Desiring-production

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Desiring-production is a term coined by the French thinkers Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari in their book Anti-Œdipus (1972). They oppose the Freudian conception of the unconscious as a representational "theater", instead favoring a productive "factory" model: desire is not an imaginary force based on lack, but a real, productive force. They describe the mechanistic nature of desire as a kind of "desiring-machine" that functions as a circuit breaker in a larger "circuit" of various other machines to which it is connected. Meanwhile, the desiring-machine is also producing a flow of desire from itself. Deleuze and Guattari imagine a multi-functional universe composed of such machines all connected to each other: "There are no desiring-machines that exist outside the social machines that they form on a large scale; and no social machines without the desiring machines that inhabit them on a small scale."

Deleuze & Guattari see a world full of productive 'factories' (Preston Dickinson, Factory, c. 1920)

The concept of desiring-production is part of Deleuze and Guattari's more general appropriation of Friedrich Nietszche's formulation of the Will to Power. In both concepts, a pleasurable force of appropriation of what is outside oneself, incorporating into oneself what is other than oneself, characterizes the essential process of all life. Similarly, a kind of reverse force of "forgetting" in Nietzsche and the body without organs in Deleuze and Guattari disavows the Will to Power and desiring-production, attempting to realize the ideal of an hermetic subject.

Thenceforth, while very interested by Wilhelm Reich's fundamental question — why did the masses desire fascism? — they criticized his dualist theory leading to a rational social reality on one side, and an irrational desire reality on the other side. Anti-Œdipus was thus an attempt to think beyond Freudo-Marxism; and Deleuze and Guattari tried to do for Freud what Marx had done for Adam Smith.

Published in the same year as Anti-Œdipus, Guy Hocquenghem's Homosexual Desire re-articulated desiring-production within the emergent field of queer theory.

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