Félix Guattari’s working plan

Never realised, Guattari’s plan was to elaborate a script for a film that would be, he insisted, not about Kafka but by Kafka (with its numerous submissive and slightly sinister little helpers). Such a project seems potentially fruitful today in the context of research on new forms of domination, exploitation and self-exploitation, immaterial labour and precarity.

“On a trop longtemps décrit Kafka comme un litterateur du XIX siècle ; en fait, son abord des processus de l’inconscient social le situe peut-être au niveau du XXI siècle, au niveau de ce que pourrait être un cinema du XXI siècle.”

(Félix Guattari, Projet pour un film de Kafka)

In this project Guattari was not so much interested in the actual plots or characters of Kafka’s literary machine but in finding ways to translate (relationally and visually) the systems of intensities, gestures, postures, gazes, refrains, and above all what he called the “jouissance bureaucratique” that characterises the power relations played out in the short stories and novels.

Guattari hoped (with his usual delirious optimism) to have the support of several TV stations and planned to develop the project in 3 phases. The first was to consist of a series of workshops involving different research groups and using heterogeneous approaches to the material (this processual phase was obviously the most important for him). Secondly, there would be the writing of a script and then, hopefully, the production of a film by Kafka.

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