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Document Details :
Title: 'A Schizophrenic Out for a Walk'
Subtitle: Anti-Oedipus and Michael K
Author(s): HURST, Andrea
Journal: Tijdschrift voor Filosofie
Volume: 77 Issue: 1 Date: 2015
For addressing the problem of negotiating social orders in a way that protects one’s humanity, I have considered Deleuze and Guattari’s intriguing claim in Anti-Oedipus (1983) that 'a schizophrenic out for a walk is a better model than a neurotic lying on the analyst’s couch'. I outlined the associated principles (not specifics) of schizoid living developed in Anti-Oedipus via a critique that reverses the value of two Freudian concepts, namely, ‘neurosis’ and ‘psychosis’. I then cited some of the book’s eulogising ‘praise poetry’, which describes the ‘schizo’ and connected it to a contemporaneous text, J.M. Coetzee’s Life and Times of Michael K (1983), that addresses the same ethical problem of negotiating social orders. Through the activities and reflections of the novel’s protagonist, Michael K, who might be thought of as 'a schizophrenic out for a walk', I showed that Coetzee explores various forms of resistance. He investigates the impotence of resistance as the active construction of an alternative story from the alienated position of the ‘other’. I pointed out that this strategy fails because it remains within the neurotic desire (per impossible) to construct a coherent narrative. Similarly, I indicated that resistance fails as a gesture of pure refusal akin to schizophrenic antiproduction, because the neurotic response re-appropriates this extremity through self-serving gestures of externalisation (dehumanisation, pathologisation and deification). Finally, I pointed out how Coetzee alludes to a kind of resistance that might be called schizoid and that changes the rules of the game. In the novel, K experiments with the first and second options, but cannot make life possible, either as a servant to a social order, on his own terms, or on the absolute outside. Echoing the question posed by Deleuze and Guattari of whether the schizoid ‘men of desire’ they praise exist yet, K only dreams of the third option in the novel’s final lines, which detail the thoughts of a man dying of starvation.