There is No Oedipal Triangle

I am slowly and awkwardly making my way through Anti-Oedipus.  The process reminds me a little of my first venture through The Brothers Karamazov.  At many points I had the Russian names all jumbled, I had put it down for weeks at a time and then picked up wherever it was that I left off not entirely sure of just what I was entering back into.  It was through that process I came to realize that some books simply needed to be read once so that a basic orientation could be laid for a second reading.  Perhaps this is a lousy and ineffective reading strategy but it has helped sustain my spirit while plodding through books I did not understand (only later to be greatly enlightened by them).  In any event Delueze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus is of a similar but also entirely different order.  I rarely know just what the hell is going on.  There have been, however, enough intersections of clarity that offer themselves as tiny beacons to start charting rough waters.  I recently read one such section.

There is no Oedipal Triangle:  Oedipus is always open in an open social field.  Oedipus opens to the four winds, to the four corners of the social field (not even 3+1, but 4+n).  A poorly closed triangle, a porous or seeping triangle, an exploded triangle from which the flows of desire escape in the direction of other territories.  It is strange that we had to wait for the dreams of colonized peoples in order to see that, on the vertices of the pseudo triangle, mommy was dancing with missionary, daddy was being fucked by the tax collector, while the self was being beaten by the white man.  It is precisely this pairing of the parental figures with agents of another nature, their locking embrace similar to that of wrestlers, that keeps the triangle from closing up again, from being valid in itself, and from claiming to express or represent this different nature of the agents that are in question in the unconscious itself. . . . It could always be said that these extreme situations of war trauma, of colonization, of dire poverty, and so on, are unfavorable to the construction of the Oedipal apparatus – and that it is precisely because of this that these situations favor a psychotic development or explosion – but we have a strong feeling that the problem lies elsewhere.  Apart from the fact that a certain degree of comfort found in the bourgeois family is admittedly necessary to turn out oedipalized subjects, the question of knowing what is actually invested in the comfortable conditions of a supposedly normal or normative Oedipus is pushed still further into the background.

The revolutionary is the first to have the right to say: “Oedipus? Never heard of it.”

Anti-Oedipus, 96.


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