Guattari, F. ( 1995) Chaosmosis: an ethico-aesthetic paradigm. Trans. Paul Baines and Julian Pefanis.Power Publications: Sydney.

[Guattari’s  last book.  A good discussion of modern forms of subjectivity, including machinic and ‘a – signifying’ forms, which can be used retrospectively to make more sense of Thousand Plateaus. An emphasis on politics of subjectivity, and how to develop autonomous subjectivity, so a continuation of the politics as well.  Surprisingly neglected in the educational world!  Riddled with Deleuzian terminology and the usual elitist allusions, unfortunately]

[Incidentally, see Rancière's discussion of radical cultural politics as a critique]

Chapter one On the production of subjectivity

Subjectivity is really important, as his professional practice in psychotherapy has shown.  We should be thinking of new ways to understand it as a combination of ‘various semiotic registers’ (1), including collective ones, not just the old opposition between subject and society.

Subjectivity is more important than ever, as in Tiananmen Square and the demand for a new lifestyle, and in a more regressive way in the religious revival in Iran.  Collective desire broke the iron curtain in a complex mix of emancipatory and conservative threads, including nationalism and religion.  The Gulf War as can be seen as imposing Americans forms of subjectivation.  We can see this in terms of emancipation vs. conservative ‘reterritorializations of subjectivity’ (3).

Conventional social sciences, including psychoanalysis, find it difficult to understand these mixtures of archaic culture and modernity.  We need instead ‘the more transversalist conception of subjectivity, one which would permit us to understand both its idiosyncratic territorialized couplings (Existential Territories) and its opening on to value systems (Incorporeal Universes) with their social and cultural implications’ (4).  This will include the effects of the mass media and IT and their ‘semiotic productions’, which affect memory, intelligence, sensibility and ‘unconscious phantasms’.  Modern subjectivity is heterogeneous, with: the usual semiological components from the family and other social institutions; elements from the media industry; ‘a-signifying semiological dimensions that trigger informational sign machines’ (4), which cannot be understood using linguistic semiology.  It was a mistake on the part of structuralism to prioritise natural language which avoids technology.  For example computer aided design has leads to new developments in both art and mathematics.  We should neither celebrate and critically nor reject totally these innovations—‘everything depends [the] articulation within collective assemblages of enunciation’ (5).  [pretty much like Habermas arguing that public value rationality ought to control science and technology?].  In particular, there is a potential for ‘reappropriation and resingularization of the use of media’—access and interactivity.

There are implications for ‘ethology and ecology’ too (6).  Infants develop subjectivity through levels of subjectivation which run in parallel, rather than classic Freudian stages.  Early subjectivity also always involves considering the feelings of the other, the relation between shareable and non shareable affects.  This demolishes the claim of Freudian complexes to be universal.  There are implications for psychotherapy of the kind Guattari pursued, which focuses on ‘collective subjectivation’, a production, encouragement of ‘multiple exchanges between individual – group – machine’ (7) [through the development of new skills and interests]. This offers a chance to break out of blocks and resingularise, by following an ‘aesthetic paradigm’ [doing things for fun?].  All sorts of heterogeneous components are involved, ‘everything which can contribute to the creation of an authentic relation with the other’ (7).  He is after autonomous subjectivity, or ‘autopoeisis (in a somewhat different sense from the one Francisco Varela gives this term)’ [fuck me, could be Seel at the Change Academy].

Another example can be found in developments in family psychotherapy, which break with science and develop ‘an ethico - aesthetic paradigm’ (8).  Apparently this involves therapists themselves acting out various phantasms, via psychodrama, with others participating and commenting, and videoing the results for subsequent commentary.  There is no attempt to reconstruct the actual family dramas, but to focus on how subjectivity is produced.  It leads to a ‘ludic face to face encounter with patients and the acceptance of singularities’.

This leads to an all encompassing definition of subjectivity [and it is a beauty]: ‘The ensemble of conditions which render possible the emergence of individual and/or collective instances as self referential existential Territories, adjacent, or in a delimiting relation, to an alterity that is itself subjective’ (9).  In some conditions, this becomes individualised, such as when appearing in families or before the law.  Another conditions, it is collective, but in the sense of being the product of a multiplicity, sometimes incarnated ‘on the side of the socius’ (9). There are also ‘incorporeal Universes of reference such as those relative to music and the plastic arts’.  The non human and pre- personal elements are useful, since they can lead to heterogenesis and autonomy.

‘It would be to misjudge Deleuze and Foucault—who emphasized the non human part of subjectivity—to suspect them of taking anti humanist positions!’ (9).  They just wanted to make us aware of non human aspects, or ‘machines of subjectivation’, which have an affect in addition to the normal social and unconscious processes. 

Freud’s theory of the Unconscious can no longer be distinguished from the institutions and apparatuses which promote it.  Freudians did invent new forms of experience or production, such as hysteria or psychosis, but it is now become institutionalised, especially in its structuralist version, which stresses conformity to the signifying order.

We should not think of these approaches as scientific, but as accounts of the product of subjectivity, together with the apparatuses which they have developed.  There are a number of systems of ‘modelising subjectivity’, which include cognitive as well as mythical and other references.  Psychoanalysis has developed a number of interacting models of relations, but none of them  ‘can be said to express an objective knowledge of the psyche’ (11), despite their importance.  We need to evaluate them pragmatically against the new forms of subjectivity developing, indulging in ‘psychological metamodelisation’, to examine how they can use to explain effects, how they are themselves modified by external changes.  The Freudian unconscious clearly relates to society of the past which was phallocratic: its authority now depends on particular institutions. 

Contemporary changes fragment the self image.  The old oedipal mechanisms must be replaced by a notion of ‘multiple structure of subjectivation’, ‘a more “schizo” Unconscious’, uncoupled from the family, focusing on current practice.  ‘An Unconscious of Flux and of abstract machines rather than an Unconscious structure of language’ (12).  This is not intended to be a scientific theory, and ‘I invite those who read me to take or reject my concepts freely’—the point is to work towards the production of an autonomous subjectivity.  [The same kind of bargain Deleuze makes—take it or leave it, but I am moving in the right direction, so there].

Aesthetics are important here, since they can also involve autonomy.  We’re interested in creativity not reified systems.  Aesthetic categories, even Kant’s, must be inserted into the psyche.  Why are some ‘semiotic segments’ capable of developing an autonomy and new fields of reference?  This relates to personal freedom.  We need to examine this ‘ethico – aesthetic “partial objects”’ (13), and how they manage to achieve autonomy, how this links to ‘mutant desire and to the achievement of a certain disinterestedness’ [the reference to the partial objects tries to connect up with Lacan on the emergence of the partial object in the development of autonomous subjectivity].

Bakhtin discussed how aesthetic objects can express ethical or cognitive autonomy, acting as ‘a partial enunciator’ (13).  How might this be related to the psychoanalytic partial objects?  We need to extend Lacan to include other objects with psychic effects, objects which will lead us to the various other processes of subjectivity discussed so far.  In Bakhtin’s terms subjectivation somehow or transferred between the author and the contemplator or spectator of a work of art, so the spectator becomes a cocreator.  This requires the expressed material to incorporate some creative potential, to detach itself from constraining contexts, to open up connotations, especially those which alludes to ‘the unity of nature and the unity of the ethical event of being’ (14).  This might be found only in fragments of content, which reveal the attempts of the author to enunciate this creative potential. 

[This is still Bakhtin] In poetry, elements which are likely to be able to detach and autonomise themselves, and lead to creative subjectivity are:

‘The sonority of the word, its musical aspect; its material significations with their nuances and variants; its verbal connections; its emotional, intonational and volitional aspects; the feeling of verbal activity in the active generation of a signifying sound, including motor elements of articulation, gesture, mime; the feeling of a movement in which the whole organism together with the activity and soul of the word are swept along in their concrete unity’ (15), with the last general process including all the others. [Could this be what others refer to as 'epiphanies'?]

These suggestions will help us analyse unconscious formations in pedagogy and psychiatry, and even new possibilities in capitalism.  Creative fragments like this are found not only in music and poetry, but can take the form of ‘”existential refrains”’ (15), embedded in assemblages of various kinds.  Birdsong can be seen as an example of her refrains mark out territories.  In ‘archaic societies’, it will be various marks, totems and rituals.  We are all aware of ‘crossings of subjective thresholds’ between periods of sadness or happiness.  We can extend the notions to include relations with all sorts of incorporeal universes, such as mathematics, and all sorts of deterritorialized existential locations, in the form of a ‘transversalist refrain’ (16).  We can escape limited notions in capitalism of space and time, and try to explore ‘ highly relative existential synchronies’ (16).

Television constructs subjectivity, through its fascination with the luminous screen, its dominating narrative content, awareness of surrounding events, such as water boiling on the stove, the phantasms and daydreams in our heads.  These components can pull in different directions, but they can be controlled by a refrain, a  ‘projective existential node’ (17)—I can identify with the speaker on the screen, for example.  Again we can relate to Bakhtin’s view that some ‘detached existential motif’ is acting as an attractor, which leads to a connection ‘to the existential Territory of myself’. 

This can take pathological forms -- obsessive ritual in neurosis, or implosion of the personality, where the components move away on delirious or hallucinatory lines.  The complex refrain can be used in psychotherapy, instead of looking for underlying structures.  It can congeal in the form of ‘a constellation of Universes’ which have been produced in the way we have described, but which appear to be permanent: are they too arise from a creative act, as a ‘haecceity freed from discursive time’.  In one example, a patient suddenly announces a new interest, say in learning to drive, and this must be seen as a sign of a singularity, producing a new refrain, and opening up new possibilities, say of contacting old friends.  Such offhand announcements should be taken seriously as ‘potential bearer of new constellations of Universes’ (18).

Time becomes active.  Analysis is not just a matter of interpreting symptoms to get a latent content, but events like the ones above can be seen as potentials, ‘mutant nuclei of subjectivation’ (18), akin to the detachment of objects in surrealism.  It leads to new understandings of subjectivity as complex, ‘harmonies, polyphonies, counter points, rhythms existential orchestrations, until now  unheard and unknown’ (18-19).  These processes are constantly threatened by reterritorialization, especially where all existential territorialities are under threat [with a hint of disenchantment, 19] with rationalised communication.

We still find potential in art of all kinds, to first of all disrupt existing semiotic and significational networks, then to release emergent subjectivity.  In particular ‘enunciative areas’, such disruption will initially appear as mutant, self referring and self valuing.  Some of the segments of the old networks can be retained and refrained—anything will do as long as they are directed towards the creative spectator.

We’re not interested just in poetry, but in singularisation.  There are serious threats to human survival, and degeneration in social solidarity and psychic life. A new politics will have to pursue creative subjectivity in ‘the environment, the socius and the psyche’ (20).  We have to change our mentality, if we are to bring about democratic and ecologically sound policies, and restore the real point of it all—‘the production of a subjectivity that is auto-enriching its relation to the world in a continuous fashion’ (21).

Social transformations can begin with transformations of subjectivity, as we have seen.  In learning about these transformations of subjectivity ‘poetry today might have more to teach us than economic science, the human sciences and psychoanalysis combined’ (21). They can also take place at the micropolitical level.  [Then some real Deleuzian stuff on enunciation and how to decentre it, to stop it producing new universal psychological or mythological models.  We need to aim at metamodels capable of dealing with diversity, and these must include machinic and informational developments affecting subjectivity.].  It is a focus on subjectivity not the subject, previously seen as ‘the ultimate essence of individuation’.  It is the expressive instance that makes content important, content as ‘enunciative substance’ (23).

We can now go beyond Saussure and structuralism, and the distinction between expression and content [which apparently repeats the distinction between signifier and signified].  The components of both can operate in parallel.  We can reconceptualise Hjemslev [oh good] to see every modality of expression and content as the product of a transversal machine. So we have a discursive machine, which is ‘phonemic and syntagmatic’ and relates to expression, connected to a semantic machine which deals with categories of content, rather like Chomsky’s notion of deep grammar.  Semiology could be seen as the workings of these connected machines, making enunciation as a combination of substantive expression, including ‘biological codings or organisational forms belonging to the socius’ (24), to include extra linguistic domains, even non human ones.  This would offer a form of machinic subjectivity, which is collective and ‘multicomponential, a machinic multiplicity’.  It would even include incorporeal dimensions.

So there are familiar discursive chains, but also incorporeal registers ‘with infinite creationist virtualities’ (25).  Where these intersect, subject and object fuse.  We can also explain intentionality, which is also something which bridges subject and objects.  It can explain ‘subjective transitivism’ in psychotherapy [investing objects with subjective meaning?] which is at the heart of Freudian analysis [Deleuze in LofS is good at this]  [another example is collective ritual investing objects with some important existential function].  Deleuze on the cinema also shows how subjectivity is produced through things like movement images and time images, beyond mere representation.  These can evoke ‘a non discursive pathic [passive?] knowledge which presents itself as a subjectivity that one actively meets…[which is]...given immediately’ (25).  [Another rendition of the apparent immediate connection with images in film, shared by Deleuze and also Benjamin, more effective because it escapes the constraints of discourse].  This kind of subjectivity still has to be actualised, but we can still grasp its force, behind the ‘pseudo discursivity’ (26).

This pathic subjectivation is the basis of all modes of subjectivation.  It’s covered over by a capitalist subjectivation, and bracketed in science.  Initially, Freudianism rebelled against ‘positivist reductionism’ which simply excluded these dimensions, which persisted in the Freudian lapse or joke.  Pathic subjectivity is constantly excluded from official discursivity, although it is the basis of it.  Official discursivity goes on to develop a whole existential territory, although this is still opposed by deterritorialized incorporeal universes—the two can be [falsely] connected in a system.  Sometimes these incorporeal universes are alluded to by ‘pathic apprehension’ [the examples given are in music and mathematics] (26). 

Consistency depends on assemblages of these layers.  Complex refrains can connect them, by deterritorialising and pointing to heterogeneity, and ‘becoming other’ (27). Incorporeal universes are universes of reference, which also offer values, and once they are invoked and connected, this can lead to revalorisation [an obscure example shows how the military machine, developing through technological advances, can affirm itself over a despotic state machine]. The crystallizations that result can produce irreversible changes in collective subjectivity, and are stored in incorporeal memory.

This is how being changes.  These incorporeal constellations ‘belong to natural and human history’ (27), for example the development of mathematical universes, the development of polyphonic music, both of which are irreversible.  These values can also be embodied in existential territories which then develop autonomously and singularly and react back on  subjectivation.  The formal binary logic of official discursivity is accompanied with ‘pathic logic’ (28) which has no ‘extrinsic global reference that can be circumscribed’.  [In other words, the incorporeal universe is intensive not extensive, but it is coupled to the extensive?].  However, existential territories claim to be complete and general, and they feature bare repetition and existential affirmation, to cover up their lack of ontological grounding.  They are justified by borrowed semiotic links which help domesticate difference [maybe, 28]: ‘an expressive instance is based on a matter – form relation, which extracts complex forms from a chaotic material’ (28).

Conventional logic of discourse has led to the priority of terms such as capital, the signifier, and ‘Being with a capital B’ (28).  Capital refers to the equivalence between labour and goods, the signifier reduces ‘ontological polyvocality’ (29).  Other categories such as the true, the good and the beautiful also domesticate processes and confine them to ‘circumscribed sets’.  These categories tends to destroy others, but it is still an ‘ethicopolitical option’ to operate with them.  [Incidentally Being, presumably as in Heidegger, also reduces the richness of universes of value].  We must choose the richness, the possible, the virtual that deterritorializes.  There are dangers here because it might go wrong and end in religiosity, self-annihilation ‘in alcohol, drugs, television, an endless daily grind’ (29), but there are collective social and political options.

‘Ontological intensity’ is designed to question dualist categories.  It involves both ethical and aesthetic engagement with enunciation, in actual and virtual registers.  This engagement is collective, not personalized.  The collective is sometimes broken into machinic segments, but these should always refer back to a ‘deterritorialized mecanosphere’ [sic] (30).  There is no immovable Being, with its usual binary opposites [like being or consciousness]: these are developed under the influence of ‘semiotic linearity’ [compare with Deleuze in D&R on the linguistic basis of contradiction] .  We should stress pathic expression, which resists the attempts to equate an object with a referent.  There is always coexistence.  Time is not just an empty container, but a matter of ‘machinic synchrony’, a notion of ‘”extensionalising” linearity between an object and its representative mediation’ (30).

Are these incorporeal and virtual parts of assemblages of enunciation purely subjective?  Or is it that there is a realist conception of the world which subjectivity has illusions about?  Or both?  Virtual intensities are prior to semiotic distinctions, objects and enunciating subjects. It is in the virtual that autonomous machinic segments emerge: they are also ‘ontogenetic’.  Without realizing this, we are left with a universal semiotics or scientific rationality.  Machinic interfaces are heterogeneous, other than how we perceive them usually [he means actual machines here?], and relating to incorporeal universes of reference.  We must avoid descriptions which fall back into dualisms.  He prefers four terms in his metamodels—‘Fluxes, machinic Phylums, existential Territories, incorporeal Universes’ (31) – because the fourth term prevents reduction but opens on to a multiplicity and ‘creative processuality’ (31) [this is also the reason for introducing the meta dimension into metamodels].

Chapter two Machinic heterogenesis

Technology depends on machines not the other way around.  The nature of machines has long been a topic for philosophy.  There are mechanistic and vitalist conceptions: the latter include cybernetics or the dreaded Maturana and Varela and autopoiesis.  Techne, in Aristotle, meant accomplishing something which nature alone could not accomplish, but in Heidegger it has come to mean unmasking the truth, something ontological and grounded.

We mean to look instead at machinism in its totality, ‘in its technological, social, semiotic and axiological avatars’ (34).  It is not just technical machines, but enunciating machines.  First, material apparatus is made by human beings and can be taken over by other machines, connected to the goals of production and thus already conceivable as a functional ensemble which includes human beings.  Such machines have ‘material and energy components, semiotics, diagrammatic and algorithmic components’; components of ‘organs influx and humours of the human body’; desiring machines which generate subjectivity attached to these components; abstract machines which operate transversally across the machinic levels above (34-5).  Abstract machines are things which relates heterogeneous levels transversally: they can provide the different levels with existence or autonomy.  Together, the different components form a machinic assemblage, where assemblage relates to ‘possible fields; a virtual as much as constituted elements, without any notion of generic or species relation’ (35).  Individual components of a machine at the most basic level can be seen as a protomachine [The example is a hammer which can be taken apart or deterritorialized.  It can have imaginary relations, as with hammers and sickles.  It can also be associated with human arms, nails and anvils, which further links to blacksmiths, iron ore mines, the iron age and so on]. [See DeLanda on the war machine]

Robots have displaced human action to the periphery, intervening only if there is a breakdown.  Intelligent machines ‘add as much to thought as they subtract from thinking’ (36) [with a reminder that they replace dull routines of thinking as well] .  Computer generated forms of thought can become mutant and relate to other universes such as music.  So do we have a distinct kind of non human thought?  Can non human thought still be grasped by semiotics?  We may need to develop ‘a-signifying semiotics as well, to relate to Significations and expression that machines have [the example is ‘the equations and plans which enunciate the machine’, 36].  We will have to dethrone the structuralist emphasis on human language and the signifier: machines produce a ‘singular sense’ (37).

Autopoiesis in the machine is what makes it valuable.  In human communication, feedback loops ‘make the structure function according to a principle of eternal return’ (37) [blimey].  Machines however desire abolition, breakdown [certain it looks like that but can he mean this seriously?].  Machines have a ‘dimension of alterity’ instead of structure – it involves disequilibrium, a radical potential arising from being able to be joined to other machines in a ‘”non-human” enunciation’ ( 37) which debases the claim of the human signifier to be universal. Machines use different forms of signification to mutate in this way, not using binaries, syntagms or paradigms. Human constellations are singularities and express pathic relationships, but nothing of this can be used to understand machinic constellations - -the potentials, the virtual bits, are not the same.

 The same lines of signification can appear in different Universes, which can provide the illusion that they are universal.  However, each universe of reference is singular, at different levels of expressive intensity, or ‘irreducible heterogeneous ontological consistencies’ (38).  It follows that there are as many types of deterritorialization.  Particular forms of signifying articulation are neutral, but are immanent to machinic intensities.  There are no ontological binaries.  There is ontological transversality (not harmonic universals as in Plato), and this is how human beings or social events get affected.  This takes place via the notion of the abstract machine, and remembering that social groups are also machines, so are bodies.  In each case, there is an abstract machine behind actual heterogeneous components—that abstract machine is responsible for heterogeneity.  This is not the Lacanian signifier, which is both too abstract (too uniform), and not abstract enough (cannot see the link between specific machinic codes).

Varela sees machines as interrelated components,’” independent of the components themselves”’ (39).  Autopoietic machines reproduce themselves and their own organisation, while allopoietic ones to produce something other than themselves.  Varela sees only biological machines as autopoietic.  This is unsatisfactory and we will want to extend the concept.  It is also an unsatisfactory definition of living organisms which evolve ‘through genetic phylums’ (39).  If we consider collective and evolutionary entities, which reproduce not just one type but diverse types related together, we can correct these problems.  But particular, machines have a relation with human beings, in the form of assemblages, and these assemblages ‘become ipso facto autopoietic’ (40): the mecanosphere cannot be separated from the biosphere.

Machines appear across generations, and it’s possible to prolong their development into the future, as long as we remember that evolutionary lines are rhizomes.  Machines developed in one era can become really significant in another, such as the steam engine, originally developed as a child’s toy in China.  Technological innovation stop and start, military technology in particular [compare with DeLanda on the war machine].  However, even humble technology and tools display such phylogenesis [the example is the hammer].  History displays intersections of machinic universes, innovations, stops and starts.  From early days, technological machines related to language machines and social machines.  War machines were particularly nomadic.  Capitalist machines emerged from urban machines, royal machines, banking machines, navigation, religious, scientific and technical machines.

If that is phylogenesis, there is also ontogenesis.  Machines have to be maintained and repaired, and their relations with human beings have to be renewed as well.  The art of this is coping with the inextricable alterity between man and machine and machine and machine.  Disrepair and rediscovery is the destiny of the machine.  [With some odd examples from art machines as well, 42].  The reproducibility of the machine is not a simple one, but one which includes difference [this is the notion that underpins so much of Deleuze’s blatherings about eternal return in my view].  As a result, a disembodied abstract machine can be identified, ‘diagrammatic virtualities’ (42).  Thus the reproducibility of technical machines really depends on more collective mechanisms, including the action of humans.  Technological machines are not coded like human beings, and relate to plans or diagrams, again conceived as rhizomes, producing a particular actual serialisation.

Thus deterritorialization detours through the abstract machine.  Of the abstract machine separates and smooths [eliminates minor rough patches].  The example is the lock and key.  We can understand this in terms of the relation between specific locks and specific keys and how they interact, for example through wear.  Or we can understand it in formal diagrammatic ways which describe a whole range of possible locks and keys, potentially infinite in number.  The infinite form both ‘doubles and smooths’ the contingent ones (43).  This is ‘deterritorialized smoothing’, and it helps us make better machines, acting as a mould, although having to remain within certain limits.

The emergence of the notion of an abstract machine or ‘formal threshold’ is likely whenever machinic relations are considered, or even when we philosophise about spare parts [all the time,mate. I wish we had philosophised about the Olympic torch and whether 'it' stays the same when it is transferred] —these help us think beyond the empirical limits and suggest a diagrammatic order.  [Apparently Pierce was on to this with his notion of an icon of relation as a diagram].  Here, it is the diagram that is autopoietic, with the added requirement of having to actualise particular different versions of itself—the ‘machine’s proto-subjectivity’ (44), a virtual component.

Thus subjectivity is not confined to human semiotics and their diagrams.  Machines do not have Aa ‘univocal subjectivity’, but they do have ‘heterogeneous modes of subjectivity’: they make ‘partial ‘ enunciations ‘in multiple domains of alterity’ (45).  We can see such alterity in terms of relations between different parts of the machine, in terms of internal consistency, in terms of relation to the diagram, in terms of evolution through the phylum.  War machines have a particular ‘”auto agonistic"’ alterity which lead to their own collapse.  There is also alterity of scale, as in fractals.  Beyond that there are infinite modalities.

[Strange anthropological example follows, 46, showing how a particular African society charted the possible alterities of a particular fetish object—as a materialised god, a universal principle, a marker of different rooms, interiors and exteriors, and a relation to other people].

Normal definitions of the components of machines give a misleadingly homogeneous implication—‘Capital, Energy, Information, the Signifier’ (46) suggest that their referents are equally homogeneous.  It is necessary to oppose reductionism and to insist that each ‘machinic intersection’ corresponds to ‘a constellation of universes of value’ (47).  Biological machines correspond to the entire biosphere, musical machines to ‘a background of sonorous universes’, technical machines to ‘complex and heterogeneous enunciative components’.  The empirical dimensions should be understood in terms of whole ontological domains.

[An example of the Concorde ensues, 47 F.  It is at the intersection of different universes: diagrams of feasibility, industrial universes which might produce it, collective imaginary universes, political and economic universes.  In this case, the political and economic universe has prevented the rest of it from emerging consistently].

[Back to Lacan].  The structuralist signifier only operates linearly, from one symbol to another.  Machines, however, ‘as envisaged from our schizoanalytical perspective’ (48) do not produce a ‘standard being’.  For example, the coding is of the natural world operator on different spatial dimensions, even the linearity of DNA operates in three dimensions, ‘presignifying semiologies’ operate in parallel, only the despotic tendency of the structural signifier conceals this, the informational lines connecting different referent universes are not linear.

Instead, ‘a-signifying semiotic machines’ produce ‘”point – signs”’ (49).  These sides also control actual material processes, for example a credit card number.  [Getting all drama queen about it] these activate ontological universes.  [an obscure her musical example follows, 50 F, where a particular refrain brings into being all sorts of musical universes, Wagner, Gregorian chant,Debussy].  With machine semiotics, we are far from ‘the logic of the excluded middle [where something must be either one thing or the other]…  [And]…  ontological binarism’ (50).  Machinic assemblage is a consistent by crossing thresholds, including ontological ones.  Fractal machines transverse substantial scales.  Such machines escape from the coordinates of energy, space and time.  They point towards being as ‘processual, polyphonic…  Singularisable…  [With] Infinitely complexifiable textures…  Infinite speeds’ (51).

We can only understand this relatively, however, through the mediation of machines.  Machines stabilize ‘a zone of self belonging’, which we can grasp cognitively: outside, everything is virtual (51).  We can get some sense of this by conceiving of other virtual machines.  This is not relativism in the sense that nothing exists outside our conceptions—for example the conventional notion of time has some reality in the form of the Big Bang [weak argument -- only science is not relative?].  There is some 'residual objectivity' outside all the points of view [which is your point of view,mate] .  We can imagine other machines, made out of galaxies, perhaps.  Existential machines themselves are not just mediated, for example by ‘transcendent signifiers’ (52).  Instead, 'Existence, as a process of deterritorialization, is a specific intermachinic operation which superimposes itself on the promotion of singularised existential intensities' (52).  There is no general syntax, no dialectic, no conventional representation.

Desiring machines play the role of the other for the self. They are not confined to Freudian drives All machinic assemblages have enunciative zones 'which are so many desiring proto machines' (52).  We can see this by extending the notion of machine, including abstract machines which smooth.  In particular, smoothing produces the appearance of ’a being- for- the- other’, something beyond the here and now.  The machine as a nucleus implies a whole constellation of universes of reference, some segments have a specific role in producing repetition, as in refrains.  Smoothing is an ontological refrain.  Machines point to that, not to some underlying simple truth of nature, but to 'multitudes of ontological components' (53).  We do not require semiological mediation or transcendent coding, but we do have to expose herself to what being is giving: this is also ontological and ethical—we are choosing to become part of 'the whole alterity of the cosmos and...the infinity of times' (53).

This grand philosophical choice can also be found in machines, although they can look inverted.  Everything belongs to chaos and its operation, but certain local horizons and limits produce the world we know.  Semiotic constraints can be more easily overcome than physical ones [maybe, 54].  Our machines, technical and machines of desire, expand our frontiers, and thus are central to subjectivation, and help us to break the limits of our old social machines.  There is no split between mechanism and values—'Values are immanent to machines' (54).  Machines allude to and ‘promote ‘ [!]  incorporeal universes.  Machinic autopoiesis takes the role of the other for humans, alluding to ‘zones of partial proto-subjectivation’, [interesting -- the computer as other] and machines' progression through a phylum challenges the notion of stasis [maybe...  The original says:

Machinic autopoiesis asserts itself as a non-human-for-itself, and it deploys a for-others under a double modality of a "horizontal" eco-systemic alterity (the machinic systems position themselves in rhizomes of reciprocal dependence) and phylogenetic alterity (situating each actual machinic stasis at the conjunction of a passéist filiation and a Phylum of future mutations) (54).

[This is ontology by hyperbole. Mundane insights are dramatised into world movements. More examples follow in the next chapter where a kitchen becomes a laboratory for collective enunciations etc.I am sure you can make it so for therapeutic purposes, but there is an undoubted whiff of the old tactic of talking up banality --making a cup of tea becomes 'interacting effectively with modern technology to realize the value of internationally-traded commodities' etc. Having said that, the pedagogical technique looks very much like that found in UK boarding schools -- wait until a kid shows interest in something --anything -- then build from there. ]. After lots of philosophical writing, machines are both ‘finite territorialized and incorporeal, infinite’ (55)

We’re not talking about universals in the Platonic sense, but singular existential territories displaying differentiation.  Machines are heterogeneous, for example philosophical concepts differ from scientific functions.  Capitalism attempts to reduce them to an equivalence, subjected to the one system of value—‘all existential riches succumbing to clutches of exchange value’ (55).  Simple binaries between use value and exchange value also need to be replaced by machinic modalities—‘the values of desire, aesthetic values, ecological, economic values’ (55). Capitalism attempts to deterritorialize these assemblages and then reterritorialize them based on economics.  In this respect, it is a form of value that leads to collapse of all the other universes of value.  It is an abuse.  The capitalist value system actually belongs to the whole ensemble of universes of value, and its reductionism is to be consistently opposed.

Chapter Three Schizoanlaytic Metamodelisation

[Warning –bullshit ahead! This takes on Freud and Lacan as offering limited models and thus conservative practices].

Psychoanalysis has become ossified and routinized.  Social movements are also deradicalised.  We need a new understanding of subjectivity and practices that might develop to extend it.  The machinic metaphor is crucial, and can be used to oppose structuralism's 'eternal' quality.

Empirical diversity conceals not some universal ontological base, but ‘a plane of machinic interfaces’ (58).  The actual is produced by infinite ‘enunciative assemblages’ [expression] associating discursive components [content] with ‘non discursive virtual components (incorporeal Universes and existential Territories)’ (59).  Structural links are replaced with ‘singular points of view on being’.  Underneath these associations we can ‘postulate the existence of a deterministic chaos animated by infinite velocities’, producing complex compositions which then get slowed down into extensive forms.  Abstract machines produce these associations since they traverse both planes.  This will give a better explanation than relying on the usual semiotic machines.

Open and flexible assemblages of enunciation arise from the interaction of ‘the four ontological functions of Universe, machinic Phylum, Flux and Territory’ (59).  These interactions are pragmatic rather than just syntagmatic.  There is in fact an interaction between expression and content—the latter gives consistency discourse, authorises it, turns into existence, following ‘the role of the refrain of ontological affirmation’ (60).  Then a diagram:


NB -- the 'energetico-spatio-temporal discursivity' is presumably what Deleuze calls the extensive, the actual, the empirical etc

The ontological functions outline a pragmatic cartography for the enunciative nuclei to follow.  Their interrelationships or ‘concatenation’ preserve their heterogeneity.  They metamodelise, explaining the diversity of existing models, such as religiosity,science, psychoanalysis: typically, these are unable to perform ‘self referential enunciation’ (60).  Schizoanalysis tries to explain how autopoiesis occurs at the virtual level, through diagrams, how links are transversal, avoiding reductionist models and showing how complex or ontologically heterogeneous these processes actually are.

The notion of an enunciative nucleus, at the heart of ‘phenomenal multiplicities’ [in the sense of perceived multiplicities, or possibly intuited ones] can also be grasped through pathic apprehension, escaping empirical limits.  This turns on narrations which promote complex refrains: classically these will be mythical narratives.  Such discourses include ‘ethico-political strategies of avoidance of enunciation’ (61), and these strategies have to be made visible, through the four ontological functions.

Thus the ‘incorporeal Universes of classical antiquity’ were polytheistic and pluralist.  Christianity transformed them via ‘the refrain of the sign of the cross’ (62), with new ‘corporeal, mental, familal assemblages’, and a new subjectivity of ‘guilt, contrition, body markings and sexuality…  Redemptive mediation’.  The social bases were established from the ruins of the Roman empire and the emerging reterritorialization of feudal and urban societies.

Freudianism has had a similar affect, imposing a notion of repression and psychic economy, and developing a new ‘zone of enunciative nuclei’ relating to dreams, neurosis, infantile sexuality and the like.  Pathological behaviour was seen as symptoms,  traceable to the Unconscious, and thus not autonomous and destructive.  Further levels of practice were developed to include the crucial ‘pragmatics of transference and interpretation’, involving ‘assemblages of listening and modelisation’—for example dreams were listened to differently, and interpreted as stories about the Unconscious.  Freudianism changed the whole ‘referential assemblage’ (63), but this also had the effect of banishing alternative ‘psycho pathological refrains’.

Freudian models clearly extended the whole notion of subjectivity and offered a pragmatic method to grasp it, but it also prematurely universalised the mechanisms of neurosis.  SchizoanaIysis works with wider conceptions of psychosis, which offers a particularly reduced conception of every day life.  Neurosis is easier to treat as a matter of symptoms related to dominant significations, whereas with psychosis, ‘alterity as such becomes the primary question’ (63)—what is lost or confused is the ‘point of view of the other in me’.

Psychosis can be seen as the effects of a machine, a concept.  It describes a particularly fragile machinic construction of alterity, showing that everything can break down.  The Unconscious is still a useful concept, as long as we can preserve it from colonisation from the dominant culture.  Schizophrenia shows the complexity and fractality of the unconscious.  It reveals the ‘a-signifying refrains’ at work (64).  [An aside says that these notions were implicit in phenomenology].

Schizo modelling works with the notion of the lack of fixed coordinates, openness to universes of alterity.  Stern has done much to explain the development of the infant in these terms and how they involve ‘transversalist entities’.  For example, in the preverbal phase, family characters are still seen as ‘multiple, dislocated and entangled, existential Territories and incorporeal Universes’.  These entities are seen autopoietic, and the infant is to develop a sense of self along with this sense of the other.  An emergent self is already apparent at birth, capable of developing a Universe of perceptions and intensities, which go on to be embedded in the actual perceptual registers.  This self has no oppositions of subject and  object, self or other, masculine or feminine.  It is not involved in oedipal triangulation.  It is not incorporated entirely in the classic phases such as the oral phrase, but persists in parallel with these formative processes, and lasts into adult life.  It cannot be reduced to the usual terms of drive and goal, but remains as ‘a partial nucleus of subjectivation, actively machinic, opening on to the most heterogeneous Universes of reference’ (66).  Thus infants' relations to the mother involve relations to ‘cosmic becoming...  Processual emergence’ [Jungian formulations are denied].

Between two and six months, the self relates to its body and to corporeal schema, with sensory motor activity.  This implies actual territories and actual locations of affect and personal history.  This is still a fragile notion and can be broken leading to catatonia, hysterical paralysis, paranoia and the notion of the decomposition of the body.  Between seven and 15 months, work is done on affects, to attune and establish which ones are shareable.  This is still ‘protosocial and still preverbal’ and here cultural traits are incorporated.  There is a permanent identity, as in the mirror phase, at about 18 months.

The verbal self appears from about two years of age, and language can be shared with others.  We also find the usual developments of identity, families and their interactions, forms of discipline and prohibition, then school assemblages’, puberty and genitality and then to adolescents and the professional self.  All these universes of reference are agglomerated existentially, although single ones can be foregrounded and the others made latent: they are not simply aligned with drives or images.  Things like Freudian slips do not arise from repressed conflict, but are positive, the ‘indexical manifestation of a Universe trying to find itself, which comes back to knock at the window like a magic bird’ (68).

Schizoanalysis does not mimic schizophrenia, but uses it to explore non-sense and open up reified models, seeking ‘pragmatic entrances into unconscious formations’ (68).  Autism can be treated in ways which do not depend on it being seen as an infantile regression: the autistic inhabit a ‘chaosmic universe’ with many more Imagos beside those of the personological mother’ (68) [I learn from Wikipedia that an imago  is a composite imaginary figure, usually a parent], and with lots of becomings.  It is this more general universe that needs to be investigated not just the particular psychotic complex.  Psychotherapy should work with an expanded view of transference, involving parts of the body, or individuals, groups, institutions, machinic systems, semiotic economies.  It is driven by ‘desiring becoming, that is to say, pathic existential intensity’ (68).  The point would be to recompose that patients territories using a wide range of means and their accompanying ‘multiple semiotic vectors’—gesture, posture, faciality, spatiality [all of them apparently specified by Stern].  The psychotherapeutic institution attempts to find the semiotic vectors of the patient’s subjectivity and make them work differently.

The example is drawn from Guattari’s own La Borde Clinic, and how they use the kitchen for therapy.  There are potentially all sorts of social and functional dimensions in kitchens, and the point is to avoid the usual stereotyped attitudes and behaviour.  The kitchen becomes in effect an opera, with people dancing, playing, demonstrating social relations and so on.  The preverbal components of the patients are particularly important.  The kitchen must be open to other [symbolic] areas, have a high ‘coefficient of transversality’ (69), and even permit the acting out, ‘semiotisation’ of fantasies [the example is the chef acting out a character in an advertisement].  There has to be good articulation with other ‘partial nuclei of subjectivation’ in the institution, such as the various organisational committees.  In this way, patients can establish contact with ‘Universes of alterity’ (70).  They take part not so much as a voluntary decision, but as the result of an ‘unconscious collective assemblage’ into which they are inducted.  The collective here does not just refer to the social group, but to all sorts of other components including prepersonal and intersubjective ones, even non human formations such as machines.  In other words it is ‘equivalent to heterogeneous multiplicity’.  The barrier between carers and patients recedes in favour of deploying: a knowledge of psychiatric theory; social activity in collective territories; pathic understandings of existential differences.  The knowledge preserves a suitable analytic distance, while the application to existential situations makes it all more ‘intimate and enigmatic’.  People were trained at the Clinic to articulate these different dimensions, as a form of return to normality after the ‘chaosmic submersion in psychosis’ (71) [training for patients or therapists or both?].

Psychotics engage in ‘Universes which are disconnected from the dominant assemblages of sociality’.  They need to be offered mediations which first of all make components of these universes consistent, and then connected to other components, including artistic or culinary ones which,ideally, were previously unknown.  The therapist needs to map the relevant components.  This seems precarious and lacking in theoretical support, dependent on a constant recognition of ‘a-signifying singularities—unbearable patients, insoluble conflicts’ (71).  It is clear that it is not individuals, but particular groups and settings that act as analysts, with the psychotherapist as only a link: it is generalised transference not individual transference that is encouraged.  Since it is subjective individuation that has gone wrong, it needs to be restored by a machinic process of subjectivation. The procedure can also be applied to any one who breaks with normal subjectivity.  There are implications as well for pedagogy, neighbourhoods, dealing with the retired. 

It is necessary to reject the universalist claims of psychoanalysis which limits the possibilities too drastically.  In particular, Lacan's Signifieris inadequate, since it colonises the different semiotic processes in a fundamentally linear way, instead of seeing how they agglomerate.  It ignores the ‘pathic, non discursive, autopoietic character of partial nuclei of enunciation’ (71).

The Freudian example of the fort – da game [what is in English is called peek-a-boo] illustrates the differences with Lacan.  Freud thought that this was a replaying of the departure and return of the mother, a way of dealing with rejection, and an example of the pleasure of repetition.  This notion of repetition would appear again in the later work on adult malfunctions including the majority of neuroses.  Repetition expressed the extension of conflict and tension, the [abnormal] discharge of excitation.  It was also a way of blocking the pleasure principle, since a disagreeable state had to be repeated: for Freud, this was the triumph of the death drive over the pleasure principle.  For Lacan, the game is a linguistic matter, and the tension while waiting for return is simply a way of provoking two different exclamations, as an example of the early discovery of phonemes and their dichotomy and synchrony.  The extinction involved is an example of what produces the eternal desire of the subject.  In this way, the signifier dominates the whole process, and the infant experiences the symbolic order for the first time.

Guattari prefers to see the game as an encounter with unforeseen universes.  The fort-da refrain does not involve frustration, nor an encounter with a signifying order, but is a desiring machine, ‘working towards the assemblage of the verbal self’ (74), together with other assemblages.  It is really about encountering and mastering objects verbally.  We can see this in the way it gets transferred to other behaviours, including games where the child experiments with its own image in a mirror.  The machine is heterogeneous and open, although it can of course be applied to Freudian and Lacanian examples.  Freud’s death drive is better understood as ‘the desire for destruction that inhabits all desiring machines [as a way of managing chaos and complexity]…  fort is chaosmic submersion, da the mastery of the differentiated complexion’ (75).  The conservative and harmful associations of the repetition reflects ‘a [chronic] loss of consistency of the assemblage’, appearing as fatality or a sense of bad luck in neurotics.  Chaos lurks everywhere, and produces bereavement, jealousy and ‘cosmic vertigo’, while the attempts to manage it can become ‘refrains of fixation, reification, tenacious fidelity to pain or unhappiness’ (75). Chaosmic immanence [in neurotics?] is managed by ‘deathly negativity’.  This is exacerbated by a capitalist reduction of language to linear paths and binaries which squash polysemy into simple referents.  Schizoanalysis aims to restore heterogeneity and oppose disenchantment as in Weber [sic] (76).

Chapter four Schizo Chaosmosis

So, we can challenge conventional notions of normality by looking at the operations of délire, combine technical logic and Freud, and move towards chaos to rescue conventional subjectivity, to analyse subjectivity’s ‘virtual lines of singularity, emergence and renewal’ (77).  But where will this lead—to ‘eternal Dionysian return’, or to a renewed animism?  Madness always haunts ordinary apprehensions, but we need to pursue the path into full blown chaotic vertigo in order to understand subject – object relations, to grasp the implications of psychosis.

Psychosis, and other psychic states features a subjectivity which is penetrated by ‘ a real “anterior” to discursivity’ (77).  This can be seen as the source of pathology, or as something always present.  Guattari sees it as an ‘open virtual reference’, lying behind the production of singular events.

Structuralists reified the complexity of the process whereby semiotics arises from ‘a multiplicity of imagined Territories’, and reduced the variety of semiotic enunciations—in dreams, delirium, or aesthetics.  It also underestimated the autopoiesis of these enunciations, which moves them beyond any sort of articulation or determination, once thresholds have been crossed: autopoiesis that makes it such activities ‘nuclei of partial subjectivation’ (78).  [They appear as something other which can help us develop].  The forms of expression they display cannot be reduced to one form. 

Psychoanalysis in practice [but not in Freudian theory alone] shows the variety of ‘multiple, real or virtual’, even incorporeal and immaterial, states and how they are agglomerated.  A variety of transferences can take place.  Exploring these complexities sheds light on ‘normal’ forms of production of subjective worlds.  Psychotics have the complexity of their worlds limited by factors such as repetition which insist on preserving particular existential states.  For the rest of us, this stasis can be glimpsed through ‘avoidance, displacement, misrecognition, distortion, overdetermination, ritualization’ (79). 

In psychotics, pathic identification is limited and cannot be grasped in or modified by conventional representation.  This leaves only ‘paranoiac délire’.   ‘Passional’ délire [Wikipedia tells us the people Guattari mentions,like Sérieux and Capgras, investigated a particularly interesting form of psychosis – délire d’interpretation, which is translated as  ‘chronic interpretive psychosis’. Deleuze is a sufferer? The De Clérembault cited analysed ‘erotomania’, an obsessive delusion that someone is in love with you] is different, and can partially manage exposure to alterity, control chaosmosis [maybe, 79].  Neurotics classically present with avoidance, the most classic of which is phobia or hysteria, and ends with obsessional neurosis, a kind of everyday différance as in Derrida [nice!], ‘an indefinite procrastination’ (80).  All display an awareness of ‘chaosmic immanence’, and all suggest that psychosis does not always mean complete mental breakdown.

These examples show the differences in ‘reconciling chaos and complexity’, building on Freud and the dream work.  In each case, we have to take very diverse materials and somehow dedifferentiate them to produce a consistent world [compare with Deleuze on the operations of common sense?] In this way, chaosmosis always includes a nucleus which produces connectivity.  It is autopoietic which provides consistency when relating different territories and universes.  The oscillation between consistency and chaos is located ‘before space and time, before the processes of spatialization and temporalization’ (80).  Thus chaos is included at the very moment of the development of empirical [subjective only?] complexity, providing a residual ‘modality of chaotic discomfort’ in the middle of functionality (81).

This cannot be explained in terms of the Freudian eternal antagonism between life and death.  Originary intentionality takes place in chaos.  Chaos is not just a lack of difference, but is inhabited by ‘the virtual entities and modalities of alterity which have nothing universal about them’ (81). In psychosis, it is not Being in general that breaks through into subjectivity but ‘a signed and dated event’.  However, psychotics can grasp something of the texture of being, for example when they [apparently] oscillate ‘between a proliferating complexity of sense and total vacuity’.

The process of ‘ontological petrification’ [the stability described above] affects all subjectivation, but as freezing the frame.  This makes the process of subjectivation more like a degree of intensification rather than some neutral starting point, and explains how it releases  ‘processual creativity’ (82).  Even psychotics can experience ‘the richness of ontological experimentation’ involved.  The ‘paradigm’ case is the delirious narrative.  We find the stabilisation of chaos in philosophy, including Pascal's wager [maybe] and Descartes’ management of radical doubt: there is even a sense that the thinking subject escapes from chaos.

The threat to sense arises from the recognition of ‘a signifying links of discursivity’ which are involved in the creation of an ontological autopoietic reality, as in an ‘event centred rupture’.  After such a rupture, delire is free to develop, and the old oppositions and semantics are left behind.  The transversal actions of abstract machines become apparent [with a hint that this process of philosophising is forced, by ‘an intolerable nucleus of ontological creationism’ (83).  There is also a suggestion that conventional notions of complexity have to be dismantled first, complexity released more fully in every state, in a process of ‘schizo homogenesis’ (83)].  This can provide the strange capacity of schizophrenics to be able to ‘read the Unconscious like an open book’ [?]. 

Conventional categories should not be used to simplify psychotic and neurotic states.  They reflect different forms of alterity, different components of enunciation which break with conventional notions of identity.  Psychosis can be seen as an attempt to reintegrate these different nuclei, at least to make an understandable world—an ‘extreme pathic – pathological homogenesis’ (83), compared to the ‘normal’ processes.  Non psychotics are aware that they have to stop themselves before they get that far.  Schizo analysis reduces the particular ‘colours’ of these operations, but also permits alterification, away from the conventions of having to reproduce the barriers of the self.  The role of the other emerges fully as in Levinas [apparently] as a part of creativity.  We must avoid making schizos heroes of the postmodern, we must not underestimate the non subjective elements.

There is a connection with social stratification, which can be seen as avoiding ‘disquieting strangeness’ stemming from chaosmosis (84).  This strangeness is dangerous and can lead to drugs, madness, or ‘the vertigo of the body without organs’.  Dominant groups recognise the dangers, but do not see them as rooted in chaosmosis.  The media in particular operate instead with ‘an imaginary of eternity’ [where everything is just natural?], with no past or present, somehow capable of generating complexity, but representing ‘a profoundly infantile adult world’ (84).  Only when chaosmosis produces despair or depression instead of creativity, should we be considering intervention via ‘social welfare and institutional pragmatics' [is this still the preferred option of the dominant classes, or Guattari’s recommendations?].  Psychotics are not treated as heroes, nor institutionalized these days,  but become ‘bruised wrecks…  eaten away by chemotherapy’ (85).  Guattari’s understandings ‘cannot be put on the same level as those well socialised systems of defence such as games, sports, the mania supported by the media, racist phobias’, but they are essential to modern psychotherapy.

So we have to identify the positive and creative aspects of chaosmosis amidst all the ‘banalities, prejudices, stereotypes’.  We can discover and use them through ‘the lapsus, symptoms, aporias, the acting out of somatic scenes, familial theatricalism or institutional structures’ (85).  Chaosmosis is not confined to the individual psychotic, but found in group life, machinism, the ‘incorporeal Universes of art or religion’.  In each case, what is required is a new form of narrative, beyond conveying information or communicating,  more like ‘an existential crystallization of ontological heterogenesis’ (85).  We need to build on the insights produced by ruptures of sense and emerging alterity.  It is true, however that therapists operate with  ‘an essentially ethical duplicity’ (86)—they tried to remodel existential territories and develop new semiotic components, but they can only claim pathic access to chaosmosis by recreating and reinventing themselves as ‘bodies without organs receptive to non discursive intensities’ (86).  In other words, they must first submerge themselves in ‘homogenetic immanence’.

There is a proliferation of categories, cartographies and textures, languages, modelizations—‘délire, the novel, the television serial’, none of them with any strong epistemological claims.  This shows us a  variety of roles, points of views and behaviours, some of which will be liberating.  This issue now is a pragmatic one—how to develop complexity and creativity.  It can no longer depend on the earlier modelisations such as those of psychotherapy.

Chapter five Machinic orality and virtual ecology

Orality is an interesting operation at the intersection between the outside and inside worlds: it involves both eating and speaking, so it both simplifies and complexifies.  Freud showed us that simple objects ‘like milk and shit’ can index complex universes.  Lacan showed how speech is not just simple communication but something ‘which engenders being – there’ (88).  Speech has always been disciplined by various official semiologies, including instructional ones, but ordinary speech always displays a minimum of additional, non verbal semiotic components—‘intonation, rhythm, facial traits and postures’ which defy despotic control.  However, social life is increasingly controlled, for example in the predominance of consumerism which requires only simple exchanges of information.

Can orality remain as a basis for a polyvocality, the emergence of complex relations of subjectivity?  The scriptural tends to overcode the oral, although it has not entirely replaced it.  Better instead to start with the ‘blocks of sensations formed by aesthetic practices’ before they are spoken, written or painted (89), which therefore remain as signifying, although mostly the common and the trivial.  Deterritorialising from these commonplaces will lead away from standard discourses and notions of the self and lead to more mutant and open forms of subjectivity.

Performance art can deliver some clues about how to proceed from the every day to the strange: it demonstrates how being and forms develop, before they can be described conventionally.  Yet this form is premature in its ‘forward flight into machinations and deterritorialized machinic paths’ (90): it is too artificial and constructed.  Instead, we have to see the potential for every form of expression to suggest a deconstruction of structure and code, and an eventual recomposition.  This involves us in a search for enunciative nuclei beyond artistic forms.

Aesthetic machines do offer the best models to extract meaning from empty signals.  Underground art does this sometimes, but there is a whole subjective creativity in the population at large [sounds like Willis at his most populist].  This is what provides for liberation, more so than science or Freudianism.  The mutations which could emerge could not be managed by contemporary capitalism, or at least not ‘in a way that is compatible with the interests of humanity’ (91) [the old claims for artistic politics going back at least as far as surrealism].  Capitalism already is torn between ruin and renewal, and it is important to rethink values.  ‘An ecology of the virtual is thus just as pressing as ecologies of the visible world (91).  The arts have a crucial role both to preserve endangered species and develop new and unprecedented forms of subjectivity, spilling over into politics and creating new systems of values, including ‘a new taste for life, a new gentleness between the sexes, generations, ethnic groups, races…’ (92).

These new virtual machines promising to produce ‘mutant percepts and affects’ are not easily available, especially in ‘the usual marketplace for subjectivity and maybe even less at that for art’.  They cannot easily be described conventionally.  They are best understood as becomings or ‘nuclei of differentiation’, found in each domain and also between them [the example is a musical one—notions of childhood expressed in Schumann connect with childhood memories ‘so as to embody a perpetual present which installs itself like a branching, or play of bifurcation between becoming woman, becoming plant, becoming cosmos, becoming melodic’—pseud!].  Such assemblages are not found in extensive locations, but can be grasped only through a heightened ‘awareness of ontological, transitivist, transversalist and pathic consistencies’ [only available to the right sort of chap, I suspect]. 

We experience these ‘through affective contamination’ (93), despite ourselves.  [In other words the elite habitus works to identify what is proper art?].  The relevant categories are given all at once, somehow before they emerge in conventional representation: ‘a block of percept and affect, by way of aesthetic composition, agglomerates in the same transversal flash the subject and object, the self and other, the material and the incorporeal…  Affect is not a question of representation and discursivity, but of existence.  I find myself transported [into various universes]…  I have crossed the threshold of consistency…  I am swept away by a becoming other, carried beyond my familiar existential Territories’ (93).

This is not just some gestalt operating to grasp good form [no--the habitus is a better mechanism to explain it] .  It’s something more dynamic.  It is machinic not mechanical [with another aside about Maturana and Varela and how we need to extend their notion of autopoiesis to include social machines language machines and aesthetic creation].  Jazz can be autopoietic, constantly renewing itself. [so the apparent autopoeisis of the practice somehow means it cannot be just subjectively generated as 'good' - -but this apparent autonomy of art has always been one of the categories of elite taste - -and it only appears because the elite disdain any vulgar sociological analysis?]

We have described ‘an incorporeal ecosystem’ (94), which operates with alterity, but also engenders it, which runs a risk of routinization, sometimes arising by accidental encounters, or by a decline in ‘enunciative consistency’.  It has to reproduce itself through singularities.  The whole thing operates through ‘ontological pragmatics’, emerging from chaos as ‘the power of eternal return to the nascent state’ (94).  [I assume this is comparable to Deleuze’s idea of the virtual individuating itself, then explicating and implicating further stages until we get to the empirical haecceity—Guattari seems to develop the machinic metaphor rather more].

This corresponds to the notion of the partial object in Freudian theory, in various formulations, and its role positioned between subjectivity and alterity, both at an early stage.  But Freudians saw this in causal or ‘pulsional’ terms, instead of seeing it as multivalent, opening up existential territories and machinic creativity.  Lacan deterritorialized a bit, moving away from the precise objects like the breast or penis, to consider the voice and the gaze, but he never got as far as postulating desiring machines [which apparently he had initially discussed] operating in virtuality [the discussion goes on to consider a desiring machine as an ‘object – subject of desire, like strange attractors in chaos theory…  an anchorage point within a phase space’ (95), remembering that strange attractors are not points but fractal lines, leading to the notion of a fractal ontology, whereby ‘the being itself…  transforms,  buds and transfigures itself’].  In the case of infants, the relevant existential territories are ‘the body proper, the self, the maternal body, lived space, refrains of the mother tongue, familiar faces, family lore, ethnicity’, with none prioritised.  So there is no causal structure in the psyche like sublimation, but an interweaving  relationship between sensation and ‘the material of the sublime’: there are no fixed icons for the child to identify with, but rather ‘a becoming other, ramified in becoming animal, becoming plant, becoming machine, and, on occasion becoming human’.

So how do actual compositions get embodied, say in music or art?  ‘In a compulsional manner’ [as outlined above]. An act can make an incorporeal universe appear, and as a result other universes, constellations of universes.  Everything begins with ‘singular ontological orality’, where something is absorbed and made meaningful, and then deterritorialized.  When we absorb a work of art, we crystallise it, recognise it as ‘an alterification of beings – there’ (96).  [The subject?—Guattari uses the first person] makes being exist differently and with new intensities, not splitting things into binaries again, but heading towards a multitude of alterities, heterogeneity of components.

The tendencies are exaggerated with new technology, ‘new electronic representations’, the proliferation of points of view.  ‘Informatic subjectivity distances us at high speed from the old scriptural linearity.  The time has come for hypertexts in every genre’ (96-7).  These machinic mutations which ‘deterritorialise subjectivity’, should be seen as positive.  They’re not the same as ‘the mass media stupefaction which 4/5 humanity currently experience’ (97).  Their creative potential arises as a ‘perverse counter effect’, which might permit interactivity, even a return to machinic orality [Guattari thinks that everything will be speech operated in future].  However, it all depends on the society changing and permitting escape from ‘the shackles of empty speech’ following the spread of capitalism.

Aesthetic machinery, and making yourself machinic can be progressive—‘look at how important Rap culture is today for millions of young people’ (97).  It can allow for ‘objective resingularisation...  Other ways of perceiving the world’ [usual oscillation between advocating total revolutions based on desire and a clear admission that nothing actually will change. Come back Hindess and Hirst, and calculational politics!]

Chapter six The new aesthetic paradigm

[This begins with a reworking of the stuff in Anti Oedipus on how culture is first of all despotically coded, then deterritorialized and decoded, only to be reterritorialized in capitalism and made fully abstract and dominant.  Then we get on to some classic claims made for artistic politics as revolutionary. There is an intention to ground creativity in ontology, to make it not just speculative. That seems to argue that the current relations between semiotisation and actual events is a reduction of complexity on both sides -- there are more semiotic possibilities especially if we allow for transversal connections between incorporeal universes; there are more potentials and elements in the actual that appear at first sight to empiricism. Then behind the complexities on both sides, there is a chaotic process that constantly refreshes and renews complexity. Focussing on named events as creative nuclei can lead to radical dereification. OK -- but the ontology of chaos just looks like the usual defensive circularity to make sure nothing contradicts earlier claims --  and science fiction. I don't think it would look very different if you said the actual materialises in a Star Trek transporter, and that we don't know how it all works, but it must transport matter, otherwise it would be impossible to travel such distances.]

Art has only become autonomous fairly recently: it was territorialized, associated with  ritual and group life.  Subjectivity was different then as well, much more licensed and integrated, so even alterity was provided by social norms.  Individuals had whole ‘transversal collective identities’ rather than single identities, with the psyche distributed socially rather than in the form of interior faculties.  Individuals even had multiple names.  It is almost impossible to understand societies like that from the modern perspective—Renaissance princes did not buy works of arts, but associated themselves with prestigious painters, rock painting was probably technical and social rather than aesthetic as such.  Exhibitions which show the links between primitive arts and, say, cubism ignore the important and different social contexts in favour of a modern exoticism. Gradually, subjectivity became more autonomous, and the aesthetic mode developed separately.

Science philosophy and art rely on specific codes and knowhow to manipulate specific materials.  The relations between the actual and virtual in each case are also different.  Philosophy has its own conventions, involves textual reference and tends to generalise from finite argument to make key concepts apparently autoconsistent [I am vulgarising quite a bit]; science brackets out subjective aspects and all references to the virtual; art works the other way around and takes specific materials to produce decentred percepts and affects, and thus to head towards the intensive and the virtual.  These activities were combined in different ways in different epochs—in the Middle Ages, theology, philosophy and music were in a constellation.  Development in one practice can ‘transversally contaminate many other domains’ (101)—the effects on arts of the printing press, mathematical colonisation of the physical sciences.

Aesthetics, feeling, might be becoming dominant within current assemblages of enunciation.  In earlier territorialized assemblages [of aesthetics?] , there was only a loose coupling with the social and political formations.  We still find residues of earlier assemblages with their ‘polysemic, animistic, trans-individual subjectivity’ found in the worlds of ‘infancy, madness, amorous passion and artistic creation’ (101).  It is the process of creativity that we are interested in, rather than institutional forms.  This operates ‘perpetually in advance of itself’, before actualisation and extensivity (102).[NB I use the term 'actualisation' to replace a number of long-winded alternatives such as 'the crystallisation of finitude' etc]

Thus extensive space is already ‘globally aesthetised’: actualised productions are therefore able to constitute other qualities, including alterity, and ‘the soul, a becoming ancestral, animal, vegetal, cosmic’ (102).  The result is a powerful sense of attachment to territory and clan.  What is produced are ‘objectitities-subjectitities’, and they can interact among themselves, and carnate themselves as a nucleus, or a collective entity [actually close to a haecceitiy in the examples].  There is a division between interior and exterior, but not a radical separation [since exterior factors are connected at the virtual level]. Territorialization is really collective subjectivity, acting as does hegemony [sic—but this is more like total colonisation, 102], working through ritual refrains.

So extensive space and time must be produced by subjectivity, as in rituals, chants and dances.  Every attempt to materialise forms involves immaterial entities; every drive towards deterritorialization involves ‘the movement of folding on to territorialized limits’ (103).  [With some strange aside about jouissance developing in the emergence of collectivity—still in archaic societies I assume. As in Durkheim on ecstasy? ].

Deterritorialized assemblages can develop ‘a transcendent autonomous pole of reference’ (103), such as logical Truth, the moral Good.  This often accompanies a particular subdivision of subjectivity into faculties such as Reason, Understanding.  This segmentation leads to reterritorialization but at an incorporeal level.  Activities of valuing become bipolarised and hierarchised: dualisms can cancel each other out and this tends to lead to a recourse to some transcendental agent such as God or Absolute Spirit, or even The Signifier.  This replaces the awareness of the interdependence of the old values and the need to constantly renew them and refresh them.  Given an omnipotent transcendent, subjectivity ‘remains in perpetual lack, guilty a priori…  Or in a state of “unlimited procrastination”’ (104).  Values no longer emerge, but are decreed, reified, universal, arborescent, not negotiated.

This can be seen as capitalistic, stripping values from their context and subordinating them to the one system of value, and thus to binary and linear relations.  Subjectivity itself is standardised, and language becomes instrumental, controlled by ‘scriptural machines and their mass media avatars’ (104).  Modern communication is mere digital information.  The notion of an existential territory is lost, and the old existential divisions of the self become ‘so many pieces compatible with the mechanics of social domination’ (104-5) [roles?] .  The Signifier overcodes all the other notions of value.  Resistance is possible nevertheless in aesthetics, although it faces constant threats of colonisation. Capitalistic deterritorialization is also not confined to particular historical periods.

There may be a new assemblage emerging currently, appearing only in ‘traces and symptoms’ (105).  Aesthetics and transversality are the key, and represent a new challenge instead of a demand to return to precapitalist forms [like communities].  The aim is to avoid such reterritorializations, but to head towards a more general type of reenchantment, not a return to magic.  Existential territories are not to be rehomogenised, and heterogeneity is to be celebrated.  There is to be no retreat to myth, but an incessant challenge of established boundaries.  Even the sciences no longer see themselves as working towards some ultimate truth. Art is not the only way to do this, but it does have considerable potential to invent extreme challenges.

Challenges will need to pass a threshold to become ‘auto affirming as existential nuclei, autopoietic machines’ (106).  Aesthetics now is in a position to challenge ideological structures.  Psychoanalysis has everything to gain by recasting itself as aesthetic and processual, to regain its creativity and wildness.  It should be helping to produce a new subjectivity, free of the older models which were aimed at adaptation to society.  All of these examples show a new ‘ontological heterogeneification…  a new abstract machinic transversality [which articulates all the interfaces] in the same hypertext or plane of consistency: a multiplication and particularization of nuclei of autopoietic consistency (existential Territories)’ (107).  Aesthetics will join with scientific and ethical paradigms.  It is not hostile to technoscience and its potential creative machines, although we have to change our mechanist notion of machines first, to include all the dimensions, including social and aesthetic ones.  Aesthetic machines seem to be best at sketching out these different dimensions, especially the production of ‘proto-alterity’, and its ‘incorporeal genetic affiliations’ (107). [NB hypertext seems to refer to some world of possible texts, not the old hypertext as we know it? French reference, unfortunately -- but I have found some translations. It is Pierre Levy who sees hypertext as some superlanguage, a universe of language in Guattari's terms of which the actual text is one realization]

There are ethical and political implications too in celebrating creativity, or responsibility for what is created and its implications for the status quo.  This no longer depends on some transcendent entity—ethical values emerge from enunciation itself [apparently, we see this with scientific enunciation, which has collective, institutional, machinic ‘heads’].  Such differentiation leads to individuation of subjects and ‘fragmentation of interfaces’, posing problems for universes of values.  These can no longer be general or territorialized, but can only appear ‘in singular and dynamic constellations which envelop and make constant use of these two modes of subjective and machinic production’ (108), remembering that machines are to be understood in non mechanist ways.  [Not at all clear here, but something to do with discussing the value, both ethical and political, of creations as they emerge, even those that seem to come from technology, 108].

So we have a history of collective territories,  transcendent universals, and now, processual Immanence, with three types of subjectivation.  The new conception in particular should break the distinction between mind and matter, humans and machines.  We can suggest that there are virtual entities inhabiting both domains, not so much classic Being, but rather ‘an identical processual persistence’ (109) [so a machinic departure from Deleuze?].  These virtual entities ‘appear like a machinic hypertext’, not just a support for actual forms, but a part of the very process of creation.  There are no primary substances, no a prioris of existence: ‘Being is first auto–consistency, auto–affirmation, existence for–itself deploying particular relations of alterity’ (109).  The notions of for-itself and for-others is not confined to human beings, but appear everywhere that machinic interfaces produce disparities.  Being can no longer be a transcendent like the Signifier, but is seen as emerging from generative praxis, heterogeneity and complexity.

There is a normal phenomenological notion of being as ‘inert facticity’, but this is a function of limit experiences such as depression.  Awareness of machinic being is spreading instead.  Machinic entities operate both in the actualised world and the incorporeal universes [what—by definition?], linking a body of semiotic propositions with various non discursive states, forming enunciative nuclei.  This linkage is still problematic.  [The example from Pascal invokes points which move everywhere at infinite speeds, 110].  Infinite speed must be involved if we are to link limited referents and incorporeal fields of the possible.  But we also need something positively creative, not just ontologically homogeneous, more ‘active and activating folds’, which are doubly articulated.

‘An initial chaosmic folding’ relates chaos to higher orders of complexity, producing bodies which are heterogeneous and complex, yet homogenised within the same process.  Such differentiation involves ‘a continuous coming and going at an infinite speed’ (110).  The chaotic zone is always present.  Folding involves establishing an interface between existential territories and universes of reference, between ‘a finite world of reduced speed’, and the intensive infinite universes where heterogeneity dominates.  All machines operate at the junction of the two, between complexity and chaos. [Just restating the problem really-- the virtual is linked to the actual because the virtual is folded --ie linked to the actual in a particular way]

There is no fundamental dualism between these two zones, but an ontological consistency in two types.  Each depends on the other and constitutes the other.  However, we have still not pinned down actualisation, ‘”freeze framings” of complexity’ (111), and how the finite world persists without being constantly dissolved back into chaos.  There is a fleeting complexity [the prat keeps calling it 'complexion']which emerges from chaos and returns to it, but this itself permits more permanent reduced speeds [philosophical science fiction again here], and helps develop finite states.  The first stage clearly inhabits chaos, but makes possible, manifests, the finite components and enunciative assemblages.  Chaosmosis does not simply oscillate between the two states but continues to affect states of things and the nuclei of deterritorialization.  There is a ‘relative chaotisation’ confronting states of complexity.  This explains the infinitely rich virtual and immanent forces behind normal finitude, existing before creativity is actually applied to works.  These forces appear as creative intensities.  There is a constant process of the conversion of virtual into possible, reversible into irreversible, ‘deferred into difference’ (113).  Virtual universes and possible worlds are examples of the same multiplicities [then a bit of poetry, unreferenced, about throwing dice, 113].

The irrruption into finitude, the autopoietic fold, can only be consistent if there is some ‘memory of being’, a position on ‘axes of ordination and reference’ (113).  This produces two processes—‘appropriation (or existential grasping) and trans–monadic inscription’.  The grasping itself assumes  transmonadic exteriors and others, not in a relation of precedence [did he write this in a legal state of mind?].  Grasping holds together the autonomous complex and the ‘chaosmic umbilicus’, and their combination. [Seems to be arguing that an awareness of the link between the actual and the virtual cqanbe grasped dimly by normal humans in the paradoxes and creative potentials of existence? Especially if confirmed by or demonstrated in others?]

The example is the Kleinian partial object again—those objects like breasts and penises which crystallise identities but also inextricably link with otherness [which is a synonym, apparently, of the pompous 'transmonadicity'].  [Apparently, we are to see this double development of self and other as a general example of how an encounter with transmonadic lines is implicated in any existential grasping, and how this encounter reduces finite speeds, 114] Before this encounter, things remain ‘aleatory and evanescent’.  Nevertheless, the autopoietic nucleus still lies at the heart of the complex event, but ‘Everything really begins when transmonadism enters the scene to inscribe and transform’ (114) [just an eccentric rendering of Deleuze on the other-relation?]

Monads appear to be able to dissolve diversity to achieve a distinctive identity, but other monads are always involved, even if they are other things being dissolved—in a ‘trail of nihilation’.  How does this turn into actualisation and deterritorialization?  [Difficult stuff again, but I think the argument is that the general, theoretical even business of dissolving and reaffirming selves allows the crystallization of incorporeal complexity].  It [interaction with others] introduces difference, and thereby limits the appearance of the actual [maybe, 115].  ‘There is something left over, a  remainder, the selective erection of semblances and dissemblance’ [the old grain of sand in the oyster argument found in Deleuze], permitting the emergence of finite compositions, enunciative assemblages.  Linearity, the basis of ordination, can appear as ‘an existential stickiness’.

So nihilation and intensive deterritorialization provides ‘corporeal consistency’, as a type of ‘linear and rhizomatic distancing’, producing a complexity which slows down discursively, and remains indivisible. This produces ‘an irreversible facticity enveloped by a proto-temporality that can be described as instantaneous and eternal’, and this is how we normally grasp the world.  It is transmonadism that develops spatial coordinates and other extensities ‘within the primitive chaotic soup’, and a series of bifurcations and mutations [that Guattari wants to call ‘ontological “sexuality”’, 115]

Autopoietic creativity appears from this first chaosmic fold: its inherent passivity remains as the limit or framing, or refrain to control complexity.  Ontological heterogeneity turns into alterity.  This initiates the whole actual network, as ‘a necessary and sufficient accident in the extraction of a fold of contingency, or a “choice” of finitude’ (116).

Crystals of finitude have precipitated, ‘attractors of the possible’ have appeared.  Together they produce limits of territorialisation [which seem to explain some of the boundaries of natural science, ‘limits’ that scientific assemblages will semiotise into functions, constants and laws’ (116)].  But transmonadism persists as an active force, pursuing a line of flight which works like attractors do, giving chaos a consistency [a permanent relation between actualisation and ‘processual recharge’], the basis of a permanent creativity and novelty.

So the new aesthetic paradigm is based on ontology and process.  It shows how enunciative assemblages straddle a number of divides, including that between the active and passive, and thus are creative, not at all like the ‘catatonic or abstract [bases of] capitalistic monotheisms’ (116).  There is the basis for a permanent resistance to conservative reterritorialization, and the possibility of a constant renewal of ‘aesthetic boundaries’, and the apparatuses in science, philosophy, and psychoanalysis as well.  Steering a path towards production of creativity, and the conservative hold of convention requires ‘the permanent promotion of different enunciative assemblages, different semiotic resources, an alterity grasped at the point of its emergence—non xenophobic, non racist, non phallocratic’ (117).  We must develop a new ‘politics and ethics of singularity’, breaking with consensus and with the passivity of dominant subjectivity, and operations which dogmatise the link complexity and chaos [the example is being able to distinguish between democratic chaos which implies resingularization and social creativity, and neoliberal conceptions enshrining the market economy—or managerial versions of chaos theory, I reckon].

He thinks that this has made the notion of transversality and inter monadic relations more than speculative [!], and provided a basis for questioning disciplinary boundaries, and the closure of universes of value [so this provides a university politics?].  One project would be to redefine the body to permit therapeutic assemblages.  In this conception, the body consists of a ‘partial autopoietic components, with multiple and changing configurations, working collectively as well as individually’ (118).  This will extend the more conventional notion of the self, and investigate some of the influences or refrains at work.  The individual would become seen as a series of existential territorialities, linked by chaosmosis, a series of nomads, structured across ‘fractal ascents and descents’, requiring a whole range of analytical approaches, including delirious or aesthetic ones.  Such an approach would show how even the most autistic still remains in contact with different social constellations, a machinic Unconscious, and ultimately with ‘cosmic aporias’ (118).

Chapter seven The ecosophic object

[Bullshit flying thick and fast at this point. And the ususal procrastination about politics]

The world threatens our mental coordinates, with geopolitical change, the media, the destruction of the biosphere and economic crisis.  All this is ‘masked by the sensationalist (in fact banalising  and infantilising) imagery that the media concoct’ (119).  All these crises, including the ecological one ultimately arise from an out of control productivism, and require a change of mentalities and social practices.

It might be worthwhile to reconstitute old collective forms of communication and action [not what he said above], perhaps using the new communication technologies.  But what’s required is a new creativity, from pockets of awareness in ‘new collective assemblages of enunciation’ (120).  This would build on links between different modalities of being rather than new cognitive spheres as such.  This must take the form of a new political praxis.  [But will it?  How do we move from creativity to praxis?].

Science and technology tended to polarise social groups into progressive and conservative, but now  liberalism and social democracy seems general.  Will the old divisions into left and right disappear?  Will the social itself disappear as in postmodernism?  Guattari hopes for a new progressive polarisation, more complex and federalist, and tolerant.  The old parties are too much incorporated into the state and fail to involve the citizens.  As a result, political contests are largely ‘mass media manoeuvres’ (121).

There was a kind of ‘collective chaosmosis’ in the eastern bloc to overthrow totalitarian systems, but liberal regimes are also in crisis—there is economic growth at the cost of ecological devastation, permanent polarisation with the third world, and no effective solutions to the problems that still prevail in the eastern bloc such as ‘the bloody interethnic ordeals’ (122).  [And he wrote this before the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan].  There is still some view that adopting a market system will dissolve problems ‘as if by magic’ (123), but Africa and South America are still faced with hyperinflation or austere control by the IMF [still the case today in 2012].  Sector markets are actually competing among themselves, through force and power rather than through some unified regulatory market.

We need a new ‘ecological power formation’ [Guattari seems to think one is appearing].  New artistic assemblages must make sure they are not delivered to the financial market.  ‘The education market cannot remain absolutely dependent on the State market’ (124) [dangerous ground here—he seems to be supporting privatisation, although I’m sure he means something more like net based open access stuff, maybe even MOOCs?].

We can propose a complex ‘ecosophic object’ with: ‘material energetic and semiotic Fluxes; concrete an abstract machinic Phylums; virtual Universes of value; finite existential Territories’ (124).  The concept of fluxes preserves the notion of interaction and feedback, but also transversalism between ontological strata, such as the social, mechanical, musical, mathematical and other ‘Becomings of desire’ (125) [so not just a matter of access to these different strata?].  These must be analysed as above, with links to chaos, working on immanence, building schizoanalytic cartographies to overcome dogmatism.

There are no ‘preestablished schemas’ (125): cartographic representation itself brings about ‘existential production’, territorialisation, embodiment—and these become autonomous.  They escape conventional discourse.  They are effected by the pursuit of various open-ended narratives, including theoretical ones.

This is the real impact of Marx and Freud, not to found a new science, but to produce the [legendary by now] nuclei of subjectivation, however partial.  Guattari’s own attempt at metamodelling should be seen in the same light—it obviously cannot be immediately represented objectively.  It did lead to ontological issues, discovering textures transversal to fluxes and machines, an ‘entity animated by infinite velocity’ preceding space and time, which has to be slowed down for actualisation to occur (126).  Existential grasping and transmonadism were seen to be prerequisites for conventional representation and the development of the usual object–subject relation.  In this way, liberty and ethical vertigo has an ontological grounding, ‘at the heart of eco-systemic necessities’.

Ontological dimensions are fitted together in complex circular ways, not divided into base and superstructure, for example.  It’s not just a matter of vocabulary, because certain concepts are open fields of the possible—‘Who knows what will be taken up by others, for other uses?’ (126) [the old appeal not to criticise but to go ahead and use the concepts].

We should go beyond ‘the conceptual productions to which the University has accustomed us’ (127).  [A hint of the academic politics attached to the project?].  Our project is more modest, in not claiming some universal applicability or authority, and more ‘audacious’ in openly taking sides against capitalist colonisation and engaging in innovative practices, ‘opening up ethico-political options’ at the micro as well as a social level.

Cartographic activity can appear in family therapy sessions, institutional analysis, professional networking, neighbourhood collectives.  Verbal expressions seems to be the most obvious common factor, but speech is not the only form [as we saw, all the stuff about postures, and a-signifying productions, including this time relating to monetary exchange].  Speech should be seen rather as ‘a support for existential refrains’ (128).  The point is to produce whole assemblages of enunciation, crossing fields such as those relating to analysis and those relating to political activity, the public and private.  The aim is to break with common sense.  Conventional political movements often fail to do this—like the French ecological movement which focuses exclusively on environmental politics, avoiding, for example, the problems of the homeless, and failing to see how dogmatism can arise from the activities of small groups.  The movement wants to avoid conventional left – right politics, but it should be interested instead in developing progressivism differently and transversally.  Otherwise, recuperation awaits.  ‘To my mind, the ecological movement should concern itself, as a matter of priority, with its own social and mental ecology’ (129).

The old public intellectuals in France are less important compared with a new immanent collective intellectuality, embracing teachers, social workers and technicians as well.  Promoting individual intellectuals can be harmful.  Creativity has become democratic, specific, generating singularity [Guattari is urging us to ignore, or democratise, cultural capital!].  Intellectuals and artists should confine themselves to producing ‘toolkits composed of concepts, percepts, and affects, which diverse publics will use at their convenience’ [MOOC ish again—hopelessly optimistic and assuming a universal interest in analysis].  We don’t want intellectual setting themselves up as leaders of movements.

Morality has long been territorialized, and values can be universal only in a limited sense of being supported by a territory.  This makes values particularly liable to recuperation, as in the rise of the French right—the success [then] of Le Pen shows the weakness of the left in promoting heterogeneous values and subjectivity.

Artistic cartographies have also become specialised and even corporate, although they remain vital in the production of subjectivities.  Art has to compromise with social convention, but this makes it vulnerable—artists usually only work on segments of the real, to make them partial enunciators, addressing a subset of the world.  A common and limited mode of responding to arts involves ‘an identificatory seriality which infantilises and annihilates [its enunciative potential]’ (131) [in other words we collect it?].  But it should be a matter of unframing, challenging sense through proliferation or impoverishment which leads to new notions of the subject.  It can still operate if it has a suitable existential support, which both reterritorialises [through refrains] and resingularises to generate fields of the possible far from everyday life.

The existential function of aesthetics is to split with conventional signification and denotation, and this will obviously challenge conventional aesthetic categories, which no longer really matter [because they are formal].  The particular forms of art act as a ‘surplus value of subjectivity’ (131), which is challenging banality continually resingularising.  The growth in consumption of art reflects urban uniformity, although it can resist it [his example is 'rock culture', 132]: the choice for artists is to go with the flow or challenge aesthetic practices, ‘at the risk of encountering incomprehension and of being isolated by the majority of people’ [just like Thousand Plateaus does, mate!].

It is hard to turn artistic experimentation into political change, and the current social formation is pretty unfavourable towards experimentation of this kind.  However, it is in crisis, and this may lead to people rethinking convention.  This will ‘drift towards aesthetic paradigms’ [the example here is Prigogine and Stengers on the necessity of narrative in physics.  Typical ‘evidence’ for a philosopher!]

Modern capitalist societies have to innovate, and this risks a new aesthetic awareness, a split with common sense, and the possibility of autonomous practices.  As an example, schools are now being questioned: ‘How do you make a class operate like a work of art?  What are the possible paths to its singularisation, the source of a “purchase on existence” for the children who compose it?’ The reference is to a French work on pedagogy by Rene Lafitte].

The University still tends to hold to scientific objectivity at the expense of subjectivity.  This came to a peak with structuralism which excluded the subject.  We now need to think of machinic productions as new materials of subjectivity.  In the Middle Ages, experimental work was confined to the monasteries and convents—perhaps artists are the equivalent today, to ask new existential questions about fields of the possible and the reconstruction of subjectivity.  We do not need to live under the current regime of infantalisation and ignorance of alterity.  We need to aim at a workable creativity, or the production of subjectivity, 133.  The schizoanalytic approach to value becomes political, providing an ontological base for a new subjectivity.  Chaosmic explorations in ecosophy, ranging across all the old  fields, ought to replace ideologies which divided the social, the private and the civil, and the political, ethical and aesthetic.

The new aesthetics would not just aestheticise the existing social, but would transform works of art too.  Guattari oscillates between ‘mechanical confidence or creative uncertainty’ on whether the world can be rebuilt.  The ecological and demographic crises are not predetermined by biology, but are economic and political, and these in turn depend on the form of subjectivity.  The third world should also renew subjectivation to avoid internal social and economic polarisation.

In any event, the question of subjectivity is central.  We need to think about producing and enriching it, to make it ‘compatible with Universes of mutant value’ (135).  Liberation involves resingularisation, and that should be pursued in a new interdisciplinary effort to ward off barbarism and produce instead ‘riches and unforeseen pleasures, the promises of which, for all [the pessimism] are all too tangible’ (135).

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