The schizo and the city: mapping desiring-geographies

Authors: Keith Harris*, University of Washington
Topics: Social Theory, Urban Geography
Keywords: deleuze and guattari, desire, intensity, affect, narrative
Session Type: Paper


Using the figure of the “schizo on a walk” to develop their concept of desire, Deleuze and Guattari write: "In a great book by Jacques Besse, we encounter once again the double stroll of the schizo, the geographic exterior voyage following nondecomposable distances, and the interior historical voyage enveloping intensities..." Besse’s desire pushes him back and forth across a Paris where solace can be found in Les Halles or near the fountain in front of Saint Sulpice. He is awestruck by the dome in Parc Buttes-Chaumont before his anxiety of being recognized drives him to set out down Rue la Fayette: "Beneath its straight sky, this is the only street in Paris that resembles New York. I hurtle toward l’Opéra. Two minutes later, anguish overcomes me. I find my lucidity again. Where am I going, what did I do?...In the heat, I turn into Faubourg-Montmartre and wonder how to find my Saint-Germain-des-Prés again." This paper argues that Besse’s novella can be understood as a mapping of an intensive desiring-geography, a term I use to highlight the inseparability of each dimension, because from this perspective, desire produces space and space is simultaneously a constitutive element of desire. To map Besse’s extensive, schizophrenic walk using traditional or psychogeographic representation, would miss the intensive dimension of this geography: the affective shifts and the temporal gymnastics. To map this desiring-geography is to surf the edge between the intensive and extensive, exploring the continually shifting interactions between psychological states and spatial location

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