Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Deleuze and Guattari, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (continuous)

Part 1: The Desiring-Machines The first part subsumes Marx and Freud in the Nietzschian framework that is the desiring production by introducing desire as social and explains that the best way of exploring social desire is through schizophrenia.

Part 2: Psychoanalysis and Familialism: The Holy Family Extends Freud’s Oedipus complex beyond family and links it to capitalism, which deploys Oedipus to channel desire.

Part 3: Savages, Barbarians, Civilized Men Chapters in this part analyze the social formations that correspond to the historical development of Oedipus (savagery, despotism, and capitalism) through the exploration of notions of production and anti-production, the "body-without-organs" as a template for desiring-production, systems of political and linguistic representation and inscription, the historically changing character of the "socius," and the various investments of desire (social and psychic) that constitute it.

Part 4: Introduction to Schizoanalysis Introduces Deleuze and Guattari’s privileging of desire over power and suggests the use of Schizophrenia to interrogate capitalist production of desire.

Passage for close reading:

“(Writing does not entail but implies a kind of blindness, a loss of vision and the ability to appraise; it is now the eye that suffers, although it also acquires other functions)” (205).

Though parentheses are highly used in Anti- Oedipus, their unusual use in this sentence struck my reading eye. Though I’m claiming to have seen the bizarre construction of the sentence, its content does challenge my ability to see its function. Throughout Anti- Oedipus, Deleuze and Guattari caution us against asking the question: what does it mean? (109, 206), they rather suggest that we ask ourselves how does the signifier or the unconscious work? As such, I ask myself how does this sentence enclosed in parenthesis work? What is its use in the overall argument of this part?

This sentence occurs in chapter seven, Barbarian or Imperial representation, in the middle of a paragraph that discusses the crushing of the “magic triangle” of inscription and representation (205). The tone of the paragraph is dramatic as it bears a resonance of chaos. The latter is strongly echoed in the sentence preceding the one i selected: “Then there occurs a crushing of the magic triangle: the voice no longer sings but dictates, decrees, the graphy no longer dances, it ceases to animate bodies, but is set into writing on tablets, stones and books; the eye sets itself to reading” (205). The dramatic tone of this sentence suggests a tragic rupture from a previously valued dynamic of vision and sets the sentence parenthesis as an interlude in the performance of the rupture. The transition from a state of performance (the functionality of the magic triangle) to one of non-performance (the crushed magic triangle) creates a gap, an interval, which the sentence in parentheses fills. Therefore, the previous sentence and the one in parentheses function as a chain of signifiers that acts out the rupture of the magic triangle. As such, both sentences depend on each other, most importantly; the sentence in parenthesis cannot be omitted, as it seems to be the heart of the rupture from vision to blindness and the topic sentence of the paragraph. If the sentence seems to bear the main idea of the paragraph, and if we consider the function of parentheses as introducing an after thought or an explanation in a sentence, why is it that the entire sentence is in parentheses? Are Deleuze and Guattari using parentheses in this sentence as computer scientists to code a specific function or task of writing?

My analogy of the form of the sentence to computer science which brought about explosive developments facilitates the explanation of the parentheses, the central instrument of the sentence, which becomes disembodied by the sound encyclopedic description of writing, thrown out of the magic triangle through the presence of materiality, and isolated by the excessive textualization of the sentence content. The crush of the magic triangle creates a space where consumption is the rule. Deleuze and Guattari acknowledge the chaos that originates from the crush but they also want to reduce its damages by delineating the space of the rupture in the paragraph with parentheses.

Deleuze and Guattari know that the perpetuation of society through specific modes of production depends, in large part, on the effects of discourse. How the discourse of and about a given mode of production is produced and circulated determines the form and evolution of that particular mode of production. Of course, this relationship between production and reproduction must be operative in reading and writing. By understanding the modalities of these practices, by asking who produces them, with what support, and, we can better appreciate their scope and can therefore discover their forms of oppression, that is, the pivotal places where resistance can anchor to promote change.

1 comment:

  1. The question of their computer-coding use of parenthesis is interesting. Can you run with it a little futher?

    The thing that's at stake in this blindness is the shift of the eye from eye-pain of seeing suffering inscribed on the body in the savage regime to a loss, comparable to the loss of voice and writing in their collapse together in the despotic regime. The parenthesis would seem to add to, rather than detract from, this scene of loss.

    How do you arrive at the idea that "the perpetuation of society through specific modes of production depends, in large part, on the effects of discourse"? Is a regime or a flow or a machine related to discourse, and in particular generated by discourse? Where do they claim this? I rather feel like you're imposing a Foucauldian reading on D&G, but am open to hearing your elaboration on this claim.