two childrearing books

As every alert parent knows, there are two essential child rearing books – Doctor Spock, in the most revised edition, and Gilles Deleuze’s Logique du Sens. Jonie Mitchell’s lines come to mind: “papa gave me the sugar/ momma showed me the deeper meaning.” Such is the case here. We use Spock to gain ersatz certainty in response to various problems that pop up in the schedule of duties (eat sleep poop radiate an adorable aura that touches every heavenly orb) that have been impose on baby – and we use Deleuze to understand why, after a lifetime of ironies and distancing techniques, we find ourselves spontaneously cooing chou chou and petit lapin to our bundle of joy. It is a world of diminutives, a real microverse, and we are just realizing the extent of our contract with Wonderland – which is where the L.d.S comes in to describe its extent and limits.The Logique was presided over by the spirit of Lewis Carroll, while Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus is governed by the harsher spirit of Artaud. Lewis Carroll gives us the sugar, Deleuze notes, while Artaud gives us the deeper meaning. In his asylum in Rodez, Artaud tried to translate Jabberwocky – and in that moment emerged something that was less a crossroads than a car crash. For though Carroll’s made up language and Artaud’s schizo talk, which had infected his poems since the breakdown of 1938, might seem similar, in fact they repulsed each other.
Artaud intensely disliked Jabberwocky. Deleuze explains why – and in so doing the Deleuze reader gets a sense of the fact that  the malentendu between Artaud and Carroll stnds at the center of Deleuze’s philosophy. Deleuze quotes Artaud’s letter about Jabberwocky, which for me, now, defines the difference between parenthood and the perpetual bachelorhood of philosophy:

“I don’t like either the languages of the surface, exuding happy leisure time and intellectual successes; the former rests on the anus, but without putting in the soul or the heart. The anus is always terror.”

The anus in the microverse of the diminutives is less terror than clockwork, a mechanism for measuring the new born’s absorption of milk, as well as a mess you clean up without really thinking too much about it after a while. You don’t change diapers in fear and trembling.

Myself, I’ve long been on the fear and trembling side, and now I’m on the other. It is a relief to change diapers for once. And it makes the petit lapin happy, too!