The Pragmatic Genealogy of Concepts: Starting Points

Having met up with Co-I Susana Caló in London last week to talk about the project – first face to face meeting for at least a year! – I started ad hoc research and reconnoitring the territory around Issue 13 of Recherches, which bears the title Généalogie du capital: 1. Les équipments du pouvoir. This issue appeared in December 1973. I have two hard copy versions of this issue which I am reading against each other: the first is the issue of the review itself, now nearly 50 years old! (There is a strange temporality here which I would like to think about more).

The other one is the 10/18 volume, published in 1976. Reading Dosse’s Gilles Deleuze Félix Guattari: Biographie croisée it seems that at some point in the 1970s (tbc) Florence Pétry – the current director of Editions Recherches (who is very willing to collaborate with us) - arrived in CERFI and began advising Guattari on the value of a wider dissemination of the volumes of Recherches, as well as of other books. 10/18, affiliated to the publisher Christian Bourgois was one of the major and cheaper outlets through which ‘French theory’ was disseminated in the 1970s, Dosse says in the rayons of Gibert Joseph in the Boulevard St Michel (now sadly defunct, and recently).

One of the first things I discover is that the 10/18 volume amputates the 1973 issue of some of its ‘interventions militantes’ and of some of its paratextual detail, so that it appears as ‘authored by’ François Fourquet and Lion Murard, whereas the journal issue does not indicate any specific authorship and mentions a wider group not referenced in the 1973 version. Already affective and subjective issues are raising their head, or heads, so to speak.

Looking around the edges of Issue 13 the story begins to emerge of a rather tortuous editorial process which involved three key ‘scriptors’ François Fourquet, Lion Murard and Marie-Thérèse Vernet-Straggiotti and a wider group, about which more later. What is fascinating though is how the journal issue in punctuated by what they call the ‘interventions militantes’, in which various actors (I’ll name them in a minute) write about their libidinal and affective investments, in today’s terms their ‘feelings’, about what is going on with the project. So they really did put into effect the vision of a research project which involved the manifestation and articulation of intersubjective and affective aspects of a collective research enterprise.

It was also interesting to try to trace the chronology of the whole project from the initial ‘commission’ from Michel Conan at the Mission de la recherche urbaine (more on this later). It looks like an initial focus, in the first few chapters, on ‘La Ville ordinateur’ and ‘La Ville Métaphore’ was perturbed and extended by the ‘arrival’ at CERFI (in concrete terms in the apartment where they authors were based for their collective authorship activities – 103 Bvd Beaumarchais and, nearby, Rue Popincourt, where François Fourquet and Michel Rostain (key members of the CERFI ‘mafia’ as they were called) had set up and lived – of the Front homosexuel d’action révolutionnaire (FHAR), or a delegation thereof. The ‘official’ history, i.e the one recounted by Dosse which tends to highlight individuals, says that Guy Hocquenghem arrived at CEFRI having read Anti-Oedipe – which apparently provided the theory for the movement (‘c’est mon livre’)- and asked to take over an issue of Recherches for FHAR. The issue did appear as Issue 12 (thus one before our focus on 13), and it was this one - Trois milliards de pervers, which gained Recherches and CERFI immediate notoriety and Guattari a law suit. It may also have influenced the decision of Giscard d’Estaing’s government to withdraw funding from CERFI in 1975. To find out more I watched Carole Rossopopoulos’s video film FHAR on Mubi, thinking of Ros Murray my colleague and friend who is working on this right now.

So it looks like there are several intersecting micro-histories here:

  1. the history of the policies of the State, specifically of the Ministère de l’Équipment (under various names) vis a vis ‘l’aménagement du territoire’ (I need to look into the lexis here, since ‘équipment collectif’, ‘aménagement du territoire’ etc bear interesting comparison and cross-reference with the conceptual terms in play, e.g. in Foucault and Deleuze and Guattaridispositif, agencement) and the specific policy of CERFI to seek State funding for radical and experimental projects (rather than going to the Cévennes to set up pre-industrial communities as they say). I’ve asked a relative of mine who was a British civil servant if she knows who to ask more about this, but she doesn’t.

  2. the composition and reception history of Anti-Œdipe, which, together with 1), put CERFI and Recherches on the map for any post-1968 radical project needing funding or just wanting money (parallel with the 1970s/1980s GLC!?).

  3. the internal politics and micro-history of the Recherches people ….

Going too fast here to try to tabulate this… I’m still scoping out the territory. I am thinking that the first things to do would be to map out a Chronology and a survey of the Actors (with their biographies), then a, overview of Issue 13, and go from there. [See Chronology and Index of Names].


Named as contributors in the Preface to Recherches 13

Other names are mentioned in the ‘Interventions’ and the discussions:

Anne mentions:

Françoise (1) mentions:

Francoise (2): mentions:

Anne (2) mentions:

Marie Therese (1) mentions:

Marie Therese (2) mentions

  • Francois (FOURQUET)

  • Lion (MURARD)

  • Felix (GUATTARI)

  • Gilles Deleuze

  • Michel Foucault

  • Jean-Pierre ?

  • Herve (MAURY)

  • Anne (QUERRIEN)

  • Colette (JOLY)

  • Marie Therese (3) mentions:

  • Francoise (LÉVY)

  • Anne (QUERRIEN)

  • Catherine (BERNHEIM)

  • Lion (MURARD)

Reading the interviews in Morford, and Dosse, confirms that the ‘mafia’ or ‘noyau dur’ of CERFI was Fourquet, Murard, Maury, Mozère, Rostain, and Anne Querrien, although the latter was often more in the role of intercessor between the two tendencies in the group – Fourquet, Rostain and Murard who sought independence from Guattari, and Mozère, Maury who were more in his orbit. There are other ways of distributing the CERFI actors, according to their provenance e.g. from the UEC, UNEF, of ‘Opposition de gauche’, La Borde (often combined), the FHAR contingent, etc. Need to find a way to map all of this and present it visually.

Issue 13 features four types of writing: 1) the chapters on the different aspects of the genealogy of collective equipment 2) the ‘interventions militantes’ 3) transcriptions of discussions usually involving the three tutelary figures and the editorial group 4) paratextual additions

In more detail:

  • Presentation (written by Fourquet and Murard)

  • Chapter 1 – ‘La ville-ordinateur’ (‘redigé en Septembre 1971’)

  • Chapter 2 – La Ville-métaphore (‘redigé en novembre 1972’)

    • Intervention militante – Françoise
  • Chapter 3 – Territoires (undated)

    • Interventions militantes: Marie-Thérèse, Françoise
  • Chapter 4 – Formations des équipments collectifs (undated)

  • Chapter 5 – Le Discours du Plan

    • Discussion – Deleuze, Guattari, Foucault,

    • Intervention militante – Marie-Thérèse

  • Chapter 6 – Economie politique sans famille

    • Intervention militante - Marie-Thérèse
  • Bibliography

  • Index of Names

Given the different types of writing one gets a different picture depending on how one engages with the text. The chapters are footnoted and include references, while the interventions refer to people by their first names, except Deleuze and Foucault. One task then would be to try to map the names mentioned in the interventions to CERFI membership.

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