Deleuze & Guattari: The New Earth


Deleuze & Guattari in their early collaboration Anti-Oedipus would provide in the manner of Nietzsche both a counter-sociology and an anti-philosophy that would critique and diagnosis Modernity and provide a way out of its traps and institutions. Reading and re-reading their work over the past year I’ve slowly had to acknowledge certain errors in my own stance toward both thinkers, realizing that my reading was influenced by both the positive and negative Deleuzians and their commentaries. How does one approach the four works in which Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari collaborated? My current project is both complex and simple: to extract out of the creative energy of these works the essential message of their Utopian Vision. For in the end there lies in their experiment a path forward for our civilization on earth. That is my argument.

The kernel of their vision always did reside in what they would term the “process” of desiring production, the schizophrenizing process that would underpin their notions of flows as infrastructural platform on which the future planetary pluralistic civilization of earth resides. They would see our current civilization of aggression, war, and ruin as bound in a vicious circle (Klossowksi/Nietzsche: eternal return) of displaced limits and systems of capture. They would differentiate between schizophrenic production and the schizophrenizing process: the first leading to blockage and madness of individuals, the second a non-teleological and goalless process of desiring production in which humans participate in a world where art and the sciences collaborate to form a socious based not on power and dominion, capital and profit but rather on the continuous and revolutionary gregariousness of singularities unbound. As D & G say toward the end of Anti-Oedipus:

A conspiracy joining together art and science presupposes a rupture of all our institutions and a total upheaval of the means of production. … If some conspiracy, according to Nietzsche’s wish, were to use science and art in a plot v/hose ends were no less suspect, industrial society would seem to foil this conspiracy in advance by the kind of mise en scene it offers for it, under pain of effectively suffering what this conspiracy reserves for this society: i.e., the breakup of the institutional structures that mask the society into a plurality of experimental spheres finally revealing the true face of modernity—an ultimate phase that Nietzsche saw as the end result of the evolution of societies. In this perspective, art and science would then emerge as sovereign formations that Nietzsche said constituted the object of his countersociology—art and science establishing themselves as dominant powers, on the ruins of institutions. (AO: p. 368)

That is the pragmatic accelerationism of the schizophrenizing process unleashed, against the capture systems of capitalism and its false limits that keep a goal oriented telos and industrial and post-industrial or informational model of commodity and financial circulation and production hooked and bound by the bureaucratic institutions that regulate it. Instead D & G see the accelerating experimentalism of science and art as a pluralized vision of ‘experimental spheres’ with sovereignty no longer bound to the world of schizophrenics and madness, but to the new creative regimes of art and science as permanent revolutionary society without bounds built on the ruins of capitalism and its dead institutions.

I’ve been struggling for years to understand their vision, but only recently did many aspects of their prismatic and visionary earth:

For the new earth (“In truth, the earth will one day become a place of healing”) is not to be found in the neurotic or perverse reterritorializations that arrest the process or assign it goals; it is no more behind than ahead, it coincides with the completion of the process of desiring-production, this process that is always and already complete as it proceeds, and as long as it proceeds. It therefore remains for us to see how, effectively, simultaneously, these various tasks of schizoanalysis proceed. (AO: p. 382)

Sadly their vision of the new earth was recaptured by the academic and scholarly apparatus of the current regimes and was buried under the dark molar indifference of scholarship and philosophical bric-a-brac hollowness. My task is to revitalize this utopian vision hiding in plain site throughout their collaboration, to retrieve it and open its energetic desiring productions for a new earth based on a pluralistic vision where art and the sciences collaborate in a continuous schizophrenizing process of creativity and innovation.

None of this is will be easy. The forces against which such a world might become a real possibility will bring to bare all their might and violent power to curtail and wipe out such a conceptual and actual vision from becoming a possibility. Yet, what have we got to lose? As they’d say:

The function of the chain is no longer that of coding the flows on a full body of the earth, the despot, or capital, but on the contrary that of decoding them on the full body without organs. It is a chain of escape, and no longer a code. The signifying chain has become a chain of decoding and deterritorialization, which must be apprehended—and can only be apprehended—as the reverse of the codes and the territorialities. This molecular chain is still signifying because it is composed of signs of desire; but these signs are no longer signifying, given the fact that they are under the order of the included disjunctions where everything is possible. (AO: p. 328)

What we need is a flight plan, an escape plan, an exit plan from the codes and territories of the dominion within which we all live now… a temporal war against those who would lock reality down into a completed capture system of desire in which we all lose our minds, literally. Let’s not let that happen.

Background and Addendum:

Background and addendum:

Over and over they speak of the need to differentiate the process of desiring production itself as schizophrenizing rather than schizophrenic (i.e., as a continuous revolutionary forces without end). The schizophrenic in the institution is the one for whom the schizophrenizing process was blocked producing the disease which is the opposite of the infrastructural flows to which desiring production leads. Capitalism captures these schizophrenizing processes and gives them a goal, hitches them to Industrial production and the capture of surplus value which has produced the schizophrenic socio-cultural world of global civil war we see all around us.

As they said earlier in the book: “Why the same word, schizo, to designate both the process insofar as it goes beyond the limit, and the result of the process insofar as it runs up against the limit and pounds endlessly away there? Why the same word to designate both the eventual breakthrough and the possible breakdown, and all the transitions, the intrications of the two extremes? (139).

We no longer know if it is the process that must truly be called madness, the sickness being only disguise or caricature, or if the sickness is our only madness and the process our only cure. But in any case, the intimate nature of the relationship appears directly in inverse ratio: the more the process of production is led off course, brutally interrupted, the more the schizo-as-entity arises as a specific product. That is why, on the other hand, we were unable to establish any direct relationship between neurosis and psychosis. The relationships of neurosis, psychosis, and also perversion depend on the situation of each one with regard to the process, and on the manner in which each one represents a mode of interruption of the process, a residual bit of ground to which one still clings so as not to be carried off by the deterritorialized flows of desire. (139)

Right there in that passage above “…the intimate nature of the relationship appears directly in inverse ratio: the more the process of production is led off course, brutally interrupted, the more the schizo-as-entity arises as a specific product.” The accelerationism of D&G is to cut out that goal, that blockage that capitalism puts there as a false limit, and break through the false barrier into the free flows of art and science working in unison to endlessly revise and explore under a goalless or non-teleological regime.

10 thoughts on “Deleuze & Guattari: The New Earth

  1. Hi, we are glad to know that you are interested in the field of research we share. Just a clarification: the passage that you assign to Deleuze and Guattari: “A conspiracy … institutions” (AO, 368) is not written by them but by Klossowski. The note of the Anti-Oedipus, from which they derive the quote is probably the longest in the book, and is taken from two different essays of Klossowski, published in 1969. Specifically from, “Attempt at a Scientific Explanation of the Eternal Return” and “The Vicious Circle as a Selective Doctrine”, later summarized in the famous “Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle.” Deleuze, not Guattari, quotes them referring to the Nietzschean “Herrschaftsgebilde”, the formations of sovereignty, from which Deleuze (1972) Foucault (1966) derived their analysis. Especially Klossowski refers to the fragments of autumn 1887, fragment 9 [8] and of autumn 1887 (O, vol. VIII/2, pg.6), in Italian edition «Fragments posthumous 1887 to 1888»;Klossowski’s analysis moves with regards to an accelerationist Nietzsche, derived from his fragments of the years 1887-1888, in particular by fr. 9 [138] (O, VIII / 2, pg. 68, autumn 1887); fr. 9 [139] (O, VIII / 2, pg. 69, autumn 1887); fr. 9 [142] (O, VIII / 2, p. 70, Autumn 1887). The glosses to these three fragments are in “Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle”, Adelphi, 2013, pg. 194-198 (Italian edition). We have written extensively on these issues in three e.books, of which the most theoretical one is «Acceleration, Revolution, Money»:

    Obsolete Capitalism

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    • Obviously all of these various thinkers of that era were friends, comrades, fellow players in a endeavor where each influenced the other heavily, and each read the other’s works. One need only read such critics as Harold Bloom who spent a life writing about Influence (Anxiety of Influence, Anatomy of Influence), and those who as you seem to point out the obvious that as T.S. Eliot once stated: “The originals were not original to begin with.” This scholarly notion that one must always uncover the source of a statement was at the heart of those early 2oth Century modernist critics and source hunter’s as well. The term New Criticism is still anathema in some circles. Nothing new here… Yet, your commentary is welcome, and an added piece of scholarly source attribution in uncovering the history of these men and their friendships and influences, etc.

      That said, I recently read your work and was happy that you spent time uncovering all these various issues, but to tell the truth much of this is and was known to many who have read both the literature and the secondary literature which has grown extensively over the years. It was none other than my friend Edmund Berger who linked to your book recently and pointed it out a few weeks back to me for reading. I was about to write on it coming up this next month. Uncovering sources is always important, but not to the extent that one must be like the old Torah receptors a Legalist in such matters, rather as in the Sanhedrin one should allow for the spirit of the tradition a space of figural exploration and reception that is not dogmatic in its influencing machines.

      What’s humorous is that even the Great Books of the past were not original, nor for the most part written by the one’s to whom their name was an appellation. We all steal from each other as Eliot pointed out ages ago, it’s only those who get caught that bring the hunters to bay. That said we all know Homer and Shakespeare, the two greatest poets in the language have both been disputed and even accused of plagiarism. Is this something new? No. Just part of the scholarly grist mill. But you’re work makes them honest.

      You’re work at least for me was on the roots of an aspect of the source material of Accelerationsism, and could have been much more than that. I did appreciate your lengthy discussion of Foucault, to me that was important, not for what it uncovered but that he is brought back into the picture concerning that tight-knit circle of a specific era. We all know of the falling away… Some of the recent duo biographies of Deleuze & Guattari open up some of this, as do some of Guattari’s own revitalizers. Deleuze has a tribe of scholars who will ultimately bury him under the details.

      As you can see it’s not about source attribution to me, it’s about the message conveyed that is important. To get bogged down in who said what is fine in scholarship, but to convey the message is another dimension altogether. All of what you’re saying is true, but takes away in some respect from the point of the message itself. Do you understand? Instead what you’re saying is that the combined theft of other thinkers by Deleuze and Guattari should be understood in the total context of their work. That’s fine for scholarly commentary, and you’ve done a great job, but for me the actual use of those quotes (whether stated directly, indirectly, or not at all) is more important: it’s the message, not its source that is important to me. If the quote is important enough to worry over priority, property, who said what, who owns what… that seems to work against the whole thrust of anarchic intent and spirit of play within Deleuze and Guattari. They were Nietzschean’s after all… irony, play, the banter of the counter anti-Freudianism, anti-psychiatry, anti-Platonism would not suffer such sticklers of influencing machines. Now would they, if they were alive today?

      I see the same happening to Zizek, where people point out the obvious use of quotes from others in his work without source attribution. And seem to want to bash him for this as a Legalism of Influence. To me this is almost laughable and degrading. We all read tons of works, the originals, sources, commentaries, etc. And we all as T.S. Eliot tried to show either quote directly or out and out thieve others minor work for our works because they have said it better than we. The point being that if as Eliot and Zizek both considered the Subject is not some Individual but an Impersonal writing machine, then who owns what? To fall for the liberal subjective legalism of priority and property is to fall back into the notion of Liberal Humanist systems of discourse and concepts. Let’s face it for Deleuze and Guattari the text was not written by the names “Deleuze and Guattari” but by the abstract machines of “desiring production” that took up habitat in the strange creature of which those names were buggered. Enough!

      The greatness of your commentary in the book «Acceleration, Revolution, Money» you mention is its nuances, its intertwining of the various quotes, echoes, and solidarities among various writers, thinkers, artists, and explorers who were all influenced and influencing machines. For this your work is a great supplementary and secondary work of source hunting, as well as a good work in its own right in uncovering the meaning and context of the Accelerationist ethos, aesthetic, and conceptual universe. I think even my friend Nick Land called it a fundamentalist approach to accelerationism. Thanks!

      I still admire your work, as Edmund does. and will be commentating on it within a month. Thanks for your commentary on this source… 🙂

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