One of the outstanding originative heads of the 20th century, Abe Kobo was among other things an acclaimed author, lensman and dramatist. He was portion of the Yoru No Kay avant garde motion and worked aboard such celebrated figures as Hanada Kyoteru and Okamoto Taro, organizing a circle motion which stood at the bosom of the left-of-center rational and artistic scene in his modern-day Japan. His novels are seen as affecting statements on the blue province of society and the person in the post-World War 2 epoch, and his characters are constantly understood as shockingly unfortunate “ mean Joe ‘s ” thrown, in one manner or another, into an improbable yet dismaying snake pit of solitariness, parturiency and individuality crises. Much scholarship has been dedicated to Abe ‘s literary plants, but the resulting readings overpoweringly hinge on banal and simplistic binary resistances. Some of the most obvious are psychoanalytical readings concentrating on the relationships between the male leads and female “ adversaries ” ; a typical clutter of emasculation compulsions and oedipal composites. Others have seen novels such as The Woman in the Dunes as a political commentary showing his disenchantment with the Japanese Communist Party of which he had one time been a member. Most late, Christopher Bolton ‘s appraisal of Abe reduces his novels to basic dualities of Man/woman, face/mask, self/other, science/fantasy and so on, ad nauseam. Even the Bakhtinian reading that Bolton proposes in his book does non get away this binarization, this cleavage and this entrapment of Abe ‘s authorship. I would wish to suggest in this paper an alternate reading of three of Abe ‘s novels ; The Face of Another, The Woman in the Dunes and The Box Man. A reading which, I hope, will non fall into these reductionist traps, and which will make justness to the complex rhizomatic nature of Abe ‘s authorship.
I did non detect Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari ‘s fabulously distorted universe until after I had read the aforesaid novels, and as I progressed through their plants, it became clear that their ideas fit absolutely with Abe ‘s, organizing something kindred to D & A ; G ‘s wanting machines, like the interrelated parts of a rootstock. D & A ; G praised what they called “ minor literature ” which, far from being an inferior kind or coming from a minor linguistic communication, is instead “ that which a minority constructs within a major linguistic communication ” . One must observe that “ minority ” here does non needfully mention to an cultural group, but instead to anyone runing outside the kingdom of the “ major ” , the stiff, the coded and “ subjectivated ” . It seems to me that Abe Kobo is a perfect illustration of a minor author. Abe stutters and betrays. He uses linguistic communication in a radical manner to state ordinary things, and he uses ordinary linguistic communication to state radical things. He is a alien in his ain linguistic communication. One may see this in his beat, in his characters and in his secret plans. Scholars like Bolton entrap Abe and cut down both the adult male and his authorship: He writes this manner because he is Nipponese, because he is a adult male, because he is a scientific discipline geek, because he is a left-of-center. All of these are reductive of Abe ‘s stammering. Alternatively of understanding his work, they interpret it. They attempt to lodge Abe ‘s characters, secret plans, subjects, his really thought into preformed boxes and clear cut dualities. Conversely, I believe that had Deleuze and Guattari read Abe, they would hold said that he is both sand atom and desert. He is insect, he is adult female, he is box, he is mask. He is unperceivable.
Each of the novels I will discourse in this paper depicts a narrative of territoriality and deterritorialization, of multiple becomings, of rhizomatic connexions. Abe ‘s characters take the line of flight merely as the novels themselves do, with their complex and frequently downright bizarre and equivocal constructions. Furthermore, these characters besides illustrate what Deleuze and Guattari considered the danger of absolute deterritorialization, for although all of Abe ‘s supporters go through the Deleuzian white wall, they besides frequently fall into the black hole, yielding to lunacy, force, sometimes even slaying.
I wish to see how abe deploys in his narrative a textual gathering and thereby creates a narrative of supplanting, even of expatriate within the clasp of a feudal society. Starts out under the rule and territoriality of the urban/state setup.
D & A ; G 101:
The doctrine of deleuze and guattari may be approached from a multiplicity of angles, but one may get down with the cardinal constructs of machinic gatherings and the Body without Organs ( BwO ) . D & A ; G assert that everything is a merchandise of graded machinic gatherings ( agencements ) , which they define as such:
“ a multiplicity which is made up of many heterogenous footings and which establishes affairs, dealingss between them, across ages, sexes and reigns, different natures. Thus the assemblges ‘ merely integrity is that of cofunctioning. It is a mutualism, a understanding. It is ne’er descents which are of import, but confederations, metals. These are non sequences, lines of descent, but contagious diseases, epidemics, the wind. “
These gatherings hence create a infinite for ever-moving flows of strengths. This is so rather actual. In 1000 Plateau for illustration they explain the feudal system as an collection of gatherings: First the man/land machineaˆ¦.. Assemblages, and collections thereof organize what D & A ; G refer to as a Body without Organs. The organic structure without variety meats is a plane of immanency and consistence of desire, with desire defined as a procedure of production, instead than miss, or a satisfaction of pleasance. Merely as the masochist builds an gathering which “ at the same time hints and fills the plane of immanency of desire, representing with himself, the Equus caballus, and his kept woman a organic structure without organ or a plane of consistence ”
The point is to do a organic structure without variety meats, through which strengths fluctuate and pass until there is no longer an I, nor an other, non to be replaced by a larger, more of import extension, but instead by virtuousness of uniquenesss which may longer be called personal, and strengths which may no longer be called extended. All of the BwO ‘s, a pure multiplicity of immanency in a generalised motion of deterritorialization It is necessary to hold gatherings in order to do each BwO. And it is necessary to hold a big abstract machine in order to construct the plane of consistence. D & A ; G speak of three of import strata, those which confine and bind us most directlyA : These strata are the being, significance, and subjectivation. The being bounds and dictates the motions of the organic structure, significance forces one to be interepreted, boxed into set acceptable significances, and subjectivation fixes the topic of diction. The organic structure without organ opposes these strata, and proposes instead a “ disarticulation ” of them.
Furthermore, for D & A ; G all gatherings are first and first desire, since these fluctuating strengths form exactly what desire is. The machinic gatherings impose their territoriality on desire, trying to take it off from a Spinozan plane of immanency and consistence into good organized territorialized strata. However, in these gatherings which territorialize desire, there are ever lines of flight, lines of deterritorialization. This motion from territoriality to deterritorialization permeates all three of Abe ‘s novels. In conformity with the rules of minor literature, Abe ‘s “ authorship machine ” is in itself characterized by a high coefficient of deterritorialization. Indeed, it is hard to detect the absence of any solid sense of Japaneseness in any of his novels. Contrary to majoritarian writers such as Mishima Yukio, whose composing seems to be a anthem to a so called traditional japaneseness, Abe the minor author wholly takes his prose off from any traditional sense of individuality. Himself deterritorialized throughout his young person, as he spent much clip in Manchuria, he infused his plant with an built-in translocality. Abe ‘s characters are culturally anon. , even in the rare instances when they have a name. And even though many critics have fallen into the trap of cultural essentialism, seeing his plants as an look of Nipponese post-war anxiousness, one may alternatively reason that Abe ‘s permanent international entreaty is due exactly to the fact that Abe ‘s novels ask cosmopolitan inquiries about fordist/post-fordist urban life and its consequence on society. I mentioned the Deleuzian ( actual ) concept “ writing machine ” , because non merely does Abe hold a series of meshing plants which echo each other organizing something kindred to a rootstock, but even the construction of each novel is a absorbing textual gathering, organizing a consistent whole out of apparently disjointed schizophrenic parts. From deleuze and guattari ‘s position, novels are constituted merely by lines of articulation ( segmentarity, strata, territorialities ) , on the one manus, and by lines of flight ( moements of deterritorialization and destratification ) on the other.
Abe ‘s characters write confessions in notebooks, they take images, they draw maps, and his novels are riddled with newspaper cuttings, exposure, fringy notes, digressions and PSs, all of which uniting in a disorganised manner, taking the really act of composing off from its territoriality, its stiff majoritarian regulations, and happening the line of flight, conveying abe ‘s prose into the universe of bumbling. Of non sense, of minority.
Possibly more thought should besides be given to the construct of district, as seen through the plants of Abe Kobo. Deleuze and Guattari themselves assert that “ there is no gathering witout district, without territoriality and reterritorialization which includes all kinds of ruse ” . However, they besides argued that there is no gathering without a point of deterritorialization, without a line of flight which leads on to new creative activities, or else towards decease. In order to to the full understand the constructs of territoriality and deterritorialization, a perfect illustration would be that of faciality.
Faciality in The Face of Another.
In a inexpensive, darkened flat, on a low tabular array near a thermos of H2O for tea, the storyteller of Kobo Abe’sA The Face of AnotherA has left three notebooks — black, white, and grey — for his married woman to read. Part journal, portion confession, the notebooks contain a fastidiously elaborate and intimate history of the supporter ‘s hideous ordeal and transmutation following a laboratory accident which left him dreadfully disfigured. Feeling rejected by both his married woman and society as a whole, the storyteller decides to build an elaborate and realistic mask in order to animate a “ roadway towards others ” . As he progresses with his enterprise, it becomes clear both to the reader and to himself that his chief intent is to score his married woman under the pretense of a complete alien, believing at first that this would bridge the spread between them, but finally falling into an absurd schizophrenic love trigon in which the new unreal character of “ the mask ” takes on a nonliteral life of its ain. While the text hints that it can be read as an fable of the Nipponese national crisis of individuality and loss of sociopolitical ‘face ‘ in the aftermath of World War II. Let us see an alternate avenue.
First, allow us the construct of of faciality as developed by Deleuze and Guattari in a 1000 tableland. The face for D & A ; G is non a religious marker of the human as opposed to the primitive or the beastly, nor is it even culturally cosmopolitan. It is instead a historical and autocratic power imposed on western and westernized societies. The face is a machinic gathering which radically deterritorializes and overcodes the caput, and so the full organic structure through a procedure of “ faceification ” . It is the merchandise of an autocratic sociopolitical gathering which, by seting in concurrence the white wall of significance and the black holes of subjectivation, created an abstract machine of faciality which produces faces “ by giving the signifiant its white wall, and subjectiveness its black hole ” The face is neither carnal nor human. it is monstrous, grotesque and somehow sublime. And if worlds were to hold a fate, D & A ; G insist that it would hold to be “ get awaying the face, undoing the face and faciality, going unperceivable ” . The intent is non to return to a pre-face, primitive or animate being province. D & A ; G suggest a much more extremist and transgressive option. Alternatively of arrested development, they propose becomings. Multiple becomings, carnal becomings, religious becomings, unusual becomings which will travel through the white wall and come out of the black holes, which will eventually let the really traits of faciality to get away the autocratic organisation of the face.
The supporter in The Face of Another begins his narrative of suffering with a really sudden and nonvoluntary loss of face. He finds himself in between ; in the clefts, neither a portion of society nor wholly outside of it. He feels forced out of the societal gathering, and even intimations at a really deleuzian construct of societal and micropolitical relationships when he unhappily notes that “ 66: although the people walking along the streets were aliens to each other, they formed a tight concatenation, like some organic composing, and I could non squash in. ”
However, Although his initial accident destroyed his face, it did non destruct the abstract facial machine. The strength of the subjectivation and signifiance strata were much excessively strong to be replaced, and it is so non easy to undo an absolute deterritorialization and overcoding of one ‘s full organic structure. Furthermore, while he still lived within society, whose autocratic machine presupposed and required the forming power of faciality, it was non possible for him to populate without it. His initial construct of the face as a roadway to others is so rather true, although, as D & A ; G would reason, the facial machine is more accurately the cold requirement for human relationships in today ‘s westernized capitalist societies. In any event, the abstract machine of the face could surely non be destroyed by a simple laboratory accident. The consequence was the supporter ‘s desire to replace the face that he lost, to make another white wall with black holes which genuinely is merely every bit unreal as the one destroyed by the accident. From there begins a really actual reenactement of Deleuze and Guattari ‘s procedure of faceification. As The supporter goes through the fastidiously proficient procedure of constructing his mask, he even sees it as a white surface, comparing it to “ a map of some unknown foreign land ” . Finally, nevertheless, this new “ re-deterritorialization ” of the organic structure carried within it the enticement of the line of flight. As the supporter saw the possibility of faceless life, and in malice of his repulsive force at himself, he bit by bit started stealing farther through the clefts, or possibly instead new unusual becomings began turning from the infinite between old and new faces, between ravaged and unreal teguments. He even writes at one point that “ seting one mask over another would be the same as non seting on any at all ” . As his face began to unknot, so did his perceptual experience of the facial gathering as a whole. When confronted with a monstrous closeup of a adult female ‘s face in the film theater, he becomes really much aware of the cold nature of the face, of any face, even existent 1s ( 64 ) . The supporter efforts to happen a mask going that is non a face. He sees the line of flight and efforts to follow it. In a drug induced haze, he writes the followers:
“ I had gone beyond the face itself and arrived at the other side of the job. I may hve glimpsed, if merely for a minute, a freedom which was impossible when I relied on human relationships seen through the window of the face. ( … ) Having lost my face, possibly I could do contact with another universe of existent things, which were non images painted in Windowss.
This twice removed deterritorialization came with its ain dangers, nevertheless, and the supporter would so finally fail. Not, as Bolton had argued, because of some emasculating oedipal relationship with his married woman, but instead because he falls into apparition, into the black hole, into the dark cavities of lunacy and suicide, going no different than a psychopath.
Ironically, it seemed instead that his married woman was so more successful. Initially trapped in a binary husband/wife, beauty/beast resistance, she breaks free and finds her ain line of flight ; her woman-becoming and her mask-becoming. She is the penultimate treasonist in the novel. She betrays her societal function as a married woman, she betrays the truth by playing along with her hubby ‘s mascarade, she betrays criminal conversation by perpetrating it with her ain hubby, and most significantly, she betrays and rejects her function as an oedipalizing force. In a manner, the man/woman gathering at the beginning of the novel required the creative activity of the mask as a accelerator of kinds, thereby making a new gathering, one through which a line of flight could be traced, and the fluxes of desire could freely run. The married woman sees through the mask. She sees through this new facial machine her hubby built for himself. She goes through white wall and establishes a clandestine, transgressive relationship both with her hubby and with the mask. Throughout the novel her hubby deplores her “ impersonality ” , her “ crystalline nonexpression ” . He writes of standing “ in clean astonishment before the unknown district of [ her ] ” . However, it may be argued that she is the 1 who sees the face for what it is. A machinic gathering, a form of look. And as such she manages to undo it, to unknot it, to go unperceivable.