Letter to a Harsh Critic
Printed in Michel Cressole's Deleuze (1973)
[…]So I’ll move onto your other more cruel and hurtful criticism, when you say I'm someone who's always just tagged along behind, taking it easy, capitalizing upon other people's experiments, on gays, drug-users, alcoholics, masochists, lunatics, and so on, vaguely savouring their transports and poisons without ever taking any risks. You turn against me a piece I wrote where I ask how we can avoid becoming professional lecturers on Artaud or fashionable admirers of Fitzgerald. But what do you know about me, given that I believe in secrecy, that is, in the power of falsity, rather than in representing things in a way that manifests a lamentable faith in accuracy and truth? If I stick where I am, if I don't travel around, like anyone else I make my inner journeys that I can only measure by my emotions, and express very obliquely and circuitously in what I write. And what do my relations with gays, alcoholics, and drug-users matter, if I can obtain similar effects by different means? What's interesting isn't whether I'm capitalizing on anything, but whether there are people doing something or other in their little corner, and me in mine, and whether there might be any points of contact, chance encounters and coincidences rather than alignments and rallying-points (all that crap where everyone's supposed to be everyone else's guilty conscience and judge). I owe you lot nothing, nothing more than you owe me. I don't need to join you in your ghettos, because I've got my own. The question's nothing to do with the character of this or that exclusive group, it's to do with the transversal relations that ensure that any effects produced in some particular way (through homosexuality, drugs, and so on) can always be produced by other means. We have to counter people who think "I'm this, I'm that," and who do so, moreover, in psychoanalytic terms (relating everything to their childhood or fate), by thinking in strange, fluid, unusual terms: I don't know what I am--I'd have to investigate and experiment with so many things in a non-narcissistic, non-oedipal way—no gay can ever definitively say "I'm gay." It's not a question of being this or that sort of human, but of becoming inhuman, of a universal animal becoming—not seeing yourself as some dumb animal, but unraveling your body's human organization, exploring this or that zone of bodily intensity, with everyone discovering their own particular zones, and the groups, populations, species that inhabit them. Who's to say I can't talk about medicine unless I'm a doctor, if I talk about it like a dog? What's to stop me talking about drugs without being an addict, if I talk about them like a little bird? And why shouldn't I invent some way, however fantastic and contrived, of talking about something, without someone having to ask whether I'm qualified to talk like that? Drugs can produce delire, so why can't I get into a delire about drugs? Why does your particular version of "reality" have to come into it? You're a pretty unimaginative realist. And why do you bother reading me, if that's how you feel? Arguments from one's own privileged experience are bad and reactionary arguments. My favorite sentence in Anti-Oedipus is: "No, we've never seen a schizophrenic."
What, in sum, does your letter contain? Nothing about you, except the one bit I like. Lots of gossip, "things people say," where you deftly confuse what they're saying and what you're saying. And maybe that's what you set out to produce, a sort of self-contained jumble of echoes. It's a mannered letter, rather disdainful. You ask me for something you can publish, then say nasty things about me. My letter, given yours, seems like a self-justification. Wonderful. You're not an Arab, you're a jackal. You're doing all you can to turn me into what you complain I'm becoming, a little celebrity, ra ra ra. I can do without your help, but I do like you—to put an end to the gossip.