LEVI BRYANT AND THE PERFORMATIVE CONTRADICTION (8): Lacanian machine-ontology

In ANTI-OEDIPUS the machine model has a very polemical force: to operate the critique and the replacement of the theatrical model of the unconscious, of delirium, and of desire that characterises psychoanalysis. The aim of their “machinism” was to break out of the nature-culture divide, and to constitute a theory of desire. This polemical force is absent in Levi Bryant’s machine ontology, and we know that he is still lacanian and enshrines Lacan’s graphs of sexuation as some sort of revelation. The graphs of sexuation were expounded in Lacan’s seminar in 1973, and are derivative from, and an attempted recuperation of, Deleuze and Guattari’s breakthroughs beginning in 1969.

Later, in KAFKA and in A THOUSAND PLATEAUS, Deleuze and Guattari give up this “machinic” language, as they find  it is ultimately misleading. Aside from the danger of being considered a mere metaphor, the machine model risks being confused with a more familiar mechanical mode. It does not give enough emphasis to the semiotic dimensions of desire. It does not make manifest the collective nature of machinic action and expression. Finally, it defuses the essentially political nature of the set-ups of desire and enunciation. They replace the machine model with the more general, more “Machian” language of assemblages.  Thus in their new terminology an assemblage has two faces: a collective assemblage of enunciation and a machinic assemblage of desire.

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