Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Anti-Oedipus; Introduction (Desiring-Machines)

Where Psychoanalysis gets psychoanalyzed by non-psychoanalytical methods.

The start of a school year; whereby one desires new things, different things or one desires the same things. The intensities of one's experience will sway the organized body regardless of the organized body desiring to see itself a certain way. Here we offer an introduction to these intensities that function in desire-spaces with Deleuze and Guatarri's Anti-Oedipus. Whether one is studying comparative literate, philosophy, or even physical art, these authors will find a way to show up on one's thinking screen. They don't just show up either, they command your attention for reasons you're not quite sure of because you haven't read anything from them. You have general ideas in your head of what "Anti-Oedipus" is trying to convey. At first glance you think to yourself that it's a book about a child not wanting to kill his father to confiscate his mothers love, and if this is your first thought about the book, you would be pretty much right on with the theme. To be more specific, this book starts a movement of sorts that tries to dissemble the Oedipus-complex of psychoanalysis; the Oedpus-complex that would like to understand everyone in terms of their rapport with their parents. And it's not just parents either, it's the paternal image seen in the geometrical "triangulation" of the psyche, a triangulation we will see that won't hold the ground it once had (Father-Mother-Child/Father-Son-Holy Ghost). The hierarchicization that psychoanalysis operates on stems from the emphasis given by Freud to parental complexes in the subject. Of course Freud needs to be distinguished as an author from his different periods like many authors. We will see that Deleuze and Guattari operate off the idea of random intensities much in the same way Freud spoke of intensities in his Project for a Scientific Psychology that we referenced before in the analysis of Derrida's work on Freud. Rather than trying to sum-up the entirety of this text while it's currently being read, we will continue to not be pithy by giving multi-part essays on the text in order to give due diligence to the author. Besides respect though, insights are really enjoyable, almost too enjoyable? The deeper one enters into this text, any text for that matter, the more insights will come to the forefront. It will be interesting to analyze the desire-for-insights within Deleuze and Guarttari's framework that sees desiring-machines as machines that are everywhere that attach to each other and most importantly, attach to something called a body-without-organs. To start off though, every post from now on pertaining to Deleuze and Guattari will be nominalized as "D&G." While respecting the idea of depth and length, it's also important to respect brevity in the form of acronyms for simplicity's sake on these posts, and future posts. Without name-dropping all the references that one will find when reading this text and finding analogies with previous or current authors (maybe even future authors), lets dive into the text, and find ourselves in D&G's world of organisms with drives that are much more complicated and spontaneous than the structure of Oedipus.

When trying to understand Oedipus's sway on classical psychoanalysis, we first have to uncover desire, more specifically ourselves as desiring-machines. Desiring-machines; pure operations of want. D&G state "the traditional logic of desire is all wrong from the very outset...From the moment that we place desire on the side of acquisition, we make desire an idealistic (dialetical, nihilistic) conception, which causes us to look upon it as primarily a lack: a lack of an object, a lack of the real object." For D&G it is inappropriate to see desire as a lack. When one desires something, the traditional logic of this desire is that the desire wants something that it doesn't have. Not so for D&G and not so either for Kant who states "the faculty of being, through its representations, the cause of the reality of the objects of these representations" is the function of desire. In other words, desire is not a want, but a production. A production of desire. If lack is part of the logic of desire, it's because desire produces a lack. First and foremost, desire is a productive machine that afterwords happens to produce a lack in being. The Platonic logic of desire that "forces us to take, making us choose between production and acquisition" is wrong. This choice doesn't cover the whole of the logic of desire. How then does desire operate for D&G? "If desire is the lack of the real object, its very nature as a real entity depends upon an 'essence of lack' that produces the fantasized object." When we desire, we are desiring something that we don't have, but why is it that we feel we want this thing that we don't have in the first place? Any object, the fantasized object (meaning the object that we want but don't currently have so we fantasize about it) can be sought after because of something called an "essence of lack." More simply put, we can think of this "essence of lack" as a feeling that we aren't getting what we want either in a specific or general way. The nature of desire as lack depends firstly on the production of something we don't have. "The production of something we don't have" though is not simply some "real object" like a rock for instance, but the flow and force of desiring-machines creating (producing) an affect of something outside itself to obtain. This is juxtaposed to the body-without-organs whereby there is no smell, taste, or touch; in other words, a juxtaposition to nothing. At some point though, the body-without-organs becomes something. It becomes attached to desiring-machines where it "breaths, it heats, it eats. It shits and fucks." These functions Freud would call the id, the representation of which D&G would call a "mistake" on the grounds that the representation of whatever is classified as the id didn't need to be represented (or it's representation by Freud and philosophy in general is grossly outside something called "the real" or what's called a priori experience). It's important here to clarify that desiring-machines for our purposes can be seen as human-beings. We at first will have to relate to ourselves as human beings much in the way that one has to understand Heidegger's concept of Dasein as Human-Being when the sense of the statement is meant to convey being-there, meaning being in a place where something happens which Heidegger would go on to describe. D&G will see the Human-Being as desiring- machines and they will make sure the reader sees this not as a metaphor but as an actuality which will create a distance between the subject seeing himself through the text of Anti-Oedipus and rather reading into themselves a pure production of desire ignorant of whatever would be classified in the classical personality traits of Freud's tripartite Oedipus-schemata. So for right now, we are reading into the text that something is desiring and by desiring, "we" mean a production of a lack that is first and foremost a production. And the lack that is the production is a production itself. In other words, it's a production of a production. Desire is then understood as production and at the lowest level, this means that "the real object that desire lacks is related to an extrinsic natural or social production, whereas desire intrinsically produces an imaginary object that functions as a double of reality, as though there were a 'dreamed-of object behind every real object.'" The "real object," whatever that is, is extrinsic. You can call it "natural," or "social." Whatever it is, it conceptually exists outside. Nothing can be said of it because it's not represented. This comes up against Husserl's problem in trying to understand the original motivations of the "first geometers" independent of language. It lies in a place that D&G call a "body-without-organs" meaning a non-represented being. Desiring-machines though operating under the production of desire produces "imaginary objects" that function as a double of whatever was this "extrinsic space." Desire functions not like the body-without-organs. Instead it looks for something else beyond what is already given. What this beyond is, is the "dreamed-of object behind every real object." This flips the Platonic ideal. Instead of seeing beyond representation into truth ("the real"), "we" as desiring-machines see beyond what's "real" into representation as truth. Truth for us is not whatever is called "the real," but the representation of it that is behind everything that's called the "real." This makes sense. Everything is in front of me, and then I (phenomenologically) look into it to find something else, for example, what's it's called, and when I find out what this "real" is called I mark it down on what D&G call the recording surface. Desire produces this reproduction. "If desire produces, its product is real." Desire produces our reality, our truth, and here we must distinguish what we just called "the real" from what the real is now being understood of as "the truth." D&G will regard the real here as something for us, the desiring-machines. The real (truth for us) happens after we are in "passive syntheses" (phenomenological) that engineer partial objects, flows, and bodies, and that function as units of production. Partial objects are likened to ruptures for example, and this means intensities independent of any truth value, meaning independent of the de facto situation of being able to represent it. These intensities are units of production. This all happens "as autoproduction of the unconscious." For example, I can have a nervous reaction to anything without anything "about me" influencing this. Desire will always happen. The body-without-organs will be attached to an organic body with desire. In these passive syntheses, "desire does not lack anything; it does not lack its object. It is rather the subject that is missing in desire, or desire that lacks a fixed subject; there is no fixed subject unless there is repression." In passive syntheses, in this productive desire, nothing is in lack in the original "real." Ruptures and flows "happen" without regard to an object being grasped. Desire as a machine of production though is a machine that D&G call a "subject," and like how production had to produce something (for D&G, desire), desire finds its own production in the fixed subject. The "residuum" of this producing and the product creates a detachment called "the subject." There is no fixed subject without repression though. This is the residuum of passive experience (passive syntheses), repression. In other words, in a process of passive syntheses, intensities happen to bodies and flows, and "something becomes detached" meaning a difference is setup. A difference from bodies and flows "happens" into something called the "subject" by way of a repression of these intensities that happen to bodies and flow (what D&G call "partial objects"). The detachment from the original "real" is the repression of intensity, and it's in these repressions of intensities that D&G will situate their concept of the neurotic. The neurotic: "the subject" who is always running away from "the real." The subject loses its desire "at the same time that it loses the passive syntheses of these conditions." When desire differentiates into a "subject," the subject sees itself as a difference from the passive syntheses that setup it's own detachment in the subject. The "subject" is the "countereffect" of the process of desire. Desire feels objective existence in all its intensity but just like how it's a machine of pure production (a machine of a machine), it differentiates itself from desire as a "space for intensity" into its next form of production ("the subject") where the form loses its "desire of intensity" and instead produces (desires) needs. In every aspect of this movement, from production, to desire, and finally to the subject, something is common, and that's pure production, in other words, something is made out of something else and differentiated from that previous form (The question of temporality in using the word "previous" is something that won't be addressed here but always stands as an open question). Desire then is not a lack, but a production of a need. One feels that desire is (Platonically) a lack, but this isn't the case. Desire sets out to withdraw itself into a subject that creates for D&G, surplus-needs which is distinguished from the needs of the penury or the dispossessed who "know they are close to grass." The dispossessed who don't feel the need of leftovers, but to live in the real, that they feel has somehow been taken away from them in the socius. The question of Anti-Oedipus then will revolve around the difference between desire that has very few needs (the need to live objectively) and the desire of leftovers (surplus-desire). In this distinction, we will find an absolute parallel between the psychoanalytically regarded "psychotic" and "neurotic" respectively. One can already tell that D&G will try to save the "psychotic" from its marginalized place in the socius by pointing to a more "pure desire" with few needs (which nonetheless are needs) and not a "lack" that classical psychoanalysis would like to find in its subject (Like thinking a psychotic lacks love and getting a hardy laugh from them afterwords). How the phenomena of over-abundant needs "happens," and how psychoanalysis addresses this psychosis as a lack in the subject (wrongly understood as a lack) is what will be the subject of Anti-Oedipus. We will gain further clarifications on the structure of Oedipus as it pertains to not just psychoanalysis but the socius as a whole, and how much psychoanalysis defines the categories of belongingness and distance from a privileged "normalized" center. All these concepts will need to be elaborated on. The fun thing about desire as a theme is that it can be seen everywhere. It is everywhere. Desiring-machines are everywhere. We will be able to go into themes on sexuality, capital, religion, and thought in general because of the all-encompassing nature of desire. We will be able to see it at work subtly and hopefully try to make these subtleties not so subtle.

This introduction then served mostly on a theoretical level defining D&G's understanding of how a pure process happens to a subject as a desire and how that desire changes into desiring more than just a few things. All of this is a production that happens to a production ad infinitum. This introduction can be understood as a general phenomenology of desire, if we are to understand desire purely at a distance from the existential connotations that it will end up taking as the text develops. This general overview of course can be expanded on phenomenologically. The idea of passive syntheses can of course be elaborated on independent of the idea of desiring-machines. A phenomenology of pure intentionality and a psychoanalysis of desire using non-psychoanalytical methods are of course two different approaches. Simply put, one can either read Husserl or D&G. If one isn't satisfied with the way D&G use "passive syntheses" then they can go into the depths of Husserl, but if they are satisfied in the concept of "passive syntheses" then they can move into the insights provided by D&G regarding the phenomena of desire and how it pertains to everything as desiring-machines and how classical psychoanalysis has made an incorrect model in trying to understand desire as a lack, and ultimately classifying certain types of desiring-machines as lacking something that is a "normalized center" for them. These next posts though will develop the themes of Anti-Oedipus. We will stray from the depths of phenomenology and enter into the human-being as desiring-machines. I have a feeling that the next posts will be more interesting for everybody. People would rather see themselves as desiring-beings rather than pure-intentionalities. What makes one interested into reading desire into things instead of intentionality? It's an open question that I think will become more evident as the text develops.

1 comment:

  1. I was introduced to a machine that was able to have intercourse with someone without touching them and it was able to do everything to you sexually can you tell me if this type of machine could be part of the desiring machine?