New Translation of Félix Guattari’s Seminar “Les Quatres Inconscients 13/01/1981”

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Original Source:

Translated by Taylor Adkins, 4/12/2020

Félix Guattari: I am always under a little pressure from M., who asks as frequently as possible for some examples. On the other hand, my concern would be to try to delve deeper into a certain number of theoretical themes. I will try to combine things: I will start with a whole gamut of categorization that I am proposing for assemblages; then I will read a previously written text, which will be a small introduction; then I will provide some comments on it, and, finally, perhaps come up with other examples.

Based on the four dimensions of assemblages (which we merely evoked last time), we could arrive at the perspective of a delimitation of four types of unconscious:

–the subjective unconscious

–the material unconscious

–the territorial unconscious

–the machinic unconscious

1/ The subjective unconscious

This type of unconscious is that of the personal subject of the individuation of the assemblage of enunciation (or, potentially, of a collective assemblage-subject of enunciation). In the type of categorization I will propose, we shall see that in each of these dimensions there are several possibilities, several types of machinic projections: a black hole possibility, the possibility of abolition, semiotic collapse; diagrammatic possibilities, i.e. of modes of functioning, of components of passage; and then another status, which I will define later.

The subjective unconscious may fall into a neurotic, Oedipal (etc.) type of black hole, but, more specifically, an illustration of this may be seen with obsessional neurosis qua reterritorialization formation in response to a loss of consistency of expression. 

In this first dimension of assemblages applied to the field of the unconscious, at the level of the component of expression, we will have a system of territorialization of signs that could potentially also lead to hysterical neuroses as another mode of these black holes of expression falling back on territorialized fields. The first fallback would be on a certain type of linguistic structure–the functioning structure of language as such; and, in the other case, this would instead involve the establishment, not of a metalanguage, but of what should be called a protolanguage, something that includes all kinds of elements, elements which are not just somatic but also situational, transferential, imagistic, familial, etc.  

This first dimension of expression of the assemblage in the unconscious field can, therefore, pass into a register of the black hole, but it can also pass into a diagrammatic register: there is the possibility of modifying it as such, i.e. of modifying the particular mode of semiotization of the assemblage, or the mode of coding (or the equivalent). And that’s where you can have a certain labor of the assemblage at the level of its component of expression. The example that comes to mind is one most familiar to me, that of Kafka, with his techniques of semiotic magnification or distancing, of acceleration or deceleration, of corporealization, of incarnation, of entry into becomings, especially into becomings-animal: a whole politics of possibilization of assemblages.

In this dimension of the unconscious, either subjective or engaged in these becomings of different modes of subjectivation, there is, on one side, the potential to enter into neurotic systems, black hole systems; on another side, there are possibilities of creationism at the level of the component of expression (which will, of course, be found in literary, artistic creation, etc.), which, quite naturally, will have a certain relationship with psychopathological, neurotic formations. They can co-exist. It’s not all or nothing. We may very well have a diagrammatic process in a neurotic process, and vice versa. 

2 / The material unconscious

The second dimension of the assemblage projected on a theory of the unconscious is the material unconscious. It engages different components likely to proliferate as such, to take on their own autonomy or to generate new alliances. This time, we are very close to a possibility of reading the psychotic unconscious, in the sense that, quite simply, certain components (since we are no longer here in the situation of the component of expression as a key to the assemblage metabolizing all the other components) begin to work on their own. In this register, we can imagine everything, whether they be components of fantasy development or perceptual components, which begin to proliferate as such.

Here, we are dealing with a kind of processual schizo unconscious in relation to the representative unconscious, which was that of the subjective unconscious, at least in its tangent, in its black hole option.

3 / The territorial (or corporeal) unconscious

This is the unconscious of the corporealization of fields, of territories, of refrains, of landscapes, of micro-social, intra-familial constellations, of networks..

On the side of black hole entities, it flips upside down, depending on the domain of reference considered, for example, that of partial objects. And there we find a series of intuitions around which Lacan has gravitated for quite awhile: the Phallus is at the same time a black hole, the other gaze is a black hole for narcissism, etc… We could therefore index all the systems of partial objects from this black hole perspective, we could consider that the whole theory of the object has Lacan–in an attempt to surpass partial objects–tend towards something that is a point of abolition; but abolition of what? 

Precisely of a certain dimension of an assemblage. This would mean detaching oneself completely from the theories of propping/anaclisis [étayage/Anlehnung]. The partial object is not partial in relation to a totality that would be that of the body, or that of an entire libidinal topography, but it is the partial object of a dimension of an assemblage that includes all the others, and, already to begin with, the ones I have listed previously.

This highlights a certain type of problematic, for example that of partial objects, which does not in any way remove the functioning of the other dimensions of the unconscious; it indexes, each time, to see how a partial object always implies a certain decompensation, a certain politics of semiotic collapse. It never functions as such as a total or partial object but insofar as it indicates the cessation of a process. And if we were to redo a phenomenology of partial objects with these criteria of territoriality, and no doubt with ethological criteria (this would be absolutely necessary), it would certainly not arrive at a psychogenetic ordering of partial objects, such as that advanced by Freud. This concerns a specific problem in particular: the breast, to be much further away from a black hole machinism, would appear as a partial object much less “regressive” than the Phallus. No doubt, the anal object would be in a “much less regressive” position if one considered solely criteria of territoriality, since, precisely, the restitution–either as a substitute or in a real situation–of a territoriality based on a fixation in the mother’s womb is certainly completely different (from the point of view of this politics of the collapse of territories, of territorial black hole phenomena or of territorial disaster) than what can happen in a fixation, or in a fixation of phallic castration.

In my view, this is an indication to follow, because, in particular, to return to the question of obsessive neurosis and hysteria, this would most certainly lead us to consider that obsessive neurosis is by definition much closer to a psychotic process, i.e. dimensions of the unconscious I mentioned earlier, that of content. While hysterical neurosis may be radically different in kind. It would be necessary to perhaps make a map of the different neuroses; everything would have to be taken back up, phobias, etc…, and others would have to be invented for us to try to free ourselves from this neo-Freudian, psychogenetic kind of hinter-thought that strives to give us a date (in the sense that we use carbon dating…) of partial objects.

I talked about partial objects, but I could have talked about refrains, faciality traits, landscape traits, etc., which are also likely to be acquainted with black hole phenomena. And, since we mentioned the case of Francis Bacon or Turner earlier, these are paintings where the black hole is not to be searched for, it is immediately there: with Francis Bacon, it is within the very support of all his paintings, a black hole support upon which the persons are planted every time, without us knowing how they stay afloat in the picture; and in Turner’s paintings, always this central slot where not only the contents of the painting are engulfed, but also the whole expression: at times, the painting literally leaks [fuit–i.e. flees] from the inside…

4 / The machinic unconscious

This unconscious would be the unconscious of possibilist fields, the unconscious of molecular micro-politics, and also–with these cookie-cutter formulas, why not–the unconscious far from stratified equilibria. Here’s how it’s different: the first unconscious, linked to the structures of expression, seeks a certain type of equilibrium, of expression, a certain type of mode of semiotization, and this reveals its affinities with neurotic structures; the second unconscious, turned instead toward the dimensions of content and the dimensions of heterogeneous components I qualified as psychotic, is, in a sense,  counterdependant with respect to the neurotic unconscious; the territorial unconscious, that of the family, of territorial fields, of bodies, of partial objects, of systemic family relationships, etc., is also, in a sense, searching for a pseudo-identity, even if that identity be deterritorialized in many ways, if only in its systemic functioning.

Whereas the machinic unconscious has no semiotic key as such; it is haunted neither by a kind of paradise lost, which would be that of the psychotic unconscious, nor by territories. It is made up of the set of possibles that can inhabit all the dimensions of the assemblage.

If you’d like an example, for those of you who have read Anti-Oedipus, this would be a dissociation of the notion of the schizo unconscious. Gilles and I struggled for years to clear up so many terrible misunderstandings: “When one talks about a schizophrenic entity or a hospitalized schizophrenic, this is different from the schizo process”, we repeated. We were told, “Yeah, you’ve discovered a new breed of revolutionaries, hospitalized schizophrenics, your jokes are funny, these people are utterly miserable [literally: sad as stones]”. We said: “Yes, yes, ok”, but it was still going pretty bad.

The psychotic unconscious is that of the second level I mentioned, that of the dimension of content of assemblages. While the fourth, the machinic unconscious, is the schizo unconscious qua processual unconscious. Even here, there is also the possibility of a black hole politics. For example, we can find a certain type of machinic unconscious with a possible black hole of almost infinite scope [portée] . The machinic unconscious of early Christianity carries [porte] a black hole called Capitalism; this is the possibility of accumulating all the black hole phenomena in the most heterogeneous domains. There are some keys like that, certain possibilist problematics that interlock in the most different registers.

In my view, this fourth dimension of the unconscious is absolutely necessary if, precisely, we don’t want this theory of unconscious assemblages to become self-enclosed in a new systemic problematic (in the case of the territorial unconscious, in a new problematic reviewed and corrected by Mrs. Pankow or whomever), and then a spare schizoanalysis for the neurotic unconscious!

There’s no kind of priority: these are four dimensions of the assemblages that in every way are always, qua dimensions, articulated together. But, indeed, in a given cartography, a certain type of dimension, a certain type of black hole in a certain dimension, will lead the dance, will take control of the politics of the assemblage; thus, contrary to a religious, political, or social type of black hole, (because there isn’t just this social dimension in the machinic unconscious), there is also everything that falls under machinic semiotics, a-signifying semiotics (whether it be music, religion, mathematics, the sciences, etc.), everything that is the bearer [porteur] of dimensions of the unconscious; in short, everything that can apply to any other type of assemblage.

In contrast to this type of black hole, dimensions such as those of nomadism, of branching, of creativity, of the machinic rhizome, can turn certain situations around, especially in those we are familiar with, dealing with neuroses, familial problems, and others…In May ‘68 or during the October Revolution, for example, it was clear that people no longer had the same neurosis, neither familial nor individual. And that’s the impact of the machinic unconscious, which intervenes as such, it’s not because one has a transference with daddy-Lenin or Jesus-Christ-Of[-Nazareth]. Cohn-Bendit, surely not! This is not an identification, nothing of the sort.

After this point of application, I will now come to the general notion of assemblage, and take up these different categories, no longer by applying them to the unconscious, but by giving us a formula that will help us deal with very different problems, economic problems…

[End of a tape]…

…An economic example is that of my trip to Mexico, so as to take up very different things, to see if these kinds of concepts can be used as instruments of exploration.

How do I represent, explicitly or implicitly, assemblages? Does this correspond to the reality of things? Is there a parallelism of “tables”? Is it like a remote-control interfacing with a TV screen? For example, when you make genetic manipulations with remote-controlled equipment, and when you remote-control a TV screen, there is a certain type of diagrammatic projection–an expression of a certain assemblage. Can one speak of parallelism? I’ll leave the question aside here…In any case, there is a relationship between what happens on the TV screen and what happens in genetic manipulation. But what type of relationship is this?

That said, even in this case, there has to be some sort of direct hold, a passage: something has to pass. And what I’m questioning is independence in classical linguistics, that of the register of linguistic expression and that of the referent. The most elementary Saussurian linguistics is that: if I say the word T.A.B.L.E. or the two phonemes TA-BLE, this has nothing to do with the table; so there’s a cut, there’s a wall. Sure. But, what I operate on my VHS interfaced with the TV screen is not at all like the word TA-BLE and the table: one way or another, there has to be something interacting with the operation performed to mess with the genes of a mouse (or whatever creature it may be now!).

This passage necessarily takes place between heterogeneous levels, of course. So, what might heterogeneous levels be? In my example, a formal or formalized representation surface, a mechanical or electro-mechanical process, and what happens at the level of a particular object. Something passes. Something happens [se passe] between this level of diagrammatic representation and the referent itself (or: the thing itself). What I will call the machinic matrix is the very fact that something happens between these heterogeneous levels. The machinic matrix implies that something of this matrix belongs to each of the heterogeneous levels considered; furthermore, they are not in relations of opposition, or distinctive relations (content/expression), because, in the example I took, there are at least four or five levels (there is also what happens in the operator’s head…). The machinic matrix implies that these levels are precisely heterogeneous; otherwise, what I’m saying makes no sense.

X: Otherwise, it’s a dictionary!

FG: Otherwise, it’s a coding, a decoding, a type of dictionary phenomenon! The idea of heterogeneity is correlated with the idea of components of passage or components of the machinic matrix. If you want to be quite vicious, we see that we have heterogeneous levels; we have something traversing these heterogeneous levels, which is, let’s say, a mechanism of expression. Now I’m going to label it in the following way: the component of expression is the first component I mentioned earlier. The second is the existence of component elements: this will be a componential unconscious.

There is the existence of heterogeneous components, which, in a sense, are heterogenized by the existence of the component of expression–because, as such, they are neither heterogeneous nor anything at all: they are nothing at all. And there is the impact of this operation of heterogenization on each component itself. In other words, it is not in vain that the different components are taken into a machinic matrix.

There are already three degrees of deterritorialization: the deterritorialization between expression and content; something that constitutes components as content; the degree of deterritorialization itself, which is the relationship between this content and each of these components. We already have two pairs of deterritorialization: an expressive couple as a bonding phenomenon between substantial components; and a machinic couple as a promotion phenomenon of a machinic entity that is different in kind than the discursivible components.

Indeed, the existence of a component of expression, relating all the substantial components to each other, implies the existence of a deed [fait–i.e. fact] of passage or entity of passage. This expression “passage” demarcates a specific field of efficiency: passage determines a sort of cleavage within each component, since there is only one part of each component that is composed by this deed of passage. To use the previous example, it is not the whole operator who is caught up in the process of the machinic matrix, but only a certain number of neurons, perceptual montages, god knows what! Besides, he can daydream, think about something else, do whatever he wants. A part of the component is not caught in the machinic matrix…It occurs to me that this is the same for DNA chains: researchers recently discovered (see the Le Monde article) that only part of the chain functions for coding. As for the other part, they tear their hair out: what’s it for? And they are making the most fantastic, the most audacious hypothesis! Perhaps, there’s no point. That’s not a discovery, it’s a revolution! In short, a sub-setification delimits a particular deterritorialization, which will lead to intrinsic spatial-temporal coordinates, such as territorialities (territorialities of all kinds).

What will function as a faciality trait in the face? Of course, not the whole face. Some faciality traits will be taken into the matrix component (for example: in a neurotic or some other assemblage). So there is a relation of deterritorialization that falls back on the face: in this matricial operation, I constitute some of your faciality traits, despite you, in your presence. Before you met me, you didn’t have that faciality trait; but, ever since, we’ve definitely made a transferential assemblage! Whether you want to or not, I’ve stuck you with faciality traits, I have snatched faciality traits from you, and, ever since, neither you nor anything else will be able to prevent this extraction! This is what I call a territoriality which, all in all, is a deterritorialization. This extraction of faciality traits creates a new territoriality. Up to what point will your faciality traits function in this field of another territoriality of the assemblage?

If I ever take your picture, and then spread your eyebrows too far, maybe this will no longer function? There are certain thresholds. It’s fine, it’ll still work. I’ll be able to change the grain of the photo and then it’ll be even better; and then, at some point, it won’t work at all. At some point, there will be a black hole phenomenon and the territoriality will collapse (for this, we can refer to Proust, Swann’s Love, especially to what I’ve been trying to find out about these faciality and refrain relations). The territoriality of the assemblage–the fact that it is applicable in a given territory, up to there, and not beyond, or according to a particular rhythm or refrain–is linked to the other components. This is perhaps what we can call the field of inter-assemblage efficiency. This is what I call deterritorialization of inter-action, and we’ll find that when we take examples of family therapy, or things like that. We have to pay a lot of attention to the inter-actions of family therapy (I have already called someone’s attention to this): this is not the fact that there is the father and the mother–which literally makes no sense–but certain types of subset singularity traits of what is also called the father, the mother, and then perhaps other things…(it may be the grin of the boss who stuck to the father’s face, in some way) that intervene in a systemic inter-action. And never believe that it is the person as such who intervenes in inter-actions, or the aggressiveness of the person as such.

The question is: what is it that intervenes effectively when something happens? This is a question of field phenomena, inter-action phenomena. This unconscious could therefore be called unconscious inter-action, because the other dimensions do not function on the register of inter-action.

In parallel with this actual deterritorialization of the assemblage, the territory, the refrain, the field of inter-action, we should consider virtual deterritorialization.

The three aforementioned deterritorializations can be called onto-genetic. It’s as if they gave us three dimensions of the assemblage’s existence:

– that which makes it possible to semiotize, to say: there is some semiotization or coding, something that makes it possible to talk about an assemblage. 

– some components are taken into the assemblage, with things that escape from these components, with singularity residues that could (re-)pass right under our noses and psychotize the assemblage, with the fact that heterogeneity may lose more or less substance.

– a certain scope: assemblages are like everything else, they last as long as they last, and then afterward they’re dead, or pre-born; and they work in a given space, beyond which they don’t work. These are the three onto-genetic categories of assemblages.

The fourth category, on the other hand, can be called phylogenetic: it raises the question of machinic phyla, possibilist phyla with respect to the assemblage under consideration; this is a question of the field of possible pasts and futures, i.e. there may be a retroactive and prospective smoothing of times. The assemblage of early Christianity, in a sense, modifies all previous religions, it takes up the problem in a different way. This mode of the assemblage’s mutation is not caught in a discursive time: it has its own refrains, its own times. But the day we discover a new mathematical formula to account for the surface of the circle, all previous circles suddenly found themselves “catching” the formula 𝚷R^2, anything that could have been circles and circlets in humanity before the Pythagorean formula was affected. The deterritorialized formula sticks, emerges: there is a retroactive smoothing of the semiotic formula.

With the field of actual possibilities, determination in act is “doubled”. As a result, there is a causality that is close to the equilibrium of the different onto-genetic dimensions and opposed to a causality far from equilibrium, i.e. far from stratifications. This is because a discovery, a new technological agent, is changing the actual field of technological possibilities of its phylum (for example, a microprocessor). We will no longer have the same types of instruments, this will bring about a revolution in an immediately calculable time. But it will also bring about a revolution in all the possibilities to come, i.e., things that are not in act, that of which we can’t have an immediate representation. This is a tree of virtual possibilist implications on the future, but also on the past: the previous formulas of semiotization of other assemblages are also called into question once again.

This phylogenetic, or machinic, deterritorialization also implies being taken into account by the machinic entities interlaced within abstract machines: in short, what connects these four dimensions of the assemblage–expression, content, territory, deterritorialization–it’s the same machinic system. A certain type of abstract machine bears the four dimensions of the assemblage in all its modalities, both its black hole modalities as well as its diagrammatic modalities. Of course, I repeat: these are four dimensions, this isn’t about four separate assemblages.

What is the status of these abstract machinic entities, which, within the abstract nucleus of the assemblage, “double” these concrete dimensions? Precisely, not that of the double: the abstract machinisms do not constitute parallel worlds to concrete assemblages. There is no such thing as a cor-res-pon-dance of inter-action between the machinic abstracts and the manifest concretes. Here, we will talk about the system of projection.

Various types of projections will be distinguished:

  • machinic projections
  • diagrammatic projections
  • representative projections.

Projections are not one-way, they can go in the direction of the incarnation of an abstract machinism toward concrete assemblages, or in the direction of the possibilist deterritorialization of concrete assemblages toward abstract machinisms. These are not entities planted in the sky of ideas, like Platonic ideas.

X: That’s dialectics.

F: We shall see that this is dialectical only in one particular case, just one!…But that’s cuz we’re dealing with these abstract machinisms as we deal with components, as we deal with a certain dimension of the assemblage. Abstract machines are not a mystery of the Holy Spirit, bruh! It’s an instrument like any other. Representative projections and diagrammatic projections introduce intermediate levels, various media, between abstract machines and contingent assemblages. What differentiates representative projections from diagrammatic projections is that the first engage passive media (for example, icons, or systems of redundancy referring to non-machinic abstract paradigms, to iconic, digital sign systems…) and the second (diagrammatic projections) engage active a-signifying media: thus, an opposition between passive signifying media/active a-signifying media (like that of computers, or remote-controlled TVs; computers are media qua computers–directly–qua machine of incarnated signs, yet active a-signifying media.)

The machinic projections proceed via direct enactment, without resorting to media, to abstract machinic quanta inscribed on the plane of consistency, within the dimensions of the assemblages. This is the third type of projection. So–as we’ll see–some of these dimensions come out of an abstract machinism, based on different types of projections–projection being opposed to inter-action; indeed, as soon as there is inter-action, there is opposition of the one, of the multiple, of the subject, of the other, etc.; there is a discursivity, of time, of space, all sorts of categories. The abstract machinism is immanent to the different dimensions of the assemblage–which does not mean that, on the other hand, there is no transcendent access to these different dimensions: a dialectical, representative access.

Abstract machinisms are incarnated in various dimensions of the assemblage, or, conversely, various assemblages transform abstract machinisms, mutate them: it works in both directions. This indicates:

  • The implementation of the intensive deeds proper to the components (intensive deeds: therefore, in the register of the components of content).
  • The implementation of inter-component machinic articulations and systemic calculations, relative to the dimension of expression.
  • Field effects, territorialities, interactions between assemblages (territory dimension).
  • A possibilist prospect.

In fact, the three projection systems are propped on top of each other. Representative projections, as long as they can have pragmatic implications, imply the existence of diagrammatic projections; these involve the implementation of machinic projections. Representative projections and diagrammatic projections are animal, human variants of systems of living assemblages that are much broader: the fact that there is representativity, expression, a passive system of signs is a variant of symptoms of expression that can function via semiotic modes, diagrammatic modes, without the detachment of sign systems–which represent a considerable encumbrance (see The Machinic Unconscious); but which can also represent opportunities for deterritorialization, launching different kinds of sign systems.

The fact that they lead to assemblages of enunciation–therefore, a kind of sterilization, so to speak, of diagrammatism–results in…

(End of a tape)…

Y: …and another territoriality, forever Oedipalized, where something is analytical, too. I wonder how it goes from one to the other, with, in addition, a deplorable thymic effect, leading to the mere hypothesis of being able, herself, to end with herself, if the place you occupy for her is no more determined than that: when you took the place of all the elements that added together, something leads to a dead end for her.

Z: Oh yes! Absolutely.

Y: And I wondered, above all, how were all the assemblages connected to each other, so that after a while…(inaudible). In fact, it’s not the assemblages themselves that are fucked up, but how they are articulated in the discourse she relates to you; how they are connected to each other, and that makes it so that something no longer passes, is completely discombobulated. It’s his perception of her, in fact, which is discombobulated, and comes to tell its tale, there, on the couch; in my opinion, this is probably linked to the fact that we have no understanding at all why she was going from one to the other, or how it could work like that. Perhaps this is where Felix’s grids could enrich your question of analysis which is…

FG: In short, define criteria of productivity.

Y: Otherwise, it makes a classic analytical fallback, almost neurotic, where she dreams of her analyst, and you’re going to be embroiled in this dream analysis, of Oedipal production, which, apparently, doesn’t work well in what you want to do with it.

M: …Basically, it would be interesting to take a situation that suddenly works; and then, at the same time, a situation of ritual therapy–of analysis or family therapy–at the moment when things budge, to study: what makes them proliferate? In our staff meetings, it’s the same thing: we get pissed off, we talk, we go in circles, we crack jokes, we smoke, and then…Bam! something starts up! What got it started? What were these multiple intersections?

FG: But it’s not the “what”! In my view, we have to formulate the criterion of productivity differently. We can formulate it here, for ourselves, now: we meet only so much–all of us, to one degree or another—because we are engaged in a productivity; of what? There precisely, there are all kinds of productivity registers: it can be a productivity of pleasure…why not? For an intellectual productivity (last time, this stimulated me to reflect in the interim), X registers are possible.

Y: It completely reminds me of what happened yesterday, with the Patient Collective meeting, where there was a situation like this. We were preparing… it’s moving forward a little concretely…there’s a local; you had to have been in a meeting to get the gist. This meeting, I, in any case, expected a lot. With D., we had talked about it, we even thought that, for the first time, we would have to, to make it work, like some kind of person and not some other. And yesterday, we realize that we hadn’t mastered this: in fact, all the people we thought wouldn’t be so much, although they are here, have come, all of a sudden! I have no fucking clue where they all came from; since last night, we’ve been wondering: how the fuck did they come? [laughter] We tried to stay less than ten, saying that more, Christ almighty, we’d never get there. In fact, there must have been twenty of them. I mean, at the end of the day, we passively witnessed something, but something that was messed up. Give information that allows people to be kept in the loop; after all, we can call them to do this, no need to be pissed off 24/7! It was really a total loss of…Well! We still haven’t discovered the element that would allow us not to find ourselves, at each future meeting, in that mousetrap–as you said–with twenty people around. We couldn’t even metabolize anything within this group of people who came for the same thing, who all came with an interest in it, something that moves forward, understands something about it, that we’re going to work! And then we find ourselves there…

Z: I’m less pessimistic than you, I saw it differently…I apologize, we are referring to something…

FG: No, I’m aware of this kitchen with you, at the time of the Big Group, there were the same types of problems, what a cocktail we’d made!

Z: Exactly! Yesterday, I had the impression that it was very successful, in some respects, this meeting: there were people who wanted to go ahead, right now, right then, psychiatrists, patients, users, and start to work right away. So-and-so, by name, has arrived, did his hyperparanoid, associative, interpretive, provocative number…and succeeded, more or less, to paralyze, to relaunch, etc. But that was it, we were on the job, it was starting. In my eyes, that’s what he wanted, with his angle: “But let’s start right now, let’s go!” A greediness to make us eat with him, to bring his wife, his child, and then to be “the first case”. So I didn’t find it so negative, because I feel, in addition (laughter), that the meetings are going to pay off…are going to be quite like that!

Y: The conclusion we’ve come to is that: this was the first meeting of the Patient Collective. Do we agree?

Z: Absolutely. Of course.

Y: Having considered that, it’s true, maybe it was good, but that doesn’t mean that everyone predicted what would happen from the start!

Z: I think what’s very important is eclecticism; what you said about the choice, the tracking…good! What does it mean to analyze in the real world? To analyze the “riffraff”, if you will…

M:…This guy who introduced his wife and his kid, and offered a whole series of axes in which he felt it was legitimate to hang on to you, ultimately creates some sort of implicit methodology…working with him…It’s not that simple! You’re proposing something, and then people come up with things that jive with some of their expectations…And the difficulty, it’s about getting to see how to work with different cultures. Golo and Franck are people who make remarkable comics in Charlie Monthly. In this month’s issue, it’s the story of a drunk North African who’s on a bus blocked by a traffic jam. And the North African walks on the bus, saying he’s French, showing his card, and, since he’s fat, he collapses on a pregnant woman…There’s also an old butcheress, he wants to buy her life for 500 Francs: “Your life! Your life!”, she replies, then he tells her that, after all, she’s been a slave since the world began! This guy is, apparently, completely delusional, but there’s a whole series of extremely clear powers, of which he proffers the definition of a relationship with him, and of what that relationship can become.

Until the bus driver has had enough and says, “Get the fuck out of here!” The other, in a small, high-pitched voice, replies, “But we’re not at a stop”; the stop is in three steps, and if he goes down there, in case of an accident (laughter), social security won’t cover it. The bus driver is furious that there is this traffic jam: wait 1/4 hour to get to the stop that is three steps away, and in the meantime…

What’s interesting about this comic is the lines that the drunk North African proposes: lines which, all of them, and in every sense, proliferate lethal machines. So much so that, even Golo and Franck couldn’t find anything that could pull them toward something else! All the fantasies of rape, murder, death, and explosion…

Is this like proposing a duel? That is not wrong, no doubt. In fact, I’m thinking in terms of cycles and curves where people offer you other paths. And, very often, the paths proposed in both directions are the same type of epistemological group. They coincide. This is where, very frequently, the beginning of a relation with a context (which can be a context that functions and produces) is to really and radically change the whole framework and codes of reference. Of course, this makes us lose the richness of different possibilities, of the different levels and strata that are proposed. But secondarily, after all this housekeeping, it works.




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  1. k. steersman says

    Great. Thanks for translating these — they are so helpful! I am only half way through, but having recently read a book on fuzzy logic, ‘Fuzzy Thinking’, by this guy Bart Kosko (it’s worth checking out), I am thinking about how ‘passage between components’ could be seen as patches. Guattari’s model of a kind of ‘translation’ between heterogeneous (and unreal) components in a continuous matrix is very similar to Kosko’s gloss on patches and ‘patch work’ as a way of dividing continua (pragmatically and non-dogmatically) into systems that could be represented with ‘if y, then x’-type statements. every set of ‘if, then’s would be a sort of ‘passage’ between components in a system. production would be something like constructing and organizing these active components and passages between. Marshall and Eric Mcluhan’s Laws of Media, answered in terms of gestalt psychology, is another interesting place to look for insight into some of the questions Guattari brings up here.

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