dialogues at greenwich: Reading Group Workshop 1 on Deleuze and Guattari's 'Anti-Oedipus'

dialogues at greenwich

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

1 November 2007

Reading Group Workshop 1 on Deleuze and Guattari's 'Anti-Oedipus'

Chapter 1. Desiring-Production

This week a group of scholars from across London met for the first of a series of six workshops on this text. The session began with a presentation by Matt Lee that set out the themes and problems of this chapter.
Pages references below are to the Continuum 2004 edition.

Matt argued that we find Anti-Oedipus beginning with an affect, something that declares itself. This is a literary technique, used by Deleuze and Guattari to start thinking about desire. He drew attention to the repeated use of ‘it is…’ This is a surging forth. Matt also argued that Deleuze and Guattari here ‘state and then explain’, as Deleuze very often does in his writings. He pointed to the proliferation of different names for this surging forth – desire, machines, schizophrenia, flows, production … .
At page 47 desiring-machines are defined. Matt argued that here we find a critique that identifies bad theory and ideology, disputing its understanding of machines. The critique targets idealism, finding it oppressive because it psychologises the mental. At page 48 Naomi Klein is discussed and subject to severe critique over her psychoanalysis of children. Desire is said to operate on the basis of lack in psychoanalysis, psychological projection through fantasy that establishes an ‘inability to be’ in the subject of psychoanalysis. They lack the completeness of the object of desire.
At page 24 Matt drew attention to the equivalence of false materialism with typical forms of idealism in Deleuze and Guattari’s account. He argued that this is a very Marxist moment. Psychoanalysis is also made use of because it discovers drives even if it then buries them beneath the idealism of Oedipus. Deleuze and Guattari affirm Marx’s move beyond Hegel in arguing that ideas are materially produced. They then move beyond Freud in affirming that desire is materially produced.
Matt also argued that readings of Deleuze and Guattari which present their philosophy as the liberation of consumption and the consumer are quite wrong. For them the consumer is produced as an idealist category and as such is subject to critique. There is in reality just a produced consumption situation. At page 29 Deleuze and Guattari argue that the objective being of man must be restored, echoing Marx and opposing idealism.
The presentation then considered the three moments that Deleuze’s work often formulates whether writing with or without Guattari. This is despite their hatred for the three moments of the Oedipal triangulation.
At page 26-27 we find Deleuze and Guattari being critical of Kant. Matt took from their contention that Kant’s critical revolution changed ‘nothing essential’ that for them the debate between idealism and materialism is what is essential. This shows their allegiance to Marx.
The discussion considered the term ‘transversality’ and this was related to the ongoing debate over Deleuze and Guattari’s individual roles in Anti-Oedipus. It was argued that Guattari’s role is down played in the secondary literature because the texts are read in Deleuzian terms alone. For Guattari transversality is about moving in a different way, breaking up normal ways of operating. It is a methodology, the self transportation beyond a territory in group practice. A territory is grasped in order to go beyond it.
The 'body without organs' was discussed at length. It was suggested that it is the unfolding of the subject to an unprecedented degree. It was related to the need to ‘be merely objective’, to build on the level of desiring-production. The body without organs as disorganised matter was compared to the role of larvae in Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition. There is a primary production of affects – something without organisation - and then there is regulation. In psychology, it was argued, regulation is the problem because it implies idealism.
Attention was given to Deleuze and Guattari’s affirmation of Kant’s theory of matter, how me makes matter ‘profoundly schizophrenic.’ Could it be that this relies upon Deleuze’s understand of time in Kant as being ‘time out of joint’ (see ‘On Four Poetic Formulas That Might Summarise the Kantian Philosophy’ in Deleuze’s Essays Critical and Clinical). If time is an a priori form of matter in Kant then matter is made ‘schizophrenic’ by the liberation of time from space, from its ‘joints.’ This is what Deleuze and Guattari develop when they make the three temporal syntheses of desiring-production into the way in which matter into schizophrenia as a process.
Returning to the perplexing ‘body without organs’ we considered Deleuze and Guattari’s notion that it is an egg. This was referred back to Difference and Repetition where the egg is also talked about. It was related to the unliveable life of matter that is schizophrenic as a process. No one can undergo the forces and process that occur in the egg and yet the egg produces the different ways in which matter is organised in liveable forms. Calling the body without organs an egg affirms that it more than makes up for the organisation it lacks (the forms of liveable matter) with its own dynamisms. The egg is the limit of a process of production but does not resemble its products in any way, any more than the egg or embryo resembles the adult which it produces.
The discussion also tackled Deleuze and Guattari’s concern with desire. Is force or drive a better term than desire given that desire is so attached to its subjects and objects? Does not desire become something else thanks to Deleuze and Guattari’s re-thinking of it. It was noted that Deleuze and Guattari give up the term machine after Anti-Oedipus. It was pointed out that Deleuze was concerned that the term machines was too masculine. However, Deleuze did later define his use of desire as equivalent to Foucault’s use of the term pleasure and Foucault characterised pleasure as force. Force then is made the condition of real experience, escaping the attachment of desire to objects and subjects, as well as to interests. Does not force carry less baggage then desire?
It was suggested that the term drive implies a singularity while desire implies a multiplicity. A further idea put forward was that Deleuze and Guattari seek to criticise the term desire by turning it into something else. The strangeness of desire without an object or subject, as desiring-production, is what they seek to present.
Deleuze and Guattari’s comments on Lacan in the first chapter were also discussed. For Lacan the subject is split and then tries to put itself back together without ever achieving this. Lack is fundamental. It was noted that in the recently published Guattari Papers Guattari writes of dreams of Lacan that he has had and then interprets them using psychoanalytic methods.
Lacan’s split subject and mirror stage were set against the residual subject of the machines that emerges in Anti-Oedipus. In Difference and Repetition we get a fractured self and distorting mirror of the groundless ground of individuation. The fracture of the self is not a lack but full of a swarm of Ideas.
A final point was that Guattari’s development of group analysis suggests a ‘group subject’ rather than a ‘subject group’.

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At 7/24/2010 , Blogger Tim said...

it was Melanie not Naomi Klein...


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