Thoughts on reading Deleuze G and Guattari F (1984)  Anti-Oedipus. Capitalism and Schizophrenia, London: The Athlone Press.

[NB I keep coming back to this as I read more Deleuze, and adding bits]

Foucault says in his preface that this is a combined effort between the philosopher Deleuze and the political militant Guattari, and, so far, I think they need each other.

Seem says in his Introduction that the irritating frequent quoting of other sources, usually in a pretty casual manner, is intended to provide points of reference for the reader to open out into thought. It is a kind of schizanalysis (see below). Seem also sees connections with Illich and his attempt at 'convivial reconstruction' based on personal energy and personal control of it. After that, the political implications seem pretty similar to Negri and Hardt (hardly surprisingly -- and see Hardt on Deleuze) -- energy is unleashed then channelled into new networks to bring down capitalism etc.

There is a discussion of the book by the authors in another collection here -- it's quite useful as an intro.

Just as with other highfalutin French philosophers, Deleuze is allowed to indulge himself in the most ludicrous private speculations about what things might mean, and to coin all sorts of neologisms, in a way that recalls Bourdieu and his criticism of Barthes (lots of borrowings, some of them almost accurate and so on).  The Deleuze part is really a kind of private language delivered in order to show off, with lots of allusions to Freud, Beckett, Artaud, and several French authors who have not been translated.  It is rather like Foucault itself, with this freewheeling stream of consciousness writing, referring to fictional works as much as Freudian psychology, burying you in detail so that you have no chance but to accept the authority of the writer, as DeCerteau puts it. 

You can’t possibly track all the references.  Much is made of Freud’s discussion of the delusions of Judge Schreber, for example, and I have gone back and tracked down the original Freud.  That certainly helps explain some of the bizarre allusions in Deleuze—the discussion of ‘miraculating machines’ makes a lot more sense when you realize it is not a neologism central to Deleuze, but a reference to a particular delusion by the unfortunate Schreber, who saw God as working up miracles in the form of imaginary creations like talking birds.  I’m still unsure whether the famous concept ‘body without organs’ that just appears without much discussion in chapter one is an important Deleuzian concept, a metaphor for his view that raw matter exists without form or structure until various ‘desiring machines’ plug into it to produce something familiar, or whether it is simply a reference to one of Schreber’s delusions again [I now know there is a lot more discussion elsewhere -- say in Thousand Plateaus chapter 6]  mentioned in chapter one, that his body was being transformed by god, in a way that involved destroying is internal organs. Maybe all 3.

Foucault says we shouldn’t worry, that we should just lie back and let Deleuze’s writings, virtuoso displays (cracking examples in the books on cinema) and clever constructions wallow around us.  We’re not supposed to make formal academic sense of them, Foucault suggests, since this would be to constrain us, and make Deleuze complicit in the very constraining disciplines that he wants to break, including the Freudian necessity to trace things back to the oedipal scene and the role of the father (the actual explanation of Schreber’s delusions relies heavily on the repressed homosexual attachment to his father, which is denied and misrepresented in the usual ways).  However, there is clearly a danger that these writings just look like a kind of exposition of a private language, a sort of poetry with academic bits, and no self respecting French academic could possibly permit that, in my view.  It has to have some deep political social significance as well, especially for a public intellectual.  At that point, Guattari arrives just in time, to explain the political significance of much of this delirium.  That bit turns on some rather good Marxist interpretations of Freud after all.  None of that would be particularly exceptional, but in this case it is teamed up with a highly fashionable French philosopher, who might be saying something of world shattering significance, if only anyone could understand him.  Thus do Deleuze and Guattari complement and prop up each other.

Of course, it would be a mistake to be referring to the empirical individuals here.  At best they are really only Deleuze–as–subject and Guattari–as–subject, or possibly even simply production machines.  Let’s call them that.  At play in this text is a bullshit machine (a kind of academic version of a miraculating machine), and a significance machine.  The bullshit machine produces phrases like: ‘The forces of attraction and repulsion, of soaring ascents and plunging falls, produce a series of intensive states based on the intensity = 0 that designates the body without organs (“but what is most unusual is that here again a new afflux is necessary merely to signify this absence” 21)’ [the reference is to Klassowski Nietzsche et le cercle vicieux for those who didn't spot it] (21).[Re-reading his, I think I have got it back to front -- if you look at Guattari's Anti-Oedipus Papers, you find the most dreadful free-wheeling impossible stuff that Deleuze had to put into some sort of order].

Or: ‘far from being the opposite of continuity, the break or interruption conditions this continuity: it presupposes or defines what it cuts into as an ideal continuity.  This is because, as we have seen, every machine is a machine of a machine.  The machine produces an interruption of the flow only insofar as it is connected to another machine that supposedly produces this flow.  And doubtless this second machine in turn is really an interruption or break too.  But it is such only in relationship to a third machine that ideally —that is to say, relatively—produces a continuous, infinite flux’ (36). With the first bit, we face the old problems of all two-level arguments here – infinite regress or an imposed arbitrary (fascistic?) decision to stop at a particular level – the third in this case (and we know the deep significance of the number 3 in Freud’s work). So – the body without organs somehow operates at a virtual or potential layer and out of it is constituted actual production. But why should the body without organs not be a production itself of some body operating at a still deeper level – and so on back to infinity? Hindess and Hirst once argued that stopping at 2 levels, which so many theorists do, is really a result of Christian theology – the body without organs is just another name for God, and Deleuze and Guattari are less free of fascistic constraint than they imagine themselves to be.

The significance machine produces phrases such as: ‘A child never confines himself to playing house, to playing only at being daddy-and-mommy. He also plays at being a magician, a cowboy, a cop or a robber, a train, a little car. The problem has to do not with the sexual nature of desiring machines, but with the family nature of this sexuality’ (46) . Or ‘Insofar as psychoanalysis cloaks insanity in the mantle of a “parental complex”, and regards the patterns of self punishment resulting from Oedipus as a confession of guilt, its theories are not at all radical or innovative.  On the contrary: it is completing the task begun by 19th century psychology, namely to develop a moralised, familial discourse of mental pathology, linking madness to the “half – real, half – imaginary dialectic of the Family”, deciphering within it “the unending attempt to murder the father”.  (50).

The two machines might have plugged into each other to produce this: ‘Ray Bradbury...describes the nursery as a place where the only connection is between partial objects and agents’ (47). The Ray Bradbury in question is the science fiction author and the reference is to The Illustrated Man. Unless Bradbury is a Freudian, this looks pretty much like a reductionist reading of a science fiction work to me. Bradbury can’t be allowed to produce science fiction – it must really be metapsychology or philosophy all along. The same tendency might be present in the quotations from Artaud, Miller, Proust and the others. [I think poor old Little Hans is really turned into a puppet to spout D&G's lines as well]

There is also a pluralism machine, which insists that there are many objects of pleasure, many pleasurable connections to the world. This rejects Freud’s attempts to reduce psychological desires to the Oedipal triangle: ‘ Disjunctions are the form that the geneaology of desire assumes...Oedipus is a requirement or a consequence of social reproduction’ (13)...Machines attach themselves to the body without organs as so many points of disjunction (29). And most famously perhaps: ‘The subject itself is not at the center, which is occupied by the machine, but on the periphery, with no fixed identity, forever decentred...As a result, an identity is essentially fortuitous’(20—21) – the legendary nomadic subject.[Note the importance of disjunction, of connections of the heterogeneous - -these are big themes in the discussions of the multiplicity, the assemblage and the haecceity, and part of the general importanceof difference in Difference and Repetition]

But there is a monism machine as well, that insists that the attempts to join Marx and Freud through metaphor are mistaken, since there is only one underlying production process, whether or we are talking about producing goods and rational objects or delusions and irrational objects: ‘libido has no need of any mediation or order to invade and invest the productive forces and the relations of production. There is only desire and the social and nothing else’ (29).  [Dualism again though? ]. This helps Deleuze to say that ‘pluralism=monism’, in Thousand Plateaux ch.1, in the phrase quoted in Wikipedia no less ( and see the work on expressionism in Spinoza, say in the smaller Deleuze book on Spinoza here)  [There are some very helpful commentaries on Deleuze in Wikipedia –from one of them, I learned that the phrase ‘body without organs’ comes from a radio play by Artaud – now why didn’t I know that?. I have since traced an account of it here].  No doubt Deleuze and Guattari consider themselves to be nomadic subjectivities circulating around the positions occupied by these various machines.  It is certainly a great ploy to avoid being pinned down and criticized—nothing bobs and weaves like a dodgy nomad, living on a bit of land, leaving it covered in rubbish and tin cans, then moving on. 

When Deleuze doesn’t have Guattari there to help out in this way [probably vice-versa] , he still seems to feel the need to ground his speculations on something.  Again in a familiar way, this is sometimes directed at critique.  It is relatively easy to undo any system by pointing to the fact that it also controls complexity.  I’m not even sure that it is particularly original work when Deleuze contrasts fixity to flow, being to becoming, fixed notions of the individual to a nomadic individuality (a circuit around the desiring machines is the way he puts it in chapter one, realizing that identifying oneself with any particular single machine is inadequate).  Of course, flow, dispersal, deterritorialisation, nomadicity and the rest equally leaves out of the picture their opposites, fixity, structure, the production of reality in particular ways, and so on.  These operations are mentioned, but never particularly investigated, seen as formal possibilities, driven by abstract nouns like power. What this leaves us with is the option for purely cultural politics, as usual. We can escape constraint and create new subjectivities. That is important of course, but what about real politics as well? All is well with the collaboration with Guattari, which did have real liberatory politics as its goal. But Zizek says the collaboration with Guattari is atypical of Deleuze's work, which remains as a project of freeing ourselves from former philosophical systems or artistic conventions --are these really important enough? (See also Badiou on this conversion idea. Hardt and Alliez (in Fuglsang)  argue that Deleuze has always been political)

Apart from critique there is also application to empirical objects, such as the book on cinema.  The two volumes of this work (here and here)  are splattered with concrete descriptions of films, scenes from films, often rendered in considerable detail.  There must be hundreds of films referenced in this way.  This no doubt helps to show that all that philosophizing does have a point, in that it helps us to understand film, but DeCerteau lurks in the background again, and it is possible to read it as an attempt to defend the philosophical insights, apparently based on Bergson this time, by overwhelming the reader with unmanageable detail.  It is possible to dash off and read Freud on Schreber in an afternoon, but to watch all the films that Deleuze references would literally take years. (Try the superb account of Deleuze on cinema in Bogue)

As for the application to education, the whole process reminds me of what Weber says about the everyday reaction to Calvinism (in the Protestant Ethic…).  Calvinist theology insisted that only a few would be saved, but that it was not possible to decide who was in the Elect beforehand.  This theology was far too stark for actual protestant believers who promptly domesticated it, and turned it into a practical work ethic that might be rewarded with Election after all, despite the stern denials by Calvin himself.  The same seems to me to apply to honest educators trying to make sense of Deleuze.  In full flow, it is probably impossible or uncongenial.  Far better than to read it is a kind of philosophical support for something far more familiar—good old social constructivism and progressivism [as with these examples]   The high powered critique can be turned upon a pretty tiny target, sometimes a straw man like ‘traditional education’, or the repressive nature of the national curriculum.  However the more positive implications can hardly be put into practice as they are, especially the implications for the concept of the individual as the dispersed and deterritorialized circuit, so that is retained, and even mildly celebrated.  Deleuze’s nomadic subject becomes Rousseau’s natural child.

Part two

So far, this seems fairly dominated by the significance machine.  What we have is quite a good critique of Freud and the psychoanalytic movement, who have gradually installed the Oedipus triangle at the centre of things, although it was not always there.  The notion of a latent period looks like a particular challenge for the overall theory.  This involves them in having to talk about things that don’t seem to be oedipal at all—the pre Oedipal and the anoedipal, for example.  Here, Freudians sometimes even have to invoke the grandparents as a kind of extension of the oedipal mechanisms, in cases where the parents themselves don’t seem to have been suitable candidates.  There seems to be no escape from Oedipus, which extends not only backwards in generational terms but forwards as well, to affect sons and daughters. 

The reasons for installing Oedipus are not really clear, although there are hints that this just arises from ideology in the classic sense—that Freud and the others could not conceive of any other way of managing sexuality.  As usual, the schizophrenic is the hero here, because they refuse to have coherent hallucinations that cannot be conveniently explained as expressions of oedipal tensions, instead, they look rather like pretty productive and creative significations or productions.  They also seemed to be able to openly embrace the idea of nomadic identities, cheerfully admitting that they are several people, or in the twice repeated reference to Nietzsche, all people.

Various subsequent Freudians are criticized, including Lacan, who has his own restricted model of how the unconscious works, with rigid distinctions between the Imaginary and the Symbolic, and the construction of the phallus as a kind of representation of the whole Oedipal triangle. [ Actually, I have just read Lacan's account of the Schreber case -- here-- and I rate it pretty highly. The main argument is that one can only understand the utterances of Schreber by reading it technically as a discourse of signifiers and signifieds. The mistake is to read the account as one produced by having some special insight into his condition, which Schreber claims, or as a set of explicable delusions related to some brain disorders. This would be bizarre, says Lacan. I think it is exactly this that D&G do, in taking the rantings of Schreber as some implicit ontology of desiring machines, indeed as making sense as in Logic of Sense. They do the same with Artaud on the BwO? They also see novelists as unusually gifted like this, as in Deleuze's 'clinical project' -- see the collection here There is this residual notion of the gift throughout? ]. The British antipsychiatrists, having been admired a bit earlier (almost plagiarized really) in the form of RD Laing are also rebuked a bit with a quote from Cooper, who still seems to want to regard the family as the main source of repression, and in so doing, seems to accept the view that family tensions are at the source of the formation of the personality.

The existence of other non-family tensions is maintained, this time in the insistence that colonial relations show important determining effect of relations to bosses, employers, dominant races and the rest, and Fanon is quoted once or twice.

The purpose of schizoanalysis, a more liberating form of psychoanalysis, is introduced, and we are told that the way to arrive at it is to somehow deduce the general principles that lie behind Freud’s more specific principles.  We shall see.

All goes well with this, until the bullshit machine comes up from behind and mates with the significance machine. I think of desiring machines as like the vacuum cleaner in Teletubbies, pootling about amiably, so it is hard to think of them mating --but I forced myself. By a reversal of the flow of libido, bullshit starts flowing out of the mouth of the significance machine too [see – anyone can write this sort of rubbish]. After all, was it not D’Augustine who said that “ Just as fucking is become more mechanistic, so machines are able to simulate our emotions”? [Nope – it was me, just now. I don’t know what it means either].

This is apparent in the infuriating habit of quoting obscure psychoanalytic figures as if they were are well known to everybody, even though the references are in French.  There is full ejaculation as well, as the commentary is interrupted now and then with the usual bizarre references to literary figures, who are treated as embryonic psychoanalysts: they include Rimbaud this time.  There is also a long and rather difficult (!)  linguistic commentary, which repeats a number of figures from earlier passages, about how various exclusive and inclusive, disjunctive and conjunctive propositions appear in various philosophical discourses.  The most often repeated one is the idea that Kant sees God as master of the disjunctive syllogism.  I didn’t understand this the first time [but then I haven't read Deleuze's critique of Kant. I have come across a really helpful if tough general essay on Kant's 3 critiques in Deleuze's collection Desert Islands. Presumably this was written before AntiOedipus, but, of course,is not explicitly referenced in it] .  Christ may know what this means, and who said this, and the only example given is an illustration that God says he is God but also not God, Man.  The commentary might be leading up to the view that simple binary distinctions proposed too much structure (maybe it is a dig at Levi Strauss’s structuralism in particular?), and that somehow, schizophrenia shows is that it is possible to introduce new terms, as in either…  or…  or. (or more usually and...and...and instead of either/or -- a big issue in lots of places, maybe first of all in Difference and Repetition)

Amidst all the unreadable and self-referential stuff, one or two points appear.  First Freud used an unnecessarily dubious methodology [particularly rich coming from these people!].  For example he kept referring psychoanalytic data to myths of various kinds, particularly Oedipus, of course.  Not only is this not apparent in the clinical evidence [stone me— naive empiricism!], But it introduces an archaism and eternality to the whole analysis.  [This may or may not explain that the lengthy disquisitions in part three]. Later we are asked to inquire why on earth he chose Oedipus among all the other myths anyway.

Reich was on the right lines in asking the question why do people actually like or seek repression?  The answer is because they think it is either necessary or good, and this is where Freud helps to convince them via the notion of Oedipus as a universal form of repression based on the incest taboo, which everyone can recognize as a kind of necessary repression.  [The lads say that Reich is better than Marcuse here, but didn’t Marcuse tried to estimate the extent of surplus repression over and above that which is necessary to prevent incest? And he advocated polymorphous perversity].  Later, we are told that Reich sees the family as the agent of psychic repression, since social repression ‘actualizes Oedipus and engages desire’ (118).

The bullshit bangs on an awful lot about different kinds of language and syntheses, in a way which is incomprehensible to me.  The Wikipedia commentary says this is Deleuze’s take on Kant’s three syntheses [see above]. The section reads like an obsessive combination and detailed exposition of this curious set of terms. It reminds me of Schreber’s own highly detailed paranoid world with many subdivisions of God each with its own particular task and various little machines. Maybe is it is meant to. Try this...

 Hence the goal of schizoanalysis: to analyze the specific nature of the libidinal investments in the economic and political spheres, and thereby to show how, in the subject who desires, desire can be made to desire its own repression—whence the role of the death instinct in the circuit; connecting desire to the social sphere. All this happens, not in ideology, but well beneath it.[They seem to see 'ideology' as explicit political beliefs etc]  An unconscious investment of a fascist or reactionary type can exist alongside a conscious revolutionary investment. Inversely, it can happen—rarely—that a revolutionary investment on the level of desire coexists with a reactionary investment conforming to a conscious interest. In any case conscious and unconscious investments are not of the same type, even when they coincide or are superimposed on each other. We define the reactionary unconscious investment as the investment that conforms to the interest of the dominant class, but operates on its own account, according to the terms of desire, through the segregative use of the conjunctive syntheses from which Oedipus is derived: I am bvgfghof the superior race. The revolutionary unconscious investment is such that desire, still in its own mode, cuts across the interest of the dominated, exploited classes, and causes flows to move that are capable of breaking apart both the segregations and their Oedipal applications——flows capable of hallucinating history, of reanimating the races in delirium, of setting continents ablaze. No, I am not of your kind, I am the outsider and the deterritorialized, "I am of a race inferior for all eternity .... I am a beast, a Negro [Rimbaud I think , but maybe a ref to Rouch's film Moi, un Noir  which Deleuze admires in Cinema 2 ?] ."

There again it is a question of an intense potential for investment and counterinvestment in the unconscious. Oedipus disintegrates because its very conditions have disintegrated. The nomadic and polyvocal use of the conjunctive syntheses is in opposition to the segregative and biunivocal use. Delirium has something like two poles, racist and racial, paranoiac-segregative and schizonomadic. [based on Klein I think, explained better in Logic of Sense] And between the two, ever so many subtle, uncertain shiftings where the unconscious itself oscillates between its reactionary charge and its revolutionary potential. (105)

 Apparently, desiring production requires syntheses of particular kinds, and examination of them shows that there are a number of ways of producing, or rather desiring producing which are non oedipal.  For example, ‘a partial and nonspecific use of the connective syntheses’, which is not the same as the oedipal global and specific synthesis.  This latter synthesis results in the emergence of one overall ‘despotic signifier’, upon which all signification comes to depend.  Then there is the ‘inclusive or non restrictive use of the disjunctive syntheses’, as opposed to the oedipal ‘exclusive restrictive use’.  As implied, exclusive and restrictive means that choice of symbolizations is restricted.  In the third case, ‘nomadic and polyvocal use of the conjunctive syntheses’ is opposed to  the segregative and biunivocal use of them’ (110).  What seems to be involved here is that Oedipus presupposes or produces binary categories, including racial and nationalistic ones, (and orders them hierarchically in the name of reason) and it is this that produces ‘the reduction of libidinal investments to the eternal daddy – mommy’ (111).

Part three

I must say I really just gave up with this too.  I think the idea is to show that the incest taboo and the Oedipus complex are by no means universal, and to quote a number of ethnologists to argue this. In the process, some idealist version of historical and social development is proposed. Wikipedia says this is Deleuze’s modification of Marx by seeing social history as a development of cultural and linguistic codes. It reminds you sometime of Baudrillard on the precession of simulacra. One of the ethnologists is Levi Strauss, who has to be reinterpreted.  The reinterpretation itself is either a clever one, or it is linguistic bullshit.  The argument goes that incest does not exist, at least in myth, and thus incest myths cannot be seen as essential to civilization, in either the historical or structural sense, at least in the earliest stage (a kind of primitive communism, where codes were not systematized). Brothers might have enjoyed their sisters or mothers sexually, before the law on incest existed [since there was such a time]. After the law of incest emerged, true incest still was not possible, since the men could not enjoy the women without having social labels put on them such as mother or sister: ‘the possibility of incest would require both persons and names…  We can have persons at our disposal but they lose their names…  Or else the name subsist and designate nothing more than prepersonal intensive states that could just as well “extend” to other persons’ (161).  Is this crap or what? Because definitions are not fixed, the potentially socially disruptive behaviour does not take place? Reminds me of Baudrillard on why the Gulf War never happened.  Anyway, it is impossible to argue with this view, since it is spattered with references to anthropologists whom I have never read, or mythical stories collected from non industrial people [freely called primitive societies here] which are impossible to check—‘Let us return to the Dogon preferential marriage’, or ‘Victor Turner gives a remarkable example of such a cure among the Ndembu’.

The section on Levi Strauss argues that it is wrong to see kinship as a matter of logical combinations of relationships, but rather as a ‘physical system that will express itself naturally in terms of debts’ (157), a system through which energies flow.  There seems to be an interesting point (!)  here as well, one which emerges through the bullshit about conjunctive syntheses in part two.  It is that when signs pass from a symbolic to a practical system, they take on a different form.  It is never that myth is simply transposed, rather it determines conditions of practice.  No sooner did I think I had grasped this point them were off in the usual direction with lots of very interesting stuff about other myths, cosmic eggs and the like.

Even the assiduous reader who underlined major parts of the text in the copy I am reading gave up underlining at this point, where the bullshit machine rambles on about the origins of capitalism, from what I can gather, and bleats on about territoriality and various forms of social order, or possibly showing how forms of incest and bans on it actually change, or there again possibly not.  If I could be bothered I would reread the section on capitalism, which says that Marx can be reinterpreted in terms of the politics of flow and the surplus value of flow [the latter, I think,  means that myth or symbolic systems permit more possibilities than are actually realized in practice]. [I think it is slightly easier in Thousand Plateaus --chapters 5 and 13 NB both are very long]  The stages seem to be primitive territoriality, then a despotic phase, then a capitalist phase, and roughly it suggests that cultures were not properly systematized but undercoded and inscribed on bodies as zones of intensity (wha?), then dominated by despotism (overcoded) where the despot simply determined the meanings of all the other codes, then deterritorialized respectively [but in a nasty objectivist, individualizing way] . Capitalism produces surpluses in coding which may mean that the basic political divisions of hierarchy can also be used to explain more complex forms (‘affiliative’) including non-hierarchical ones. Much is made of the development of axiomatic principles rather than coded forms in capitalism, which may mean that abstract principles decide social relations. It is so speculative, literary and silly. Nietzsche is preferred to ethnology, and his stuff about the main role in despotism played by white Aryans from the North is universalized – surely not literally but as some kind of analogy?

There is a good Guattarian bit on three segments of the modern capitalist economy, the summary appearing just in time as ever:

The one that extracts human surplus value on the basis of the differential relation between decoded[ = reduced to elements, stripped of any traditional social or cultural significance?] flows of labor and production and that moves from the center to the periphery while nevertheless maintaining vast residual zones at the center; (2) the one that extracts machinic surplus value on the basis of an axiomatic of the flows of scientific and technical code in the “core” areas of the center; (3) and the one that absorbs or realizes these two forms of surplus values of flux by guaranteeing the emission of both and by constantly injecting antiproduction into the producing apparatuses [as in the military or the State bureaucracy]

Thus surplus value means not just the difference between the value produced by labour returned as wages and the overall value, but more as a matter of the differences between two sorts of flow, a flow of money and debts in capitalism, acting as a matter of availability and credit, and the more usual notion of money that is used to purchase goods.  [Rather a good commentary on the lunatic lending policies of casino capitalism and the great crash of 2008].  This conception of surplus value makes it even more difficult to see who here is being exploited.  There is even a hint that in desiring purchasing power, people are forced to desire global credit: ‘the Desire of the most disadvantaged creature will invest with all its strength...the capitalist social field as a whole’ (229).  Revolutionary practice becomes equally difficult. Machinic surplus value might mean that surpluses of codes and classifications help extend and regulate the system by dealing with innovations, but who knows.

Then there is a bit about Lyotard and the figural, which has got something to do with the connection between signs and the order of desire, again in a way which overflows the normal notion of signification.  However, in Lyotard this is parcelled up into conventional notions of fantasy, which involves the old notion of lack or absence, from which we gets the whole mechanisms of repression and the law.

Thank goodness the part ends by going  back to the critique of Freud in a recognizable way—‘his greatness lies in having determined by essence or nature of desire no longer in relation to objects, aims, or even sources (territories), but as an abstract subjective essence—libido or sexuality.  But he still relates this essence to the family as the last territoriality of private man—whence the position of Oedipus’ (270).  He is even prepared to idealize the family, replacing the idea of real seduction of children with a universal fantasy.  We need to go beneath this particular formulation to discover its social and psychoanalytic determinants – schizoanalysis. 

I am still not at all convinced by this massive hammer being used to crack Freud’s nuts. Just read Civilisation and Its Discontents and the conservative nature of Freud’s politics, with its dubious support in the universality of a suddenly-inserted Oedipus, is pretty obvious.

Part four

I am determined to get something out of reading this wretched book.  I will make the Owl of Minerva fly at dusk if I have to throw the bloody thing out of the tree myself.  Luckily, our machines are running down a bit, and there is a lot of repetition in this part.  Sometimes that even helps you understand what they’re on about, although there are still whole pages of incomprehensible bullshit that even repeated readings fail to grasp.  Here we go then.

Oedipus arises from paternal paranoia not from some development of the infantile ego.  Fathers partake in the social field which is already invested with notions of social economic and racial divisions and categories, and it is this which takes the form of familial material.  For example it is the rarity of women in particular societies that leads to particular neuroses about them.  Mental processes represent real rather than fantastic processes.  Biological and social reproduction is represented rather than psychological mechanisms.  The social field therefore provides much unconscious material.  In this way, thought is always delirious [I think this means in the Freudian sense where a delirium is a mixture of psychological and logical processes].  Delirium is either fascist, orderly and accepting of social order, or it is schizophrenic and revolutionary (277), although oscillations between the two are also possible.

Then a lot of literary examples are given, from Kerouac, Artaud and Ginsberg.  Freud is rebuked (below)  for relying on the power of myth to sanctify and lend value to his analysis, but it looks like our heroes are doing that here by citing a few authors who were dead cool in the sixties. We must be glad there are no Stones lyrics.

We then move on to discuss the two levels at which activity can take place, the molar and the molecular.  The latter seems to be connected to some of the arguments in quantum physics --it is unpredictable etc.  The two levels are interconnected, we are told, maybe necessarily and always.  Then there is a difference between subjugated groups and subject groups.  Normally, the former operate at the molar level, and the latter and the molecular.  On page 281, some ferocious bullshit includes the view that the body without organs acts as the limit of the socius, and/but that the socius is not just a projection of the body without organs.  A bit later on, we are told that the distinction between the molar and the molecular is not just a metaphor, and in connection with this claim to realism, that the body without organs is matter itself (283).

There follows an aside on machines which reminds me rather of actor network theory.  Butler [not Judith] is discussed as a way of overcoming the differences between mechanism and vitalism.  This may be in response to the accusation that the notion of the desiring-machine is either just a metaphor or, if it is taken literally, that it cannot apply to human beings.  Butler’s view is that we should consider machines as having a series of dispersed parts, so that our familiar work machines can really be seen as remote limbs.  Similarly, organisms themselves often have dispersed parts as well—for example, the red clover needs a bee to fertilise it, and the bee needs the red clover for food, so they can be seen as together comprising a reproductive machine. [A more recurrent metaphor is the link between certain wasps and certain orchids that mimic the body of wasps]  This notion of dispersion also means that different codes can be captured and imported into new contexts.  It is this that permits the connection between machines and desire, rather than some notion of the unified human subjects.  In this way as well, the molecular is connected to the molar [there is a French reference for this on page 286].

Then there is a list of types of molecular desiring-machines, which may or may not be the same as the ones listed in the earlier sections.  [Another example of the paranoid obsessional classification and construction of combinatories that we have seen above and will see again].  This argument ends in impenetrable bullshit on page 206.  There is an application of some of this material to biology through a reference to Monod (288), but still lots of crap.

Machines are not only fuelled by libido as sexual energy, they operate on their own level.  Reich conceived of the idea of a general cosmic energy, which at least managed to split sexual energy from biological and social reproduction.  However, the notion of schizoanalysis better represents desire.  Desire is always connected and nomadic at the larger level—‘gigantism’ (292).  Desire is invested in the unconscious throughout social life, while it is the preconscious that invests our actions with interests and needs: ‘The truth is that sexuality is everywhere: the way a bureaucrat fondles his records, the judge administers justice, a businessman causes money to circulate; the way the bourgeoisie fucks the proletariat; and so on’ (293).  This general desire is repressed by psychoanalysis and channeled into family dynamics.  It is aimed at people, but people are really only ‘points of connection, of disjunction, of conjunction of flows’ (293) .

There is an odd reference to Marx on nonhuman sex, page 294, referenced to the Critique of Hegel’s “Philosophy of Right”, but I am buggered if I can find it there.  Apparently, this refers to the connection of desire to partial objects at the molecular level, the ‘dwarfism’ of human sexuality.  The two levels here are joined by the castration process, which installs the relations between men and women and naturalizes it [because castration is connected with forbidding masturbation and having to wait until normal sexuality is permitted?  It is also the mechanism that produces lack in female sexuality].  However, this institutionalization is constantly challenged by molecular  activity, which constantly opens the possibility of ‘not one or even two sexes, but N sexes’ (296).

The assembling machines therefore produce rather than represent.  Representation is really rooted in the preconscious rather than the unconscious, it is a matter of belief, rooted in families for conventional psychoanalysis.  This belief must be supported by myth and tragedy, powerful ‘ideological forms’ (297).  It is unlikely that anyone really believed in the Oedipus myth.  The real role of the father is to be an agent of machinic combinations of production and antiproduction (297), since insisting on conventional sexual forms is an antiproduction.  This is justified with a quote from Henry Miller which is heavily interpreted in the usual way (299).

A discussion of representation then ensues, with the claim that the old forms were broken by modernity.  In particular, both Ricardo and Freud discovered the quantification of production, and notions of abstract labour and abstract desire.  However for Freud, this still gets reconnected with representation again in the Oedipus myth.  Freud still sees Oedipus as determined by social formations, but he operates with unthought out conceptions of the social, still drawing partly on the old displaced despotic code.  He fails to see that myths actually code impending social change.  Psychoanalysis applies a particular decoding process to subjective elements, but it would be wrong to see this as a scientific decoding [as in structuralism].  It is a capitalist coding, using the same processes of social abstractions (deterritorializations), as where political economy uses the concept of modern abstract labour as some pure type used to understand and interpret the past.  The same machines operate in the same way at both social and individual levels -- they conjoin decoded flows, and it is this that leads to independent subjective production.

Why should this process require repression?  The capitalist axiomatic needs to control or repel desiring-production of this creative kind, and it does so by creating false conjunctions and totalities, often based on the old order of territory and despotism [compare with Marx on the way in which Louis Napoleon drew upon images from the past].  In addition, subjectivity comes to equal private property through the mechanisms of alienation.  Psychoanalysis becomes the necessary internal movement of this process (303) by applying the axiomatic to the family, thus setting interior limits to desiring production.  Psychoanalysis deconstructs myth only to reinstall it as privatized subjective representations, a private internal theatre.  The theatre analogy explains how the imaginary becomes objectified.  The process creates an imposed structural unity of desiring machines, defined in terms of a lack [of a healthy family?  Of an adult personality?] Substantial bullshit ensues (307).  The theatre metaphor also renders production invisible, and leaves the whole mechanisms as a matter for subjective imagination, or subjective representation.  This is even seen as desirable by alienated people [who congratulate themselves on their warped subjectivity?]: Psychoanalysis offers a ready made structure for the imagination.

Capitalism needs constantly to do this repressing work because desire is unruly and it is constantly likely to produce random elements [amid substantial bullshit, 309].  Social themes are introduced unconsciously in representations of desire as lack.  Lacan partially penetrates this with his insistence that the oedipal structure belongs in the symbolic rather than the imaginary, so that the role of the father is connected with real social power (310), although the conservative elements have been substantially criticized [by feminists?].  There are real rejections of the whole oedipal mechanisms arising from a schizophrenic stance [but they look like classic academic critiques to me --ventriloquist schizophrenia?].  For example, latency is a problem in Freud's oedipal structure, since it could be read as implying that Oedipus was not actually present then, but developing (so it cannot be eternal).  It is clear that the elimination of the castration anxiety necessarily involves a submission to the heterosexual order.

Psychoanalysis can itself be seen as a perversion, a narcissism, concerned only with internal criteria, blind to any outside factors and external displacements [and an external role for creative desire]. The whole apparatus needs to be deconstructed and resisted.  There are no psychological unconscious contents, only desiring-machines.  ‘The psychoanalyst reterritorializes on the couch’ (314).  We should retain our right to construct non-sense, to celebrate constant flows and breaks.  Even dreams contain a mixture of non-sense and representation in Freud.  However, reterritorialization is chronically likely, and not even literary heroes fully escape.  Most activities are a complex of de- and reterritorialization [a grain of sense in the middle of an awful lot of bullshit on 316, followed by a lengthy quote which attempts to see Chaplin as demonstrating schizophrenic flows in Modern Times].

What is required is a careful analysis of moments of territorialization and deterritorialization, and examples of films and the work of Proust are supplied as illustration (318).  Even community psychiatry is likely to reOedipalize everyone.  Even antipsychiatry reintroduces subjugation.  Even Laing is too superficial here on the connections between the inner and social world. The full politicization of psychiatry is what is required here, the full liberation of schizoid processes,  resistance to labelling them as madness.  Then schizoid flows could join with other deterritorializing flows to produce ‘An active point of escape with the revolutionary machine, the artistic machine, the scientific machine, and the (schizo) analytic machine become parts and pieces of one another’ (322). 

Apart from these critical matters, there are positive tasks too, such as investigating the workings of consciousness in a given person.  We should investigates this in detail and at the level of machines, remembering that desiring-machines are dispersed, as argued above.  We must resist totalizing and any will to power.  We must avoid any simple translation into conventional terms, including sexual ones, and fully include relations with partial objects [spoiled by a bullshit quote on 324].  We should see how the machines are linked by flows and how they include each other, as passive synthesis, or through creating fields of presence in which the other one can exist [more bullshit on 325 and 326 – and  ‘The body without organs is the immanent substance in the most Spinozist sense of the word’ 327].

The section on pages 327 to 329 offer the best example of paranoid combinatories, where all sorts of strange combinations of syntheses are connected into various chains and energies, at molecular and molar levels.  Some are codes, it seems.  As an example, try this bit: ‘The chain also implies another type of synthesis than the flows: it is no longer the lines of connection that traverse the productive parts of the machine, but an entire network of disjunction on the recording surface of the body without organs’.  Somehow, we ramble on to what death means and how it is connected with schizophrenia.  This finally gets to make more sense [maybe when Guattari snatches the pen away from Deleuze] when it gets on to the role of the death instinct in Freud, but more dreadful bullshit ensues, when Deleuze snatches the pen back, as in this masterpiece: ‘You weren’t born Oedipus, you caused it to grow in yourself; and you aim to get out of it through fantasy, through castration, but this in turn you have caused to grow in Oedipus—namely, in yourself: the horrible circle’ (334).

Freud apparently had discovered the death instinct after world war one.  The classic capitalist war, we  are told, offering the famous combination of production and antiproduction.  It is this that he rediscovered and transformed psychoanalysis.  There follows a lot of linking back to the apparent history of social formations in part three, and how the extent of repression needed in capitalism is unusually great.  In such a society death is also abstracted [that is taken away from any coded meaning and made into an abstract principle or axiom?] ‘Death is not desired, but what is desired is dead, already dead: images’ (337).

We returned to the notion of schizoanalysts as mechanics, not decoders.  It is not enough to decode the representations of the unconscious, since repression has already rendered these as false images, as what repression represents.  In this way, psychoanalysis never actually penetrates to the unconscious at all.  What is needed is ‘undoing the blockage or the coincidence on which the repression properly speaking relies; transforming the apparent opposition of repulsion (the body without organs/the machines – partial objects) into a condition of real functioning; ensuring this functioning in the forms of attraction and production of intensities; thereafter integrating the failures in the attractive functioning, as well as enveloping the 0 degree in the intensities produced; and thereby causing the desiring-machines to start up again’ (339).  This is a classic example of Deleuzian delirium.  It makes much sense if you leave out the bullshit in the middle and rendering it as: ‘ undoing the blockage... on which the repression properly speaking relies... thereby causing the desiring-machines to start up again’.

Desiring-machines are always linked to the social machines, but schizos escape by refusing the false tranquility that this implies.  Then there is an incomprehensible bit about full bodies, clothed or naked bodies, which are combined in some paranoid set of obsessional classifications again (341-343).

The unconscious is linked with the preconscious interests which include class.  However, we are not allowed to think that class is a simple matter, nor even a familiar matter.  Instead ‘The class is defined by a regime of syntheses, a state of global connections, exclusive disjunctions, and residual conjunctions that characterize the aggregates being considered.  Membership in a class refers to the role in production or antiproduction, to the place in the inscription, to the portion that is due the subjects’ (344).  Once more we are told that the preconscious invests in the class system, even if this is not in the objective interests of the persons concerned.  It is not enough to blame ideology, since that only masks the issue, even in Reich.  Alas, this promising remark peters out in bullshit, 345, but eventually the argument becomes clearer and it seems to involve saying that there is some genuine common interest in power, in the way the flows themselves operate.  The point is repeated about how every one seems to have an interest in accumulation.  So the system is ‘loved for itself’, providing ‘a pure joy in feeling oneself a wheel in the machine’ (346), feeling that one is in one’s place.  For some revolutionaries, it is the other way around.  Their preconscious expresses revolutionary interest, but they still have an unconscious attachment to the old forms.  Obsessional combinations of these variables ensue on page 348, with a return to the difference between subjugated and subject groups again.  This time, we are told that individuals can belong to both and that it is common for one to turn into the other.

Can anyone resist?  An aside on surrealism follows, with Artaud congratulated as being the only one to escape.  Usually, there are whole complexes of desire and interest.  These need to be analyzed, but only indices are detectable.  Revolutionary sexual movements can be domesticated and oedipalised—for example the gay liberation movement which is still prepared to see heterosexuality as a separate realm, rather than sexuality itself as a matter of flows. [So D&G would support Queer theory?]

For Freud, sexuality has to be sublimated before it can participate in social life, but the whole social field operates as a delirium for Deleuze and Guattari.  Flows create zones of intensity rather than codes as such, and this can be masked by preconscious interests.  An example from Freud ensues.  Apparently, Freud discovered his own oedipal hang-ups by remembering the significance of the maid in his own household who came to stand for a poor woman as such to be contrasted with his half brother who belonged to a richer half of the family.  In other examples, people of high or low rank stand for parents; in the case of the Rat Man, a tension arose between choosing a poor woman whom he loved or a rich woman; the Wolf Man was attracted to a maid he saw on hands and knees scrubbing floors.  Freud wants to reduce all this to Oedipus, but for Deleuze and Guattari social class haunts the analysis—these objects are social others, foreign, non-family, nonhuman others.  Oedipus is therefore a ‘drift…  of the social field’ (355), where animals or maids must stand for kneeling copulating mothers.  Even real parents play several social roles in social life, so desire attached to them is attached to whole fields.  Parents represent the social order rather than the other way around.  Families can also ‘play at Oedipus…  But behind all this, there is an economic situation: the mother reduced to housework, or to a difficult and uninteresting job on the outside; children whose future remains uncertain; the father who has had it with feeding all those mouths—in short, a fundamental relation to the outside of which the psychoanalyst washes his hands, too attentive to seeing that his clients play nice games’ (356).

Economic dependence is the root of many neuroses reported by Freud’s patients, and thus it drives psychoanalysis.  We know that money is seen as essential in the transaction for Freud, but economic dependence also appears elsewhere.  Freud is not interested in who pays for the analysis, for example, part of the denial of any outside influences.  Yet it is in the outside where desire is invested and dispersed among many outside objects.  All this is reduced eventually to Oedipus, an example of how it operates as a socially repressive mechanism (transposed into the clinic)  as in Foucault. This is good stuff but clearly runs the risk of economic determinism this time, forcing everything into the marxist problematic. When I read Freud, I can see lots of reasons for the terrible state of respectable women in Vienna and their hangups about sexuality. They were being treated as chattels in marriage games, and they also were expected to be devoted mothers instead of leading any sort of an independent life. But they also had infant mortality and dreadful diseases like syphilis to worry about, let alone unwanted pregnancies -- no wonder they got  the vapours when thinking about marriage and childbirth.

Oedipus is enforced in the family and then exported to all other institutions.  This is not realized even by antipsychiatry—for example, Laing criticizes conventional families, but wants to develop more open and friendly ones.  In fact, the wider society causes schizophrenia (361), which then enters the family: families are not primary.  However, schizos can also break through this repression (362)—it is just that social production produces the idea of schizophrenia as an illness.  The treatment of schizophrenia is equally unpleasant—if psychoanalysis works, schizophrenics become mere neurotics; if there aren’t treatable, they shut down and become catatonic; if their schizophrenia is blocked outside and diverted back inside, it creates delusions and perversions.

After this clear and useful argument, serious bullshit ensues again on page 364 onwards.  It seems to be repetitive bullshit as well, relating back to matters such as how racial and class divisions are primarily on the body without organs.  We had to mention the body without organs, because it had been mercifully absent in the more sensible bits. This seems to be some argument that these divisions are not just social?

So we need to urge the full operation of machines rather than reterritorialization.  We should choose the schizoid revolutionary pole rather than the ‘paranoiac, or reactionary and fascising’ pole (366).  This whole discussion of possible politics seems horribly abstract and idealist to me, and here we see the danger of all those combinatories developed before: liberating politics itself arises as a mere combination of all these terms such as flows, blocks, subject and subjugated groups, molar and molecular levels and all the rest of it.  There is also a lot of exhortation to celebrate desire without attaching it to particular objects, to make it intentionless.  The apparent need is to celebrate art and science as autonomous activities rather than embed them in institutions.  An obscure example of different schools of painting demonstrate the possibilities of deterritorialization and escape, apparently (369).  Science too offers two possibilities, the domination of methods which subjugates, or of experiment—and an obscure discussion ensues on page 371.

We are getting near the end now, thank goodness, and there is some kind of attempt to summarize.  Capitalism itself is mad and ever expanding, through constant decoding and deterritorialization, with its axiomatic apparatus (374).  It is supported by preconscious interests and unconscious desires.  Critics have commonly localized their preconscious interests, for example with reformism.  Even genuine revolutionaries still find themselves limited because they have not broken with their unconscious desires.  Subject groups get subjugated.  Capitalist art and science can escape.  Flows can overflow and intersect, producing schizoid revolutionary investments [pure idealist possibilities again].  It is admitted that art and science are easily reregulated.

We need to encourage new operations at the molecular level.  There is no causal link between being exploited and becoming revolutionary.  The Leninist coup is a good example, where a group broke through the so called laws of proletarian revolution, and their supporters had mixtures of unconscious and preconscious investments.  A genuine revolutionary requires a ‘libidinal break’ at the right moment, although the ground is often prepared by preconscious interests.  It is impossible to predict the source of such a break.

They have obviously been criticized quite a lot because they spend the last few pages replying to critics.  Are they too idealist about the revolutionary potential of art and science?  Are they too minimal about the role of actual agents like the proletariat?  They reply and defend themselves by reasserting all the points about limits and insisting that desire also has to be engaged.  They only talked about schizoid poles and did not insist the only schizophrenics could be revolutionary agents [there is a lovely bit where they admit they’ve never actually met a schizophrenic].

Finally, their own proposal for schizoanalysis is not political in the usual sense.  It’s really best seen as a criticism of psychoanalysis.  It is not about real schizophrenics.  It is an argument that desiring production is important in any political programme.  There is an odd appeal to some sort of strange episode where a schizophrenic (?) child apparently prospers once he is permitted to follow his own interests. The banal example is interpreted as him forming a new desiring machine (381) [surely this is not the bit that educationalists use to justify progressive teaching?].  The whole book ends with some assertion of some future society where desire is unleashed and deterritorialization is continual for—some kind of philosophical permanent revolution?


Lest we forget...some typical bits of prose:


One cannot better show how an operation of biunivocalization organizes itself around a despotic signifier, so that a phonetic and alphabetical chain flows from it. Alphabetical writing is not for illiterates, but by illiterates. It goes by way of illiterates, those unconscious workers. The signifier implies a language that overcodes another language, while the other language is completely coded into phonetic elements. And if the unconscious in fact includes the topical order of a double inscription, it is not structured like one language, but like two. The signifier does not appear to keep its promise, which is to give access to a modern and functional understanding of language. The imperialism of the signifier does not take us beyond the question, "What does it mean?"; it is content to bar the question in advance, to render all the answers insufficient by relegating them to the status of a signified. It challenges exegesis in the name of recitation, pure textuality and superior "scientificity" (scientificité). Like the young palace dog too quick to drink the verse water, and who never tire of crying: The signifier, you have not reached the signifier, you are still at the level of the signifieds! The signifier is the only thing that gladdens their hearts. But this master signifier remains what it was in ages past, a transcendent stock that distributes lack to all the elements of the chain, something in common for a common absence, the authority that channels all the breaks-flows into one and the same locus of one and the same cleavage the detached object, the phallus-and-castration, the bar that delivers over all the depressive subjects to the great paranoiac king. O signifier, terrible archaism of the despot where they still look for the empty tomb, the dead father, and the mystery of the name! (208—09)

The body without organs is like the cosmic egg, the giant molecule swarming with worms, bacilli, Lilliputian figures, animalcules, and homunculi, with their organization and their machines, minute strings, ropes, teeth, fingernails, levers and pulleys, catapults: thus in Schreber the millions of spermatazoids in the sunbeams, or the souls that lead a brief existence as little men on his body. Artaud says: this world of microbes, which is nothing more than coagulated nothingness. The two sides of the body without organs are, therefore, the side on which the mass phenomenon and the paranoiac investment corresponding to it are organized on a microscopic scale, and the other side on which, on a submicroscopic scale, the molecular phenomena and their schizophrenic investment are arranged. It is on the body without organs, as a pivot, as a frontier between the molar and the molecular, that the paranoia-schizophrenia division is made. Are we to believe, then, that social investments are secondary projections, as if a large two-headed schizonoiac, father of the primitive horde, were at the base of the socius in general? We have seen that this is not at all the case. The socius is not a projection of the body without organs; rather, the body without organs is the limit of the socius, its tangent of deterritorialization, the ultimate residue of a deterritorialized socius. The socius—the earth, the body of the despot, capital-money—are clothed full bodies, just as the body without organs is a naked full body; but the latter exists at the limit, at the end, not at the origin. And doubtless the body without organs haunts all forms of socius. But in this very sense, if social investments can be said to be paranoiac or schizophrenic, it is to the extent that they have paranoia and schizophrenia as ultimate products under the determinate conditions of capitalism. (281)


Desiring-production and machines, psychic apparatuses and machines of desire, desiring-machines and the assembling of an analytic machine suited to decode them: the domain of free syntheses where everything is possible; partial connections, included disjunctions nomadic conjunctions, polyvocal flows and chains, transductive* breaks; the relation of desiring-machines as formations of the unconscious with the molar formations that they constitute statistically in organized crowds; and the apparatus of social and psychic repression resulting from these formations—such is the composition of the analytic field. And this subrepresentative field will continue to survive and work, even through Oedipus, even through myth and tragedy, which nevertheless mark the reconciliation of psychoanalysis with representation. The fact remains that a conflict cuts across the whole of psychoanalysis, the conflict between mythic and tragic familial representation and social and desiring—production. For myth and tragedy are systems of symbolic representations that still refer desire to determinate exterior conditions as well as to particular objective codes-—the body of the Earth, the despotic body—and that in this way confound the discovery of the abstract or subjective essence. It has been remarked in this context that each time Freud brings to the fore the study of the psychic apparatuses the social and desiring-machines, the mechanisms of the drives, and the institutional mechanisms, his interest in myth and tragedy tends to diminish, while at the same time he denounces in Jung, then in Rank, the re-establishment of an exterior representation of the essence of desire as an objective desire, alienated in myth or tragedy. (300)

We are all the more "extricated" from Oedipus as we become a living example, an advertisement, a theorem in action, so as to attract our children to Oedipus: we have evolved in Oedipus, we have been structured in Oedipus, and under the neutral and benevolent eye of the substitute, we have learned the song of castration, the lack-of—being- that-is-life; "yes it is through castration/that we gain access/to Deeeeesire." [sic] What one calls the disappearance of Oedipus is Oedipus become an idea. Only the idea can inject the venom. Oedipus has to become an idea so that it sprouts each time a new set of arms and legs, lips and mustache: "In tracing back the ‘memory deaths’ your ego becomes a sort of mineral theorem which constantly proves the futility of living."21 We have been triangulated in Oedipus, and will triangulate in it in turn. From the family to the couple, from the couple to the family. In actuality, the benevolent neutrality of the analyst is very limited: it ceases the instant one stops responding daddy-mommy. It ceases the instant one introduces a little desiring—machine-—the tape-recorder—into the analyst’s office; it ceases as soon as a flow is made to circulate that does not let itself be stopped by Oedipus, the mark of the triangle (they tell you you have a libido that is too viscous, or too liquid, contraindications for analysis). (312)


Here are the desiring-machines, with their three parts: the working parts, the immobile motor, the adjacent part; their three forms of energy: Libido, Numen, and Voluptas; and their three syntheses: ie connective syntheses of partial objects and flows, the disjunctive syntheses of singularities and chains, and the conjunctive syntheses of intensities and becomings. The schizoanalyst is not an interpreter, even less a theater director; he is a mechanic, a micromechanic. There are no  excavations to be  undertaken, no archaeology, no statues in the unconscious: there are only stones to be sucked, a la Beckett, and other machinic elements belonging to deterritorialized constellations. The task of schizoanalysis is that of learning what a subject’s desiring-machines are, how they work, with what syntheses, what bursts of energy in the machine, what constituent misfires, with what flows, what chains, and  what becomings in each case. Moreover, this positive task cannot be separated from indispensable destructions, the destruction of the molar aggregates, the structures and representations that prevent the machine from functioning. lt is not easy to rediscover the molecules-even the giant molecule——their paths, their zones of presence, and their own syntheses, amid the large accumulations that fill the preconscious, and that delegate their representatives in the unconscious itself, thereby immobilizing the machines, silencing them, trapping them, sabotaging them, cornering them, holding them fast. In the unconscious it is not the lines of pressure that matter, but on the contrary the lines of escape. The unconscious does not apply pressure to consciousness; rather consciousness applies pressure and strait-jackets the unconscious, to prevent its escape. As to the unconscious, it is like the Platonic opposite whose opposite draws near: it flees or it perishes. What we have tried to show from the outset is how the unconscious productions and formations were not merely repelled by an agency of psychic repression that would enter into compromises with them, but actually covered over by antiformations that disfigure the unconscious in itself, and impose  on it causations, comprehensions, and expressions that no longer have anything to do with its real functioning: thus all the statues, the Oedipal images, the phantasmal mises en scčne, the Symbolic of castration,the effusion of the death instinct, the perverse reterritorializations. (338—9.


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