The French word délire, turned into a concept by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari in Anti-Oedipus (1972) has something that its English equivalent, delirium, does not have: its status to be simultaneously a noun and a verb. As we will see in this article, this is an important shade of difference and I will use the French verb délirer instead of its imperfect English version ‘to go into delirium”. Deleuze summarizes the argument of Anti-Oedipus as the fundamental distinction between the unconscious interpreted as a representative form (Sigmund Freud’s argument) and the unconscious interpreted as a production of desire. In other words, this distinction is the same there is between a theater and a factory. This changes anything as the realms of representation involves a phenomenology that activates itself through symbols and a sort of cultural semiotics whereas, the notion of production involves universal operations of material manipulation and transformation. This is why Freudian psychoanalysis tends to focus (or at least to start from) the familial realms as the Oedipus complex suggests and why an anti-oedipus argument starts from the universal. In the second part of Anti-Oedipus calls the Freudian totalitarian obsession for the family, familialism and talk about The Imperialism of Oedipus:
Oedipus restrained is the figure of the daddy-mommy-me triangle, the familial constellation in person. But when psychoanalysis makes of Oedipus its dogma, it is not unaware of the existence of relations said to be pre-oedipal in the child, exo-oedipal in the psychotic, para-oedipal in others.
The pre-exo-para-oedipal dimensions of humans is precisely what leads to a universal consideration of the unconscious, therefore of desire and therefore of delirium. We don’t délire about Daddy and Mommy, says Deleuze in the Abécédaire (D for Desire), rather, we délire about the whole world, one délire about history, geography, tribes, deserts, peoples, races, climates, that’s what we délire about. […] Where are my tribes, how should I arrange my tribes, surviving in the desert, etc.? Delirium is geographical-political. In other words, the desire that delirium embodies constitutes our relationship to the world in its entirety. It does not mean that the realms of the Oedipian family got extended to the world, that is not what the geographical dimension of the delirium mean and delirium is not based on a symbolization of our past experience of the world. Rather, it is a present synesthetic experience of the world in its entirety, that means including our own body. We should not wonder what is the signification of our dreams, but rather which forces of the world are we embedded into when we do dream.
Deleuze often talks about the great creators (authors, artists, filmmakers, philosophers etc.) as people who have tried more or less successfully to transcribe through a medium the great thing of life of which they had a glimpse. There is something almost religious in this notion of “great thing” and we should perhaps indeed understand it this way, as strange as it may sounds. Perhaps what is called God is nothing else than a retrospective attempt to anthropomorphize the origin of this powerful thing they have perceive. The phenomenon of trance, recurrent in the various religions of the world is not so far from delirium. Etymologically, it means “a fear of coming evil” or “a passage from life to death”; but perhaps the trance is nothing else than the intense manifestation of life in which a more articulated experience of the world is accomplished.
The political dimension of delirium is therefore not embedded within a strict anthropocentric realms but rather, it intervenes in a more holistic condition. The fact that the world is populated by individualized bodies (some presenting signs of vitality, some others not) necessarily involves the collective and individual ethical relationship that link them together: we call this relationship, politics. The philosophical “scream” of Deleuze: How to arrange my tribes? should be understood both at the individual and collective level. Attributs (attributes) Tribus (tribes) and if I allow myself a play on words (their etymology is different) are the parts of bodies, respectively, an individual one and, what Gilbert Simondon would call, a transindividual one, i.e. a collective body that is more than simply the sum of its parts. How to arrange my tribes? is therefore the quintessential geographical-political delirium as the spatialization of these two types of bodies cannot possibly be neutral.