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Machineries

With the “organology” of Canguilhem and “mechanology” of Simondon, Deleuze and Guattari contradicted psychoanalysts’ configurations of desire as a defective mechanism, such as that found in the Oedipus complex. Subsequently, through the 1970s and 1980s, they described a vast array of machines hitherto unexplored. Hence the opening section of Anti-Oedipus:

What a mistake to have ever said the Id. Everywhere it is machines—real ones, not figurative ones: machines driving other machines, machines being driven by other machines, with all the necessary couplings and connections . . . Producing-machines, desiring-machines everywhere, schizophrenic machines, all of species life: the self and the non-self, outside and inside, no longer have any meaning whatsoever . . . Thus we cannot agree with Victor Tausk when he regards the paranoiac machine as a mere projection of “a person’s own body” and the genital organs . . . in and of itself the paranoiac machine is merely an avatar of the desiring-machines.

In “Psychoanalysis and Ethnology,” a section published in English two years prior to Anti-Oedipus, they define desiring-machines as “the microphysics the unconscious, the elements of the micro-unconscious. But, as such, they never exist independently of the historical molar aggregates . . . Symbols and fetishes are manifestations of desiring-machines.” As linguists debated the genesis of language and literacies, so did Deleuze and Guattari explore the psychic and historical genesis of machineries. They begin by clearing up confusion: “The unconscious constructs machines which are machines of desire, whose use and functioning schizo-analysis discovers in their immanent relationship with social machines. That unconscious says nothing, it machines.” A machinic element, such as “a graphic system independent of the voice . . . not aligned on the voice . . . not subordinate to it,” is “linear writing’s contrary.” From here, they take on inscription, representation, signification, and machinic questions of language and literature. “Alphabetical writing is not for illiterates, but by illiterates,” they joke. “It goes by way of illiterates, those unconscious workers.” And herein postliterate machineries are given articulation: “Writing has never been capitalism’s thing. Capitalism is profoundly illiterate. The death of writing is like the death of God or the death of the father: the thing was settled a long time ago, although the news of the event is slow to reach us, and there survives in us the memory of extinct signs with which we still write . . . Once this is said, what exactly is meant when someone announces the collapse of the ‘Gutenberg galaxy’?”4

Obviously, machineries are not exclusively “go to” concepts signifying material and immaterial phenomena or noumena. Machineries arc phenomena and noumena, providing archetypes and prototypes that suggest how to act and think. Machinery refers to functional processes such as leveraging and to those more complex such as transporting, relaying, and oscillating or most simply to the quality or state of being machinic. Machinery is the facility to process and diffuse, which implies material, metaphoric, and metaphysical substrata.

 
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