Brief and selective notes on: Guattari, F and Rolnik, S.  (2008) Molecular Revolution in Brazil, translated by Karel Clapshow and Brian Holmes.  Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext(e) Foreign Agent Series.

[Our two heroes under took a trip to Brazil, then {1996} looking like a very exciting place politically, with the apparent success of the Workers Party {PT}, led by the charismatic Lula.  They seem to be building some sort of platform by putting together an alliance of all sorts of minorities—hence molecular revolution.  It all seemed to be driven by desire and subjectivity, overthrowing the old mechanisms of subjectivation.  Guattari had already been involved in various autonomist ground roots activist movement in France and Italy.  {the movement in France was centred around the development of various free radio stations expressing minority viewpoints}.  The original book was a kind of travelogue, with some records of what Guattari actually said to various activists, some contributions by Rolnik, some written pamphlets, and some subsequent conversations.

Rolnik, S. Preface to the Seventh Brazilian Edition

Guattari evidently believes that the Brazilians are 'a multiple people, a people of mutants, people of potentialities'(9), and that this provides the basis of the molecular revolution.  Brazil was engaged in direct elections after military dictatorship, and Guattari liked the 'micro political vitality', which he saw as the result of 'the politics of desire' [this analysis  is produced by feelings and experience, apparently, and some reflections].  The results were seen in discourse and also in 'gestures and attitudes'.  It was a break with the inscription in subjectivity of the history of overlapping hierarchies.

Guattari saw parallels with events in Europe, also offering 'the possibility to articulate macro and micro politics both theoretically and pragmatically' (10).  There were challenges to Integrated World Capitalism (IWC) and other parts of Latin America as well.  This book records one month visiting Brazil and the conversations that went on.  They were 'all interwoven, threads of a single fabric' (11), and the discussions played a part in the social movement that changed Brazil, in clinical practice, in struggles against the state and its policies, including higher education.  It is in Brazil, where French philosophical notions, including those of Guattari, Deleuze, and Foucault, 'have received the most explicit incorporation in clinical practice'.

When Lula was elected, it was possible to analyze the processes that had led to the success in terms of more general changes in Brazilian society and the processes of subjectivation.  In particular, the split between micro and macro politics was overcome.  Guattari played a major part in analyzing the events.  This book is been revised quite a bit since, and a conversation with Lula has been included in this collection [sorry, but I have not separated it out from my notes, so here it is below. What do you think? Penetrating Deleuzian analysis or pretty banal stuff?].  Rolnik thinks the dialogue between Lula and Guattari shows their foresight and their ability to identify 'knots being loosened in Brazil and tightened in France', including threats to the future.

This material looks different from the usual Guattari style, but it is 'the invisible source of all his texts'(13), showing his view that the writing was an 'uncontrollable impulse' arising from his involvement and engagement.  He proceeded at a 'dizzying pace', using words wildly and inventing concepts in an overall 'schizo flow' as Deleuze once called it [delirious rant I called it] .  This book works at a slower pace and shows the movement of thought from encounters to sensations, to elaborations and back again.

Lula and Guattari, A Conversation, 1982.

G: Brazil seems to offer an effervescence of ideas and a will to change, but the movement is not that well known in France.  Until recently, there was severe repression here.  There is an entirely new climate now, new 'desires for transformation arising from the most diverse social categories' (276), and they seem to be embodied in the movement led by the Partido dos Trabalhardores (PT)
[Workers' Party].  The movement seems to have changed the agenda.  Can the right still block this process, though?  For example they have recently restricted access to voting.  Is a military coup still possible?

L: The right is still very strong, and still controls most of the apparatuses of the state.  There are new expectations, though.  Some right wing elements are penetrating liberal organizations, and there are new alliances to block working class demands for rights.  The election will be difficult, particularly for the PT, because its candidates cannot go on television and there is a new kind of election.  However, the struggle continues outside of the electoral process…  There is always the risk of military repression, and that's why we must organize the working class to defend itself [militarily?]

G: What of the right wing argument that the PT lacks the experience and competence to manage the country?

L: This might influence the electorate, because we are still inexperienced in political participation, and we have been treated as a mass.  The people believe they need to be led.  There is also strong class prejudice, believing that capacity can be measured by diplomas or revenue.  The PT needs to demystify this.  The issue is where the State stands.  We need to see the struggle in terms of conventional political parties [maybe] (278)

G: There was a banner in a demonstration saying that people know how to work and to govern [penetrating insight!].  Surely existing politicians are incompetent and corrupt?  Would you compromise with the other parties in coalition?

L: Our interests lie in the progress of a class.  The right wing are interested in politicians all operating together to stop disorder.

G: The PT came out of the movements [in Sao Bernado], which united the industrial working class and elements of the middle classes and intellectuals.  Can it also represent peasants?

L: We are strong in the countryside, although it is difficult to organise there, for example because there is poor transportation.  We believe we have realised the dream of the union of workers in the countryside and those in the city.

G: What of the relation with the catholic church?  Is it at all like Poland?

L: No.  Some progressive bishops have talked about repression and proposed grassroots organizations which are like those of the PT.  There are no formal arrangements, but some Christians suggest criteria for voting and choice of parties which coincide with our political proposals—but any other grassroots party could also benefit.

G: Your economic programme involves reappropriation of banks and industries, to break with multinationals.  But what sort of nationalisation or state regulation do you actually suggest?

L: We want to convert to a state run system, but we need to work out how to get there by calculating political forces.  We could nationalize as a preliminary step, but we need to make sure it remains within the 'framework of a democratic state' (281), where banks and industries are run for the benefit of the collectivity.  We can't be too idealistic.  We need to build union delegates and factory commissions first, then to consider comanagement.  Then nationalization, and finally a whole state run system.  But we have to be careful.  We're not aiming at models found in other countries.

G: The PT is also a centralist organisation, though, like any traditional communist or socialist parties?

L: We have to adopt the official statutes, but our practice is different.  For example, we want delegates to participate much more widely before selecting regional delegates, to maintain grassroots groups to discuss matters and make decisions and pass them up.

G: I noticed this on meeting militants of a local committee of the PT.  Diverse groups, claiming to be autonomous, and representing interests like ecology or sexual minorities were 'gathered around the committee'(282) and seem to have some influence on it.  However, in other areas, the PT hierarchy has prohibited particular candidates, although a subsequent convention overturned them.  The dogmatism of militants has been overcome in France through the free radio movement and its new forms of expressions.  How do you feel about free radio?

L: This would be too early for us but we will get there, to break dependence on the official media.

G: What role do intellectuals play?  Are they as good as the ones in Solidarity?

L: We tried to demystify and break down the distance between intellectuals, students, peasants and workers, through new 'relations of fraternity'(283), and this has been successful.  Working class groups are more tolerant of intellectuals than others.

G: Some of your banners seem to openly support Solidarity, and you met with Walesa?

L: Our official position is to support Solidarity, although they have not responded to our letters.

G: What about the Falklands war?

L: [I have collapsed several replies to various issues together here] We objected to the use of force by England, but also the dictatorship of Argentina.  The policy of distraction did not work, human life was lost.  However, it is clear that the developed countries will always help each other against the underdeveloped ones.  Overall, I think the Falklands do belong to Argentina, although they have long been colonized and lots of English people live there.  I did not support some of the Argentine left who demanded the islands be returned.  I did not want to support either the war or General Galtieri.  It is difficult to align with the other parties in other Latin American countries.  We want to show solidarity with all the oppressed people, including the Salvadoreans.  America should solve its own problems rather than intervene.  We don't want to be dependent on Soviet imperialism either.  We are not in relation with the Socialist International, partly because we don't want to emphasize ideological questions at the moment and it would be premature to get involved at the international level.  We have to work with the grass roots.

[Now a new phase where Lula asks Guattari questions]

L: Is the French socialist party putting into practice what it promised?

G: Mitterrand opposed American interventions in the third world, but also supported Thatcher and Reagan over the Falklands.  Socialists say they are supporting Solidarity, but not at the price of losing business in Russia.  Their stance towards Israel is 'cynical, ambiguous' (287).  They seem to find it easier to be anti imperialist in Latin America than in Africa, because they have their own neo colonial heritage in Africa!.  However, they have made some useful criticisms of American practices including the export of a culture [he means Jack Lang's speeches].  Lang wants to develop Latin culture.  However, domestically, after a honeymoon period, the crisis has stopped developments, and the government cannot solve the problems.  It has adopted classic conservative measures.  It has no interest in social transformation, and deals with day to day problems like any political party.  The Party is sclerotic, there's nothing like the activities of minorities that there are in Brazil.  The PT has not solved all the problems, but in France, they have not even have appeared.  France has its marginalised minorities and subjective minorities, and these are actually 'at the centre of the crisis' (288), but in France, there is no interest, only conformism and dreams of past glories.  The occasional terrorist  provocation produces a policy of security and control.  The international crisis dominates, but there is no French response to change as promised when the Party was elected.  The result will almost certainly be widespread demoralisation and loss of confidence, possibly with the return of reactionary groups.  At least movements in Poland or Brazil are addressing social problems in an increasing traversal way, and there are lessons for all of us at all levels.  Even language is important, and your speeches and writings are impressive, showing freedom, the absence of cliché, sometimes even references to past leaders, even Mao, and this seems to show 'an a priori confidence in the good faith of your interlocutors' (289).

L: Our greatest strength is non dogmatism.  I noticed in Italy the influence of dogmatic manuals which precede practice.  We want to emphasize practice rather than discussing theory, especially if the people are not disposed to discuss it.  We have to awaken their interest first.

G: Are they not still a lot of militant traditional elements inside the PT?  Are you changing them?

L: The PT offers a kind of dilution.  We have no ideology police.  The more workers we attract, the less the sectarians will prosper.

Rolnik: [Oh!  She was there too?  She was quiet!].  But don't worker candidates have less time and resources to run effective campaigns?

L: This is a serious problem.  We want lots of such candidates, but it is hard to create the conditions that permit them to be effective in campaigning.  There is also a requirement for worker leaders to present their candidacies for other posts.  We do need a broad base.

[I have just picked out one or two little gems in this massive book, which represent little nuggets of my interests]

Chapter 1 Culture: a reactionary concept?

The concept isolates semiotic activity into separate spheres which can then be standardized and commercialized.  Capitalistic modes of production also operate through the control of subjectivation, introducing 'a "culture of equivalence"' (21), linking it to the way in which capital operates.  Capital increasingly has to manage 'the seizure of the power of subjectivity' (22).

Singularity is not the same as individuality.  Mass culture produces isolated individuals organized in hierarchies and other 'systems of submission'.  Individuated subjectivity is produced, and so is social subjectivity, and it often operates at the unconscious level.  The impact of capitalism is sufficient to effect even dreams or fantasies—it 'seeks to occupy a hegemonic function' (23).  Processes of singularization can resist.  All the normal modes of manipulation and control need to be rejected.  Instead, we develop 'an existential singularization that coincides with a desire, a taste for living, a will to construct the world'.  Terms like culture only prevent us from understanding these processes.

The word culture means different things.  It can mean value judgements, or some '"collective soul culture," synonymous with civilization', which everyone has.  The notion of soul is of course ambiguous and has been connected to both fascist notions of race and other freedom [anti colonial] movements.  The third meaning refers to mass culture or commodity culture.  Everything is dominated by monetary circulation or state activity.

The bourgeoisie have installed value culture [in order to pursue social distinction—you need Bourdieu here].  The term has also produced different subdivisions such as classical culture, scientific culture and so on.  Soul culture is 'a pseudo scientific notion' emerging with anthropology and colonialism.  It is often connected with racism and the notion that there is a primitive.  Structuralist readings did something to combat ethnocentrism, and sometimes 'what it really established was a polycentrism, a multiplication of ethnocentrism' (25).  However, at least it separated itself from the economy, even at the expense of operating with things like myth or worship.  At the same time, this drew a boundary around certain activities of semiotization.  The culture of non industrial societies has been commercialized, and those who practice traditional cultures do so with a sense of having 'lost their references' (26).  Industrial methods of classification and categorization have also increasingly penetrated these cultures. Commercial culture concerns itself simply with production and distribution of cultural goods, regardless of qualitative or territorial barriers.  That has led to bodies like UNESCO even being able to calculate cultural levels of different cities or countries.

All of these three meanings still operate and have become complementary—for example capitalist communication generates a certain universality.  All are now implicated in social control.  Marginal subjectivities can be tolerated.  IWC increasingly decides what is marginal.  It also makes  real efforts to produce 'new [officially constituted] subjective territories' (27), defining [proper] families groups or minorities.  We see ministries of culture appearing, sometimes as a sign of an intention to modernize.

The value judgement notion of culture has not been totally abolished, although it remains as an underlying background defining the social field [definitely needs Bourdieu here—and blow me down if he doesn't appear!].  Different groups have different cultural capital (28) and this supports the power of elites.  Individuals also use cultural goods to increase their status, for example when politicians make cultural references to gain support.

We can see some of these dimensions of work when considering the arguments that Lula and the PT will prove to be incompetent, lacking knowledge and capability.  The same points were made against Walesa and Solidarity.  It is not a straightforward discussion of competence, of course, because classical links are notoriously incompetent, and capitalists are actually appalling managers.  It is also not the case that only particular functions of knowledge are required to manage economies, located in particular people.  There is no reason to think that Lula could not manage to assemble a competent team.  This is really a discussion about relations to culture.  Lula is working class and possesses a certain soul culture, but he doesn't participate in bits of the dominant culture.  It might be just 'a question of style and etiquette', or forms of speech.  Contempt for these matters can sometimes lead people to see themselves as unable to manage capitalist processes and to disqualify themselves.

What Lula's success implies is that this notion can be disrupted and a new kind of subjectivation process can appear, as a new form of 'subjective singularization' (31), which is capable of managing a modern economy without reproducing the usual social categories and the dominant control grid.  The issue is how to produce new modes of semiotic production like this to produce a new society and a new social division of production which is not oppressive.  As a similar problem, artistic specialization [producing painters or musicians] is clearly productive, but it needs to be stripped away from 'hegemonic possession by capitalist elites' (31).  To put this another way, how can such singularity in cultural production be properly shared, not 'confined to a new kind of ethnicity', for example (32), not just becoming a speciality, but linking with the whole social field then with all other kinds of production including 'machinic production—the revolution of computers, telecommunications, robotics, and so on'. 

The point is to produce a new 'aesthetic sensibility', which breaks with the 'three semantic nuclei'.  This is what ministries of culture should actually do rather than just distributing culture for consumption.  We need to be aware that semiotic production always includes micro and macro political dimensions.  This might be realized by any attempt to democratize culture: at the moment, in France, what this really means is not singular subjectivation but relations with the existing systems of cultural production.  We need instead a new 'mode of cultural production'that radically breaks with the current system of power.  The problem is how to do this [!!]

Capitalist culture has permeated all fields.  The alternative is not to eulogize popular or proletarian culture.  The point is not the ethnocentrism of culture either.  The issue is the way in which culture features relations of equivalence and how this connects it to economic production.  'The dominant classes always seek this double surplus value: economic surplus value, through money, and power surplus value, through value culture'(34) [surely not just value culture, but popular culture as well]

[Pretty banal talk up of the success of an outsider politician here. New process of singularization indeed! Hitler was an outsider too. If you are curious about what happened to Lula and the PT look him up --it's rather sad]

Chapter 2 Subjectivity and History

We need to discuss  the 'production of subjectivity' instead of 'ideology' [so much for all the controversy over the bold claims in Thousand Plateaus that there is no ideology. It wasn't support for the 'end of ideology thesis', just an objection to the term!]

The old mechanisms producing subjectivity have dissolved, and no one wants them back [the example is the ways in which adolescents were initiated].  Now there are professionals who produce subjectivity, in teaching, in social sciences or in social work.  These professionals find themselves facing a choice, either to reproduce the older models 'which do not allow us to create outlets to process singularization' or to encourage the new processes wherever they can.  In any event, there is no recourse to scientific objectivity or neutrality.  Anyone choosing to pursue a career to produce scientific knowledge has 'already made a reactionary choice': in France, they are considered to be gendarmes, to acquire 'a police nature'(41)

There are no subjects, merely 'a "collective assemblage of enunciation", which does not correspond to an individual or a social entity.

Subjectivity in capitalism often takes the form of infantilization, where the state does everything for us.  Collective facilities like social services also reinforce this position, integrating human and infra- and extra- human factors, to construct a whole reality including a psychic reality, affecting even 'unconscious representations'.  The most apparently personal or singular dimensions of life such as 'death, pain, loneliness, silence' are managed (58), or institutional solutions are accepted.  Even desire is fitted into 'dominant references', and the professionals are 'very skilful of this kind of practice' (59).  Even time and temporality is affected.

[Rolnik adds a bit] Lots of authors have analyzed subjectivation and capitalism, but Deleuze and Guattari are original in seeing the production of subjectivity as 'the basic industry of the capitalist system itself (or of the bureaucratic socialist system)' (61).  They are also unusually acute in pointing to 'points or rupture within this complex device', where apparently lots of current social movements are operating.  These points are 'focuses of major political resistance: they attack the logic of the system, not as an abstraction or representation, but as a lived experience.  There is an opening up of new possibilities in this position that is quite rare nowadays'

[Back to Guattari] The new social movements are aiming at producing 'original, singular models of subjectivation, processes of subjective singularization'.  This involves the 'autonomization' of a group, creating its own semiotics and cartography, and undertaking its own local politics.  Singularization is a 'self modeling', involving analyzing particular elements to construct 'practical and theoretical references', independently of global power.  Molecular revolution must go on at every level, the infra-personal '(at work in dreaming, creation, etc.), the personal (in relations of self domination)', the interpersonal '(in the invention of new forms of sociability and domestic, romantic, and professional life, and in relation with neighbours and school)'.  Free radio stations can help spread these new forms of subjectivity.  So singularization disrupts capitalist mechanisms of value and affirms new ones, such as 'a willingness to love'(63). 

There is no need to see these as always operating as social relations, for example individuals can reconsider their relations with the arts.  The rejection of capitalist values might begin with wage labour, but go on to develop some challenge even to time, as the Italian autonomists did.  The process might be assisted by a reappropriation of mutant bits of '"machinic processes" (theoretical and literary machines, machines of sensibility, etc. and not just technical tools)' (64).  Revolutions now need to be molecular rather than large scale.  They might start as defensive and they risk recuperation from IWC [integrated world capitalism], but the system is in crisis, and molecular revolutions are more likely to benefit from things like new computers and new scientific and aesthetic relations.  Once we have helped the new subjectivity to develop, it will find its own forms of organization.  We must assert 'becoming - singular' against every form of capitalist subjectivity (67) and we must constantly construct new assemblages.

Rebellious youth cultures like punk do not break sufficiently with 'the dominant means of expression' (72) and have therefore run the risk of ' declining into microfascism'.  Yet they could lead to singularization because they do to some extent, or perhaps even unconsciously, display a potential '"vector of molecular revolution"'(73).  [Usual waffle and caution, and speculation about possibilities rather than any analysis] Even children are capable of molecular resistance to the system of television, family, and school that it finds.  Other educational methods can show how this mechanism can be dismantled, preserving the 'whole wealth of sensibility and expression natural to the child' (73) [no details, unfortunately].

Larger social forms such as political parties or trade unions can also be persuaded to aim at autonomy, but so can smaller microscopic fields, neighbourhoods communities, schools and so on.  The goal is to produce subjectivity, and this can 'trigger off a mutation in the collective systems of hearing and seeing', just as great artists can have an impact.  However 'I don't mean that any maladjusted child or any person classified as schizophrenic is automatically a great artist or a great revolutionary'(74).

Current struggles are precarious, but there are some encouraging examples—Italian Autonomy and Polish Solidarity [oh dear, both flopped], and maybe the Brazilian workers party.  [Anecdotes of Polish Solidarity and of resistance in other countries ensue, 76-7]

[Guattari has a lot of optimistic stuff on Poland and other European countries.  For example he sees Solidarity as a genuine grassroots movement, which has awakened new kinds of desire, and even 'reinvented Catholicism…  that is not a real religion' (76).  [In a Leninist turn] he says 'the fuse had been lit'.  In Brazil specifically he places great hopes in that portion of the population who are not 'guaranteed', but who are precarious—this also helps them escape 'the control grid'].

In Brazil, new 'modes of semiotic expression of different natures' have emerged as a reserve of resistance to bureaucratized language.  Brazilians need to avoid 'deadly expressions of desire (such as throwing paving stones as a weekend pastime)...  microfascism' (90) and should do this by articulating these modes of expression in 'rhizomatic forms of connection'.  [Not specified of course.  All this is the old faith in 'rebellious subjectivity' much discussed at the time of May 1968].

Minority groups can become politicized if they are attempting to establish that their whole process gains a place in society, as in, for example 'becoming - homosexual' (101).  The same dilemmas affect feminism, which also needs to be 'the vehicle of the becoming - feminism that concerns are not only all men and children but, deep down, all the mechanisms of society'.  This would challenge masculine subjectivity, for example, 'a certain kind of demarcation'[stap me!  Not the binary again!].  The same might be said about 'becoming-black' or 'becoming - minoritarian', and these processes have already appeared in the arts.  'Becoming' here means a process of singularization, first breaking with 'dominant stratifications' (102).  This is required rather than asserting a [normal]  cultural identity, or a 'revival of the archaic'.  Establishing identities like this involves 'transverse processes, subjective becomings' at the level of individual and group.  However, such processes always encounter a threat of blocking.  What is required is not a popular front, not unification, but 'corridors of passage, corridors of unconscious communication…  Becomings that literally permeate these different modes of subjectivation'(103), and attack the usual apparently natural categories.  These transversal elements are what he and Deleuze called the '"molecular dimension" of the unconscious'.  Current societies already have 'countless processes of minoritization'[the only example is the ecology movement, although he also lists movements for rights among the psychiatrized and drug addicts].  French feminism has managed to intervene, but it is not just a matter of political rights: it requires links with 'the whole complex of feminist microrevolutions that are at work throughout the fabric of society' (104).

Italian Autonomism shows some problems [of balancing individual minority groups with a unified party].  For example, feminist militants left one important element, Lotta Continua (LC), on the grounds that the party was patriarchal, but their own organizations, which included publishing houses, very soon 'became completely depoliticised'.  LC never recovered from its guilt, and fragmented.  Feminists might have operated instead as an autonomous factor to reinforce the effectiveness of LC, but instead contributed to 'its collapse into a black hole'(124).  We must hope that feminists do not do the same thing in the Brazilian workers party, since the unity of the movement would be lost [the feminist militant questioning Guattari clearly disagrees].

[Rolnik describes a network that she had helped to create among social psychologists and psychiatrists, and it recruited lot of people in Brazil.  However, it lasted two years and and then dissolved.  She's no longer so sure that it was a good way forward.  Guattari responds:] the European Network was differently organized, without a unified secretariat, and the local groups in France have now become linked to various other community movements, including jurists, and people who have been psychiatrized.  The European Network has not acted as a party, but wants to create conditions for conversations, 'a real dialectic' (130), and then to support 'different rhizomes, at different levels of construction', and this has happened in Mexico and the USA.

[One of the things discussed by this network was practice at La Borde].  We began by making a series of small changes to transform the relation between specialists and patients, but this did not challenge the dominance of the state, and remained local.  La Borde became a kind of museum.  There were all sorts of possibilities of what might have happened, but 'history decided' (137) to turn into the sort of institution that manages to coexist with the power of the state, although it was threatened once or twice with closure.  Other experiments are interesting, for example where psychiatric patient support groups contacted trades unions to ask for support and membership, and the same is been done with people suffering from Down's syndrome.

[On the free radio movement in France].  First the state tried to suppress it, and then to regulate free stations, using criteria for support such as quality and size of audience, and many free radio stations 'succumbed to the temptation' (162) others insisted on remaining free and rejecting these criteria.  Some of the argument turned on whether or not free radio should be professionalized and more technologically sophisticated.

[A discussant talks about the mass media].  Lots of academics have argued that television is 'hegemonic' in creating subjectivity, but why is there no support for progressive alternatives?  Even progressive political parties do not offer one.  At the moment, all we have is a fight against censorship, but this is too specific and should not be an end in itself: indeed, liberals also want to oppose it.  Even when censorship was relaxed for a while, 'things didn't change very much' (165) as a result of watching challenging films.  The issue is to become active producers.  There is a more theoretical issue about symbolic production, and the role of media in the production of singularities.  Some militants did make their own films, but these were still financed by corporations, and were soon seized by the police, without bothering even to cover their backs with a discussion of censorship.  Can radical films perforate hegemony?  Can free radio stations do this?  Some have already infringed national laws, in the form of 'cultural piracy'.  Some 'Indians' in Brazil are developing new uses of the mass media, involving covert tape recordings of public speeches that could be later denounced, or using radio to establish communication networks.  Video can even serve to illustrate common experiences among indigenous people who do not have the same language.

[Rolnik's question] what is the relation between terms like process of singularization, and autonomization or minoritization, or molecular revolution?  Are they all the same, or are they pointing to different aspects of a single process?  [Guattari replies]: molecular revolution is more 'ethico-analytico- political'(172); a process of singularization is 'the more objective event of a singularity detaching itself from layers of resonance and causing the process to proliferate and broaden, which may or may not find an intrinsic structure or system of reference'; autonomy 'refers more to new territories, new social refrains'; alternatives can be macro or micro political; minority involves more of a sense of becoming, while marginality is 'more sociological, more passive' [so the bullshit flies thick and fast as usual.  In subsequent discussion, it looks like a marginality and minority is really the difference between classes in themselves and for themselves; people can choose to be in minorities, they may or may not be treated as marginal, and there is an important political difference in how they are treated]

[More on free radio].  The French movement came from 'heterogeneous milieus' (176), involving all sorts of marginals and minorities, 'a kind of molecular focus'.  It became important during elections, since it involved legal battles about media monopoly, various struggles against new forms of repression, and discussion of liberating uses of technology.  This is the sort of articulation that we need.  It might also be used to discuss feminist movements which also raised questions for 'society as a whole'.  The may not have been any palpable results, but molecular forces were released, and conventional parties had to respond [sad].  The International Network of Alternatives to Psychiatry had a similar result, raising awareness.  Such organizations need to be both defensive and aggressive, and are 'living devices, because they are embodied in the social field itself, in relations of complementarity of support—in other words, a rhizomatic relations' (177).  [Massive philosophical talk up of what are essentially lobby or pressure groups].

May 1968 was perplexing, in that lots of plans and discussions led nowhere.  Some groups set themselves up and produced plans.  This is not always helpful, but it does display 'a totally different logic than that of the secretariats or a politburo' (178).  It is more a matter of 'if it works, OK; if it doesn't work that's also OK'.  However, we do need 'a structure of parameters where one can keep an eye on the problematic so as they appear, where one can express these kinds of collective investment of desire, where one can evaluate the consistency of these different projects altogether'

'It is far from my intention to create a theory of minority movements in Brazil.  In any case, I would be quite incapable of doing so' (178) [so, after all this discussion…]

[We already see the significance of the concept that recurs again and again in this discussion – singularization. Guattari does much to distinguish the singular from the mere individual, no doubt having in mind the Deleuzian notion of a singularity as something which, when traced effectively, will tell us about the multiplicity or assemblage which constitutes it, and which also offers new possible actualizations.  It is not actually defined in the collection of definitions at the back of the book.  I seem to remember a Leninist association with this term as well—when people realize they are a singularity, an active minority,  this can tip the whole political system off its balance.  There is a great deal of support for Italian Autonomy as well.  Unfortunately, most of the actual examples had not turned out as well as Guattari hoped—don't we need to work out why? As we will see below, Guattari seems to flirt with fatalism, ending in the sad sort of claims of a 'moral victory' characteristic of lefty academics. Rancière suggests they are quietly pleased with the outcome].

Chapter 3 Politics

[Guattari explains that he once trained to be a pharmacist: 'That is certainly what left me with this mania for using expressions such as "molar" and "molecular"'(179).

The issue is whether democratic politics exists on the subjective level of individuals and groups, in terms of 'molecular levels' (190) like attitudes, sensibilities and practices.  Critics have sometimes asserted that '"if politics is everywhere, it is nowhere"'[Baudrillard].  However, politics and micropolitics are not seen as being everywhere [by normal people --the old split Rancière finds everywhere!] ], and we have to place them everywhere, 'in stereotyped relations of personal life, conjugal life, romantic life, and professional life, in which everything is guided by codes'.  We need a new pragmatics [at the level of analysis as well as action].  If there is a first rule of micro politics, it is 'be alert to all the factors of culpabilization; be alert to everything that blocks the processes of transformation in the subjective field'.  We need to overcome the problems in escaping, since it is always difficult.  In particular we need 'the social analysis of the attribution of guilt' (191).

We need to work not just with political economy but subjective economy as well, and to depart from Marxism.  For Marxism, issues of desire, art or religion are located in a superstructure.  However, subjectivity is produced precisely within the infrastructure.  To understand IWC, we can no longer just read political economy.  Major social antagonisms based on power are still present, as are those based on 'economic and social contradictions' (197), but there are other emergent issues and struggles as well—for example the emergence of religious phenomena in Iran, Afghanistan, or Poland.  Here we need to understand 'the problematics of the economy of desire' in order to resist conservative manipulations.

Marx still has lots of useful ideas, but much of his work has been reterritorialized or coopted in 'an appalling academic hotchpotch' (198).  Much of it is now used to 'crush molecular revolutions', although we can use Marx's thinking for some problems, even Freud's thinking, although we must not rely on how these people are 'made to work in the universities'.

The modern state has much expanded and increased 'the relation of dependance that produces an infantilized subjectivity' (208).  The welfare state has assisted in disciplining groups and re-establishing systems of bureaucratic control, producing a 'kind of rhizome of institutions that we call "collective facilities"'.  Sometimes the programme includes decentralization or self management.  The whole point is to maintain the 'capitalistic flows'and capitalistic progress.  However, the fabric of society has not been restored, and instead 'new bureaucratic castes, the new elites' have benefited.  The welfare state even now regulates sex.  It is 'extremely miniaturised' and affects 'unconscious representations' (209), extending further than Althusser's ideological state apparatuses, and operating 'on an invisible level of integration'.  For example, it first produces marginalization and then rescues people from it, as long as they submit to a system of control.  The state now manages opportunities for autonomy.  The problem for places like Brazil is whether to follow this kind of modernism at the expense of developing 'utterly crushing modes of subjectivation' (210).

This kind of politics extends to parties of both left and right.  The default solution is to set up ministries to deal with things including minorities.  However, official recognition incorporates them into collective facilities, and can even assist in the production of 'capitalistic subjectivity' (211).  Minority groups, including workers in insecure jobs, should not wait for or seek state assistance: they risk demoralization, or even future levels of worse repression depending on who will run the state.

How to maintain singularization during electoral campaigns?  We have to take part in mechanisms like voting, even though we know this will compromise our singularity.  However the alternative is 'making poetry in our own little milieus or setting up little homosexual spaces where we can feel great, or inventing alternative formulas for children's education'.  Even if we somehow combine these interests, we wouldn't overthrow state power.  If we just continued to live our own lives we would risk radical isolation.  This will involve the joys of normal living being radically separated from 'enormous, heavy, militarized, armed structures that organise the social field' (212).  Instead we need to develop a new way of channeling energy and 'processual transformation' to attempt to undermine the current 'barbarity and stupidity'.  This is the real challenge.

[On meeting people setting up alternative preschools].  [An activist notes that] there is a risk that alternative preschools will simply modernize the system.  Instead, what we should be doing is mobilizing the population.  However [Guattari assures them]  groups like this one need a viewpoint so they can address emerging problems.  They should not adopt the sort of model that depends on state powers, but even grassroots models need to be consistent and palpable to be able to address proper politicians.  These 'experiments of autonomization' (213) need to discuss with supervisory staff, to take advantage of contradictory and antagonistic relations between bodies within the state.  Links might also be made with parties and trade unions, not on the basis of mutual accusation or 'schematic programmes', but through 'diagrams concretely embodied by people and by experiences' (213) [the diagram is a sketch of the multiplicity or the abstract machine in Deleuzian philosophy, but it might means something more to do with sketching out interests here?].

[Rolnik introduces a discussion on dialectic and flow.  She's puzzled because she thought that Deleuze and Guattari have broken with the concept of dialectic, especially with the dialectical conception of desire.  She is surprised to see Guattari using the term again.  Maybe he just meant dynamic relation?  She now sees it as a term relating to an important aspect of their work, especially one 'realized at the level of their writing itself' (224).  It is to reinforce their point that texts are never coherent or closed, they never control successfully.  Deleuze and Guattari want to break with the closed text, and argues that 'the concept always has a meaning defined as a function of the field of experimentation with which it is articulated'.  In other words the term dialectic 'only acquires meaning in its variations'.]  Guattari replied to this puzzlement:  Deleuze condemned some words and everyone else followed suit.  There is no intention to trample on words though.  Dialectic can mean not just Plato or Hegel, but something involved in 'machinic phyla, in the dimension of the irreversibility of rhizomes'[clear as fucking mud—evasive bullshit, surely]. 

[In another example, Rolnik, trying to translate one of the plateaus, asks for clarification about what was meant by 'Joyce's letter'].  Guattari replied by saying neither of them could remember and the passage could be deleted.  [Rolnik is thrilled: writing is a vibration, combining words, having words appear and then separate or disappear according to 'the flows' with which the text is connected' (225).  Deleuze later confirmed that that Guattari saw writing 'like a schizo flow that carries all kinds of things along with it'.  Deleuze preferred texts that both escape at the edge and yet are closed in upon themselves 'like an egg': books should also contain 'retentions, resonances, precipitations and many larvae'. [They didn't want to edit, evidently -- far too famous,no doubt]

1968 in France led to all sorts of molecular revolutions at different levels such as the social or artistic.  The Prison Information Group, including Foucault, Deleuze and others emerged.  These went along with various groups for reflection or research or intervention.  There were neighbourhood committees, struggles in immigrant worker sectors, movements of sexual minorities.  However, none of these were able to escalate to another level, or to link with existing forms of struggle, which were still dominated by parties and unions.  Indeed, members of struggling movements 'became intellectuals', and this isolated them from their fellows, ending in 'processes of specialization and degeneration'.  In Italy, Autonomia faced similar problems.  Some factions wanted each group to remain independent, some operated with a notion of a new working class, to include the unemployed and students.  Some saw unemployment positively as an 'accepted rejection of work' (233) but there were also dogmatic and sectarian groups affecting autonomous groups.  The apparent failure to escalate to large scale movements encouraged 'reactionary counteroffensives' and 'cooptation'[into commerce and the collective facilities].  There was an 'implosion in the molecular revolutions', and many revolutionaries killed themselves, ended up in hospital, or joined various sectarian groups.

One response was to produce alternative parties like Gauche Prolétarienne [Ranciere was keen on this -- here]—'sectarian groups with dogmatic conceptions, which introduced a new kind of bureaucratic efficiency' (234) and lost contact with the activists.  Autonomia similarly became sectarian, and 'left the door open' for the Red Brigades and subsequent disaster. At the same time,, the French intelligentsia announced a departure from politics and militancy in favour of a new age, '"the post political age"', or the 'age of social implosion'.  Any activism was seen as leading to the Gulag, and capitalism appeared as the lesser evil.  These backsliders 'included Baudrillard' (235).  Brazil needs to draw a suitable lesson and look out for the same pattern of 'counterflow'(236).

The '"function of autonomy"'can be embodied in large parties like the PT, or other parties or unions.  Such organizations can protect militants and allow them a certain security, overcome their guilt, although this can sometimes lead to the reproduction of traditional hierarchical models.  The issue is always to ask what the effects might be on subjectivation in daily activities, and to preserve autonomy at the micro level.

New kinds of representations or new cartographies are necessary.  Centralized apparatuses cannot exist alongside processes of singularization, as the Leninists showed us.  The two levels were connected by conventional hierarchies or priorities which always left the central apparatuses in a dominant position.  We need to construct new machines for struggle, 'war machines' (247), which cannot just follow programmes expressed in conventional organizations.  There is a danger that centralism will simply be sweetened by 'a pinch of autonomy'.  We should not be trying to make everything 'converge on a single arborescent central point', but  place specific issues and movements  on 'a huge rhizome that will traverse all social problematics…  For example [including] the level of how children who have not read the great theorists feel, or people who are victims of racism or sexism.  Not just in abstract proclamations, but on an immediate, practical, concrete level' [I'm getting really fed up these assertions, slogans, philosophical corrections and proclamations].

Capitalistic flows have to function in two ways—the appropriate machinic processes, so the each mutation has to be compatible with 'the structures of representation, social structures, personological poles, hierarchies, territories, and so on' (256), and they also have to help structure reterritorialization.  This means they include a certain redundancy as well as support for a system.  Christianity is a good example as 'the first great capitalist religion, because it captured all the factors, all the flows of deterritorialization that threatened to break up the Roman empire.' At the same time, it offered a possible subjectivity that would traverse the different status levels, even including slaves and barbarians.  It was a deterritorialized religion and promised further deterritorialization as a religion of salvation.  Nevertheless, its effect was to reterritorialize [systematize as an organized religion].  So it showed the classic double movements of capture of deterritorialized flows and the organisation of an order.  Christianity offered an even more powerful 'overcoding' than the order it replaced.  The drive to reterritorialize is also what unites Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky, despite their other differences.

Italian Autonomism was one of the first movements to points to a new kind of working class, a group that did not fit into 'the processes of guaranteed work' (262), sometimes also called precarious workers.  These people had developed a new kind of relation with society and daily life, a new way of producing personal and collective life through different kind of relations to work—they saw involuntary unemployment as 'the deliberate rejection of work in the form in which it was presented to them' [the militant ones did? Others suffered -- see below]  Apart from anything else, this has rendered useless the classic organization of social classes in the discussion of molecular revolution.  The 'structuration of social subjectivities' does not follow these categories, or rather, new forms of structuration have appeared alongside classic ones. 

Modern categories would include 'the capitalistic elites, the guaranteed workers, and the non guaranteed' (263).  Each category still contributes to the maintenance of social discipline and order.  Even the non guaranteed have internalized a superego that sees themselves as worthless [see above].  The elites have a different subjectivity: that of the academic elite, for example, is based on their awareness of the risk that they might also soon be non guaranteed, since they lack the resources of finance or traditional aristocracy.  The guaranteed are constantly oscillating between wanting to guarantee their place and aspiring to be members of the elites.  They are still excluded, however, by various semiotic or cultural barriers which mean they lack legitimacy and will never gain full recognition.  These 'very strong unconscious barriers' (264) operate even behind the iron curtain.

All of us define our position in relation to these 'unconscious categorizations of subjectivity', [sounds like Bourdieu here]  and all feature an anxiety about being guaranteed.  The unguaranteed can occasionally contest this process of subjectivation, and so can other groups, even capitalistic elites.  However, even the guaranteed working class can no longer appeal as the universal agent challenging all social relations, since it is split by 'dependence and counterdependence'. The non guaranteed are more likely to reject the whole system, including the system of guarantees, and are thus 'the vehicle of... revolutionary aspirations'.  This is why we need alliances and 'systems of transversality' (265) across these categories, and all do possess 'desire in relation to the tendency of IWC to take control of all modes of subjectivation'[a kind of stamocap or Hardt and Negri line?].  In Brazil, such alliances might be emerging, as they are in Poland via Solidarity [!]

The normal 'sociological divisions of class' have been dealt with by capitalism.  Their capacity to survive and create is regulated by capitalist subjectivity—even members of the counterculture come to find their existence intolerable.  Overall, the welfare state and its guarantees 'are, in a way, radically alienating.  But this brings potentials of enormous contestation, which cut across everything'.


Chapter 3  Desire and History

[Addressing some Freudians].  Lacan insisted on putting analysis at the centre of the formation of various schools, but soon developed an institutional form.  Some analysts wanted the teaching sector to be the focus of analysis, while others wanted to analyze institutions, and these two components of the school drifted apart.  Eventually three groups emerged—teaching analysts who had been trained and worked only in the old psychoanalytic institutions; a group for whom analysis was only one element because they were also working in institutions; a third academic group, who became dominant.  Freudian analysis had always argued that only the analyst could supply the authority for his work, but this led to a new hierarchy between members, practitioners, and then a bunch of non-certificated, self- authorising practitioners.  In turn, this affected institutions devoted to training, and their relation to various schools universities and other institutions.  This had the effect of sterilising analytic research.  Lacan established 'cartels' which were soon adopted by various sectarian groups, jockeying for places in a hierarchy, with everyone 'fending for himself'and lots of variants.  Lacan's theoretical elaborations confined himself to analysis in the original Freudian sense, and he never attempted to understand what analysis might look like in a more analytical way for institutions or establishments, grassroots movements and so on.  Analysis is now in trouble.  The most urgent issue, however is 'basic questions such as the future of movements for social transformation' (293 - 4).

'I know very well that people in favelas couldn't care less about psychoanalysis, Freud, or Lacan.  But the abstract machines of subjectivation produced by psychoanalysis through the media, magazines, films, and so on are certainly also present in what takes place in the favelas' (299).  Therefore we need to develop new models to analyze the unconscious in these settings.  We need to see what is happening to conventional psychoanalysis in terms of reduction, especially 'familialism…  The reduction of the representation of the unconscious to a certain family triangle'.  However, reduction has always been present, given Freud's scientific legacy and interest in biological and physiological research, interests which never totally disappeared.  Freud did attempt to read subjective phenomenon differently, as with dreams or jokes, but on the other hand he 'constructed a reference machine, or psychology, the claim to be scientific, and that he developed feverishly' (300), 'capturing, collecting, and classifying the singularities of the unconscious'.

Freud first developed a topography, locating significances in the 'containers' of the Unconscious, the Preconscious and the Conscious (302). In the Unconscious, all sorts of different meanings and statements and images are organized according to a particular logic, as in 'displacement, condensation, over determination, hallucination, and so on'.  This organization engages in defensive conflict with the Conscious.  Analysis therefore involves uncovering the latent meaning of statements in the unconscious, overcoming conflict and repression.  However, this diversity and differentiation is not sustained in the second topography—the id-ego-superego.  The specificity of the primary processes in the Unconscious are now found in the other areas as well, and Unconscious logic is just seen as 'chaos, or drive disorder, reified in the form of a death drive' (303).  The three stages are linked by an account of maturing and normalising, so that the logic of the Unconscious is seen as an obstacle, and overcoming these obstacles is an important stage 'in the actual assembly of the psyche' (303).  Whereas the initial process talked about repression of 'heterogeneous modes of semiotics' (304), the mature model talks about integrating heterogeneity into social order.

The genetic reading presuppose some evolutionary development, through a 'systems of imaginary identification known as "personological poles"', identifying certain figures like a mother figure for the oral phase, paternal figures for oedipus and castration and so on.  This explains and normalizes the Unconscious primary processes, and the differentiated Unconscious material, 'the phenomena of singularity of the unconscious' loses significance.  Later, these figures, already dangerously close to actors in a real social game, become objects of desire, again inviting a conventional concept of object relations, and losing 'the imaginary dimensions'(305).

Lacan in particular saw the object as a function of the symbolic order 'the so-called object "a"'.  We can talk about paternal or maternal functions completely detached from actual families, understood in terms of the logic of the partial objects, as more abstract prototypical relations.  Eventually, we come to be able to offer 'the general interpretive reference that, in principle, should allow a reading of all subjective phenomena, based on fixations on the mother's breast, based on a certain economy of the anal object present in the entire social field, based on a certain logic of the phallic object present in all the power relations…  and based on an ascetic submission to the logic of social modelization'.  Contemporaries of Lacan further systematised the argument, relating it to linguistic theories, especially those 'that reduce language to systems of distinctive oppositions.  The concept of libidinal energy was almost definitively eliminated'.  Lacan even conceived of the Unconscious representing a universal mathematics, '"mathemes of the unconscious"'that could be used to construct all the kinds of subjectivity.

It is necessary to avoid such reductionism by going back to see what is 'the mutations of subjectivity were during that very [original] period' (307).  The perspectives since simply offer 'different modes of cartography of the unconscious', and it is possible to see them as offering particular grasps on the 'reality of semiotization'[blow me down, he is going to do a transcendental deduction!].  It is not worth comparing these perspectives on the basis of whether they contain more truth or reality, or whether one is more scientific than another—'all of these readings are absolutely true', because it is reality that is heterogeneous.  The issue then becomes one of trying to articulate them, and explain the mutations.  To do this, we need to re-examine some of the early cases of 'craziness and genius' (308), even President Schreber.  [Notoriously, Lacan sees this case to show that the only way to understand the particular hallucinations is by reading the Unconscious as a language, an early case for the triumph of linguistic reduction].  Cases like this cannot be reduced to the oedipal triangle, or to the 'semiotization of the signifier', however.

Guattari's model once proposed connections between various modes of semiotization—Freudian drives and drive energies; iconic components and iconic semiotics, independent of the semiotics of language; certain '"automatisms of repetition"'; an existential notion of the unconscious like Sartre's [?]; a structuralist account which stresses the signifier; productions of the unconscious that depend on collective formations, as in Jung; a model built on 'anagogical semiotics'(309), apparently building on archaic semiotic productions and myth, which is prediscursive: modern music contains archaic traces of this kind, 'the potentiality of polyphonic or harmonic universes' (310) combined with modern forms of music; '"capitalistic unconscious"'produced by the culture industries; '"machinic unconscious'", which articulates the other components, producing an assemblage which goes on to open single quote produce subjective singularities'(310). The last 2 arise from the work with Deleuze.

[This might be more than just a nice pragmatic list aimed at keeping the peace. It could be that Guattari is suggesting that the specific states of conscious described by these approaches are singularities produced by the same multiplicity. Actual psychiatrists come along and discover these actualizations and they are not wrong of course but on;ly in so far as it goers. Only a Deleuzian would go on to think of them as products of a multiplcity though, so Deleuze wins by being reintroduced at another level]

We find symbolic models in political movements as well, often ordered around binaries, and these serve to overcode processes of desire and spontaneity.  Desire can appear to be something fuzzy and disorganised, something needing to be channeled, and you could classify the ways in which this is supposed to be disciplined.  It would be wrong to call heterogeneity 'chaos' requiring to be channeled, however, more a matter of 'thousands of outlines, thousands of capitalizing elements, highly differentiated and capable of being articulated to one another'(317)

Desire can be seen as 'all forms of the will to live, the will to creates, the will to love, the will to invent another society, another perception of the world, and other value systems' (318).  This looks extremely utopian in modern capitalism, which usually poses a choice between following desires and conforming to reality or efficiency.  However the problem is to devise other realities which do not 'have this castrating position in relation to desire' and which introduces blams and guilt.  Even social sciences attempt to domesticate desire in some way, and always offer a way to order it.  But desire is not undifferentiated energy or disorder.  It has no essence, but is always attached to producing or constructing something.  We see this with children's desire, which operates 'in an extremely productive, creative manner.' (319): 'it is the modelization of the child's semiotics by the school that leads it to a kind of process of undifferentiation'.

It is common to see desire or something that must be controlled in order to produce social order, even speech itself, but this is desire that is 'constructed and produced by IWC…  In its deterritorialization'.  It is particularly wrong to see it as a matter of animal characteristic, since even they are capable of semiotization [relying on unquoted 'ethologists'].  Organizing desires, drives disorders and so on in binaries is reactionary, and is quite possible to think of a new kind of society 'one that would preserve processes of singularization in the order of desire, without entailing total confusion'(320).  It is capitalist subjectivity that leads to disorder and catastrophe.

Consider the reading of dreams.  We understand dreams in terms of '"grids" of reading that are increasingly reductionist' (322).  This reductionism belongs to the 'assemblage of enunciation and loss of interpretation'.  We starts with a particular form of 'oneiric semiotization', in which we are not individuated necessarily.  At the second level we work on this material, compressing it, for example, and stripping out some of the richness.  When we recall a dream we're operating a further level, and we can go back to unpack elements that we recall to rediscover their original semiotic richness: this is Freud's discovery. Telling someone else about the dream is a fourth level, classically stripped of affects and feelings.  It is quite possible that there is yet another enunciation directed to psychoanalysts.  We can use elements of the dream in other semiotic productions such as the novel or even another dream.  As we move down the levels, we also leave behind latent meaning and its deformations.  Each of these levels is equally true, but they do not display the same processes of semiotization— 'In the transition from one to another, what takes place is a rupture of assemblage' (323), and each has to be understood in its own terms, without reduction: it is particularly misleading to regard the enunciation directed to the psychoanalyst as a privileged one.

The same connection between assemblages is found in other psychological examples such as relating to social reality or artistic products, but here the assemblages are even more complicated and the differences between them more marked—they involve institutions, various machinic systems and so on, and that cannot be traced to a single individual actor speaking in different ways.  A number of 'modes of production of subjectivity' are involved in these assemblages.

It is not that there is a necessary conflict between these levels, as in classic freudianism.  Instead 'there are blocks of possible that replace one another as such'(325), a matter of mutation of possibles, constellations of them.  They coexist.  They are not related to each other dialectically.  It follows there can be no Freudian talking cure.  'We are always everything all at the same time: awake, conscious, in love, ambivalent, and so on' (326).  There is no sublimation, no constancy.  As we change states, for example between watchfulness, delirium and so on, or change enunciative contexts, talking in a group, say, or typing, 'each time a different assemblage is created'. If there is conflict, this results from 'capitalistic flows'

It is necessary to avoid lapsing into one general universal model of our own, when we make criticisms of other models.  At the same time, Lacanians are wrong to deny that they have a model.  They tried to insist that they are explaining phenomena not in terms of their meaning, but in terms of their structural characteristics [Guattari is particularly critical of the 'shameful practice of short sessions, and with the shameful practice of maintaining a silence that can go on for years' (330-1)].  In fact, this is 'capitalistic modelization' and organizes elements  in terms of equivalents and exchange value.  The power of Lacanians lies in their 'creation of the kind of sado-masochistic situation that I have just described'.  It is a neutralisation of subjective potential at the micro political level.  It has become important because it seems to have been embodied in hierarchies and structures in various fields, including the university.  It has even become part of training for elites, who now have to manage 'highly differentiated processes of semiotization, involving infernal micropolitical problematics'(332).  Lacanian practice helps train bureaucrats and technocrats.  It reflects this standpoint itself.  We should understand it as involving practices of 'interpretation, neutrality and transference' which are really 'major micropolitical interventions'[more critiques of Lacan follow].

In place of talking about acts, including analytic acts, we should refer to assemblages.  These are: (a) movements of flows of any kind, demographic flows, electricity, hormones; (b) territorial dimensions as processes of subjectivation; (c) processual dimensions, machinic dimensions; (d) 'dimensions of universes', dimensions of existence, aesthetic discovery, and new fields of the possible (335-6). [Good stuff on this in Chaosmosis]

[Discussing a particular case of a seven year old girl who has become socially isolated].  This is like the case of Little Hans who also could not cross the street and visit friends.  All his territories were blocked, all his assemblages disrupted, some by Freud's intervention.  He needed 'more assemblages which would allow him to assert himself among children of his age, allowing all the differentiations to function, including sexual differentiation' (342).  It is important to understand this kind of personal 'shit' as well as to analyze institutions and power relations.

We also need to analyze things like the workers' movement, especially in regard to 'the formations of the unconscious' (344).  Work practices changed, and this produced new modes of subjectivation, including some radical forms of resistance.  This was opposed by the state, who took in Italy '4000 political prisoners' (345), and possible political and social transformations were blocked.  In other cases, including Poland, new formations of desire have been reinvested in traditional formations, 'such as the Church'.  If this is to succeed, the workers' movement 'will have to incorporate the analytic problematic', to mobilize 'the immense force that all this represents'.

We can analyze formations of the unconscious in a number of areas, in our own dreams or creative productions, and then follow them through the various grids or meshes of reading, interpretation and communication.  At the institutional level, there are whole systems 'of interpretation and decoding, which involves elements of laws, rules, and regulations' (346).  These can have effects on primary forms of subjectivation, as we see from dreams which reproduce 'institutional, political or geopolitical' orders.  That is, codes and rules and so on are not metalanguage, but elements that can operate at primary levels.  This is not the same as internalization, but more to do with a form of collective articulation, which has an effect directly on the formation of the unconscious.  We should not therefore interpret the appearance of leaders or whatever in dreams as a symbol, but as an indication of how the 'social register in which the individual being considered is situated' (347). There are no universal symbols or signifiers.  We need to see these elements as opening up possibilities of relating to different universes.

There is no way to guarantee genuine autonomy via the release of desire— 'it is equally true that, on the other hand, [desire] can be oriented within each of us in a microfascist direction' (348).

[On the machinic unconscious].  We should think of desire as machinic, using that term to include technological and social aesthetic and theoretical machines, some which are territorialized [taking a limited physical form] and others deterritorialized.  Desire is produced, it helps us understand the links with work to say so.  Otherwise we think of desire as something instinctual or primitive.  The desiring machine expresses this idea.  It implies that 'desire has infinite possibilities of assembly' (354), and this is the problem with psychoanalysis which reduces desire to its schemas.  Desire is actually connected with quite different elements in surroundings [Chaosmosis is a good source again].  Children are perfectly capable of accessing abstract forms of semiotics creativity.  This is not to support spontaneism—machines can always be jammed or blocked, implode, or self destruct, as in micro fascism.  In every case, we should establish 'what the economy of desire really is, on a pre- personal level, on the level of identity relations or intrafamilial relations, a non all levels of the social field'.

Mental illness operates at all these levels too, even economic dimensions.  Symptoms are produced by a number of articulations.  An example might be a child who is diagnosed as isolated and unsocial.  You might be diagnosed as suffering from a fixation on his mother, but we also have to consider much wider social relations, with neighbours and friends, relations with territory outside the family, how he considers the production of his own life and subjectivity and how Ed ciphers the outside world, what happens at school, what happens when he tries to be creative.  It is these total issues that produce the behaviour.  There are levels, of the body or of the psyche, or family, but we should not be operating exclusively at that level.  Instead we should try to 'understand the totality of the articulations of the totality of the assemblage that causes this subjectivity to suffer' (366-7).

We can only partially grasp these assemblages, and we should not try to impose interpretations which can be oppressive.  Nor should we prematurely attempt to normalize mental patients.  We should and stared try to grasp the complexity of subjectivity.  We should not expect patients to be in control of this, since there are substantial collective influences on communications, 'you to the family, social groups, and primary groups of all kinds' (317).  'The individual who we see before us is often nothing but the "terminal" of a whole group of social assemblages' (371), with collective and unconscious dimensions.  It is a mistake to think that the individual speaking is really '"what is speaking"', especially in cases of drug addiction.

We can explore these '"matrixes" of ordinary subjectivity'in cases of psychotics, where they are breaking up.  We should see the conditions such as drug addiction as 'an active micro politics…  The micro politics of apprehension of one's self, of the cosmos and of otherness' (374).  It might be possible to see this general analysis as presenting 'A "transverse" view of drug addiction, anorexia, sado masochism, mysticism, paranoia, and so on'.  They all involve attempts to create a subjectivity with the basic personality having broken up.  They manufacture their own versions of subjectivity.  If we pursue the notion, we can understand not only psychopathology, but 'conditioning of work by the use of images from the media, by phantasmatic scenes triggered off in order to "calm one down," to ward off the absurdity of existence'in the absence of conventional social supports.  In a way, we are all drugged, but to a lesser extent.  This is not to defend drug taking or schizophrenia.  The worst cases can be seen as the result of 'the tenacious refusal or a will to affirmation or at any price' (375).  This might also applied to delinquency.  Policy should consider this 'axiological dimension',  not to promote drug users as heroes, but because they show best 'the most intense problematics' (376).  It is difficult to trace this 'ethical and political dimension'unless we pursue 'new assemblages of enunciation and analysis'.  Our institutions should practise polyphony.  Institutions are still necessary, as long as they operate at the right combination of levels, accepting that personalities are complex and heterogeneous, encouraging processes of subjectivation, even if this means tolerating mutations at first.

[An example of clinical practice—the free radio movement in France].  This was an attempt to question the use of the media and develop democratic expression, experimenting with small groups and how they might be brought together.  This modest technology 'had a surprising semiotic efficiency' (379).  It was initially illegal, opposed by the law, and also the conventional parties and unions.  However, it soon 'had the effect of totally paralysing the system of repression'.  It mobilised a number of people, and even caused the crisis among radio professionals.  This is because it operated 'as an intervention in the register of the social unconscious, the mode of collective semiotization', and disrupted the normal relation with the media and information.  It is fair to say that it was a 'extensively coopted', but it did point to a breaking point, just like a small pebble can shatter a whole windscreen.

The first broadcast took place in an ecology radio station.  Before being jammed, they manage to do something 'which escapes the information control grid' (380).  The broadcasters were pleased, but not the technician, who had expected much better 'fantastic programmes'.  An Italian enthusiast defended 'low production values] since they are open up 'a universe of utterly different possibles' (381).  Certain experiments in journalism also had an impact, for example the establishment of newspapers for children by 'a great innovator in pedagogy' [Celestin Freinet].  This transformed the usual way of 'subjectivating the school class', and it can easily be applied to other social groups.

[back to Freudian practice].  Individuals do not have particular qualifications or functions, 'the analytic processes are necessarily be centred in relation to people or individuals' (385).  Analysts to have specific desires for analytic power, expecting a result, or building a model.  Sometimes it can take the form of transference, which introduces alienation as an obstacle to real analysis, and this has happened in Guattari's own practice [example described 386 F].

Schizoanalysis goes much further than conventional psychoanalysis, which confines itself to 'an individual oral performance', (395) usually in the familial context in industrial societies.  It limits its understanding of 'affective manifestations' because it is interested in healing.  Schizoanalysis wants to operate at the collective and objective levels as well, 'human and/or animal, vegetable, cosmic, and so on', exploring assemblages of enunciation, including their place in 'an evolutive phylum'.  Is this limit the traditional interest in evaluation and scientific prescription?  Should be abandoned the notoriously difficult 'hidden libidinal parameter', and focus on a collection of 'energetics', physical, biological, social and so on, instead?  The classic model of energy being discharged and psychic operations was useful, but it lead to extended use of a 'thermodynamic concepts outside their original field of validity'(396), and this had the effect of excluding incorporeal objects and processes, an imposing a false universality, say by deploying the concept of entropy.  In 'ordinary life'discharges of energy are really based around defence rather than 'balance and constancy'.

So we need to reject this model of quantitative drives in favour of a different form of model of transformation.  This can help us see how things like egos, material flows, machines of desire, and semiotic assemblages can all be produced from each other.  We don't need to differentiate between physical energy and subjective anima.  We can likewise see the physical world as a result of transformations between her 'heterogeneous domains' in various kinds of 'transversality' (397).

The new cartography uses different forms of quantification [to consider intensive forms], and abandons the idea of univocal object complexes, 'that is, complexes in which the elements have been collected exhaustively in advance'.  There are assemblages that can change the configuration and reorder themselves, 'schizoanalytic entities', illustrated in dreaming, for example but also in 'intellection in a  nascent state'.  We can understand monads and myriads, as points on a general plane of immanence, at different 'levels of consistency of energy'.  They must be understood as part of complex assemblages.  To do this we need to break with Saussurian semiotics and turn instead to Peirce [who apparently took a more encyclopaedic view of semiotics].  We can also borrow from Hjemslev [who also saw semiotics as more than language, and as a 'fundamentally "immanentist"'(398) [pass --but a bit more below].

The interest is in assemblages of enunciation, instead of psychic apparatuses.  We need to leave behind all the dichotomies in psychology, including those in Freud between the physical and the psychic.  Lacan has done this by reducing everything to the issue of the object and its relation to mathemes of the unconscious.  This leads to a loss of important areas such as libido, and dynamic concepts in general.  This has implications for interpretation that used to be about the hidden meanings that were repressed or blocked in various situations of conflict.  Instead, everything is turned into signifiers.  We should not return to Freudian models of psychic energetics, but focus instead on '"semiotic energetics"' (400).  We need a concept of energy to explain any kind of transformation of translation, including semiotic transformations.  Thermodynamic notions of energy will not do, though.  We need a 'much more anthropological conception of energetics', relying on a notion of energy that is not confined to the way in which physicists understand it, but includes other kinds of value and qualitative dimension.  Physical notions can be seen as a specific level in a broader 'sphere of the possible' (401).  Are the same time, we do not need some notion of a general energetic, such as 'libido'.  Instead the need to look at specific semiotics systems, connected by 'passageways' and 'machinic processes'.

[Why is Hjemslev so important?].  He offers a philosophy of language, based on expression.  He becomes important just like other philosophers do, including Spinoza.  In fact he is linked to Spinoza in terms of a general interest in expression and semiotics in the most general sense.  Hjemslev can be used to rebuke all those linguistic systems that 'reduce everything to the signifier' (402).  His notion of expression is part of a more general notion of articulation, which relates to 'matter, substance, and form'.  This produces, 'six expression - content categories'[might be in Thousand Plateaus?] .  Deleuze and Guattari  have also introduced an additional dimension by referring to 'the opposition between the modes of encoding', or modes of expression: these depend on 'coordinates of universe, incorporeal systems/non systems, territorial becomings, sensible becomings, qualitative becomings, value becomings'.

Chapter 5 Emotion, energy, body, sex

[More on the need to be careful about using the term energy, because it seems to imply that desire is driven.  Instead, we should think of 'desire as being immediately of the nature of highly differentiated and elaborated machinic systems' (403).

[Why is there so much caution in Thousand Plateaus?].  We are not advocating so much taking a trip, as undergoing a process.  There is no simple subjectivity involved, since subjectivity 'is always taken in rhizomes, flows, machines…  Always processual' (404).  We need to develop 'a schizoanalytic undertaking', to try to develop a more creative assemblage.  But the effects are not always cumulative, and they can end in 'dead territories'.  This often happens 'in the conjugal economy, in the domestic economy' where a process of love ends with a closing of territory and the end of richness.  This is why you need caution.  There is no general moral point being made.  It is particularly useful to counter the spontaneism 'of a certain era'.  It is not a matter of freeing your body or whatever.  We need a proper account of the richness and precariousness involved.  It is like the process whereby the feminists withdrew from LC and produced implosion [above].  Psychedelic drugs can help semiotic processes, and there are examples of people using them that way, but these 'are not very common', and they often find implosion or 'black holes' (405).  Fascism can develop as a result of an accumulation of microfascisms, as a particular ' hyperactive totalitarianism'.

It's necessary to use machines of all kinds to recreate the world, not just to revolutionize it, hence 'I am not postmodern.  I don't think that scientific progress and technology are necessarily accompanied by a reinforcement of the schiz in relation to the values of desire, of creation' (408).  We have to defend the environment, but we also have to see that science and technology are irreversible.  We need molecular and molar revolutions to change its objectives, to steer away from catastrophe.  We might use artificial subjective production [IT?] To produce new forms of sociability and therefore molecular revolutions.

There is no reduction to the body, since 'language is not a biological function as such'(409), and nor do all sensibilities spring from the body.  It is not a matter of reforming bodies.  In industrial societies, the body is actually attributed to us, located in a particular social and productive space.  In other societies, there are other conceptions of bodies, for example as 'a subset of the social body'.  Our bodies are initiated into 'capitalistic flows' by domesticating our body, making it subject to the dominant subjectivity.  The tensions caused can produce various psychological problems—entry into social assemblages is both possibly productive of singularity, and also normalizing.

Some of these capitalistic facilities are found in the whole system, others appear to be separated according to the conventional sociological categories [especially class and gender, one questioner wanted to insist].  We must not examine only those that function according to these categories.  It is also important not to confine desire to specifics such as sexual desire.  That would run the risk of reducing problems of life to physiological functions.  There are some 'complex singularities' that existed before social structures, even 'before the individual and the body'(411).

Chapter 6 Love, territories of desire, and a new smoothness

Loving desire in capitalism often turns into 'the kind of appropriation of the other', leaving closed territories.  For that reason, it might be important never to dissociate machinic processes from reterritorialization.  We might use the term bodies without organs as a fundamental territory on which machinic becomings are inscribed and embodied, but this still raises the ambiguities of territory, and de- and reterritorialization.  This ambiguity is sometimes found in marriages [as above].

There might be a new smoothness possible, a relation with the body, one that 'is present in becoming - animal' (416).  We can avoid all the usual modes of subjectivation with human bodies, conjugal relations, power over each other's bodies and so on and we can consider different types of becoming as an exploration of 'the rhizomes of modes of semiotization' which do not risk social relations.  Once, we can only develop through war machines and industrial machines, military force, 'manly values'.  We still find these in Russia and in fascist countries, including the United States.  But now new forms of subjectivity can experimentally invent new social orders and new forms of expression of the becoming of desire outside 'these phallocratic, competitive, brutal values'(416).

We have reaffirmed and relegitimated social struggles, including class struggles.  In discussions had on this trip, it is necessary to avoid a false dualism between autonomy and large scale social struggles.  Both are important, but both have different logics and appear as 'a contradictory mode'.  The trend towards micropolitical dimensions 'is basically inapprehensible in terms of militancy' (429).  What this means is that the micro political dimension is continually appearing in a larger scale, reintroducing 'all the asignifying elements, all the elements of singularity'.  This makes politics much more complex.  This is 'the line of flight of micropolitics outside the field of militancy'.  As a result, apparatuses such as parties should be seen as only temporary.  Militants appear like religious believers, prepared to reify themselves in belonging to organizations.  We should see membership instead as 'precarious, provisional', aware that organizations will disappear eventually, and new problems and conceptions appear instead.  This is implied by transversality and its implications for the subject group.  They are finite, just as individuals are.  This can actually increase the value of an undertaking, though, by recognizing contingency and singularity.  It helps us to produce 'rhizomes of all kinds' (430).

It is important for these trips to understand the ways in which capitalism is projected and semiotized in different and distinctive contexts.  It is important to 'talk to real interlocutors' to understand their specific problematics.  It doesn't really matter what comes out, but the will to create is stimulated.  We can even see as a game, developing 'a little communication machine'(438).  Lectures or academic talks are not suitable.  Instead we require a collective assemblage of enunciation, proper oral interventions and debates.  This is the only way to capture sensibilities.  Classic lectures followed by questions represent 'an investment of sadomasochistic affects' (439), and people would see visiting professors as an 'imaginary punching- bag'(439).  The discussions here did not take this form [hard to tell -- sometimes Guattari did not answer or repeated his answer] , but provided 'a climate of expression' which can be worked on later.

It is important to act in various sectors and various places, to avoid becoming 'planted like mushrooms' (442).  Deleuze is 'planted, tied like a goat to the university'.

[Isn't the work with Deleuze in danger of turning into a system after all?] Deleuze is a philosopher, and Guattari is not—he's more interested in 'maneuvers of expression in a certain context' which can be abandoned for something new.  Deleuze is more of a philosopher working in a philosophical territory.  What emerged is 'an event of writing, an event of creation...  almost like a work of art' (449-50).  It doesn't matter if this irritates people.  Rereading a text is unbearable and unpleasant, another reason for not attempting to build a model.  Collaborations in particular can never be simply repeated, because they emerge from specific assemblages, which in turn 'depends on a climate, a potential audience, an attendant language—in short depends on thousands of things that are not reproducible'(451).

The diversity in Brazil is traversed by capitalistic flows.  At least a certain vitality remains, unlike the United States, for example.  In the USA, creativity is confined to the marginals, and even white creative artists have to 'participate in a "becoming - black"' (453).  It's possible that Brazil is becoming a world 'productive centre', when it comes to the production of subjectivity.

It is not just a matter of reacting to industrialization and its accompanying abstractions.  Is important to defend abstract machines, and abstraction.  It is this that permits interesting structures combining archaisms and machinic processes.  What is most differentiated is also most machinic [so 'I always trust in the people, in childhood' (458)].  This is not a plea for togetherness or community, as in Illich: 'the primitives, the people, children, the insane, and so on are the bearers of the most elaborate and the most creative abstract machines'.  The masses must become radically deterritorialized, ceasing to become masses, so they can become singularities engendering 'unaccustomed rhizomes'.

NB there is also a glossary of terms in the back of the book -- none of the definitions is terribly helpful though. There is no definition of singularization!
Shows the problems with any glossary -- context is all! As for rhizomes:

Rhizomes, rhizomatic: Arborescent diagrams proceed by successive hierarchies, starting from the central point to which each local element refers.  On the other hand, systems in rhizomes or in "lattices" can drift endlessly, establishing transversal connections that one cannot centre or close up.  The term "rhizomes" was taken from botany where it defines the systems of underground stems of perennial plants that produce adventitious shoots and roots on their underside (example: an iris rhizome)

A note helpfully explains that Guattari meant the sorts of trellises that support climbing plants.  For those requiring further clarification, we are referred to to a book by Deleuze and Guattari On the Line (1983). I still read the ultra-mystical discussion in Thousand Plateaus, and ask myself -- were all those pages really necessary with all their baffling asides, allusions and repetitions when this simpler definition seems to be OK here?

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