Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Michael Hardt, Day 1

Hardt taught a class entitled "POLITICAL ACTIVISM: MULTIPLICITY & EMPIRE" where we read through three texts: Anti-Oedipus, A Thousand Plateaus (both written by Deleuze & Guattari), and Empire (written by Hardt and Antonio Negri).

A great way to supplement my notes is to use the notes he has posted on his site at Duke University.

These three books pose three questions:
  1. Liberation, not emancipation. The transformation of the subject itself, it's not you but someone else, that is freed.
  2. This makes revolution troubling: it makes me not fit in the world - not fit into the world that's made by the revolution as well.
  3. Who is the Enemy? Post-'68, what it politics?
Along these lines of thinking, violence is a concern because it's a common mode. We may not touch on this because he's not really able to say much.

Four categories in Deleuze's books:
  1. Monographs in the history of philosophy (Spinoza, Leibniz, Hume, Kant, Nietzsche, Bergson, Foucault).
  2. Books on aesthetics (Proust, Masoch, Beckett, Francis Bacon)
  3. Dialogues and interviews (collected here and here)
  4. Collaborations with Guattari (Anti-Oedipus, A Thousand Plateaus, and What Is Philosophy?)
Guattari's motto might have been: "The unconscious is social!" Subjectivity is a social production; not the family, but the society and group is key to understanding the individual.

Anti-Oedipus (AO)
NOTE: I am using the 5th printing, 1990. I've noticed there are some different paginations out there.
  • Explores the relationship between social repression (Marx) and psychic repression (Freud). This is also in many ways exemplary of the ideology of May '68.
  • The unconscious is productive, as a machine. "Everything" is machines.
  • Human nature is not unlike Nature as a whole (similar to Spinoza).
  • Immanence rather than transcendence is emphasized
  • Univocity: said in one way; all the world is one, no dualist distinction between God and world. (see Difference and Repetition)
  • Machines are a-subjective and artificial (there's no difference between man, machine, and Nature - all are machinic) see AO, 2. "There is no such thing as either man or nature now, only a process that produces the one with the other and couples machines together. Producing-machines, desiring machines everywhere, schizophrenic machines, all of species of life: the self and non-self, outside and inside, no longer have any meaning whatsoever."
    AO, 4: [W]e make no distinction between man and nature: the human essence of nature and the natural essence of man become one within nature in the form of production or industry, just as they do within the life of man as a species. Industry is then no longer considered from the extrinsic point of view of utility, but rather from the point of view of its fundamental identity with nature as production of man and by man.

  • Schizophrenia: a mode of recognizing the world, doesn't separate the production and the producer. (AO, 5) "Schizophrenia is like love: there is no specifically schizophrenic phenomenon or entity; schizophrenia is the universe of production and reproductive desiring-machines, universal primary production as 'the essential reality of man and nature.'"
  • Desire: The productive synthesis, and...and...and...: it's about connecting.
    (AO, 5) [O]ne machine is always coupled with another....there is always a flow-producing machine, and another machine connected to it....Desire constantly couples continuous flows and partial objects that are by nature fragmentary and fragmented. Desire causes the current to flow, itself flows in turn, and breaks flows.
    Important to note that desire is not an expression of a lack of some object of desire; rather, desire is an act of creation, it is positive.
  • Body without Organs: organs are productive and segmented. BwO is an allusion to Artaud who coined the phrase in his radioplay To Have Done with the Judgement of God. Artaud felt all the constant productions of his eyes and ears and mouth were a form of persecution.
    (AO, 9) An apparent conflict arises between desiring-machines and the body without organs. Every coupling of machines, every production of a machine, every sound of a machine running, becomes unbearable to the body without organs. ... In order to resist organ-machines, the body without organs presents its smooth, slippery, opaque, taut surface as a barrier. ... We are of the opinion that what is ordinarily referred to as "primary repression" means precisely that: it is not a "countercathexis," but rather this repulsion of desiring-machines by the body without organs.
    BwO doesn't produce, it registers on its surface the instances of production. Capital also is anti-productive. Capital doesn't produce anything; rather, it describes how trade will occur and how it is organized. It doesn't actually produce value. Capital is a miraculating machine: only labor produces, capital records the value of labor. Thus there is a disjunction between recording and production.
  • Oedipus: The familialism of Oedipus always records the family triad which D&G think is a bad way to read desire.
    (AO, 23) The ego, however, is like daddy-mommy-me: the schizo has long since ceased to believe in it. He is somewhere else, beyond or behind or below these problems, rather than immersed in them. ... There are those who will maintain that the schizo is incapable of uttering the word I, and that we must restore his ability to pronounce this hallowed word. All of which the schizo sums up by saying: they're fucking me over again. Even Freud never went beyond this narrow and limited conception of the ego. And what prevented him from doing so was his own tripartite formula - the Oedipal, neurotic one: mommy-daddy-me. ...[W]e must not delude ourselves: Freud doesn't like schizophrenics. He doesn't like their resistance to being oedipalized, and tends to treat them more or less as animals. They mistake words for things, he says. They are apathetic, narcissistic, cut off fromreality, incapable of achieving transference; they resemble philosophers - "an undesirable resemblance."
    They resist the theatricality of the concept:
    (AO, 24) The question as to how to deal analytically with the relationship between drives (pulsions) and symptoms, between symbol and what is symbolized has arisen again and again. Is this relationship to be considered causal? Or is it a relationship of comprehension? A mode of expression? The question, however, has been posed too theoretically. The fact is, from the moment that we are placed within the framework of Oedipus - form the moment we are measured in terms of Oedipus - the cards are stacked against us, and the only real relationship, that of production, has been done away with. The great discovery of psychoanalysis was that of the production of desire, of the production of the unconscious. But once Oedipus entered the picture, this discovery was soon buried beneath a new brand of idealism: a classical theater was substituted for the unconscious as a factory; representation was substituted for the units of production of unconscious; and an unconscious that was capable of nothing but expressing itself - in myth, tragedy, dreams - was substituted for the productive unconscious.
    Representation was substituted for the production of the unconscious.
    (AO, 54-5) But who says that dream, tragedy, and myth are adequate to the formations of the unconscious, even if the work of transformation is taken into account? ... Production is reduced to mere fantasy production, production of expression. The unconscious ceases to be what it is - a factory, a workshop - to become a theater, a scene and its staging. And not even an avant-garde theater, such as existed in Freud's day (Wedekind), but the classical theater, the classical order of representation. The psychoanalyst becomes a director for a private theater, rather than the engineer or mechanic who sets up units of production, and grapples with collective agents of production and antiproduction. Psychoanalysis is like the Russian Revolution; we don't know when it started going bad. ... Oedipus is the idealist turning point. ...The fundamental notions of the economy of desire - work and investment - keep their importance, but are subordinated to the forms of an expressive unconscious and no longer to the formations of the productive unconscious.

  • Subject: subjects come after production, it is a conjunctive synthesis ("oh, that's me"). D&G are following Althusser on this point (Althusser saw that the subject is created through interpellation). The subject is formed by zones of intensity on the BwO, and we can understand this by how Judge Schreber describes his share of the pleasure (AO, 16).

    (AO, 16) It is a strange subject, however, with no fixed identity, wandering about over the body without organs, but always remaining peripheral to the desiring-machines, being defined by the share of the product it takes for itself, garnering here, there, and everywhere a reward in the form of a becoming or an avatar, being born of the states that it consumes and being reborn with each new state.

In general, D&G are arguing for production rather than representation and expression.
Usage vs. Meaning
Materialism vs. Idealism
Immanence vs. Transcendentalism
The unconscious poses no problem of meaning, but of use.
(AO, 109) The unconscious poses no problem of meaning, solely problems of use. The question posed by desire is not "What does it mean?" but rather "How does it work?" How do these machines, these desiring-machines, work - yours and mine? With what sort of breakdowns as a part of their functioning? How do they pass form one body to another? How are they attached to the body without organs? What occurs when their mode of operation confronts the social machines? ... What are the connections, what are the disjunctions, the conjunctions, what use is made of these syntheses? It represents nothing, but it produces. It means nothing, but it works. Desire makes its entry with the general collapse of the question "What does it mean?"
What are they taking from Kant: there are a number of syntheses of the unconscious and what are the legitimate and illegitimate uses of these?

Desire is revolutionary. Is it a first down payment what we mean by revolution?
(AO, 60) Oedipal desires are the bait, the disfigured image by means of which repression catches desire in the trap. ...[I]t is doubtful that incest was a real obstacle to the establishment of society.... The real danger is elsewhere. If desire is repressed, it is because every position of desire, no matter how small, is capable of calling into question the established order of society: not that desire is asocial, on the contrary. But it is explosive; there is no desiring-machine capable of being assembled without demolishing entire social sectors. Despite what some revolutionaries think about this, desire is revolutionary in its essence - desire, not leftist holidays! - and no society can tolerate a position of real desire without its structures of exploitation, servitude, and hierarchy being compromised.
Parts 1 & 2 of Anti-Oedipus are more Freudian; Part 3 is where Marx comes in.
Alliance and affiliation: alliance through families and being a family in the early stages of humanity; this is the operation of the coding of the world. This is how territory was created.
(AO, 146-7) Filiation is administrative and hierarchical, but alliance is political and economic, and expresses power insofar as it is not fused with the hierarchy and cannot be deduced from it, and the economy insofar as it is not identical with administration. Filiation and alliance are like two forms of primitive capital: fixed capital or filiative stock, and circulating capital or mobile blocks of debts. ...While production is recorded in the network of filiative disjunctions on the socius, the connections of labor still must detach themselves from the productive processes and pass into the element of recording that appropriates them for itself as quasi cause. But it can accomplish this only by reclaiming the connective regime for its own, in the form of an affinal tie or a pairing of persons that is compatible with the disjunctions of filiation. It is in this way that economy goes by way of alliance. ...At no time, therefore, does alliance derive from filiation, but both form an essentially open cycle where the socius acts on production, but also where production reacts on the socius.
These axes (filiation and alliance) code the social flows.
  • The illegitimate use of this coding would be to think of the family as a whole rather than a collection of partial units; thus 3+1 [the +1 is overcoding of the family triad (affinity) with the State (alliance)].
  • What they would say was a legitimate use of this coding would be 4+n, meaning the family and...and...and...(the conjunctive synthesis).
  • The despot machine overwrites onto the earlier primitive machine; the State takes all that alliance coding and overcodes towards the despot.
Coding and Overcoding:
The illegitimate use of this is the double bind, an exclusive or restrictive use of "or..."
(AO, 79) Double bind is the term used by Gregory Bateson to describe the simultaneous transmission of two kinds of messages, one of which contradicts the other, as for example the father who says to his son: go ahead, criticize me, but strongly hints that all effective criticism - at least a certain type of criticism - will be very unwelcome. ...It seems to us that the double bind, the double impasse, is instead a common situation, oedipalizing par excellence. ...[T]he "double bind" is none other than the whole of Oedipus. It is in this sense that Oedipus should be presented as a series, or an oscillation between two poles: the neurotic identification, and the internalization that is said to be normative. On either side is Oedipus, the double impasse. And if a schizo is produced here as an entity, this occurs for the simple reason that there is no other means of escaping this double path, where normality is no less blocked than neurosis, and where the solution offers no more of a way out than does the problem. Hence the schizo's withdrawal to the body without organs.
They celebrate an inclusive and nonrestrictive use of "or..." The illegitimate use of "or..." would be seen in sexuality: one can be only male or female, hetero or homosexual. Isn't it possible to have an openness such that we can encompass both?

survol (overflight)

The conjunctive, third synthesis:
Capital machine is a decoding machine, it works with two disjointed codes: capital and labor. The free worker is decoded from territory, they've been freed from the soil (or having access to the soil) thus violently deterritorialized and so herded into the city. They are free, but with nothing, not even a particular kind of labor.
(AO, 225) At the heart of Capital, Marx points out the encounter of two "principal" elements: on one side, the deterritorialized worker who has become free and naked, having to sell his labor capacity; and on the other, decoded money that has become capital and is capable of buying it. ... What is more, each of these elements brings into play several processes of decoding and deterritorialization having very different origins. For the free worker: the deterritorialization of the soil through privitization; the decoding of the instruments of production through appropriation; the loss of the means of consumption through the dissolution of the family and the corporation; and finally, the decoding of the worker in favor of the work itself or of the machine. And for capital: the deterritorialization of wealth through monetary abstraction; the decoding of the flows of production through merchant capital; the decoding of the States through financial capital and public debts; the decoding of the means of production through the formation of industrial capital; and so on.
Money is completely decoded wealth, my money is no different from yours; it is pure flow. Your $20 is the same $20 I have. Capital decodes all values and puts them into a plane of immanence. It melted solid relationships of the despotic era and returned it to flow. It is in this sense that capital is just like schizophrenia.

So what's the legitimate use of this synthesis?

Capital imposes an axiomatic on coded and decoded flows. Axiomatics provide a framework and at each step in that framework one can add another axiom. They aren't transcendental, they're mechanisms that do create hierarchies; capital adds an indefinite number of axioms.

The value of those who do the work is only partially shared with the laborer.

The answer isn't necessarily to withdraw from the worldmarket, but to accelerate what capital does.
(AO, 239-40) So what is the solution? Which is the revolutionary path? ...To go still further, that is, in the movement of the market, of decoding and deterritorialization? For perhaps the flows are not yet deterritorialized enough, not decoded enough, from the viewpoint of a theory and a practice of a highly schizophrenic character. Not to withdraw from the process, but to go further, to "accelerate the process," as Nietzsche put it: in this matter, the truth is that we haven't seen anything yet.
The 3 syntheses revisited
These are normative statements being made by D&G, they're saying use these syntheses in these ways:
  • 3+1 refers to the family (family = 3, mommy-daddy-me). The 3 is extrapolated, however and overcoded with "The Family" which is a category (thus the +1 is used in their formula).
  • 4+n refers to the the above four moving forward and coded over and over again (&...&...&...)
  • The legitimate use of the disjunctive can be seen in their discussion of Rimbaud's A Season in Hell as racial migration. To identify with the names of history but to have them wirtten as zones of intensity on the BwO:

    (AO, 21) There is no Nietzsche-the-self, professor of philology, who suddenly loses his mind and supposedly identifies with all sorts of strange people; rather there is the Nietzschean subject who passes through a series of states, and who identifies these states with the names of history: "every name in history is I...."
    The Oedipal is biunivocal, but that is a problematic use of the conjunctive synthesis; rather, it should be polyvocal
    (AO, 100-1) The Oedipal operation consists in establishing a constellation of biunivocal relations between the agents of social production, reproduction, and antiproduction on the one hand, and the agents of the so-called natural production of the family on the other. ...There we have a faulty use of the conjunctive synthesis, leading to the statement, "So it was your father, so it was your mother..." It is not at all surprising that only afterward is it discovered that all of this was the fathe rand the mother, since this is assumed to be the case from the beginning, but is subsequently forgotten-repressed, though still subject to a later rediscovery in relation to more recent developments. Whence the magical formula that characterizes biunivocalization - the flattening of the polyvocal real in favor of a symbolic relationship between two articulations: so that is what this meant. Everything is made to begin with Oedipus, by means of explanation, with all the more certainty as one has reduced everything to Oedipus by means of application.
    The legitimate use would be to say, "Yes, it is the mother, and the iron, and Mao Zedong..." it's nomadic and polyvocal.
  • Is the conjoined synthesis right? The illegitimate use is when identity is fixed, but the legitimate use is nomadic.
Nonhuman Sex (Part 4)
Sexuality is the result of desiring-machines, it is equally invested in social and biological spheres, it is not determined or dependent on gender, there are not two sexes (male and female) but n-sexes.

Proust and sexuality: a proliferation of sexualities,
(AO, 318) In Search of Lost Time as a great enterprise of schizoanalysis: all the planes are traversed until their molecular line of escape is reached, their schizophrenic breakthrough;
It's important to note here D&G's strategy is exactly this traversing of planes until the molecular line of escape is reached - not simply thinking something through to its logical end but of hyperbolically acting in the spirit of the propositions until, of adding intensity into the proposed action or ideas until they become unstable. This is also what they mean in the above section about Capital.
thus in the kiss where Albertine's face jumps from one plane of consistency to another, in order to finally come undone in a nebula of molecules. The reader always risks stopping at a given plane and saying yes, that is where Proust is explaining himself. But the narrator-spider never ceases undoing webs and planes, resuming the journey, watching for the signs or the indices that operate like machines and that will cause him to go on further. ...[O]h, the narrator does not homestead in the familial and neurotic lands of Oedipus... he does not remain there, he crosses these lands, he desecrates them, he penetrates them.... The perverse lands of homosexuality, where the exclusive disjunctions of women with women, men with men, are established, likewise break apart....
see Eve Sedgwick's Epistemology of the Closet
(AO, 319) The Search of Lost Time "in progress," functioning as a desiring-machine capable of collecting and dealing with all the indices. He goes toward these new regions where the connections are always partial and nonpersonal, the conjunctions nomadic and polyvocal, the disjunctions included, where homosexuality and heterosexuality cannot be distinguished any longer: the world of transverse communications, where the finally conquered nonhuman sex mingles with the flowers, a new earth where desire functions according to its molecular elements and flows.
The nonhuman sex which mingles with flowers above will be expanded upon in A Thousand Plateaus when discussing orchids and wasps. As Foucault said, it's not that sex is primary and sexuality follows from it.
Such a voyage does not necessarily imply great movements in extension; it becomes immobile, in a room and on a body without organs - an intensive voyage that undoes all the lands for the benefit of the one it is creating.
Extension above refers to the machinic assemblage that juts out; what they are seeming to suggest is that this process of auto-creation that can be illustrated by the schizophrenic is not necessarily one that must happen beyond the boundaries of our own skin.

Why is this nonhuman sexuality? Rather than a notion of sexuality derived from a molar (large) aggregate (where: this category=woman, that category=man); at the molecular level (small) we see that there are sexualities that seek to operate in these molar gaps.

The molar is a statistical aggregation on a large scale.
The molecular are linked, however fleetingly, in their lines of flight.
  • The molar is not homogeneous but can be seen as a totality (the French people)
  • The molecular is seen as a multiplicity of singularities (this person within the crowd)
How is politics possible without the molar (Party)? The molar statement might be, "We unanimously decide that..." this statement excises any dissent, because WE, Unanimously decide. (See Elias Canetti's Crowds and Power)
  • Power does not have a locus, it has a capillary effect (Foucault), in this way we can understand the molecular.
Part 4: Introduction to Schizoanalysis
The first positive task of schizoanalysis is to ask, not what it means but, how does it work?
(AO, 322) What are your desiring-machines, what do you put into these machines, what is the output, how does it work, what are your nonhuman sexes? The schizoanalyst is a mechanic, and schizoanalysis is soley functional.
What do we get from capital being axiomatic?
  • a mechanism of deterritorialization that works on decoded flows
  • although it is operating on the plane of immanence, it nonetheless creates and recreates hierarchies.
  • Deleuze & Guattari's anticapitalism involves not just overthrowing capitalism but also taking what works in capital and moving forward: push forward deterritorialization
D& G quote Marx's Capital (154):
Value...suddenly presents itself as an independent substance, endowed with a motion of its own, in which money and commodities are mere forms which it assumes and casts off in turn. Nay more: instead of simply representing the relations of commodities, it enters now, so to say, into relations with itself. It differentiates itself as original value from itself as surplus-value...(emphases added).
Money is a general equivalent, without value but also it is hierarchy:
(AO, 227) It is solely under these conditions that capital becomes the full body, the new socius or the quasi cause that appropriates all the productive forces. We are no longer in the domain of the quantum or quantitas, but in that of the differential relation as a conjunction that defines the immanent social field particular to capitalism, and confers on the abstraction as such its effectively concrete value, its tendency to concretization. The abstraction has not ceased to be what it is, but it no longer appears in the simple quantity as a variable relation between independent terms; it has taken upon itself the independence, the quality of the terms and the quantity of the relations. The abstract itself posits the more complex relation within which it will develop "like" something concrete. (emphasis added)
Rather than heading toward a point in the future they are locating a vector.


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