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Anoedipal Fiction: Schizoanalysis and the Black Dahlia

D. S. Neff
Poetics Today
Vol. 18, No. 3 (Autumn, 1997), pp. 301-342
Published by: Duke University Press
DOI: 10.2307/1773129
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1773129
Page Count: 42
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Anoedipal Fiction: Schizoanalysis and the Black Dahlia
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Abstract

Oedipus-as myth, figure, and complex-has served capitalist defenders of detective fiction well. A promising, but rather unexpected, variant of Oedipal criticism is provided by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari's schizoanalysis, a Nietzsche-inspired critique of Freud that moves beyond Erich Fromm and Wilhelm Reich to examine the systematic co-opting of the libido by a capitalism whose "first requirement," according to Guattari, is to "separate desire from work," and then to block "every approach to desire on the part of the worker" by "familialist castration [the Oedipus Complex] and the traps of consumerism, and so on; after which it is not hard to take possession of his labour-power." Deleuze and Guattari are particularly interested in what they call "minor" or "anoedipal" literature, which exposes an alliance between Freud and capitalism. James Ellroy's Black Dahlia (1987), the most recent attempt to "solve" in fiction the unsolved 1947 torture, mutilation, and murder of Elizabeth Short, is a vivid example of an "anoedipal" detective novel. Indeed, The Black Dahlia may be read as a relentless critique of mid-twentieth-century America that sees emotional devastation, racist paranoia, and familial psychosis as inevitable by-products of capitalism capitalizing on desire by way of the Oedipus Complex.

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