Dionysos and Ariadne
We do not generally recognize how temporary our concepts and customs are. Foucault has argued our modern concept of sexuality is rooted inextricably in the specific marriage rituals in late Western society. His genealogical-historical method is reminiscent in many ways to Nietzsche’s. Both will explain by turns how this or that concept has its true origin in a (relatively) quite recent conceptual matrix, as opposed to some ancient transcendent intervention. Both show how nomadic counter-insurgencies have always existed to provoke the stability of the existing binary maps towards self-overcoming. The logicization of sexuality, the reduction to a male-female dipole is perhaps the most discouraging of Foucault’s meditations. Nietzsche already is quite sensitive to this modern theme.
Some of the best meditations on sexual politics come from the Anti-Christ: I am thinking of course of the passages on marriage. We are shown that marriage is dissolving but precisely because of love, because we marry on the basis of transitory contingency rather than sexual drives. Mate-selection is no longer authorized by cultural and social authorities; degeneration of rigid cultural forms is the only result. We can mourn this lost becoming — but we risk losing ourselves in such a mourning. Foucault perhaps gets trapped in a melancholic-historic mode which can only mourn the aborted becomings, the sorrowful anguish of the oppressed, the misery of our collective organisms and individual lives.
But hard as it may be to affirm, things that are falling apart should be accelerated in their self-destruction, so that they may be overcome. We must have space for the new, for varieties yet unseen, for variations not yet rescued from the chaotic abyss beyond the segmented spaces of the state and regimented times of custom. We need to outrun the state, we need to be looking out for weapons. We therefore need a philosophy of speed, of rhizomatic evolution, of fluid time. We need a sexual politics based on difference rather than identity.
Nietzsche’s voice is difficult to consign a single tone, theme, location, duration or intensity. His very style is divergent, charged with lightning, catalytic, an evolution and a return. It defies form while pointing the way towards new formations. His text reforms by deforming, deforms by informing. Information as pre-individual, driven by powerful forces — above all, cultivated. Beneath the human relation a flow, a struggle beneath the tables of public celebrations. Chaos as the limit, wandering in the boundaries. A nomadic politics beneath sexuality, a nomadic sexuality beneath politics. We can read Nietzsche without Freud; indeed, we must. Freud is straight-jackets and transference; Nietzsche is liberation and transversality. The subversions are not of the same order; one is a mystical geometry, the other is a joyous materialism. We must emphasize the limitedness of any relation to Freud until we have unfolded Nietzsche’s original and striking position on evolution, on time, and on sexual politics.
Perhaps the clearest difference which can be drawn between Freud and Nietzsche is the question of sexuality.
In Nietzsche the question is not biological, nor mythical, nor subconscious. Intercourse is cultural and material; sex is our writing and our bodies. Nietzsche accomplishes the return of the subject in his text. He completes the modern project by showing it’s problematic to recur endlessly. We have, are, will always be debating the posthuman under one guise or another; it occurs even before the human, the future within the present. The flower within the seed, the seed’s dream of flowering. The time of overman is not linear. The modern is the open; Nietzsche is with Lyotard in that the ‘posthuman’ implications of human possibility are completely tied up with his present situation. The future can be read from a thousand signs. A psychoanalysis of decoding dreams without recourse to mythology or biotechnology; one which asserts the existence of pure, decoded flows of intensity, a metaphysics of the will to power.
We need a modern sexual politics, one asserting a difference without identity. A non-dialectical difference. Through dialogue, the subversions of Marx and Freud are too often conflated with the singular Nietzschean revolution. Nietzsche’s voice deserves to be heard alone; but making his project into a political one requires conjunction. Yet his voice is hermetic, sealed off — precisely because it is an opening. This paradox will drive us forward, keep us questioning.
First, we need an institutional psychoanalysis which is not an institution of psychoanalysis; this gap, which Freud and Marx also point toward, is what Nietzsche’s text succeeds in opening — and allows to remain open. This is the critical step which Freud could not take, which Marx could indicate only towards the end when his revolutionary fire had consumed itself; whereas Freud could not label anarchic recurrence as ‘neurotic’ quickly enough. On the contrary, Nietzsche places a doorstop in the portal of tomorrow; his text is like a rude guest, whose body/text occupies more than any space allotted specifically for it. A virus, the messy guest who leaves doors open: an importunity which can be forgiven as an inconvenience since it is in hindsight a significant benefit, even a theoretical necessity.
We must enter and exit problems quickly; we must not allow ourselves to be trapped. We must lay traps; but then we must allow our homes to be entered by strangers, we must play hosts to nomadic swarms. We must live dangerously, allow malicious flows of energy to pass through us. In a parable of Nietzsche, the Don Juan of knowledge would consume learning until there was no knowledge left but that which was poison, knowing which would endanger his life. But this would still not reduce its value in his eyes. Knowledge for knowlege’s sake: he would rather know Hell than cease his curiosity. Sexual morality is silence, non-education: not knowing, it is a wanting not to know, to continue to forget. I cannot abide this, therefore I abjure it. I have already forgotten it. Rather than choose, I deny the choice. To say “no” in this way is to affirm multiplicity. Contempt for forgetting is revolutionary, just as forgetting can be a becoming-innocent. We ought to consign prescribed choices to oblivion; no more identity politics. Multiplicity is first, difference the origin of everything. All things from their opposites; everything flows, from a million sources, towards a million black holes. The formation of lines of organic flight: the source of future. We must make hands to make the future; neither will make themselves. We cannot unmake gender until we lose our unwavering faith in grammar. Gender makes new conjugations illegal. The fascism of God, of the State, of language is always also sexual totalitarianism. No politics without sexual politics: the desire which comes first, the desire which means reproduction, transversality, survival.
Sexuality and power: bodies, ownership, identity
Sexuality and energy: sources, flows, instability
Sexuality and the future: genealogy, difference, transhumanity