Multitudes 34 : Autumn 2008

Multitudes : Autumn

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Anne Sauvagnargues

Un cavalier schizo-analytique sur le plateau du jeu d’échecs politique

Guattari is not the only thinker of the post-WWII generation who treated « the subject » as the result of a social process of production (an interpellation) : Lacan and Althusser, Deleuze and Foucault were heading in the same direction. Guattari, however, tends to dissolve any individualistic conception of the subject along a political and analytical axis which is not reducible to Lacan’s positions, from whom he clearly distances himself, nor to Deleuze’s, with whom he elaborates a collective work full of friendship and generosity. As a matter of fact, Guattari opens a new and singular field of problematization, with fresh conceptual operators drawn from Marx and Sartre as well as Lacan.


Christian Kerslake

Les machines désirantes de Félix Guattari. De Lacan à l’objet « a » de la subjectivité révolutionnaire

Lacan himself ends up missing the opportunity to relate his notion of the objet petit a to Marxist ideas about production, reproduction and consumption in political economy, and therefore scotomises the possible forms of « social enunciation » that could act as vehicles for political agency precisely during periods of technological revolution. Industrial capitalism, once set in motion, generates deterritorialised subjects, and through the very process of constant de-skilling and re-skilling, engenders new, in principle universal, machinic forms of subjectivity. Lacan had discovered the mechanism, but had not yet unfolded its historical conditions and political implications. Guattari suggests that the entire direction of social institutions has been radically transformed as a result of the capitalist expropriation of the results of the industrial revolution.


Jean-Claude Polack

L’analyse entre psycho et schizo

Under the pretext of being « anti-Oedipal », Guattari has been portrayed as an enemy of psychoanalysis. His project, however, is antinomical to this reputation. Rather than polemics and denunciation, he delighted in invention and promotion of new ideas. His work and his activism attempted to give its full scope to the Freudian invention of an unconscious desire : he tried to unfold its implication in the therapeutic field, in philosophical thinking and in revolutionary action.


Gary Genosko

Banco sur Félix. Signes partiels a-signifiants et technologie de l’information

In a cluster of books published originally in 1977, the two editions of La Révolution moléculaire, and L’Inconscient machinique (1979), Guattari elaborated a typology of semiotic systems framed in a Peirce-Hjelmslev hybrid conceptual vocabulary. Reading across these three books I want to flesh-out a-signifying semiotics in relation to an infotech strand on the machinic phylum inspired by one of Guattari’s favourite examples of the kind of semiosis put into play by a-signifying signs : credit and/or bank cards. Guattari’s innovation was to develop a-signifying signs in a typology of sign types but with respect to the problem of the relationship between material and semiotic dimensions in the age of planetary computerization and globalization.


Brian Massumi

Perception Attack. Note sur un temps de guerre

When war becomes perception attack, and perception is attacked ecologically ; when the ecology is of experience dawning, and the dawning modulates what will become ; when that modulation inhabits an untimely, « eternitarian » lapse, and in that lapse we « recollect forward » a world of conflict ; when that forwarding of a world of conflict plies the « full spectrum », expressing itself as a force of life – then the machinery of war arrogates to itself ontoproductive powers of emergent futurity. It claims « shocking » chaosmotic ontopower.


Barbara Glowczewski

Guattari et l’anthropologie : Aborigènes et territoires existentiels

In this article, I’d like to account for my debt towards Guattari’s thought, by tracking the main phases of our exchanges related to my fieldwork in Australia. Guattari is often cited (along with Deleuze) by English-speaking anthropologists but he is often ignored, or rejected, by a certain generation of French anthropologists. The articulation of existential territories with different systems of valorization and of ontological self-affirmation is in my view an important key in our effort to analyze from an anthropological point of view processes of re-singularization and re-location in our current universe of globalized interactions.


Peter Pál Pelbart

L’inconscient déterritorialisé

When Guattari defines the unconscious in terms of production rather than representation, when he speaks of enunciative agencement and when, in his latest writings, he approaches it from the point of view of « chaosmosis », he radicalizes the relation between the unconscious and its outside, and he provides a new conception based on proliferation, molecularisation and infinitisation.


Anne Querrien

Les cartes et les ritournelles d’une panthère arc-en-ciel

Guattari has progressively designed a set of tools capable of helping everyone escape from capitalist injunctions, finding support in affects, in participative action, in cultural universals and in the flows freed by the human adventure on the surface of the planet. The subject, distanced from the powerlessness generated by a central ego, develops her reflection and agency in infinitely diverse situations. He drew such tools, first, from institutional psychotherapy and psycho-sociology, later, from a form of semiotics not limited by the collapse of the « loci of speech », which finally led him to invent schizo-analytic mappings and to prepare the ground for « ecosophy ».


Natalie Gandais-Riollet et Alain Lipietz

Pauvreté, crise du climat et agrocarburants

Biofuel development not only condemns the poorest of the poor to famine, it also deprives peasant communities of their property rights – think of the 10 million acres of land robbed by Columbian paramilitaries for conversion into oil palm estates. Biofuel development takes place at the expense of biodiversity, it finishes off the last of the pristine rainforests, as in Indonesia where the ecosystems catering for orang-outangs are disapearing. And it also savages the floral resources within the European Union. And yet, only two years ago, biofuels were hailed as the miracle solution to dwindling petroleum reserves and to the problem of global warming, with the European Union adding one ambitious biofuel initiative to the next! The near-unanimous change of heart we have been witnessing over the past months is surely a first victory, but we should definitely not slacken in our efforts.


Giovanna Zapperi

Renée Green : tactiques de l’Histoire

Smithson, Notari, Le Corbusier, Einstein…Renée Green’s work sketches genealogies through reconstructions and inquiries based on displacements through times and spaces, between the present and the past, the subject of narration and the subject of the story, here and elsewhere. In these back-and-forth movements between archive and fiction, historical figures emerge as ghosts which literally haunt her films, occupying a spatial borderline between imagination, history and the desires invested in the process of remembrance.


Isabelle Pariente-Butterlin

La dimension implicite de la norme

According to Pariente-Butterlin’s interpretive hypothesis, the level of explicit laws cannot represent the paradigm of the norm. In other words, the construction of normativity refers to an implicit dimension which sheds light on its explicit workings. In this sense, one can grant that conduct is not an expression of the law. This point of view completely displaces the problematic pertaining to the determination of a possible meaning in the production of conducts, for « how is it that we obey legal rules whose existence we are unaware of ? » In most of our actions, we do not regulate our conduct according to the value and injunction of the law. This implies that even our relation to laws implies an implicit reference to norms. Hence it becomes conceivable that forms of resistance or acceptance of laws be understood as modalities of action or conduct falling under the implicit horizon of normativity.


Marc Maesschalck

Normes de gouvernance et enrôlement des acteurs sociaux

The study of current forms of governance sheds light on « forms of social experiment » based on collective participation. The effectiveness of a system of rules relies less on realizing a subsumption justifying the inner validity of a procedure than on the « power to infer the production of a satisfying form of social life ». This is why « the question of the law’s normativity is displaced from the formal coherence of its semantic content towards its pragmatic potential of governance as a social institution ». It is therefore urgent to invent new forms of social cooperation able to counter the agents’ « opportunism » in their attempts to seize the new opportunities opened by the crisis of classical institutions.


Emmanuel Renault

Biopolitique, médecine sociale et critique du libéralisme

Current debates on neo-liberal governmentality and the medicalization-psychologization of the social constantly refer to Foucault’s theory of biopolitics. I critically examine Foucault’s notions of biopolitics and liberalism as conveyed in his articles on the emergence of social medicine in the 19th century. My thesis is that the movement of sanitary reform is irreducible to the mere development of liberal governmentality and that the idea of social medicine was associated in the period with a critique of the normative principles of liberalism which remains relevant today.


Luc Vincenti

Philosophie et philosophie des normes chez Kant

Luc Vincenti starts from the question of applicability which, as regards human behaviour, specifies normativity within the wider field of regularity. Kant’s practical philosophy enables this applicability to be located, beyond the mere feeling of self, in the knowledge of one’s freedom. But what happens to this foundation of obligation outside of the moral realm, in the legal realm, where Kant is closer to Kelsenian positivism ? In fact, Kant’s political philosophy is two-sided : while he questions the contractualist foundation within the properly legal realm, he returns to the idea of legitimacy in the purposive relation law has to morals, i.e., in the capacity of the law to produce peace by preserving peace. Kant’s notion of the public usage of reason then exhibits this purpose of law, through freedom of expression, and is also the public display of freedom’s knowledge of itself.


Félix Guattari

Impasse postmoderne et transition postmédia

Postmodern philosophers may flirt with pragmatics, but they remain trapped within a structuralist conception of speech and language, which prevents them from articulating subjective facts to the formations of the unconscious, to the realm of aesthetics and micropolitics. One should start again from the basic (but immensely important) fact that concrete social devices deal with much more than mere linguistic performance : they are made up of ethological and ecological dimensions, of semiotic, economic, aesthetic components, of bodily fantasies irreducible to linguistic semiology, displaying a multitude of disembodied universes of reference, which do not easily fit within the coordinates of our ruling empiricism.