Celibate machines and epiphenomenalism

Fotamecus+excerpt.mp4_5641474471465483442(Reading Anti-Oedipus again)

The paranoic machine repulses, the miraculating machines attracts and then there is a kind of reconciliation in the celibate machine. This dialectic of desiring machines locates the subject as “a mere  residuum alongside the desiring-machines”, a situation where the subject “confuses himself with this third productive machine and with the residual reconciliation that it brings about” (AO: 19).

The “mere residuum” reading of the subject displaces the subject and at the same time makes the question of the constitution of the subject irrelevant.  We will not need to have a process that is sufficient for subjectivity, one that can perhaps account for reflexivity, since the process that is the condition of the subject is a process entirely unconnected to the subject in any real form.  The subject is simply a side effect, a “spare part” (AO :21).  Neither lack nor presence is relevant in the model of the desiring machines.  On the surface this model of the subject looks like a form of epiphenomenalism and presumably has the same problems that epiphenomenalism of the mind encounters.

Each machine produces and in the case of the celibate machine the answer to the question ‘what does it produce’ is cautiously (“would seem to be”) that the celibate machine produces “intensive quantities” (AO: 20).  These intensive quantities (IQ) are something like the feelings of the organism, though the attachment implied in the use of possessive is problematic.   To simply and unquestioningly allow the attachment of the feelings to the organism is ambiguous as it makes it seem like the feelings somehow stem from the organism when in fact the model is clearly suggesting that the organism stems from the feelings, at least in part.  Deleuze and Guattari refer in the footnotes at this point to the work of W.R.Bion.  They comment that Bion is the first to indicate the role of an ‘I feel’ but that he places it in the wrong level, as though he makes exactly this mistake of attaching the feelings to an organism rather than an organism to the feelings.  The ‘I feel’ should perhaps be replaced if this is the case, ‘feels that’ maybe a better linguistic shorthand for the phenomena in question.  Of course it is one thing to ask for a pause in our assumptions, a suspension of preconceptions, but quite another to conceive of what exactly might be meant by the idea or claim that somehow the organism is attached to some preexisting feelings.   We will have to leave this problem for now until we move further into the book.

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philosopher and filmmaker from brighton, currently teaching philosophy at the Free University of Brighton

9 Responses

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  1. Naxos
    Naxos at |

    Interesting! I am writing something about the celibate machine but it is still a draft and needs to be boiled a bit more. I think the question ‘what does it produce’ not only refers to ‘intensive qualities’ but also to what it induces in experience, say, the event, the creative absolute aperture, the schizo break as the very event of experiencing intensity=0. This state of intensity=0 refers to a raw piece of ‘feeling’ previous to any designation of meaning, a non-organized piece of ‘feeling’ in raw state (this is taken from Klossowski’s interpretation of Nietzsche). As i understand it, that what the celibate machine produces is this event to happen, and the ‘feeling’ is the aperture to the very non-organized flow of life, which is almost unbearably intense.

  2. Conversation in Notebookeleven «
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  3. Naxos
    Naxos at |

    Oh, i should wrote quantities and not qualities, sorry, I guess it was a keyboard dislexia or something: intensive quantities, yes, but when D&G pose the question, they immediately say that ‘there is a schizophrenic experience of intensive quantities in their pure state, to a point that is almost unbearable’': they say this literally: that this is a concrete experience that breaks with everything (and when they say about hallucinations and delire, they are saying that in these two states, there still exists a self, a reminiscence of an ‘I’, thus, this schizo-experience that they refer, means an absolute aperture to the pure state of these intensive quantities, the state of intensity = 0, and this is what i refer as the event: an aperture that comes form the outside). I see what they also refer as the celibate machine is with respect to modern practices of erotism, as you suggest: for example, when they refer to schizophrenizing death, they are criticizing certain anti-psychiatric practices (with psychedelics) where death can be experienced several times without implying any break of the self. I think the point that they mean there is that this break into an absolute aperture precedes these practices of hallucination/delire and that its state of pure-raw-feeling is precisely where a real materialistic psychiatry should be founded and modeled (so the intensive quantities that the refer are outside any experience, but with the celibate machine they can induce the event so to be experienced in their pure state).

  4. Conversation in Notebookeleven «
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  5. Naxos
    Naxos at |

    The idea of the idea of an epistemological free-fall is interesting :-) Thanks for the quote and the link ;-)

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    […] a bit what I just recently commented to Mat Lee in his blog regards to this passage [here and here]: the question concerned to what the celibate machine produces, formulated by Deleuze and Guattari, […]

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