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The clutter assemblage

Journal Article


Abstract


  • In a short but intriguing essay entitled “Clutter: A Case History”, Welsh psychoanalyst Adam Phillips asks what clutter – e.g.,

    a messy bedroom, an untidy studio, a disorganised desk, and so on – might mean, or rather ‘do’, for the person doing the

    cluttering. For Phillips, the questions ‘what does clutter mean?’ and ‘what does clutter do?’ are related, obviously, but also

    distinct, and one senses that he shares Deleuze and Guattari’s view, or at least intuits the substance of their argument, that

    one can only properly engage the second question by first of all renouncing the first. [1] Psychoanalysis, especially but not

    exclusively its British, empirical strain, is, Phillips observes, curiously ambivalent about disorder, or what he prefers to call

    clutter. Virtually all its “categories of pathology” are, as Phillips puts it, “fantasies of disorder”, yet its critical language

    “repudiates chaos” as its basic duty. [2] On the one hand, psychoanalysis is professionally fascinated by instances of

    disorder and is constantly on the alert for slips of the tongue, tics, compulsions, anything that might be construed as

    betraying a second order of psychical activity; yet, on the other hand, it cannot accept that disorder really is what it appears

    to be, it must uncover the hidden pattern, the secret order that renders the slips of the tongue, the tics, the compulsions,

    and so on, legible. What it cannot countenance, then, is the idea that clutter might be meaningless and still purposeful. The

    conflict between these two questions, ‘what does it mean?’ and ‘what does it do?’, pushes contemporary psychoanalysts

    like Phillips in a similar direction to Deleuze and Guattari’s work.

Publication Date


  • 2011

Citation


  • Buchanan, I. M. 2011, 'The clutter assemblage', Drain: Journal of Contemporary Art and Culture, no. 14, pp. 1-7.

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/artspapers/1161

Number Of Pages


  • 6

Start Page


  • 1

End Page


  • 7

Issue


  • 14

Place Of Publication


  • http://drainmag.com/past-issues/

Abstract


  • In a short but intriguing essay entitled “Clutter: A Case History”, Welsh psychoanalyst Adam Phillips asks what clutter – e.g.,

    a messy bedroom, an untidy studio, a disorganised desk, and so on – might mean, or rather ‘do’, for the person doing the

    cluttering. For Phillips, the questions ‘what does clutter mean?’ and ‘what does clutter do?’ are related, obviously, but also

    distinct, and one senses that he shares Deleuze and Guattari’s view, or at least intuits the substance of their argument, that

    one can only properly engage the second question by first of all renouncing the first. [1] Psychoanalysis, especially but not

    exclusively its British, empirical strain, is, Phillips observes, curiously ambivalent about disorder, or what he prefers to call

    clutter. Virtually all its “categories of pathology” are, as Phillips puts it, “fantasies of disorder”, yet its critical language

    “repudiates chaos” as its basic duty. [2] On the one hand, psychoanalysis is professionally fascinated by instances of

    disorder and is constantly on the alert for slips of the tongue, tics, compulsions, anything that might be construed as

    betraying a second order of psychical activity; yet, on the other hand, it cannot accept that disorder really is what it appears

    to be, it must uncover the hidden pattern, the secret order that renders the slips of the tongue, the tics, the compulsions,

    and so on, legible. What it cannot countenance, then, is the idea that clutter might be meaningless and still purposeful. The

    conflict between these two questions, ‘what does it mean?’ and ‘what does it do?’, pushes contemporary psychoanalysts

    like Phillips in a similar direction to Deleuze and Guattari’s work.

Publication Date


  • 2011

Citation


  • Buchanan, I. M. 2011, 'The clutter assemblage', Drain: Journal of Contemporary Art and Culture, no. 14, pp. 1-7.

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/artspapers/1161

Number Of Pages


  • 6

Start Page


  • 1

End Page


  • 7

Issue


  • 14

Place Of Publication


  • http://drainmag.com/past-issues/