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Root, branch, we are tired of the tree model.

Tired of interiority’. Inner life (la vie intérieure), argued bu Guattari in one of his first published essays, was a bourgeois delusion: not for nothing did it sound like ‘domestic life’ (la vie d’intérieur) psychoanalysis had become (in Guattari’s words) a ‘capitalist drug’.

Freud’s big mistake, Guattari and Deleue agreed, was to see desire as something rooted in lack, as an attempt to fantasise a missing object (the mother’s breast, for example). As a result, Freud had imagined the unconscious as a theatre of representations, in which the same grimly repetitive Oedipal drama was performed night after night. In Deleuze and Guattari’s view, the unconscious was better understood in political terms as a productive and potentially transformative force – a force that could change the world. 

The unconscious, as they saw it, was a deliriously innovative ‘factory’, ceaselessly producing new and transgressive combinations of desires. In the book that eventually came out of this meeting, Anti-Oedipus, they would portray desire as a relentless and impersonal flow, an electric current moving through the social body and interrupted only by ‘desiring machines’ that sought to direct and channel it. 

A desiring machine could be anything from a breast (‘a machine that produces milk’) to a revolutionary political movement, and its aim was always the same: to connect with other machines (the infant’s mouth, the masses), and produce a shift in reality. Desire had virtually no limits: like power in Foucault, it was everywhere, and it passed through everyone without belonging to anyone.

As Foucault noted in his introduction to the American edition of Anti-Oedipus, their true adversary was not so much capitalism as ‘the fascism in us all, in our heads and in our everyday behaviour, the fascism that causes us to love power, to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us.

Deleue and Guattari advocated an open interior - a state of constant flux and transformation, in the way that aspirin in water is everywhere.’ without origin or destination; they contrasted it with the root-obsessed ‘arborescent’ or tree model. (‘We’re tired of trees,’ they wrote. ‘They’ve made us suffer too much.’  

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