DELEUZE AND DEMONICITY: PLAYING WITH THE DOG

Deleuze remarks that a dualism can be a good first step on the way to a multiplicity. So when he opposes barking and howling we can be sure that this is a preliminary distinction to get us to feel something important. Deleuze « indicates that he is sensitive to something in animals, but what bothers him are familial and familiar, domestic animals » (ABC Primer, A as in Animal). Deleuze is trying to awaken a sensitivity, not pass judgement. He has in mind the whole multiplicity of canine cries: barking, howling, yelping, growling, snarling, yapping. The bark in itself is not in question, there are all sorts of barking,  but rather its stupidity versus its « demonicity ».

James Hillman talks of the dog as an « angel » bearing messages of the plural soul, Deleuze prefers to talk in terms of demons, but the idea is the same uncoded signs and becomings rather than stable significations and fixed attributes. The important thing is not so much univocal communication of a coded content as polyvocal emission of signs. Signs require an apprenticeship, as we cross the « rift » and go over to the other, and not domestication. An animal relationship to the animal means for example being the dog’s apprentice as well as its owner.

Deleuze cites Castaneda playing with a dog while under the effect of peyote. He notes that the important thing here is not the drug but the dismantling of interpretations relating to the experience. Playing with the dog rather than interpreting the dog: « No, the dog I saw and ran along with under the effect of the drug was not my whore of a mother » (DIALOGUES, 48). Not the pre-coded secrets of psychoanalysis but the process of becoming: « This is a procedure of animal-becoming which does not mean anything other than what it becomes, and makes me become with it » (DIALOGUES, 48, my translation). It is also a procedure of schizoanalysis, which is why Hillman claims that the household pet was the first psychoanalyst: « Not only are pets part of the larger family, but they are intimately familiar observers of your unconscious presentation in everyday household life. They were the first psychoanalysts. »

In sum, the relation to the dog involves dumb nature and the multiplicity of canine cries, the multiplicity of of canidae enfolded in the dog-world, unrepressed nature and playing with the dog, barking at illusion and stupidity, a taste for decay and decomposition and getting to the bare bones, composing with depression and the demon of death.

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