Lazzarato, Signs and Machines Outline, Intro-Chp 2

money is just paperHere is an outline of Maurizio Lazzarato’s Signs and Machines that includes his Intro, Chapter 1, and Chapter 2. It is here that he develops his essential distinction between signifying/asignifying linguistics and their subsequent subjectivites of social subjection/machinic enslavement. A better formatted version is available in the downloads section of this blog. Enjoy!




23 – 1. Social subjection and machinic enslavement

29 – 2. Human/machine vs humans/machinies

32 – 3. Egyptian megamachine

34 – 4. The functions of subjection

39 – Capital as a semiotic operator

43 – 1. The concept of “production”

49 – 2. Desire and production

52 – 3. The failure of “human capital”


57 – 1. The remains of structuralism: language without structure

66 – 2. Signifying semiologies

68 – i. The Political Function of Semiologies of Signification

72 – ii. Reference, Signification, Representation

80 – 3. Asignifying semiotics Continue reading “Lazzarato, Signs and Machines Outline, Intro-Chp 2”

Hearing the “Languages of Infrastructures”: Capitalism as Public Address


What does capital sound like? Do we hear it in the grinding gears of industry? The rustling papers of bureaucracy? The idle chatter of company spokesmen? The business maxims of a boss?

Though deceptively simple, the question is not an innocent one. How people listen for capitalism has major implications for public address, rhetorical theory, and Deleuze studies. As far as scholars of public address still rely on Aristotle’s two-fold definition of humans (“man is the only animal to possess language,” and “man is a political animal”), politics is central to the field. The rapport between capitalism and orality is far less certain. This ambiguity raises an important theoretical question: is rhetoric even important for the study of capitalism? And if rhetorical theory does have a role in critiquing capital, what is role of Marxist linguistics?

Today, I explore French Marxists Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s suggestion that capitalism speaks in a voice even more nefarious than the ideological speech of politicians. According to them, capitalism acts through the inhuman code of asignifying semiotics.

I set the context through the global financial crisis of 2007-2008. I show how capitalism operates through “semiotic operators,” such as “stock market indices, currency, mathematical equations, diagrams, computer languages, national and corporate accounting” (Lazzarato, Signs and Machines, 39). I draw two implications from this finding: first, that there is a regime of signs distinct to capital, and second, that they draw on categories of rhetoric beyond those established in rhetorical theory. Continue reading “Hearing the “Languages of Infrastructures”: Capitalism as Public Address”

Maurizio Lazzarato, Signs and Machines, “Introduction”


To say that desire is part of the infrastructure comes down to saying that subjectivity produces reality. Subjectivity is not an ideological superstructure.

At the time of Leninism, the government had to be overturned – the trade unions were economists, traitors – power had to go to the Soviets: in short, there was an idea, there was something. But here, really, there is no idea. There’s nothing at all. There’s the idea of macroeconomics, of a certain number of factors: unemployment, the market, money, all abstractions that have nothing at all to do with social reality.

-Félix Guattari, “Crise de production de subjectivité,”

Seminar of April 3, 1984

In a seminar in 1984, Félix Guattari argued that the crisis affecting the West since the early 1970s as, more than an economic or political crisis, a crisis of subjectivity. How are we to understand Guattari’s claim?

Germany and Japan came out of the Second World War completely destroyed, under long-term occupation, both socially and (8) psychologically decimated, with “no material assets-no raw materials, no reserve capital.” What explains the economic miracle? “They rebuilt a prodigious ‘capital of subjectivity’ (capital in the form of knowledge, collective intelligence, the will to survive, etc.). Indeed,they invented a new type of subjectivity out of the devastation itself. The Japanese, in particular, recovered aspects of their archaic subjectivity, converting them into the most ‘advanced’ forms of social and material production. [. . .] The latter represents a kind of industrial complex for the production of subjectivity, one enabling a multiplicity of creative processes to emerge, certain of which are, however, highly alienating.”2

Capitalism “launches (subjective) models the way the automobile industry launches a new line of cars.”3 Indeed, the central project of capitalist politics consists in the articulation of economic, technological, and social flows with the production of subjectivity in such a way that political economy is identical with “subjective economy.” Guattari’s working hypothesis must be revived and applied to current circumstances; and we must start by acknowledging that neoliberalism has failed to articulate the relation between these two economies.

Guattari further observes capitalism’s capacity to foresee and resolve systemic crises through apparatuses and safeguards that it came to master following the Great Depression. Today, the weakness of capitalism lies in the production of subjectivity. As a consequence, systemic crisis and the crisis in the production of subjectivity are strictly interlinked. It is impossible to separate economic, political, and social processes from the processes of subjectivation occurring within them. Continue reading “Maurizio Lazzarato, Signs and Machines, “Introduction””

[Audiobook] Daniel W Smith – Deleuze’s Politics: Psychoanalysis, Anthropology, and Nomadology in Anti-Oedipus & A Thousand Plateaus (2009)

smith-deleuzeI just uploaded these lectures, which I listened to a couple years ago. They are perhaps the best introduction to the politics of Deleuze and Guattari but is also rewarding for more advanced scholars. I’m sorry for the quality – I tried to clean them up, but they’re not perfect. awc

Also available here.

Daniel W Smith discussed Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s works Anti-Oedipus & A Thousand Plateaus at the Collegium Phaenomenologicum 2009. Smith, a professor of philosophy at Purdue University, is a leading expert of Deleuze and Guattari’s work. In these lectures, he lucidly outlines the theories and implications of the most political sections of Deleuze and Guattari’s work while giving special attention to the primary source materials and philosophical arguments that the authors utilized to make their argument.

Day 1: Anti-Oedipus & Desire
In this talk, Smith discusses Deleuze and Guattari’s ambitious reworking of psychoanalysis, especially with their notions of desire and the unconscious.

Day 2: Anti-Oedipus & The Human (missing part 2)
On this day of talks, Smith describes the anthropology chapter of Anti-Oedipus. In the first lecture, Smith covers the Savage and Despotic formations. Unfortunately, the second lecture, in which Smith described the Capitalism formation, was not recorded.

Day 3: A Thousand Plateaus & Nomadology
On this day, Smith presents Deleuze and Guattari’s nomadology from A Thousand Plateaus, with an eye to their description of society without a state. The second lecture is dedicated to question & answer.

The reading materials for the lectures was
– Deleuze & Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, “Savages, Barbarians, Civilized Men,” 139 – 271 Continuum Version, 141 – 164 Minnesota Version.
– Deleuze & Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, “1227: Treatise on Nomadology–The War Machine,” & “7000 B.C.: Apparatus of Capture,” 387 – 522 Continuum Version, 351- 473 Minnesota Version.

The original recordings picked up substantial feedback that punctuated the lecture with high-pitched pinging noises that made it nearly unlistenable. I tried to eliminate as much of the feedback as possible, but ended up thinning out Smith’s voice.

I have uploaded the originals as well, but would not suggest trying to listen to them.

New Downloads: Anti-Oedipus Documents, 3 Syntheses & 5 Paralogisms


In the downloads section, I’ve uploaded my charts for the three syntheses of the unconscious and the five paralogisms from Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus. There are some gaps in it, so if anyone wants to suggest additions, I’d be more than happy to consider including them. Enjoy!

Also, there’s a cool concept map of desiring-production that I found here, but it’s not my own.

Empire & The Grid

Yesterday, Matt asked a wonderful question about my theory of subjection in Empire and its relevance to Massumi’s use of “the grid” in the introduction to Parables For the Virtual.

Let me first preface this by saying that I believe Empire has already overcome the problem of the grid. It’s now just a problem for cultural studies and other disciplines that linger on old models of social analysis. In contrast to Empire, subjection in The Social State is absolutely indicative of a grid-type model of power, as are parts of the Modern State. ***Therefore: struggles against hierarchy and binary exclusion may benefit Empire rather than confront it.***

At the beginning Parables, Massumi claims that most cultural studies uses a social model premised on structural positions (“feminine,” “black,” etc). This is an application of an argument he inherits from Anti-Oedipus, where Deleuze and Guattari develop an elaborate critique of certain Fruedo-Lacanian psychoanalytic models that use a grid. They spare Lacan himself (Guattari was once the heir-apparent to Lacan’s ecole freudienne and remained under analysis even after the publication of AO), but are not so kind to his more dogmatic followers, such as Serge Leclaire.

Continue reading “Empire & The Grid”

Prelude (edited)

This post contained an draft version of a dissertation section. A more recent version is now available on the works page.