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Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus

Lecturer: Jon Roffe

Originally Taught: Summer School 2020

This course will present a detailed examination of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia volume 1. Without wanting to rinse off any of the infamy the book attracted and continues to attract, the goal will be to present as clearly as possible the major lines of argument that the authors are making, which rest on a compelling social theory and a concomitant socio-historical framing of the project of Freudian psychoanalysis.

Monday: social-production, desiring-production, and the paralogisms of psychoanalysis

The main heuristic claim that this course will advance is that Anti-Oedipus is organised in such a way to invite a basic confusion about the status of its argument. In this first lecture, we will examine the three broad analytic perspectives considered in the book – social-production, desiring-production, and psychoanalysis – in order to grasp the proper form of their interrelation. To do so, we will need to discover why Deleuze will call the book ‘a Critique of Pure Reason for the unconscious’.

Tuesday: The three syntheses of desire and the pre-State formation

The second lecture will be given over to a concrete demonstration of what was argued in the first lecture. More specifically, the goal will be to discuss the status of desiring-production in relation to the first of three social formations: ‘primitive’ or pre-State society.

Wednesday: Social production in the State and capitalism

The second (State) and third (capitalist) social formations will be our concern in the third class. We will pay particular attention to the difference between the forms of subjectivity generated in the two formations, and the concomitant status of the incest prohibition. The ultimate goal here will be to outline the socio-genetic conditions under which the Oedipal family unit could have arisen.

Thursday: An immanent critique of psychoanalysis

With the full account of social production in place, Deleuze and Guattari’s immanent critique of psychoanalysis comes into focus. In this lecture, we will consider the psychoanalytic themes of lack, and the Oedipus complex in order to see why Guattari would come to declare that ‘psychoanalysis is the best capitalist drug’.

Friday. A schizoanalytic politics? Conclusion

In the last class, we will turn our attention to the final chapter of the book, which presents a second, synthetic account of social formation, and the concomitant means we have to interrupt social production. The course will close by considering why Deleuze will later call Anti-Oedipus ‘a failure’, and declare that ‘Oedipus has become our albatross’.

Readings: Extracts from Anti-Oedipus. A reading schedule will be provided before the classes begin, along with a PDF of the book.