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Ettingerian Psychoanalysis and the Anti-Oedipal Rift

Lecturer: Will Hallett

Originally Taught: Winter School 2022

The break with psychoanalysis produced by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari's Anti-Oedipal theory has led to conflicting accounts of the overarching relation between Deleuzianism and Jacques Lacan. To Peter Hallward, by the time of A Thousand Plateaus, the split is definitive. For Daniel Smith, it is perhaps less clear than that and the overarching relation remains to be theorized. On a certain level, and if we are to agree that a definitive break with Lacan is not entirely right, it does appear that we lack a scholarly account of some sort of Deleuzian and Lacanian program.

As we will show in this course, the theoretical works of Bracha Ettinger (particularly in its resonances with her career as a painter) establish such a synthesis, albeit in a highly enigmatic way. Following her interdisciplinary elaboration of a "metafeminist" psychoanalytic theory, we will see how the apparently contradicting concepts of an individual subjectivity in Lacan and a rhizomic or "several" subjectivity in Deleuze and Guattari can in fact become complementary from Ettinger's unique psychoanalytic lens. That the status of the feminine as a signifier and the role of the artwork in knowledge production are central to this complementarity, speaks to both the effectiveness of Ettingerian theory as a synthesis of the Lacanian and Deleuzoguattarian models of subjectivity and mind, and indicates why the question of the Anti-Oedipal 'break' is so crucial to revisit in the current intellectual situation.

Deferring in the final week to the ongoing debate about how best to describe the computational or 'Digital' state of the world today, we will discuss the potential role of Ettingerian or 'Matrixial' theory in thinking machine and mind at once, or at all. Somewhat surprisingly, it is along this vector that we may come to understand more fully the relation of the Anti-Oedipal split to the emergence of computing machines and of Deleuze and Guattari’s broader contextual relation to the discrete and the continuous frame of mathematics and thought. Readings will draw from Lacan's late work on femininity and the Real, sections of Deleuze's Logic of Sense, Ettinger's very recent articles on Eros and the Life-Drive, secondary literature on all accounts, and the relevant media theory. In as much, we will attempt a cursory evaluation of the state of psychoanalytic philosophy and the ethical, aesthetic, and political challenges that currently befall it.

Monday – Lacan’s Materialist Subject: Sexual Difference and Thanatos

  • Jacques Lacan, Seminar XX (Selections)
  • Alenka Zupancic, What is Sex (Selections)
  • Joan Copjec, “Sexual Difference”

Tuesday – Deleuze’s Psychoanalytic Novel: Eros, Thanatos, Chronos, and Aion

  • Gilles Deleuze, Logic of Sense (Selections)
  • Theodore Bergsma, “Aion and Chronos: Both Directions at Once"

Wednesday – Ettingerian Theory: Eros, Humanization, and a Metafeminist Theory of Mind I

  • Bracha Ettinger, “Wit(h)nessing Trauma and the Matrixial Gaze”
  • Bracha Ettinger and Felix Guattari, “What’s Left of Transference”

Thursday – Ettingerian Theory: Eros, Humanization, and a Metafeminist Theory of Mind II

  • Bracha Ettinger, "Beyond the Death-Drive, beyond the Life-Drive: Being-toward-Birthing with Being-toward-Birth; Copoiesis and the Matrixial Eros—Metafeminist Notes"

Friday – The Turing Question: Digitality and Feminine Sexuation

  • Alexander Galloway, "The Golden Age of Analog"; “The Gender of Math"
  • Sarah Pourciau, “On the Digital Ocean"