Gregory Bateson, in Steps to an Ecology of Mind The human subject is not a straightforward matter; Descartes was wrong to suggest it was sufficient merely to think in order to be. On the one hand, there are all kinds of ways of existing that lie outside the realm of consciousness; and, on the other, a thinking which struggles only to gain a hold on itself merely spins ever more crazily. Like a whirling top, it gains no proper purchase on the real territories of existence, as they slide and drift like the tectonic plates that underpin the continents. We should perhaps not speak of subjects, but rather of components of subjectification, each of which works more or less on its own account.

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Gregory Bateson, in Steps to an Ecology of Mind The human subject is not a straightforward matter; Descartes was wrong to suggest it was sufficient merely to think in order to be. On the one hand, there are all kinds of ways of existing that lie outside the realm of consciousness; and, on the other, a thinking which struggles only to gain a hold on itself merely spins ever more crazily.

Like a whirling top, it gains no proper purchase on the real territories of existence, as they slide and drift like the tectonic plates that underpin the continents. We should perhaps not speak of subjects, but rather of components of subjectification, each of which works more or less on its own account.

Necessarily, this would lead us to re-examine the relation between the individual and subjectivity, and, above all, to distinguish clearly between the two concepts. Interiority would appear as a quality produced at the meeting-point of multiple components which are relatively mutually autonomous - in certain cases, openly discordant.

It is of course still difficult for such arguments to find acceptance, particularly in contexts where there remains a lingering suspicion, if not indeed a prior rejection, of any specific reference to subjectivity.

Subjectivity still gets a bad press; it continues even today to be criticized in the name of the primacy of infrastructures, structures, or systems.

Generally speaking, those who do take it upon themselves to deal either practically or theoretically with subjectivity use the kid glove approach to the subject; they take endless precautions, making absolutely sure they never stray too far from the pseudo- scientific paradigms they borrow for preference from the hard sciences - from thermodynamics, topology, information and systems theory, linguistics. It is as if there were a scientistic super-ego which demanded that psychical entities be reified, understood only in terms of their extrinsic co-ordinates.

Unsurprisingly, then, the human and social sciences have condemned themselves to overlooking the intrinsically developmental, creative, at d self- positioning dimensions of processes of subjectification. I myself have come to regard the apprehension of a psychical fact as inseparable from the enunciative assemblage that brings it into being, both as fact and as expressive process.

I am not seeking here to revive the Pascalian distinction between esprit de geometrie and esprit de finesse; for I understand these as two modes of apprehension - the one via the concept, the other via the affect or percept - which are in fact absolutely complementary. What I am suggesting is that what I have called this pseudo-narrative detour also deploys mechanisms of repetition - infinitely varying rhythms and refrains - which are nothing more or less than the buttresses of existence, since they allow discourse, or any link in the discursive chain, to become the bearer of a non- discursivity which, stroboscope-like, cancels out the play of distinctive oppositions at the level of both content and form of expression.

What is more, those mechanisms are the very condition of emergence and re-emergence of the unique events - incorporeal universes of reference - which punctuate the unfolding of individual and collective historicity.

There was once a time when Greek theatre - or courtly love, or the courtly romance - were the standard models of, or modules for, subjectivity. Today it is Freudianism whose ghostly presence is visible in the forms in which we maintain the existence of sexuality, of childhood, of neurosis.

And although, for the time being, I do not envisage transcending Freudianism le fait freudien , nor argue that we should write it off altogether, I do propose that we re-orient its concepts and practices - put them to another use, uproot them from their pre-structuralist attachment to a subjectivity wholly anchored in the individual and collective past. The unconscious remains bound to archaic fixations only as long as no assemblage exists within which it can be oriented towards the future; and in the future that faces us, NEW FORMATIONS temporalities of both human and non-human nature will demand just such an existential reorientation.

With the acceleration of the technological and data- processing revolutions, we will witness the deployment or, if you will, the unfolding of animal, vegetable, cosmic, and machinic becomings which are already prefigured by the prodigious expansion of computer-aided subjectivity.

Those developments - the formation and remote-controlling of human individuals and groups - will of course also be governed by institutional and social class dimensions. In that context, we will have to play around with psychoanalysis, find ways of evading the phantasmatic traps of psycho- analytical myth, rather than cultivating and maintaining it like an ornamental garden.

My insistence on the need for aesthetic paradigms is based on an attempt to stress the importance of perpetual reinvention - of always starting from tabula rasa - particularly in the register of psychoanalytical practices. The alternative is entrapment in deathly repetition. Thus the necessary precondition for any regeneration of analysis - through schizoanalysis, for example - is to acknowl- edge the general principle that both individual and collective subjective assemblages have the potential to develop and proliferate far beyond their ordinary state of equilibrium.

By their very essence, analytical cartographies reach beyond the existential territories to which they are assigned. Like artists and writers, the cartographers of subjectivity should seek, then, with each concrete performance, to develop and innovate, to create new perspectives, without prior recourse to assured theoretical foundations or the authority of a group, school, conservatory, or academy.

Work in progress! An end to psychoanalytical, behaviourist, or systemist catechisms! To be sure, those who operate in the world of psychoanalysis, if they do indeed wish to find common ground with artists and writers, will have to shed their white coats - the invisible uniforms they wear in their heads, in their language and ways of being. In what follows, I shall classify what I see as this reconstitution of social and individual practices under three complementary headings: social ecology, mental ecology, and environmental ecology.

T h e implications of any given negative development may or may not be catastrophic; whatever the case, it tends today to be simply accepted without question. Structuralism, and subsequently postmodernism, have accustomed us to a vision of the world in which human interventions - concrete politics and micropolitics - are no longer relevant.

T h e withering away of social praxis is explained in terms of the death of ideologies, or of some supposed return to universal values. Yet those explanations seem to me highly unsatisfactory. T h e decisive factor, it seems to m e , is the general inflexibility of social and psychological praxes - their failure to adapt - as well as a widespread incapacity to perceive the erroneousness of partitioning off the real into a number of separate fields.

It is quite simply wrong to regard action on the psyche, the socius, and the environment as separate. Indeed, if we continue - as the media would have us do - to refuse squarely to confront the simultaneous degradation of these three areas, we will in effect be acquiescing in a general infantilization of opinion, a destruction and neutralization of democracy.

For there are limits - as Chernobyl and A I D S have savagely demonstrated - to the technico-scientific power of humanity. Nature kicks back. If we are to orient the sciences and technology toward more human goals, we clearly need collective management and control - not blind reliance on technocrats in the state apparatuses, in the hope that they will control developments and minimize risks in fields largely dominated by the pursuit of profit. It would of course be absurd to formulate this in terms of a desire to retrieve past forms of human existence.

In the wake of the data-processing and robotics revolutions, the rise of genetic engineering, and the globalization of markets, neither human work nor the natural habitat can return, even to their state of being of a few decades ago. The proper way to deal with what we have to acknowledge as a de facto situation is to reorient it - which implies a redefinition in terms of contemporary conditions of the objectives and methods of each and every form of movement of the social.

This, precisely, was the problematic symbolically formulated in a television experiment once performed by the television presenter Alain Bombard.

The experiment involved two glass bowls, one filled with polluted water from the port of Marseilles or somewhere similar, in which a clearly very healthy octopus was swimming around - virtually dancing - and the other filled with pure, unpolluted water. In the realm of social ecology, Donald Trump and his ilk - another form of algae - are permitted to proliferate unchecked. In the name of renovation, Trump takes over whole districts of New York or Atlantic City, raises rents, and squeezes out tens of thousands of poor families.

Those who Trump condemns to homelessness are the social equivalent of the dead fish of environmental ecology. Further disasters of social ecology include the brutal deterritorialization of the Third World, which simultaneously affects the cultural texture of populations, and devastates both climate and human immune defences.

Or child labour - now growing far beyond its nineteenth-century proportions! We find ourselves repeatedly on the brink of situations of catastrophic self- destruction. How then do we regain control? International agencies have only the weakest of purchase on phenomena which call instead for absolutely fundamental rethinking. There was a time when international solidarity was a major concern of trade unions and left parties; today, it is the sole province of humanitarian associations.

The task facing the protagonists of social liberation is to re-forge theoretical references which light a way out of the current, unprecedently nightmarish historical period.

We live in a time when it is not only animal species that are disappearing; so too are the words, expressions, and gestures of human solidarity. Why, then, is it so important, in mapping out reference points for the three ecologies, to abandon pseudo-scientific paradigms? The reason is not simply the complexity of the entities under consideration; more fundamentally, the three ecologies are governed by a different logic from that of ordinary communication between speakers and listeners.

Whilst the logic of discursive sets seeks to delimit its objects, the logic of intensities - or eco-logic - concerns itself solely with the movement and intensity of evolutive processes. Ecological praxes might, in this light, be defined as a search to identify in each partial locus of existence the potential vectors of subjectification and singularization.

What I term dissident vectors of subjectification divest themselves to an extent of their functions of denotation and signification; they have no material or bodily existence. As experiments in the suspension of meaning, they are certainly risky; there is the risk of an overly violent deterritorialization, of the destruction of existing assemblages of subjectification viz.

More gradual forms of deterritorialization may, on the other hand, produce a more constructive, processual evolution of subjective assemblages. At the heart of all ecological praxes is an a-signifying rupture, in a context in which the catalysts of existential change are present, but lack expressive support from the enunciative assemblage which frames them.

In the absence of ecological praxis, those catalysts remain inactive and tend towards inconsist- ency; they produce anxiety, guilt, other forms of psychopathological repetition. But when expressive rupture takes place, repetition becomes a process of creative assemblage, forging new incorporeal objects, abstract machines, and universes of value. A poetic text is one example of just such a catalytic segment of existence - one which at the same time remains the bearer of denotation and signification.

Poetry is ambiguous: while it may transmit a message or denote a referent, it functions at the same time precisely through redundancies of expression and content.

What we should emphasize, however, is that the work of locating the points of emergence of these recurrent existential refrains is not the sole concern of the arts and literature. Let us add that these territories may already have been massively deterritorialized; they may encompass celestial Jerusalem, the problematic of good and evil itself, or any ethico-political commitment.

Their only common feature is their capacity to sustain the production of singular existents, or to re-singularize serialized ensembles. It is of course true that existential cartographies which assume certain existentializing ruptures of meaning have always sought refuge in art and religion.

But the subjective void produced today by the accelerating production of material and immaterial goods is both unprecedentedly absurd and increasingly irremediable; it threatens both individual and group existential territories.

Not only has the growth of techno-scientific resources failed absolutely to produce social and cultural progress; it seems equally clear that we are seeing an irreversible degradation of the traditional forces of social regulation. Certain hierarchical structures, for example, have become the object of an imaginary hypercathexis, both in the upper echelons and indeed in the lower ranks of management.

Even in a situation where such hierarchies have lost most of their functional efficiency mainly through the computerization of information and organiz- ation management they are regarded - as the Japanese example demonstrates - with something often bordering on religious devotion.

At the same time, segregationalist attitudes towards immigrants, women, young people, and even the old are on the increase. This resurgence of what might be called subjective conservatism is not simply attributable to an intensification of social repression; it is connected, too, with a kind of existential rigidification of actors in the domain of the social. In a situation in which post-industrial capitalism - which I myself prefer to call integrated world capitalism IWC - is tending increasingly to move its centres of power away from the structures of production of goods and services, and towards structures of production of signs, of syntax, and - by exercising control over the media, advertising, opinion polls, etc.

If this propensity of capitalist development has never been fully appreciated by labour movement theorists, then that is surely because it is only now revealing itself in its full significance.

What then are the mechanisms on which integrated world capitalism is founded? I would suggest grouping them under the headings of four main semiotic regimes: economic semiotics monetary, financial, and accountancy mechanisms juridical semiotics property deeds, various legislative measures and regu- lations technico-scientific semiotics plans, diagrams, programmes, studies, research THE THREE ECOLOGIES the semiotics of subjedification, certain of which are listed above.

We should add a number of others, including architecture, town planning, public amenities, etc. The first thing to acknowledge is that models which propose the notion of a causal hierarchy between these various semiotic regimes are out of step with reality.

The Marxist postulate which argues that economic semiotics - the semiotics of production of material goods - occupies an infrastructural position in relation to juridical and ideological semiotics has, for example, been increasingly discredited.

Today, the object IWC has to be regarded as all of a piece: it is simultaneously productive, economic, and subjective. Its determin- ants might be formulated in old, scholastic categories; they are at once material, formal, final, and efficient. What, in this context, are the key analytical problems now confronting social and mental ecology? The first is that of the introjection of repressive power by the oppressed themselves. The principal difficulty here relates to the way in which unions and parties which are, in theory, struggling to defend the interests of the workers and the oppressed, reproduce pathogenic models which stifle freedom of expression and innovation in their own organizations.

It may of course take the labour movement some considerable time to recognize that the economic-ecological vectors of circulation, distribution, communication, and supervision operate on precisely the same level, from the point of view of the creation of surplus-value, as labour which is directly embodied in the production of material goods.

And that delay will be due in no small part to those theorists whose dogmatic ignorance has stoked the workerism and corporatism of recent decades, and thus profoundly disfigured and handicapped emergent anti-capitalist movements of liberation.

The hope for the future is that the development of the three types of ecological praxis outlined here will lead to a redefinition and refocusing of the goals of emancipatory struggles. And, in a context in which the relation between capital and human activity is repeatedly renegotiated, let us hope that ecological, feminist and anti-racist activity will focus more centrally on new modes of production of subjectivity: that is to say, on modes of knowledge, culture, sensibility, and sociability - the future foundations of new productive assemblages - whose source lies in incorporeal systems of value.

In working towards the reconstruction of human relations at all levels of the socius, social ecology cannot simply take up a position of external opposition - as do, for example, existing trade union and political practices. It has become imperative to confront the effects of capitalist power on the mental ecology of daily life, whether individual, domestic, conjugal, neighbourly, creative, or personal-ethical.

The task facing us in future is not that of seeking a mind-numbing and infantilizing consensus, but of cultivating dissensus and the singular production of existence. Singularity is either evaded, or entrapped within specialist apparatuses and frames of reference.


FĂ©lix Guattari

Once you have successfully made your request, you will receive a confirmation email explaining that your request is awaiting approval. On approval, you will either be sent the print copy of the book, or you will receive a further email containing the link to allow you to download your eBook. Please note that print inspection copies are only available in UK and Republic of Ireland. For more information, visit our inspection copies page. We currently support the following browsers: Internet Explorer 9, 10 and 11; Chrome latest version, as it auto updates ; Firefox latest version, as it auto updates ; and Safari latest version, as it auto updates. Tell others about this book Lorem About The Three Ecologies Extending the definition of ecology to encompass social relations and human subjectivity as well as environmental concerns, The Three Ecologies argues that the ecological crises that threaten our planet are the direct result of the expansion of a new form of capitalism and that a new ecosophical approach must be found which respects the differences between all living systems.


The Three Ecologies

Such a global and unificatory position may at first appear to contrast sharply with commonly understood models of postmodernism, which following Lyotard claim that postmodernity is marked by the death of the modernist meta-narrative, and indeed some such as George Myerson have claimed that ecology, and ecological crises mark the end of the fragmented and partial era of postmodernism. Ecology in my sense questions the whole of subjectivity and capitalistic power formations. An understanding of connectivity, of balanced systems, network topography and complexity theory are fundamental to the way in which this ecosophical model operates. According to Guattari, creating such an ecosophical society requires a reorientation of thought, so that we understand ourselves, the society we live in and the ecosystem we inhabit as three different scales of ecology, linked by a series of processes or abstract machines. Refusal to face up to the erosion of these three areas, as the media would have us do verges on a strategic infantilization of opinion and a destructive neutralization of democracy. Despite the seeming impossibility of such an eventuality, the current unparalleled level of media-related alienation is in no way an inherent necessity.


La Borde was a venue for conversation among many students of philosophy, psychology, ethnology, and social work. Guattari also took part in the G. It was at the same time that he founded, along with other militants, the F. The F. He was involved in the large-scale French protests of , starting from the Movement of March

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