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Minority and Becoming: Deleuze, Guattari, and the Case of Apuleius’ Metamorphoses

Assaf Krebs

Tel Aviv University / Shenkar College of Art, Design and Engineering

Minority, or ‘minoritarian’ according to Deleuze and Guattari, is a political action. It challenges power and domination; it resists the violent coercion of law and the predominant norms; it deterritorializes itself from majority. Minority does not refer to quantitative. It is a substantial position that lacks power; it looks for escape-lines (ligne de fuite) from institutions, political order and social structure. Minority is not a static position nor is it a quality or characteristic. It is a process of ever-changing identities, of potentiality, of becoming (devenir). Becoming minority, becoming a woman, becoming a little girl or becoming an animal – all represent forms of molecular politics that subvert molar identities and steady positions. They trigger uncontrollable movements and deterritorializations, and they are characterised by an existence of an abiding change, by continuous metamorphosis.

The Metamorphoses or The Golden Ass by Apuleius is a text occupied by these kinds of movements. Modern scholars tend to interpret this text either as a ludicrous collection of ill-organized tales aimed to entertain its listeners, or as a serious religious philosophical story about the errors of flesh and the redemption by the goddess. In the current paper, I shall suggest a new way of reading this text, using Deleuzian concepts of ‘minority’ and ‘becoming’. I shall argue that the Met. presents a powerful act of ‘minor literature’. My intention is not to undermine the existing readings, but rather to shift the focus from the intentions of the writer and the nature of the oeuvre, to the experience of the text, its desires and movements. I shall allude to the breaching of the law, to the escape from the social order, and to the ‘becoming an animal’ – the deterritorialization of human language, the multiplicity of bodies, and the use of flows and forces that crosses it. I shall argue that the ‘becoming an animal’ is a substantial escape-line in the Met. I shall also refer to the body of Lucius, the main character, as a ‘Body without Organs’ – a body that resists the organism and the organizations of the organs. This body will be discussed in relation to other bodies in the text – human, divine and bestial, actual and imagined. Lucius’ desire (désir) will be read as a productive process of endless experimentation, as opposed to the Platonic desire, which is derived from lack.

Minority and becoming open an opportunity of moving toward the border of the discourse, to protest against the tyranny of language and order, and to dismantle the power. They portray a movement of molecular forces which subverts the violence that exists in the majoritarian social structure. I shall suggest that the Met. is an example of minor literature with subversive quality, which creates dynamics of experimentation and production, giving its listeners an opportunity to experience lignes de fuite from their rigid and stratified social structure and from the order of reality.

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Deterritorializing Classics

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