Notes for Félix Guattari Chaosophy: Tests and Interviews 1972-1977

Key concepts: capitalism, desire, desiring-production, jouissance, machinismmadness, schizophrenia, theory of Urstaat, unconscious.

Related theorists: Pierre Clastres, Gilles Deleuze, Karl Jaspers, Jacques Lacan, R. D. Laing.

çois Dosse



Reason cut out of irrational, true history is of desire.

(35-36) Deleuze: Reason is always a region cut out of the irrational—not sheltered from the irrational at all, but a region traversed by the irrational and defined only by a certain type of relation between irrational factors. Underneath all reason lies delirium, drift. Everything is rational in capitalism, except capital or capitalism itself. . . . The true history is the history of desire. A capitalist, or today's technocrat, does not desire in the same way a slave merchant or official of the ancient Chinese empire would.

Organizations of power.

(38) Deleuze: There is no ideology, there are only organizations of power once it is admitted that the organization of power is the unity of desire and the economic infrastructure.

Tie to need for philosophy of computing.

(41) Guattari: It appears to us that certain schizophrenics directly express a free deciphering of desire. But how does one conceive a collective form of the economy of desire? Certainly not at the local level. . . . If, on the contrary, desire constitutes the very texture of society in its entirety, including in its mechanisms of reproduction, a movement of liberation can “crystallize” in the whole of society.

Liberated desire.

(43) Guattari: Liberated desire means that desire escapes the impasse of private fantasy: it is not a question of adapting it, socializing it, disciplining it, but of plugging it in in such a way that its process not be interrupted in the social body, and that its expression be collective. What counts is not the authoritarian unification, but rather a sort of infinite spreading: desire in the schools, the factories, the neighborhoods, the nursery schools, the prisons, etc.

Lines of flight in capitalism are conditions of operation; compare to protocol.

(46-47) Deleuze: In every social system, there have always been lines of flight, and then also a rigidification to block to block off escape or certainty (which is not the same thing), embryonic apparatuses that integrate them, that deflect or arrest them in a new system in preparation. The crusades should be analyzed from this point of view. But in every respect, capitalism has a very particular character: its lines of flight are not just difficulties that arise, they are the conditions of its own operation. It is constituted by a generalized decoding of all flux, fluctuations of wealth, fluctuations of work, fluctuations of language, fluctuations of art, etc. It did not create any code, it has set up a sort of accountability, an axiomatic of decoded fluxes as the basis of its economy. It ligatures the points of escape and leap forward.

Schizophrenics and revolutionaries extreme cases of decoding and deterritorialization of capitalist economy.

(52) Guattari: The capitalist economy proceeds by decoding and deterritorialization: it has its extreme cases, i.e., schizophrenics who decode and deterritorialize themselves to the limit; but also it has its extreme consequences—revolutionaries.


Unconscious is factory, not theater; compare discovery method to reverse engineering.

(53-54) Deleuze: We believe that the unconscious is not a theater, but a factory. . . . There is no meaning, no interpretation to be given, no significance. The problem is to recognize how the unconscious functions. It's a problem that concerns the use of machines, the functioning of “desire-machines.”

Common feature of nonsense at poles of capitalism and schizophrenia.

(55) Guattari: It seemed to us that these two poles have a connection in their common feature of non-sense.

Describe neurosis in light of psychosis.

(56) Guattari: Rather than applying the descriptions of neurosis to the case of psychosis, we sought to reverse the procedure. That is, we sough to reexamine the concepts describing neurosis in light of indications derived from contact with psychosis.

Schizophrenic capacity to range across fields comparable to Latour supercritical intelligence.

(59-60) Guattari: I mean that we should have the schizophrenic's capacity to range across fields. . . . So calling into question the division of fields of study, questioning as well the self-satisfied air of psychoanalysts, linguists, ethnologists, pedagogues, all of this means not dissolving their various sciences, but rather deepening them, making them worthy of their objects.

Figure out how machines equipped with revolutionary possibilities will be connected; my approach to the philosophy of computing.

(60-61) Deleuze: The problem is not to figure out which is supposed to be the human science par excellence. The problem is to know how a number of “machines” equipped with revolutionary possibilities will be connected.

Madness has components of breaking through and collapse.

(65) Deleuze: In brief, they [Jaspers and Laing] have maintained that in this phenomenon crudely referred to as madness there are two things: a breaking through, which is to say a sudden light, a wall that is superseded; and then there's a rather different dimension which could be called a collapse.


Events of May 68 desire manifested on social scale as a whole.

(69-70) Guattari: Our starting point was to consider that during these crucial periods something along the order of desire manifested itself on the scale of society as a whole, then was repressed, liquidated, as much by the forces of power as by political parties and so-called worker unions and, to a certain extent, by leftist organizations themselves.

Socialist revolution was possible; compare to 2016 elections.

(70) Guattari: But the raw evidence remains: the revolution was possible, the socialist revolution was within reach, it really exists, it is not a myth weakened by the transformations of industrial societies.

Theoretical work should be accessible; undermine spirit of seriousness.

(71) Guattari: It is rather urgent to undermine the spirit of seriousness. A theory of desire in history should not strive to be serious. And, from this point of view, perhaps Anti-Oedipus is still too serious a book, too intimidating. Theoretical work shouldn't be reserved for specialists. A theory's desire and its statements should stick as closely as possible to the event and to the collective enunciation of the masses.

Desire always shapes history, even its worst periods.

(71) Guattari: Desire never stops shaping history, even in its worst periods. The German masses had come to desire Nazism.


(71-72) Guattari: There exists, according to us, a desiring-production which, before all actualization in the familial division of sexes and persons as well as the social division of work, invests the various forms of production of jouissance and the existing structures in order to repress them.

Writing process is flux, do not need to know who is speaking.

(73) Deleuze: One thing is very startling in books on psychiatry or even on psychoanalysis, and that is the pervasive duality between what an alleged mental patient says, and what the doctor reports.
(73) We don't claim to have written a madman's book, just a book in which one no longer knows—and there is no reason to know—who exactly is speaking, a doctor, a patient, an untreated patient, a present, past, or future patient.
(73) The process is what we call flux.

Machines cut fluxes; machinism more basic than mechanics.

(74) Deleuze: We define the machine as any system that cuts the fluxes
(74) Mechanics refers to the protocol of some technical machines; or else the particular organization of an organism. But machinism is something else entirely: it designates every system that cuts off fluxes going beyond both the mechanics of technology and the organization of the organism, whether it be in nature, society, or man.

Psychoanalysis operates throughout capitalist society, therefore worse than the hospital.

(74) Deleuze: We are trying to show that psychoanalysis is worse than the hospital, precisely because it operates through all the pores of capitalist society and not in a special place of confinement. And because it is profoundly reactionary in its practice and theory, not only in its ideology. And because it fulfills specific functions.

Books respond to desires politically.

(74) In any case, if a book responds to a desire, it is insofar as there are already a lot of people who can't stand a current type of discourse. It helps refocus a number of efforts, and make works or desires resonate. In short, a book can only respond to a desire politically, outside the book. For example, an association of angry users of psychoanalysis wouldn't be a bad place to start.

Lacan partial objects like voice and gaze refused to close off within Oedipal theater.

(78) Guattari: By opening the series of partial objects, beyond the breast and the feces, to the voice and the gaze. Jacques Lacan signified his refusal to close them off and reduce them to the body. The voice and the gaze escape the body, for example, by becoming more and more adjacent to audio-visual machines.
(79) By becoming an “a” object, the partial object detotalized, deterritorialized, and permanently distanced itself from an individuated corporeity; it is in a position to swing over to real multiplicities and to open itself up to the molecular machinisms of every kind that are shaping history.

Theory of Urstaat establishes theory of history, encoding overcoding decoding theory of society.

(86) Pierre Clastres: Deleuze and Guattari answer this question, for they do know what to make of the Savages. And their answer is, in my view, the most vigorous, most rigorous discovery in Anti-Oedipus: it concerns the theory of the “Urstaat,” the cold monster, the nightmare, the state, which is the same everywhere and “which has always existed.”
(86) Encoding, overcoding, decoding and flux: these categories establish the theory of society, whereas the idea of
Urstaat, whether warded off or triumphant, establishes the theory of History. This is a radically new thought, a revolutionary way of thinking.

Critique of the state.

(87-88) It is impossible for a critical work that starts with Anti-Oedipus to become a university operation, a lucrative activity for the whirling dervishes of Being and Time. It takes back its effect, conquered against the instruments of Power, in the real, it will help all the assaults against the police, the courts, the army, the power of the state in the factory, and outside.

Problem of relationships between desire and social machines.

(88) Deleuze: The essential thing for us is the problem of the relationships between machines of desire and social machines, their different gears, their immanence in regard to each other. That is: how unconscious desire is an investment in social, economic and political fields.

Guattari, Félix. Chaosophy: Tests and Interviews 1972-1977. Trans. David L. Sweet, Jarred Becker, and Taylor Adkins. South Pasadena, CA: Semiotext(e), 2009.