Felix Guattari - Machine and Structure

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Text of Felix Guattari - Machine and Structure

Machine and Structure'

The distinction I am proposing betweenmachine and structure is based solely on the way we use the words; we may considerthat we are merely dealingwith a 'written device'of the kind one has to invent for dealingwith a mathematical problem.or with an axiom that ma1'have be reconsidered to at a particular stageof development, againwith the kind of machinewe shall or be talking about here. I want therefore make it clearthat I am putting into parentheses lact to the from its structuralarticulations and, that, in realitv,a machineis inseparable conversely, that each contingentslructure is dorninated(and this is what I want to demonstrate) a systemof machines, at the very leastby one logic by or machine.It seems me vital to start by establishing distinctionin order to the of to make it easierto identif,v peculiarpositions subjectivityin relationto the events and to history.2 We may say of structurethat it positions elements way of a systemof its by references rel.tes eachone to the others,in such a wav that it can itselfbe that relatedas an elementto other structures. The agent of action, whose definition here does not extend beyond this principle of reciprocal determination, is included in the structure. The structuralprocessofde-totalized totalizationencloses subject,and will the

r . l n i t i a l l y i n t e n d e dl o r t h e F r e u d i a n S c h o o li n P a r i s i n r 9 6 9 , a n d p u b l s h e d i n C h a n g en o . t e , ( S e u i l )r, 9 7r . r. To adopt the categories suggested Gilles Deleuze,structure, in the sensein which I am using by it here, would relate to the generality characterized by a posirion oiexchange or substitution of p a r t i c u l a r i t i c sw h e r e a st h e m a c h i n e w o u l d r e l a t e t o t h e o r d e r o f r e p e t i t i o n ' a s b e h a v i o u ra n d , '1D viewpoint rel a t ive to a singul ari ty tha t can not be changedor replaccd' fJ,ire.nu ripitition,Presses et Universitaires de France, I 969, p. 7). Of Deleuze's three minimum conditions determining strucrurein general, I shall retain only the first two: (r)Theremustbeatleasttwohetcrogeneousseries,oneofwhichisdefinedasthesignifierandrhe orheras the signi6ed. (c) Each of these series is made up of terms that exist oni1, through their relationship with one another. His third condition, 'tx,o heterogeneous seriesconvergingupon a paradoxical element that actsso as to di{lerentiare them', relates,on thc contrary, exclusivelyto the order of the machine (Logique du s a r oM i n u i t , t 9 6 9 , p . 6 3 ) . ,

I 12 f'owards a Nerv Vocabularv n o t l e rs o a s l o n ga si t i s i n a p o s r t i o no r e c u p e r a t ie w i t h i n a n o t h e r t r u c t u r a l t t s determinatior.r. 'fhe e { n r a c h i n eo n t h eo l h e r h a n d ,r e m a i n s s s e n t i a l lrv m o t e i o m t h e a g e n t , e 'fhe -fe o{ action. somer,r,here sLrbject alrval,s is else. mporaiizationpenetrates the machineon all sidesand can be related to it onl,vzrfter the lashionof an n a fr e v e n r T h e e m e r g c n c o l ' t h ci n a c h i n e r a r k s d a t e ,a c h a n g ec l i f l e r e n t o m a , e , structLlral representatiolr. 'fhe history of technologvr.sdated bv the existence each srageol a ar o t s t a i ) a r t i c u i a r 1 ' p e f ' n i a c h i n e ih e h i s t o r \o f t h e s c j e n c eis n o w r e a c h i n g p o i n t , i n a l l i t s b r a n c h e sw h e r e e v c r vs c i e n t i 6 c h e o r ) ' c a nb e t a k e na s a m a c h i n e , t rzrthel than a strlicture, rl'hich relates it to the order of ideoiogr'.Everv (almostto the point by machineis the negation.the destro;-er ir-rcorporation o f e x c r e t i o n ) o f ' t h e r n a c h i n e t r e p l a c e sA n d i t i s p o t e n t i a l l ,iv a s i m i l a r i . n , r e l a t i o n s h i po t h e m a c h i n et h a t w i l l t a k ei t s p l a c e . t Yesterdav'smachine, today's and tomorrow's, are not reiated in their structur?11 determinations: by onlv by a process historicalanal;-srs, referof r:ncetr) a signifling chain extrinsic to the machine, bv what u,e mrght call historical structur;rlism, can we gain anv overail grasp of the ei}'ects of c o n t i n u i t v . e l r o - a c t i o n n d i n t e l l i n k i n st h a t i t i s c a p a b l e f ' r e p r e s e n t i n g . r a o For the rnachrne, the subjectof history is elsewhere, the structure. In in I z r c tt,h e s u b j e c o f t h e s t r u c t u r ec o n s i d e r eid i t s r e l a t i o n s h i o f a l i e n a t i o no t . n p t trf ;1s,vstem cle-totalized totalizarion.shouid rather be seenin relation ro a of-'being ego'- the egoherebeingin contrastwrth the sub.ject an ;;'henorrrcnon o i ' t h e t r n c o n s c i o ua s i t c o r r e s p o n d so t h e p r i n c i p l es t a t e d b y L a c a n : a t s s i q n i 6 e r - r e n r e s e n t sb r a n o t h e rs i g n i f i e rT h e u n c o n s c i o us u b j e c t s s u c h i l . s a will bc on the same side as the machrne,or better perhaps.alongside the T r n a c h r r r c .h e r ei s n o b r e a ki n t h em a c h i n e t s e l f : h e b r e a c h s o n e i t h e r s i d e f i t i olt.

The indir.'idual's relationto the machinehas beendescribed sociologists bv Friedn-rann one of lundamentalalienatjon, fi>llowing as This is undoubtedl,v true ii one considersthe individual as a structure for totalization of the irnasirarl'. But the dialecticof the mastercraftsmanand the apprenticeJ rhe r.,ld picrurcsof the clillelenttradesflourishingin dillerenrpartsof the countrv, in ail this has becomemeaningl.ess the faceof modern mechanized industry ics tlrat rcqLlires skilled rvorkersto start lrom scratchagain ru'irh evel'\'new technoltrgical advance But doesnot this startingliom scratchmark precisely . that essentiai breakthroughthat characterizes unconscious the subject? Initiation into a trade and becomingaccepted a skilledrvorkerno longer as takes piace by wav of institutions,or at least not those envisaged such in s t a t e m e n t s s ' t h e s k i . l lh a s p r e c e d e n co v e r t h e m a c h i n e ' ,W i t h i n d u s t r i a l a e capitalism. the spasrnodic evolution of machirrerykeepscr-rtting acrossthe h c x i s t i n q i e r a r ,l r v o f s k i l l s .

Machine and Structure I l3 In this sense, worker'salienationto the machineexclude him lrom any the s kind of structuralequilibrium, and puts him in a positionwhere he is as close as possibleto a radical svstemof realignment,rve might sav of castrarion, wherehe losesall tranquillity, all 'sellconfirming'security,all thejustificarionofa'senseofbelonging'to a skilledtrade.Suchprolessional bodiesasstill like doctors,pharmacists, lawyers,aresirnplysurvivals exist, or from the days of pre-capitalist productionrelations. This changeis ofcourseintolerable; instirutionalproductiontherefore sets out to concealwhat is happening by setting up systemsof equivalents, of imitations.Their ideologicalbasis is to be lound not solely in fascist-type, paternalistic slogansabout work, the lamily and patriotism,but alsowithin thevariousversionsofsocialism (evenincluding the most apparentlyliberal like the Cuban), w,ith their oppressive ones, myth of the model worker, and theirexaltationof the machinewhosecult has much the samefunctionas that o l t h e h e r oi n a n t i q u i t y . As cornpared with the work done by machines, work of human beingsis the nothrng. This working at 'nothing', in the specialsense w,hichpeopledo it in todav,r,vhich tends more and more to be merely a response a machineto pressing red or black button to producean effectprogrammedsomewhere a else human work, in other words, is only the residuethat has not yet been integrated into the w'orkof the machine. Operations performed by workers, techniciansand scientistswill be absorbed, incorporated into the workings of tomorrow's machine; to do something over and over no longeroffersthe securityofritual. It is no longer possible identif. the repetition human actior.Is ('the noble task of the to of with the repetitionof the natural cycleas the loundationolthe moral sower') order.Repetitionno longer estabiishes man as someonewho can do that a particularjob.Human work today is merelya residualsub-whole the work of of the machine. Tfris residual human activity is no more than a partial procedure that accompanies central procedureproducedby the order of the The machinehasnow cometo theheartofdesire, and thisresidual the machine. humanwork represents more than the point of the machine's imprint no 'a'3). onthe imaginary world of the individual (cf. Lacan's functionof the Everv new discovery- in the sphereof scientificresearch, examplelor moves acrossthe structuralfieid oftheorv like a w,armachine,upsettingand rearranging everythingso as to changeit radically.Even the researcher at is themercyof this process. His discoveries extendlar beyondhimself,bringing in their train u,holenew branches ofresearchers, and totally redesigning the treeof scientificand technological implications.Even when a discoveryis called its author's name, the result,far lrom 'personalizing' by him, tends toOhjelpetil 3. SeeGlossar.v, 'a'.

r 14 Towards a New Vocabulary

be to turn his proper name into a cornmonnoun! The questionis whetherthis eflacing of the individual is something that will spread to other forms of productionas weli. Though it is true that this unconscious subjectivity,as a split which is overcome in a signifying chain, is being transferred away lrom individuals and human groups towards the world of machines,it still remainsjust as un-representable the specifically at machinic level. It is a signilierdetached from the unconsciousstructural chain that will acI as representallue to represen t the machine. The essence the machine is preciselythis lunction ofdetaching a signi6er of as a reprsentative.as a'di{Ierentiator', as a causal break, di{ferent in kind lrom the structurally established order of t