The unconscious is not an aspirational unity but an operative swarm, a population of 'preindividual and prepersonal singularities'
by Nick Land
Transcendental philosophy is the consummation of philosophy construed as the doctrine of judgment, a mode of thinking that finds its zenith in Kant and its senile dementia in Hegel. Its architecture is determined by two fundamental principles: the linear application of judgment to its object, form to intuition, genus to species, and the non-directional reciprocity of relations, or logical symmetry. Judgment is the great fiction of transcendental philosophy, but cybernetics is the reality of critique.
Where judgment is linear and non-directional, cybernetics is non-linear and directional. It replaces linear application with the non-linear circuit, and non-directional logical relations with directional material flows. The cybernetic dissolution of judgment is an integrated shift from transcendence to immanence, from domination to control, and from meaning to function. Cybernetic innovation replaces transcendental constitution, design loops replace faculties.
This is why the cybernetic sense of control is irreducible to the traditional political conception of power based on a dyadic master/slave relation, i.e. a transcendent, oppositional, and signifying figure of domination. Domination is merely the phenomenological portrait of circuit inefficiency, control malfunction, or stupidity. The masters do not need intelligence, Nietzsche argues, therefore they do not have it. It is only the confused humanist orientation of modernist cybernetics which lines up control with domination. Emergent control is not the execution of a plan or policy, but the unmanageable exploration that escapes all authority and obsolesces law. According to its futural definition control is guidance into the unknown, exit from the box.
It is true that in the commodification process culture slides from a judgmental to a machinic register, but this has nothing to do with a supposedly 'instrumental rationality'. Instrumentality is itself a judgmental construct that inhibits the emergence of cybernetic functionalism. Instruments are gadgets, presupposing a relation of transcendence, but where gadgets are used, machines function. Far from instrumentally extending authority, the efficiency of mastery is its undoing, since all efficiency is cybernetics, and cybernetics dissolves domination in mutant control.
Immuno-political individuality, or the pretension to transcendent domination of objects, does not begin with capitalism, even though capital invests it with new powers and fragilities. It emerges with the earliest social restriction of desiring production. 'Man must constitute himself through the repression of the intense germinal influx, the great biocosmic memory that threatens to deluge every attempt at collectivity'. This repression is social history.
The socius separates the unconscious from what it can do, crushing it against a reality that appears as transcendently given, by trapping it within the operations of its own syntheses. It is split-off from connective assemblage, which is represented as a transcendent object, from disjunctive differentiation, which is represented as a transcendent partition, and from conjunctive identification, which is represented as a transcendent identity. This is an entire metaphysics of the unconscious and desire, which is not (like the metaphysics of consciousness) merely a philosophical vice, but rather the very architectural principle of the social field, the infrastructure of what appears as social necessity.
In its early stages psychoanalysis discovers that the unconscious is an impersonal machinism and that desire is positive non-representational flow, yet it 'remains in the precritical age' and stumbles before the task of an immanent critique of desire, or decathexis of society. Instead it moves in exactly the opposite direction: back into fantasy, representation, and the pathos of inevitable frustration. Instead of rebuilding reality on the basis of the productive forces of the unconscious, psychoanalysis ties up the unconscious ever more tightly in conformity with the social model of reality. Embracing renunciation with a bourgeois earnestness, the psychoanalysts begin their robotized chant: 'of course we have to be repressed, we want to fuck our mothers and kill our fathers'. They settle down to the grave business of interpretation, and all the stories lead back to Oedipus: 'so you want to fuck your mother and kill your father'.
On the plane of immanence or consistency with desire interpretation is completely irrelevant, or at least, it is always in truth something else. Dreams, fantasies, myths, are merely the theatrical representations of functional multiplicities, since 'the unconscious itself is no more structural than personal, it does not symbolize any more than it imagines or represents; it engineers, it is machinic' . Desire does not represent a lacked object, but assembles partial objects, it 'is a machine, and the object of desire is another machine connected to it'. This is why, unlike psychoanalysis in its self-representation, 'schizoanalysis is solely functional'. It has no hermeneutical pretensions, but only a machinic interface with 'the molecular functions of the unconscious'.
The unconscious is not an aspirational unity but an operative swarm, a population of 'preindividual and prepersonal singularities, a pure dispersed and anarchic multiplicity, without unity or totality, and whose elements are welded, pasted together by the real distinction or the very absence of a link'. This absence of primordial or privileged relations is the body without organs, the machinic plane of the molecular unconscious. Social organization blocks-off the body without organs, substituting a territorial, despotic, or capitalist socius as an apparent principle of production, separating desire from what it can do. Society is the organic unity that constricts the libidinal diffusion of multiplicities across zero, the great monolith of repression, which is why '(t)he body without organs and the organs-partial objects are opposed conjointly to the organism. The body without organs is in fact produced as a whole, but a whole alongside the parts - a whole that does not unify or totalize, but that is added to them like a new, really distinct part'.
Between the socius and the body without organs is the difference between the political and the cybernetic, between the familial and the anonymous, between neurosis and psychosis or schizophrenia. Capitalism and schizophrenia name the same desocialization process from the inside and the outside, in terms of where it comes from (simulated accumulation) and where it is going (impersonal delirium). Beyond sociality is a universal schizophrenia whose evacuation from history appears inside history as capitalism.
excerpt from the book: FANGED NOUMENA by Nick Land
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Nick Land - The unconscious is not an aspirational unity but an operative swarm, a population of 'preindividual and prepersonal singularities'