The catatonic knight, the “passional” knight, stands in the field of snow staring at the red blood amidst the white expanse; he has forgotten where he is or who he is or why he came to be there. Only one subjectivity at a time; only a super-plastic, re-adjustable, “adaptive” set of behaviors in each given situation. Deleuze’s Perceval is a cybernetic machine: he is taken out of the quest-milieu and into that of romance, a catatonia waiting for further assignments of action-milieus. He is capable of forgetting, completely, even his own name, and what is much more important, even his low-level bodily habits, and so becomes the emptiest subject, container, de-calibrated even of former habits to allow for maximum potentiality of becoming: if you become nothing, you can become everything. This is why it is only Perceval, the…
*The illustration, “Well Connected” is by Ebrahim Zargari-Marandi as part of his New Monstrosities Project.
The Neurotics of Yore: Cyber-Schizos vs Germinal Neuroses
“There are no neurotics anymore; and not just according to the DSM-IV and V. When Deleuze and Guattari were writing Anti-Oedipus, their call for schizophrenia the emancipation of desire-flows seemed most revolutionary, even idealistic or utopian sometimes. When Nick Land wrote his controversial texts in the 1990s, things had changed and Land was perhaps one of the first to see how deeply the Deleuzian concepts of Schizophrenia, of Becoming and the Body without Organs, were connected to Cybernetic Capitalism.
In this chapter I will argue that the Schizo, the emancipatory model of non-subjective (non-individuated) singularity, is already here, living next door, ordering a customized bicycle online. The Schizo has been here for a while now, to the detriment of all things neurotic-normal.
If neurosis is indeed a form of behavioral learning mechanism, a habit-contraction mechanism at the lowest levels of the psyche, a subjectifying, individuating process of response-limitation, then we must realize that Cybernetic Capitalism, the “prosumer” culture, has no use for the neurotic just as it has no room for such outdated processes as individuation. All the similarity between Deleuzian literature and the self-help books now available are not really random; the call to creativity and self-curation goes beyond a nice figure of speech. The market cannot afford a neurotic, stuck in a rut, her consumption choices as limited as her capacity to adapt to change. While the neurotics of yore came up with the New Deal and lifetime jobs, the schizophrenics (a statistical norm today) have come up with precarious labor, and millennials that conceive of jobs as short-term stints. The obsession with the apocalypse in the entertainment sector is the most recent manifestation of the majority view of machinic humanity. The message in all those high budget films is clear enough: if all changes in an instant, will you adapt (be cybernetic, schizophrenic) or will you perish in your old ways.
I will argue that neurosis qua limit case of habit-formation and behavioral subjectification is still at play as a force or an “attractor” among others, but that it has succumbed to other forces, to the schizophrenic-consumerist attractors, limited to very basic levels of individuation. We do not yearn nostalgically for the neurotic times to be back, nor are we comfortable with the remnants of neurotic formations in philosophy (the linguistic turn, for example). What we have to do is to examine the somatic levels of habit-formation for indications of the emergence of new ideas or modes of being.”
P.S. The Neurotic Turn has added two other great philosophers to its contributors, Benjamin Noys and Patricia Reeds will also be included in the book, alongside Graham Harman, Nick Land, Sean McGrath, C. W. Johns, Katerina Kolozova, John Russon, Alex Nevil, and a host of other distinguished scholars.
The Neurotic Turn, edited by Charles Johns and featuring the work of Graham Harman, Nick Land, and John Russon among others, is where my most recent work, “the Neurotics of Yore” will be published. In this upcoming book selected scholars will present different re-conceptualizations of the once-popular idea of Neurosis in a philosophical register. This is a tentative “Table of Contents” (my emphasis)
Conrad Hamilton – Neurosis in America
Charles Johns – The Neurotic Turn
Mike Ardoline – Neurosis and the Impossibility of Meta-Philosophy
Dany Nobus – Antrozoological Neurosis: On the Trials of Domestication and the Psychology of Happy Pets
Nick Land – Neurosys: On the Fictional Psychopathology of Abstract Horror
Christopher Ketcham – Neurosis: Asymmetry and Infinity
Mohammad-Ali Rahebi – The Neurotics of Yore
Katerina Kolosova – Anorexia Nervosa and Capitalism
Graham Harman – Freud’s Wolf Man in an Object-Oriented Light
Sean McGrath – A Schellingian Take on the Difference between Neurosis and Psychosis
John Russon – Neurosis
Patricia Friedrich – Neurosis, Obsession and Dis-identification relief
Bernardo Kastrup. – Physicalism and Neo-Darwinism as Neurotic Defense Mechanisms
Roderick Orner – Stepping Beyond Our Omnipotence: Neurosis As Branding The Incomprehensible
Petteri Pietikainen – Magic and Loss: Modalities of the Nervous Mind
My next post will introduce the themes of my own contribution to the book.
This is the most recent work by Charles William Johns, the editor ofThe Neurotic Turn, an anthology featuring selected scholars (among them Graham Harman and Nick Land; also myself) reinventing the concept of neurosis for a philosophical afterlife.
Neurosis and Assimilationis Johns’s third book to deal with neurosis and its re-conceptualization. As part of my research on the subject, I will be referring to this book for the novel insight it affords by discontinuing the monopoly of psychoanalysis over the notion of neurosis and re-purposing it as a tool of philosophy.
Here is the abstract:
This book deals with the possibility of an ontological and epistemological account of the psychological category ‘neurosis’. Intertwining thoughts from German idealism, Continental philosophy and psychology, the book shows how neurosis precedes and exists independently from human experience and lays the foundations for a non-essentialist, non-rational theory of neurosis; in cognition, in perception, in linguistics and in theories of object-relations and vitalism. The personal essays collected in this volume examine such issues as assimilation, the philosophy of neurosis, aneurysmal philosophy, and the connection between Hegel and Neurosis, among others. The volume establishes the connection between a now redundant psycho-analytic term and an extremely progressive discipline of Continental philosophy and Speculative realism.