Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The Anti-Oedipus – Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari – An Overview

Why schizoprehnia?

According to Deleuze and Guattari schizophrenia can be seen as an extreme mental state which co-exists with the capitalist system of society for capitalism enforces neurosis in effort to maintain an appearance of normalcy. Mental disorders are always second to something else.
Marxism – the state of the human machine

Production and consumptions are seen to be continuous and thus, there will be a constant need for labourers who can live only as long as they find work and will be given work only as long as their labour increases capital and so the labourers themselves are a type of commodity. Capitalism reduces all human relations to a monetary bargain and so as Freud noted, most mental disorders are rooted in economic situations.
Human relations become mere commercial relationships and can be plugged and unplugged at will depending on the flow of capital. Therefore, for a bourgeoisie man; his wife is merely a machine that produces.  

The Desiring Machines (Desiring- Production)
The traditional belief of desire is that ‘production’ and ‘acquisition’ have a distinction that can be clearly seen in Freud and Lacan. Desire for them, seeks to acquire something that a lack is felt for. For Deleuze and Guattari; desire is positive and a process of production which in turn produced reality.

“There are no-desiring machines that exist outside the social machines that they form on a large scale; and no social machines without the desiring machines that inhabit them on a small scale.”
The breast is seen to be a milk producing machine while the mouth which is coupled to it is yet another machine. Therefore, the entire world is made of machines and so we all are handymen each with our own little machines. But for each machine there are time flows and interruptions.

A schizophrenic walking outdoors better than one cooped up with a preacher intoning society’s laws and the relationship one must have in a family system for all the machines of nature will be connected to his body and he will exist before the man and nature dichotomy and though he does not actually live in nature he lives among the process of production.
It is an assumption that Oedipus is something that is obvious and that such repression of desiring machines exists as why should these machines be repressed and to what end? This also leads one to question why desire should submit to such repression and what means are used to make such repression a reality.

“This does not mean that we are attempting to make nature one of the poles of schizophrenia. What the schizophrenic experiences, both as an individual and as a member of the human species, is not at all any one specific aspect of nature, but nature as a process of production.”
From the mindset of today, nature and industry are seen to be two different things as it is true that in one way industry is opposite to nature but industry relies on nature for extracts if raw material and the refuse is returned to nature as well.

Production – consumption
It is the characteristic perceived dichotomies of man-nature, industry-nature, society-nature that make a distinction in autonomous spheres like production, distribution and consumption. If we were to give these distinctions a formal examination as structures then it is not only the existence of capital along with the division of labour but also the false consciousness that a capitalist being acquires of itself and the overall process that raises such distinctions. The capitalist being acquires a feeling of distinction which does not truly exist in the scheme of things.

There are no independent spheres as production ultimately leads to consumption which leads in term to a recording process which determines the demand which in turn determines the further production and this takes place within the production circuit in itself. Everything is in turn production, be it passions, pleasures or even pain and all these have a recording process followed by immediate consumption and then these consumptions are reproduced in an endless cycle of production, consumption and re-production.
This is what the essence of a process as a term really is – it is a blend of recording and consumption within production itself and so production can be termed as the process of consumption and recording or enregistrement.

Man – Nature distinction
Industry and production lead to a union or rather a re-union between man and nature just as it does in human life in general where we have man taking from nature and nature interacting for man. Industry can no longer be viewed only from the point of view of utility as if identifies with nature on the front that man produces things for himself by himself – like democracy for the people and by the people. Man here is not elevated as a king or godhead of all creation or as the creator. He is instead an aware being in contact with the natural world and with all the different forms of life.

Man is responsible for what he does to nature and the life around him for he is in ceaseless search for new machines and new plugged in sources and so is forever plugged to some machine or the other be it a tree or the breast. Therefore, man’s role is that of a custodian of machines. In the case of Victor Frankenstein, he is not the creator of the new machine which he produces through electric charge but the custodian of it which changes the scenario to some extent.
Man and nature must not be seen as two contesting opposites or those of bipolar relationships of cause, ideas or expression (cause – effect; subject – object)  but they are both one in the concept of producer – product. Production is above all processes and gives us a cycle that explains the cycle of desire. Desire leads to production leading to further desire meaning more production; as economics points out and religion bemoans – human desire can never be fulfilled; it is a shape shifter like Coyote.

There is no real dichotomy for if coal is extracted from nature it is consumed at once ad so while Marxism separates capital and labour there is no real separation as the labourer consumes the goods he produces. Even literature can be seen as a never ending process that keeps on producing signifiers.
Production as not goal oriented

To quote D.H Lawrence on love: “We have pushed a process into a goal. The aim of any process is not the perpetuation of that process, but the completion thereof… The process should work to a completion, not to some horror of intensification and extremity wherein the soul and body ultimately perish.” Schizophrenia according to Deleuze is a universe by itself of productive and reproductive desiring machines which in essence is the reality of what man and nature truly constitute.

Desiring machines are by nature binary i.e. they follow a set of binary laws or rules that govern associations and one machine is coupled to the other in an endless cycle. There is always a flow producing machine which has another attached to it or rather connected to it which interrupts or draws away part of this flow. Like the breast is a milk producing machine in which the mouth draws off milk or a laptop charger is connected to a electrical socket and then drains power from the socket to the charger which is in turn connected to the laptop.
Due to this the first machine is connected to another which interrupts the flow and partially drains it off and so this binary series forms a linear chain. Due to desire there is a constant coupling of flows to these partial objects that are fragmentary and fragmented… the socket to charger to laptop… Thus, desire causes the current to flow and the current flows in itself and then is broken into by another machine and yet continues to flow. Therefore these flows consist of partial objects that are being constantly cut off by other partial objects which produce other flows that are in turn interrupted by other partial objects.

Every object presupposes the continuity of a flow (the charger expects the electric current; the mouth expects milk from the breast) and every flow the fragmentation of the object. And so, each organ-machine will interpret the world from its own perspective, point of view or energy source. So, the eye interprets everything from the energy source of seeing be it speaking, understanding, excreting and the like. There is always a connection to another machine which interrupts the current of the other or ‘sees’ the current to be interrupted.
There is thus, no goal here but a ceaseless sequence of machines that cut of flow and continue giving flow to other machine coupled to them. This coupling that takes place within the partial object flow connective synthesis has another form called product-producing which in term sums up the essence of the man-nature relationship. Producing must always be something grafted into the product and so desiring production is further production of production leading to one machine being connected to the next and to the next and so on.

Production and Desire
Production and consumption has a rhiszomorphic (ginger root - rhizo like) character as it is an organic and biological network where things are unified and not separated as in Freud and Lacan.

Henri Michaux through the process of production which is that of desire, sets about describing what he calls a ‘schizophrenic table’. The table does not fit the criteria of being a table as far as its utility is concerned as it is not user friendly but yet it has our legs and a top of rectangular wood which fits the concept of what a table should look like though it is too heavy and the surface is eaten by the supporting framework. A table that is not utilitarian is not desired just like a bag that can’t carry a load of books without torn seams or straps is not going to be desired for further production. It is like a stalled engine.
Man is not creating something in the context of machines but is producing something and effectively moving away from the notion of creator to producer. The almost organismic feeling of having created something is replaced by the handyman’s satisfaction when he plugs something into an electrical socket. This feeling is beyond “playing mommy or daddy”, or the pleasure to be had by violating a taboo. It is not the feeling of being ‘creator’; ‘ruler’; setting ones’ rule’ or the like.

Desiring machines and primary production are characterized by the continuous cycle of producing-production or grafting producing in the product. Deleuze takes up the example of Richard Linder’s “Boy with Machine” which pictures a huge, pudgy, bloated boy working on one of his desiring-machines after having hooked up a vast technical social machine which is common to young children.
In this context the anti-Oedipus strives to analyse the relation of desire to reality in a capitalist society and so the painting shows the schizoanalytic thesis where desire socially invests itself with a primacy over familial investments as the boy has short circuited the parents by plugging the desiring machine into the social machine.

According to the schizoanalytical concept Deleuze forwards, libido needs no desexualisation or sublimation for sexuality is everywhere. It can be seen in the way the bureaucrat fondles his records, the circulation of money by a business man, the administration of justice by a judge etc. Desire is not subjective but it is like what the Marxist view believes it to be – economic and a base of the society.
Product Identity – madness and guilt

In the linear series of producing-production there is a point when everything stops dead; the point just before the wheel is about to turn and then it turns and the cycle begins afresh. On one hand, it would be better if things stopped there – if nothing happened; nothing worked. No birth in this world leading to the end of the constant cycle of birth and rebirth; consequently no mouth to suck; no anus to excrete through; no brain or mind to think and the like. Deleuze believes that psychoanalysis takes this cyclic path to make one live in a circle of guilt and thus, humble a person.
Foucault notes the relationship between madness and family (noted also in “Wide Sargossa Sea” where Bertha’s mother and brother too are deemed mentally ill) that can be traced to the nineteenth century bourgeois model of society. In the process of family reformation; the family and belonging to it became a measuring rod for individual responsibility of its members as well as their guilt. This is aptly illustrated in Daniel Defoe’s ‘Moll Flanders’ where the elder brother who seduces Moll is careful to make sure no one in the family knows his guilt which he endeavours to cover up by passing on his mistress to his brother as a wife.

Psychoanalysis cloaks insanity in the mantle of the parental complex and the patterns of self punishment resulting from the Oedipus are seen to be confessions of guilt but Deleuze does not find these theories to be all that radical or innovative. Freud in one case, interprets Little Hans dream of a big horse falling down as his mother being subjugated by his father which is not the most innovative of conceptions. This focus on the parental complex is seen by Deleuze as a completion of what nineteenth century psychology set out to do. It linked madness to the family as well as developing a moralized discourse on family life. The parent’s lack of communication leads to mental illness in the child through learned behavior.
Psychoanalysis is not liberating the mind but confine it even more to the repressions that the borugeiose world view brought out (refer the section on Marxism provided in this overview). The problem is not done away with; one cannot move beyond the family or the tie to “mommy-daddy”.

Oedipus as a restraining order
Oedipus is a metaphor for the “daddy-mommy-me” triangle made into a dogma by psychoanalysis. The Oedipal model colonises and represses its members and thus gives them complexes which in turn are supposed to form principles which organize society. For those who refuse to be Oedipalised, the psychoanalyst will call on the asylum for help and so supports social repression.

In the psychological context, schizophrenia is viewed to be a disorder in extremes and runs in families – the propounded myth is that atleast one parent tests positive for it and if the parents aren’t the cause it is the grandparents. Modeling from parental behavior, conflicts where each parent tries to win the child over to his/her side or passively submitting to a spouse’s bizarre behavior are seen to be casues that lead to this illness.
From Deleuze and Gauttari’s viewpoint, the nuclear family is actually a means of psychological repression where the desires of the child are perverted and creates as a result docile and unquestioning individuals. It is Freud and psychoanalysts who have installed the Oedipus triangle as a sun (much like Judge Schreber) and where it is not possible to attribute mental disorders to parental influence they bring in the grandparents as an extension of Oedipal mechanisims. Thus, one cannot escape Oedipus that extends backwards in time and also forwards in the case of sons and daughters and grandsons and granddaughters.

Psychoanalysis is guilty of a capitalist coding when it deals with Oedipus in the society as a social formation. Oedipus is first enforced by the family and then by social institutions. The Oedipus in itself forms a double blind detailing how an individual is supposed to act and feel.

 

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