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  14. Desire and Production


Yi-Jinkyung, Professor

Seoul National University of Technology


 [Download] 14 desire and production.pdf


Desire is the most central concept in Deleuze/Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus. Desire is not just the driving force behind all productive activities, but it also means the productive ability itself. To express this, they make and use the word ‘desiring production’ by combining these two concepts. But in this word, subject in its sense is not production but desire. In other words, It doesn’t mean that production desires but that desire produces. Production is the activity of desire. In this concept of ‘desire as production,’ we rediscover the concept of ‘difference that makes,’ ‘difference as becoming.’ It can be said desire is a new ‘mask’ of the concept of difference in the sense that “a mask is a face”(Nietzsche).

Everything that produces or is produced is all linked with desire. What matters is always desire. Psychoanalysis says sexual desire is the nature of desire. But there's no desire as a substance with a specific a priori nature. There's just a concrete desire that changes depending on the assemblage. Even sexual desire is not an exception for this either. Therefore we must ask “which desire” the phenomenon or situation is linked with, ‘which desire’ is at the base of it. We also have to ask ‘into which desire’ we must change this desire in order to change the actual reality. ‘Desire always matters,’ but this means not that the concept of desire is a principle or an answer that explains all the situations but that we always have to ask ‘which desire’ it is. This is close to Nietzsche's genealogy that asks its 'generative cause' at the base of all the phenomena or situations. Understanding the concept of desire is the same as Nietzsche's concept of 'will,' namely, 'will to power' makes its adjacency to Nietzsche clearer.

In Nietzsche and philosophy published in 1962, Deleuze says the essential of Nietzsche's natural philosophy is to grasps and interprets objects and phenomena through force. However, the existence of force is plural, and every force is always related to other forces. Will is said to be ‘differential element’ in the sense that it is an ingredient which relates one force to the other force(Nietzsche and Philosophy, 6-7). Will is precisely the ingredient that determines where to direct the force, in which direction and which force to make it meet, in plain terms, where to invest. Therefore, will can be said to be ‘will to power’ in the sense that it acts on force. Genealogy is ‘interpretation’ in the sense that it reads the sense of an object or phenomenon. Sense is the will and the force expressed in an object or phenomenon. Genealogy is a discipline that asks which force and will produces and governs an object or phenomenon.

Although force and will are distinguished conceptually, the two are not separable in reality. The force of the ball I throw is inseparable from my will to make it fly in a certain direction and to a certain distance. My will is the generative cause that generates the force which makes the ball move in that way, and is the differential element that determines the trajectory of the ball. Let the force be x, the will to power is the differential element added to it. Therefore, the force and the will given to the ball can be expressed as x+dx(ibid.51). However, the force of the moving ball includes another force and will, which is the gravity that pulls it down. We can denote this as y+dy. It is the sum of the mass of the ball and the gravity acting on it. So the force of the ball travels in a parabola by the ingredients of two wills with different sizes and directions, according to the change of the ratio(dy/dx) of their quantitative sizes.

However, even though will and force are not separable, these two should not be regarded as the same one. "Force is what can, will to power is what will.”(ibid. 50). For example, even when you throw something with an equal force, it is will that determines the direction. It is also will that decides whether to invest for exercising or for writing. The mass of the brick itself has gravity, that is, a force to pull it down, but when the will acts to push this brick forward, the problem now turns into the differential relationship between friction and pushing force. Depending on the will. this 'present' force is changed to another one. To be precise, it is not that there's force first and then will is added to it, but that there's a certain x that becomes different forces depending on the will. Will determines the quality of the force.

It should be noted that the ‘will’ here is not limited to the will of an organism such as a human or an animal. The earth that pulls the ball or the magnet that pulls iron powder all has its own will. When I fall asleep even though I try not to sleep, the will to sleep belongs not to me but to some part of my body. It is the same when I stretch out my hands to the bottle before I know even though I resolve not to drink. Therefore, the will to move my body is not single. Will is as plural as force. Various wills are coexisting in my body. For this reason, we often experience hesitation. The will to eat and the will to stop eating, the will to concentrate on what you are reading and the will to rest sometimes collide, and one also hands over the control to the other. This is precisely the difference between Nietzsche and Schopenhauer who corresponded the concept of will to one organism and assumed its singleness.

Desire that Deleuze/Guattari refer to means exactly this kind of will. Desire is the will to do and the will to use force for what one wishes to do. To use force is to invest force to power, When you are hungry and want to eat, you invest force to find or make something to eat. If you want to write something nice, you invest force in writing. If you want to play the piano but don't know how to, you invest force to boost the force to play. You invest force for ability or power. It is the desire to write that enables the force in my body to make the power to write. And it is the desire toward piano that makes me have power to play the piano.

Just like Nietzsche's concept of will, desire also is not that of humans or organisms. In other words, in the word 'investment of desire,' desire is not the object but the subject. It's not that I invest the desire, but that the desire invests the force. When the force is invested, the subject is not me but the desire. ‘I' am the subject that is produced on each occasion according to the way the desire invests the force. When the desire invests the force in playing the guitar, I become a guitarist-subject. When the desire to eat exceeds the desire not to eat, I become a failed-diet-subject. The subject comes not first but later. It is the outcome produced by the desire.

Desire invests force, and thereby produces the object or the activity. In this case, production is twofold, more correctly speaking, threefold. First, the desire produces the object. It produces food, writing, and music as its objects. It produces the object produced in that way. Second, desire produces the production ability and production activity; the activity of discerning whether to eat or not, the ability to recognize whether the food is good or bad. the ability to judge what this picture express, the activity to make power to paint, etc. In addition to this, the desire produces the subject. The production activity operated by the desire produces eating-subject, drawing-subject, playing-subject, and practicing-subject, etc.

Here, Deleuze/Guattari strongly emphasizes that desire is not a lack (Anti-Oedipus, 25-28). You may say why one desires when he has no lack, but the lack is a particular situation that occurred to the desire already produced. For moles and earthworms, the absence of light is not a lack. To feel the absence of light as a lack, light must already have been the object of the desire. Desire is produced simultaneously with the object. The desire for light can't occur without the object of light. It is the same with taste and sound. Whether a certain object is the object of the desire or not is more primary than whether the object is lacking or not. There is no lack in desire. Desire seeks to produce its object and appropriate it. Only what is produced as the object can be lacking. The lack is just a condition given to production activity.

Production is a synthesis. Synthesis is the activity of combining different things and converting them into something new. Plants combine light and carbon dioxide to make carbohydrates, and cooks combine various ingredients to make pasta. It would be foolish to say that plants lack light and cooks lack olive oil by reversing the word that light is needed to photosynthesize and olive oil is needed to make pasta, Because there is light, plants become to photosynthesize, and the desire for light occurs. With the availability of olive oil, the dish called pasta came into being. If there's no olive oil, people will look for other oils, and if no oil, people will produce other dishes than pasta.

When survival got easier thanks to the productive synthesis possible in the given environment, we try to repeat that synthesis, and the synthesis becomes a desire. Then the ingredients of that synthesis become the objects of the desire. The psychoanalysis proposition that "I have the original lack, that is my desire, and I live in search of what will fulfill this lack"(referred to as 'metonymic chains of desire') is an inference done by reversing this production process of desire. It may be said this way. "Who desires water when there is water? We just desire what we don't have. Therefore, what is lacking is what is desired. Lack is the essence of desire. If there's a desire, it means there's a lack. If one always has a desire, that's because he has the lack that can't be fulfilled" But if water is not the object of desire, there is no reason to desire even if there's no water. Unless you have a special purpose, you don't have any reason to desire cyanide when there's no cyanide.

Desire doesn't have as its object what it can't obtain, the lack that can't be fulfilled. The desire for what can never be obtained is not the desire of a living being. It is nothing but a perverted desire that part of a particular species called 'human' has under a very particular condition. The unfulfillable desire does not lead to seeking for an insufficient substitute to fulfill it, but rather makes the desire or ability disappear. In the case of animals living in places without light, such as moles and deep-sea fishes, the ability to sense light and the organ for this function disappear. The desire for light also disappears.

Production continues with or without lack. Production is constant and lack is conditional. The state in which lack is constant as shown in today's world was created and organized by a particular social system(AO. 28). One good example would be the enclosure movement that destroyed communities, deprived the traditional farmers of their conditions of survival, and made the peasants proletariats. Lack is artificially made and reserved. We can see it easily in the opposing argument on the basic income: "Who would work if they gave you money to live on even if you didn't work?"

There is desire everywhere. Surely desire is universal. But desire is not a universal substance that has the same nature in any activity. There's no universal desire that answers anywhere, such as sexual desire or desire for power. That one should ask 'which desire it is' everywhere is the demand implied in the universality of desire. However, you might ask back why all the matters should be treated as matters of desire. For this, Deleuze/Guattari replies that the problem posed by Spinoza should be thrown again. "Why do men fight for their servitude as stubbornly as though it were their salvation?” They say this is the 'fundamental problem of political philosophy'(AO, 29).

The well-known answer to this problem is that this is because the masses are deceived by the ruling class. But Wilhelm Reich, who has soberly watched the enthusiasm of the masses about fascism, disagrees with this. "No, the masses were not being deceived. In a way, under certain conditions, they desired fascism. It is this perversion of the desire of the masses that needs to be explained”(AO, 29). For this reason and in this context, the question of desire is problematized in this book. This is also the reason that asking 'which desire it is' everywhere becomes a political philosophy.

If you know about Deleuze's concept of Idea(see 'Idea'), you will understand that this concept of desire is one of the 'Ideas' that Deleuze used in 'Difference and Repetition': Idea that is not the highest ground which is the grand principle uniting everything together and which provides answers to all the questions, but question or problem that should be always thrown repeatedly; differential Idea of the minimum size that enables the question to be problematized; Idea as virtuality or ability to become the embryos of all the production activities or all the objects produced. Desire is another Idea, another face, of the philosophy of difference.




translated by Jung Ki Lee

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