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Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (Penguin Classics) Paperback – May 26, 2009
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" Renders palpable the metaphor of the unconscious as a worker, and does it in a brilliant, appropriately nutty way."
-The New Republic
Text: English, French (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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As far as the content of the book, I have mixed feelings - this book is a hot mess. The best thing anyone could say about it is what Foucault states in the preface, about the book being more a work of art than a great theoretical system (like Kant, or Hegel lets say). And I'll accept the book as that, just art. The book starts off very strong, but, once you realize the authors are basically saying the same thing ten different ways, it loses its magic.
The read itself can be difficult at times, but, it is very well paced, so that once you trudge through enough technical philosophy, things open up quite brilliantly - like having gotten through the forest into the open field. That feeling in-itself, ends up being a highlight of the book in a sense. The philosophy itself is messy, lacks focus towards the end, is packed far too much with neologisms, and in many ways ends up seeming unoriginal. The concept of a "Body Without Organs" aside - Essentially you have a Spinozist materialism that integrates itself with Freud, Marx, Nietzsche, and a bunch of others far too obscure for most readers to have any reference to. This is also a weakness of the text, as it is not very accessible (even to philosophers) in terms knowing whether the authors' interpretations of these other writers are actually spot on, or not. This makes critical analysis a daunting task, coupled with the neologisms, and messy layout of ideas.
Another critique is that (being someone who has worked extensively, and intimately with the mentally ill - most notably schizophrenics - for many years) I wonder about the depth of understanding of schizophrenia. Philosophy proper, yes - economics, sure - a properly thoughtful and empirical sense of schizophrenia? I am doubtful. Guattari, maybe - but I am very skeptical that Deleuze has any significant experience with schizophrenics, and in fact, in the text, most references to schizophrenia are from other peoples case notes/research - notably, the authors who themselves malign Freud. ... I also have a hard time getting past the vast amount of undue credit given to Oedipus as an institution, and deeply engrained unconscious pattern, social, and individual.
Still, if one approaches the book as a work of art, its fantastic, entertaining, and at times hilarious. All criticism aside, the book has a compelling sense of mystery that it instills, a wonderful aesthetic. This alone can bring me back to this book, for likely, the rest of my life. There are grand moments of detailed, original, philosophy (the Body Without Organs being a shining display), they are just, well, mixed in with a whole lot of other stuff that maybe the book could have done without.
Here is the quote that began to shift my conception of what psychoanalysis is:
"The real is not impossible; on the contrary, within the real everything is possible, everything becomes possible. Desire does not express a molar lack within the subject; rather, the molar organization deprives desire of its objective being"(37).
Trust me, this is one that'll make your head hurt.
If Nietzsche was tough, don't cross into this, it's going to scramble your brain.
But if you're like me and you like that sort of thing, then this is your Mecca.
Unique, and wholeheartedly recommended, and will definitely give you insight into living and being.
As a former Philosophy professor at Purdue University, a Rolfer and a Zen monk, Jeffrey Maitland is a master at collecting the many pieces of mind/body/spirit. In his book, Dr. Maitland generously shares insights from his own mental/physical/spiritual development, as well as case history composites, so that the reader might come to a better understanding of the relationship that each part plays in our beoming whole.
It's my bet that anyone who is on a journey will find something in this book that "speaks" to them and I highly recommend the ride.