Klaus Theweleit and the Fantasies of Fascist Males, #4


Below, with the date I originally wrote it, is the next in the series of entries from my philosophical journal that address Klaus Theweleit’s two-volume work, Male Fantasies.  The following entry continues with my reflections on the first of the two  volumes.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Theweleit, p. 207, argues that fascism involves something earlier than the level of ego formation and the “Oedipal” conflict.  It invokes what,  following Michael Bolint, he calls the “field of basic fault,” where the ego never fully develops.  He argues, first, that “the ego doesn’t simply differentiate itself out of the id, as Freud tells us; it differentiates itself out of the mother-child symbiosis, a dualistic union” (one that precedes, then, the Oedipal situation).  Basic fault occurs when there is a failure to form the ego in the first place.

Later, he gives a [clear and helpful] presentation of Deleuze and Guattari.  Their anti-Oedipal stance does not (p.214) “dispute the aptness of the names [Freud] gave to ideas he considered significant, such  as ‘incest’ and ‘castration’ [or “‘Oedipal crisis”].  Yet by declaring these to be formations and modes of expression of the unconscious [rather than socially conditioned forms of “desiring production”], Freud himself contributed to the repression of the unconscious as a productive force that explodes the framework of authority of every society.”

After a quote from Anti-Oedipus he continues:

The form of interpretation psychoanalysis is thereby consigned to is incapable of penetrating to the unconscious.  It is forced to borrow its concepts from itself, and in the end it is the interpretation “by means of which the conscious makes of the unconscious an image consistent with its wishes.”

Very pertinent to my [own thoughts] on trauma and [what I call] “the sovereignty of the image”!

P. 215:  “The linguistic process is inherently a process of production, one that appropriates and transforms reality.”  In the fascist texts he’s studying, that “desiring production” (following Deleuze and Guattari) is one in which “the particles of reality taken up in their [the fascists’] language lose any life of their own.  They are deanimated and turned into dying matter. . . . a parasitic, linguistic onslaught, which seems to find ‘pleasure’ in the annihilation of reality.  Reality is invaded and ‘occupied’ in that onslaught.”  Thus (p. 216):  “Their [such texts’] mode of production is the transformation of life into death, and dismantling of life.  I think we are justified in calling it an anti-production.”  As such, it destroys reality and then builds on the scorched earth (my metaphor) a new, dead order.

p. 217:  “We can speculate from this that it is above all the aliveness of the real that threatens these men.”

P. 219:  Accordingly, we need to get past thinking in terms of such binary oppositions as objective/subjective, rational/irrational, or real/unreal.  All there is, is desiring production, which is always production of the real.  The task is to see under what conditions this becomes the production of the real as dead.

Cf. Heidegger on Auschwitz as “the production of corpses.”

P. 219:  “In truth, these bipolar opposites are related to another opposition–that of negative and positive–and to the distinction between ‘right’ and ‘wrong.’  They are evaluative terms. . .”  [Also:]  “Any attempt to label one phenomenon of human existence ‘more real’ than another is arbitrary.”

(But:  doesn’t this, in common with all other “monisms,” in Michel Henry’s sense, presuppose the very distinction of truth from falsity, “real” from “not real”?  How else distinguish an “arbitrary” procedure from a “non-arbitrary” (“legitimate”?) one?  If everything is “desiring production,” what is being produced by that [very] claim [that any distinction in terms of more or less real is “arbitrary”]?)

Thus (p. 220), what we need is “to ask why, under certain conditions, desiring-production can turn into murdering-production.”

Pages 225-226:  We need to learn how to do history/research/reading “in such a way that our understanding . . . finally comes through the experience of our own unconscious.”  I.e., we need to learn, as  historian Alain Besancourt puts it   “‘to listen to oneself as well as the other person; to inform the anxiety attendant on the research and attaching to its function, that an interesting truth is about to rise up and approach,’ and to unmask that truth.”

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

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