In Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (Deleuze and Guattari, 1990; first as L'Anti-Oedipe in 1972), it is the unconscious that is seen to be productive - not longer to be regarded in terms of oedipal drama. Deleuze explains this anti-oedipal position: 'the unconscious is not a theater, but a factory'; and quoting Artaud, that the body, or more accurately the sick body, is an 'overheated factory' (Guattari, 1995: 75). It might be more productive to think of the unconscious as a worker. Deleuze and Guattari describe the capitalist machine n the following terms:'Capitalism is in fact born of the encounter between two types of flows: the decoded flows of production in the form of money-capital, and the decoded flows of labor in the form of "free worker". Hence, unlike previous social machines, the capitalist machine is incapable of providing a code that will apply to the whole of the social field.' Capitalism thus produces schizophrenia, a body without organs, 'manic-depression and paranoia are the product of the despotic machine, and hysteria the product of the territorial machine.' (1990: 33) It is this decoding of flows to extract ever more surplus value that characterises industrial capitalism.
Nature is now experienced as a process of production in other words: 'There is no such things as man or nature now, only a process that produces the one within the other and couples the machines together. Producing-machines, desiring-machines everywhere, schizophrenic machines, all species of life: the self and the non-self, outside and inside, no longer have any meaning whatsoever.' (Deleuze & Guattari, 1990: 2)Within society, the spheres of production, distribution and consumption have been seen to relatively autonomous. Deleuze and Guattari would have it that this is predicated upon Marxist description of the division of labour and the idea of false consciousness. To them, this is simply not the case, and these spheres are not autonomous at all, but collapse into eachother making everything production: the 'production of productions, of actions and of passions' (1990: 4). For them 'process' incorporates recording and consumption within production, and the human subject too is simply the producer-product.
It is from this characterisation of 'desiring-production,' that the concept of machines of desire, or of 'desiring machines,' is derived in addition to technical machines and social machines (thus in excess of the technical and the organic): 'To desire consists of this: to make cuts, to let certain contrary flows run, to take samplings of the flows, to cut the chains that are wedded to the flows. [...] The problem is to recognize how the unconscious functions. It's a problem that concerns the use of machines, the functioning of "desiring machines."' (1995: 76; note: the 'machine' carries a further sense in French - to designate an undefined object. Further reference might be made to Sol Lewitt and the 'the idea is the machine' in this connection - see Lippard.)
Desiring machines are binary machines, following rules of association, in which one machine is always coupled with another. Deleuze and Guattari espouse: 'The productive synthesis, the production of production, is inherently connective in nature: "and..." "and then..." This is because there is always a flow-producing machine, and another machine connected to it that interrupts or draws off part of this flow (the breast - the mouth). And because the first machine is in turn connected to another whose flow it interrupts or partially drains off, the binary series is linear in every direction. Desire causes the current to flow, itself flows in turn, and breaks flows.' (1990: 5; evoking Negri's and Castells's use of the term 'flows,' adopted by information or systems theory). The allusion to information theory is made evident in their explicit reference to code. They say that every machine has code built into it: 'The data, the bits of information recorded, and their transmission form a grid of disjunctions of a type that differs from the previous connections' (1990: 38). Desiring-production is always production of production because every machine is connected to another machine. In contrast, the body without organs lies in the realm of 'antiproduction'. In constrast to ideas around systems and ecology, Artaud says: 'the body is the body/it is all by itself/and has no need of organs/the body is never an organism/organisms are the enemies of the body' (in Deleuze & Guattari, 1990: 9). In a more overt rejection of the body as a complex system: 'An apparent conflict arises between desiring-machines and the body without organs. Every coupling of machines, every production of a machine, every sound of a machine running, becomes unbearable to the body without organs. Beneath its organs it senses there are larvae and loathsome worms, and a God at work messing it all up or strangling it by organizing it. [...] The genesis of the machine lies precisely here: in the opposition of the process of production of the desiring-machines and the non-productive stasis of the body without organs.' (Deleuze & Guattari, 1990: 9)
Deleuze and Guattari proceed to draw a parallel between desiring-production and social production, allowing them to assert that capital is the body without organs of the capitalist. In classical Marxism, the opposition is set between labour and capital, and so desiring-machines can be seen to operate in parallel to labour. Similarly the body without organs can be seen to appropriate desiring production just as the capitalist extorts value from labour. They claim that social reproduction (reproduction neatly connects machine and biological processes) or what they would describe as the recording rather than the producing of production, characterises the couplings or 'connective synthesis' differently. 'Either-or' takes over from the 'and then' of production. More precisely:'Whereas the "either/or" claims to mark decisive choices between immutable terms (the alternative either this or that), the schizophrenic "either... or... or" refers to a system of possible permutations between differences that always amount to the same as they shift and slide about.' (1990: 12) They describe this as the 'disjunctive synthesis' of recording taking over from the 'connective synthesis' of production. At this point, the organ-machine clings to the body without organs in a dual process of attraction and repulsion, allowing them to suggest that: 'So true is it that the schizo practices political economy, and that all sexuality is a matter of economy.' (1990: 12)
As such, desire can be seen to be potentially revolutionary, especially when the desiring machines are networked and promiscuous. This network clearly must extend outside of the 'Mommy-Daddy' family circle of traditional bourgeois psychiatry (note: Picabia describes the machine as "the daughter born without a mother," in Guattari, 1995: 125). This again draws upon the work of Artaud who says: 'I don't believe in father/in mother,/got no/papamummy' (quoted in Deleuze & Guattari, 1990: 14). Freud does not stretch beyond this tripartite Oedipal formula of 'daddy-mommy-me'. The critique of the Oedipal drama or code wrests the analysis out of the family, or at least begins to treat the family as an institution or as a factory, to the wider mechanism of power that would include the subject's historical and cultural context - and thus owes something but is in excess of the anti-psychiatry movement of R.D. Laing. Laing says:
'In the context of our present pervasive madness that we call normality, sanity, freedom, all our frames of reference are ambiguous and equivocal. A man who prefers to be dead rather than Red is normal. A man who says he has lost his soul is mad. A man who says that men are machines may be a great scientist. A man who says he is a machine is 'depersonalized' in psychiatric jargon. [...] Thus I would like to emphasize that our 'normal' state is too often the abdication of ecstasy, the betrayal of our true potentialities, that many of us are only too successful in acquiring a false self to adapt to false realities.' (1965: 11-2)
Yet perhaps Freudian analysis needs to be read as a critical tool and metaphor (after all, the family is a bourgeois construct of the industrial period; and for Zizek, the State is the authority or name of the father). Desire shapes history - even when it goes wrong (such as in the rise of Nazism). 'Desiring energy' exists in the social division within the family and work structures, and in the relation between people and machines.Desire is crucial to this, and is productive. They explain in suitably excessive language:'Desire is the set of passive syntheses that engineer partial objects, flows, and bodies, and that function as units of production. The real is the end product, the result of the passive syntheses of desire as autoproduction of the unconscious. Desire does not lack anything; it does not lack its object. [...] As Marx notes, what exists in fact is not lack, but passion, as a "natural and sensuous object". [...] Desire then becomes this abject fear of lacking something.' (1990: 26-7)Real needs are derived from this desire rather than desire emanating from needs as advertising might suggest. The social field is invested with desire, and as a product of desire can invade the forces and relations of production. They say 'There is only desire and the social, and nothing else.' (1990: 29)
In this sense, Serge Leclaire thinks that the desiring machine is a 'partial object', in the sense that Melanie Klein describes, and one that can only work in breaking down. (Guattari, 1995: 103). According to psychoanalytic theory, humans pretend that things are perfect and whole, to avoid the reality that they are flawed and in parts. Klein says: 'It is a 'perfect' object which is in pieces' (Melanie Klein, Love, Guilt and Reparation, London: Vintage, 1988: 270). She considers desire from the perspective of wholeness, of complete objects. In Deleuze and Guattari's terms 'a flow of sperm, shit, or urine that are produced by partial objects and constantly cut off by other partial objects, which in turn produce other flows, interrupted by other partial objects. Every "object" presupposes the continuity of flow; every flow, the fragmentation of the object' (1990: 6). The partial object is suitably 'detotalized, deterritorialized' and lacking in individuality (Guattari, 1995: 104) and desiring-production is irreducible to any sense of unity. Instead it exists as multiplicity: 'We believe only in totalities that are peripheral. And if we discover such a totality alongside various separate parts, it is a whole of these particular parts but does not totalize them; it is a unity of all these particular parts but does not unify them' (Deleuze and Guattari, 1990: 42). But this does not really answer Leclaire's observation that their theory is too perfect - it works too well and is contradictory in this sense in that it is not in flux sufficiently. Leclaire would like to reintroduce some dualisms (like that of the real and the symbolic, or the base and the superstructure).
Responding to confusions such as this, Guattari defines 'desiring machines' more closely in an essay 'Balance-Sheet Program for Desiring Machines' distancing them from real machines (in the Symbolic) and dream machines (of the Imaginary) - neither gadgets nor phantasies and therefore not commodities (1995: 120) - nor is this a case of metaphor. The machine is 'a system of interruptions or breaks' and is related to a continuous material flow that it cuts into: 'the anus and the flow of shit it cuts off' (1990: 36). The machine is constituted by 'recurrence and communications' - and 'the adaptation of the man to the machine, and of the machine to the man' (1995: 121). This can be traced to the evolution of the tool into machine as a projection of the worker, in which the machine gradually becomes more and more independent of the worker (described by Marx amongst others). Clearly Guattari goes further in considering machines as separate from tools: machines are a factor of communication whereas tools merely extend control through direct contact: 'When one refers the tool to man, in accordance with the traditional schema, one deprives oneself of any possibility of understanding how man and the tool become or already are distinct components of a machine in relation to an actual machinic agency.' (1995: 123)
The example cited is a telephone exchange that makes unlimited connections in all directions (an idea developed by Avital Ronnell, in describing the telephone as schizophrenic, ref?). The machine possesses two characteristics: the power of continuum and the rupture in direction or mutation. The machine, therefore, is a 'break-flow' process of connections and their rupture (1995: 126-7). Hakim Bey posits a similar formulation in his description of the Net and counter-Net - in the potential Internet (see notes elsewhere). The desiring-machine needs to conceived of in terms of the social body not simply the human organism. This is central to Guattari's critique of Marx in wrongly thinking social relations to lie outside of the tool or machine. The worker and tool are already part of the machine - both engineered ever more overtly (1995: 142).
Machines are not simply invented or imagined. This is not simply an oedipal fantasy of creation - as Donna Haraway points out elsewhere. To Guattari,'Desiring-machines are not in our heads, in our imagination, they are inside the social and technical machines themselves.' (195: 137) This is an important principle as it is the regime of power to which the machine is subject that is crucial to its understanding as part of an overall mechanism of desire, repressed or expressed openly. 'Technology presupposes social machines and desiring-machines, each within the other, and, by itself, has no power to decide which will be the engineering agency, desire or the oppression of desire.' (1995: 140; note: he uses the term 'engineering agency' to describe the body of society) This is why Guattari would regard technology acting on its own, under autonomy, as necessarily expressing a fascist tone in oppressing desire, and very little technology appears to promote desire as it is against dominant economic and political interests (sometimes presented as art, but rarely - Italian Futurism is an example of this tendency of the fascist desiring-machine).
Fascism is a good way of discussing the issue of desire in the social realm - in recognising the 'totalitarian machine which never stops modifying and adapting itself to the relationships of force and societal transformations' (1995: 237). Moreover, it is a certain excess over the desiring machine of capitalism and socialism that needed to contain its excess of mass desire - its demonisation is rather too reassuring perhaps. Deleuze and Guattari cite Wilhelm Reich in this connection to understand the mechanics of fascism (link to Frankfurt School in general). Desire explains in a more sympathetic way Reich's astonishment that the masses do not steal and strike on a regular basis, and tolerate being humiliated and enslaved. Although Reich casts desire as irrational in the social realm, Deleuze and Guattari do not accept this dualism between rationality of social production and irrationality of fantasy-production (1990: 29-30). Capitalism continues to fear the desiring masses (note: Elias Canetti's Crowds and Power would add detail here) perhaps made manifest in the alleged 'fundamentalisms' of Islam in the contemporary scene. The military machine responds (as it has done) with fascist zeal and desire (and the protestors are right when they declare the fascist tendencies of Blair despite his liberal democratic lineage). Its effectiveness is how well it channels 'the capacity of collective arrangements, subject-groups, to connect the social libido, on every level, with the whole range of revolutionary machines of desire' (Guattari, 1995: 245).
Guattari stresses the point of how power can be channelled to particular purpose: 'The question we ought to ask is not how the technical machine follows after simple tools, but how the social machine, and which social machine, instead of being content to engineer men and machines, makes the emergence of technical machines both possible and necessary.' (1995: 143)
This is a desiring-machine that works not through ideology but through the unconscious where desire resides. The relations of production described in Marx do not go far enough, and in this formulation are internal to the desiring machine to take account of desire, not as relations but as parts of the production machine (1995: 145). On the contrary, Negri would see this conceptual trajectory already evident in Marx's Grundrisse (see notes elsewhere). Deluze and Guattari would have us reread Marx, but also Hitler, to understand the desiring-machine (1995: 248).