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Capitalism: Why we live in a ‘schizo society’

What a pleasure it is to be in Istanbul — probably the most sensuous city in the world — for a conference on one of the most innovative and profound thinkers of the 20th century, if not in the history of philosophy, Gilles Deleuze (whose extensive collaborative work with Felix Guattari makes it imperative to add the latter’s name to this conference). Since the 1970s, the work of these two revolutionary thinkers has permeated intellectual domains such as philosophy, psychoanalysis, music, art, architecture, cinema, sociology, political and cultural studies, and continues to do so. Not surprisingly, therefore, all of these were represented at the conference, which took place at the Istanbul Technical University’s Architecture School.

The intellectual quality of the majority of the papers I attended was superb. There were five parallel sessions at any given time, with the exception of the plenary keynote addresses, so here I shall concentrate briefly on just one of the best keynote papers (exceeding 6 000 words), by Ian Buchanan, the founding editor of the journal, Deleuze Studies. (I should stress that Prof Buchanan’s paper is only in draft form at present.)

In his introduction Buchanan observes that today we live in what he (following Deleuze and Guattari) calls “Schizo Society”, which means that we all suffer from a distinctive malady: “It isn’t Kafka’s paranoia or Freud’s neurosis, it is schizophrenia. Not the schizophrenia of the asylum, but an everyday schizophrenia in which the absurd is simply ‘how things are’. In saying that, though, I would add that the one thing we’ve ceased to notice in the 21st century is absurdity.” He continues as follows:

“It is absurdity rather than hyperreality that defines our era — the defining problem of the 21st century isn’t that the false is presented as the true; after all, one can always unmask falsehood and reveal the truth. No, I would say that the central problem today is that the false and the true can sit side by side without raising so much as a single eyebrow. Not because the line of distinction between the false and the true has been irrevocably blurred, as Baudrillard and other postmodern critics thought, but rather because the false and the true are given an equal footing in today’s society. We have entered an age that requires us to ‘hold two [or more, I would add] opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function’ (as F Scott Fitzgerald famously said all first-rate minds should be able to do). Capitalism insists that we consume, indeed it insists that we over-consume, then it ridicules us for doing precisely what it demands of us: we’re supposed to eat all the delicious sugary treats it puts before us and stay stylishly thin; we’re supposed to remain transfixed in front of the screen and stay healthily active; and we’re supposed to enjoy toxic substances — alcohol, cigarettes, corn syrup, etc — and not think twice about the damage it is doing to our bodies. Absurd is perhaps too mild a word to describe late capitalism.”

This sets the scene for his discussion of Deleuze and Guattari’s (D & G’s) major contributions to philosophy, which I can present here only in severely truncated format. First he casts light on the claim that we live in a “Schizo Society” by phrasing it in terms of Deleuze and Guattari’s insight that an individual today comprises a plurality of “competing” subjectivities. In D & G’s terms, subjects today are “assemblages”, and no longer just the “split subjects” of psychoanalysis — this is the first notable contribution of D & G to the “rethinking of cultural analysis for the 21st century”. It may come as a shock to read Buchanan’s Deleuzian statement that: “We live in a society — in the West, at least — in which many of the pathological symptoms of schizophrenia are lived as the normal condition of everyday life.”

Most people would probably be outraged at this thought, snorting indignantly as they protest that they are certainly not schizophrenic. But the “symptoms” of Schizo Society provided by Buchanan are indisputably there, namely (firstly), the “de-centering of the ‘I’ ”, which manifests itself as the inability to “control the competing subjectivities/voices in our heads”. If you doubt this, consider how many people you know for whom shopping, which used to be a “want”, has become a “need” that they cannot do without — even, paradoxically, when they don’t actually buy anything.

Secondly, he pointed out, the “merely apparent and the actual” cannot be readily distinguished any longer — “the apparent is all there is”. Again, if you doubt this, ask yourself why Disneyland and its theme-park offspring, or shopping malls (I would add online games like WoW), for that matter, are so immensely successful. The flipside of this victory of the merely superficial is the increasing “fascination with indigenous ‘deep’ knowledge” — no doubt to compensate for the superficiality that dominates our lives.

In the third place, none of us can stop the demands (even if some can resist them) that are continually being directed at us in the form of advertisements, branded images and a whole spectrum of diverse exhortations, ranging from the political to the religious. As Buchanan remarked, the “intense fascination with mindfulness and spirituality” is symptomatic of this awareness. And the more “hyperstimulation” there is, the greater the need for anaesthetics of some sort (mostly drugs, unfortunately).

The fourth symptom of the generalised schizophrenia in which we are immersed is that “self-destruction seems both rational and attractive”. How many wars aren’t justified as rational, how many people are obese from overeating and living sedentary lives, let alone the ones who destroy themselves through drug-abuse, and can justify it.

For a philosopher Buchanan’s remark, that we can no longer believe that the truth “sets us free”, is a bitter pill, although he does grant that we are able to “know the truth” (or “several truths”) — even if we don’t act on it, partly because we don’t know what sensible action might be (in the case of climate change, for instance). This is how schizophrenia as a cultural condition shows itself, and it has a paralyzing effect. Small wonder that most people turn to their preferred anaesthetic, whether it is watching rugby or soccer, hanging out at clubs or in shopping malls, or immersing themselves in the virtual world via their smartphone or tablet.

This announces D & G’s second major contribution listed by Buchanan — they draw attention, like McLuhan before them, to the primacy of form in our era, specifically regarding the media. But while McLuhan saw that the media change us, D & G go further. What they see as the capitalist mode of subjectivity is partly produced by the media, partly by ourselves when we use the models the media provide. Our dreams and desires are structured “in interaction” with television, for instance. What D & G called “schizoanalysis” is aimed at understanding this phenomenon.

Buchanan regards D & G’s insistence that our “investments in identities from books, films and songs” are far from “unreal” (or “hyperreal”), as we tend to believe, but are instead “real”, as their third major contribution. This explains the fact that a pervasive cultural schizophrenia has taken hold of humanity today. After all, watching television is one of the major “drugs” of today, and its structural effect on people’s subjectivities is not just something incidental; it structures their lives, their wants and needs.

“Capitalism produces schizophrenia, but also requires it”, Buchanan observed, and warns against mistaking this transformation with “progress”. “Manic-depression, paranoia and hysteria have not disappeared”, he pointed out, “even if the conditions that yielded them have; but they are not the same maladies they once were either. Now, they are particular kinds of reactions to the schizophrenising forces that define our age. Identifying, conceptualising, and mapping these forces is the central aim of Deleuze and Guattari’s entire project”.


  • As an undergraduate student, Bert Olivier discovered Philosophy more or less by accident, but has never regretted it. Because Bert knew very little, Philosophy turned out to be right up his alley, as it were, because of Socrates's teaching, that the only thing we know with certainty, is how little we know. Armed with this 'docta ignorantia', Bert set out to teach students the value of questioning, and even found out that one could write cogently about it, which he did during the 1980s and '90s on a variety of subjects, including an opposition to apartheid. In addition to Philosophy, he has been teaching and writing on his other great loves, namely, nature, culture, the arts, architecture and literature. In the face of the many irrational actions on the part of people, and wanting to understand these, later on he branched out into Psychoanalysis and Social Theory as well, and because Philosophy cultivates in one a strong sense of justice, he has more recently been harnessing what little knowledge he has in intellectual opposition to the injustices brought about by the dominant economic system today, to wit, neoliberal capitalism. His motto is taken from Immanuel Kant's work: 'Sapere aude!' ('Dare to think for yourself!') In 2012 Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University conferred a Distinguished Professorship on him. Bert is attached to the University of the Free State as Honorary Professor of Philosophy.


  1. Garg Unzola Garg Unzola 18 July 2014

    I certainly would agree that the true and the false are given equal footing in today’s society. This is a side effect of post-structuralism, though. It is required because economics in general and capitalism in particular are not frequently understood outside of their specialised fields. Though holding two opposing ideas in mind at the same time is known as cognitive dissonance.

    I wonder what the conditions were that caused manic-depression, paranoia and hysteria? And how it came to be that those conditions disappeared?

  2. CatHeader CatHeader 18 July 2014

    I love it when mentally healthy people use real medical conditions that millions of real people live with as metaphors for their navel-gazing social analyses. :) It’s so cute.

    Seriously, though, you clearly have no understanding of how schizophrenia – which is, again, a real, actual thing, not a metaphor – works, or how it affects people who have it. Please educate yourself before you presume to appropriate medical terminology.

  3. Almuddaththir Almuddaththir 19 July 2014

    We understand the isolation that separates me from myself. We try to remain calm about it but when I want to go one way and myself is hesitant, then what do we do? No one listens to us. We are treated as some sort of circus freak. We set out not to confuse but to confuse. We both have a right to our point of view, don’t we?

  4. Aragorn Eloff Aragorn Eloff 19 July 2014

    @CatHeader: Guattari, Deleuze’s co-author, was in fact a highly regarded psychoanalyst who was instrumental in running La Borde – a pioneering egalitarian psychiatric clinic that has had great success in ameliorating some of the worst impacts of clinical schizophrenia in patients.

    Both authors are careful to point out that they’re using the term ‘schizophrenia’ in a non-clinical sense; in their two volume work, Capitalism and Schizophrenia, they promote what they term ‘schizoanalysis’ as a way of mapping and modifying the material forces that intersect to produce capitalist social relations and subjectivity.

    As Foucault observes, what they’re doing can best be understood as a political analysis of productive desire with the schizo-as-process as exemplary capitalist producer.

    In the below quotes from Anti-Oedipus, what they discuss sounds very much like capitalism to me:

    “Schizophrenia is like love: there is no specifically schizophrenic phenomenon or entity; schizophrenia is the universe of productive and reproductive desiring-machines, universal primary production as “the essential reality of man and nature.”

    “It might be said that the schizophrenic passes from one code to the other, that he deliberately scrambles all the codes, by quickly shifting from one to another, according to the questions asked him, never giving the same explanation from one day to the next, never invoking the same genealogy, never recording the same event in the same way.”

  5. Aragorn Eloff Aragorn Eloff 19 July 2014

    @Garg: “I wonder what the conditions were that caused manic-depression, paranoia and hysteria? And how it came to be that those conditions disappeared?”

    Both D&G and Foucault would approach this question in terms of what paranoia, hysteria, etc., are defined as within a social field at different points and times. In other words, they might ask what social/material conditions create the hysteric, the paranoiac, etc.

    Here’s a salient quote from Anti-Oedipus, from the section on materialist psychiatry:

    “Capitalism is in fact born of the encounter of two sorts of flows: the decoded flows of production in the form of money-capital, and the decoded flows of labor in the form of the “free worker.” Hence, unlike previous social machines, the capitalist machine is incapable of providing a code that will apply to the whole of the social field. By substituting money for the very notion of a code, it has created an axiomatic of abstract quantities that keeps moving further and further in the direction of the deterritorialization of the socius. Capitalism tends toward a threshold of decoding that will destroy the socius in order to make it a body without organs and unleash the flows of desire on this body as a deterritorialized field. Is it correct to say that in this sense schizophrenia is the product of the capitalist machine, as manic-depression and paranoia are the product of the despotic machine, and hysteria the product of the territorial machine?”

  6. Bert Bert 19 July 2014

    Thanks for responding, Aragorn. I would just add, CatHeader, that your reading leaves a lot to be desired – I pointed out that Buchanan stressed that schizophrenia is used by Deleuze and Guattari to describe a generalized social and cultural condition of fragmentation at all levels, NOT the clinical variety. This does not mean that this general schizophrenia is not real. It is, and we are all subject to it, even if we are not clinically schizophrenic. Besides, the clinical variety occurs, today, (at least partly) because of the schizophrenizing forces that surround us. It is the clinically schizophrenic person’s ‘answer’ to those forces, and it is inscribed on their bodies in the form of radically rejecting the extant shape of capitalist society, with its ‘impossible’ demands of people.

  7. V_3 V_3 19 July 2014

    Writing about capitalism as schizoid is certainly in keeping with the zeitgeist of modern Cutesy Leftist academia but not seeing the elephant in the room (or bull in the China shopping) is, well, cut off from reality or, umm Schizophrenic.

    It is the Marxists, post-modernists who appear to have delusions, hear voices (Marx? Faon?, Grimsci?) and suffer from paranoia (one of the symptoms of real schizophrenia that this critique ignores – and I take CatHeader’s point, though doubt whether “mentally healthy” best describes Cde Bert and his messiahs.

    Surely believing that a philosophy that has failed in the Soviet empire, South America, Asia and Africa can work is more absurd than the marketers who sell “candy” without necessarily believing it’s not fattening. Certainly, there is no evidence that socialist or pre-capitalist societies have thinner citizens than capitalist ones (malnutrition, excepted). Despite what the workshops and thinktanks say, why do millions try to escape them to capitalist societies? Deprived of the philosophies and insights of secured tenure professors, perhaps? Using cellphones and computers while decrying capitalism and Great Satan USA is rational or founded in reality?

    Yes, watching TV is one of today’s “drugs”, but is it less pervasive or mind-rotting in socialist societies? 1984 and National Socialist Germany for example. Is fantasing over Mr Darcey healthy when he is in print but not in pixel?

  8. Garg Unzola Garg Unzola 20 July 2014

    Don’t take it personally. It’s not only jargon from psychiatry and psychology that look out of place when encountered in the pomo department.

    Thank you for that detour but that doesn’t answer my question. I wanted to know what caused manic-depression, paranoia and hysteria in an era where they could not be blamed on capitalist schizophrenia.

    It’s clear that there were conditions there that lead to these maladies, which are no longer around. Yet we still have the same maladies. My money is rather on the idea that we didn’t understand those maladies then and we still don’t truly understand them.

    Yet if the goal is to simplify matters until they are as simple as possible and no further, but to work towards their complexification, their processual enrichment, towards the consistency of their virtual lines of bifurcation and differentiation, in short towards their ontological heterogeneity, then these guys are worthy sources.

    As such, psychoanalysis merely provides cargo-cult-style explanations and colourful adjectives with which to slander The Man.

  9. Bert Bert 20 July 2014

    V_3, where do you see a promotion of socialism here? And as for the meaning of schizophrenia in this post, you should join CatHeader on a reading course. Then read Deleuze and Guattari, and perhaps you will learn something.

  10. Bert Bert 21 July 2014

    To those, like V_3, who are blinded by the bling of capital, one can say: For a history of the incremental colonization of human bodies to serve the ends of capital, read Silvia Federici’s “Caliban and the witch” (Brooklyn, Autonomedia, 2004).

    In a later publication she puts it succinctly:

    “Rethinking how capital and the state have striven to transform our bodies into labor-power also serves to measure the crisis that the capitalist work-discipline is experiencing at present and to read, behind the social and individual pathologies, the resistances, the refusals, the search for new anthropological paradigms, something to which a reconstructed psychology cannot be indifferent, if it wishes to break with its history of complicity and collaboration with Power.” (Silvia Federici: “With philosophy and terror: Transforming bodies into labor power”, p. 3.)

  11. Garg Unzola Garg Unzola 21 July 2014

    @Prof Bert:
    Not being convinced by D&G does not amount to defending capital. That’s a false dichotomy. It could be that D&G’s fanciful notions of schizophrenia and capitalism are merely off the mark. Why is this notion not also entertained? Surely, it’s still a possibility and remains so until it is ruled out. And it’s certainly also possible to be vehemently anti-capitalist while still disagreeing with D&G’s analysis And it’s certainly also possible to have first-hand experiences of these maladies while still not seeing how they apply on a cultural level.

  12. Aragorn Eloff Aragorn Eloff 21 July 2014

    @Garg: “Not being convinced by D&G does not amount to defending capital.”

    Given that you’re saying both things (i.e. that you’re not convinced and that you’re defending capital), surely the response makes sense?

    “It could be that D&G’s fanciful notions of schizophrenia and capitalism are merely off the mark. Why is this notion not also entertained?”

    It could be that they are. Clearly the people defending D&G here think that this is not, however, the case. Perhaps if you could start off by providing your critique of said ‘fanciful notions’ (based, of course, on an actual understanding of non-clinical schizophrenia and its relation to capitalism as delineated in Anti-Oedipus, A Thousand Plateaus and Guattari’s later solo works) we could have an actual discussion. I’m sure you know how to use aaaaarg as well as you use Wikipedia, Garg ;-)

    As for your earlier point, you’re missing the epistemological critique of the supposedly transcendental/perennial nature of the ‘mental illnesses’ you invoke (and their contingent relations – and imbrications with power – within different social/material fields), which was precisely what I was saying with reference to Foucault (see his discussion of the hysterization of women’s bodies in The History of Sexuality).

  13. Garg Unzola Garg Unzola 22 July 2014

    You’re shifting the burden of proof here along with the rest who are falling for D&G’s fanciful notions. And fanciful it is to try and make non-clinical psychoanalytical diagnoses for socio-economic concepts or anything that does not have a psyche beyond a zeitgeist.

    There is no epistemological critique, merely an epistemological crisis in the ‘unable to discern between reality and fantasy’ sense, which makes the diagnoses even more puzzling,

    If they aren’t really dealing with mental illness, that is if they are diagnosing in a non-clinical sense, then I have my answer. They’re not really dealing with mental illness, just like they aren’t really dealing with what is commonly understood as socio-economic systems. It follows that if the aim was to criticise these socio-economic concepts, then they are as relevant and useful as they are when making clinical diagnoses.

  14. Richard Richard 24 July 2014

    Do you not think it inevitable that societies without central narratives will inevitably become schizophrenic? With no tenets to hold onto, people can embrace conflicting modes of living or behaviour without even realising it. Perhaps that has to do with the fact that words no longer have central meanings ascribed to them: if we really do narrate our lives (in the sense of interpreting through language), then gaps in shared meaning might give rise to such schizophrenia. If we consider that language exists as a network – not simply single concepts in isolation – then succeeding concepts might also be confused. For instance, I was talking to somebody about over-population recently. Her understanding of what that meant was that people in more productive countries might be unable to redistribute to people in less productive countries. She did not seem to feel that people should restrict their birthrates to what their individual countries might be able to sustain. Our concepts of overpopulation were, then, different in fundament, not application. Another might be the idea of morality, which in Islam is tied entirely to concepts in the Koran, but which in the secular West is largely freed of religious constraint, and usually works against religious constraint. Yet, allowance is made in the West for religiously-motivated morality as seen in Islam, even when it is in conflict with the tenets of secularism. If there is not a single meaning ascribed to words, is this not inevitable?

  15. Bert Bert 25 July 2014

    Richard – I think what you are talking about fits well with Deleuze and Guattari’s insights, although in their analysis it is tied to the unavoidable “schizophrenising” effects of capitalism – in their terms, capitalism “deterritorialises” out of necessity to be able to create more opportunities for “desiring-production”, tied to profit. This is the economic “motor” that has been driving the splintering of what was once a fairly unified lifeworld into what has become known as the “postmodern condition” (Lyotard, Harvey), with its pluralistic cultural and social structure. The linguistic manifestation of this is what you describe, or what Lyotard refers to in Wittgensteinian terms as the proliferation of “language games”. Fredric Jameson seems to be in basic agreement with Deleuze and Guattari on this, as set out in his book on “Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism”. D & G’s analysis in Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus is just so much more innovative than anybody else’s – there they really put into practice what they state in What is Philosophy?, namely, that “philosophy is the creation of (new) concepts”. The point of the latter is that it enables one to understand the world anew, fresh, and grasp new possibilities. Their work is original and rigorous; it is anything but “fanciful”, as some of our uninformed commentators seem to think.

  16. Garg Unzola Garg Unzola 26 July 2014

    @Prof Bert:
    I’m sure you are familiar with the concept of burden of proof. The onus is not on us to eventually get these highbrow concepts. We are not ‘uninformed’. As mentioned tirelessly, I have studied these subjects formally but I have also studied economics and a host of others. Judging by your language games, I would be surprised if you have. To anyone who has, D&G’s critique is incredibly puzzling as anything except prose.

    The onus is on you to explain how this is even relevant to a critique of capitalism. If you are unable or unwilling to do this, you are bound to encounter more critics. It may be comforting to think of the critics as morons who can’t cope with the depth of D&G, et al, but perhaps it’s time to take a step back and consider that perhaps the emperors could be naked after all.

  17. Bert Bert 26 July 2014

    Garg, the onus is not on me to do anything other than what I am already doing, namely to write on topics of philosophical interest to anyone who cares to read my posts. If you want anything more ‘in-depth’, read my books or academic papers in journals – there is one on D & G that has just been published by the journal Phronimon, if you are interested. And ‘burden of proof’ is applicable to formal logic, and in the natural sciences, but not in the interpretive disciplines – here you simply need to be able to think and learn how to interpret a phenomenon in terms that are either illuminating or not. And I’ll bet you have not read Anti-Oedipus, to test whether their account of the ‘capitalist machine’ is enlightening about it. Before you have, you cannot pontificate here – my posts are too brief to be any more than an invitation to read further.

  18. Richard Richard 26 July 2014

    @Bert, yes, I can certainly see how that balkanisation of language and culture (through relativism), combined with (and stimulated by) the breaking down of people into consuming units, would lead to such schizophrenia. Socialism would require people working together to achieve goals (ideally), whereas capitalism requires competition to acquire scarce products. That might mean that we would engage in conflicting behaviour in order to get and hold onto goods. That is one of the contradictions of crime: the criminal steals, but then expects others to obey the law and not steal what he has. In other words, it is a parasitic activity, in which the parasite expects the host to supply what it needs. Capitalism is to an extent a sort of regulated parasitism, where the extraction and contribution is frequently unevenly balanced. People in general are always trying to extract more than they contribute (and are encouraged to do so, through economic manipulation) which is sort of perversion of the way economic activity ought to work (the more I produce, the more I should be able to extract). In other words, we expect others to pick up the tab, which is a sort of mildly schizophrenic “just he way things are” sort of approach. In a similar vein, people will buy things that have “fallen off the back of a lorry” without asking questions, and yet complain about crime. However, I don’t know that this is only the province of capitalism, just that it provides living and complex examples.

  19. Garg Unzola Garg Unzola 27 July 2014

    I view this platform as one where critical thinking and debate are welcomed. A custodian of knowledge at a tertiary institute worth its salt should likewise encourage critical thinking.

    To me, this implies that you do in fact have a burden to justify why someone as who is in your eyes uncouth and unenlightened on the profound topics you deal with so lightly here should bother with more than merely your cursory summaries or that of Wikipedia when it comes to people I view as quacks.

    For once, I agree with Chomsky. There seems to be two options here:
    1. This is truly wooly profound and beyond comprehension for us poor plebs. Only the erudite scholars can decipher these holy writings, but the rest of us should be content with the stained glass depiction versions. The road to knowledge is obviously not to question and doubt but to believe, even without justification on your part.
    2. You can’t put it in plainer words because what they’re isn’t of much substance. But you’ve been had yourself.

    My money is on number 2 because my reading time is precious and I’d hate to read through a tome only to find that you did represent its fashionable nonsense accurately.

  20. Aragorn Eloff Aragorn Eloff 31 July 2014


    “For once, I agree with Chomsky. There seems to be two options here:
    1. This is truly wooly profound and beyond comprehension for us poor plebs. Only the erudite scholars can decipher these holy writings, but the rest of us should be content with the stained glass depiction versions.”

    – First, anyone who reads the recent back and forth between Chomsky and Zizek and sides with Chomsky is either deluded or so loaded with confirmation bias they can’t see the obvious. Chomsky is an interesting political theorist, but he’s incredibly dogmatic and clearly appallingly uninformed about all the stuff he lumps together as ‘dreaded postmodernism’.

    Second, do you think Kant had anything interesting to say? The Critique of Pure Reason is full of dense arguments and technical terminology (transcendental unity of apperception, anyone?), but I’m sure you’ll concur that Kant makes sense to those ‘erudite scholars’ willing to do the work and wade through his turgid prose.

    “2. You can’t put it in plainer words because what they’re isn’t of much substance.”

    For Deleuze and Guattari in plain words, try the following: Manuel de Landa, John Protevi, Daniel W Smith, Nick Srnicek, Keith Ansell Pearson, James Williams, Dorothea Olkowski, Constantin Boundas, Rosi Braidotti…it’s a long list.

    Otherwise, here, this isn’t too difficult of a start:

  21. Garg Unzola Garg Unzola 31 July 2014

    I’m not siding with Chomsky in general, especially not with regards to his conceited politics or his linguistics. I just feel that he makes a good point about post-modernism in general (it seems that it applies to post-structuralism and Zizek too). I agree with you about Chomsky in general, but I don’t make exception for his political musings – they are just as dogmatic and appallingly uninformed.

    In any other discipline, even in the rest of philosophy and in exceedingly difficult fields like physics, someone versed in those topics can explain it to a layman. It helps if one is on about something specific and not just draping words over a page like some Jackson Pollock painting.

    Kant is a good mention because even his dense arguments can be presented in plainer words for the most part.

    Thanks for that link, I’ve read it before and it just serves to reinforce my view that Deleuze and Guattari are charlatans. Putting their dense arguments in plain words just reveals the patently absurd premises upon which they are based. No wonder their recourse is to claim what they said is not what they meant.

  22. Aragorn Eloff Aragorn Eloff 2 August 2014

    @Garg: “Kant is a good mention because even his dense arguments can be presented in plainer words for the most part.”

    So can D&G’s. This summary, for instance, reads as clearly to me as any explanation of Kant’s discussion of time as the schema of the pure concepts of the understanding:

    In fact the whole book is very useful, especially for its fantastic glossary:

    And, as I said, Manuel De Landa has done fantastic work on presenting Deleuze’s philosophy to an analytic crowd (see his Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy, for example).

    “Putting their dense arguments in plain words just reveals the patently absurd premises upon which they are based.”

    Which premises do you find patently absurd?

  23. Garg Unzola Garg Unzola 5 August 2014

    Starting with this premise: Capitalism requires everyone to live in a constant state of schizophrenia-like symptoms.

    Capitalism requires nothing but private ownership of labour and property. It’s well-known to psychology students that symptoms of mental illnesses are exhibited by normal people. This part is therefore not enlightening at all.

    The next part doesn’t require dense arguments: Schizophrenia is an extremely rare disease (fewer than 1% of the population suffer from it). It follows that no matter how abhorrent one may find our prevalent socio-economic system, it’s exceedingly unlikely that it relies on an extremely rare aberration or its symptoms. It’s like saying our modern diet relies on veganism – veganism is rare, but less so than schizophrenia. You wouldn’t claim that it’s the norm or that modern Western diets require vegan prerequisites. That premise would be equally absurd and just as devoid of meaningful analysis as D&G.

  24. Aragorn Eloff Aragorn Eloff 6 August 2014

    @Garg: You’re still not getting the *non-clinical* sense in which D&G are using the term schizophrenia, i.e., as an analogy for the mode of production under capitalism in the sense that both perform ‘decoding’ functions (although D&G argue that they are distinct in that capitalism axiomatizes what it decodes – a kind of relative limit of deterritorialization – whereas schizophrenia as process of desiring production is absolute deterritorialization as the outside limit of capitalism).

    “The decoding of flows and the deterritorialization of the socius thus constitutes the most characteristic and the most important tendency of capitalism. It continually draws near to its limit, which is a genuinely schizophrenic limit. It tends, with all the strength at its command, to produce the schizo as the subject of the decoded flows on the body without organs—more capitalist than the capitalist and more proletarian than the proletariat…

    When we say that schizophrenia is our characteristic malady, the malady of our era, we do not merely mean to say that modern life drives people mad. It is not a question of a way of life, but of a process of production… What we are really trying to say is that capitalism, through its process of production, produces an awesome schizophrenic accumulation of energy or charge, against which it brings all its vast powers of repression to bear, but which nonetheless continues to act as capitalism’s limit.” – Anti-Oedipus (and it actually…

  25. Aragorn Eloff Aragorn Eloff 6 August 2014

    It’s actually baffling how far off the mark you are in your last comment. Surely even the Wikipedia article – which is pretty clear – makes it obvious that the analysis of capitalist social/productive relations through a discussion of *non-clinical* schizophrenia (as a descriptor for an understanding of desire as a material productive force) operates with a hundredfold more nuance than you suggest:

    They’re much, much more coherent, at least, that your strikingly bizarre and poorly-conceived argument by analogy to veganism :D

  26. Garg Unzola Garg Unzola 11 August 2014

    I get the non-clinical sense. Really, I get it. I just find it absurd and non-informative. These are not the droids you are looking for, these are dummy decoy droids.

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