The ‘last countercultural event of the 60s’

«While preparing the first eponymous issue of his journal Semiotext(e), Lotringer organized in November 1975 the conference “Schizo-Culture”, which brought into the giant lecture hall of Teacher’s College hundreds of listeners from every direction, reaching far beyond academia.

Deleuze, for whom this was the one and only trip across the Atlantic, was interrupted in his debate with Ronald Laing by a far Left militant feminist, Ti-Grace Atkinson, who worked her way to the front and began to insult them, calling them “phallocrats” and preventing them from continuing.

Foucault, for his part, was interrupted in the middle of his presentation on the “new forms of fascism” by a member of Lyndon Larouche’s National Caucus of Labor Committees, who accused him of being paid by the CIA—and received the retort that he himself must be working for the KGB.

Somewhat stunned, and furious with Lotringer, the three French thinkers, joined by Lyotard, took refuge in the Chelsea Hotel where they were staying, and refused to play any more part in this “last countercultural event of the 60s”, as Foucault angrily put it.

The artist and activist Jean-Jacques Lebel, who imported “happenings” and beat poetry into France and who was well connected in the alternative circles in New York, decided to show them around. He took them to see Ginsberg at his apartment on Tenth Street and then to a concert in Massachusetts, where Deleuze and Guattari met Bob Dylan and Joan Baez backstage—but the latter hadn’t read Anti-Oedipus, and the former weren’t all that into smoking pot.

Lebel continued the journey all the way to San Francisco, where Deleuze and Guattari met Lawrence Ferlinghetti and went to see Patti Smith, then to Los Angeles where they visited the Watts neighborhood and spoke to some members of the Black Panthers, comparing their respective experiences of “active defense” and “local resistance.”

The four Frenchmen, however, turned down Lotringer’s invitation three years later, when he organized the Nova Convention, which was meant to provoke a fruitful confrontation between French theory and Burroughs’s work.»

– François Cusset, “French Theory: How Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze, & Co. Transformed the Intellectual Life of the United States”, 2008 [Original:2003].


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