Deleuze & Guattari on the Dialectic: A schizoanalytic interpretation of Žižek’s Organs Without Bodies

Dialectics or dialectical thinking is one mode of thinking or one way of reaching absolute knowledge. But dialectics then becomes the method of bringing about the reality of dialectics, and to bring about new realities or emancipatory moments (what Foucault calls ‘Limit-experiences”) we can think about other ways of interpreting the dialectic and its key aspect of negation. What if we say no to negation? What if instead, we refer to affirmation? What if instead of lack, we refer to productivity? Desire cannot be filled in a Lacanian perspective because it’s a lack, a non-object. But what if the subject goes beyond this dialectical moment of ‘desire-desiring-the-other’, or in other words, what if we think of consciousness and desire outside of the master-slave dialectic. What if the “subject” (in Lacanian terms, the subject is a split/barred subject, represented as ‘$’) is not rooted in identity, but difference. We cannot capture the subject, we can never fully describe it, it always slips our totalizing grasp, it remains slippery and outside of tautology. You could understand this as ‘the subject is objet petit a’, but not as lack, a productive-objet petit a. One that doesn’t have to relate to a Big Other, but a multitude of ‘Big Other’s’. What if this moment of escape from the ‘Big Other’ that always results in a new ‘Big Other’ (which I assume is the Lacanian lesson? Or the lesson of Ideology? That we can never escape it totally, we can only break free for a moment) is also what Deleuze calls ‘deterritorialization’? The breaking of limits and boundaries -almost like aufhebung- but also ‘reterritorialization’, it’s return to limit and form. What if this process isn’t located in lack and negation, but in production? In affirmation?

This I believe is essentially the Deleuzian-Guattarian perspective of Platonism and the Hegelianism/German Idealism that became of Plato, and the transcendental thinkers. That the synthetic a priori described by Kant, is the pinnacle moment of a concept’s creation. This is why in What Is Philosophy? D&G refer to philosophy as concept creation itself.Philosophy for Lacan is the hysteria of trying to capture the impossible ‘objet a’. Perhaps for a moment, that we do, and this grasp of the object is also the process of becoming itself, the becoming of a new consciousness, of a new subjectivity, Becoming-conscious. Becoming-animal. New subjectivities. What if we are not reflecting the void or the absolute nothingness of the Real, but ‘we reflect’ (Cartesian Cogito) as the result of difference-itself. Pure Difference. The subject as difference. Not located in an Aristotelian/Hegelian identity-based philosophy of Being, but in the Heraclitus/Nietzsche/Spinoza difference-based ontology. Our subjectivity is to be in the very capturing of ‘objet a’ when we consume the Other. And in the letting go. The shitting of the Other. Aufhebung. want to clarify the Deleuzian perspective, which I do believe isn’t opposed to Lacanian and Hegelian thought, something Žižek wishes to claim became opposed to Lacan and Hegel because of Guattari’s influence on Deleuze. When there became not just two perspectives coming together, but the coming of “quite a crowd[…]since each of us was several” (Capitalism & Schizophrenia; A Thousand Plateaus)
This, for Žižek, was the pivotal moment in Deleuze that lost him as a philosopher entirely. As he pronounces in his In Defence of Lost Causes. Part 3, Chapter 7. Anti-Oedipus is the worst book of Deleuze, let alone in Organss Without Bodies where critiques of Deleuze are usually written as “Deleuze (With Guattari)”, here we see the Freudian return of the repressed. Where the supposed critique of Deleuze is instead displaced into a critique of Guattari’s influence on Deleuze. Almost as if Žižek is claiming it’s not Deleuze’s ‘fault’, and the real problem lies in Guattari. Who appears like a Gríma Wormtongue figure, a sycophant, to the powerful and brilliant King Théoden of Rohan. Of course, Wormtongue is only serving as a puppet for ‘Saruman’ - the poststructural and postmodern critiques of Lacan and Hegel. Here lies the greatest evil Žižek wishes to call out, not Deleuze, the corrupted King Thèoden. But in the all-evil force of the Dark Lord; Process Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Difference.Guattari, Žižek says ‘deserved to be shot’. But I want to give life to the Deleuze that Žižek described in The Ticklish Subject as one of the best metaphysicians, up there with Heidegger. How to provide an alternative to the Oedipal Subject, as a moment of subjectivity but not its totality, which is a pure virtual subject, that’s open to an Infinite becomings, to potentiality. On a ‘Plane of Immanence’. This is what in Deleuzo-Guattarian terms is called the ‘Body Without Organs’ (BwO). A de-subjectivized subject, pure-becoming, pure-difference. Even desire can connect to other desires, to new flows, to other machines. It is productive. 
Subjectivity is productivity. The BwO is an egg, it’s open to all of its potentials. Immanent, and on the Plane of Immanence. Capital is a BwO. It directs our desire and produces it. In a certain sense, it produces our subjectivity. But this subjectivity is not fully captured. It can be deterritorialized. It can Self-Other. Become-Other. And new desires and subjectivities are possible. We call this the process of the schizo. Who turns away from his oedipal subjectivity -this narrative of meaning produced by oedipal relation- and finds new subjectivity elsewhere.

A schizophrenic out for a walk is a better model than a neurotic lying on the analyst’s couch.

Capitalism & Schizophrenia; Anti-Œdipus, By Gilles Deleuze & Félix Guattari.

D&G are far more Lacanian than Žižek makes them out to be, I think in some ways Guattari continues exactly the Lacanian tradition but into a Deleuzian metaphysics of process and difference philosophy, than in the Žižekian Return to Hegel metaphysics of dialectic and negation. Desire is a revolutionary force. It reaches out and finds new connections. Lacan was also Anti-Œdipal, so there’s no need to continue to build on a dogmatic tradition of Œdipus. We can find a new ‘Big Other’ out of jouissance, producing with it a new consciousness and subjectivity. The schizo chooses any ‘Big Other’ it wants. It Becomes the Big Other. It can scramble semantic codes, shuffle modes of recording. A linguistic, structuralist shuffling. No more Sausserian logic of the Signifier & its Signified. No more ‘Big Other’ as lack. But as productive. ‘Big Other’ as a moment of subjectivity. The schizo shuffles phenomenologically. This process is Dialectical. But also Genealogical. Dialectics occurs in a Deleuzian metaphysic, only as a moment amongst other moments. Here we get Deleuze’s formulation “Pluralism = Monism”. The Spinozan approach to the One and the Many. In that dialectics are not the ‘One moment’. The ultimate moment of sublation -absolute-knowing- total universality (aufhebung). But dialectics as a particular. As a particular moment amongst moments. As One amongst Many. Here the unfolding of a dialectical moment is mapped out, almost in the classical Fichtean sense of a ‘thesis-antithesis-synthesis’, but if we incorporate the synthetic a priori back into the dialectic. To affirm dialectic. To critique, but also to create.

Discussions are fine for roundtable talks, but philosophy throws its numbered dice on another table. The best one can say about discussions is that they take things no further, since the participants never talk about the same thing. Of what concern is it to philosophy that someone has such a view, and thinks this or that, if the problems at stake are not stated? And when they are stated, it is no longer a matter of discussing but rather one of creating concepts for the undiscussable problem posed. Communication always comes too early or too late, and when it comes to creating, conversation is always superfluous. Sometimes philosophy is turned into the idea of a perpetual discussion, as “communicative rationality,” or as “universal democratic conversation.” Nothing is less exact, and when philosophers criticize each other it is on the basis of problems and on a plane that is different from theirs and that melt down the old concepts in the way a cannon can be melted down to make new weapons. It never takes place on the same plane. To criticize is only to establish that a concept vanishes when it is thrust into a new milieu, losing some of its components, or acquiring others that transform it. But those who criticize without creating, those who are content to defend the vanished concept without being able to give it the forces it needs to return to life, are the plague of philosophy. All these debaters and communicators are inspired by ressentiment. They speak only of themselves when they set empty generalizations against one another.

From Deleuze & Guattari’s What Is Philosophy?

Let’s return to Lacan, through Guattari. One of Lacan’s best students. Lacan planned for Guattari to become a huge student until Lacan became aware of his post-Hegelian project with Deleuze on Anti-Œdipus and the critique of psychoanalysis. Maybe Deleuze & Guattari found a metaphysical approach to the subject, using Lacanian psychoanalysis as a foundation. And bringing this emancipation of the subject back into Marx and the Grundrisse. Sound familiar? Sounds to me, a lot like the typified Hegel-Lacan-Marx mapping of Žižek’s project (something shared by the Ljubljana School and in the works of Nick Land.) 
If we take Lacan back to the critique of Hegel, and post-Hegelian thought, and to the anti-Hegelian thought littered throughout Nietzsche, Spinoza, and Marx. We can see how it isn’t an anti-Lacanian move to try and relocate the ‘Big Other’ back into the ‘Body Without Organs’. Not the ‘Organs without Bodies’ of relocating Deleuze back into Lacan to rid the stinky of Guattari. Let us turn away from the Žižekian-Guattari and turn back to a Deleuzian-Guattari. Žižek thinks Deleuze turned to shit when he joined Guattari. I think Deleuze’s best work came with Guattari. Embrace the radicality of the Lacanian Real with the infinite potentiality of the Virtual. Of a Deleuzo-Guattarian ‘Plane of Immanence’. Which chooses to unite and create new concepts, rather than “defend the vanished concept”. Let’s give Deleuze & Guattari and their ‘Body without Organs’ “the forces it needs to return to life”.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.