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The Thinking Body: A Feminist Revision of the Work of Melanie Klein

by Jo Nash

| Contents||Chapter Six Notes


In the first chapter of this study I traced the development of the Western dualist ontological split between mind and body from Plato through to Descartes using the work of feminist philosophers Bordo, Grosz, Irigaray and Lloyd. This study suggests that a feminist phenomenological re-framing of object relations theory may contribute to the healing of the culturally dominant ontological split, whilst also being able to acknowledge that the dichotomous nature of mind and body is a prevalent existential experience within a paranoid schizoid psychic economy. I have attempted to make a further contribution to feminist theory using particular object relational psychoanalytic ideas within a phenomenological framework in order to avoid the polarisation of different existential experiences, and have moved towards re-conception of the ‘thinking body’ as an epistemological register of affective truth. I have suggested that a phenomenological reframing of the theoretical work of Klein and Bion on knowledge and thinking enables thought to be conceptualised as an intersubjective intentional, affectively charged and embodied process.

During this final chapter I want to focus on the proposition that the theoretical foundations of feminism of autonomy must derive from a particular conceptual schema that enables new knowledges to evolve from embodied creative thought. Such knowledges, I suggest must be intersubjective and ‘Erotic’ in nature, because they will be invested with a reparative intentionality, the foundation of creativity and love as it is experienced via intersubjective relationship. I suggest that the kinds of truths that evolve from such a process may be more contained and reality orientated. In contrast, feminists have argued that phallocentric thought is characterised by a disembodied, objectifying, nihilistic process of breaking the world into conquerable parts. This perspective concurs with the ‘omni-potential’ notion of progress that Klein observed pervades the infantile part-object relational world inside all of us. I have suggested that this notion of progress dominates the paranoid-schizoid psychic economy of phallocentrism.

Using Kleinian theory I have argued that the kind of intersubjective truth-seeking described paradigmatically by psychoanalytic theory is driven by a reparative relation to the repressed formative relation to the mother’s body. As psychoanalysts from Freud to Klein have argued, the repressed remains to haunt us, always threatening us with its return. I have suggested that the ‘uncanny’ sense of psychic reality evoked by the ghost of the archaic maternal is alluded to in the work of Heidegger on thinking, when he suggests that the haunting of the dominant masculine by the forgotten feminine ‘points towards what there is to be thought’ . In light of these ideas I suggest that what there is to be thought is an Erotic relation to existential difference which is creative, in that it promotes and preserves a sense of embodied autonomy within an intersubjective sense of community. Following Heidegger I also propose that ‘what there is to be thought’ is anithetical to the dominant Western drive toward a technocratic nihilism. In a sense the perspective I am suggesting we try to develop is an ecological understanding of human experience, that preserves the autonomy of embodied persons, while enabling them each to fulfil their potential through creative relationship.

Following Grosz’s theoretical paradigms for a feminism of autonomy, I also want to discuss the psychosexual motivation for desiring such an alternative to phallocentric thought. I suggest that such a desire is driven by the only partially repressed embodied memory of a specifically gynocentric Eros that may be able to recognise difference in terms other than polarity, once this memory is remembered and thought about. The desire to formulate a reparative relation to the mother’s body which does not depend on the repression of her difference is, I suggest, the driving force of the autonomously feminist position. I am suggesting that it is this desire to be able to relate, and be related to, as an adult woman who is an existentially autonomous human being different from other human beings that has driven the feminists mentioned above to try to understand how we might know and think about the world differently.

Such a desire represents an inversion of Socrates description of male narcissism as the desire in need of sublimation in order to become a (phallocentric) scholar/philosopher in the Symposium. I suggest that this inversion is a necessary stage in the political process of re-thinking Woman as a category outside and beyond phallocratic categorisations of intersubjective being-in-the-world. Once this has been established women will be a position of strength from which to relate more creatively to other women, children and men. As the psychodynamic perspective developed in this study reveals, we all need to get in touch with ourselves, our desires, our needs before we can ever gain intimacy with others. I have argued, using the observations of Melanie Klein, that becoming a woman in a phallocentric psychic economy divorces most women from any burgeoning sense of self, healthy sense of entitlement, active sexual desire etc., which is why the very foundations of our psychic economy need to be unearthed and re-examined. I will go on to describe why I believe a gynocentric Eros cathects the concerns of a feminism of autonomy, and what this may reveal about a non-phallocentrically defined female psychosexuality further on in this chapter.

Using the terms of Mary Dalyl I want to suggest that the ‘gynocentric maze’ of reparative relational truths evoked by a feminism of autonomy must, in a dominant phallocentric culture, be charged by a desiring cathexes partaking of what Rich2 calls the ‘lesbian continuum’ , and an erotic encounter with the charge of lesbian existence (whether we identify as heterosexual, bisexual, queer or lesbian). The project of constructing a feminism of autonomy, is I suggest driven by a desire to integrate the , repressed uncanny’ shadow side of the mother constrained in her self expression by a phallocentric psychic economy. The pivotal vision of such a feminism should be a sense of Woman as representative of a specifically gynocentric, spatio-temporally non-linear desiring cathexes, i.e., a woman-identified woman, charged with an autonomously female, spatio-temporally rhizomatic and nomadic erotic energy. I am suggesting that we must encounter the embodied female as autonomously sexed and therefore as desiring differently, in order to articulate the specificity of autonomous feminist concerns as a set of embodied concerns driven by a woman-centred desire. To work towards this end, I suggest that women continue with the Irigarayan strategy of apperception of the social phantasy systems and textual mythologies of phallocentrism that have defined and constrained the ontological expression of femininity throughout the history of Western ideas, in order to further reconceptualise woman other-wise.

I want to conclude this study by suggesting various lines of flight from dominant phallocentric imperatives that inform dominant theories of knowing and thinking, into a form of apperception dependent upon a renewed trust in embodied intuition. These journeys into liberating apperception ( the first step on the path to existential autonomy from an oppressive social phantasy system) should not be undertaken in the spirit of traditional linear lines of academic enquiry, but rhizomatically, affectively, nomadically.

An Inversion of the Symposium.

In his translation of the Symposium Roger Waterfield makes a number of observations about the Ancient Greek celebration of homoeroticism, and pays particular attention to this form of eros as an energy that Socrates aimed to arouse amid his pupils, in order to inspire an eventual love of knowledge for its own sake. In the preliminary notes to his translation Waterfield writes,

The master-pupil relationship in philosophical training is erotic in that the master embodies the wisdom the pupil desires; but it is a mistake to downgrade this eroticism and have sex with your teacher. In all this is it never far from the surface that the Greek word philosophia means ‘love of wisdom’. For those Greeks who took it seriously, philosophy...was a way of life.- .to be pursued passionately, with lifelong devotion...we commonly find Plato resorting to sexual imagery to describe the philosopher’s attitude towards philosophy (1994, p. xviii).

In this sense my argument that a gynocentric/lesbian Eros inspires the desire to formulate a feminism of autonomy holds up a mirror to Socrates, and his celebration of male homoeroticism as the inspirational energy which rouses his (masculine) pupils’ desire to pursue a life-long interest in (phallocentric) philosophy. I would also support Socrates recommendations that the erotic charge that motivates the desire for knowledge must never be ‘acted out’, but must be contained and sublimated in order to lead tothoughtful activity. It follows then that the encouragement of a pursuit of knowledge; learning or development which is passionate and fully mobilises the creative potential of erotic tension between teacher and pupil; supervisor and trainee, or psychotherapist and client needs the mentor to be very conscious of the developing dynamics; the power imbalance and the ‘locus-parentis’ responsibilities involved (Rutter, 1989).

In any learning situation a mentor needs to be able to contain the erotic energy aroused by a consciously empassioned pursuit of knowledge, It may be that the pursuit of a disembodied knowledge which seems divorced from its intersubjective and erotic origins (criticised within this study) is defence against the acting out of sex between mentor and follower; which is perhaps a useful variation of the incest taboo. However; as Klein and Bion observe with all forms of defensive splitting, the displaced psychic energy which has been split off by such a process has to go somewhere. I would suggest that it is the displacement of this archaic-erotic (or as Klein would call it ‘primitive’) energy that Klein explains drives the pursuit of all knowledge, which risks leading the knower into the omnipotent urge to conquer, rather than create. This study suggests that the nihilistic, envious urge to conquer pervades the dominant epistemological imperatives of our phallocentric culture. However, the psychotherapeutic relationship is an example of learning situation where these processes are evoked intentionally in order to encourage integration and contained thought.

However it is perhaps this intentionality which leads some into the perilous vents of ‘acting out’ the erotic trajectories evoked via consummate sexual relations between the therapist and client. Research shows has a hugely damaging effect for both parties involved (Pope, 1989; Schoeneur, 1990), but especially for the client. It is clear that a sophisticated understanding of the dynamic intersubjective processes involved in mentoring relationships is needed by those facilitating the empassioned growth, learning and development of others. A sensitive balance needs to be struck between the extremes of either repudiation of intersubjective erotic tensions or erotic fusion. Both seem to deny those involved the full range of human experience which can contribute to further growth, development and intersubjective learning.

I suggest that an alternative to this splitting would be an empassioned yet contained pursuit of knowledge, which may result in increased imaginative intellectual discoveries in all areas of experience. Socrates demonstrated the efficacy of this approach to learning and and embodied it rhetorically, while Klein and Bion explained this process in psychodynamic terms.

I am arguing that the desiring cathexes of a feminism of autonomy is necessarily gynocentric. The women involved in formulating this theory are not doing so out of a desire to be desirable to men, so we are not involved in a phallocratic heteroerotic intellectual activity. This may not lead us into adopting an exclusively lesbian sexuality, but to be aware of what Rich calls the lesbian continuum and its foundational significance for feminist intellectual work. The lesbian erotics invested in this type of labour need to be owned and used with a sense of pride and dignity, just as Socrates celebrated male homoeroticism as a source of creative energy in the Academy. Heidegger revered Socrates as the last real thinker in the West because, according to Heidegger, he was able to embody an empassioned pursuit of intellectual enquiry through simply living. There are no recieved texts penned by Socrates, but Heidegger argued that he demonstrated the worth of his passion for knowledge though the embodiment of wisdom and actions of integrity, This so impressed his pupils that he was thus able to contain and maintain the desire necessary to fuel truly creative thought. In this way, the sort of creative thinking demonstrated by Socrates was both heroic and inspirational. The absence of ‘thinking’ which Heidegger laments in What is Called Thinking? (1968) was the absence of this type of intellectual activity, a thinking that does not divorce mythos from logos, mind from body, desire from knowledge. For Heidegger, thinking leads to creative acts of integrity, not to further additions to the destructive potential of technocratic nihilism. I suggest that feminists of autonomy share these convictions.

In the light of these ideas, for any woman to think and position herself within a gynocentric erotic desiring cathexes that drives an autonomous feminist intellectual community, is a radical move in a phallocentric heterosexist society. However, the binding power of a gynocentric Eros need not condemn those beyond its boundaries, just because it may bring joy and pleasure to those within them. Like the ‘whole’ mother of Kleinian theory however, such an autonomously defined community of women is likely to evoke destructive envy in those who feel excluded. This is why a conscious recognition of the powerfully nurturing erotics that bring an embodied intersubjective intellectual community together will aid the survival of feminism in the face of probable envious attack.

However , I would also suggest that such a departure of women from the trajectories of Oedipal desire resurrects the ghost of woman as both mother and lover, with the attendant risk that all may be subjected to her lascivious and fearful rapacity. The spectacle of feminine autonomy is likely to resurrect the ghost of the pre-Oedipal mother, for in a psychic economy constructed by phallocentric phantasy there is no other female figure representative of ‘feminine’ power, there is no post-Oedipal woman. The woman resisting phallocratic desire is likely to evoke a distant and uncomfortable yet intimate Memory of the archaic maternal imago, who terrorised Oedipus and, according to Oedipal Law, must be consigned to the dungeon of repressed infantile phantasy. Using Heidegerrean terms, as Memory (of the whole woman) ‘withdraws’ (under the weight of our part-object phantasy) she paradoxically ‘draws near’ . When we repudiate her by silencing her call as it arises within us, we intern her more completely and she takes a firmer root in the shadows of our psyche. A collective memory of her haunts and plagues the phallocracy - perhaps as Oedipus was plagued by the ‘Memory’ of Jocasta ?

Integrating the Ghost of Jocasta

It is interesting that the significance of Jocasta in the Oedipus Rex myth was never fully considered by Freud. Feminists have since made an effort to attend to her role in the myth, and I would suggest that the ghost of Jocasta is the mythological representation of the uncanny mother, that container of repressed archaic maternal phantoms who, when she threatens to return we hope, through the repetitious enactment of matricidal religious ritual (i.e., praying for the protection of the Father), will be forced to retreat.

The mother-lover figure remains forever defined in relation to the desires and needs of Oedipus, and when he withdraws she is confronted with the fact she is unable exist without his desire, she has no existential autonomy. In effect, Jocasta psychologically disintegrates as Oedipus withdraws, Jocasta’s own desire is outlawed and so to survive she must, to use Deleuzian terminology, become-fugitive.

Since Freud first read the myth of Oedipus Rex and saw within it an intrafamilial psychosexual Law of repudiated incestuous tension, there have been many psychoanalytic theorists who have equated inadequately repressed matrifocal eros with regression into the disintegrated state of the first maternal rejoiner, Oedipus. Once Oedipus discovered the tragedy that his lover was his mother, he pulled out his own eyes (a metaphor for self-castration as Freud defined it in his essay ‘The Uncanny’ ) and from then on struggled to resist the lure of psychosis.

Though I wish to contest our dominant cultural imperative to uphold Oedipal Laws in relation to femininity, I would not suggest that we one should aim to maintain a pre-Oedipal erotic tie to mother. Rather, I would suggest that the original potency of this archaic-erotic energy be recognised and worked through to a post-Oedipal conclusion, rather than split off and contained by the phantasmic, ‘uncanny’ mother always lurking in the shadow of the dominant fantom of the phallus.

Freud argued that women never attain post-Oedipal relations to their parents because they are already ‘castrated’ and therefore do not need to take account of this possibility when directing their desires towards parental objects. This means there is no sensible reason why women should curb or work through and beyond Oedipal desire for their father and Oedipal rivalry with their mother (or vice versa in the case of those suffering with a negative Oedipus complex). Boys only become men by doing so out of a fear of castration should they usurp the father as object of the mother’s desire. In contrast to Freud however, I would suggest that women are unable to negotiate post-Oedipal dynamics because they have no-thing and no-one to which they might refer to show how they may do so. As I have arqued above, the origin of female sexual autonomy is repudiated by a paranoid-schizoid, phallocentric psychic economy. Rather, female sexuality is constructed according to the social phantasy system galvanised by the Oedipal tension derived from the polarised confrontation of masculine and feminine. Between the Law of the Oedipal father’s desire and the Oedipal mother as container of that desire - stands the girl, who is compelled to search for a sense of her self, and her sexual autonomy in a psychological hall of mirrors.

As the mother’s sexuality fails to be represented autonomously in a phallocentric psychic economy the girl’s developing desire is often a source of anxiety rather than pleasure for her. She does not qain access to a model for understanding its origin or its nature by looking toward mother, in the way the boy does by looking towards his father, rather the girl is also compelled to look toward the father (or observe his Law in his absence) for sexual confirmation as well.

As I have argued elsewhere in this study, the matricidal imperative of phallocentric psychic economy is to forget the archaic-erotic mother and thereby remain enmeshed with her phantasy ghost in a part-obj ect relational capacity. This process prevents whole object relations and representations of women from flourishing. The Oedipal imperatives of phallocentric culture are necessarily matricidal as the myth implies. Any representation of mother as an autonomous, sexually desiring woman must be destroyed inorder to preserve the father’s Law. In this sense any woman will encounter extreme difficulty and ambivalence when attempting to move beyond Oedipal ties, which are the laws governing a phallocentric culture, as by doing so she risks the fate of Jocasta - the pain of exile and self-destruction. By taking this risk she condemns the part-object mother, (Parker’s Great Mother-Fragile Container) and rejects the overbearing will, the Law of the father. She turns away from the patriarchal nuclear family group as we know it and in doing so transgresses dominant cultural mores.

I would suggest that the girl attempting to develop a sense of her own identity through looking toward the part-object mother risks enmeshment, merging and a continuous battle with her own desire to become a self, by measuring a sense of personal becoming against a phantasy construct of woman who is unable to define, know or represent herself in a phallocentric psychic economy.

In this sense an integration of the uncanny mother seems to be the key for those women attempting to grow towards a sense of personal and sexualautonomy, She contains the repudiated desires of Oedipus, which are enshrined in the mores of her cultural repudiation of the ghost of Jocasta. The part~object mother represents the dominant phallocentric phantasy of what a mother, a woman should be, according to the Law of the Father, while the uncanny mother represents the , other side’ of maternity and femininity, she is the outlawed woman-mother who has been sentenced to imprisonment in the dungeon of collective cultural repression. In order to become-woman in an autonomous feminist sense, the girl must escape her Oedipal fate and become-fugitive. A woman can only define herself autonomously by fleeing the strictures of Oedipal Law in order to live beyond and outside Him. To exceed His rigid categorisations of femininity she must learn to surf upon the trajectories of Oedipal desire, rather than being swept along in their current.


I want to introduce some new ideas at this point in order to explain what I mean by ‘becoming-fugitive’ . The conception of becoming that I am using comes from the work of Deleuze and Guattari. When writing A Thousand Plateaus (1987), they argued that the body must not allow itself to be reduced to the level of an organism, instead it must become a Body-without-Organs, that is a ‘rhizome’ composed of an ‘asse",blage of plateaus’ which interacts with the environment in terms of the intensities, flows and waves speeds and durations of desire. The ‘BwO’ as it is known can be any body, not just human, but animal, plant, mineral or completely inorganic such as a machine. In an earlier article addressing this theme they wrote,

The BwO is not the opposite of the organs at all. Its enemies are not the organs, The enemy is the organism. The BwO does not oppose the organs, but the organisation of the organs that we call the organism... To undo the organism has never meant to kill yourself, but to open the body to connections which presuppose a whole perfect arrangement, circuits, conjunctions, tiers and thresholds, passages and distributions of intensities, territories and measured deterritorialisations... what could be more dangerous than an intensity, but what also could be more amorous (1981, p. 267)?

These kinds of bodies, these ‘Bodies-without-Organs’ are what Deleuze and Guattari argue exist on the ‘plane of consistency’ of the ‘field of the immanence of desire’ (1987, p. 154). The BwO connects with other BwO via the flows, waves, intensities, speeds and slowness of the becomings fuelled by the immanence of desire. The becoming-fugitive I have suggested as a step toward becoming-autonomous is enacted through the BwO, through the body that refuses to be reduced to the existential modality of the organism. It is the thinking body, informed by the affective currents generated by the immanence of desire.

In A Thousand Plateaus, Deleuze and Guattari describe how the planes of multiple becomings intersect and link to create an assemblage which they call a rhizome. The rhizome is a non-arboreous (i.e., non tree-like) root form, which can move, or become, in all directions and therefore may be endlessly recreated. As the rhizome connects with the flows and intensities of the desires of other rhizomes it is changed in a micropolitical, and molecular sense. For example, by a rhizomatic connection with the movements, flows and intensities of affects evoked by the spectacle of a horse being whipped in the street until it falls down, little Hans ‘becomes-horse’ . Hans becomes part of the horse’s assemblage. Deleuze and Guattari write,

Once again we turn to children. Note how they talk about animals, and are moved by them. They make a list of affects. Little Hans’s horse is not representative but affective. It is not a member of a species but an element or individual in a machinic assemblage: draft horse-omnibus-street. It is defined by a list of active and passive affects in the context of the individuated assemblage it is part of : having eyes blocked by blinders, having a bit and a bridle, being proud, having a peepee-maker, pulling heavy loads, being whipped, falling, making a din with its legs, biting etc. These affects circulate and are transformed within the

assemblage: what a horse ‘can do’... So what is the becoming-horse of Little Hans? Hans is also taken up in an assemblage: his mother’s bed, the paternal element, the house, the cafe across the street, the nearby warehouse, the street, the right to go out onto the street, the winning of this right, the pride of winning it, but also the dangers of winning it, the fall, shame... (pp. 257-258).

So is ‘becoming’ a process of identification, a symbiotic merging? Becomings of this sort involve shifts in micro-intensities, that arrive from a process of becoming enqaqed with the affects evoked by the horse, by the speeds and slowness of its movements, by the proximities and intensities of its assemblage - not solely by its organism. In this sense becoming-horse is possible for Hans because the horse is, for him, experienced as a continuum of his affective assemblage, as a BwO. The horse’s organic difference from the human is superseded by Hans’ becoming-horse. Yet Hans and horse are not the same thing. Deleuze and Guattari write, ‘...Being expresses them both in a single meaning in a language that is no longer that of words, in a matter that is no longer that of forms, in an affectability that is no longer that of subjects’ (p, 258).

Deleuze and Guattari continue to point towards children’s special capacities for ‘becoming~animal’ in this way, as they have not yet been robbed of this capacity, they had not been commanded to forget the ‘plane of immanence’ connecting affective assemblages, they are not yet interpolated into a binary-oppositional semiotic regime rooted in the subject-object hierarchical ontology of the organism.

Though I commend the intellectual prowess demonstrated by the Deleuzian transgression of the either/or distinction and resurrection of a both/and modality of thinking, this also forms the core of a problem identified with Deleuzian thought in general, especially by feminists. This work tends towards the incorporation of what is other , the subsuming of what is different, under the mantle of the privileged self-defined experience of the human male. Indeed the phallocentric masculine experience he calls the ‘molar I experience, or the macro-standard by which all shifts in microintensities are measured, This incorporation of the non-human may seem anthropomorphic, and the idea that all male ‘becomings’ must pass through an imaginary experience called ‘becoming-woman’, phallocentric. However, as Elizabeth Grosz has argued:

Even if their procedures and methods do not actively affirm or support feminist struggles around women’s autonomy and self-determination, their work may help to clear the ground of metaphysical oppositions and concepts so that women may be able to devise their own knowledges, accounts of themselves and the world (1994, p. 164).

That is why I have taken those concepts that I have found useful from Deleuze and discarded that which is not (in the style of Deleuzian pragmatics), to think about what might be involved in the achievement of feminine autonomy. I am interested in the idea of linkages, of connections between assemblages forged through the trajectories of desire. Deleuze and Guattari conceptualise desire in a substantive sense which supersedes binary oppositional thinking. Similarly their ‘becomings’ seem able to articulate transmutations of Being, from one modality of organisation to another in a manner which supersedes the old dualisms which many feminists, and particularly feminists of autonomy, continue to battle with. Becomings may be understood to be desiring, volitional acts whereby one modality of Being ‘becomes able’ to articulate another modality through a non-symbolic circulation of affectivity. These affects circulate via the flows, waves, intensities and proximities of intensities, speeds and durations of desire. Embodied affective circulations provide linkages between assemblages as well as disrupting and dislocating them.

Deleuze proposes that not only man must pass through a becoming-woman to become a BwO, but woman must also become-woman to achieve the same end. From an autonomous feminist perspective, I suggest that this is especially poignant. How can woman become-woman in a phallocentric psychic economy that as Klein unwittingly demonstrated, sets out to rob her of any sense of sexual autonomy by defining what she may be by referring to what-she-is-not (not a tomboy, not an intellectual, not driven by her own desire)? In reference to becoming-woman via process of negotiation with binary oppositional dualisms Deleuze and Guattari write of a strikingly similar process.

The question is not, or not only, that of the organism, history and subject of enunciation that oppose masculine to feminine in the great dualism machines. The question is fundamentally that of the body- the body they steal from us in order to fabricate opposable organisms. The body is stolen first from the girl : Stop behaving like that, you’re not a little girl anymore, you’re not a tomboy, etc. The girl’s becoming is stolen first, in order to impose a history, or prehistory upon her. The boy’s turn comes next, but it is by using the girl as an example, by pointing to the girl as object of his desire, that an opposed organism, a dominant history is fabricated for him too. The girl is the first victim, she must also serve as an example and a trap. That is why, conversely, the reconstruction of the body as a Body without Organs, the anorganism of the body, is inseparable from becoming woman... The girl is like the block of becoming that remains contemporaneous to each opposable term, man, woman, child, adult. It is not the girl who becomes woman; it is becoming woman that produces the universal girl (1987, pp. 276-277).

In Deleuzian and Kleinian terms, the girl becomes a woman entering into a process of initiation, into a dualistic, binary-oppositional psychic economy that entails an existential robbery of her right to autonomous movement, of her own becoming, via the volitions of her own desire. In this way her bodily agency is stolen from her in order to impose a , history or prehistory I upon her, drawn from the dominant, oppositional narrative trajectories of phallocentric psychic economy, from the ‘molar’ experience of man. From an autonomous feminist perspective she becomes phallocentrically feminine this way, but she must become-Woman some other way. My adaption of Deleuze and Guattari’s pragmatic notion of becoming, suggests she may become-Woman by way of ‘becoming-fugitive’.

I suggest that she becomes fugitive by recognising and rejecting the interpolations of Oedipal desire. This seems to be a different manoeuvre than the becoming-woman described by Deleuze and Guattari. A woman who wishes to become-woman in an autonomous feminist sense, must reach a point of confrontation and apperception of the social phantasy system, which I have suggested is the universal binary oppositional thinking that dominates a phallocentric psychic economy. However she rejects the Oedipal destiny at her peril, for by confrontation and exposure of the social phantasy system on route to becoming-fugitive, she risks expulsion, a becoming-scapegoat in the Laingian sense. In Bion’s more affirmative terms she may be defined as the mystic in the group, both destructive and creative in her subversion of an Oedipal destiny. However when I use a feminist adaption of Deleuzian pragmatics I suggest she might be thought of as ‘becoming-fugitive’, because although she may follow a line of flight from the group similar to the scapegoat, the operational and dynamic difference is that she has chosen her destiny though a volitional act of the will, though following the trajectories of her desire which point toward a liberating wilderness. However, by becoming fugitive, she has not been sent to the wilderness as a punishment for challenging the group’s need for her to function as feminine container. She has chosen to repudiate the phallocentric paradigms of femininity, reality, knowledge to attune to the innate wisdom of the thinking body.

However she is still surrounded by phallocentric imperatives. But instead of being swept along by their current, through adopting a conscious strategy of apperception, she learns to surf upon the wave-form trajectories of Oedipal desire. She may then see beyond the limited horizon of the domesticated swimmer, many of whom risk drowning in their fight to anticipate and flow with, rather than against the current. By becomingfugitive she reduces the risk of drowning by jumping on the crest of the Oedipal wave. Although surfing is not easy and demands an acute sensitivity to currents combined with an assured sense of balance, once she has acquired the necessary skills she may choose the destiny of the out-Law.

She becomes-fugitive, because she has chosen to live beyond the strictures and fantoms of Oedipal Law and may begin the long journey entailed in becoming-woman in a non-phallocentric sense.

Knowledge and the ‘Thinking Body’ .

This study has attempted to reinstate the sensate, affective, desiring life of the body at the centre of a reconceptualisation of knowing and becoming tied up with the most recent developments in feminist theory.

I have suggested that such a reinstatement of the body as an epistemological register of affective truths, truths which are invested in any sort of labour, whether this be scientific, artistic, intellectual, manual or whatever, are necessarily tied up with the question of sexual difference.

This question seems to dominate much of the most exciting intellectual work of our time, yet most of this work is still created by women. It is my contention that a feminist reframing of Kleinian insights into the development of a polarised notion of sexual identity, an identity formulated by a process of referencing to the culturally enshrined splitting of human qualities into masculine and feminine, reveals the denial of a large measure of existential integrity to both genders. The repudiation of gynocentric3 being- in~the-world and the dominance of phallocentric modalities of being-in-the-world does not permit the development of a stable masculine identity in the boy, anymore than it permits the girl to develop a secure sense of any burgeoning sexual autonomy.

It is important to remember that we were all part of the maternal body at one time, and somewhere inside all of us the memory of our unity with her lives on. There is an inevitable sense of loss entailed with the existential rupture of birth, which can never be repaired. However it is existential difference, and the creative tension sustained by the encounter between existential differences, which generates expressions of love and reparation. I suggest that the phallocentric project of homogenisation of difference is deadening, The forgetting of the latent power of mother, may enable her unchecked power to creep up on us, as a culture, all the more destructively.

However, there are a few men and, it seems many more women who are taking it upon themselves to try to reformulate a way of perceiving and living in the world which recognises each individual as as a different human being who is, at the same time, intersubjectively related to all other human beings. My hope is that once women are confident enough to stand their ground and define ourselves, our own desires, our own needs, without a guilt-ridden, overarching reference to the different desires of others (whether these are other men or other women in their life) then any genuine equality between the sexes remains out of reach.

That is why I attempted to develop this study within the paradigms for a feminism of autonomy set by Elizabeth Grosz back in 1988. She too has turned to the work of Deleuze and Guattari to try to meet the needs of feminist intellectuals to define our needs, our concerns, and our intellectual parameters autonomously from those imposed by the dominant phallocracy of the Academy. Grosz defines her attempts to use their their thought to these ends as,

... the start of a series of explorations of possible alternatives, possible modes of entry into and exit from knowledges that enable knowledges to be used productively in day- to-day life, in political struggles or various kinds, and in cultural creation, Deleuze and Guattari, like a number of other theorists, are exploring some of the many possible avenues of investigation and interrogation at the limits of what is thinkable in the twentieth century. this they share in common with the broad spectrum of texts labelled feminist (1994, p. 183).


This study has explored a different set of possibilities in the interdisciplinary use of Kleinian psychoanalytic theory, yet at the end of this exploration I hope I have suggested a new beginning.

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