Deleuze & Guattari Beyond the State

Instructor: Levi Bryant Date & Time: Final Module: August 11th, 18th, 21st, & September 1st 6:30 - 9:00 PM EST

The hypothesis for this seminar is that the State is essentially a theological structure. In conceptualizing theology as a State structure we should take care to distinguish this structure from religion and the supernatural. Although many forms of religiosity are, in a sense, theological, the distinguishing mark of theology is not the presence of the supernatural or the divine, but rather that of the sovereign that overcodes all other elements of a particular social field. There are thus purely secular theologies as in, for instance, those forms of sociality organized around a sovereign leader, a master-signifier such as “the party”, or ontotheologies like Nietzsche’s where all of being is subordinated to a key term such as the “will to power”.  

This structure is what Deleuze and Guattari refer to as “Oedipus” in Anti-Oedipus. Thus, Oedipus should be thought as much broader than a particular structure of the family or a psychoanalytic theory and instead as a theological form of thought that manifests itself in forms of labor, thought, science, metaphysics, politics, art, and, of course, religion. The thesis of this seminar is that it is essentially this theological structure of thought and practice that Deleuze and Guattari target in their politics.  Deleuze and Guattari strive to go beyond the State, and therefore propose an a-theism, an anarchism, or a form of thought, practice, and politics where the site of the overcoding sovereign is void or absent. Through a close reading of Nietzsche & Philosophy, Kafka: Towards a Minor Literature, and Anti-Oedipus, this seminar will explore the mechanisms by which the State is formed, how it functions, and why subjects become so ineluctably attached to these theological formations. Above all, we will look at the strategies of flight from the State and how these formations might be contested.

Participants in the seminar will be required to write one weekly post addressing some issue in that week’s reading or the prior week’s seminar discussion.  In addition, students will be required to respond to one other student’s blog post each week. Blog posts and responses are to be posted every Saturday prior to the Tuesday seminar meeting to the classroom’s page .  At the end of the seminar, students will be required to write a 2000 – 3000 word essay dealing with some of seminar’s themes or to produce a media or artistic artifact based on the issues discussed over the semester.  Students are free to propose other projects as well.  These projects will be due two weeks after the last seminar session.

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