FƒLIX GUATTARI: SPACE AND CORPOREITY Source: Columbia Documents of Architecture: D, Vol:2, (1993), pp.139148 [A paper delivered at the ÒCaged BodyÓ symposium, the Columbia University School of Architecture, April 7, 1990.
] [start page 139] When considered by disciplines such as architecture and medicine, space and the body are understood according to distinct and autonomous categories. I wish to relate them from a completely different point of view: that of their patternings/orderings of utterance/enunciation . The phenomenological approach to space and the lived body reveals the two to be inseparable. For example, in sleep and dreams the fantasized body coincides with the different modalities of spatial semiotization brought into play. The bodyÕs folding in upon itself is accompanied by an unfolding of imaginary spaces. When I ride in a car, my projection forward corresponds to a bracketing of my corporeal schema, setting aside my sight and body, positioned in cybernetic subservience to the [Page 140 starts here] automobilemachine and to the signal systems emitted by the surroundings. At the movies the body is radically absorbed by the filmic space in a quasihypnotic relationship. While reading a written text one receives the trace of the phonematic/phonetic articulation intermittently freeing its meaningful sequences of monematic/morphemic articulation. Here still another patterning/ordering of utterance/enunciation entails other modalities of spatialization and corporeity. The space of writing is without doubt one of the most mysterious offered to us, and the bodyÕs posture, respiratory and cardiac rhythms, and humoral discharges interfere greatly. There are then as many spaces as there are modes of semiotization and subjectivation . But we must not content ourselves with this first aspect of diachronic diversification. There also exists, at every instant of the plotting, a synchronic ÒfoliationÓ of heterogeneous spaces. In the above examples I can at the same time find myself swept forward/aspirated by the vanishing point of the road traffic and unfold a space of dreams or let myself be submerged by a musical space. In other circumstances a landscape or a painting can simultaneously take on a structural consistency of aesthetic character and question me, look me right in the eyes from an ethical and effective point of view that submerges all spatial discursiveness. Consider a personal example. One day as I was walking with a group of friends on a main road of S‹o Paulo, I felt myself summoned, while crossing at a certain point, by an unplaceable speaker. One characteristic of this city, which seems strange to me in many respects, is that its highway interchanges occur on levels separated at very great heights. As I was
genital stage. in the infant up to two years. an intense impression. which reconstituted itself on the bridge at S‹o Paulo. the dance of the church steeples at Martinville. once it appears. American psychoanalyst and ethologist Daniel Stern in his book The Interpersonal World of the Infant: A View from Psychoanalysis and Developmental Psychology (Basic Books. something of a principally perceptive order. There was. fleeting and undefinable. in fact. I froze trying to clarify what had just happened to me. Stern thus rejects diachronic psychogenesis of the psychoanalyticstage type (oral stage. Where this exaggerated height was not reiterated. according to the circumstances. a homolographic relation between a very old perceptionÑperhaps of the Cardinet Bridge spanning the numerous railroad lines swallowed up by the SaintLazarre train stationÑand the present one. without having to speak of repression or conflict between preestablished representations. the complex childhood affect associated with it could not be triggered. [page 142 starts here] I would like to stress that each of these components of the self. latency period) in which returns to an earlier perception are synonymous with
. four stratifications of the self: ¥ from birth to two months: the sense of an emergent self; ¥ from two to three months to seven to nine months: the sense of a core self; ¥ from seven to nine months to fifteen months: the sense of a subjective self; ¥ after fifteen months: the sense of a verbal self. exists parallel with the others and is susceptible to rising to the surface. He describes. the loose cobblestone in [page 141 starts here] the courtyard of the GuermantesÕ hotel). Just as when Proust became fixed on his Òpregnant momentsÓ (the taste of the madeleine. In reality the Cardinet Bridge is of normal height. brusquely seized me.looking down on heavy traffic moving straight toward an infinite grayness. The same feeling of overhang reproduced itself. It is only in my childhood perception that I confronted this disproportionate height. VinteuilÕs short musical phrase. anal stage. 1985) elaborates an innovative conception of the self that can shed light on the polyphonic character of subjectivity. since the semiotization of the childhood memory was accompanied by the creation ex nihilo of a poetic impression. After some time the answer came to me as if something from my early childhood was speaking to me from the heart of this desolate landscape. to the foreground of subjectivity. This example shows that actual perceptions of space can be ÒdoubledÓ by previous perceptions. I asked my friends to go on without me.
providing a glimpse. This experience of subjectivation of space is exceptional only insofar as it reveals a psychic rift. so to speak. with its moving feeling of initial discovery of the world and. explaining that she is [page 143 starts here] leaving me alone for a moment. The evoked companion here is the mother who withdraws. Stern does not pursue his investigations beyond the age of two years. in a space of possible things. The core self relating to the stage when the body takes on consistency is as if petrified. this evoked companion refers to generalized representations of interaction not directly understandable by dint of their abstract nature.archaic fixation and regression. an effective intensity relayed by my walking companions. often to insult them. at the limit of psychotic catatonia. delirious experience or passionate explosion can bring to light. In fact. as Stern stresses. in a quasipedagogical way. as a means to recall a real past event but as an active copy/duplicate of the events relating to the period considered. it consists in phrasing a childhood event experienced at an essentially sublinguistic level. It is also through this type of effect that extremely complex universes appear at the sound of a phrase of Debussy or at the sight of a futurist poster. that she is going to come back. whereas the third domain of the interpersonal intersubjective link mobilizes what Stern calls an Òevoked companionÓ who does not function. of the stratifications of the self. My Òpregnant momentÓ on the S‹o Paulo bridge seems to correspond to a reenactment of the emergent self. even if this style shines by its absence. This idea of an abstract effect seems capital. with a topical reorganization of the other modalities of the self.Ó The period always bears
. Does architecture have something to do with this diachrony and polyphony of space? Must the developed/constructed domain always be univocal. for example. Here is a true polyphony of subjective formations. the texture of materials and the spatial devices of what is conventionally called Òthe Middle Ages. As for the verbal self. But any other lived space can also engage such synchronic agglomerates of the psyche that alone a poetic operation. moreover. but one could certainly envision the later appearance of: ¥ a scriptural self (correlative with the childÕs entering school); ¥ a pubertal self. ÒEverything is found. It is not because the effect gives itself wholly that it is composed of a raw instinctual material. etc. On a bridge in S‹o Paulo a whole world of childhood comes to life. As Wittgenstein says. with a one way meaning? Evidently any construction is always overdetermined if only by a style. In this manner certain psychotics hear voices calling them from all points in space.Ó Let us take. who also abandon me to the foreign city.
will a scrupulous architect be condemned to remain idle before the complexity of the stakes that assail him? But if it is true that interactions between the body and developed/constructed space unfold through a field of virtuality whose
. More or less happily. Such nostalgia seems at the least risky. the extraordinary constructions of a Shin Takamatsu send us to a world of science fiction despite their machinic nature. and at a greater and greater rate of deterritorialization. The modernist outcome thwarts unidimensionality and the spirit of generality and formalism into which it seemed to bound to crash.Ó machines that carry incorporeal universes that are not universals but that can standardize individual and collective subjectivity. fantasies and ethological reflexes are machinically plugged into a wildly growing technoscientific world. Every history of this end of the century shows an extraordinary proliferation of subjective components. effective. The world no longer changes every ten years but every year. In this respect Tadao AndoÕs ruptures seem much more interesting insofar as they proceed from properly modernist orthogonal forms. abstract machines functioning like the previously evoked [page 141 starts here] Òcompanion. Whether we are aware of it or not. since history never gives back the same formulas/recipes and any authentic apprehension of the past always implies a radical recreation or reinvention. A shantytown or favela maintains another discourse and manipulates in us other cognitive and effective energies. machines of meaning. Edifices of all kinds are enunciating/uttering machines. historic. slicing into our former spaces of reference. In this context architectural and urban programming appear to move at a dinosaurÕs pace. Henceforth. organic functions. They are essentially machines. From this rough observation architects such as Henri Gaudin advocate a pure and simple return to the dyssymmetries of yesteryear. They produce a partial subjectivation that agglomerates other structurings of subjectivation. of sensation. On the contrary. The span of developed/constructed spaces extends quite beyond their visible and functional structures. which leads Ando to reinvent quite new intensities of mystery. functional. for better or worse a collective subjectivity of the rise of nationalistic and religious archaisms; a machinic subjectivity of the same media that one hopes will recover the paths of singularity by initiating a postmedia era. These components of social. our sensory organs. A hidden witch or an alchemist has worked there since time immemorial. constructed/developed space calls us from different points of viewÑstylistic. which is ÒoutdatedÓ because rooted in futurist clichŽs from the beginning of the century.an aura of mystery. machinic and aesthetic subjectivity literally besiege us from all sides. as if its very ground irrigated it with a secret power. I believe that after the structuralist havoc and postmodern collapse it is urgent that we return to an animistic conception of the world.
the looks of passersby. that he is ÒboilingÓ as we say in the childÕs game when. project (dessein). it is because they are more than a structure or even a system in the ordinary sense. the door. the street. for it engages mechanical dimensions and incorporeal universes that confer its subjective selfconsistency. as does Francisco Varella. axiological finality. all the way down to their smallest subgroupings. Something in him can announce that he is getting closer. [page 145 starts here] But we must move quickly from such a scientific paradigm to an aesthetic one. the architect is not forcibly dispossessed and lost within the labyrinth of the possible. simply. we set off to find the object guided only by the playersÕ cries. In fact. It may seem paradoxical to displace subjectivity onto material aggregates. that all of the components. The agoraphobic. One can describe them as autopoetic systems. the hallÑeach itself and in composition a center of subjectivation. The architectÕs drawing (dessin).
. Here the equivalent of Òstrange attractorsÓ from the thermodynamics of states far from equilibrium (from the field of nonlinear dynamics) could be sought in the potential patternings of enunciation/utterance that secretly inhabit urban and architectural chaos. the traffic he feels as a threat.complexity borders on chaosÑ cities like Mexico City are heading at top speed toward seemingly insurmountable ecological and demographic asphyxiationÑperhaps it behooves architects and urban planners to envisage complexity and chaos along new lines. one must treat the mass/aggregate of urban and architectural machinery as machinic components. if one broadens the concept of machine beyond its technical aspects and takes into account its economic. which in French is a homophone of plan. Thus we shall speak of partial subjectivity: the city. with eyes closed. who furthermore assimilates this type of system to machines. the building. experiences the loss of consistency of a complex spatial machine in which the following cooperate: the square he crosses. sets out in search of a partial enunciator that will give consistency to the group of components put in question. It happens sometimes. But if it is true that above all machinic components produce subjectivity. One cannot overemphasize that the consistency of an edifice is not only material. goal. its proper life. The great late historian and sociologist Lewis Mumford recently qualified cities as megamachines. As a creator of new forms. its systemic completion. for [page 146 starts here] example. ecological and abstract dimensions and even the Òdesiring machinesÓ that people our unconscious drives. his own existential apprehension of a space expanded to the extreme and his own distressed fantasies. all of the instruments are not in harmony but combine in a play of harmonics and ladders of symmetries that bestow on the edifice its autoreference. as if by miracle.
as soon as one enters certain primary schools. One will only be able to separate transversal dimensions between components of partial subjectivation. one feels anguish oozing from the walls. Both offer themselves without mediation. which I distinguish here from a function of signification in that it is the existential support of a center of enunciation/utterance. One can no longer speak of the subject in general and of a perfectly individuated enunciation/utterance but of the partial and heterogeneous components of subjectivity and of collective patternings/structurings. to the neighborhood and of course to architectural space. in signifying language chains. that of a meeting or f te grasped totally and immediately and not by the accumulation of distinct information. parts of the real and imaginary body. It is engendered by semiotic components irreducible to translation in terms of structural or systemic signifiers.Ó following Vikto Von Weizsaker. machinic. Spatial forms and the rhythms and ritornellos associated with them are themselves bearers of an asignifying meaning. The collective subjectivity in question is not based solely. For example. make discernible (discernibiliser) the specific traits of the expressive matter of each of these components. lived domestic space.But what means does the architect have at his disposal to grasp/seize and plot the productions of subjectivity inherent to his object and activity? We can speak of an architectural transfer that would not manifest itself through an objective knowledge of a scientific nature but through the angle of complex aesthetic affects. The drive carrying the fantasy ceases to be adjacent to the [page 146 starts here] body with the help of the partial object. which imply human multiplicities but also animal. of the heterogenesis of the components and of the
. accentuate. even if rebaptized and broadened by the concept of object a (Òlittle aÓ). Thus the transversality of Òtime regained. or even essentially. incorporeal and infrapersonal becomings/evolutions/changes/destinies . traits inherent to the ethnic group. Everything always leads back to this question of centers of partial enunciation/utterance. a factor of partial subjectivation that integrates itself into the surroundings (paysage) experienced by every schoolchild and teacher. We can characterize this knowledge as Òpathic. the connection to the evoked companion. will always be given like a gift from God. between a lived space and musicÑMadame VerdurinÕs salon and VinteuilÕs sonataÑin that one will underline. Here I must diverge from Jacques Lacan in several ways. This comprehension resembles that of the architectural object. for example. vegetal.Ó the overwhelming resonance that allows passage from one universe to another. The simplest example of pathic knowledge is the understanding of an ambience. This knowledge does not proceed from a discursivity bearing on welldelimited wholes but rather from an aggregation of existential territories that allows us to postulate the existence of the same partial enunciator behind entities as different and heterogeneous as the formations of the ego.
with functionality. or will they go against the tide by contributing to a reappropriation of subjectivity by subject groups concerned with resingularization and heterogenesis? Will they go the way of the infantilizing consensus or of the creating Òdissensus?Ó But can one imagine a pedagogy of singularity? IsnÕt this a contradiction in terms? This is happening somewhat in Japan. dwelling place/domicileÑhumanity and even the entire biosphere will be threatened. The singularity sought through its ÒprojectationÓ must not only be [page 148 starts here] recognized but must affirm its authenticity. with engineers.Ó The architectÕs essential work resides in the choices he is led to make. Here the ethicoaesthetic paradigm is destined to come to the foreground. But there is also the necessity of an auto (self)affirmation of his own choice when the aesthetic completion is called into question. social ecology and mental ecology (which I group under the general rubric ÒecosophyÓ) to which its etymology quite naturally leads us: oikos.Ó of a standardized subjectivity that derives its value from its price on the massmedia market. Will they go the route of a production reinforced by a subjectivity of the Ògeneralized equivalency. The aesthetic component brought forth by the architect as a creator can become a primordial element within the patterning/ordering fraught with a thousand functional. in heart and soul. There is reason then to associate this return to an aesthetic assumption with a more general ethicopolitical responsibility that calls for a consideration. where numerous young architects rival each other with a wild originality. materialmachines. to commit themselves (as they used to say in JeanPaul SartreÕs day) to the type of subjectivity they help to create. There are compromises with promoters. even with the prevailing tastes. A much larger question traversing this problem arises: Is it legitimate that an autonomized aesthetic dimension affirm itself within the urban fabric? This same question of an ethicopolitical refinalization is found at all levels of human activity. for fear of losing the existential consistency of his work. Lacking sufficient consideration of the dimensions of environmental ecology. They are obliged to take a stand. Why listen to the imperatives of one component more than another? A certain latitude of movement is available; but he also encounters certain thresholds not to be crossed. of multiple Òoptional materials. The fact that the creatorÕs desiringmachines are located in a sort of continuum with opinion machines. its potential power of enunciation/utterance.process of resingularization. The valorization of human activities can no longer be founded unequivocally
. In no case must an architectÕs role be reduced to that of a building engineer. social. in no way implies that they are submerged in it. Many factors in the present evolution lead to the loss of architectureÕs aesthetic specificity. economic and material constraints constituted by the architectural subjectobject. It is in this direction that architects today should turn.
who participated in ÒThe Caged BodyÓ symposium at the School on April 7. lived space. August 29. The production of human and machinic subjectivity is destined to supersede the market economy founded on profit. the choices facing architecture and urban studies will present themselves with a particular acuteness. where there seemed no possible movement
. a production dependent on ethicoaesthetic paradigms. Kafka: Pour une Llturature Mineure. repetitive tasks. releasing strange smooth forces from out of the intervals of its segmentations or striations.on the quantity of work enlisted in the production of material goods.1990. [page 149 starts here] FŽlix Guattari. telecommunications/tŽlŽmatique and biological engineering are leading to a greater availability of human activity to the detriment of traditional salaried work. And the shock of his death sets into relief the mark of the singular ÒethosÓ or Òsubjectivity. died of a heart attack in Paris on Saturday. collaborated with Gilles Deleuze on numerous books including LÕAntiOedipe.1992 He was 62 years old. Guattari was himself a prodigious practitioner of the art that he describes in his lecture. the art of ÒresingularizingÓ the world or environment in which we move. evolution/destiny (becoming). the price system and interest conflicts and struggles. Rhizome and What is Philosophy? Memorial Postscript by John Rajchman The sudden death of FŽlix Guattari on the 29th of August 1992 gives special moment to this lecture delivered at ColumbiaÕs Graduate School of Architecture. as the machine takes over the least satisfying. For in the densely creative climate of postwar French thought that crystallized in the events of Ô68. The revolutions in computer science. vegetable species and incorporeal values and machinic systems) will become one of the principal stakes of political repolarization. Guattari. time. Guattari was perhaps the one who most introduced the fresh air of new possibilities. I repeat. which will succeed the collapse of the leftright axis between conservatives and progressives. at a particularly sensitive crossroads. exchange value.Ó which he thereby introduced into the categories of our intellectual and physical landscape. The redefinition of relations between developed space and the existential territories of humanity (but also of animality. He has a rare gift of finding the innocence of unforseen movements where there seems to exist only complacency or despair. And from this point of view. The question is not whether this new availability will result in a growing mass of unemployed and socially dependent persons but whether it can be converted into an active production of individual and collective subjectivity relating to the existential body. robotics. It will no longer be a question only of the quality of life but of the future of life in its relation to the biosphere. a renown psychoanalyst and philosopher.
. as in the extreme case when desire assumes the deathly rigidity of psychosis. subjective and physical. to the ÒethopoeticsÓ of our being and our beingtogether. we can wonder where and how this innocence of thought and action will happen again today.Ó And it is perhaps this philosophy that Guattari was pursuing in his book when he called for an Òecology of the virtual. He tried to diagnose them everywhere he could and to establish among them ÒtransversalÓ alliances that would trace Òdiagonal linesÓ of possibility in the social and political fabric.c. that we find the aestheticscientific problematic of the invention of new spaces and times.Ó This lecture at Columbia belongs to a cluster of writings and interventions published under the title Chaosmosis. which formed part of GuattariÕs participation in the emergent ecological politics in France. A Thousand Plateaus.or creation. He taught that life is always more than something that weighs upon us and that we must bear. to what Spinoza had already diagnosed as the tyranny of Òthe sad passions. assurances of C. But it is in the second and more untimely book by the two authors. directed against the p. In the very specific landscape of his own life FŽlix Guattari was a constant source of creative turbulence and movement. electronic and biological. P.Ó It was the force of this Òdesire. In losing him. other movements. which Guattari pursues in this lecture at Columbia: the Òwar machineÓ of a new ÒgeopoeticsÓ prior to the geographies and geometries that have contained and restricted our capacity for unexpected ÒnomadicÓ movement and Òbecomings. the first of GuattariÕs writings with Gilles Deleuze. still ÒvirtualÓ in our ways of being.Ó where the romantic dream of a pretechnical organic whole is replaced by the notion of an ever diversifying disparate ÒenvironmentÓ at once natural and artificial. whose politics and whose unseen forces and potentials would belong to the philosophy of the future. still unseen. But it was not simply in the desperation of the Òblack holesÓ of schizophrenia that he encountered in his long work at the alterative hospital at La Borde that he tried to release the ÒvirtualityÓ of other spaces.Ó which Michel Foucault celebrated in the gay style of The AntiOedipus. Guattari was the great opponent and antidote to the politics and aesthetics of depression. as in the doctrines of moralists and psychoanalysts incapable or fearful of creative intensities. Deleuze had spoken of writing another collaborative volume devoted to Òa sort of philosophy of nature at a moment when every difference between nature and artifice is blurred. [Communist Party] ÒtheoreticiansÓ of Marx and Freud. To live is rather to release the play of singular [page 150 starts here] new forces.