The L657 Dialog

Part II: The Island of Id

Catch up with:

A Brief Intro to the L657 Dialog and Part I.


Relevant philosophical and theoretical works:

“From the History of an Infantile Neurosis,” by Sigmund Freud

“The Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis” from Ecrits, by Jacques Lacan

“Différance” and “White Mythology: Metaphor in the Text of Philosophy,” by Jacques Derrida

A Thousand Plateaus, by Gilles Deleuze & Félix Guattari


FADE IN:

EXT. FURTHER DOWN ALONG THE GOWANUS — EARLY MORNING

Enter the Student and Saussure the Cat, wandering down a darker road. Brighter lights are in the distance at their backs, and the street is flanked on either side by barely discernible signs that point the way in sharp arrows and bold exclamations. Presently, a siren sounds just far enough away to make them feel secure. Saussure the Cat swipes at a rat and misses. The Student pauses to examine one potentially interesting sign.

STUDENT 
 (pridefully suspicious)

Are you sure we’re heading the right way?

SAUSSURE THE CAT

Of course I’m sure — where else would we be going?

STUDENT

But this sign says that Id is to our right

and the arrow’s pointing down and to our left

like we should take the subway.

SAUSSURE THE CAT
 
(intellectually proud)

Any road

and alley that you see will lead to Id

once you’ve found yourself in this part of town.

The tower on the island was constructed

long before Manhattan office spaces

completely dominated the skyline —

I’ve been told on good authority by the man

who gives me sardines outside the pizza place

by Pratt, that Id was built by pioneers

to make a vantage place where they could catch

witches flying past on bent broomsticks.

STUDENT

When you speak it makes me think that you

don’t understand yourself when you meow.

PROFESSOR

They come to the edge of the canal, where a wooden bridge condenses into being.

STUDENT
 
(testing the waters)

What are those figures standing by the arch

that overlooks the bridge?

SAUSSURE THE CAT

Those are the subjects

constructed out of stone — statues that welcome

people leaving Id into the world,

and wave goodbye to those like us regressing

back the other way.

STONE SUBJECTS

So long suckers!

PROFESSOR

SAUSSURE THE CAT
 
(beginning to regress)

Hello ho-ho boy! Come bird come:

Id is just across the creaking bridge.

They walk between the staring statues and onto the rotten wooden planks of the bridge, which sways over the iridescent swirling-sludge current of the canal.

STUDENT

I have no words at my disposal that

could possibly describe the neon-glowing

water down below. Imagine taking

just a sip by accident — I bet

that you would lose your mind trying to

describe the taste as soon as your lips were wet.

SAUSSURE THE CAT

And you wanted to jump in.

PROFESSOR

STUDENT

Look there! What’s that?

The island of Id rises like a dripping phallus out of the canal. A cottage with irregularly dim lights flickering in the windows and smoke pouring out of the brick chimney sits at the base of the island near the bridge. The Student and Saussure the Cat approach a door that looks like parched lips trying to give birth to a longing for something lost but not forgotten, and the door speaks as it splits open under the thrust of their inquisitive hands.

CREAKING DOOR
 
(ashamed of nothing, but 
 aware of feeling ashamed once, 
 perhaps a long time ago 
 when it was a mouse’s red door, 
 which was the first time 
 someone found it unlocked and, 
 it swore, would be the last time 
 it watched someone die)

Father forgive me, for I have sinned:

I was supposed to be firm — but I let them in.

INT. THE COTTAGE ON ID

The Student and Saussure the Cat enter a shadow-saturated smoky room, where flashes of firelight illuminate two figures. One figure sits snoring in an easy chair. The other figure rises off the floor and growls.

PROFESSOR

FREUD THE WOLF-HEAD

A sign? A smell: a puss at the door!

SAUSSURE THE CAT

No — stop!

A bushy-tailed wolf with three heads, FREUD THE WOLF-HEAD, LACAN THE WOLF-HEAD, and DERRIDA THE WOLF-HEAD, leaps into light and flings a face with snapping fangs at Saussure the Cat. A chase around the room commences. Somehow they manage not to touch a single lamp or knock any bookshelves over, and the figure in the chair continues to snore.

SAUSSURE THE CAT
 
(delightfully panicked)

I saved you first — now you save me!

The Student, thinking quickly, grabs the three-headed wolf by its tail. The tail falls off and the wolf howls.

FREUD THE WOLF-HEAD
 
(deflated)

My tail!

LACAN THE WOLF-HEAD

Cat-strated again.

DERRIDA THE WOLF-HEAD
 
(as if sarcastically flipping 
 a one-sided coin)

A tale of many tails.

LACAN THE WOLF-HEAD
 
(like an out-of-practice 
 and unlicensed doctor)

Maybe Freud will become easier

to understand without a tail to chase.

DERRIDA THE WOLF-HEAD

That would be a welcomed difference.

FREUD THE WOLF-HEAD

That bastard cat!

And who are you, holding my tail in the dark?

Suddenly the lights in the room turn on and everything is made clear. The figure in the chair is revealed to be a two-headed man.

VOICE OF GOD
 
(appealing to the masses)

It’s no Genesis — but the smallest miracles

matter the most.

STUDENT

I’m a member of the University.

Saussure the Cat crawls up the Student and settles on his shoulder, where he watches the wolf like a satellite in orbit.

SAUSSURE THE CAT

You used to be.

STUDENT

You’ll see — I’ll be one again.

SAUSSURE THE CAT
 
(catching his breath and 
 forgetting, as a cat will, 
 that he was the one who 
 suggested they travel 
 all the way to Id)

All that matters now is that we leave.

I hate the thought of such a place, where tails

are unpredictable. A whole like that

should never be so simply separated.

And it’s not worth our time to try and get

a bit of information from these mangy

lunatics — as if they could tell us what

was hiding on the bottom of the canal —

you might as well go back and jump in.

FREUD THE WOLF-HEAD

I think

we’ve already revealed the only bottom

worth investigating. Will you please

give me my tail?

LACAN THE WOLF-HEAD

Now we begin to see

the kernel of truth.

DERRIDA THE WOLF-HEAD

Yet I suggest that we

go further — towards the iterable bottom,

the meta-bottom at the bottom of

the structure behind everything. Young man

would you please remove your pants and show us

exactly what type of tail you have to tell?

The Student reaches into his pocket and removes the letter from the University.

STUDENT

This is the only bit of proof I need

to make you believe my tale. I was a student

at the University, taking classes,

on a graduate level, and teaching kids

the art of rhetoric. I’ve been consumed

by my desire to apprehend the signs

that construct the semblance of our daily lives

since I was young, and my dad wrecked the van

when he ran a stale red light — turns out that he

was colorblind — and my youngest brother died.

So I spent my life trying to find

a useful set of universal signs

that everyone could read no matter what,

despite whatever circumstances. I failed —

or I nearly did, until I thought of how

you might express signs as reductive things

similar to what this wolf has said

about the meta-bottom: except the twist

is an empirically new construction,

a data driven singularity forming

an equation of sorts. I needed tons of data,

more data than I could compile alone —

SAUSSURE THE CAT

But?

STUDENT
 
(self-defeating and painfully 
 self-aware)

I never got the chance to finish.

My position at the school was terminated

despite my data-driven hopes and dreams

when the President was inaugurated

and all the questions left to answer in

the world were deemed to be a waste of time

compared to the importance of producing

an upright nation of credible consumers.

FREUD THE WOLF-HEAD
 
(digging for the truth)

And you still have a tale?

STUDENT

Just one I guess,

one question left to answer in the world

worth working for — at least until I run

out of money for my rent — where is

the bottom of the canal, and what’s hidden there?

The Student opens a nearby window, revealing the bubbling canal, where seven hypernaturally white icebergs are floating. A kayaker in a heavy parka and furs paddles between the icebergs. She hits one and her ship begins to sink. The kayak capsizes vertically like a diver in slow motion as the kayaker mounts it and sings.

KAYAKER
 
(joyous, like singing a 
 Christmas carol or Happy Birthday 
 to a long dead loved one)

Thank the Lord for this great day
what a wonderful day to explore — 
all kayakers should die this way
in sight of the trash on the shore.

We all should see the world this way
in the middle of frozen sludge,
while rowing toward the polluted bay
kept safe from the government’s love —

(getting jazzy now, maybe 
 dancing if not for the small 
 space left on the kayak)

Kayaks are fun and fantastic
Colorful cheap and plastic
And producing them is dramatic
when they wind up as trash on the shore.

Oh! Everest is covered in shit
and jungles are jumbled with camping equipment
when we pollute who can forget
the Pres. who told us — “Explore!”

(the bridge now, somewhat 
 disturbed by the gurgling 
 sound of the submerging ship)

Climate change be damned
Subdued by the age of men
Who live by the decree
Of free economy!

(and the climax reaches,
 like the kayaker, one last time 
 above the water)

Oh! Thank the lord for today
What a wonderful day to explore
Without the EPA
We’re free to be trash on the shore!

PROFESSOR

DERRIDA THE WOLF-HEAD
 
(surprisingly shocked)

Erase my face! A living echo.

STUDENT

A guide?

FREUD THE WOLF-HEAD

A figment of all our imaginations — yes.

LACAN THE WOLF-HEAD

And so the question of psychosis begins.

The Kayaker sinks silently into the canal and disappears in a bloom of glowing bubbles. All watch silently as if observing a great moment — almost a shift in paradigm — until the figure in the chair begins to moan. Both heads resting on those wide shoulders in the easy chair, DELEUZE THE FIRST-HEAD & GUATTARI THE FIRST-HEAD, wake up and begin to mumble and grumble in gibberish.

DERRIDA THE WOLF-HEAD
 
(worked up to a howl by 
 the mumbling and monstrous 
 figure in the chair)

And so we have a fine sample of how

language functions as a mark — mark me

and my three heads and the two heads on top

of that person’s shoulders. What do you see between

the space around our several faces? Differance?

Yes — an epistemontological trace

deferring and differing, which enables us

to structure all our signs just like the bridge

you crossed to enter Id, which held you up

above the bottomless canal. But there is more —

I see a body generalized between

the head that makes us beasts, and not the body

that separates as Freud would preach to you,

or the body of language that Lacan would use

like the polluted water in the canal

to separate you from the real foundation,

but a metaphorical body breaching both

space and time — and how we perceive things.

This is the metaphor as body, which

constitutes all bodies through a structure

of shifting meaning made from reciprocal turns

like the self-returning churning whitewashed currents

in the canal — with water pushing water,

forming streams and rivers and puddles near

sewer drains that seem to stagnate but move,

still move and define by movement, play across

cobblestones and silt and asphalt directed

by man with roofs and gutters and tunnels full

of shit and alligators into pools

where we sanitize and purify

and desalinate until we can relate

pH balances to quality,

forgetting our abstractions and the thunder

cracking through the clouds that bring the water

back from where we let it slide away —

always back! How do you think that you

can find the bottom if the water that

lets you construct a concept of the bottom

slips away? It would be better to strike

your ship against the ice just like that kayaker,

something solid anyways — at least

a chunk in the context of the cold canal.

PROFESSOR

DERRIDA THE WOLF-HEAD

Do you need more proof than disembodied voices?

Saussure the Cat jumps off from the top of the Student’s head with the wolf-tail in his mouth and onto the shoulder next to Deleuze the First-Head. He strings the tail like a telephone line running form the inner ear of Deleuze the First-Head to Guattari the First-head. The inhuman grumbling abruptly stops and the heads sharing shoulders in the chair turn to stare at the Student.

SAUSSURE THE CAT

That should do it. So much for markings.

DELEUZE THE FIRST-HEAD
 
(disparately pointed
 towards the Student)

You.

STUDENT

Saussure — what did you do? They can talk!

GUATTARI THE FIRST-HEAD

The question you should really ask yourself is —

DELEUZE THE SECOND-HEAD

How many wolves are there?

GUATTARI THE SECOND-HEAD

How many people?

FREUD THE WOLF-HEAD

There is one tail!

LACAN THE WOLF-HEAD

But three wolves.

DERRIDA THE WOLF-HEAD

And all tales

are tales of differance.

PROFESSOR

STUDENT

I see one wolf

broken into three, reducible

to structural anomalies that we

could see if the data was sufficiently large

and well prepared in ways that revealed the truth

of our connections.

GUATTARI THE THIRD-HEAD

Wrong. There is a multiplicity

of wolves — I see ten wolves, then twenty thousand.

DELEUZE THE THIRD-HEAD

And I smell a million of them in the room.

PROFESSOR

STUDENT
 
(passionate for once)

You’re completely chaotic — you both confuse

multiplicity with deviation

from a mean. If you reduce the noise

and filter out a standard form of meaning,

which is empirical, then you can find

a simple sign that is the wolf of wolves.

Then you will see that there can only be

one wolf with three heads, and that you are just

a single person with two heads — I think.

DELEUZE THE FOURTH-HEAD

What can someone who talks to people like

they’re dead trees —

GUATTARI THE FOURTH-HEAD

Know about the mysteries

of multiplicity?

SAUSSURE THE CAT

Get away — they’re mad!

Saussure the Cat jumps back into the Student’s arms as Deleuze and Guattari begin their unfolding. Before long they have become many — then two again. They are always connected but distinct, always shifting like an Escher sand castle in your hand, and when they rise out of the chair they tower over the Student.

DELEUZE AND GUATTARI

A challenger? But you have disrespected

the strata within strata — the necessary

interstratum and substratum which

constitute and are constituted by

codes and territories, ancient and new,

that operate through milieu on the folds

of epistrata and parastrata to build

organic and inorganic assemblies, which

work in double-meanings at the pinch

of vast infinities within each other,

two infinities composing more

and more — and this you would reduce to one

as if your data could pinpoint electrons

in ways that Heidegger could never know:

you are a prophet of black holes, and you preach

that light cannot escape your event horizon.

Instead of luminescent rings where space

meets emptiness, you would replace the stars

with non-entropic darkness, and you would say

the suns are past our reach the way they rest

in unity with gravity so dense

that all we humans can hope to do is predict

what it feels like to be warm. But if you come

with us to see the thousand roofs from Id,

which always rises up above the city,

we will show you how uncountable plateaus

construct a varying multiplicity.

SAUSSURE THE CAT

It’s a trap. They’ll cut your head right off and put it

in the empty space between the others!

PROFESSOR

STUDENT

Maybe —

but I want to know what they mean.

DELEUZE THE FIFTH-HEAD

Then follow us.

Deleuze and Guattari and all their heads, the Student, and Saussure the Cat exit the room by a flight of stairs curling like DNA beside the chimney. Freud, Lacan, and Derrida stay behind — they are trying to use a lampshade to hide the hole where their tale had been.

EXT. THE TOP OF ID

Deleuze and Guattari lead the Student and Saussure the Cat through a trap door and onto the roof. The flat rooftop is covered in dirty sand and bordered by a small brick wall. A broken lawn chair sits under an umbrella in one corner. The different rooftops of New York City, which shines beneath them, stretch in all directions out from Id. Even the planes landing in Kennedy and LGA are flying beneath their perch. They are at the tallest point in NYC — perhaps the highest point in the world — except for the chimney that rises to their right.

The chimney is a rhizome full of dark smoke. Each brick constructing it is a sign full of signs telling stories composed of stories relating the first single-celled organisms to the moment Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the moon. Deleuze and Guattari gesture towards the chimney and all the empty rooftops around them. As they speak, new chimneys rise on all the once-empty rooftops — first flaccid, then tall and spitting smoke.

DELEUZE AND GUATTARI

It was Freud who gave us chimneys and Lacan

who solidified the concept of lack,

which made them into standing fortresses

that filtered all our fires. Then Derrida

dismissed the fire for the smoke, and now you say

that you will catch that smoke in special nets

made of neural-simulated vectors

that will tell us what the logs are like

as the fire burns them up. But you’re all wrong:

look at these bricks. Do you see the signs on them,

interlacing with and replacing one another

so that they congregate as all in many

before they fade back into multiples

to tell their story?

GUATTARI THE FIFTH-HEAD

This is how the real

constructs itself: the infinite act of God.

STUDENT

But what you’re really talking about is only

information: quantifiable,

therefore measurable and knowable.

GUATTARI THE SIXTH-HEAD
(lovingly annoyed)

How can you claim to know what everything is

after measuring one thing, or millions —

DELEUZE THE SIXTH-HEAD

Even billions of different things?

GUATTARI THE SEVENTH-HEAD

You can’t

contain a multiplicity in data

any better than you can pour the sun

into a plastic bottle. The bottle melts,

the data drifts —

DELEUZE THE SEVENTH-HEAD

Reality drifts,

and all we’re left with is a rhizome that

continues to grow like the bottom of

a river that gets deeper every year.

PROFESSOR

STUDENT

But I’ve spent too many years of my life

trying to define a general sign

that underlies the different ways we relate

to everything and nothing in our lives

to forget it so quickly, now or ever —

there has to be an underlying bottom,

or the canal, the world, would disappear.

SAUSSURE THE CAT
 
(hungry enough to 
 broach the subject)

What do you know

about the fish in the canal — could a cat,

say any cat, eat them and be alright?

Deleuze and Guattari go to the edge of the roof and look out over New York City. The canal stretches away from them into the ocean. There is an oil fire running down the far end of the slimy water, and all the icebergs have melted. The Student moves to the edge and Saussure the Cat follows — they look for the kayaker but cannot find her on the shore or otherwise. Besides, there are more important things happening.

All around them, on all the rooftops, people are deconstructing their chimneys. It is not clear at first what they are doing — there are messes of wire and sheet metal and jungle gyms of bars that leak freezing white gasses — but it soon becomes apparent that they are building launching pads and ICBM missiles where the chimneys used to be. It is an influx of labor, a buildup of infrastructure and a reinforcement of national nuclear arsenals like never before. Some people climb into the missiles while others wave from the rooftops and the fire-escapes and the streets. A countdown begins on hidden loudspeakers.

DELEUZE AND GUATTARI

I hope you’re right. If you could find a sign

that everyone could understand, then we

would know the proper way to shout, “Stop!”

so all the rocketeers would hear before

they reduce us to a body without organs

in a suicidal way we won’t survive.

Deleuze and Guattari pull a map from inside their shirt and hand it to the student.

DELEUZE AND GUATTARI (CONT’D)

Take this and go to where I’ve marked. A woman

who can help you on your way is waiting

for a person just like you to come

ask the questions she divined but couldn’t speak

because they were too big to write on leaves

before they scattered in the wind. I hope

you find your way — but I doubt you will — and if

you start to see the multiplicities

in ways that are impossible to contain,

I’ll be here watching the moonrise and thinking

about what happens when people try to catch

as many suns as they can in broken bottles.

The sun sets and the nukes launch. New York is lit like Christmas by ten billion rocket boosters firing at once. Suddenly the chimney on Id, the only chimney left, crumbles under the weight of a wolf with a million heads, which has forced its way up. The wolf howls. Its different heads bite and snap at and consume one another. Freud and Lacan are gone. Derrida speaks in several tongues. The wolf with many heads attacks Deleuze and Guattari as the rockets fall, disorganizing their bodies.

DELEUZE THE EIGHTH-HEAD

Distinct and then —

DELEUZE AND GUATTARI

Not so. In one moment.

GUATTARI THE EIGHTH-HEAD

That’s how a schizo goes.

GUATTARI THE NINTH-HEAD

In lines of flight.

A blinding light. Exit all.

FADE OUT.


Continue to Part III.

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