Philip of CIRCLING SQUARES discusses Deleuze in relation to a concept of “spontaneous self-organisation”. This is a fairly common and persistent misreading, that Deleuze has always denounced. In his ABC PRIMER Claire Parnet asks him about the misunderstandings of his concept of desire, and he has this to say:

The misunderstandings generally were connected to two points, two cases, which were more or less the same: some people thought that desire was a form of spontaneity, so there were all sorts of movements of ”spontaneity”; and others thought desire was an occasion for partying. For us, it was neither one nor
the other, but that had little importance since assemblages got created

Deleuze goes on to link the notion of assemblage with that of “discipline”. An assemblage has four components: states of things, enunciations, territories, and processes of deterritorialisation. All these are crafted together, “machined”, in the formation of assemblages. So there is no in praise of spontaneity.

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  1. Philip says:

    Fair point. I should have added that this is often the way Deleuze is interpreted by his followers. i.e. this is what people often take away from him. William Connolly’s work bears the hallmarks of this. Indeed, he seems to see no real contradiction between Hayek and Deleuze and mashes the two together.


    • edmundberger says:

      I think that Eugene Holland is also guilty of this to a degree – particularly in “Nomad Citizenship,” which frequently reads like Accelerationism minus the Landian excesses. That said, I think there is a degree to which spontaneity and self-organization can lend us certain tactics, particularly in extremely overcoded and controlled spaces. But even here we have to acknowledge that this sort of spontaneity and self-organization itself is not reflective of these paradigms in a scientific sense, as there will be degrees to which these remained planned; the most horizontal of organizations, of temporary direct democracy, affinity groups, etc, is a preconceived notion that is acted upon. It was the folding inward of expressive politics that operates beyond the horizon of the state into complexity as an ontology that my post was critiquing, and you are definitely right to acknowledge the influence of Deleuze’s followers! I think a lot of the conflation comes from the popularization of Deleuze and Guattari in the hey-day of early internet, the purple ‘cyberdelic’ prose and digital dreaming – precisely the moments when ‘complexity’ ruptured into the mainstream.

      There does seem to be, however, a certain degree of fascination on Guattari’s part into theories of complexity, with his elucidation of schizoanalysis in “Schizoanalytic Cartographies” and “Chaosmosis” and its relationship to the autopoiesic theories of Varela and Maturana. Maybe Terence could comment on this?


      • terenceblake says:

        I think that Guattari’s reference to autopoiesis theories has a similar status to Deleuze’s references to the brain in his cinema books. Such theories are instantiations in functional terms of more general (in the sense of transversally present in a number of domains) philosophical concepts (as opposed to scientific “functions”). To think otherwise is to give a scientistic primacy to a foundational level of research. Deleuze indicates that for the brain what is crucial is not the objectivised brain but the brain as subject. For Guattari, autopoiesis is never the last word, and he emphasises its dependence on a more primary heteropoiesis.


  2. Reblogged this on Critical Fantasies and commented:
    This is actually a very important point about organizing that Deleuze has provided us. Desire does not come spontaneously, as if “from nowhere” and emerge all by itself. The common affects of a milieu, the places frequented (territories), and shared ways of speaking all play into desire. The “where are we going with this?” question of deterritorialization always lingers between us, and is crucial for assembling a collective desire – with force. Machinic thinking helps us consider these things and not be entranced by mere words or closed-off cliques guarding the boarders of the territory.


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