Until Marxism, capitalist political economy has also pretended for a long time to pass as the general grammar of all economy, but linguistics still has not found its Marx and Engels who would reset it on its feet. –Guattari, L’Inconscient Machinique, p.30 fn. 14.
The sign is a position of desire; but the first sings are the territorial signs that plant their flags in bodies. And if one wants to call this inscription in naked flesh ‘writing,’ then it must be said that speech in fact presupposes writing, and that it is this cruel system of inscribed signs that renders man capable of language, and gives him a memory of the spoken word. –Deleuze and Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, p. 145.
All methods for the transcendentalization of language, all methods for endowing language with universals…have fallen into the worst kind of abstraction, in the sense that they validate a level that is both too abstract and not abstract enough. Regimes of signs are not based on language, and language alone does not constitute an abstract machine, whether structural or generative. The opposite is the case. It is language that is based on regimes of signs, and regimes of signs on abstract machines, diagrammatic functions, and machinic assemblages that go beyond any system of semiology, linguistics, or logic. There is no universal propositional logic, nor is there grammaticality in itself, any more than there is signifier for itself. “Behind” statements and semioticizations there are only machines, assemblages, and movements of deterritorialization that cut across the stratification of the various systems and elude both the coordinates of language and of existence. That is why pragmatics is not a complement to logic, syntax, or semantics; on the contrary, it is the fundamental element upon which all the rest depend.—Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, p. 148.
Linguistic Machinics: Guattari’s Schizoanalytic Pragmatics
In their Capitalism and Schizophrenia volumes, Deleuze and Guattari outline a historically materialist theory of language and society which is essentially based upon their theories of assemblages, multiplicity, abstract machines, and deterritorialization along with many other concepts. The difficulty in fully appreciating the second volume, A Thousand Plateaus, is mainly due to an ignorance of Guattari’s solo work L’Inconscient machinique which was published a year before ATP and constitutes a sort of companion volume or workbook for the former. It is now time to fully explore this work while keeping A Thousand Plateaus closely in mind in order to fully understand what Guattari’s critiques and use of linguistic theories really amounts to. In other words, the main focus of this essay (beyond an explication of Guattari’s untranslated work) is to specify how language in its stabilization in power formations comes to dominate our everyday lives and what are the means of transformation that pragmatics proposes in order to conceive and actualize new possibilities of subjectification. To perform such a (broad) task, we will focus here mainly on the concepts that Guattari proposes and how they work together to specify the problem in working toward new solutions that the project of a schizoanalytic pragmatics can offer.