dialogues at greenwich

dialogues at greenwich

discussion and reports from the Volcanic Lines research group at Greenwich University

1 May 2009

18th APRIL 2009 - One Day Workshop on Deleuze's 'Foucault'

The workshop on Deleuze’s Foucault, held on 18th April 2009 at the University of Greenwich, was a very productive day. There were four presentations and very wide ranging discussions. A number of problems and issues were located in the text and developed in relation to the wider context of the philosophies of Deleuze and Foucault.

The notion of the ‘historical a priori’ was discussed at length. Deleuze locates this notion in Foucault’s work as part of an account of different historical eras. The disjunction between statements and visibilities, or between language and light, embodies the a priori specific to a historical period. This reading was contrasted with the version of Foucault favoured in the social sciences. This is based upon his later writings and privileges empirical analysis. On this reading Foucault is concerned with description and presents us with a hyper-empiricism. The philosophical dimension is removed. Such a contrast was seen to show that Foucault is playful and very hard to categorise. This is reflected in David Macey’s The Lives of Michel Foucault where he writes that ‘Alive, [Foucault] would have rejected the advances of any biographer; in death, he still struggles to escape them’ (p. xi).

In contrast to the social science approach, Deleuze locates a philosophical account of experience in Foucault. This account is thoroughly historical without being a form of historicism. It is an account which provides us with historical a priori’s and these are the disjunctions between language and light or statements and visibilities. As part of this reading Deleuze locates ‘a sort of Neo-Kantianism’ in Foucault, something which was explored in the first presentation of the day by Edward Willatt of the University of Greenwich. An a priori account of experience is made historical and is also ‘externalised’ by referring not to faculties but to statements and visibilities that mark out the space and time of different historical eras. Discussion focused upon the structure of change in this account. How do historical a priori’s change?

A further issue for discussion was Foucault’s concern with history and finitude. He seeks to explain how finitude became a problem within history. It is the transcendental-empirical double that arises as a problem within finitude and history. Also discussed was the ‘biopolitics’ that Foucault formulated in the late 1970s. This does not involve any pre-determinate specificity but can impose any form of behaviour on any human multiplicity or society. The problem was raised that this makes the a priori in Foucault formal rather than historical, challenging Deleuze’s reading. Deleuze and Guattari had tried to account for the specificity of capitalism in their Capitalism and Schizophrenia volumes but Foucault’s biopolitics is non-specific. This leaves us wondering if Foucault’s a priori is too abstract.

Foucault’s articulation of the relation between the diagram and the outside was shown to make resistance primary. The ontological primacy of forces is set against ‘capture’ or ‘articulation’ in the diagram. It is the fold that remains in the outside, unlike the diagram. It was noted that instead of drawing upon a notion of ‘force’ or ‘life’ Foucault emphasises techne and technique. His strategic thinking does not need any sort of ontological primacy – such as that which we could attribute to force – because it is cartographic and typological. Thus, it was argued, we do not need to access a more ontologically primary dimension. This was presented as an anti-transcendental account of subjectivation. Foucault is seen to have undermined the ontological discourse that divides the primary and the derivative. We have strategic thought that does not rely upon an ontological dimension of subjecthood. In Foucault’s later work we find a description of different practices or forms of description rather than anything philosophically rich. This reading was set against the ontological Nietzscheanism that Deleuze locates at the base of Foucault’s thought. Deleuze seeks to start with forces and then explain things (as we see in his Nietzsche and Philosophy). This differs from the agnostic stance that Foucault pursues.

The second presentation was given by Alberto Toscano of Goldsmiths College, University of London, and foregrounded cartography and spatial terminology in Deleuze’s Foucault. Forms are composed by relations of forces in Foucault’s work, something that provides an ontological continuity that undermines the discontinuity between historical formations. Deleuze focuses upon the way in which statements and their relations produce different spaces in Foucault’s account. This is an intensive and abstract space, not a physical or dynamic one. This produces a determinate topology, one that is ontological insofar as topology is the type of thinking most adequate to multiplicities. It is the form of the abstract most adequate to multiplicities which are supremely concrete by their very nature. This was situated in opposition to any conception of totality and historical movement, such as we find in Hegel and Marx. Power is topological and strategic rather than implying any totality. Forms and abstractions operate but do not imply totalising or dialectical thought. Thus capitalism is presented as a whole but is located everywhere, as Deleuze and Guattari seek to show in their Capitalism and Schizophrenia volumes.

The danger of solipsism in later Foucault was raised. If the event is an opening to forces, exposing the subject to variation, is it necessary to avoid solipsism? Foucault does allow forces to have this role but how does he define them as they operate in the event? The outside is always ‘within’ and resistance can only take place on the inside. This brings with it the danger of a constant falling back onto death (something which Peter Hallward claims to find in Deleuze’s work, pointing to his reference to Charles Dickens in ‘Immanence: A Life’ [Peter Hallward, Out of this World: Deleuze and the Philosophy of Creation, p. 24-5]). The solution is folding, where we go ‘outside inside’. We don’t go outside ourselves but undergo ‘tiny deaths’ inside the subject rather than a ‘big death’ that takes us beyond the subject. A philosophy of death is developed here, one which doesn’t go the outside or ‘deterritorialise’ too fast. This concern with interiority and selfhood was developed as an alternative to leaving the subject behind, a way of re-thinking the subject rather than abandoning it in favour of an outside.

After lunch the place of Deleuze’s Foucault in the history of Foucault scholarship was explored by Rodrigo Nunes of Goldsmith’s College, University of London, in the third presentation of the day. The course of Deleuze and Foucault’s correspondence was also considered. The defractions and points of misunderstanding between these two thinkers were brought out in their exchanges. This presentation suggested that Deleuze’s concern to separate saying and seeing, or light and language, in Foucault was a ‘forcing’. However, it does bring out what is unique about Foucault. Whereas Foucault disliked Deleuze’s conception of desire, associating it with a Freudian and Lacanian notion of lack, Deleuze disliked Foucault’s conception of pleasure, seeing it as an interruption of desire, a reterritorialisation. For Deleuze, in contrast to Foucault, strategy is something associated with systems of power and is secondary to desire and its potential lines of flight. It seems as if Deleuze and Foucault come at the same philosophical problem from different directions: via desire in one case and pleasure in the other.

The presentation also tackled the problem of freedom in Deleuze and Foucault. For Deleuze freedom seems to be a condition of being – it is ‘just there’. Does this mean that there is no need to worry about repression? However, for Deleuze resistance happens but we do need to analyse it, to discover its conditions. You do care about oppression because it happens and you feel it. However, for Foucault metaphysics doesn’t embody an ethics and a politics. It doesn’t matter what it is but it matters what you can do with it. This constitutes Foucault’s positivity – ‘what actions are possible within the dimension made possible by the diagram?’

For Foucault we must be non-philosophers, drawing diagrams rather than being concerned with how a diagram can be drawn as Deleuze is. He doesn’t seek to think the new conditions in which things can be thought, he just goes and does it. It is always a matter of where you are, provoked from where you are, under the strategic conditions of where you are. Where you will be tomorrow doesn’t matter. For Badiou Deleuze’s weakness is that he makes everything continuous, continuity is everywhere. Time is the unchanging and continuous form of all change. For Foucault you think from where you are. There is here a ‘performative contradiction’ because there is no yard stick external to time. One must always refer back to oneself because one is implicated in what one describes. This is Foucault’s radical ‘immanentism’ – immanently producing an immanent philosophy.

The final presentation of the day, given by Matt Lee of the University of Greenwich, defined the ‘statement’ as the transcendental formulation of Foucault’s notion of discourse. Rather than a totalising notion of progressive development there are series of connections distributed around singular points or statements. In his Archaeology of Knowledge statements are connected to monuments. We have explicitness here because there is nothing to be drawn out of the statement, no non-set to be drawn out of the set. There is no latency – its rules are found at the same level as itself. In Deleuze’s Foucault we find an anonymous ‘associationism’, an imaginative and fictionalising process. Archivists catalogue the anonymous murmur from which this arises. At the end of the book we find a call to become master of one’s speed and one’s own molecules. This led to the question: what about animals with no language?

It was argued that while in Foucault we find life, labour and language, only language is involved in Deleuze’s reading of his work. It is language that provokes transcendental reflection and Deleuze is caught in this emphasis on statements. These statements are so abstract that they do not seem to be language at all or to be associated with human activity or communication. Statements are mapped onto singularities. It seems as if Foucault is providing an account or ontology of language. The argument was made that Deleuze is in fact bringing together The Archaeology of Knowledge and The Order of Things when he talk about ‘language’ in his Foucault book. In fact, while the former can be described as a radicalisation of John Searle’s work, taking speech acts further, the latter presents an ontology of language.

Foucault tells us how, and not why, a certain discourse formation emerges. Deleuze, however, has trouble accounting for the continuance of statements and curves without invoking empirical connections of meaning in language. He is trapped because he starts with discourse and risks explaining association via meaning structures.

Deleuze’s move back to the subject in Foucault was shown to involve folding as a process of individuation. This, it was argued, was individual subjectivation rather than the collective subjectivation present in the Capitalism and Schizophrenia volumes that he wrote with Felix Guattari. An account of individuation is to be found in Difference and Repetition but now returns in the form of folding and without a notion of dissolution of the self. The self has a consistency it didn’t have in Difference and Repetition. The conclusion was drawn that Deleuze has to fold in order to avoid being a philosopher of death.

This was related to Deleuze’s move in his essay ‘The Actual and the Virtual’ (to be found in Gilles Deleuze and Claire Parnet’s Dialogues II). Here a naturalistic move is made with the virtual understood as a cloud surrounding a thing. We even find a pure ‘actualism’ here, something also suggested by Deleuze’s notion that everything is real in Foucault’s notion of the statement and by his reading of Spinoza. Is this the effect of Foucault’s positivism, an ‘actualism’ full of forces and folds which introduce a dimension of virtuality.

This highly productive workshop left us with a number of questions which go to the heart of Deleuze’s relationship with Foucault. These included…

• Is Deleuze distinguished by his concern to provide a philosophical account while for Foucault it is not the ‘why?’ but the ‘how?’ that matters?
• Is Foucault’s zone or field of strategies more immanent than Deleuze’s neo-Kantian concern to provide a philosophical account of experience? Is practice more immanent than theory? Can we have one without the other?
• Does Foucault avoid assuming the role of force or language while Deleuze tends to make such things ontologically primary without actually accounting for them?
• What is the role of Foucault in Deleuze’s return to the subject in his later work?

Read the full post here - with comments discussion at the bottom of each page.

1 December 2008

Forthcoming Volcanic Lines Events

April 2009: One Day Workshop on Deleuze's Foucault

June 2009: Book Launch - 'Thinking Between Deleuze and Kant'

Further details will follow soon

Read the full post here - with comments discussion at the bottom of each page.

16 February 2008

Deleuzian Becoming in Organisational Research: opportunities and implications

Alexandra Steinberg
Assistant Professor in Management
Department of Management & Human Resources


Forthcoming in EM Lyon Cahiers de Recherche, Edition 2008 (1),

This paper will be the subject of a forthcoming Volcanic Lines Colloquium given by the author at Greenwich University. It has been posted here so that people can familiarise themselves with it in advance of the event. We look forward to a very productive discussion on the issues it raises. Please feel free to comment at the bottom of the post - this will provide an opportunity to contribute to the discussion for those who are unable to join us at Greenwich for the colloquium. The date of the event will be confirmed shortly at deleuzeatgreenwich.

Deleuzian Becoming in Organisational Research: opportunities and implications

This paper discusses opportunities and implications for making the Deleuzian philosophy of becoming more accessible in organisational research based on ideas that informed a study on entrepreneurial networks. The argument is that the value of the Deleuzian perspective does not lie exclusively in its new metaphorical terminology for processes of emergence, but also in its character as a philosophy of creation. As a philosphy of creating concepts it provides a dynamic logic of conducting explorative research that fosters discovery and creativity in organisational research practice. Specifically, Deleuzian repetition offers new inroads toward the design of creative investigation. The example presented illustrates how the Deleuzian logic helps to better understand and account for the dynamics that drive the emergence of new forms of organisation and collaboration, beyond explanations centred exclusively on relations of cause-effect, tension, conflict and re-conciliation amongst conceptual categories.

Keywords: Deleuzian becoming, knowledge emergence, innovation, explorative research, methodological design

Cet article se propose de discuter des opportunités et des implications de la notion Deulezienne de « becoming » afin de la rendre plus accessible à la recherche en science de l' Organisation. Les idées et les concepts développés dans cette analyse trouvent leurs racines dans une étude réalisée sur la thématique des réseaux d’entrepreneurs. L’idée forte est que l’intérêt de l’approche Deleuzienne ne réside pas uniquement dans la terminologie qu’elle utilise pour décrire les processus d’émergence mais aussi dans sa qualité de philosophie de création. La logique dynamique de Deleuze permet de conduire des recherches exploratoires en facilitant la créativité et la découverte dans la recherche appliquée. En particulier, la répétition Deleuzienne ouvre de nouvelles voies dans la mise en oeuvre d’une méthodologie créative. L'exemple présenté ici illustre tout à fait comment cette logique Deleuzienne peut nous aider à comprendre et à appréhender les dynamiques à l'oeuvre dans l'émergence de nouvelles formes d'organisation et de collaboration.

Keywords: Deleuze, becoming, emergence des connaissances, innovation, recherche exploratoire, methodes de recherche


This paper argues for a more practical approach to investigate organisational knowledge dynamics using the Deleuzian philosophy of becoming. I develop this argument based on ideas that informed a study on emergent new ways of organising in e-business entrepreneurship networks (Steinberg, 2005; Steinberg, 2006). Researching knowledge dynamics in entrepreneurial networks might be approached within dialectic frameworks of knowledge creation in interaction, such as theories of organisational learning and sensemaking (Senge, 1990; Lave ; Wenger, 1991; Weick, 2002) or theories of knowledge emergence in organisation (Nonaka, 1994; Nonaka ; Nishiguchi, 2001; Duguid, 2005). However, drawing inspiration from ‘Difference and repetition’ (Deleuze, 1968) and ‘A thousand plateaus’ (Deleuze ; Guattari, 1987), I opted for the Deleuzian perspective of becoming as a philosophy that is fundamentally concerned with innovation and emergence from a perspective of the socio-ontological dynamics of change (Delanda, 2006). As the study showed, the realist and future-directed logic of this philosophy was much better suited to highlight patterns of attraction, combination and disruption when accounting for emergent new ways of collaborating and organising. It allows us to focus our analytical lens on those phenomena that emerge or begin to make sense, even though these might be, from a dialectic and socially historic standpoint, contradictory or counter-intuitive. Here I step back from the inquiry into entrepreneurial networks and reflect on the lessons learnt for research on becoming, a phenomenon of central concern to organisation studies.

Using Deleuzian becoming as an interpretative framework, the contemporary researcher finds relatively little guidance on the implications of Deleuzian philosophy for social-scientific investigation, let alone the design of empirical research. Brown and Lunt (2002) note that Deleuzian ideas offer the possibility of a novel re-interpretation of classic procedures of research. They invite us to re-think the variety of methods that researchers have at their disposal in the context of a new understanding of a theory. Yet, despite the general consensus that the perspective of Deleuze holds an enormous potential for research on organisation and knowledge dynamics (Chia, 1999; Thanem, 2004; Clegg ; Kornberger ; Rhodes, 2005; Linstead ; Linstead, 2005; Chia, 2007, Thanem, 2004 #1786; Linstead ; Thanem, 2007), the task of consistently using it into empirical research, however, has largely been unadressed. Apart from notable exceptions (e.g. Bougen ; Young, 2000; Lippens ; Van Calster, 2000; Wise, 2000; e.g. Brown ; Lunt, 2002) convincing empirical investigations are rare.

By and large, the perspective of becoming tends to be used on a metaphorical level, in the sense of a terminology that allows to better illustrate discontinuity in emergent organisational processes (Clegg ; Kornberger ; Rhodes, 2005; Linstead ; Thanem, 2007). In this way, Deleuzian notions have been employed in critical argumentation to illuminate the fluid, non-linear and dynamic characteristics of organisation (e.g. Chia, 1999). While this insightfully highlights the need to go beyond the traditional focus on ‘beings’, essences, totality and order towards seeing change and movement across social and natural phenomena, it may however constrain the development of the perspective of becoming by limiting it empirically to conventional dialectic patterns of analysing and interpreting data.

If research into organisational processes of knowledge emergence is to benefit from the promise of the Deleuzian perspective, what is required is an elaboration of key implications for research design. This paper attempts a first step in this direction by highlighting some design considerations from a study. In particular, it is argued for the need (i) to develop ways of designing enquiry that allow us to surface patterns of nondialectic encounters and (ii) to systematically use Deleuzian repetition as a technique for creative data collection, analysis and interpretation.

The paper starts with a brief interpretation of the Deleuzian perspective of becoming drawing from ‘Difference and Repetition’ (Deleuze, 1968), followed by a discussion of how specifically repetition leads to a different framing of investigation. I then show how the problem of ‘paradigm mentality’ can be overcome using repetition, followed by propositions of design considerations relevant to any study using the Deleuzian logic of becoming. Examples are provided from a study on entrepreneurial business networks.


Deleuze’s early book Difference and Repetition (1968) forwards a philosophy of becoming, in which, amongst others, the question of the emergence of novelty, of new ‘being’, unrelated to pre-existent concepts is tackled in a unique way. By contrast to traditional metaphysics, Deleuze does not ground emergence in conceptions of the past, that is, in pre-existent conceptual identities in the sense of non-empirical essences or socially constructed concepts. In fact, Deleuze does not assume becoming to consist of essences at all; rather, all what ever ‘is’, is the continuous becoming, the movement and transformation of biological and material entities in natural events.
Deleuze argues that when trying to understand emergence of novel phenomena, we cannot limit investigation to the social realm of sensemaking, perception and social construction; rather we need to acknowledge the forces of the dynamics of creation immanent to social, biological and material events as deeply intertwined spheres (Delanda ; Protevi ; Thanem, 2004). In other words, rather than assuming to find the constitutive dynamics of the emergence of novelty as exclusively stemming from social dynamics of sensemaking and as a function of pre-existent social concepts (Bryant, 2000), Deleuze locates becoming in the immanent forces of the discontinuous flow of reactions and processes of non-social, natural, mind-independent entities (e.g. atoms, molecules, cells, species) (Delanda ; Protevi ; Thanem, 2004).

The realist turn to ‘the material world itself’ in order to better understand dynamics of change across the nature-culture divide is not unique to Deleuze. In many social disciplines, authors have stressed the importance of the forces of the embodied and material world (for a sketch of the contemporary debate see Weissman, 2000; Delanda, 2002; Nightingale ; Cromby, 2002; for a sketch of the contemporary debate see Fleetwood, 2005). Authors have sought inspiration from a broad range of models in the natural sciences, such as biology (e.g. Gould, 1980), chemistry (e.g. Prigogine, 1980) and chaos theory from mathematics (e.g. Gleick, 1987) to explain discontinuous, nonlinear change. In sociology, a famous theory in this respect is actor-network theory (Callon, 1986; Latour, 2005), which has argued for the need to understand the progressive constitution of phenomena as an effect of both human and non-human actors.

However, rarely have scholars challenged the assumption that human sensemaking and experience controls these dynamic processes. Pre-dominantly, phenomena from the natural sciences have been used as metaphors for dynamic change (Ford ; Ford, 1994): natural phenomena are drawn on to explain change and creation in analogies, in comparisons between processes in the natural and the social world. Nonetheless, such natural phenomena are usually sub-sumed to social dynamics of sensemaking in that it is assumed that we engage with them as just another factor that influences the cause-effect equations of human information processing or alternatively that they are simply additional actors playing a role in the dialectic interaction amongst diverse actors.

By contrast, Deleuze asserts that social processes of interaction, sensemaking and thinking play an important but not an exclusively constitutive role (Delanda, 2006). Deleuze challenges the classic meta-physical assumption that thought and understanding rule over human perception. Deleuze assumes a 'disjunctive functioning of the human faculties' (Bogue, 1989; Bryant, 2000), arguing that different human faculties, such as thought (faculty of understanding) or sensibility (faculty of sense experience) function creatively by continually disrupting each other rather than by serving the purpose of sensemaking and understanding 'in harmony'. Deleuze thus cuts across the nature-culture divide, but, crucially, without subsuming its ontology to human epistemology (Delanda, 2006). He fowards a future-directed and realist logic of becoming that acknowledges biological and material events, independent of human perception and unmediated by social experience, in their own right (with their own dynamic patterns and unrelated to previous human concepts) as immanent forces of social creation.


The literature on organisational knowledge creation emphasises the need for organisations to develop not only existent competences and knowledge (existent ‘beings’ and concepts), but also to explore new innovative paths of novel knowledge creation (becoming), across traditional conceptual boundaries (e.g.O'reilly ; Tushman, 2007, Winter, 2003). It is argued that successful organisations of the future are those that master the combination of the use of existent knowledges and practices with the creation of novel ways of knowing and organising.

In a study on e-business entrepreneurship, the aim was to explore the latter: the capacity of entrepreneurial firms to engender innovative knowledge dynamics, in order to better understand, specifically, what drives the emergence of new knowledge in e-business entrepreneurship (Steinberg, 2005; Steinberg, 2006).

Two issues were at stake in this study that gave rise to a consideration of the role of meta-theory in our thinking about emergent knowledge dynamics. First, wanting to explore for the dynamics that bring forth innovation in knowledge we need to be able to think about the emergent character of knowledge, that is, we need to be able to capture not merely how existent knowledge transforms but how new and unprecedented aspects arise that are not related to existent concept and that might (at a later point in time) even replace existent knowledge. Typically, with innovation what emerges is a ‘something’ (Wagner, 1998) that does not relate to any pre-existent socially mediated concept we might have in mind. Rather, this ‘something’ forms a potentiality of a new concept being forged.

Second, if we are to better understand the dynamics in the creation of such new and unprecedented aspects, we need to be able to think about the creative patterns that foster such a process of emergence. By creative I mean patterns other than cause-effect, resemblance or contradiction; patterns that might be different each time and that are non-symbolic and non-linguistic. Innovation can 'happen' in various 'different' ways; they do not follow a proven, routine pattern of dynamics. Both aspects point to the unpredictable and surprising character of innovation.

The study used three explorative design-elements to address these two aspects empirically: first, an explorative design was chosen to avoid creating research results as a function of the researcher’s expectations (Bauer ; Aarts, 2000): a snowball process was used to design the 'pathway' of exploration as flexible and open as possible (Bauer ; Aarts, 2000, p. 29). Furthermore, the design comprised twenty-five semi-structured interviews, a focus group with e-business entrepreneurs and participant observation which were targeted at providing insights into the emergence of new knowledge.

Several new ways of organising across firms were found that had forged in social networks. These were, on the one hand, forging in new meanings, in shared new themes and symbols, but on the other hand, there was a much larger part of expressivity in their dynamics that was non-linguistic and non-symbolic. By this I mean that some of the new ways of collaborating emerged as new combinations of previously unrelated technological, spatial and symbolic elements. For instance, a central finding was that new ways of networking in this business milieu had forged in new combinations of online introducer systems with face-to-face networking. Another example was a novel value and mechanism to create one’s reputation and credibility via new ways of visualising contacts online.

The initial intention was to analyse such observations for their content of respondents’ sensemaking by drawing on the dynamics of social psychological processes of sensemaking and representation in social communities. In this way one can explore the evolution of shared knowledges from a perspective of dynamic social interaction (Moscovici, 2000; Vergès ; Bastounis, 2001). However, an analytical and interpretational impasse was encountered: the novel ways of collaboration were not constituted exclusively by the dynamics of respondents’ ways of interacting or sensemaking. If analysed in terms of respondents’ sensemaking, some of these novel phenomena emerged in contradiction to some of the traditional values of entrepreneurship, yet, at the same time, were represented positively as they were beginning to make sense of in terms of novel categorisations.

For example, the new way to gain reputation was made sense of by some respondents as contradictory practice in relation to the strong and long-standing value of face-to-face contacts as a condition for credibility, while at the same time, when it came to explaining why it worked well, respondents gave accounts of their experience, of examples where this way of acting had worked and hence of new ways in which it began to make sense for them. Hence much of respondents’ sensemaking was not in terms of historic categories or values. While an interpretation in terms of contradictions was useful to underline how radical the change was, however, this view reduced the analysis to a historical view. What remained to be explained were those dynamics other than contradiction that brought forward novel combinations of technology, values and new ways of interacting and that emerged as spontaneous and unreflected combinations of elements that were attracted to each other and worked well with each other.


In organisation and management theory, there is an increasingly interdisciplinary awareness on the ways in which our meta-theoretical assumptions on knowledge creation direct our analytical focus (e.g. Shrivastava ; Mitroff, 1984). How we formulate our research questions, how we design our studies and how we interprete our data hinges on our assumptions about the nature of the dynamics that forge creation. Over the past decade specifically, authors on organisational knowledge and learning have strongly advocated a dialectic logic as a way to think dynamically of knowledge creation in interaction and knowledge co-construction (Ford ; Ford, 1994).

The dialectic stance of thinking about dynamics is emblematic for a growing post-Cartesian literature that counters the classic individual-centred and static view on knowledge stemming from Cartesian epistemology. Authors have argued for the need to go beyond a logic of thinking about knowledge as units 'possessed' by individuals (Cook ; Brown, 1999), as it artificially seperates knowledge from its embodiment and from its social context and creating a view of knowledge as existing statically in entities (Hosking ; Dachler ; Gergen, 1995).

Rejecting static conceptualisations of knowledge, the argument is that knowledge is continually created in social processes of sensemaking and co-creation of knowledge (Stacey, 2000). Authors emphasise social interaction as a central unit of analysis for explaining the emergence of new knowledge and base recommendations for innovation management on it. For instance, theories on organisational learning and sensemaking have adopted the dialectic dynamics of human interaction as the central ‘unit of analysis’ (e.g. Senge, 1990; Lave ; Wenger, 1991; Nonaka, 1994; Stacey, 2000; e.g. Brown ; Duguid, 2001; Nonaka ; Nishiguchi, 2001; Weick, 2002).

Dialectic dynamics, in this context, is understood in a Hegelian way, meaning a progressive evolution of ideas in the interplay of thesis, antithesis and synthesis (Hegel, 1977 (original: 1807); Rosen, 1992). At the centre stands the assumption that knowledge dynamics are patterned linearly in an evolutionary process of our shared ideas: in tension, conflict and re-conciliation (Chell, 2000). These might be both in mediation in the minds of humans individually or socially cultural conventions that are expressed linguistically (Delanda, 2006).

While the dialectic perspective is useful to highlight how people collectively re-construct existent meanings and identities (Steinberg, 2005; Steinberg, 2006), it has however most recently been critiqued for its failure to address the emergent, unpredictable and unprecedented patterns in knowledge emergence (Delanda, 1998; Chia, 1999; Chia, 2007). As DeLanda (2006) notes, a dialectic perspective reduces emergent dynamics to symbolic, representational and cultural-historic patterns in human sensemaking, which usually assume new concepts to evolve through relations to already existent concepts.

During the past decade or so, the Deleuzian perspective of becoming has become increasingly noticed by critical organisation researchers for its alternative and creative ways to conceive of change and of the emergence of novel phenomena (e.g. Chia, 1999; Bougen ; Young, 2000; Thanem, 2004; Clegg ; Kornberger ; Rhodes, 2005), a trend underpinned by a growing debate on Deleuzian philosophy as well as on his joint work with Guattari across the social sciences (e.g. Bogue, 1989; Massumi, 1992; Delanda, 1998; Bryant, 2000; Brown ; Lunt, 2002; Colebrook, 2002; Wood ; Ferlie, 2003; Delanda, 2006; Hallward, 2006; Sørensen ; Fuglsang, 2006).

While this extended debate has highlighted diverse elements in Deleuzian thought, I limit myself here to clarifying my usage of the term becoming. I concur with the recent position outlined by Chia (1999) that the Deleuzian perspective on becoming provides a metaphysics of change in which primacy is accorded movement, change and transformation rather than to human representation, abstraction and organisation. This is achieved by the fundamental assumption that reality, i.e. boundaries of individual entities, are not exclusively constituted in their final shape and form by human experience and sensemaking, but emerge also in real processes of individuation such as in processes of embryogenesis, splitting of cells, chemical processes of tissues and organs (Delanda, 1998).

In this sense, the Deleuzian perspective on becoming offers a logic of thinking about emergence as a series of combinations of different dynamics. This is what Deleuze describes as the emergence of new assemblages (Deleuze, 1968; Deleuze ; Parnet, 1987) through the crossing of different lines of becoming. Dynamics of assemblage refer to nondialectic forces that Linstead & Thanem (Linstead ; Thanem, 2007) have described as forces without an oppositional logic: forces of combination, disruption and attraction of heterogenous parts, such as atoms, molecules, biological organsims and so on. Following Deleuze (1987), all life consists of processes of assemblages, of new, unforeseen connections. Consistently, any new phenomenon, object or concept is the result of a process of multiple connections (Colebrook, 2002). In this sense, rather than assuming traditional patterns of cause-effect, unity, resemblance and contradiction as the exclusive forces determining novelty, Deleuze foregrounds patterns of assemblage, such as combination, attraction and disruption.


For the present example study (Steinberg, 2005; Steinberg, 2006), the ambition was to focus on such dynamics of assemblage in addition to social psychological dynamics of knowledge creation, as the phenomena observed required thinking of dynamics in a wider sense than merely in a dialectic one. The aim was to generate an account that would enable thinking to 'get out of dialogue' (Deleuze ; Parnet, 1987, p. 2), and through that to highlight the various and startling phenomena I had come across in the observation – the 'somethings' that did not translate into any pre-existent concepts about networking and that would seem counter-intuitive to be working together, yet, nonetheless, worked extremely well together.

The challenge was hence to find a way to interprete and to think dynamics in such a way that would not automatically revert to an interpretation in terms of the dialectic realignment of a pre-existent, familiar concept or pattern with the novel. This also necessitated an appropriate research design in terms of methods of data collection, analysis and interpretation.

While the study used traditional methods to explore knowledge creation such as interviews and focus groups, it sought to look at new ways of posing research questions, at new ways to combine research methods in exploration and and above all, at new ways to interprete data. In this way, the research would fully benefit from the Deleuzian perspective taking into account natural movement and creation in relation to organisation and order.

In order to operationalise becoming, originally the aim was to obtain 'data' directly from respondents' 'real-time' affects and percepts (Deleuze, 1995) by gathering instances of respondents expressing in emotions or sensemaking that something they could not explain had affected them. This approach was discarded, however, as this would falsely assume that difference-in-itself is expressed in visible, behavioural instances of affect that can be understood by an observer. In the Deleuzian view, human faculties of reception are functioning in a multiple and disruptive way: the emergence of novel phenomena might be perceived by human sense experience such as through sensibility and feeling, but crucially, this perception is not subsumed to understanding - it does not report itself to understanding when it happens. Hence this strategy was discarded as 'gathering' respondents' emotions would be paradoxical in a Deleuzian sense. Instead, I switched perspective to patterns of combination, attraction and disruption by drawing on the Deleuzian notions of difference in-itself and repetition.


At the centre of the Deleuzian logic of creation stands 'difference in-itself'. Difference-in-itself, for Deleuze, is a ‘pure form of difference’ that points to how difference may be internal and immanent to every natual event (Deleuze, 1968). Events can be geological, meterological, biological, economical or sociological phenomena: Deleuze sees difference-in itself as the continously and spontaneously emergent flow from the interplay of intensity differences in matter, such as, for example, the flow of air caused by intensity differences in hot and cold air when exposed to each other (Delanda, 1998).

Deleuze distinguishes difference-in-itself from conceptual difference: unlike a concept that exists with a single identity 'trapped' in a static being (that does itself not move), difference-in-itself exists in the movement of becoming only – it is not an object outside us to be judged, but rather a dynamic movement of ‘becoming-forces’ (Deleuze, 1994). Difference-in-itself is ‘not negation, … it is non-being which is difference’ (Deleuze, 1968, p. 89, my own translation).

With difference-in-itself, Deleuze challenges the dialectic notion of difference that emerges through negation. In dialectic logic, difference is exclusively determined by negation of same-ness of conceptual entities (Deleuze, 1968). Dialectic logic operates in patterns of unity, resemblance or contradiction, which imposes human interpretation of subject-object relations as the dynamic that determines conceptual difference. Deleuzian logic, on the other hand, frees us from the dominant role of existent meaningful ways of categorising and ordering the world. Meaning on its own, Deleuze notes, 'mediates everything but mobilises and moves nothing' (Deleuze, 1994, p. 55). For 'real' movement to occur, in the sense that entirely new concepts emerge, meaning depends upon an ontological work of dividing the world which ensures that it can visibly bear the marks that ongoing communicative interaction cuts into.

This way of thinking about difference as defined by movement and becoming rather than by being (Chia, 1999) is what provides a central merit of Deleuzian logic for thinking about emergent knowledge dynamics: it frees us from thinking in relation to the past. It allows us to exit the cycle of referentiality in dialectic relation to existent concepts and categories. This opens up interpretation to future-directed and different patterns of dynamics: rather than being confined in a logic of confirming or contradicting the existent, we can account for patterns of difference-in itself in a future-directed sense of potentialities.


The second central merit is repetition. The principle of repetition is what constitutes the masterstroke of the Deleuzian notion of becoming. It is the coupling of difference in-itself with a principle of creation that is repeated unceasingly, each time unique and different in-itself. Crucially, repetition is not understood here in the traditional sense of the term - as a reproduction of the same, which, for Deleuze, would be mimesis (Deleuze, 1994). Rather, repetition is the act of working from within the construct of what is repeated, by at the same time, overturning it from within (Hayden, 1998).

This principle of repetition extends the meta-theory of the immanent dynamics of becoming into a philosophy of creation. It is a principle of creation by overturning from within that is also used by Deleuze as a technique of crafting philosophy: Deleuze uses repetition as a way of creatively developing new philosophical concepts.

As Deleuze illustrates in his own reasoning, by merely refuting another author, we revert logically to the dialectic principle of opposition and thus 'move nothing' (Deleuze, 1994). Instead, Deleuze famously repeats other authors such as Nietzsche and Plato by working within their frame of logic, re-creating their theories which results in a different (in-itself) reading of their works which, by overturning their logic (Bogue, 1989) in a productive way, develops their theories further (Zizek, 2004). Thus, the second central merit of the Deleuzian perspective, I argue, is that it focuses us on creating new concepts in creative repetition, i.e. in turning existing paradigms inside out by working from within them rather than against them. This is what Linstead and Thanem (2007) have described as the connective and non-prescriptive character.

Repetition provides a distinct approach to scientific creation – to crafting new concepts without opposing. Concepts, for Deleuze, do not serve the mere purpose to reflect upon something, but rather to facilitate intellectual movement by exiting the what he would call the endless cycle of representational movement of theses and antitheses (Deleuze, 1987).

However, wishing to translate this philosophy into organisational research, we are presented with a productive paradox: if becoming forces are creative and connective, how can we then deal with the fact that Deleuzian philosophy relies, nonetheless, on a very fundamental rejection of all representational and dialogical interpretation of dynamics (Deleuze ; Guattari, 2004)? Does this not shift us to a different logic of change which polarises positions and create ‘yet another’ exclusive interpretative research paradigm, a phenomenon that Lewis (1999) has warned about as ‘paradigm mentality’?


While at first sight, the strong anti-Hegelian stance of Deleuzian philosophy invites to conveniently refute concepts based on Hegelian dialectics, I argue that Deleuzian philosophy has more to offer to dialectics than merely to challenge it.

My argument is for research on nondialectic encounters, on the basis of the recogition of the importance of both, dialectic social sensemaking and immanent forces of nondialectic patterns of emergence. In this way we use repetition to advocate Deleuzian becoming, yet in connection to dialectic becoming, but without rejecting it. This is, in a sense, a proposition for a repetition of dialectics, in a Deleuzian sense.

In this sense, I agree with Zizek (2004) in that 'there is another Deleuze, much closer to … Hegel' (p. xi). What Zizek draws attention to is an implication of the Deleuzian ontology of becoming for the logic of social scientific reasoning itself: this is the fact that a dissociation of different realms of scientific analysis, such as the individual and the social or the empirical and the conceptual, does not necessarily imply that the aim of science should be to 'cover the gaps' in order to eventually reach a totalising view of the world, but rather 'on the contrary, to open up a radical [new] gap …, the "ontological difference"' (Zizek, 2004, p. xi) which also shows mutual interdependency, but, crucially, not in a dialectic sense of synthesis and linear progress – rather, a form of mutual interdependency that Zizek (2004) calls encounters.

What I propose is an onto-epistemological logic of the social dynamics of knowledge emergence hinging on a double-logic, operating at the levels of conceptual difference and difference in-itself alike. In the mode of ontological becoming, difference in-itself in the material and biological world disrupt the linear flow of dialectics, creates new potentialities of ordering and of de-connecting traditional themes and ways of sensemaking. In the mode of conceptual mediation, on the other hand, dialectics function to defend and re-negotiate pre-existent conceptual and meaningful differences in response to rupture, adapting unfamiliarities encountered in sense experience into the realm of symbolic categorisation.


As pioneer studies by Wise (2000) and Bougen (2000) have demonstrated, translating becoming into research means innovating. In this study (Steinberg, 2005, 2006), thinking in terms of difference-in-itself and repetition meant considering to turn inside out the principles of traditional dialectic interpretation. While the full research design and interpretation is outlined in detail elsewhere (Steinberg, 2005, 2006), I focus in what follows on the translation of specifically the notion of repetition into the analysis of data from interviews, focus groups and participant observation.

Employing Deleuzian repetition, I re-thought the notion of dialectic analysis: I conducted a thematic analysis that, instead of concentrating on dialectic continuity, it focused on dialectic discontinuity. In other words, I repeated the traditional steps of thematic interview analysis in a Deleuzian sense. Repetition, if we recall, means in a Deleuzian sense to work from within the construct of what is repeated, overturning it from within (Hayden, 1998).

Analysis for dialectic dynamics would classically employ some notion of what constitutes traces for dialectic dynamics, such as, in this case, themata. Themata are the meaning currency that gives communication and interaction their typical dialectic form (Marková, 2003). They themselves take the form of dyadic oppositions or contrasts, such as illustrated by the themata of 'atomicity/continuum' or 'simplicity/complexity' in Holton's (Holton, 1978) thematic studies of the genesis of scientific theories.

In this study, instead of looking for what ties themata together in a functioning system of meanings (familiarisation) (Moscovici ; Marková, 2000), I concentrated on what dissociated themata. Traditionally dialectic analysis of knowledge emergence would look at how people would socially negotiate and re-negotiate meanings into a coherent system of social references that would subsequently be used as a meaning system on the basis of which people could judge and interprete their social reality. Rather than focusing on these processes of meaning familiarisation; I looked at instances of rupture with existent meanings; more precisely, I was interested in what de-familiarised or even discontinued historically important and shared meanings.

This was a strategy of surfacing those instances where the ‘system came to stutter’ (Olkowski, 1999), meaning where different dynamics seemed to have been disrupted or re-connected. Concretely, the analysis looked at both the cuttings of becomings in form of novel individuations of concepts in experience and at disruptions of dialectics as those instances in sense-making where new dyads are drawn upon that do not relate (dialectically) to previous central historic concepts.

In this way, the analysis looked at the dialectics in human sense-making as a creative force: the social negotiation of new concepts not only serves the familiarisation and re-negotiation of old concepts in the light of new ones, but it also, crucially, serves the de-familiarisation of old concepts in the light of new connections and becomings. It serves our sense-making to cut oneself loose from dominant representation by articulating intense (in a Deleuzian sense) experiences; this allows us to shape new concepts that halt the flow of increasing and limitless complexity by forging new significance and meaning. This manifests what I indicated earlier as the creative force of overcoming existing concepts (by de-familiarising them) and giving way to entirely new concepts.

The notion of becoming was hence translated in such a way that I worked from within the frame of thematic analysis on interviews, yet, with the difference that, instead of interpreting recurring dialectic patterns for their function of familiarising and adapting meanings, I interpreted the themata found for the ways in which they did or did not continue the themata found in the interview analysis – in short, I interpreted for de-familiarisation in response to rupture. This also meant going beyond traditional quality criteria: while in the thematic analysis the main tools of establishing a relevant and confident analysis were the topic guide, the coding frame and systematic analysis of data (Bauer & Aarts, 2000), in the Deleuzian analysis the main tool of analysis and interpretation was not a dialogue between question and answer, between topic guide, coding frame and concepts, but rather to craft a piece of writing - a creation - through Deleuzian writing.

In order to 'write becoming' my style of writing had to change from writing causally with a socio-historic orientation to a future-oriented, open style focused on potentialities. I had to liberate what I had experienced from previous formulations and to avoid ready-made propositions and theories. I widened my field of scope in terms of both thoughts and words. My perspective changed. I allowed my writing to proliferate, itself moving off in different directions. I paid particular attention to deviations, discontinuities and disruptions of themata.

I was not focused on patterns of dialectic continuation of the familiarisation of e-business entrepreneurship (e.g. new tensions, similarities and potential syntheses), but I looked for points of rupture in the ways in which themata were drawn on in the discussion. I looked for instances where a phenomenon would be underpinned by notions which disrupt conventional and socially accepted themata by rendering them useless, in that they were ambivalent to the dominant themata. This means I looked for what was not similar, not contradicting and not challenging – in short, I explored the data for themes that were not relating to dominant dialectic patterns but rather flowing in-between them, being indifferent to them. Disruptions are described by Deleuze (1987) as instances of intensity of movement which avoid any orientation toward a point of determination.

Deleuzian notions of lines, connections and individuations helped in this regard, in a non-metaphorical sense. They helped to avoid writing in a logic of comparisons, highlighting resemblances, contradictions or tensions only, but instead being able to focus on new connections and phenomena that were not in relation to anything pre-existent.

In this way I was able to create a Deleuzian account of the dynamics that I had encountered. I was able to describe what emerged as a movement of oscillation between on the one hand, emergent non-linguistic, non-symbolic processes of attraction, rupture and combination and on the other hand, of dialectic attempts to explain these and integrate them into the existent social apparatus of sensemaking and categorisation. This was a wavering between the experience of radical difference and the constraints of existent meanings. Together, we achieve a discontinuous rhythm of opening up and closing down, which produces a spiralling dynamic of disruption and adaptation, an alternation between increasing complexity and the constitution of concepts. This movement, in its new combinations and crossings, allows difference-in-itself to be unleashed and while overall, it moves a meaning system forward, at the same time, it hinders it from becoming a chaos.


Rosen (2000) argues that one can differentiate a simple system from a complex one by how its ontology relates to its epistemology. In a simple system, its epistemology subsumes (swallows) its ontology. In complex systems, the two aspects are acknowledged in their own right. In this article, we have seen how the meta-theory of Deleuzian becoming acknowledges nondialectic forces of creation in their own right: the possible complexity of the dynamics of creation are not reduced a priori to epistemic patterns of conceptual resemblance, contradiction or tension.

In order to make empirical research benefit from this acknowledgement of nondialectic dynamics as constitutive forces, I proposed Deleuzian repetition as a technique for creation when conducting research. I also suggested to base intrepretation on a logic of nondialectic encounters between ontological becoming and dialectic creation. Acknowledging patterns of attraction, disruption in their constitutive role of knowledge creation is an essential condition for explorative research on knowledge dynamics in organisational settings. Taking this perspective bears a huge potential for organisation studies in order to account for unpredictable, creative and innovative aspects of knowledge dynamics in organisation. At the same time, and by contrast to Deleuze, the notion of nondialectic encounters is not as radical as Deleuze as far as his rejection of the essential is concerned. Essence is important in terms of potentially limitless expansion of becoming. Unless we can construct what is essential when confronted with creation and disruption, it is impossible to make sense of and to explain what we experienced. In order for new knowledge to emerge, therefore, both becoming and processes of the shaping of new essences are necessary, but rather than assuming that the dynamics of human sensemaking dominate both, I propose to acknowledge them in there different dynamics - dialectic and nondialectic ones – as encountering each other when constituting reality.


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6 December 2007

Reading Group Workshop 6 on Deleuze and Guattari’s ‘Anti-Oedipus’

4. Introduction to Schizoanalysis

Our discussion of the final chapter of ‘Anti-Oedipus’ began with the two poles that are put in place at the beginning of the chapter. These are the schizorevolutionary pole and the paranoiac fascisizing pole (page 277 in the old edition). They seem to be two ways of relating to matter as such, i.e. the body without organs. In the new edition at page 356 the first positive task is set out and it was suggested that the moment of destruction outlined here is similar to Derrida’s method of setting up and attacking dualisms. Thus a dualism is put forward, destroyed and then pulled back again, as shown here with schizophrenia and paranoia, relating to matter ultimately as either molecular or molar.

In a footnote to page 309 of the old edition and page 340 in the new edition we find partial objects qualified in the French as ‘partiaux’ rather than ‘partiels.’ The translators explain in the footnote that such objects are partial or biased like a biased judged rather than partial in the sense of being incomplete. They link this to the molecular and the sense in which Deleuze and Guattari seek ‘a concept of the partial objects as biased, evaluating intensities that know no lack and are capable of selecting organs.’ The chapter starts with a very strong dynamic of two poles but then seeks to destruct dualism seemingly in order to re-think the two terms as immanent to one another: social production as desiring-production under determinate conditions.

The difference in regime and scale between desiring-machines and social-machines was also discussed. Are these formal distinctions attributed to ultimate dispersion or flux?

Section two of the chapter, on the Molar Unconscious, is where Deleuze and Guattari move away from the rigidity of the distinction between the molar and molecular. It was suggested that whether you are invested in molar and molecular will determine the nature and value of your activity. This will provide the materials and energy of your activity.

Reference was made to Deleuze and Guattari’s use of the libido as the energy of desiring-production. Hence one loves worlds in the one whom one loves. Proust is used in this chapter and this refers us back to the depth of Deleuze’s engagement with him in ‘Proust and Signs’. The second half of this text was written in 1972-73 and reflects ‘Anti-Oedipus’ (published 1972) in being titled ‘The Literary Machine’. Deleuze and Guattari affirm a ‘liquid libido’ and write that ‘sexuality is everywhere’ (old edition p. 293). Thus ‘…our love addresses itself to this libidinal property of our lover, to either close himself off or open up to more spacious worlds, to masses and large aggregates.’ (old edition, p. 294) In Proust we love what emits signs that are drawn from the world of signs of love and which open up more spacious worlds than worldly signs do. At page 318 of the old edition Deleuze and Guattari refer to a ‘schizophrenic breakthrough’ achieved in Proust’s ‘In Search of Lost Time.’ This comes from traversing all the planes, all the worlds of signs set out in Deleuze’s ‘Proust and Signs’ (worldly, amorous, artistic…), until ‘the molecular line of escape is reached.’ They locate this ‘…in the kiss where Albertine’s face jumps from one place of consistency to another, in order to finally come undone in a nebula of molecules.’ Deleuze and Guattari write of the risk of seeking to locate the meaning or explanation of Proust’s work in a particular plane. This would be to stop with a particular world marked out by signs, with the molar, rather than with the molecular production of different worlds and different organisations of these worlds. When the narrator kisses Albertine for the first time this reveals her molecular make up because the matter of her face is revealed as full of molecular life, opening onto a possible world that he cannot grasp and which produces his jealousy. The narrator then descends into a paranoid relation to matter as it is revealed in Albertine, trying to grasp and identify her as a molar entity. He seeks to imprison here in this molar identity. It was pointed out that this links to the concern with faciality in Deleuze and Guattari’s ‘A Thousand Plateaus.’

We discussed the use of Samuel Butler’s ‘The Book of the Machines’ (page 284 in the old edition). We find the pure machinery of living set out and this raised a number of issues. It was suggested that at stake first of all is whether we have a break in the molar where new molecular dynamics coming into play in how the molar is organised, or whether there is no molar because it reducible to the molecular. There is a danger, it was argued, that in the analysis of Butler we have a slippage between mechanism and physicalism. The machinery of living proposed brings in scientific naturalism but there is a danger that this neglects the differences between physicalism and mechanism. Physicalism reduces entities to molecules and neural functions, as we find in the work of thinkers like Paul Churchland. This, it seems, would make the molar an epiphenomena and something unreal. It was pointed out that a non-reductive alternative might be found in the components systems proposed by George Kampis - machines as open ended, where the whole is another part.

Is this a sleight of hand? It was argued that Deleuze and Guattari perhaps use the power of natural science and physicalism without dealing with the problems it introduces. They call it machinism so as to move between the molar and molecular. Yet the power of the machine, and of their argument, comes from physicalism. It was argued, they would rejected physicalism because they want to account for the molar fully. A way of overcoming this problem was suggested in the form of the events of molar identity that Deleuze and Guattari invoke with the exclamations ‘it is’ and ‘I am.’ This seems to refer us also to ‘Difference and Repetition’ and the seminar entitled ‘The Method of Dramatisation’ (to be found in the ‘Desert Islands’ collection) where larval subjects embody an intense emotion, like ‘the jealous man’. This event must unify the molar entity without unifying or totalising its molecular state. It might be compared with the ‘sense events’ found in Deleuze’s ‘The Logic of Sense.’ The concern was raised that this involved ‘a totality to come’ or something like Derrida’s ‘supplement.’ In response it was suggested that it should be called a refrain or theme. In their third synthesis of desiring-production Deleuze and Guattari invoke ‘all the names in history’ as occurring in delirium and hallucination, the most productive point of subjectivity. These intensities are not all realised in the same way in extension but perhaps provide the events that unify the molar without totalising its components.

At page 289 in the old edition the first footnote refers to Jacques Monod and makes use of his physicalism. Deleuze and Guattari emphasise order, rule and necessity. It was argued that necessity is really only metaphorical in their account of machines. In physicalism necessity is absolute - a law and not an explanatory device. It is not mutable. We therefore have a physicalist direction to an absolute core of necessity, to the core of laws. Reference was made to Markov chains where each state is determined by the prior state and determines the next state. Would this formulation of phase states provide Deleuze and Guattari’s with a notion of necessity?

Deleuze and Guattari’s concern with death was explored. They argue that there is both a model and experience of death, and that from this it follows that Freud’s death drive is undermined. For them the body without organs is death because it is the element of anti-production, is ensures that flows break and that social organisation is disrupted.

A further issue raised was the methodology of schizoanalysis. How is this analysis carried out? It was suggested that for Deleuze and Guattari capitalism can undergo manifestations of interest but not manifestations of desire. This might inform the methodology of schizoanalysis.

Another concern was how affects were to be regulated such that a theory of mind can be constructed, enabling us to treat others as having minds. This is to establish inter-subjectivity by moving beyond receptivity to affects or feelings.

At page 380 in the old edition Deleuze and Guattari argue that it is not a matter of what socius will come out of revolution or of schiozanalysis being identical with the revolution itself. It was suggested that this understanding of schizoanalysis borders on making it a form of interpretation because it seeks to provide the ontology behind revolution. It gives the interpretation of the world that revolutionaries must be provided with. It would then be like psychoanalysis when it provides the correct way to Oedipalise. Schizoanalysis sounds here like it knows what it’s all about and can provide you with the means to align yourself with reality. Is it a better ontology than Oedipus? How can it be tested?

A possible response from Deleuze and Guattari might be the circuits they speak of in Samuel Beckett’s work. They exhaust spatial organisation and the investment of desire in social interests. In this way a revolutionary preconscious investment that is in fact a reactionary unconscious investment could be overcome. It was suggested that Deleuze and Guattari envisage subjects who come to identify with machines. This was characterised as an existential problem of how the individual relates to their sense of truth, making the machinic their ideal. This was referred to Deleuze and Guattari’s concern with an impersonal production of the subject, summed up in the poetic formula ‘I is another’ that Deleuze takes from Rimbaud when writing about Kant’s philosophy (see ‘Four Poetic Formulas which might Summarise the Kantian Philosophy’ in ‘Essays Critical and Clinical’).

The notion that desire is without intentionality was discussed. It was linked to Nietzsche’s notion of the will as something that always pushes towards life, even through distortions. It is better to will nothing than not to will because the will continues to push. This naturalism seems to be at the heart of Deleuze and Guattari’s understanding of desire.
On the last page of ‘Anti-Oedipus’ the second to last sentence makes ‘the new earth’ a ‘process that is always and already complete as it proceeds, and as long as it proceeds.’ This seems to resemble Deleuze’s notion of a ‘groundless ground’ in ‘Difference and Repetition.'

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3 December 2007

Secondary Materials on 'Anti-Oedipus'

Here are some links to materials relevant to chapter three of 'Anti-Oedipus' and the discussions that took place at last weeks reading group workshop. Many thanks to Bruce McClure for these.

'Intensive filiation and demonic alliance', Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, Museu Nacional, Rio de Janeiro.


'Burning AutopoiOedipus', Iain Hamilton Grant

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29 November 2007

Reading Group Workshop 5 on Deleuze and Guattari’s ‘Anti-Oedipus’

Chapter 3. Savages, Barbarians and Civilised Men

This weeks reading group workshop continued to look at chapter three of ‘Anti-Oedipus.’ The presentation this week was given by Bruce McClure and began by highlighting the role of Louis Hjemslev in ‘Anti-Oedipus’ and indeed in ‘A Thousand Plateaus’. They draw from him a linguistics appropriate to the capitalist axiomatic, one that escapes all transcendence. It becomes a mobile apparatus of content and expression that can be applied to any situation. Marshall McLuhan’s role was also developed as something taken further in ‘A Thousand Plateaus’. Expression becomes the content for another expression using McLuhan’s linguistic theory. They make use of his concern with communication media independently of its context and his slogan: ‘The medium is the message.’
Bruce also considered the change from a surplus value of code to a surplus value of flux in Deleuze and Guattari’s understanding of the move from savage and despotic societies to capitalist ones. The surplus value of flux incorporates both unquantifiable aspects of labour and unquantifiable aspects of knowledge. Everything is flattened out and includes the accumulations of both goods and knowledge. The knowledge producers are rendered impotent because capitalism always creates a new axiom that makes knowledge productive for capital. It is the military-industrial complex and the state that act as the element of anti-production. This animates a double movement of deterritoralisation and reterritorialisation.

The presentation considered production as an abstract universality, an accumulation that goes beyond the human. Here a drive is immediately recuperated or objectified. In section 9, at page 254 in the new edition and 234 in the old edition, Deleuze and Guattari see science and technics as liberating flows of code. It was pointed out that knowledge capital is something that takes us to the work of thinkers like, Negri, Hardt, Balibar and Laclau. Knowledge capital has come to be seen as highly important in capitalism and as freer than previous forms of labour capital.

The discussion considered the negative and positive connotations of capitalism as it is presented in Anti-Oedipus. Is capitalism innovative by nature or is profitability key to whether innovation is interesting? Capitalism doubles desiring-production in the sense that it creates quantifiable flows that can meet just as desiring-production flows and breaks. One reading of Anti-Oedipus is to presents capital as a liberatory dynamic. We discussed why this reading looks viable. It was related to the notion among late 19th century Marxists that capitalism will do the revolution itself. This was the cause of Marx saying that he was not a Marxist. He was against the economic determinism that had come to characterise Marxism.

The next subject of discussion was the surplus value of flux. This is divided between human surplus value and machinic surplus value, with their relation operating as in the equation dy/dx. Machinic surplus value concerns technical machines and what can be said using science. Human surplus value concerns wages and is expended through consumer goods. These are two forms of money and are incommensurable. The selection criterion for technical machine is profitability and a technical machine only works by being profitable. The role of war was introduced as an instance of expenditure, burning off the energy of a society. This is something that can be achieved through advertising, militarism or imperialism.

At page 236 in the old edition, and page 257 in the new, we find Deleuze and Guattari using the example of Gregory Bateson. He leaves the human behind but this process is captured and used by the American military.

At page 235-236 flows of stupidity mirror knowledge as its anti-production, taking forward stupidity as the immanent limit of knowledge is ‘Difference and Repetition’.

At page 264 in the old edition (section 11 of chapter 3) Deleuze and Guattari discuss the notion that the family is outside the social field. This is a simulacra, an image of images that are in fact social. The privatization of the family moves away from immanence as ‘capitalism fills its field of immanence with images.’ Everyone is equal because everyone has a family, in other words, everyone is equally triangulated, equally lacking.

At page 265 in the old edition the notions of an ‘aggregate of departure’ and of an ‘aggregate of arrival’ are developed. The aggregate of arrival means that you always go home to a family but this private realm is only an image of social images. There is no freedom inside or outside and the private simply extends social repression. It was suggested that the Oedipal version of the family is less monstrous than the notion of family we find with mafia and gangster groups. This notion of the family is not contained, just as in savage societies Deleuze and Guattari see alliance as spreading filiation outwards. With Oedipus the family is contained or triangulated.

Turning to the savage society, we see that here surplus value is what allows alliance to occur. Deleuze and Guattari understand the process as beginning with an intensive filiation, something embryonic and unliveable, while this continues to unfold as extensive filiation and extensive alliance. It was suggested that ‘A Thousand Plateaus’ differs from ‘Anti-Oedipus’ in that it presents intensive alliance in the notion of becoming-other. This was related to the problem of a group subject, something that we found to come from Guattari’s work in previous sessions of this workshop. It is the problem of a group subject that can learn and respond in a differential way. Can there be an alliance that can develop and learn? It must not become a family again.

Reference was made to Guattari’s later notion of an auto-poetic group. We find something similar in Negri’s multitude, a unified body of the people. It is modelled upon a swarm. One response to this was that it is anthropocentric. Another was that it neglects the role of organisers in any political group. Anti-capitalist movements involve important people who direct things. Global movements have core networks of people who organise. There is a closed interior that manipulates an exterior, something involved, for example, in Trotsky’s democratic centralism. Retrenchment in a closed cell can provide the closed group behind public social centres. Knowledge is held in this closed group that is not held by those outside, making decisions issuing from this group seem incomprehensible.

We returned to the notion of an intensive alliance and asked what it would like, how would it work? Intensive filiation is described as a germinal influx. Incest must become a taboo so that filiation can spread outwards, become extended. Could intensive alliance have an interior? Becoming-animal involves returning to an intensive alliance, from extensive alliance or difference in extension to difference in intensity. The human-animal relation returns to intensity, refolds itself, in order to unfold itself differently in extension or in what the human and the animal can be or do. In the machine formed by the human and animal, in a case of becoming-other, new resources are drawn upon to realise humanity and animality in extension. These are the resources of the intensive alliance of humanity and animality. Reference was also made to ventilators and nebulisers. This involves a machine-human relationship where a new machine emerges that redefines that the human is or can do.

In the last paragraph of chapter three (p. 270-271 in the old edition) Deleuze and Guattari talk about autocritique. This seems to be the realisation that universal history is contingent or formed through accidents: ‘Universal history is nothing more than a theology if it does not seize control of its contingent, singular existence its irony, and its own critique.’ Is this to realise that things are only accidental? Or is it realising that accident is productive of laws that are necessary in psychoanalysis? Is it just that contingency should be recognised or should this produce something new? On the one hand it concerns the illegitimate use of the syntheses developed in chapters 1 and 2. Yet it also refers us to Deleuze and Guattari’s engagement with Reich and the notion that desire desires its own repression. Are accidents instantiations of this repressive moment that sets off illegitimate uses of the syntheses?

Reference was also made to the distinction between unconscious desires and preconscious interests. This seemed relevant to concerns with what collectivity can be if it is not based on class, something that Alain Badiou has been writing about. Rather than class interest, collectivity would be based on something prior to interests but which still marks out a collective group. For psychoanalysis preconscious interests seem to be what we haven’t noticed but can be brought into consciousness. The unconscious is unrecognisable but you can recognise its traces in the preconscious.

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27 November 2007

beware desyr

just wanted to say, I've posted up some notes on my blog and rather than simply copy them here I'll link to them instead - you can find them on notebookeleven here

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22 November 2007

The Mass Psychology of Fascism

an interesting page from the 'Surveillance Camera Players'

The Mass Psychology of Fascism


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13 November 2007

Reading Group Workshop 2 on Deleuze and Guattari's 'Anti-Oedipus'

Chapter 2. Psychoanalysis and Familialism: The Holy Family, Sections 1-5
The notes below are complicated by the fact that members of the group are using different editions of 'Anti-Oedipus'. The page numbers referred to as 'old edition' are found in the edition published in 1984 by the Athlone Press and then Continuum. Those labelled 'new edition' are from Continuum's new compact edition of 2004. What follows is taken from my notes and is in many ways incomplete. Those who were present are very welcome to add to the notes by commenting on this post or e-mailing additional points to volcaniclines[at]hotmail.com Please also feel free, whether or not you attended this workshop, to question or discuss the points raised by posting a comment.
This weeks session began with a presentation on the themes of this weeks text by Edward Willatt. The presentation began with the notion that Oedipus is dogma (page 51, old edition). Deleuze and Guattari describe the 'Oedipus structure as [a] system of positions and functions' (page 52, old edition). It has the role of 'distributing in a given domain desire, its object, and the law.' It thus marks out a space of action but for Deleuze and Guattari this is hopeless. The object of desire is inadequate, dogmatic activity is frantic and then runs out of energy. The psychoanalytic cure is endless and becomes banal. The 'frantic Oedipalisation' practiced turns into a loss of energy because the object or limit is not the 'body without organs' but the complete objects and global persons projected by psychoanalysis.

At page 53 Deleuze and Guattari argue for a desire that is not reduced to its products in order to think the marking out of spaces of activity that are not at all hopeless. These spaces must not be marked by a dogmatic subject and object. The structures and persons of psychoanalysis are products while machines are 'the Real in itself.'

At page 54 we see Deleuze and Guattari argue that Freud had discovered a liberated understanding of desire, making it the domain of three syntheses. However, they argue that Freud did not maintain the immanence of syntheses to desire. The terms of desire, the marking out of the field of its activity, were not immanent to desiring-production. It is important to note that the thinker to whom they turn for the criteria of immanent synthesis is Kant. In his Critique of Pure Reason Kant sought to formulate three syntheses to deal with appearances that we are modelled on the 'thing in itself.' His critique of dogmatism was a prelude to his elaboration of three syntheses. For Kant dogmatic metaphysics is a theatre as it is for Deleuze and Guattari, it produces hopeless characters. For Kant we find dogmatists and sceptics, for Deleuze and Guattari neurotics and paranoiacs, to name just two. Just as Oedipus is set up above the flows and break-flows of desiring-production, so the 'thing in itself' is set up above appearances and their immanent syntheses. Kant's concern with appearances rather than the 'thing in itself' seems to connect productively with Deleuze and Guattari's concern with partial objects rather than complete objects.

In the second section of chapter two (entitled 'Three Texts of Freud') Deleuze and Guattari write that psychoanalysis '...measures the unconscious against myth...' (page 57, old edition) Time finds its model and measure in a myth space. This means that the roles and functions time is able to mark out in space become monotonous. Everything is decided in advance by myth and this limits the energy of activity, ensuring that it is always exhausted and never continuous. Deleuze and Guattari again move from Freud to Kant when they seek a non-mythical conception of time. We see this in Deleuze's 'On Four Poetic Formulas Which Might Summarise the Kantian Philosophy' (to be found in 'Essays Critical and Clinical'). Here Deleuze writes of how Oedipus was '...urged on by his wandering as a derived movement.' In contrast 'Hamlet is the first hero who needed time in order to act, ...' He adds that 'The Critique of Pure Reason is the book of Hamlet, the prince of the north.' Now time is not defined by succession. Things are successive in different times but 'simultaneous in the same time, they subsist in an indeterminate time.' (p. 28-29) This means that in time we find the scope of the first synthesis of desiring-production in a 'time out of joint' or time without a mythical space as its model. The whole of time can be drawn upon.

At page 59 Deleuze and Guattari sketch an illegitimate use of the second synthesis (the synthesis of disjunction). Here the marking out of a space of activity is recorded but this use of synthesis can be legitimate or illegitimate. Psychoanalysis is said to make castration the 'common lot' of the two sexes. It is something lacking in both that distributes lack in both series. It means that 'you are girl or boy!' This is an exclusive use of disjunction, any attempt to mark out roles once and for all so that people can only seek to come to terms with these roles.

On page 65 we see Deleuze and Guattari subjecting Freud himself to analysis, diagnosing him as a dogmatist as we see Kant doing to his contemporaries. They see Freud at the end of his life realising that something is wrong with psychoanalysis. 'The cure tends to be more and more interminable!' All energy has gone out of the practice because it is dogmatic, it does not have the object that is the real source of all energy (the body without organs). In seeking to account for the energetics of machinic thought and practice, a continuous energy, Deleuze and Guattari point to '...a type of resistance that is nonlocalizable. It would seem that certain subjects have such a viscous libido, or on the contrary a liquid one, that nothing succeeds in “taking hold.”'

The third section of chapter two ('The Connective Synthesis of Production') puts forward the notion that '...the sole problem is always one of allocation on a scale of intensities that assigns the positions and use of each thing, each being, or each scene...' (p. 68). This is a concern with a matter full of intensities that mark out things, beings and scenes. It is not a theatre modelled in advance by myth but rather a factory of production.

At page 72 the 'body without organs' is presented as a third term that '...reinjects producing into the product, extends the connections of machines, and serves as a surface of recording.' Deleuze and Guattari's concern that there is nothing behind production is developed here. It is this lack of organs that provokes production to be productive. We can see Kant's influence here if we consider his concern with zero degree intensity in the 'Anticipations of Perception' in the 'Critique of Pure Reason'. This mechanism seems to be put to work here in order to think desiring-production, to find in the movement between intensities the continuous production of things, beings and scenes. For Kant it is zero degree intensity that is behind the continuity of different degrees of intensity. It prevents appearances from expressing a 'thing in itself.' Whatever Deleuze and Guattari's distaste for Kant's ends may be their concern with his mechanisms is clear. We see them not asking what Kant's system means but how it works.

The fourth section of chapter two is entitled 'The Disjunctive Synthesis of Recording.' Here Deleuze and Guattari are concerned with how the connections that mark of a space of activity are lived. At page 75-76 (old edition) they write that 'This time it is a matter of the maximum conditions under which persons are differentiated. Hence the importance of the Kantian definition that posits God as the a priori principle of the disjunctive syllogism, so that all things derive from it because of restriction of larger reality...' What is important for Kant is that the Idea of God is not a cognition, a unity of the understanding, but a unity of reason that operates in the advance of cognition. Like the 'body without organs' it does not resemble what is organised but has an ongoing role in how things become organised and disorganised. This 'larger reality', this Idea of what the synthesis of disjunction can do, does not do the work of synthesis. It is an Idea of the widest and continuous use of inclusive disjunction rather than of exclusive disjunctions marked out in advance and waiting to be discovered. The latter conception would for Kant be the 'thing in itself' and for Deleuze and Guattari complete objects and global persons. What things, being and scenes become through disjunctions is left open because this totality is not already synthesised and because the energy contained in this Idea is a divine energy.

At page 78 Deleuze and Guattari explore the exclamation 'I am' – the series of intensive states that makes up the passive self who is subject to the activity of synthesis.

Section five of chapter two, 'The Conjunctive Synthesis of Consumption-Consummation', seeks to account for a residual subject of machines. Deleuze and Guattari develop the nature of the passive self: 'It is a matter of relationships of intensities through which the subject passes on the body without organs, a process that engages him in becomings, rises and falls, migrations and displacements.' (p. 84, old edition) This third synthesis of desiring-production differs from Kant's third synthesis in the Critique of Pure Reason. In the latter the active subject, the transcendental unity of apperception, corresponds to the object=x. For Deleuze and Guattari the active subject and object=x is the 'body without organs'. It is compared to R. D. Laing's voyage of initiation, something described as a transcendental experience. It is an experience of being subject to productive syntheses, being passive in the face of synthesis. Deleuze and Guattari elaborate this as '...a series of emotions and feelings as a consummation and consumption of intensive quantities, that form the material for subsequent hallucinations and deliriums.' (page 84, old edition)

At age 97 Deleuze and Guattari write that 'Structures exist in the immediate impossible real.' This reflects their concern to find the desiring-machines at work in any thing, being or scene. The 'I am...' is the residue or surplus value of the machine.

At page 104 Deleuze and Guattari distinguish between preconscious investment, made according to the interests of opposing classes, and unconscious investments, made according to positions of desire and uses of synthesis. Interests are defined as being those of the subject, the individual or collective who desires. For the unconscious these things that 'I am' are not marked out in advance and so interests are not given in advance. This connects with the contemporary debates over the collectivity that is possible given the apparent decline of class identity. What is collectivity after class? Perhaps Guattari's analysis of the group, discussed later in the session and reported below, can respond to this pressing question.

At page 105 we find desire elaborated as what which 'flows and runs', this is how we know that it is present in immediate reality. It carries us along 'toward lethal destinations.' This raises the question of the value of the activity that desire produces or accounts for. Peter Hallward's reading of Deleuze ('Out of This World', Verso, 2006) questions the value of the activity that he accounts for – it is contemplative (in)activity. Deleuze himself, in the 'Dialogues' chapter 3, cautions that desire must not account only for festival-like activity. This reflects the un-livable nature of desiring-production but also how it is a regulative ideal, in a Kantian sense, that makes constructive activity possible. Deleuze and Guattari seem to focus upon affective encounters so as to keep in play an account of the activity of subjects in relation to objects.

At the end of section five, on page 106 (old edition), Deleuze and Guattari provide a method for reading a text. Searching for what is signified or for a signifier is to be avoided. To read a text is to make productive use of a literary machine which is '...a montage of desiring-machines...' They envisage '...a schizoid exercise that extracts from the text its revolutionary force.' We see here that Derrida is inverted. Rather the world as text we have the world as a continuum of machines and the text as another machine. It does not talk about the world and is not representative of the world. However, its own production must be singular enough to exemplify the world's productive activity or the way the world works (desiring-production as such).

The discussion began by questioning the Kantian reading of Anti-Oedipus that the presentation had put forward. The arguments had been that 'Kant works!' and as a result Deleuze and Guattari hold their noses and overcome all the 'northern fog' so as to make use of Kant's mechanisms. Their reading of Kant is about use rather than meaning. Thus Kant's 'object=x' and zero degree intensity are mechanisms for Deleuze and Guattari's use. To consider what they meant for Kant is to fail to extract the 'revolutionary potential' from his work.

Reference was made to something that separates Kant from Deleuze and Guattari. The compulsion to construct an understanding, a signifier, and the mechanics of signification are important for Kant. Deleuze and Guattari consider how we can avoid trying to understand in order to be able to encounter affects. It was suggested that Kant's concern is to control the metaphysical urge, this desire, rather than to realise it productively. It was argued that this is quite a different approach to Deleuze and Guattari's concern to account for how desire desires its own repression.

Deleuze and Guattari's argument against splitting reality between ideal and material, between signifying and Real levels, was discussed.

The concern with group fantasy at page 62 (new edition) was discussed. It was argued that this shows Guattari's input. For him all subjectivity is collective. He analysed differences within group activity. The critical question was then put: what is the agency behind this group activity? The passive subject and its continuation runs through Guattari's work. Who enunciates in collective assemblages of enunciation? Should we look for agency or an agent? Why does the group ever get out of bed? Is there a collective machine? Who acts? Who selects? Who does? These critical questions are often put to Deleuze. It was noted that group fantasy only has drives as its subject (p. 63 new edition). Agency or selection, it was argued, is here a post-representational image of thought. Choices occur to the passive subject. The group is a zone of clearance protected from symbolic attachments so that choices can occur to this passive subject – the exclamation 'it is' or 'I am' is the occurrence of choice through encounters in a field that is not marked out in advance by the symbolic.

It was also pointed out that Sartre is used by Guattari in his analysis of group fantasy. Reference was made to Deleuze's preface to Guattari's 'Psychoanalysis and Transversality' (translated as 'Three Group-Related Problems' in 'Desert Islands and Other Texts', Semiotext(e), 2004, p. 193-203). It shows Deleuze's engagement with the re-formed subjectivity that runs throughout 'Anti-Oedipus'. It was explained that for Guattari a 'subject-group' folds out into the world while a 'subjugated-group' infolds by internalising resentment. It is always caught in the dynamics of internalisation and externalisation.

Reference was made to Deleuze's earlier notion of larval subjectivity, suggesting that it was a space of clearance while Ideas were a grouping, as we see in the notion of revolutionary Ideas developed in 'Difference and Repetition.' An unconditioned or undetermined zone is created and this is what Ideas are. They are dark precursors.

It was also noted that in 'Difference and Repetition' the term machine is used and we have here contemplative machines and contracting machines. However, Deleuze did not previously have notion of a group that he came to embrace from Guattari's work. Perhaps the shift from machine to assemblage and from simulacra to rhizome also show Guattari's influence.

It was suggested that Deleuze and Guattari are trying to break open a space where things can work differently. They present a strategic polemic, heavily engaged with the intellectual forces in France at the time in which they are writing.

Critical concerns were raised over the value of rejecting Oedipus, a specific concept, unless it is clear that we can avoid all concepts. If a lack of all concepts (schizophrenia as process) is un-livable then why give up the stability of Oedipus?
Is Oedipus not better than the fascism that for Deleuze and Guattari is a normative and natural state? Do Deleuze and Guattari argue in favour of a specific social organisation or of the endless re-organisation of society that nevertheless is stable enough to sustain organised life (a social body with organs drawing upon the 'body without organs')? The value and potential of their critique was called into question.

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