Until this point in the series, my titles have been somewhat more... creative, "primitive territorial machine" is simply the title of the division of the book that I've selected this weeks' quotes from. This larger section is about, I think, the development/emergence of "oedipus" (and capitalism, too I suppose) but really it's all about the development of culture and civilization. That's my read anyway.
While this isn't exactly chicklit, or all purpose op/ed writing, I think there's something interesting here, and it's my hope to make this pretty accessible to everyone. So if something isn't clear, call me on it. If you want more resources, ask. If you completely disagree with my interpretation of a quote, I welcome it. My selections only reflect what catches my eye, and I claim no impartiality.
With all that said on to this week's attempt:
The first quote I have is kind of pithy, but it reiterates a concept that I talked about before:
"..it is in order to function that a social machine must not function well" (151).
The idea that functioning is dependent on not-functioning. It's a cheep shot, but I suspect that we can account some of the enduring popularity of Freudian theory itself to this basic principal. Somewhat more seriously, on an ethical level, as Foucault instructs us to read this book, the theme is about enduring contradiction and all that.
As I wrote the above words, I realize how incredibly pomo and 1990s this all sounds. Which I suppose is the point. While I still believe it, I think it's interesting how this sort of sounds dated, or at least tried.
On to less pithy sections:
"The death of a social machine has never been heralded by a disharmony or a dysfunction; on the contrary, social machines make a habit of feeding on the contradictions they give rise to, on the crises they provoke, on the anxieties they engender, and on the infernal operations they regenerate. Capitalism has learned this, and has ceased doubting itself, while even socialists have abandoned the belief in the possibility of capitalism's natural death by attrition. No one has ever died from contradictions. and the more it schizophrenizes, the better it works, the American way" (151; emphasis added).
I think this passage speaks for itself, so I won't bother, and I think this point is well made. I add the emphasis, not because I think it's a particularly powerful conclusion, or central to the passage, but simply to highlight the ways that this book can induce a chuckle here and there.
Lest you think that AO is all fun and games, and relatively low on trips through psychoanalyic land, don't be fooled by excerpts, I've chosen well... So if you get a copy of the book and start following along with me, don't tell me I didn't warn you.
"...And isn't that also what Oedipus, the fear of incest, is all about: the fear of a decoded flow... It is the thing, the unnamable, the generalized decoding of flows that reveals up a contrario the secret of all these formations, coding the flows, and even overcoding them, rather than letting anything escape coding" (153).
I talked about this passage a few weeks ago, and after I had prattled on about "flows" and "decoding" for a few minutes I paused to take a sip of water, and promptly realized how absurd it all sounded. At the same time, while I'm convinced, I'm not sure how directly applicable I can make this out to be, and that was my initial goal of these essays. I think that it speaks to our propensity to make meaning, to over explain coincidence, and to construct representational models based on insufficient data. In away they sort of say that Oedipus is about needing a good story to explain this disorganized "schizoid" series of events and situations.
That's my gloss anyway, what's yours?