El sujeto es el resultado de un proceso de terror y crueldad; nuestra sujeción a la ley (en tanto sujetos) es un efecto de la ironía; la literatura puede hacernos revivir la crueldad y el terror desde el cual la ley (que constituye al sujeto) es imaginada

por Juan Pablo Anaya

What Deleuze and Guattari’s history of the subject in Anti-Oedipus sets out to demonstrate is that this elevated disembodied subject has emerged from a process of cruelty and terror. It is only with the organised torture of bodies that one can imagine a ‘law’ to which such bodies are subjected. The subject is an effect of terror, for it is only through terror that we produce a law to which we are all subjected, and the idea of a universal and dutiful ‘we’.

Literature, according to Deleuze and Guattari, can reverse this historical and ironic tendency by re-living the cruelty and terror from which the law is imagined. Kafka is often read as an ironic or negative author because the ‘law’ always remains beyond any image or figure of the law —all we encounter are judgements and prohibitions, never the law itself (Derrida 1989b). Deleuze, however, sees Kafka as anything but negative and ironic. Kafka’s fathers and judges in The Castle (1922) or The Trial (1925) are not signs of a hidden law. Rather, the weak but punishing father is imagined as that which stands in front of a law forever out of reach. Our subjection to law is an effect of irony. Because all we have are partial images, we imagine some law above and beyond our own life. Kafka exposes the law as a fiction, as nothing more than a series of authorities who have such a lack of force and power that they must present themselves as signs of some greater law. But there is nothing behind the father, the judge, the court or the priest. We need to see such fictions as signifiers, pure affects or sensations with no underlying or hidden reality. The subject, or the self subjected to an unseen law, is one fiction or image among others. By creating endless images of the law Kafka shows the law to be nothing more than the performance or image of power, with power itself being the power of images (Deleuze and Guattari 1986, 55). Before the modern notion of the subject there were just political acts of force, cruelty and terror; it is only in modernity that we imagine power or force to have a ground: the man or humanity which might act as some way of judging and organising force.”

(Colebrook, Claire, Irony, London: Routledge, pág. 143)