A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia

A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia

by Gilles Deleuze

Felix Guattari (1930-1992) was a psychoanalyst at the la Borde Clinic, as well as being a major social theorist and radical activist.

A Thousand Plateaus is part of Deleuze and Guattari's landmark philosophical project, Capitalism and Schizophrenia - a project that still sets the terms of contemporary philosophical debate.

A Thousand Plateaus provides a compelling analysis of social phenomena and offers fresh alternatives for thinking about philosophy and culture.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Philosophy
  • Rating: 4.29
  • Pages: 632
  • Publish Date: 1987 by University of Minnesota Press
  • Isbn10: 0816614024
  • Isbn13: 9780816614028

What People Think about "A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia"

This way of knowing is tree-like, vertical, and centralized. Opposed to the vertical, tree-like structure of knowledge, Deleuze and Guattari proclaim a rhizomatic, radically horizontal, crabgrass-like way of knowing. For instance, in Kafka's "Letter to His Father," he inflates his father to laughably absurd, dreamlike dimensions, until his father's singular Fatherness ballons so huge that it pops--exploding into a vast rhizomatic network of father-like social connections represented by judges, commissioners, bureaucrats. It is for this reason that I believe that material/conventional power should be termed as atomic, as nuclear weapons are the ultimate extension of the nation-state, and as metaphor for material society, we can also double that this power situates in the world of atoms. However, this extension of conventional/atomic power has grown into a concurrent, distributed, heterogenous field of power that I will call the Infostate, that includes the Web, E-mail, and all functions of networked communications. This deterritiorialization of the Infostate creates an asymmetrical power relation which, due to its amorphous nature, is problematic for the conventional nation-state to engage. Infopower is mercuric and morphogenic, and when confronted by the centralized, hierarchical nature of conventional power, it merely splits, morphs or replicates, sidestepping the metaphorical army & general. This relationship signals the new balance of power between the nation-state and the Infostate as Krokerian Panic dialectic, in which the ability of the one to relate in terms of the other implodes. "With the bleeding of information from the material to the infomatic rhizome through Wikileaks (i.e. the US diplomatic cable leaks), the Infostate has created an asymmetrical insurgency against conventional power. As Deleuze, then Agamben assert that power is the separation of the subject from potentiality, and as such mitigates dissent, the nation-state is trying to exert power by separating the means of support and the figurehead from Wikileaks, but distributed, asymmetrical cyberwarfare by the net.community has already disrupted banks, credit, and networked sites. The Net, as child of the military (conventional power) has begun to turn on its masters, with expected reflexive responses. "This knee-jerk reaction of the nation-state to asymmetrical power versus conventional power became evident in the case of 2001, where decentralized cellular physical social networks circumvented centralized power. The centralized, hierarchical nature of the material corporate nation-state has been unable to contain the decentralized flow of cellular power, which has become infopower, created by the emergency of distributed networks. This is seen as we look again at Matrix Reloaded, where in, as in The Matrix Trilogy, the informatic body/state (Agent Smith) reacts to the intervention of conventional human power (Neo, or The One) by asymmetry in massively replicating Wikileaks sites (The Many). But although the head, (the object of leverage of conventional power) is in custody, the body of Wikileaks and the rest of its computational cloud of dissent stated on December 7th (incidentally, the day of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor), that it will continue to release information through the WikiLeaks network. It is like trying to hold mercury, because as the Critical Art Ensemble states, decentralized dissent can only be addressed through decentralized means, and this is not the structure of conventional power. All of these illustrate Negris idea that postmodern power/capital has shifted to that of the informatics and cognitive fields, and signal a primary shift of the balance power in the First World, if not globally. This would be by the means of national firewalling, and trunk-line disconnection or limited Internet disabling, disrupting infopower, but also crippling the flow of digitized material capital as well. The symbiotic effect is that conventional power/capital is also hobbled, as the physical is dependent on the same flows of information across the distributed nets, disabling itself in the process. conventional power, and this is why the rise of Wikileaks is significant, and why the geopolitical panic-site it creates is a singular event. This is in line with Negris assertion that capital in the postmodern has shifted to information/cognitive capital, and that conventional power merely marginalizes material (atomic) dissent. The real theatre of engagement is the infosphere, and Wikileaks has realized info-insurgency as real power first world/digital society has become informatic. Anarchy in its most powerful form is now in the disruption and release of data withheld by the nation-state." (end of long quote) """ So, does the future go to the oaks or the crabgrass?

Yes, my boyfriend is the kind of person who owns two copies of this book. And since this person has chosen this and has previously read this himself, I will be "forced" to read this book out of order. (I think reading this alongside Infinite Jest might make me the most pretentious person ever. For the record, this most certainly was not my idea.) March 20, 2011 (I'm tired.) This is an incredibly difficult book to rate and review, and that's probably how Deleuze and Guattari would have wanted it anyway. (I hate spending this much time on any book.) So what I intend to do here is list the chapters in the order our group's moderator decided to have us read the book. Reading the book in order is not necessary, nor is it even recommended. (I hate jumping around in a book.) Since there's no clear direction on how this book should be read the only thing I could do was surrender my reading habits to the moderator. This was our reading plan which I hope may be helpful to someone attempting to read this book for the first time: Chapter 2 - 1914: One or Several Wolves? But my point throughout all of this reading is that I'm not sold on the idea that salad mixers need to exist. Deleuze and Guattari borrowed ideas from Freud and Marx and some other people, kind of tossed it all around, threw in some totally made-up words to help cement their status as crazy assholes points, and presented it as an entirely new way of thinking. But I'm always a little wary of someone that comes along and is all like, "Hey, I have this new way of thinking - listen up!" They're usually the same people who are handing out glasses of grape-flavored Kool-Aid. Then again, as stated above, there were some moments of complete clarity. And then the whole capitalism thing - gave a little flavor to freaking Atlas Shrugged; not that it mattered though - I mentioned Ayn Rand in our book club meeting and tried to compare the two texts and was met with blank looks and crickets. Which really just means that I need to read it like fifty more times to really pick up on all the right points. I suck at math and reading this book at times felt like reading one giant word problem. I looked forward to the Conclusion most of all, thinking that conclusions are the time to sort of re-summarize all the main points, or at least the thesis, and maybe it will all come together for me.

And if you think the reading part pushes you to the limit, just wait till its time to sew up the ol asshole. Read it.

Like a roving spiderweb over the Cartesian grid of your window screen and your city, their thought shows us how to capture new territory while evading capture ourselves.

Anti-Oedipus endorses schizophrenia, immanence and multiplicity while still using binary terms for its lavish metaphysics. A Thousand Plateaus broadest sense is one that discourages broad sense; micro-revolutions in molecular fields of difference rather than overturning molar aggregates. A Thousand Plateaus is a demimonde of ambiguity and exceptions but D&Gs allegiance to one side of their dualistic coinages is always clear--The arborescent is bad; rhizomatics are good. (Before anyone corrects me to say deterritorialization can be destructive etc, I have heard this from many avid Deleuzians and I dont doubt their sincerity--but I dont believe that most people of a schizoanalytical persuasion think that the unwriting of territories is a bad thing except in certain specialized cases) A Thousand Plateaus also backtracks some of the more extravagant claims of Anti-Oedipus, stratifying indexes which delimit the acceleration of deterritorializing flows. Deft and dexterous theoretical maneuvers are prosecuted to try and extirpate dialectical negativity and the death drive but I dont know that they can be quashed by a patchwork monism. I want to restate that I dont think this is a bad thing. A Thousand Plateaus is somehow more fun to read than Anti-Oedipus despite being immensely more difficult. This isnt much of a review, just some disorganized thoughts I had while reading A Thousand Plateaus which is a book containing erudition vast beyond my comprehension with each plateau embedded with singularities it could take a lifetime to understand.

The development of a counter-reactive force to society, however, a society that attempts to eradicate "nomad thought", thought that does not organize into hierarchies and the idea of the have and the have-not, requires a "rhizomatic" form of connection. The most pivotal chapters are probably the first (simply to become acclimated to the writing, which is somewhat inscrutable, exhortational, and didactic all at the same time...truly remarkable, though it wears a bit thin after 400 pages of it), then "How to Become a Body Without Organs," then "Nomadology: The War Machine." Under no circumstances (in my opinion) should the chapter on "Nomadology" be read before the "body without organs" chapter; best flow is reading the ones that focus on the individual reaction to the linguistic implements of imperialism, then the ones that deal more with group reactions. Remember that, at their core, and amidst all of their other intellectual interests, what you have here is a philosopher/linguist and a psychiatrist who collaborated; in the end, everything is somewhat seen through the filter of language and how the use of language and other types of communication could possibly bring about changes of a society at its margins (while their posturing may suggest otherwise, I'd posit the idea that DeLeuze and Guattari are savvy enough to realize that most people aren't going to be able to read this book and understand it well enough to translate the concepts into potential society-changing thoughts on a large scale...).

Plato is like Satan to these theorists: Everything is his fault. Like many theorists, the authors are at their worst when they turn their maniacal gaze onto fiction. This will sound brisk and simplistic (like most of this review, perhaps), but I really do think that theorists in general just dont *get* fiction. (See, for a chilling example, anything Frederic Jameson has said about literature.) I exclude Foucault, an insanely original thinker, from the above critical statements about theorists.

If i try to look at it like a true philosophical text with intended insight and description, it falls completely flat. The book seems to be nothing but a series of tangents vacillating between descriptions of how to use the method, actual methodological analysis associated generally with topics relating to the two objects mentioned above, and then there are the non-sequiturs. Since one never truly understands the intention of the writing other than to get lost in the hubris of deterritorializing reterritorialized lines of flight back to some strata in some assemblage comprising an abstract machine (I am sorry that statement is the most meaningless concept ever devised), I cannot accept this as an actual method of critical thought.

Considering himself an empiricist and a vitalist, his body of work, which rests upon concepts such as multiplicity, constructivism, difference and desire, stands at a substantial remove from the main traditions of 20th century Continental thought. Deleuze claimed that he did not write about art, literature, or cinema, but, rather, undertook philosophical encounters that led him to new concepts. As a constructivist, he was adamant that philosophers are creators, and that each reading of philosophy, or each philosophical encounter, ought to inspire new concepts.