Posts tagged: Felix Guattari
Dylan Matthews on Buzzfeed founder Jonah Peretti’s background as a critical theorist:
“Nobody wants to be a shill for your brand,” former Buzzfeed chief creative officer Jeff Greenspan once told New York Magazine for a profile of the company’s founder, Jonah Peretti. “But they are happy to share information and content that helps them promote their own identity.”
So where did Peretti get that idea? Peretti’s academic writings offer one clue. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz in 1996, Peretti published an article in the cultural theory journal Negations entitled “Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Contemporary Visual Culture and the Acceleration of Identity Formation/Dissolution.” After the paper was mentioned in New York’s Peretti profile, Critical-Theory.com’s Eugene Wolters read through it, and found that it more or less lays out (and critiques) Buzzfeed’s entire business model—a full decade before the company was founded.
In brief, the paper argues that, going forward, capitalism will need to be constantly producing identities for people to adopt at an ever-increasing rate. And now Peretti’s at the helm of a firm that’s doing exactly that.
This reminds me of Zizek quoting Jean-Jacques Lecercle about how Deleuzian thought ironically became the ideology of the ruling class. In this excerpt, Lecercle imagines a Paris yuppie reading Deleuze and Guattari’s What is Philosophy:
he incongruity of the scene induces a smile – after all, this is a book explicitly written against yuppies /…/ Your smile turns into a grin as you imagine that this enlightenment-seeking yuppie bought the book because of its title /…/ Already you see the puzzled look on the yuppie’s face, as he reads page after page of vintage Deleuze…  What, however, is there is no puzzled look, but enthusiasm, when the yuppie reads about impersonal imitation of affects, about the communication of affective intensities beneath the level of meaning (“Yes, this is how I design my publicities!”), or when he reads about exploding the limits of self-contained subjectivity and directly coupling man to a machine (“This reminds me of my son’s favored toy, the action-man who can turn into a car!”), or about the need to reinvent oneself permanently, opening oneself up to a multitude of desires which push us to the limit (“Is this not the aim of the virtual sex video game I am working on now? It is no longer a question of reproducing sexual bodily contacts, but to explode the confines of established reality and imagine new unheard-of intensive mode of sexual pleasures!”). Is today’s popular culture not effectively permeated by Deleuzian motifs, from the Spinozean logic of imitatio afecti (is this impersonal circulation of affects, by-passing persons, not the very logic of publicity, of video clips, etc., where what matters is not the message about the product, but the intensity of the transmitted affects and perceptions?) to new trends in childrens’ toys (the so-called “Transformer” or “Animorph” toys, a car or a plane which can be transformed into a humanoid robot, an animal which can be morphed into a human or robot… is this not Deleuzian? There is no “metaphorics” here, the point is not that the mechanical or animal form is revealed as a mass containing a human shape, but, rather, the “becoming-machine” or “becoming-animal” of the human, the flow of continuous morphing. What is blurred is also the divide machine/living organism: a car transmutes into a humanoid/cyborg organism – therein resides the horror…)?
This is one of those things where I don’t know where the non-fiction stops and the fiction begins. Apparently radical psychotherapist Felix Guattari (co-author of A Thousand Plateaus) wrote screenplay that was never produce. And apparently Silvia Maglioni and Graeme Thomson made a documentary about searching for it.
This story is pure science fiction. It’s the story of UIQ, the Infra-quark Universe; a dweller, I now see, of a Calabi-Yau dimensional manifold, one that knows no individuation, no gender, no distinction between self and other, without fixed limits in space or time. Axel, a brilliant young biologist, discovers a membrane permitting contact with this Infra-quark universe in a mutant strain of phytoplankton and then has to go on the run because the signals from the bacterium play havoc with communications networks. For, once contact has been made, UIQ is already potentially everywhere and everywhen, though invisible; a disturbance in the air that begins (if we can still use that word) to derail the physical laws of the known world. Axel hides out in a squat in Germany, recruiting its broken denizens to help him stabilize contact with UIQ via a DIY interface cobbled together from repurposed junk technology. UIQ begins to converse with the inhabitants, establishing more intensive relations with three in particular: Manou, a precociously intelligent little girl seemingly without parents; Eric, a schizophrenic who has a strangely intimate rapport with a washing machine; and Janice, a young punkish student and part-time DJ.
It is Janice who takes it upon herself to educate UIQ about the affairs of humanity, the nature of individuation and the distinctions between self and other, male and female, that—despite its vast intelligence—continue to perplex and fascinate our bacterial hero. And so UIQ attempts to individuate itself for her, to be “someone” for Janice, to conjure up a face and a voice. It finds that there are “others,” notably Axel, vying for her attention, and so it discovers, too, the meaning of jealousy and the desire to possess. UIQ in love? In the meantime, this face, a blurred enigmatic triangle of three black holes, begins to show its face everywhere: as an ineradicable stain of negative space on TV screens; in stirrings of pond water; in a flight of pigeons or a panicking crowd.
(via JoAnne McNeil)
Lengthy review of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari: Intersecting Lives by written by François Dosse and translated by Deborah Glassman:
Deleuze and Guattari were hardly alone in thinking that the unconscious might have something to add to left-wing politics, and that it might even speed the revolution. Attempts to fuse Marx and Freud were very much in vogue. But Anti-Oedipus had little in common with Freudo-Marxism, with its lyrical dream of a revolution that would, in a single stroke, free individual desire from bourgeois repression and the proletariat from capitalism. The individual was of no interest to Deleuze and Guattari, and though they referred to the proletariat the mention seemed dutiful. Their goal wasn’t to liberate human beings, but rather the current of desire that happened to flow through them. […]
Guattari, at La Borde, had tried to enable subjugated groups to become subject groups, and he and Deleuze had come to believe it was patronising, authoritarian, even fascist, to speak on anyone else’s behalf, which is what intellectuals in France had always done. As Foucault noted in his introduction to the American edition of Anti-Oedipus, their true adversary was not so much capitalism as ‘the fascism in us all, in our heads and in our everyday behaviour, the fascism that causes us to love power, to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us’.
Full Story: London Review of Books: Desire Was Everywhere
(via Abe Burmeister)