‘Power’ and ‘Becoming Insane’ and ‘Attitude’

Power and Becoming Insane and Attitude’

By Véronic-Ting CHEN

Oneness and unity only rests in ‘word’, never in the ‘matter’.

 I recall a conversation with a neurologist about whether ‘insanity’ exists, and if it did, how. We arrive at an interesting concept, that we were not very interested in the notion of ‘insanity’ itself, in other words, to us, ‘insanity’ in ‘general’ does not exist. ‘Insanity’ only exists in ‘situations’ and ‘conditions’, that is, ‘who’, ‘with whom’, ‘when’, ‘where’, ‘why’, ‘why not’…? Only in these ‘wholes’, ‘situations’ and ‘assemblages’ does the word ‘insanity’ has a ‘referent’. Here, the significance of ‘insanity’ lies in its ‘eventualness’ and not its ‘essence’. And here, because of the ‘eventual’, ‘insanity’ gained a ‘new’ reference, such that ‘sanity’, ‘fascination,’, ‘dream’, ‘rationality’, etc. can no longer be distinguished. Such ‘attitude of observation’ no longer serve as the ‘judgement’ of words (the essence between insanity and sanity), nor the ‘micro-politics’ of the boundary between objects (insanity against fascination’,), nor the ‘fight’ between words and matter (the essences of insanity versus the eventual in insanity). Instead, it’s the ‘materialisation’ of a concept, a ‘new’ form of ‘clinical symptom’, ‘an unprecedented form of insanity’: who, with whom, when, where, how, why… What we are observing has always been the ‘process of individuation of events under certain circumstances’, not the words, the object, person, nor subject…We call that ‘becoming insane’.

The operation of our brain is not like Freud’s ‘stage’, with various characters, symbols, representations. Instead, its operation resembles the ‘factory’ of Deleuze: machines, mechanisms, installations, settings. It constantly produces desires and becomes a ‘machine of desires’.

To complete this concept, Deleuze divided the Freudian desire: we never long for a ‘matter’, a ‘word’ or any ‘object’. What we yearn for has alway been a ‘state’, a ‘whole’, a ‘collection’. We crave not for ‘daddy mummy-penis nipple’, but for ‘a world of one’s own’. As Proust puts it, ‘I hunger for not only this woman, but also the landscape surrounding her…’, ‘What a woman wants is never only a dress, but the world she can embrace wearing the dress. What a man wants is never only a woman, but the life he can live having that woman.’

It is ‘desire’ that creates a ‘world we must arrive’, rushing us to ‘leave here to go there’, compelling us to ‘become’.

We detect two kinds of ‘becoming insane’. One is Foucault’s ‘installation and becoming insane’, the other is Nietzsche’s ‘Dionysus and becoming insane’. The former is the counter effect of ‘power’: people become insane in a controlled system. They evade ‘reality’, are unable to control themselves, resulting in their ‘collapse’.  While the latter is motivated by free will: one leaves one’s ‘reality’ in search of another, to experience, to fight, to summon and to fall into ‘insanity’. Both kinds of ‘becoming insane’ coexist with ‘power’.

Here we have an interesting and important observation. Freud mentioned two concepts in his ‘Parapsychology’, ‘neuro and psychology’ (NEVROSE-PSYCHOSE). There are three clinical pathology of ‘neuropathy (dysfunction)’: hysteria (emotional breakdown); obsession (phobias, necrophilia, necrophagia, etc.; OCDs: contant hand-washing, constantly checking the gas, no self-control over one’s speech, etc.); fears (the fear of height, water, snakes, blood…). A ‘neuropathy patient’ is aware of his or her symptom but is unable to excise control over it. While the patient of ‘mental disease’ ‘creates an alternate reality’, ‘a parallel universe’: for a paranoia patient, ‘Everything are enemies/ Never is one in peace’; for a schizophrenia patient, ‘I am the king of a tribe/ Please leave me alone’; for an autism patient, ‘One room one case, there’s no one else in my world’; a ‘mental disease patient’ does not only creates his own world, but also believes in that world, and lives and dies with that world.

According to Freud, ‘The skin is like an assembly of countless dots, scars, apertures and holes, while a sock is a collection of numerous webs. We believe the neuropathy patient could only compare a sock to the female genital, and are not able to see the holes in a sock as a ground covered with vaginas…’ Comparing a sock to a vagina is fine, perhaps we do that everyday. However, seeing the countless apertures in a piece of cloth as a floor full of vaginas (and truly believe that), is simply impossible without a certain level of mental dysfunction. In a 1915 article, he wrote, ‘The neuropathy patient lean towards the “comparison and recognition” of the “representation of objects”. While a mental disease patient can only “represent” the “word itself”. It is a recognition of oral expression, instead of the comparison of the predetermined substitute of the object: it is not hole-vagina, not a piece of cloth – a ground covered with vaginas.’ Deleuze also took Salvador Dali as an example in his A Thousand Plateaus. In order to create delirium, he restlessly portrayed the ‘rhino horn’, never betraying any sign or behaviour of a neuropathy patient. However, while he further compared the chicken skin to a floor covered by rhino horns, we noticed that we have entered the terrain of insanity. It is not rhino horn-penis, but chicken skin-a floor of rhino horns-a floor of penis.

Obviously Freud has problems dealing with the ‘plural’. He cannot comprehend ‘plurality’ in insanity. He hoped to use this duplicated ‘plural’ to distinguish the ‘pleural’ in ‘neuropathy disease and the mental one’. He expected this ‘plural’ in ‘the analogy and duplication of the reality’ to ‘regulate’ the ‘pleural’ as the symptom of ‘becoming insane’. However, the ‘plurality of Freud’ is a ‘plurality in the tree structure’, a ‘family tree’. Because Freud reflected all plurals back to ‘daddy and mummy’ and the ‘family disease’. (The fear to one/ the feel to all…fall in love with one person of the same gender/ fall in love with all of the same gender…). Deleuze’s ‘one wolf or a pack of wolves’ further criticised Freud’s tendency for using ‘words’, ‘conventional none’ to grant the ‘objects’ with ‘oneness and unicity’. Even if the ‘object’ has been described (by the word) and lost its original ‘property’, psychoanalysis can still use ‘words’, its ‘symbols’ to reflect the ‘object’. Just like a ‘tree’, no matter how the branches and leaves flourish, they could be traced back to the trunk (daddy, mummy). There is a third word that acquired unlimited ‘power’ besides ‘neuropathy’ and ‘mental disease’, thanks to Freud: PERVERSION. Under this family tree, there are homosexuality, zoophilia, fetishism, pedophilia,voyeurism, exhibitionism…And only three of these are included in Freud’ s ‘becoming insane’.

Psychoanalysis has been excluded from contemporary mental healthcare system because neuropathic and mental elements coexist in many symptoms (diagnostic plural). Thus we can never grasp ‘insanity’. (The setting of the original concept of ‘insanity’ is that it’s out of control and reach of the self and the outside world…isn’t it?)

‘Insanity’ is a ‘rhizome-like plural’, ‘grass-shape plural’ (not ‘tree-shape plural’), it is the unlimited extension in all directions, some longer and some shorter, some thicker and some thinner, with no ‘primary’ nor ‘subordinate’. ‘Insanity’ constantly  ‘grow’ in one’s brain, ceaselessly ‘born’ and ‘escape’, ubiquitous ‘like a king of tribes, raised by a dozen tribes. He loves all tribes. But he has no parents, and doesn’t know which tribe he is born to be the king of…’. Just like what Virginia Woolf said, ‘I would never say that I am here, or where am I…’

Wolves can never be a singular, they are by nature a pack. It is here, and there. Its ‘plurality’ is not in the sense of quantity (despite the ‘plurality’ of the branches, the trunk is a ‘singular’). It is ‘plural’ because it cannot be counted. Every time you attempt to count it, it would present a different number. That, is ‘insanity’. We can’t observe the ‘insane’, we can only observe the process of “becoming insane”. The individual events and process, ‘who’, ‘with whom’, ‘when’, ‘where’, ‘why’, ‘why not’… And the one wolf-neuro, a pack of wolves (mental in psychoanalysis is only Freud’s attempt to demonstrate the ‘substance’ of ‘insanity’ with ‘words’). It is not only ‘uninteresting’, but also fundamentally ‘non-essential’.

Power and ‘becoming insane’ are symbiotic. Power is ubiquitous: religion, ethnic, corporate, government, gender, family, doctor, prison, school…And the most prominent characteristic is ‘I help you (to think), I prohibit you (to think)’. It is one psychoanalysis after another: categorising ‘objects’ with ‘words’, tracing the branches back to the trunk; from the child back to daddy and mummy. It is one dualism machine after another: Christianity or non-Christianity? White or black? American or African? Male or female? Peasant or engineer?… It is one control system after another: this person comes here, these people go through that door, drive round this highway, automated surveillance of the city, banks…

Jiang Zhi’s ‘attitude’ is like an observation of ‘words’ and ‘objects’, more precisely, an observation of ‘power’ and ‘becoming insane’. ‘Coyness’, ‘trembling’ and ‘tears’ are ‘between words and objects’, were given the elements of an ‘event’, and became ‘individualised’ and ‘plural’. A simple conjunction ‘and’ can expand the work: power and becoming insane and coyness; power and becoming insane and tremble; power an becoming insane and crying; power and becoming insane and attitude…

Context always exist, so does ‘power’. Yet more importantly, the ‘insanity’ and ‘plurality’ (obliquely) obstruct the birth of ‘power’: it cannot be judged, cannot be introduced to ethics, cannot be psychoanalysed: Gillian Chung’s tears, people trembling, a maiden’s coyness, we cannot tell if it is ‘performance’ or ‘documentation’, official or personal, voluntary or involuntary, ‘conscious’ or ‘subconscious’, neural or mental, Foucault or Nietzsche, ‘the power of the word restrain the becoming of the matter’ or ‘the becoming or the matter grant the word with new powers’, product of ‘power’ or ‘becoming insane’ out of free will…

The ‘state’ itself is a ‘plurality’, while this ’plural’ is the process of ‘individuation’. As a result, there is an ‘attitude’ but one which has ‘nothing to say’. They seem to be unified in ‘appearance’, but has individual ‘state’. ‘Attitude’ gains its form while ‘word’ loses its effect. ‘Attitude’ coexists with ‘events’, ‘conditions’, ‘‘states’, accompanied by who, with whom, when, where, why, how…

‘Attitude’ is a ‘becoming (insane)’. 


/ 维洛尼卡







在德勒兹的“疯子的两种制度”中,我们嗅到了两种“成为疯狂”,一种是福柯式的“设置与成为疯狂”,另一种是尼采式的“狄俄尼索斯与成为疯狂”。前者是“权力”的反作用,人在控制性系统下成为疯狂,逃离“ 真实”,我们无法控制自身而“崩溃”,而后者则是自由意志,离开这个“真实”到达另一个“真实”,去体验,去反抗,去召唤,堕入“疯狂”。两种“成为疯狂”都与“权力”共生。

这里我们有个“有趣”而且“重要”的观察:在佛洛伊德的《超心理学》提及到的两个概念“神经与精神”(NEVROSE-PSYCHOSE)。“神经病(官能障碍)”有3个临床病理:歇斯底里(情绪崩溃),着迷/强迫(癖好:恋尸,食尸…强迫性神经病:不停洗手,不停检查煤气,无法自控语言…),恐惧(恐高,恐水,恐蛇,恐血…)。“神经病患者”其自身对其病征有意识,然而其本身无法控制。而“精神病”,是患者自身创造出“另一个不同于真实的真实”“一个平行的世界”:妄想症的“一切都是敌人/ 绝对不能让人安宁”,精神分裂症的“沙漠部落中的王/ 请让我一个人安宁”,自闭症的“一个房间一个匣子/ 我的世界没有人”…“精神病患者”不止创造了他的世界,而且相信着这个世界,与这个世界同生公存。


德勒兹在《千座高原》中还提及一个达利(Salvador Dali)的例子:他为了制造“谵妄”可以一直不停的描述再现“犀牛的角”,而他从来未曾有神经症患者的征兆与言行。然而当他再把鸡皮比较成满地犀牛的角,我们察觉到这里我们已经进入了疯狂。不是犀牛角-阴茎,而是鸡皮-满地犀牛角-满地阴茎。

佛洛伊德在处理“多”上显然有问题,他无法理解疯狂里的“多”,他指望用这个复制的“多”来区分“神经(病)与精神(病)”的“多”(一个洞-一个阴道/一块布-满地阴道),他指望用这个“类比/复制现实”的“多”,来“归整”“成为疯狂”的病征的“多”。而这个“佛洛伊德的多”是“树型的多”,是“家族树”,因为所有的多,佛洛伊德都返照回“爸爸妈妈”“家族病”。(对一个人的恐惧/ 对所有人的恐惧… 爱上某一个同性/ 爱上所有同性… )






权力与“成为疯狂”共生。而“权力”无处不在:宗教,种族,市场,政府,性别,家庭,医院,监狱,学校……而“权力”最大的特点是:“我帮你(思考)/ 我阻止你(思考)”,一个又一个的精神分析:用“词”将“物”分门别类,从树枝顺回树干,从孩子顺回爸爸妈妈;一个又一个的二元论机器:是基督教是非基督教?是白人是黑人?是美国人是非洲人?是男是女?是农民是工程师…一个又一个的控制性系统:这个人到这里,这些人走这个门,高速公路绕这个圈,城市自动监控系统,银行…