1 Vincent Jacques: As a preamble to the issue, we wanted to organize this dialogue with several people to question the two fundamental presuppositions on which it is based and which I propose to summarize with these two series of questions:
2 1. Is there a Deleuzo-Guattarian metaphysics and, if so, how should this term be understood? Can we on the other hand or correlatively speak of ontology with regard to them? Moreover, what would be the most adequate term or qualifier to designate this metaphysics? How to specify it in relation to other contemporary metaphysics?
3 2. What is the degree of autonomy of the metaphysics of Deleuze & Guattari compared to that of Deleuze? Does the latter’s logic change after his meeting with Guattari or does their work only develop this logic in another way (around the actual-virtual couple for example) without fundamentally modifying it?
4 Jérôme Rosanvallon: Without prejudging the unpredictable paths that this attempt at a “collective arrangement of enunciation” will take, I will extend Vincent’s presentation by specifying and numbering the field of questions that we are about to explore. It is a question of elucidating:
5 1. what can be said of the metaphysics of Deleuze & Guattari: 1.1. in relation, in particular, to their political philosophy (universal history, theory of desiring machines, of social formations, of the State, of capitalism, etc.); 1.2. in relation to the possible refusal of any metaphysics, of any ontology that would characterize their philosophy; 1.3. in relation to other philosophies or metaphysical lineages, close or distant, to which they would belong or from which they would be distinguished.
6 2. what can be said of the metaphysics of Deleuze & Guattari: 2.1. in relation to that of Deleuze alone; 2.2. compared to that of Guattari alone, whether it is about, in both cases, works written before, between, or after their fourfold collaboration (AO, TP, K, WIP); 2.3. among commentators in general, including us, and from the point of view of the institution in general.
7 While it would be useful to deal with these points successively and separately, they are nonetheless obviously closely correlated to each other.
8 To outline my own elements of response and thus launch the discussion between us, I will allow myself to quickly reexpose the theses that I defended on some of these points in my introduction to their philosophy (Deleuze & Guattari à vitesse infinite. Vol. 1 and 2. Ollendorff & desseins, 2009 and 2016):
9 1.1. One of the shortcomings and even, it seems to me, one of the most common misinterpretations of their common work is to reduce it to an essentially political philosophy or, worse, to being only the properly political part of the philosophy of Deleuze… This misinterpretation leads to all of the others by considerably reducing the scope of their philosophy, by missing a not insignificant part of AO, by obliterating certain plateaus of TP and its general stake, and above all, by isolating WIP from the three previous collaborations to reabsorb it entirely in the philosophy of Deleuze alone without being able in any way to account for the way in which Deleuze himself presents their collaboration and announces its final part in this extract from an interview dating back to 1988 which we have placed in the epigraph of the issue: “Guattari and I want to get back to our joint work, and produce a sort of philosophy of Nature, now that any distinction between nature and artifice is becoming blurred.” (N, p. 155). In this way, Deleuze also perhaps gives in advance the key to the difficulty, for commentators, in recognizing that their common philosophy covers all the domains of reality, is a complete philosophical system, therefore in particular an ontology, of which the socio-historical reality is never just one aspect: managing to blur any difference between nature and artifice, society, culture, history indeed implies showing that all existence and natural production are ultimately shaped by socio-historical reality and therefore that “everything is political” without seeing that the reverse must also be true, in other words that “everything is natural” as well…
10 1.2. I confess that I never understood the argument consisting in refusing any ontological dimension to their philosophy as well as to that of Deleuze alone. I devoted the majority of my first volume to showing in particular, at all of the stages in the elaboration of their philosophy, the primacy of variation over all forms of partial and provisional invariance, that are always secondary (strata, arrangements, territorializations, codings, machinic structures, plans, concepts, etc.)—primacy which brings them in particular closer to the structure of Darwinian theory. Now to affirm that there is first of all fundamentally variation, to purify it of all its invariants (including being), nevertheless remains, it seems to me, a fully ontological affirmation (as were already the Heraclitean becoming, the Bergsonian duration, etc.).
11 Igor Krtolica: The distinction between metaphysics and politics is sometimes invoked with regard to the Deleuzo-Guattarian work (which is sometimes superimposed on the nature-culture distinction), sometimes to favor the political dimension and the analysis of cultural forms (as shown by the fundamental problem of political philosophy posed by the beginning of AO and which animates schizo-analysis), sometimes to underline the persistence in their philosophy of a metaphysical ambition (metaphysics of immanent nature, philosophy of multiplicities and continuous variation, etc.). But I still wonder what is meant by “metaphysics.” In a certain way, if I understand him correctly, Jérôme defends the idea that everything is metaphysical in a philosophy of absolute immanence like theirs: just as in Spinoza God is the “proximate cause” of everything, the same goes for Deleuze and Guattari, for whom any arrangement is a movement of the Earth (territorialization-deterritorialization). But Jérôme also notices that, consequently, the signifier metaphysics empties itself as it fills up. From a logical point of view, it might as well be said: its comprehension diminishes as its extension increases, so much so that we no longer really know what is metaphysical and what is not. Should we then hold on to this term? It is true that not all of the texts are metaphysical to the same degree: there is a noticeable difference between the passages of TP on the plane of consistency and those on the State as an apparatus of capture, just as there is a difference between the first book of Ethics and Tractatus Theologico-Politicus. But, I agree with Jérôme on the fact that, in their common work (more than in their respective works), the two domains—politics and metaphysics—tend to become indistinguishable. Consequently, I believe that the interplay of the two senses of the concept of metaphysics is useful. If we stick to the classical meaning of the term, namely that metaphysics is a field of philosophy which thinks about what is beyond the empirical or phenomenal world, I believe that we can measure the originality of their theory of the absolute in the history of philosophy (for example, the theory of absolute deterritorialization, of becoming-imperceptible, of the plane of consistency, etc.). If we now consider metaphysics in the typical sense given to it by the philosophies of Nature and immanence, namely that everything is in direct relation to the absolute, I believe that this makes it possible this time to determine the way in which everything is a modality or modalization of the absolute (which is implied by the theory of desiring-production or machinic processes).
12 Manola Antonioli: As for me, I share with Igor a great perplexity in the face of the first question that we have chosen to ask ourselves collectively: is there a Deleuzo-Guattarian metaphysics and, if so, what would it consist of? Two interpretations—at least—of the term “metaphysics” are possible: that which makes it the study of what is “beyond physics” and, that which (obviously closely linked to the first) is situated in the Kantian, then Nietzschean, Heideggerian or Derridian tradition, which makes it a thousand-year-old operation of devaluation of the sensible and terrestrial world, for the benefit (almost in financial terms of “capitalization”) of a higher, truer, better, more disembodied and spiritual world.
13 As far as the first interpretation is concerned, the answer is certainly—in my humble opinion—negative: nothing in Deleuze-Guattari aspires to go beyond and overcome physics. For them, it is rather about showing the dynamics, the forces and the becomings which animate the physical world, a thickness of the surface (or the Earth’s crust) teeming with forms of life (organic and inorganic, human, animal, vegetable and machinic), linked by mysterious correspondences and incessant exchanges. The same logic is at work in WIP as shown by the pages on “geophilosophy” (a term around which my monograph at the time revolved, Géophilosophie de Deleuze & Guattari, Harmattan, 2004) or those on the planes—at once autonomous and convergent—where, in quasi-geological zones of “unlocalizable interference,” science, the arts, and philosophy intersect. This diagnosis is also valid, in my opinion, for the work of Deleuze alone as well as Guattari alone. It would suffice to reread the pages on the territorial distribution of the image of thought in DR, where the opposition between a sedentary thought and a nomadic thought appeared well before the two volumes of Capitalism and Schizophrenia, or to reread Chaosmosis—the work in which Félix Guattari presents an aesthetic, philosophical, ecosophical and psychoanalytical translation of the world of ordered chaos, of regular irregularity, brought to light by the physico-mathematical theory of chaos during the seventies (one of the main references used by Guattari in this book being James Gleick, La Théorie du chaos , Flammarion, 1991, revised and corrected edition 2008).
14 As for the second interpretation, the answer is, in my opinion, always negative: there is no Deleuzo-Guattarian “metaphysics.” From this point of view, one can refer to one of the most complex and (probably) least read of TP’s plateaus: the third one, entitled “10,000 BC: The Geology of Morals.” In Professor Challenger’s “fiction-lecture” that serves as a thread for the plateau, the plane of consistency or Body without Organs of the Earth is made of unformed matter, always in the process of stratification or destratification, of molecular and sub-molecular intensities and particles. It is also made of contents or formed matter, of intensive and extensive multiplicities, of dynamics of territorialization and deterritorialization, and all the effort of Deleuze and Guattari throughout the plateau (and throughout the work) will consist in showing that in the evolution of the Earth and nature as in the evolution of man and culture, any rigid dualism is inadequate to the comprehension of the natural phenomena as cultural events. In this perspective, the fundamental contribution of Darwinism consisted in inventing a new form of coupling between individuals and environments, by showing that the forms taken by life in the course of its evolution are “statistical results” from a given population, which will be all the better distributed in its environment as its evolution will be bushy, diversified, multiple, and capable of taking different forms. It is the diversity and the multiplicity of heterogeneous forms of life, with moving and permeable borders, which makes the Earth rich according to Professor Challenger. What is always first, for Deleuze and Guattari, is the deterritorialization from which moving strata are formed on the plane of immanence of the Earth. The noosphere does not detach itself from the biosphere as a higher grade of perfection and the sphere of the human “spirit” belongs integrally to the great terrestrial “Mechanosphere:” all the traditional borders between nature and culture, natural and artificial, material and spiritual, terrestrial and supraterrestrial thus become obsolete. Sign regimes and tools are deployed from the associated biological and physical environments.
15 To temporarily conclude these few reflections on a formidably complex question, I think that it is time, above all, to take seriously as a philosophical work—and without wanting at all costs to lead it back to the familiar terrain of “metaphysics”—this three-headed hydra (D, D&G, G) which provides by anticipation keys to reading (at once theoretical, aesthetic, political, ecological and technological) the complexity of the present and its future. It is perhaps not metaphysics, but it is not nothing…
16 Vincent Jacques: As for me, I believe that metaphysics is indeed part of the philosophical project of Deleuze and Guattari. As I wrote in my Deleuze (Ellipses, 2014), A Thousand Plateaus is for me a “classic” book offering metaphysics, politics, aesthetics, and ethics. The philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari is untimely in its way of believing in philosophy and practicing it in an astonishing production of concepts. If the term “classic” may seem surprising to speak of such a book, it is of course not a question here of denying the new, disconcerting, unclassifiable side of A Thousand Plateaus but of insisting on the outdated aspect of their philosophy. But, in 1980, who else wrote a philosophy which, like Hegelian philosophy in its time, tended to conceptually account for the entirety of reality? Against the background of contemporary philosophy by the multitude of subjects treated—ethology, linguistics, history, ethnology, prehistory, biology—A Thousand Plateaus is distinguished by its ability to link all these fields, to redistribute them, to blur the borders by drawing out, starting from them, lines of flight which participate in the regime of co-belonging of all of the differences on the same plane of immanence. This ontological proposal of the univocity of being, the Earth in A Thousand Plateaus, is not for all that a foundation, nor a goal of going beyond the physical and material world. On the contrary, to have a sense of the Earth is to aim to participate in the powerful movements of deterritorialization that cross and support it. If the question of metaphysics in Deleuze and Guattari seems paradoxically both obvious, essential to their conceptual construction, and of little interest for them who do linger over redefining it, it is surely because it is in their perspective rather a means than an end: it serves them to decompartmentalize knowledge and to critique a negative relationship to the world and to becoming (“It may be that believing in this world, in this life, becomes our most difficult task,” WIP, p. 75).
17 This call to “believe in the world” completely inverts the meaning of what the term metaphysics traditionally implies, namely any aim towards a beyond-the-world, towards a transcendent and founding unity of reality. On the other hand, if it is indeed a question of metaphysics, as Igor says, it is because every object has a real part and a virtual part as Deleuze shows in DR, whereas we find, although different, this metaphysical partition in TP and in AO and WIP. In the case of TP, the concepts of absolute deterritorialization and of becoming-imperceptible, the concept of Earth and that of the plane of consistency aim at a horizon of metaphysical communicability of the differences that one can, in my opinion, attach to the virtual, even if one would have to see what makes such a development of different notions pointing towards metaphysics necessary each time. One of the possible answers would be that the dynamic between the actual and the virtual, whose indiscernibility Deleuze had postulated but which he nevertheless posed according to a certain dichotomous scheme, is refined in the conceptual writing of Deleuze and Guattari. Thus in the plateau “Becoming-Intense, Becoming-Animal, Becoming-Imperceptible”, we observe, in the very concept of becoming, a form of progression or continuous variation, from all becomings where virtual and actual are indistinguishable to higher degrees of participation in the co-belonging of the Earth, from becoming-minoritarian and becoming-animal to becoming-imperceptible, this tipping point where the subject dissolves completely in order to “be present at the dawn of the world” (TP, p. 280). With the concept of becoming, it is clear that metaphysics is both a tool for understanding reality and an ethical and political horizon. In other words, the conceptualization of a regime of absolute participation, co-belonging and communicability of all differences is both a tool for developing a cosmopolitics “beyond nature and culture” as an epistemological weapon of war to disturb and overthrow all the constituted domains of knowledge (starting with anthropology). The metaphysical horizon of a deterritorialized Earth is necessary for the redefinition of a renewed naturalism, rid of its moralizing “human all-too-human” gangue, like the brilliant discovery of the title “Geology of Morals” points out: “Unnatural participations or nuptials are the true Nature spanning the kingdoms of nature” (TP, p. 241). Although contemporary science is no longer so attached to the strict impermeability of kingdoms, it does not however develop a regime of integral participation, which precisely defines the stakes of the philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari. In short, metaphysics is, in my opinion, essential to the development of the ethical and political horizon of A Thousand Plateaus, as well as to its potential for epistemological renewal.
18 Igor Krtolica: To come back to the becoming-indiscernible of metaphysics and politics in Deleuze-Guattari, I for one have serious doubts about the interest there would be in maintaining this distinction, whether in the form of a sharing of fields, or of a relation of inclusion. I find it difficult to see how to support the idea that metaphysics and politics belong to two distinct fields, nor do I see how to support the idea that one includes the other. Because we can just as well affirm that, for them, politics is one of the dimensions of metaphysics (any social formation would be a modalization of the absolute deterritorialization of the desiring process), or conversely that politics includes metaphysics as one of its forms (the history of metaphysics would be linked to the history of certain social practices, as shown by the correlation in “Rhizome,” resulting from the work of André-Georges Haudricourt, between the philosophies of immanence and cultivation of rhizomatic plants). In the chiasmus, introduced from the outset by Anti-Oedipus, between nature and history, where Homo natura is both at the beginning and at the end of universal history, it is clear that the whole machinic theory of assemblage tends in reality to neutralize the very possibility of such a distinction, so that there would rather be an indiscernibility or a reversibility of the two: no assemblage that is not both metaphysical and political (at least micropolitical), as attested by the coexistence and simultaneity of the two movements of territorialization and deterritorialization. It would then be necessary to say that there is between metaphysics and politics the same kind of distinction as between the two powers of the absolute: an “ontological” parallelism between the movement of explanation (Nature) and a movement of complication (Thought)? In any case, it should be noted that the decision to qualify as “becoming-minoritarian” or “becoming-revolutionary” the absolute deterritorialization operated by philosophical thought in WIP is highly significant. This is, moreover, I believe, one of the most original and singular aspects of their work in the philosophical landscape of the seventies and eighties: AO, K, TP and WIP carry a conception of absolute deterritorialization and of becomings where political theory and theory of the absolute go very well together. For, on the one hand, such a conception is just as good as the theory of salvation and beatitude that Spinoza forges in Ethics, and of which there is hardly any equivalent in contemporary political philosophy (except perhaps in the renewed interest in the problem of the “good life”). But, on the other hand, such a conception includes immediately political components, for example in the idea that the absolute deterritorialization of philosophical thought finds its conditions of possibility in social formations that form environments of immanence. Had Spinoza succeeded in integrating such components into his theory of salvation, or were the two problems distributed, one in Ethics and the other in Tractatus Theologico-Politicus? (Has the unfinished end of the Political Treatise reached this point of indiscernibility?) As such, everything happens in any case as if the work of Deleuze and Guattari were the fruit of the fertilization of Ethics and the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, with a gestation of three hundred years! Are there equivalent ambitions in contemporary political philosophy and metaphysics? There would be material here to compare with certain ambitions of contemporary philosophy. I am thinking of Hegelian-inspired social philosophy, for example of the whole tradition stemming from the Frankfurt School, and, in particular, of Hartmut Rosa’s attempt to hold such an ambition with the concept of resonance, an original attempt but to my philosophically failed sense, I am thinking of the neo-Marxist Spinozists, for example of the relationship that Étienne Balibar establishes between his political theory and his ontology of the transindividual. Finally, I am thinking of the enterprise that Badiou has been carrying out since Being and Event.
19 Jérôme Rosanvallon: I suggest that we now examine our second major question concerning the degree of autonomy of Deleuzo-Guattarian metaphysics, starting perhaps with point 2.3. It seems important to me to insist on the fact that it is not a question of a simple quarrel, minor and secondary, between specialists, that it does not engage only the interpretation of the work but the very place of Deleuze and above all of Guattari in the school and academic institution in particular and the history of philosophy in general—if indeed it is a question of belonging to it and not of escaping from it as claimed by Deleuze himself: “I liked writers who seemed to be part of the history of philosophy, but who escaped from it in one respect, or altogether: Lucretius, Spinoza, Hume, Nietzsche, Bergson” (D, pp. 14-15). It is obvious that this analysis gave an account in advance of what was looming in his own case, with a work first used then increasingly studied by the institution, therefore in the process of apparent integration into the history of philosophy (even if we are still very far from the mark since he is still not part of the recently enriched list of authors on the Terminale syllabus, unlike for example… Iris Murdoch!), but in truth still escaping “from everywhere,” in particular from “one side” named Guattari… Will there thus exist a blessed era, which one can hope is not too far away, when Deleuze and Guattari will both belong to the history of philosophy? In the immediate term, my wish would already be that an author or a publisher may no longer, when it comes to one of their joint works, title only “Deleuze” or write “according to Deleuze” and thus completely eliminate Guattari without feeling at least some discomfort…
20 Manola Antonioli: I agree with Jérôme on this thorny question. It seems essential to me in this regard to distinguish beforehand between several authors of the philosophical corpus who bear this double signature (Deleuze and/or Guattari). “Professional” philosophers have continued for two decades now to speak and write around the philosophy of “Deleuze,” implicitly considered as the sole author (the only respectable and serious author?) of all these texts, including AO, K, TP, and WIP, yet written with four hands. It goes without saying that the works written by Guattari without Deleuze (numerous and original) are simply not mentioned, analyzed and quoted, because they are perceived as the ramblings—often totally illegible, it must be admitted…—of a strange troublemaker (self-taught psychoanalyst and philosopher, extreme left activist in marginal and ephemeral small groups, without titles, diplomas or attachments to prestigious university institutions). Thus too many commentators unconsciously take it upon themselves to bring Deleuze back, beyond his Guattarian wanderings, to the straight path of the academy. The temptation is therefore strong to consider that Gilles Deleuze, author of several notable and remarkable works on the history of philosophy on more or less “canonical” authors (Hume, Kant, Spinoza, Bergson, Nietzsche) and atypical but excellent and recognized academic works (DR, LS, EPS, FLB) is at the origin of a contemporary philosophical system (the famous “philosophy of immanence”), with transparent and mathematical rigor, and that the collaboration with Guattari is just a curious episode, a wandering into the troubled areas of politics and the critique of psychoanalysis. It is—more or less—the hermeneutic operation of extreme symbolic violence, the interpretative coup that Alain Badiou carried out by publishing La Clameur de l’être [The Clamor of Being] (Hachette, 1997) a work which—shortly after the death of Gilles Deleuze—made him the worthy heir of Plato and the metaphysics of the One. Conversely and in a symmetrical and complementary way, AO is reduced to a polemical work in which the two authors, in the post-68 atmosphere, settle scores with Freud, Lacan and psychoanalysis and TP—read almost systematically in a hasty, superficial, biased, and partial way by professionals of philosophical commentary who would never allow themselves such casualness vis-à-vis the classic texts of the academic canon—like a vague work of political philosophy, even, to take up what Jérôme said, scandalously, as “the properly political aspect of Deleuze’s philosophy.”
21 Jérôme Rosanvallon: It is therefore salutary to explicitly raise point 2.1 here—the autonomy of their metaphysics in relation to that of Deleuze alone—and to examine it in detail. If we reformulate the problem in terms of WIP, the question is ultimately about knowing if the philosophy of Deleuze & Guattari shares the same plane (of immanence) as the philosophy of Deleuze or if it traces another one, and more finely then how exactly, on what coordinates, the curvature of this new plane would be distinguished from the previous one, etc. I am, for my part, in complete disagreement with the first position (pure and simple identification of the two planes) which nevertheless seems clearly in the majority among the commentators—and which is even most of the time never questioned as such, and this is precisely what is at stake in this discussion. In a letter to Arnaud Villani dated 1982, Deleuze himself protested in veiled terms against this identification which already had everything of a pure and simple annexation: “Your point of view remains correct, and one can speak of me without Félix. Still, AO and TP are entirely from him, as entirely from me, according to two possible points of view. Hence the need, if you will, to point out that, if you stick to me, it is by virtue of your very enterprise, and not at all of a secondary or ‘occasional’ character of Félix” (in Arnaud Villani, La Guêpe et l’orchidée. Essai sur Gilles Deleuze, Belin, 1999, pp. 125-126).
22 The actual/virtual couple, immediately and rightly introduced by Vincent, seems to me just the right thing to measure or in any case to probe in some way the difference in curvature of the Deleuzian and Deleuzo-Guattarian planes. Deleuze’s conception of it in DR, LS, but also B or even PS (I’m probably forgetting some), is essentially (if we summarize it roughly) tinged with Platonism, Kantianism and above all of course of Bergsonism, in short of idealism reviewed and re-read of course from an empiricist angle (and nourished by a certain mathematical ontology stemming from Lautman). Now, as far as I’m concerned, I believe that this pair 1) becomes completely secondary in AO and TP, certainly reappearing here and there no longer constituting, however, the central framework of their metaphysics at that moment; 2) indeed reappears at the heart of WIP in the relation of chaos to planes with the double line of actualization of the virtual (which constitutes science/the universe) and in a way of virtualization of the actual (which constitutes philosophy/the being of the concept). However, this virtual no longer has anything ideal, or at least it is as much ideal as material: the way in which they describe chaos in particular (“It is a void that is not a nothingness but a virtual, containing all possible particles and drawing out all possible forms, which spring up only to disappear immediately,” p. 118) intersects very exactly the vacuum in quantum field theory with its fluctuations (virtual particles), the Unruh effect, etc. In short, a “physical ontology” and no longer just “mathematical” which owes a lot to the contribution of Guattari. So obviously you will tell me that in the meantime there was FLB where Deleuze was re-exploring this question afresh with Leibniz—which obviously prevents purely and simply making the philosophy of Deleuze & Guattari independent of that of Deleuze alone, my position thus undoubtedly having the opposite defect of underdetermining the links between WIP and the Deleuze of the 1980s.
23 But point 2.2 is just as important, namely the relationship of the two authors to the work of Guattari alone, the most neglected entity of this “three-headed hydra” according to Manola’s good formula. The problem then seems to me to be posed quite differently: it is rather the difference in writing that we observe and his own theoretical contribution that we are trying to measure (as if it were not at all self-evident this time…). In my first introductory volume, I insisted in detail on the second point from the case of WIP, where the notion of “infinite speed,” which is a conceptual contribution specific to Guattari, plays a major role in the architectonics of the work. I would just like to mention here the first point, the notable difference in writing between the works of Guattari alone and their joint works, because it is this which undoubtedly implicitly leads many commentators to play down his role. However, this difference is clearly explained by the fact that Deleuze always took charge of the final formatting of the texts, adding a clarity of expression and a pedagogical concern that are unfortunately often lacking in Guattari (but he is neither the first nor the last major philosopher in this case…). However, the formatting of the expression is not to be confused (initially in any case) with the content of thought, in other words the positioning of the problems, the theoretical intuition, the conceptual creation, and in general a certain speed of thought which was obviously a characteristic of Guattari and in relation to which Deleuze always felt that he was precisely one step behind—exactly as Marx said of Engels (“You know that, first of all, I arrive at things slowly, and, secondly, I always follow in your footsteps”, Letter to Engels of July 4, 1864 in Marx and Engels, Correspondance, VII, Éditions sociales, 1979, p. 248). In short, everything happens as if a certain stylistic re-cognition (itself debatable) tended to absorb the thought of Deleuze and Guattari into that of Deleuze alone and to mask the extent to which this has been transformed in depth and at each stage (and not only of course at the time of writing AO) by Guattari’s thought.
24 Igor Krtolica: The question of the autonomy (or the degree of autonomy) of their common philosophy is a way of posing the problem which already orients the answer, since one could very well ask—and this has indeed been done—what is the degree of autonomy of TP in relation to AO, or of WIP in relation to Capitalism and Schizophrenia as a whole, or even of K in relation to all the others, etc.? And besides, why not go even further? Why not ask if plateau 11 on the refrain [ritournelle] isn’t independent from the other plateaus, or the plateau on faciality from that on the three novellas, etc.? We could thus continue ad libitum… The fact remains that the question, if I understand it correctly, consists in asking two things: do Deleuze and Guattari conquer a new plane of analysis starting from AO? And do their respective works after Capitalism and Schizophrenia maintain this level of analysis or not? It seems to me that the answer to the first question is positive, given the break that the theory of desiring machines establishes with respect to structuralism. I am saying nothing original when I recall that Guattari’s text “Machine and Structure” has, in this respect, great importance for appreciating this decisive break and the genesis of a new philosophy, Guattari having claimed to isolate a machinic conception from Deleuzian theory of… advanced structure in LS. Guattari’s project is to completely remove the machine from any principle of reproduction (Deleuze would have said: to the form of the Same), which he sees in particular at work in the Althusserian conception of structure. Hence the importance of the idea of significant cut in the Guattarian texts of this period, a term that will gradually disappear. More generally, it is the whole machinic theory that Deleuze and Guattari elaborated over the course of the 1970s, of which the conceptual apparatus of assemblage is in some way the emblem, which attests to the autonomy of Deleuzo-Guattarian philosophy in relation to their previous thoughts. Therefore, it seems to me that the answer to the second question follows from this: namely that Deleuze and Guattari, in their respective works, developed their own conceptual apparatus. Thus Deleuze almost never mentions the conceptual apparatus of assemblage in his studies of the 1980s, although one can trace its effects in his continuous theorization of the relationship between the visible and the utterable, whereas Guattari takes it up explicitly, but according to new parameters (Semiotic Flows, Machinic Phylum, Existential Territories and Incorporeal Universes of reference). But in both cases, they seem to pose a common general problem, which is in line with Capitalism and Schizophrenia and which accounts for the function of WIP: on the one hand, to analyze and critique the current forms of social repression and of denaturation of the unconscious desire, and on the other hand to release and train the forces capable of leading the assemblages into becomings which possess an intrinsic meaning and value.
25 From the point of view of this common problem, however, one cannot stress enough the importance of the historical conjuncture in and on which they intend to intervene. Because the theoretical break with the 1960s is inseparable from the break established by May 68. There again, I do not claim to say anything new (and Manola knows it all the better since, for the 40th anniversary of May 68, she co-directed the volume Gilles Deleuze et Félix Guattari, une rencontre dans l’après Mai 68). What diagnosis do they carry on this rupture? For them, May 68 was the emergence of a double front of struggle, struggle on the front of desire (sexual revolution, rejection of authority) and struggle on the social front (with the question of work, typical of the labor movement and class struggle). Thus, in the continuity of the struggles that emerged during the sixties, May 68 established a “little break,” traced “a line of flight” by showing the unity of these two struggles, that is to say the unity of desire and the social, by placing the struggle against power within desire (for example in the denunciation of the unconscious desire for power that reigns even in movements that claim to be revolutionary). It was quickly filled up, not only by State power but also by revolutionary organizations, who maintained the break between desire and the social, sometimes by invoking their supposed exteriority (following the idea that students were petits-bourgeois to whom the workers’ question was foreign), sometimes their alleged hierarchy (following the idea that the workers’ revolution was a priority and should precede the desiring revolution). The fact remains that, for Deleuze and Guattari, if the cut separating the desiring field from the social field was maintained on a molar scale, this line of flight has not ceased to infiltrate all sorts of environments on a molecular scale. And it is no exaggeration to say that, on the basis of this diagnosis of May 68—the production of a micro-break within the revolutionary movements on the relationship between desire and power—Deleuze and Guattari had no other ambition, in conceptualizing the “metaphysical-political” immanence of desire and power, than to produce together the theory of this micro-break produced by the event of May 68 and thus to contribute practically to amplifying this micro-break to transform it into a “real fracture.” From this point of view, we can consider that AO intended to critique the repression of desire by power, by bringing out the conditions and the moments of the interiorization of the repression of desire (until the self-repression of the desire that culminates in macro- and micro-fascisms) and its depoliticization or its exclusion (the oedipalization of desire). Correlatively, we can consider that TP claimed to contribute to the creation of this “revolutionary war machine” which had been lacking in May 68, this type of social-desiring organization which puts social production at the service of desiring production and which operates a molecular revolution (micro-politics) likely to invest by amplification the molar scale (macro-politics). Hence the disappointment following the turn that things would take from the end of the 1970s, illustrated by the 1984 article “May 68 Did Not Take Place,” which forms a sort of high point to their attempt started in the post-68 period. If Jérôme asked me what would be the place of WIP in the history of this diagnosis, I would say that it is twofold. First, in a general way, it is clear that Deleuze and Guattari have, from the beginning, sought to determine the kind of “cog” that philosophy, science and art are in a revolutionary machine, once it is said that these noetic practices are never in a position of exteriority or overhang in relation to the social machine, but in a position of adjacency. Thus, at the end of AO, with the question of literature as criticism in K, with the analysis of noology in TP, the question comes up constantly. It will come back even more clearly in the famous chapter 4 of WIP on “Geophilosophy,” which theorizes the conditioning relationship between the environments of immanence (the Athenian and capitalist democracies) and the emergence of philosophy as absolute deterritorialization. On the other hand, in a more specific relation to the problematic legacy of May 68 and to the liquidation of the possibilities that the event had opened up (liquidation carried out by the neoliberal right from the mid-1970s as well as by the left of Programme commun, which became manifest in 1983), I would say that their last common book prolongs the same questioning (although it is obviously not reduced to it at all): according to the recomposition of the social machine and the rise of a new regime of power since the 1970s, an analysis of which they had already outlined in TP in connection with the notion of “new mechanical enslavement”—which Deleuze would take up with the idea of “societies of control” and Guattari with that of “Integrated World Capitalism”—it is for them, as always, a matter of identifying the new lines of flight liberated by this machine and to extend them. I think from this point of view that the theme of resistance to the communication of information is central, because this theme articulates both the analysis of capitalism, with the growing role played in it by marketing, whose alleged creation of concepts is an event, and the theory of thought and the brain, whose question is to know how to liberate the creative potential always threatened by the regime of clichés. The problem of resistance to the communication of information, that is to say of the relationship between the production of thought and capitalist production, seems to me an excellent example, until the end of their common work, of the indistinguishability of metaphysics and politics.