In Unconscious as a Machine: Part I – Structuralist, we have determined that the structuralist sees a fixed, unified, singular image – the originating event organizing one’s psychosexual development is at the root of every unconscious desire and though–and that the novel emerging thoughts arise logically, framing the whole as the “essential truth”. The poststructuralist, on the other hand, focuses on the ‘potential’ meaning with many faces, in which experience is more valued than the consciously traced meaning. The machinery of the human being is always in the state of becoming: s/he is dynamic; actively changing with every encounter.
In regards to this analogy of unconscious as a machine, poststructuralist philosophers Deleuze and Guattari criticize Freud’s analysis of “The Wolfman” (the psychoanalytic framework and case study discussed in Part I) in their writing 1914: One or Several Wolves?. They establish that the originating event cannot be considered the source for every desire and conclude the unconscious encounters as the human-machine is not solely pre-determined. Rather, it works by producing new “codes” through experiences untied to the beginning. Therefore, the idea of an “essential truth” (or the originating event) is an illusion.
The fixed notion of truth, the common sense linked to collective consciousness, maintains a stable model of being, and holds organizational principles within the masses. For instance, capitalism– an organ of structuralism– is a mode of organizing that forms the social unconscious. The subjective unconscious in the process of meaning-making is always regulated by the social unconscious through the social context one exists in. Deleuze and Guattari write, “In becoming-wolf, the important thing is the position of the mass, and above all the position of the subject itself in relation to the pack or wolf multiplicity”. In society, we define ourselves in relation to the pack, one that is dominantly claimed by capitalist forces that trace signs towards a single signification– an exact value: ‘truth’. Every desire is organized to be invested in materiality. The capitalist machine organizes crowds in homogenous, hierarchical, and predictable ways by functioning through artificially-constructed factors such as language, history, and power. But the organization of life in the process of living is dynamic, indeterminate, heterogeneous, and without a center.
Deleuze writes, “A schizophrenic out for a walk is a better model than a neurotic lying on the analyst’s couch. A breath of fresh air, a relationship with the outside world”. One needs to be on their feet, actively engaged in the moment, the process, unbounded by a centered truth rather than remaining passive and being defined by social constructs. As the term “human being” itself signifies, it is an active machine, always engaged in the process of “being” and becoming. The schizophrenics define themselves in relation to the pack, yet at the same time remain in the periphery; the combination of experiences of being a part of the whole and outside of it carries an essence; an unchained truth with many faces.
Meaning is composed of signs, and Deleuze and Guattari treat all signs as asignifying (a term used by Deleuze and Guattari as an antonym of signification to further highlight the indeterminate nature of the unconscious). I view this asignification not as devaluing but instead as liberating to any predetermined root, a one-to-one association. When there is a hole in the symbolic (the representational order derived from a social construct), there is no grounding. This is viewed as a problem to be “fixed” by the structuralist. However, if there is no anchoring, anything may occur: existence surpasses any social construct, limitation, or proclaimed truth. A set-in-stone, one-to-one structure is useless for the understanding and expression of human experience. It is through a conviction of individually-perceived “reality” rather than the pretense of a dominating reality that the dislocation of perception and freeing of responses may be achieved. Production for Deleuze and Guattari is not aimed at producing a product but rather endless connections. They view the unconscious as holes that never end, wherein endless signifiers interact, move towards and away, pass through one another.
The authors believe not one organ produces one thing, instead all productions are collectively produced by the entire body and its interaction with the exterior bodies. Their concept body without organs comes as a theoretical solution to the unconscious being a product of capitalist repression (or Freud’s Oedipal repression), and the body being a metaphor is representative of the wider universe. This concept was taken from the avant-garde artist Antonin Artaud, who said, “When you will have made him a body without organs, then you will have delivered him from all his automatic reactions and restored him to his true freedom”. If we remove the rules that dictate what a body can do then we will be free to do more with our bodies. This would entail an experimental, decentered process in which desire continuously produces itself with continually changing meanings, unbounded by the capitalist desiring production that fosters within the limits of a dominant reality. Thus, for Deleuze and Guattari, the body without organs is ‘not a dead body but a living body all the more alive’, it is not a refusal of the body but the refusal of the organism.
Each mind has unique machinery that connects parts in differing ways. The very act of Deleuze and Guattari writing together is schizophrenic. It abandons fixation, authority, hierarchy—individual machines interact to produce a new one that lacks a center, a dominating reality and instead gains many.