectories of the libido are made visible.
A cartographic conception is very distinct from the archaeological conception of psychoanalysis. The latter establishes a profound link between the unconscious and memory: it is a memorial, commemorative, or monumental conception that pertains to persons or objects, the milieus being nothing more than terrains capable of conserving, identifying, or authenticating them. From such a point of view, the superposition of layers is necessarily traversed by a shaft that goes from top to bottom, and it is always a question of penetration. Maps, on the contrary, are superimposed in such a way that each map finds itself modified in the following map, rather than finding its origin in the preceding one: from one map to the next, it is not a matter of searching for an original, but of evaluating displacements. Every map is a redistribution of impasses and breakthroughs, of thresholds and enclosures, which necessarily go from bottom to top. There is not only a reversal of directions, but also a difference in nature: the unconscious no longer deals with persons and objects, but with trajectories and becomings; it is no longer an unconscious of commemoration but one of mobilization, an unconscious whose objects take flight rather than remaining buried in the ground. In this regard, Félix Guattari has defined a schizoanalysis that opposes itself to psychoanalysis. “Lapses, parapraxes, and symptoms are like birds that strike their beaks against the window. It is not a question of interpreting them. It is a question instead of identifying their trajectory to see if they can serve as indicators of new universes of reference capable of acquiring a consistency sufficient for turning a situation upside down.”8 The pharaoh’s tomb, with its inert central chamber at the base of the pyramid, gives way to more dynamic models: from the drifting of continents to the migration of peoples, these are all means through which the unconscious maps the universe. The Indian model replaces the Egyptian: the Indians pass into the thickness of the rocks themselves, where aesthetic form is no longer identified with the commemoration of a departure or an arrival, but with the creation of paths without memory, all the memory of the world remaining in the material.9
Maps should not be understood only in extension, in relation to a space constituted by trajectories. There are also maps of intensity, or density, that are concerned with what fills space, what subtends the trajectory. Little Hans defines a horse by making out a list of its affects, both active and passive: having a big widdler, hauling heavy loads, having blinkers, biting, falling down, being whipped, making a row with its feet. It is this distribution of affects (with the widdler playing the role of transformer or converter) that constitutes a map of intensity. It is always an affective constellation. Here again, it would be abusive to see this as a simple derivation from the father-mother, as does Freud—as if the “vision” of the street, so frequent at the time (a horse falls down, is whipped, struggles) were incapable of affecting the libido directly, and had to recall a lovemaking scene between the parents … Identifying the horse with the father borders on the grotesque and entails a misunderstanding of all the unconscious’s relations with animal forces. And just as the map of movements or intensities was not a derivation from or an extension of the father-mother, the map of forces or intensities is not a derivation from the body, and extension of a prior image, or a supplement or afterword. Pollack and Sivadon have made a profound analysis of the cartographic activity of the unconscious, perhaps their sole ambiguity lies in seeing it as a continuation of the image of the body.10 On the contrary, it is the map of intensity that distributes the affects, and it is their links and valences that constitute the image of the body in each case—an image that can always be modified or transformed depending on the affective constellations that determine it.
A list or constellation of affects, an intensive map, is a becoming: Little Hans does not form an unconscious representation of the father with the horse, but is drawn into a becoming-horse to which his parents are opposed. It is the same with little Arpad and his becoming-cock: in each case psychoanalysis misconstrues the relationship of the unconscious with forces.11 The image is not only a trajectory, but also a becoming. Becoming is what subtends the trajectory, just as intensive forces subtend motor forces. Hans’s becoming-horse refers to a trajectory, from the apartment house to the warehouse. The passage alongside the warehouse, or even the visit to the henhouse, may be customary trajectories, but they are not innocent promenades. We see clearly why the real and the imaginary were led to exceed themselves, or even to interchange with each other: a becoming is not imaginary, any more than a voyage is real. It is becoming that turns the most negligible of trajectories, or even a fixed immobility, into a voyage; and it is the trajectory that turns the imaginary into a becoming. Each of the two types of maps, those of trajectories and those of affects, refers to the other.
What concerns the libido, what the libido invests, presents itself with an indefinite article: an animal is the qualification of a becoming or the specification of a trajectory (a horse, a chicken); a body or an organ as the power to affect and be affected (a stomach, some eyes …); and even the characters that obstruct a pathway and inhibit affects, or on the contrary that further them (a father, some people … ). Children express themselves in this manner—a father, a body, a horse. These indefinites often seem to result from a lack of determination due to the defenses of consciousness. For psychoanalysis, it is always a question of my father, me, my body. It has a mania for the possessive and the personal, and interpretation consists in recovering persons and possessions. “A child is being beaten” must signify “I am being beaten by my father,” even if this transformation remains abstract; and “a horse falls down and kicks about with its legs” means that my father makes love with my mother. Yet the indefinite lacks nothing; above all, it does not lack determination. It is the determination of a becoming, its characteristic power, the power of an impersonal that is not generality but singularity at its highest point. For example, I do not play the horse, any more than I imitate this or that horse, but I become a horse, by reaching a zone of proximity where I can no longer be distinguished from what I am becoming.
Art also attains this celestial state that no longer retains anything of the personal or rational. In its own way, art says what children say. It is made up of trajectories and becomings, and it too makes maps, both extensive and intensive. There is always a trajectory in the work of art, and Stevenson, for example, shows the decisive importance of a colored map in his conception of Treasure Island.12 This is not to say that a milieu necessarily determines the existence of characters, but rather that the latter are defined by the trajectories they make it reality or spirit, without which they would not become. A colored map can be present in painting insofar as a painting is less a window on the world à l’italienne, than an arrangement [agencement] on a surface.13 In Vermeer, for example, the most intimate, most immobile becomings (the girl seduced by the soldier, the woman who receives a letter, the painter in the process of painting …) nonetheless refer to the vast distances [parcours] displayed on a map. I studied maps, said Fromentin “not in geography but in painting.”14 And just as trajectories are no more real than becomings are imaginary, there is something unique in their joining together that belongs only to art. Art is defined, then, as an impersonal process in which the work is composed somewhat like a cairn, with stones carried in by different voyages and beings in becoming (rather than ghosts) [devenants plutôt que revenants] that may or may not depend on a single author.
Only a conception such as this can tear art away from the personal process of memory and the collective ideal of commemoration. To an archaeology-art, which penetrates the millennia in order to reach the immemorial, is opposed a cartography-art built on “things of forgetting and places of passage.” The same things happens when sculpture ceases to be monumental in order to become hodological: it is not enough to say that it is a landscape and that it lays out a place or territory. What it lays out are paths—it is itself a voyage. A sculpture follows the paths that give it an outside; it works only with nonclosed curves that divide up and traverse the organic body and has no other memory than that of the material (hence its procedure of direct cutting and its frequent utilization of wood). Carmen Perrin clears out erratic blocks from the greenery that integrates them into the undergrowth and delivers them to the memory of the glacier that carried them there, not in order to assign an origin to them but to make their displacement something visible.15 One might object that a walking tour, as an art of paths, is no more satisfactory than the museum as a monumental or commemorative art. But there is something that distinguishes cartography-art from a walking tour in an essential way: it is characteristic of this new sculpture to assume a position on external trajectories, but this position depends primarily on paths internal to the work itself; the external path is a creation that does not exist before the work, and depends on its internal relations. One circles around a sculpture, and the viewing axes that belong to it make us grasp the body, sometimes along its entire length, sometimes in an astonishing foreshortening, sometimes in two or more diverging directions: its position in the surrounding space is strictly dependent on these internal trajectories. It is as if the real path were intertwined with virtual paths that give it new courses or trajectories. A map of virtualities, drawn up by art, is superimposed onto the real map, whose distances [parcours] it transforms. Such internal paths or courses are implied not only in sculpture, but in any work of art, including music: in each case, the choice of a particular path can determine a variable position of the work in space. Every work is made up of a plurality of trajectories that coexist and are readable only on a map, and that change direction depending on the trajectories that are retained.16 These internalized trajectories are inseparable from becomings. Trajectories and becomings: art makes each of them present in the other, it renders their mutual presence perceptible. Thus defined, it invokes Dionysus as the god of places of passage and things of forgetting.
1. [Trajets. Throughout this essay, trajet has been translated as “trajectory” or “pathway”; trajectorie has been translated uniformly as “trajectory”; and parcours has been translated variously as “route,” “journey,” or “distance” (as in “distance covered”), depending on the context. Parcourir has been rendered as “to travel through.”—Trans.]
2. Sigmund Freud, “Analysis of a Phobia in a Five-Year-Old Boy”. (1909), in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works, trans. James Strachey, vol. 10 (London: Hogarth, 1953).
3. Fernand Deligny, “Voix et voir,” in Cahiers de l’immuable I (Fontenay-sous-Bois: Recherches, 1975).
4. Pierre Kaufmann, Kurt Lewin: Une thérie du champ dans les sciences de l’homme (Paris: Vrin, 1968), 170–73: the notion of path.
5. [In English in the original.—Trans.]
6. Melanie Klein, Narrative of a Child Analysis (New York: Free Press, 1984).
7. See Barbara Glowczewski, Du rêve à la loi chez les Aborigènes (Paris: PUF, 1992), chapter 1.
8. Félix Guattari, Les années d’hiver (Paris: Barrault, 1986). And Cartographies schizo-analytiques (Paris: Galilée, 1989).
9. Elie Faure, History of Art, vol. 2, Medieval Art, trans. Walter Pach (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1922), pp. 12–14: “There at the shore of the sea, at the base of a mountain, they encountered a great wall of granite. Then they all entered the granite. … Behind them they left the emptied granite, its galleries hollowed out in every direction, its sculptured, chiseled walls, its natural or artificial pillars.”
10. Jean-Claude Polack and Danielle Sivadon, L’intime utopie (Paris: PUF, 1991) (the authors oppose the “geographical” method to a “geological” method like that of Gisela Pankow, p. 28).
11. See Sándor Ferenczi, “A Little Chanticleer,” in Sex in Psychoanalysis, trans. Ernest Jones (New York: Basic Books, 1950), pp. 240–42.
12. Robert Louis Stevenson, “My First Book, Treasure Island” in Treasure Island (London: Oxford University Press, 1955).
13. Svetlana Alpers, The Art of Describing: Dutch Art in the Seventeenth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983), p. 122.
14. Eugène Fromentin, Un été dans le Sahara, in Oeuvres (Paris: Gallimard, Pléiade, 1984), p. 18.
15. On an art of paths that opposes itself to the monumental or commemorative, see Voie suisse: L’itinéraire genevois (analyses by Carmen Perrin). See also Bertholin (Vassivière), with the text by Patrick Le Nouène, “Chose d’oubli et lieux de passage.” The center of Vassivière, or that of Crestet, are the sites of this nouvelle sculpture, whose principles refer to the great conceptions of Henry Moore.
16. Cf. the multiplicity of courses in Boulez, and the comparision with “the street-map of a town” (p. 82), in works like The Third Piano Sonata, Eclat, Domaines, in Pierre Boulez: Conversations with Celestin Deliege (London: Eulenburg, 1976), chapter 12 (“the course of a work ought to be multiple,” p. 81).