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Tuesday, 8 November 2016

A review by Dom Gabrielli of David McLean's 'of desire & the desert', (Black Editions)



Deleuze and McLean, unlikely bed partners, ‘A Thousand Plateaux’ and ‘of desire & the desert.’ — Dom Gabrielli

it is not tools but the horrid state of masturbatory technology & intellectual impotence that makes us such scum//
 

The ‘Deleuzian’ century closed and its successor brought a dramatic return of the repressed as the scared masses took fright and clamoured not ‘with’ the tremors of Being but rather ‘for’ the One and its demonized Opposites, all the dreaded identities. Because as all of us know, closet Deleuzians or not, we are never one nor another, but certainly many, a mass, a crowd, a bunch and no one is supposed to win this life-game which only despots take seriously. With this return of Identity came necessarily the society of control. Deleuze had correctly predicted whose model was the motorway where freedom becomes solely an illusion, where everything one does is visioned, catalogued and potential to be used against us at any time. All that ensues is clockwork orange, and we as citizens are all decidedly lemons!


 

A Thousand Plateaux written with Guattari was probably the most overwhelming non-poetic reading experience I had as a student and many evenings were spent reading it aloud with my fellow students at NYU in my ground floor flat in the East Village, 3rd and 7th to be precise. Certain plateaux were read with a fine tooth comb, others were ignored and returned to at a later date. Deleuze and Guattari had after all encouraged artist-readers, non-philosophers, to take what they could when they could, to create their own machines, their own assemblages with whatever was at hand because after all the question was always: how to get out, how to let fresh air in, how to evacuate the suffocation of despotic institutions like universities which already back then (1990) were fabricating professor-business men-vendors with theories for sale and ideologies in suitcases to spread over willing student minds for pricey diplomas.


 

Deleuze and Guattari were unteachable in those days and any mention of them provoked chaos in the lecture rooms. Frequent adjectives were ‘unreadable,’ ‘incomprehensible,’ ‘dangerous’… That is when you could have real fun with concepts such as ‘deterritorialization.’ Much laughter was had at the expense of the advocates of the fashionable doxas of Lacarne, Derridar and Barrethes…


 

McLean I imagine had many a roar of laughter reading ‘A Thousand Plateaux’ and as good poets will, his readings and impressions made their ways into notebooks and pads. Lucky are those today who can read these immensely enjoyable vignettes which not only play freely with the spirits of the glorious nomad thinkers but place their concepts firmly in the society of control, 2016.


 

It is the destiny of thinker poets to be overlooked and ignored because they fall between categories, foul of classifications and ideologies. Are they really poets, these folk who cite Hegel and Heidegger? Can thoughts be expressed into poetic form anyway? Let’s face it, the same arguments have been raised against many an illustrious predecessor. No need to mention names. But today, I am told, we are all poets. We all have little secrets to share. We have emotions to dress in romantic script. We can take up poetry, like a gardener picks up his spade to dig his first vegetable patch. Deleuze himself hated French literature for its psycho-analytical bent, for its obsessions and perversions. The superiority of Anglo-American (and he forgot to mention Irish) literature being its lines of flight…. its becomings…. But language is a recalcitrant field. The act of writing reminiscent of Sisyphus, push a frosty boulder upward, ever upward, to the unattainable star. He probably won’t enjoy me saying this, but in this regard McLean is a traditional poet, as much as any today. He perfects his craft in solitude. Book by book, the idiom improves, singing, laughing, thinking. “One must have chaos in one to give birth to a dancing star.”


 

McLean’s diagnosis is spot on.


 

we have become the creature that both eats & is eaten, a night
forever completely devoid of ideas worth having or any
conceivable meaning/ / gormless Godot is drunk again &
snoozing somewhere in the worthless heart of being
(temple destroyed)

 

here there echoes the cretinous giggle of the pornographer
priest with his active camera, his hymns to null & the absent…
there are no honest warriors left today

(face of the despot)


 

What perhaps even Deleuze in his aristocratic brilliance could not presage was the rise of the pornopticon which from priest to bureaucrat, from the Kremlin to the Pharmahouse, enable the States of the world, all together and without exception, to re-territorialize desires and ‘pervertize’ the young, tying their memories and developments to a morbid technology which handicaps sexuality and puts resistance to sleep in a nihilistic heaven where even the worst fanatics with furious machetes cannot escape their immediate return as cartoons. ‘the men who police thought are not actual policemen who/would hesitate to think, were this so much as possible in their/ debilitated condition, preferring to the lick the sweaty nipples of/ evil & devote themselves to a smarmy fascism//‘


 

In his most recent tome, McLean comes to terms with Deleuzian concepts in a 21st world. The parabola of the boomerang of perversion is minutely plotted by McLean using the concepts and assemblages of Deleuze and Guattari as tool boxes. This is no mean feat and we must applaud vociferously, just as often laughing at the flippant tangles which the poet inextricably ties the reader into.


 

let’s axiomatize indeterminism
to make the crazies go away
& keep the right white faces in mental
heaven; there are shapes to show
maybe, we do not want to know them
mostly, forever sounds so lonely
you know, like nightmares
with nowhere to go

(of axioms & other monsters)


 

If Outside is Desire. If the Open is constantly recaptured by ‘answers provoked’ and twisted into a ‘smarmy fascism,’ leaving poetry the only right to destroy the ideology of the Inside and resist against the grotesque State machine, folding onto imbecility a simulacrum of a poem which can be read as both flippant self-indulgence and fulgurance and illumination, because both low and high culture, pornography and art, co-exist like the evil and the good sister in Bluebeard’s cave. The simulacrum so good, you tire to distinguish one from the other.


 

If all of the above, the desert? If Desire is the adolescence of thought, its necessary madness, its rites of possession, its myriad becomings, then the Desert is wisdom, becoming imperceptible, the right to breathe in words. Finally amid the One which is everything. Here is the Desert.


 

& it is the futile Peyote Dance resurrected again for all the
madmen hanging like bats from the rafters in some
disingenuous midnight temple. they have torn the scabs from
their arms to wall up the seven devils dead & eternally
protected accordingly, they are losing all their memories to be;
they are forgetting memory & learning to be // they want to be
everything but no body wants to be free

 

Rarely has such lucidity pinpointed the hypocrisies of Self and glorified selves in Collectives clamouring for Freedom and needing corpses and morals, when they haven’t been mad enough yet to see the futility in their madness, when they haven’t collected enough matter to find the Desert in themselves, in the cold North, where ingenuous temples grow for the night amid dunes of Nothing.


 

Who speaks desert speaks Nomad. But who knows society knows that ‘eyes are for spying with not seeing’ and that collective hope is an alias for suffering and ‘they are watching the children the prisoners the madmen in the distorting mirrors of this disgusting cunting panopticon’ and we are probably not ready to be nomad and we are probably not ready for Deleuze or Guattari or any of his one thousand distorted plateaux. Society is not worthy. It is just killing and destruction because the State ensure ‘they are born crippled,’ and ‘death is better than labour.’


 

Who reads this book knows hope is extraneous to matter. The physics of poetry, the immanence of the dissecting pen, imply the end of all forms of transcendence and a mockery of all their avatars. Difference and repetition of the whole history of poetry. ‘Structure is for vermin.’


 

I looked in vain for the Desert. I saw some animals passing the dunes. I spotted Artaud. I will keep an eye out for the nomads as i keep reading, backwards, inside out, dancing and laughing. There really is no need to be sad in this hell, because ‘the outsider comes undone.’


 

I heard some echoes.
I saw some footsteps.
I know the desert will burn again one day.

 

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