File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0108, message 67

Date: Sat, 18 Aug 2001 18:25:50 -0500
Subject: Re: Lyotard and Empire


Let me openly acknowledge one handicap here.  I can't read French.
Therefore, I am limited to those works of Lyotard that have been
translated into English. 

Unfortunately, much of Lyotard's writings from the eary seventies is
simply unavailable. There was a text entitled "Driftworks", but it has
been out of print for years and I can't find reasonably priced copies at
the used book stores.  I keep waiting like Godot for Discours/Figure to
be translated, but to no avail. I would love to read Lyotard's essay on
Adorno, but don't know where to look for it. I also would like to see
'Energumen Capitalism', but haven't.

Are these things more widely available in the UK?

just ranting,


> Eric and co,
> To what extent can elements of Lyotards discussion of Anti-Oedipus in his
> reveiw essay 'Energumen Capitalism' (EC) be rethought as a reading of
> 'Empire'. In more than one sense AO is one of the texts that the Empire work
> is founded on. I'd even go as far as to suggest that in some ways Empire is
> like a further volume of D&G's Capitalism and Schzophrenia opus...  However
> Lyotard's reading of the AO is that the text "subverts most profoundly what
> it does not criticise: Marxism..."  But what is engaged in within the EC is
> to point out what it is that is extracted from Marxism and buried is no
> less  important that what is burnt at the stake from Freudian psychoanalysis
> - actually the latter is less successful than the former because the model
> of the human subject that AO defines is plainly unworkable but never mind.
> What remains of marxism after the AO and EO is more or less what remains in
> Empire...
> What remains of capitalism is one step prior to the definition postmodern
> capitalism we live in today - fluidity, fluxes and flows.
> "Marxism says: there is a frontier, a limit past which the organisation of
> flows called capital (capitalist relations of production) comes apart, and
> the corrospondences between money and commodities, capital and labor force,
> as well as other paramters, go haywire. And it is the very growth of
> production capacities in modern capitalism which reaching this limit, will
> cause the whole system of production and circulation to wobble. Furthermore
> this growth will not fail to allow the passage of even more energy flows,
> and to unleash and disperse their 'regulation' system within capital, that
> is within their relations of production... All marxist politics is built
> thereon, seeking in this frontier, this limit, this chain, a cornerstone
> seeking to crumble, or a weak link, or ne considered so pertinent as to
> bring down the whole structure, the strongest link...All this is a politics
> of law and negativity..." Lyotard (1972) Energumen Capitalism.
> (Lyotard goes on to criticise the and examine what '...destroys bourgious
> society...'  His critique of marxism is founded on his conflation on the
> despotic failings of the 1917 revolution, the refusal of the strategy of the
> party...)
> "What fascinates Marx is quite recognisable in the configuration of Capital
> proposed by D & G the capitalist perversion, the subversion of codes,
> religions, decency, trades, education, cookery, speech, gender, the
> levelling of all 'established' differences into the one and only difference:
> being worth..., exchangeable for.... Indifferent difference. Mors
> Immortalis, in his words..." These words which were written by Lyotard and
> AO are also one of the finest statings of why all the people discussed above
> remain important.
> Actually I've been wrong about Lyotard on Marx - I've been misreading him,
> which the past few days has corrected, it is not marx and the theory he is
> writing against but the despotic failings of 1917 - the question becomes how
> do you do something about it... How to completely eradicate the negativity
> and guilt which has haunted us since the utopian dreams turned into
> nightmares... (sorry Jean-Francios)
> I agree in other words that Empire is so close to the work of the
> philosophers of desire - D&G below but also Lyotard from the same period...
> It's easy to forget the passion and anger that drips from the 1970s texts of
> lyotard.
> regards
> sdv
> Mary Murphy&Salstrand wrote:
> > Steve
> >
> > No problem if you are over the top. Keep in mind, my own agenda is the
> > following. Keep open a different reception of Lyotard from the cliches
> > found in the lit-crit anthologies.  From my POV, Lyotard never lapses
> > into nostalgia, and therefore, it isn't fair to call him a pessimist.
> > IMHO he always pushed for resistance, refusal and passive rebellion even
> > when there seemed no other way out. The keynote in late LyoTARD is
> > ambiguity, not despair.
> >
> > The question remains, how does Empire complexify Lyotard's own
> > conception of complexity, as this is found in his later works. N&H don't
> > seem to be denying  the condition as much as saying it allows for
> > certain unforeseen transformations. Perhaps.
> >
> > You asked me for my take on multitudes.  I see it as deriving both from
> > Deleuze and Guattari and Spinoza.
> >
> > Here is some background from 1,000 plateaus - as you will see, it is
> > central to the main conceptions of this book!
> >
> > Rhizomatics=Schizoanalysis=Stratoanalysis=Pragmatics=Micropolitics.
> > These words are concepts, but concepts are lines, which is to say,
> > number systems attached to a particular dimension of the multiplicities
> > (strata, molecular chains, lines of flight or rupture, circles of
> > convergence, etc.)
> >
> > All we know are assemblages.  And the only assemblages are machinic
> > assemblages of desire and collective assemblages of enunciation...
> > An assemblage, in its multiplicity, necessarily acts on semiotic flows,
> > material flows and social flows simultaneously.
> >
> > A body without organs is not an empty body stripped of organs, but a
> > body upon which that which serves as organs (wolves, wolf eyes, wolf
> > jaw?) is distributed according to crowd phenomena, in Brownian motion,
> > in the form of molecular multiciplicities.  The desert is populous.
> >
> > People say, After all, schizophrenics have a mother and a father, don't
> > they?  Sorry, no none as such. They only have a desert with tribes
> > inhabiting it, a full body clinging with multiplicities.
> >
> > This brings us to the second factor, the nature of these multiplicities
> > and their elements, RHIZOME.
> >
> > Lines of flight or deterritorialization, becoming wolf, becoming
> > inhuman, deterritorialized intensities: that is what multiplicity is.
> >
> > Thus we find in the work of the mathematician and physicist Riemann a
> > distinction between discreet multiplicities and continuous
> > multiplicities.
> >
> > We are doing approximately the same thing when we distinguish between
> > arborescent multiplicities and rhizomatic multiplicities.  Between
> > macro- and micromultiplicities.
> >
> > The elements of this second kind of multiplicity are particles: their
> > relations are distances, their movements are Brownian: the quantities
> > are intensities, difference in intensity.
> >
> > Among the characteristics of a pack are small or restricted numbers,
> > dispersion, noncomposable variable distances, qualitative metamorphoses,
> > inequalities as remainders or crossings, impossibility of a fixed
> > totalization or hierarchization, a Brownian variability in direction,
> > lines of deterritorialization, and projection of particles.
> >
> > In a pack each member is alone even in the company of others...each
> > takes care of himself at the same time as participating in the band...he
> > may be in the center, and then immediately afterwards, at the edge
> > again; at the edge and then back in the center.
> >
> > Now here is how Negri sees multiplicity is Spinoza:
> >
> > This new quality of the subject, that is, opens up to the sense of the
> > multiplicity of subjects and to the constructive power that emanates
> > from their dignity, understood as totality.
> >
> > Spinoza republican thought contains three elements:
> >
> > 1. A conception of the State that radically denies its transcendence -
> > that is, a demystification of politics;
> > 2. A determination of Power (potestas) as a function subordinated to the
> > social power (potentia) of the multitudo and, therefore,
> > constitutionally organized;
> > 3. A conception of constitution, in other words, of constitutional
> > organization, which necessarily starts from the antagonism of subjects.
> >
> > In Empire, N&H are simply extrapolating from these previous conceptions.
> >
> > eric


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