Audio files/Podcasts

Welcome to this page, located on my website

I have a series of audio files developed as part of my series of You Tube videos Deleuze for the Desperate (12 so far). The idea is to focus on developing a basic grasp of some of the arguments in Deleuze, Guattari  and Deleuze and Guattari, principally in their book A Thousand Plateaus (ATP). I try to encourage people to think of working with key concepts rather than whole chapters (or plateaus), and maybe to work with the examples first before attempting to think out what the actual concept might imply. This is not the same approach as ones you find in expert commentaries or in advice to 'just read the book', maybe 'as poetry'.

I have a series of notes on the main texts in the Deleuzian project, including some on ATP. They are all listed on the main Deleuze page of this site. You will also find there links to the videos and to transcripts of the videos and podcasts.
There is much comment on theories of language, in ATP and elsewhere, including in Plateaus 3, 4 and 5. The intention is to approach this large topic by setting up the problems here,mostly via the work on 'postulates of linguistics' (Plateau 4)  and then seeing how the arguments work out when discussing the politics of 'sign regimes' (Plateau 5) and the semiotics of natural processes (Plateau 3). Veterans of the series will also know that issues of language crop up centrally in the discussion of the refrain in Plateau 11 ( video here),and in the discussion of various kinds of images in cinema ( videos here and here).

I thought I would try using audio files on their own instead of adding them to videos. When I was an educational technologist, we evaluated different versions of teaching materials and found students liked audio files better than text or video. They could use them more flexibly -- download them and play them on portable kit or in the car, for example. If you would like to give me any feedback about how you use these podcasts, or have any suggestions or comments, I would be glad to receive them by email

Background -- Outline of the critique of Lacan


I have selected some of those aspects of Lacan's work that Deleuze and Guattari engage with. There is no attempt to summarize Lacan extensively although there are links to some brief notes here.
The dominant model of language at the time in France was an approach associated with de Saussure, usually called 'structural linguistics'. One of its most influential exponents was the psychoanalyst and philosopher Jaques Lacan, who famously argued that the unconscious was 'structured like a language', that the only way to study the unconscious was as a language, with the only access to the unconscious going through human symbolism, with psychoanalytic 'symptoms', like neurotic or psychotic delusions, being understood as linguistic constructions. There were implications for seeing the subjection to paternal power as natural and inevitable. Deleuze and Guattari want to reject this whole schema by arguing that there are other dimensions to language which do not involve such subjection and offer a general politicization.

Topic 13a Order words and major languages


The politics of language is sidelined in structural linguistics.  So are the ways in which actual agents use language in social contexts -- 'pragmatics'. We can demonstrate these omissions by looking at the ways in which language use implies social obligations and regulation in 'order words' (and other linguistic acts like illocution). On a broader scale, we can discuss how whole language systems take on political and social significance and become 'major languages'. Some linguistic minorities and, better still, experimental writers like Kafka have challenged linguistic conventions to demonstrate alternative possibilities, but the real political issue is developing 'minor languages', connected to social and political becomings.

Topic 13b Codes and sign regimes


The neglected political  and theoretical issue here is coding -- the ways in which languages code, for example do things like name, describe,  or explain events or people.  The power to code is an important form of political power, so language and power are linked in a 'sign regime'. There are 4 basic sign regimes offering different types of coding --pre-signifying (pre-modern societies), signifying (despotic societies)  and post-signifying (global capitalist societies), with a counter-signifying possibility represented by the war machine. Mixed regimes are also common, especially mixtures of signifying and post-signifying. There are implications for the way subjectivities are constructed through linguistic operations of signifiance and interpretance. Examining all the possibilities leads to the usual conclusion that there is an abstract machine, of language in this case, producing all the actual variants that we find in stratified societies, and that we can develop new liberating linguistic possibilities from unrealized potentials.

Topic 13c Content, expression and the strata


Content and expression and their forms, are related in strata. There are three main types relating to inorganic, organic and human strata.
Some examples of the arguments about geology and biology or biochemistry are summarized with implications for Darwinian evolution among others. Human strata with human language is one actualization of an abstract machine that is still rooted in biological matter, just like the others, although human language is much more deterritorialized, redundant and superlinear.  Nevertheless we must resist 'linguistic imperialism' that sees human language as the only kind. A determinist marxist  base-superstructure model that sees human language as a separate level of 'ideology' is also challenged.