Lecture on Huxley contra Freud 4/1/13; ACLA Paper on Guattari

On April 1st of this year at 11:30 I will be giving a talk on my paper concerning Huxley and Freud. For those of you in the area, it’d be great to see you at Emory. For those of you outside of that area, I’ll try to see if we can get a recording of the event. Joe that could be something you can handle :). This lecture is a PSP luncheon meeting, and it finishes out my requirements for the PSP certificate (psychoanalytical studies).

Also, on April 8th at Toronto for the ACLA I will be giving a paper on Guattari and components of passage. I am already contemplating reflecting on Huxley or Proust for Guattari’s examples. Brave New World would have everything one would need to trace most of the transformations of the schizoanalytic fields Guattari envisions in Machinic Unconscious.


Post-media Piracy and the Common: Towards the Resingularization of Subjectivity


In his meditations on the nature of integrated world capitalism, Guattari proposed an idea that has for the most part remained undeveloped despite its obvious connections with the major motivations behind his work. The notion is that of a post-media era. Perhaps such an age would be focused more specifically on the re-singularization of subjectivity rather than on the possibilities of tailoring massive marketing schemes for the reduction of subjectivity to its smallest common denominator and its largest aggregates. This essay attempts to provide an outline of one of the areas of struggle (along with a number of skirmishes) in this post-media era concerned with the sharing and dissemination of media through different means made possible by the internet. Its goal is to evaluate the strategies of capitalism (specifically concerning copyright laws) towards thinking about its looming crackdown of what is termed internet piracy. Rather than dealing explicitly with the moral or legal questions about the legitimacy of piracy in general—do we, for example, resent or applaud the (future) laws (or lack thereof) qua laws or because of their entanglement in the strategies and motivations of capitalism?—here it seems more appropriate to reflect on the means through which integrated world capitalism has endeavored to appropriate what it perceives as potential markets and their consolidation. This investigation will thus have to consider the legal campaigns underway at present to address this issue of internet piracy. This will give us an opportunity to then suggest why this attempt to eliminate internet piracy will ultimately fail and how users online have already formulated practices beforehand in order to navigate the future prospect of legal repercussions for the online trafficking of different multimedia.

It would be fruitful to begin by unpacking the notion of a post-media era. We could of course turn to Guattari[1] and attempt an analysis of his few texts on the issue, but I believe the profundity of the notion may have been on the horizon of his thought for good reason. This notion of post-media both predates and anticipates the somewhat fantastic moment when the internet in its fullest form not only became a concrete possibility, but also an everyday reality for the general public. Although not necessarily perceived at first, the introduction of the internet acted (like any other medium) in such a way that it inevitably affected the position, influence and importance of the other media existing at the time; but it also made possible the distribution of virtually any other medium, and so it therefore functioned as a catalyst for a deterritorialization of an almost unlimited number of media capable of digitization as such that would become evident after only a few years in its activity.

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guattari, Meillassoux, Politics, speculation, utopia

Speculative Materialisms: Thinking the Absolute with Meillassoux and Guattari

          Quentin Meillassoux’s recent work After Finitude comes as a breath of fresh air for those who have been languishing under the dominant regimes of philosophy today.  Meillassoux claims to be able to resuscitate the “great outdoors” of pre-Critical Cartesian philosophy, one that would both forgo the correlationist impulses of the Kantian tradition as well as the necessity of an all-knowing, veracious God to legitimize the representational content of consciousness.  To access this “great outdoors,” Meillassoux forces us to activate a speculative materialism that would break with the necessitarian impulses of metaphysics. He calls his own path speculative because it claims to access an absolute (though not an absolute entity), and materialism because it claims that absolute reality is indifferent to thought, is an “entity without thought,” and can exist without thought, rendering the latter ontologically unnecessary (36). The paths of this new outlook are various, and Meillassoux does not claim to have formulated all the domains that are now opened.  It is for this reason that we feel a need to supplement Meillassoux’s emphasis on mathematics with an ethico-aesthetic paradigm. Among the numerous materialisms that have been developed in the 20th century, the cartographies developed by Félix Guattari (sometimes with the help of Gilles Deleuze) also merit the nomination of “speculative,” insofar as Guattari himself has also isolated an absolute, namely that of deterritorialization. In what follows, I intend to sketch out the way in which these two thinkers uniquely accent the positions that claims to be “speculative materialism” in order to better exemplify how Meillassoux’s groundwork can be applied outside its original problematic domain.

            The attempt to pair these two extravagantly different thinkers is not the result of sheer caprice, but unfolded due to the overlapping of a series of common concerns. Although they do not espouse the same conclusions, there is a shared impulse to refute the most intractable metaphysical dogmatisms, along with the fanaticism that develops through this refutation, ranging from abstract universals to abstract necessity. Indeed, the theoretical interaction between these two thinkers is required in order to unlock the dimensions of a speculative chaos upon which a speculative politics could unfold. Their conjunction leads beyond a hyper-Chaos to the immanent domain of hyper-utopias.

            One side of the problematic is to break the vicious circle of correlation. One of the ways in which Meillassoux describes correlationism relates to its attempt to disqualify the claim that subjectivity and objectivity can be considered apart from one another (5).  In fact, correlationism goes so far as to make the correlation unavoidable and asserts “anything that is totally a-subjective cannot be” (38). This side of the speculative thesis is also acknowledged by Guattari, who writes in L’Inconscient machinique: “Concepts must be folded onto reality, not the other way around” (155). In the same vein, for Meillassoux, “the materialism that chooses to follow the speculative path is thereby constrained to believe that it is possible to think a given reality by abstracting from the fact that we are thinking it” (After Finitude, 36). Given that language and consciousness are the two prime contributors to the persistence of the correlation, how do we escape from language, let alone take up a vantage point wherein subjectivity can be illuminated and discerned without having to become constitutive?

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Machinic Unconscious Complete

I just wanted to throw out there that I have finished the bulk of translating Guattari’s The Machinic Unconscious: Essays in Schizoanalysis. Now begins the revision stage of my project, and a few interpolations of quotes from Proust’s In Search of Lost Time (I’m using the new Penguin editions, which are fabulous translations btw).

I hope this excites some people (I know Joe has been impatient for this…). I, too, am pretty thrilled about this work appearing in English. It has been a difficult work for me to translate, let alone read, but I feel that it is infinitely more valuable to me for all the efforts I have put into it. This book wasn’t necessarily received well in France (one of his interviewers mentions the obscurity and difficulty of this work specifically), perhaps because it is so closely tied to A Thousand Plateaus in scope and timeframe (it was published about 6 months before the latter, being a sort of work book for A Thousand Plateaus, as Gary Genosko puts it). But I hope that this is different for the English, especially with all the work that has gone into translating much of Guattari’s work already, and the Deleuze phenomenon, etc.

Let me just note in passing that this work has helped me overcome one of my own crises. As an English graduate student-dropout, I sort of rebelled against literary criticism, rebaptizing my field of research as philosophy. I gave up on its uses to evoke radical political change, and I felt like it played with the binary oppositions of established culture, not to truly dismantle the phenomena, but to reify them and sediment them more thoroughly.

I can only note with great fervor that the second part of the Machinic Unconscious, which is dedicated to a reading of Proust’s novel, is really something extraordinary, because it takes the obscure theoretical conceptualizations of the first half and propels them into concrete situations, deducing the abstract relations from this reading. But it goes further because it is not just an intellectual exercise: Guattari’s thought, if anything, is so radically enrooted in the outside that every phrase has a rhetorical-micropolitical bent to it.  He proves the validity of literary criticism to really illuminate the inner machinisms of reality, bearing out its political potential in a systematic and pragmatic way.

This book has changed my life. I hope you get a chance to read it.

capitalism and schizophrenia, Deleuze, guattari

New wikipage devoted to Capitalism and Schizophrenia

Today I’ve just found out that an entire wikipage has been devoted to the works of Deleuze and Guattari here. The site is still in construction, but they have already amassed at least several dozens definition “attempts” (since these are left open for others to add/change, etc.). What I found so interesting about the page was the ability to join the site and add your own bit of commentary, engaging in an intriguing chorus of scholars and voices.  I believe they have also begun reading groups on Deleuze and Guattari, so that is something else to look forward to. I intend on adding a lot of material to the site, especially in order to really engage with some of Guattari’s theoretical developments in L’Inconscient machinique.  I’ve already begun on his Proust section in the book, and so I’m eager to finish and start talking about it with everyone! (75 pages left, and counting).

So go join in and add your bit of knowledge to this incredible project!