Desire and Knowledge: The Dead Seize the Living.

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Desire and Knowledge: The Dead Seize the Living.
Elements of an organalogy of the libidoLibido.
 

La libido est la socialisation de l’énergie produite par la pulsion sexuelle, mais telle que, comme désir, cette pulsion est transformée en objet sublimable : objet d’amour ou d’attention passionnée à l’autre.

 

Capitalisme et libido. Le capitalisme au XXe siècle, a fait de la libido sa principale énergie. Pour être très schématique, on peut dire que l’énergie au XIXe siècle est celle de la force de travail (Marx), tandis qu’au XXe siècle, elle devient celle du consommateur. Ce n’est pas le pétrole qui fait marcher le capitalisme, mais la libido. L’énergie libidinale doit être canalisée sur les objets de la consommation afin d’absorber les excédents de la production industrielle. Il s’agit bien de capter la libido, c’est-à-dire de façonner des désirs selon les besoins de la rentabilité des investissements.

L’exploitation managériale illimitée de la libido est ce qui détruit le désir et l’humain en nous. De même que l’exploitation du charbon et du pétrole nous force aujourd’hui à trouver des énergies renouvelables, de même, il faut trouver une énergie renouvelable de la libido (ce pourquoi nous disons que c’est un problème écologique).Or la libido est constituée par des techniques ; ce n’est pas une énergie qui se développe spontanément, mais elle est articulée sur des techniques, des « fétiches », et plus généralement sur des prothèses.

 

 

 

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By Bernard Stiegler.
Translated by George Collins and Daniel Ross.
 
                                                           The dead seize the living.
                                                                                  Marx.
 
If there is a question that the philosophy of Marx did not address, although he acknowledged its crucial importance, it would have to be the question of the dead and the living.
This dead-end (impasse) of Marxist materialism goes down whole in that brand of popular materialism into which the questions dealing with so-called “cognition” so often issue. As the neuro-sciences made inroads, cognitivism, on top over the past twenty years, has made the understanding of the brain, especially via the work of Daniel Dennett, the heart of the question of knowledge. This theoretical paradigm is based on a series of suppositions that conceive of cognition as, essentially, a process of calculation as computation, with the computer as model.
For 15 years now I have taken pains to show that given the fact that the computer has not been analysed or even seen as a technical prosthesis by cognitivist theory, which, in a diametrically opposed view, refers to Turing in order to define it metaphysically as an “abstract machine,” what has in fact been neglected and repressed by cognitivism, as well as by philosophy as a whole, going back to Plato’s first gesture of thought, is the place of technics in general in life, technics as the condition of life that knows.
The mathematical theory of the abstract machine is a mathematical idealisation that excludes any genetic explanation of knowledge and above all, that excludes the possibility of thinking the machine: there are only concrete machines, that is to say, finite ones.
The brain is not an abstract machine, on the one hand because “abstract machines” do not exist, and on the other, because this organ is in no respect a machine: a machine is not a living organism, and therein lies its force. The brain is a living memory—that is to say a fallible memory, in a permanent process of destruction, constantly under the sway of what I call retentional finitude. This biological living memory is, however, only one memory among others: particularly alive, it is nevertheless nothing outside its inert memories—i.e., its technical memories: the essential point being the relation between what is living in the brain and what is dead in its technics qua memories.
The aim of my talk this afternoon is to focus on this relation between the living and the dead as constitutive of libido as well. This will be one entry into the question of a general organology as a global theory of living and artificial organs as well as of organisations. Within such a global theory, the question of knowledge, from its inception and considered genealogically, will then go down, in Nietzschean style, as a question of desire.
 
*
 
A major philosophical text of Plato, if there is one, must then certainly be The Symposium. Unlike almost all of the other platonic dialogues, this one establishes the question of knowledge as a question of passion. But here I will follow Aristotle’s Peri psukhès: the knowing soul is named noetic, and noesis is a modality of the relation to the prime mover, a relation constitutive of the passion of an emotion imparting motion, the cognitive motion moving the unmovable theos.
This thinking of knowledge as movement and emotion requires in turn a general organology, wherein sense organs, as thought by Aristotle, call for a logical and not only aisthétic organisation, which itself depends on symbolic organs that are also artefacts. This last point is obviously not to be found in Aristotle.
My concept of general organology would be rather the equivalent of Simondon’s mechanology, but in which the living is itself included in the totality of transductive relations. I call transductive relation a relation in which the terms are constituted by the relation. These relations connect the various types of artificial and living organs (including the brain) to social organisations in which they evolve and transform themselves, such transformations constituting processes of psychic and collective individuation H2 { margin-top: 0.05cm; margin-bottom: 0.05cm; text-align: justify; page-break-after: auto; }H2.western { font-family: "Garamond",serif; font-size: 14pt; }H2.cjk { font-family: "Arial Unicode MS"; font-size: 14pt; }H2.ctl { font-family: "Tahoma"; font-size: 10pt; font-weight: normal; }P { margin-bottom: 0cm; text-align: justify; }P.western { font-family: "Times New Roman",serif; }P.cjk { font-family: "Times New Roman"; }P.ctl { font-family: "Times New Roman"; }P.sdfootnote { margin-left: 0.5cm; text-indent: -0.5cm; font-size: 10pt; text-align: left; }A.sdfootnoteanc { font-size: 57%; }

Individuation.

L’individu n’est pas seulement un (unité, totalité), il est unique (unicité, singularité). Historiquement, l’individualité a toujours eu deux faces. D’une part, l’individu est l’atome, il est ce que l’on ne peut pas diviser sans tuer, d’autre part, l’individu est l’unique, il est ce qui n’est pas substituable. D’une part, l’individu se distingue comme unité totale face à son environnement, d’autre part il se distingue comme unité singulière face aux autres individus. Ces deux faces sont conciliables, mais pour cela nous devons considérer la totalité indivisible comme étant celle de l’individu et du milieu, et non celle de l’individu seul. Dans cette optique, un individu ne peut être singulier que si son milieu est singulier – cela suppose que l’on peut partager le même lieu sans partager le même milieu1.

Un individu est un verbe infinitif plutôt qu’un substantif défini, un devenir plutôt qu’un état, une relation plutôt qu’un terme et c’est pourquoi il convient de parler d’individuation plutôt que d’individu. Pour comprendre l’individu, il faut en décrire la genèse au lieu de le présupposer. Or cette genèse, soit l’individuation de l’individu, ne donne pas seulement naissance à un individu, mais aussi à son milieu associé. Telle fut la leçon philosophique de Gilbert Simondon2.

L’individuation humaine est la formation, à la fois biologique, psychologique et sociale, de l’individu toujours inachevé. L’individuation humaine est triple, c’est une individuation à trois brins, car elle est toujours à la fois psychique (« je »), collective (« nous ») et technique (ce milieu qui relie le « je » au « nous », milieu concret et effectif, supporté par des mnémotechniques)3. Cet « à la fois » constitue en grande partie l’enjeu historique et philosophique de la notion d’individuation. Par exemple, on se demandera de quelle manière la médiation mnémotechnique de l’imprimerie surdétermina les conditions de l’individuation  et reconfigura les rapports du « je » et du « nous ». La politique industrielle ou l’écologie de l’esprit que nous appelons de nos vœux repose fondamentalement sur la ré-articulation entre l’individuation psychique, l’individuation collective et l’individuation technique.

Individuation vs. individualisme. C’est un paradoxe de notre temps maintes fois relevé : l’individualisme de masse ne permet pas l’individuation de masse. C’est la force des technologies de gouvernances néolibérales que d’avoir réussi à priver l’individu de son individuation, au nom même de son individualité. L’individualisme est un régime général d’équivalence où, chacun valant chacun, tout se vaut ; à l’inverse, l’individuation engage une philosophie où rien ne s’équivaut. L’individualisme répond à une logique où l’individu réclame sa part dans le partage des ayants droits (partage entre particularités, entre minorités) ; à l’inverse, l’individuation répond à une philosophie qui brise cette logique de l’identification, et pour laquelle il n’est pas de partage qui ne soit participation et pas de participation qui ne mène l’individu à dépasser ce qui le départage. On l’aura compris : l’individuation n’est pas l’individualisation – et l’individualisation, au sens où l’entend l’individualisme consumériste, est une désindividuation.

Il est donc des banalités philosophiques bonnes à rappeler : l’individu est singulier dans la mesure où il n’est pas particulier. Comment échapper à la particularité d’un chiffre (celui d’un génome, d’un code barre, d’une puce RFID) ou à celle d’un moi (une opinion, un goût, un vote) ? La particularité est reproductible, la singularité ne l’est pas : elle ne peut pas être un exemplaire – mais elle est un exemple de ce que c’est que s’individuer. Un individu est singulier dans la mesure où il n’est pas substituable : sa place ou son rôle ne peut pas préexister à son être. Il y a donc de quoi s’inquiéter des standardisations industrielles productiviste puis consumériste qui transforment le singulier en particulier, ou de ce marketing croissant qui assaille un cerveau de plus en plus formaté et de moins en moins formé.

Investissement

La capacité d’investissement, telle qu’elle caractérise la société industrielle qui se trouve requise par le machinisme, est ce qui suppose du capital libre – libre de s’investir dans un risque entrepreneurial qu’il accompagne et dont il est distinct : il n’y a pas de capitalisme sans économie bancaire.

Mais l’investissement (dans la langue de Freud, Besetzung) est aussi ce qui caractérise le désir dans son rapport à l’objet, et par où précisément ses énergies primaires (les pulsions) transformé en énergie libidinale investie dans un objet, ce qui suppose que l’énergie pulsionnelle soit elle-même libre, c’est à dire capable de se détourner de son but premier : ce que Freud nomme freie Energie.

Pour Ars Industrialis, le capitalisme n’est pas seulement un mode de production industriel ni une financiarisation de l’échange marchand : il est d’abord une économie libidinale qui, dans sa forme actuelle, a conduit à l’épuisement du désir, ce pourquoi le capitalisme est devenu auto-destructeur. Dire du capitalisme actuel qu’il est privé de désir, c’est dire que le capitalisme n’investit plus, qu’il tend à épuiser toute possibilité d’investissement. Ce qui s’épuise n’est pas seulement le capitalisme hyper-spéculatif à tendance mafieuse, mais l’investissement en général, soit le désir du consommateur qui ne désire plus ce qu’il consomme, mais qui en est devenu dépendant – le marketing de l’addiction sollicitant désormais directement ses pulsions. Les politiciens qui tentent de nous rassurer en annonçant la « relance par la consommation » ne comprennent pas que c’est elle qui est devenue le problème puisqu’elle fait désormais système avec un capitalisme financier fondé sur le désinvestissement : sur l’infidélité systémique de tous à l’égard de tous et de tous à l’égard de tout.

Le nouveau capitalisme mondial ne renouvellera ses énergies qu’à la condition d’inventer une nouvelle logique et de nouveaux objets d’investissements, au double sens de l’économie industrielle et de l’économie libidinale, en tirant parti des technologies numériques de l’esprit qui rompent structurellement avec le modèle fondé sur l’opposition production/consommation – l’impératif n’étant ni la relance par la consommation, ni une pseudo-relance par l’investissement dans le modèle consumériste, mais la relance par la reconstruction du désir.

1Du point de vue spécifique, c’était la leçon d’Uexküll (cf. Milieu animal et milieu humain, Rivages, 2010) ; mais on peut appliquer cette idée à l’individu : deux individus différents peuvent avoir le même « environnement », ils ne peuvent stricto sensu avoir le même « milieu ». Du point de vue darwinien, une « variation individuelle » ne serait pertinente au regard de la sélection que dans la mesure où elle modifierait sa relation au milieu, et donc le milieu lui-même.

 

2Gilbert Simondon, L’individuation à la lumière des notions de forme et d’information, Millon, 2005.

 

3Ici, il s’agit de la lecture stieglerienne de Simondon, plutôt que de Simondon lui-même. Sur la reprise critique de Simondon par Stiegler, cf. Bernard Stiegler, « Chute et élévation. L’apolitique de Simondon », Revue philosophique, Paris, PUF, n°3/2006, et Jean-Hugues Barthélémy, Penser l’individuation, Paris, L’Harmattan, 2005, pp. 224-232.

 

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in three branches: the psychic individuation, the social individuation, and the technical system as an artificial individuation itself composed of a group of artificial individuals. The study of these transformations is what I call a genealogy of the experience of the sensible. Knowledge is, strictly speaking, the experience of the sensible, which does not involve the animal world: the latter, in my terminology, does not have experience, for experience is what can be transmitted as the experience of the singularity of the sensible, that is to say, to the extent that experience is always itself singular and unexpected.
There is, therefore, a process of a triple psychic, collective, and techno-logical individuation, a recap of which can be found in my On Symbolic Misery: Vol. One: The Hyperindustrial Epoch.
 
  1. The I, as a psychic individual, can only be thought in relationship to a we, which is a collective individual: the I is constituted in adopting a collective tradition, which it inherits, and in which a plurality of Is acknowledge each other’s existence.
  2. This inheritance is an adoption voir la définition de ce terme dans le vocabulaire ars industrialis

     

    Otium/Negotium

    Adaptation est un terme qui dérive d’« ad-aptare » qui signifie rendre apte à ou ajuster à ; joindre ou conformer.

    C’est une idée banalement darwinienne que d’affirmer que plus un vivant est adapté moins il est adaptable, moins il peut adopter un nouveau milieu. Quant à l’humain, il ne s’adapte pas tant à son milieu, qu’il adapte son milieu, qui, de ce fait, n’est plus seulement milieu de besoin mais milieu de désir.

    Adoption est un terme qui dérive d’« ad-optare » qui signifie opter ou choisir, greffer ou acquérir.

    Toute individuation humaine est un processus d’adoption, et la santé d’une individuation se mesure à sa possibilité d’adoption – d’un mode de vie, d’une technique, d’une idée, d’un étranger, etc. Le « faire sien » qu’est l’adoption suppose une participation de ce qui adopte à ce qui est adopté.

    Adapter/adopter. L’adoption est le processus d’une individuation, c’est à dire d’un enrichissement, tandis que l’adaptation est une désindividuation : une restriction des possibilités de l’individu. S’adapter à une norme n’est pas adopter une norme : dans le premier cas, la norme est posée indépendamment de celui qui s’adapte, dans le second, la norme n’existe que si elle est adoptée. En écho à Georges Canguilhem, on pourrait dire que l’adoption s’oppose à l’adaptation comme la « normativité » (vitale) s’oppose à la « normalité » (sociale).

    L’adaptation est un rapport entre deux termes qui préexistent à leur mise en rapport, tandis que l’adoption est une relation telle que les termes ne préexistent pas à leur mise en relation : celle-ci est créatrice des termes qu’elle relie – par exemple, le père et son enfant ne préexistent pas, en tant que tels, à la relation d’adoption. Cette distinction entre rapport (entre termes constitués) et relation (constituante), que nous devons à Gilbert Simondon, fait écho à la distinction stieglerienne entre adaptation finitisante et adoption infinitisante.

    Critique de l’idéologie de l’adaptation. D’une manière générale, le recours à l’adaptation nourrit un conservatisme politique, car s’adapter à un état de fait est renoncer à une politique des fins. Si on invoque l’adaptation comme seule solution, c’est pour asseoir le there is no alternative, à la manière de Spencer qui, refusant de briser l’adaptation naturelle au progrès, invoquait le « laissez-faire » – pourtant, on sait depuis combien l’Etat doit intervenir pour laissez-faire le marché… Cette idéologie de l’adaptation est largement disséminée aujourd’hui1.

    Si l’individu doit s’adapter au milieu, c’est que vous les avez séparés par la pensée. C’est en ce sens que Simondon invitait à « réformer tous les systèmes intellectuels fondés sur la notion d’adaptation »2. Cette réforme a une portée philosophique3 et épistémologique4, elle a aussi une portée politique qui est plus que jamais d’actualité. Il faudrait questionner la manière dont ce mot d’ordre de l’adaptation gouverne nos écoles, nos hôpitaux, nos prisons, nos entreprises, etc. Partout autour de nous, l’adaptation opère comme une pétition de principe aux effets néfastes. C’est ce que pressentait Michel Tournier :

    « La médecine ferait bien de creuser cette notion nouvelle de suradaptation, et l’école devrait prendre garde qu’à force de craindre que les enfants ne souffrent d’une quelconque inadaptation, elle n’en fasse tout à coup des suradaptés » 5.

    Nous sommes nombreux à sentir que ce dont on souffre n’est pas d’inadaptation mais bien d’hyperadaptation, d’essence managériale. Notre adaptation au milieu est telle, qu’on ne songe même plus à l’adopter.

    Tout ingénieur, tout artiste, tout penseur sait qu’on n’innove pas, qu’on ne crée pas, qu’on ne pense pas en s’adaptant, mais en adoptant de nouvelles normes d’usage et de fonctionnement. Dans une certaine mesure, l’opposition entre adaptation et adoption rejoint celles entre audience et public, entre consommateur et amateur, mais aussi entre usager et praticien. On ne s’adapte pas à une langue, on l’adopte, et c’est pourquoi il n’y a pas de mode d’emploi d’une langue. On n’utilise pas un piano, on le pratique, et la musique en tant qu’art est une relation d’adoption, non un rapport d’adaptation.

    1Pour preuve, parmi d’autres, cette citation du député Claude Guéan, dans le contexte de la récente réforme universitaire (LRU) « La France vit depuis 1968 dans la crainte des manifestations étudiantes. Aucun gouvernement n’a réussi à réformer depuis, en profondeur, un système qui n’est plus adapté au monde moderne. […]. Les aménagements postérieurs à 1968 n’ont pas rompu totalement avec cette idée bien française que la finalité de l’université n’est pas de s’adapter mais de transformer la société » Le Figaro du 3 octobre 2006

     

    2Gilbert Simondon, L’individuation à la lumière des notions de forme et d’information, Grenoble, Éd. Jérôme Million, 2005, p. 210.

     

    3Sur le plan ontologique, il s’agit de substituer à une philosophie de l’individu (ontologie) une philosophie de l’individuation (ontogenèse), ce qui suppose de partir de la relation constituante plutôt que de l’individu constitué.

     

    4Sur le plan épistémologique, se méfier de l’adaptation consiste, entre autres, à se méfier de la vieille et tenace conception de la connaissance (vraie) comme adéquation de l’intellect à la chose.

     

    5Michel Tournier, Le Roi des Aulnes, Gallimard, Folio, p. 138

     

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    in that I can very well, as the grand-son of a German immigrant, recognise myself in a past that was not the past of my ancestors, but that I can make my own; this process of adoption is thus, structurally factical.
  3. An I is essentially a process, and not a state, and this process is an in-dividuation (it is a process of psychic individuation) as the tendency to become-one, that is, to become indivisible.
  4. This tendency never accomplishes itself because it runs into a counter-tendency with which it forms a meta-stable equilibrium (it must be pointed out how close this conception of the dynamic of individuation is to the Freudian theory of drives, but also to the thinking of Empedocles and of Nietzsche).
  5. A we is also such a process (the process of collective individuation); the individuation of the I is always inscribed in that of the we, whereas conversely, the individuation of the we takes place only through those individuations, polemical in nature, of the Is making it up.
  6. That which links the individuations of the I and the we is a pre-individual milieu H2 { margin-top: 0.05cm; margin-bottom: 0.05cm; text-align: justify; page-break-after: auto; }H2.western { font-family: "Garamond",serif; font-size: 14pt; }H2.cjk { font-family: "Arial Unicode MS"; font-size: 14pt; }H2.ctl { font-family: "Tahoma"; font-size: 10pt; font-weight: normal; }P { margin-bottom: 0cm; text-align: justify; }P.western { font-family: "Times New Roman",serif; }P.cjk { font-family: "Times New Roman"; }P.ctl { font-family: "Times New Roman"; }P.sdfootnote { margin-left: 0.5cm; text-indent: -0.5cm; font-size: 10pt; text-align: left; }A.sdfootnoteanc { font-size: 57%; }

    Milieu (associé/dissocié).

    « Milieu ». Le « milieu », dans son usage le plus commun, est à la fois ce qui est autour de l’individu (environnement) et entre les individus (medium). Les deux sens du terme de milieu se rejoignent dans une philosophie de l’individuation selon laquelle, pour comprendre la relation de l’individu et de son milieu, il faut partir du mi-lieu de cette relation, c’est-à-dire au point où ni l’individu ni le milieu ne sont encore constitués. Le milieu n’est donc pas, à proprement parler, extérieur à l’individu : il en est le complémentaire, à ce titre il n’est pas l’environnement1.

    « Milieu technique ». En France, le concept de « milieu » date de l’époque d’Auguste Comte, mais le concept de « milieu technique » naîtra un siècle plus tard à l’époque d’André Leroi-Gourhan et Georges Friedmann. Ce dernier en appelait à la responsabilité de l’Etat dans « le façonnement (dès l’enfance) des individus par l’éducation, mais aussi par le milieu technique et en particulier par les communications de masse ? » 2. Ailleurs, Georges Friedmann écrivait : « L’analyse physiologique et psychotechnique détaillée du travail à la chaîne (pris comme exemple) montre en celui-ci d’abord un fait technique, à travers le fait technique un fait psychologique, à travers le fait psychologique, un fait social »3. En quelque sorte, l’œuvre actuelle de Bernard Stiegler, se situe directement dans cette thématique, mais en l’appliquant aux industries culturelles. Or c’est bien le concept de « milieu », qui leur permet de penser ensemble le technique, le psychique et le social.

    Si la technologie est une science humaine (Haudricourt), c’est bien que la technique est notre milieu. Tout geste (du plus banal au plus rare) s’effectue dans un milieu technique qui le rend possible, or tout milieu technique comporte de la mémoire. La technique comme milieu s’accompagne d’une pensée de l’individuation au mi-lieu : l’être humain s’individue au mi-lieu, entre l’extériorisation des organes et l’intériorisation des prothèses.

    Pour Bernard Stiegler, la technique comme milieu cela signifie deux choses : d’une part, cela désigne le défaut d’origine, c’est-à-dire l’origine qui est toujours déjà au milieu du commencement et de la fin, du passé et du futur ; d’autre part, cela désigne ce mouvement qui, partant du milieu, désigne aussi bien l’intériorisation de l’extérieur, que l’extériorisation de l’intérieur. C’est à partir du processus d’extériorisation de Leroi-Gourhan (extériorisation sans intériorité préalable, puisque celle-là n’ex-iste que par celle-ci), et à partir du milieu associé de Simondon (milieu sans individualité préalable, puisque l’individu et le milieu co-naissent en même temps), qu’il est possible de comprendre le milieu stieglerien. Ce milieu nomme aussi bien un mi-lieu, et celui-ci nomme aussi bien le tiers terme, ce troisième lieu, ni phusis ni tekhnè (comme le milieu techno-géographique simondonien), ni intérieur ni extérieur (comme le milieu d’extériorisation leroi-gourhanien). Le mi-lieu signifie ainsi l’espace transitionnel, ni dedans ni dehors, qui n’est précisément pas un simple intermédiaire (Winnicott).

    Le milieu technique a ceci de singulier pour l’homme qu’il a la possibilité d’être associé ou dissocié : c’est un milieu pharmacologique.

    Milieu associé/milieu dissocié. Ars Industrialis emprunte à Simondon le concept de « milieu associé » pour analyser l’individuation collective en quoi consiste toute société humaine, de telle sorte à ce que l’histoire de l’individuation humaine y apparaisse comme indissociable de l’histoire de l’individuation technique.

    Simondon parle de « milieu associé » à propos de l’individuation technique (cf. Du mode d’existences des objets techniques).  Simondon définit l’individu technique doté d’un milieu associé à travers le fonctionnement de la machine qui contribue à la production de son milieu qui rend possible son fonctionnement. Dans cette optique, l’individu technique est ce qui transforme l’environnement en milieu technique associé (comme la turbine de Guimbal transforme la mer et ses marées en milieu technique de fonctionnement). Si le terme de « milieu associé » est emprunté à Gilbert Simondon, le terme de « milieu dissocié » fut forgé par Bernard Stiegler. Dans les termes de Simondon, on dira que dans un milieu associé, l’individu psychique s’individue en co-individuation avec un ou plusieurs autres individus psychiques, ce qui constitue une individuation collective, pour autant qu’ensemble ils contribuent à individuer leur milieu (technico-symbolique). Dans un milieu dissocié, l’individuation du milieu technico-symbolique se fera au contraire aux dépens des individus psychiques (et par l’intermédiaire de bureaux d’étude, de cabinets de conseil et autres « experts »), qui s’en trouveront donc désindividués.

    Un milieu techno-symbolique vous est associé s’il est le medium et le vecteur de votre individuation, celle-ci n’étant possible que parce que ce milieu associe des individus. Au contraire, un milieu est dissocié s’il n’aide pas à votre individuation, si vous ne contribuez pas à votre milieu. Les milieux symboliques furent dissociés par l’application aux échanges symboliques du modèle industriel – à travers les industries culturelles. Comme ce modèle oppose producteurs et consommateurs, il aboutit à spécialiser les uns dans le rôle d’émetteur de symboles et les autres dans le rôle de consommateurs de ces symboles. Cette dissociation des milieux s’accentua avec l’économie des services qui repose sur le contrôle, par les concepteurs du service, du comportement des consommateurs ou utilisateurs.

    La nouveauté du réseau internet en tant que milieu technique, par contraste avec la télévision par exemple, est qu’il ne constitue pas un milieu structurellement dissocié. Telle est la raison pour laquelle internet rend possible l’économie contributive, typique du logiciel libre. Il n’y a plus dissociation des producteurs et des consommateurs, mais association des destinataires et des destinateurs produisant une nouvelle forme de socialité et un nouvel esprit du capitalisme.

    1Nombreux sont ceux qui ont théorisés cette distinction entre l’environnement et le milieu (entre autres, Uexküll, Goldstein, Merleau-Ponty, Canguilhem, Simondon).

     

    2Georges Friedmann, Sept études sur l’homme et la technique, Paris, Gonthier, 1966, p. 201.

     

    3Georges Friedmann, Problèmes humains du machinisme industriel, Paris, Gallimard, 1946, p. 357

     

    ">i
    possessing positive conditions of effectiveness, belonging to what I have called retentional apparatuses. These retentional apparatuses arise from a technical milieu which is the condition of the encounter of the I and the we: the individuation of the I and the we is in this respect also the individuation of the technical system.
  7. The technical system is an apparatus which has a specific role (wherein all objects are inserted: a technical object exists only in so far as it is disposed (agencé) within such an apparatus with other technical objects: this is what Simondon calls the technical group): the rifle and more generally the technical becoming with which it is a system are thus the possibility of the emergence of a disciplinary society according to Foucault.
  8. The technical system is also that which founds the possibility of the constitution of retentional apparatuses, springing from the processes of grammatisation growing out of the process of individuation of the technical system, and these retentional apparatuses are the basis for the dispositions between the individuation of the I and the individuation of the we in a single process of psychic, collective and technical individuation (where grammatisation is a subset of technics)[1] composed of three branches, each branching out into processual groups.
 
Several points must be added to this list:
 
  • this process of triple individuation is itself inscribed in a vital individuation which must be apprehended by a general organology as the vital individuation of natural organs, the techno-logical individuation of artificial organs, and the psycho-social individuation of organisations linking them together;
  • in the process of individuation constitutive of general organology wherein knowledge as such emerges, there are individuations of mnemo-technological sub-systems which over-determine, qua specific organisations of what I call tertiary retentions (I will specify the meaning of this term below), the organisation, the transmission and the elaboration of knowledge stemming from the experience of the sensible.
 
*
 
Techno-logical individuation strictu-sensu implements what Leroi-Gourhan called technical tendencies, in which the technical fact is the expression of a tendency (which the fact represents with more or less accuracy) and which is the result of two evolutive logics: that of the laws of universal physics, and that of the laws of human physiology. This result is not just an addition or conjoining of bio-physical forces: it is a transductive relationship, transforming and in the same stroke constituting the terms it places in relation to one another through the entity which is the ontogenetic product, the technical object: the latter is an interface between the inorganic domain treated by physics, and the organic domain studied in biology; and, in being both inorganic and organised, it is the site, in its morpho-genesis, of the original process of individuation, whose laws of evolution technology (meaning here the object of a science of techniques) aims to establish.
Now, this evolution transforms the human milieu and is in fact that evolution’s driving force. This does not mean that technical becoming determines this evolution, but only that it individuates itself in strict co-individuation with the psycho-social and vital structures themselves issuing from individuation. The concept of the technical system, invented by Bertrand Gille, opens up a thinking of this becoming qua co-individuation. This concept sets up laws of evolution at the level of technical systems (equivalent to Simondon’s technical groups) within which loops of retroaction can be schematised, as well as diachronic and synchronic processes described, as in Saussurean linguistics, but above all, within which interfaces between the technical system and the other systems making up the total social fact can be conceived. General organology would then be the account of these diverse dynamics as constitutive of the process of global individuation, wherein, as for all dynamics, conflicts are played out, conflics that general organology as praxis and not only as theoretical model, can tend to solve or to potentialise, especially at moments when the technical systems and the other systems constitutive of the social fact, due mainly to the speeding out of control of technical individuation, encounter the movement out to their own limits, following the description of this expression by René Passet in L’Economique et le Vivant (The Economic and the Living)[2]:in a movement to a system’s outer limits, every system undergoes a modification of its mode of functioning:
  • the limit of a saturation of needs
  • the limit of the reproducibility of a natural resource
  • the limit of rhythms of self-disposal.
The defining axioms of the system itself must then be modified. This constitutes what I will call a revolution—meaning here what points to and overcomes that which has run its course.
 
*
 
The brain, here, is an organ used to make decisions, an organ which, from the standpoint of this general organology, with regard to which such decisions can in fact be made, can only be understood as such—which is to say that decisions can be made with this organ only in transductive relation to other organs.
This organ nevertheless plays an especial role of regulation, and not only of decision: it is at one and the same time the seat of processes of regulation of the liver, for example, and the seat from which phenomena proper to consciousness as instigator of rules are constituted; and it is of course the seat of memory and of the unconscious, whence the experience of the sensible and of the singular constitutes itself and, through that experience, desire in turn. Can the brain be the seat of all that all by itself? Certainly not: insofar as the brain is the seat of the unconscious, that is, of desire, it is in a relation to other organs and to partial zones of the body in general through the mediation of technical objects outside the body. Furthermore, this relation to technical objects depends on, or rather is inscribed in, a relationship to social organisations, constituted by the other systems, and in which the rules of a superego inscribe themselves such that the brain has no other choice than to interiorise them without playing a part in their constitution.
The brain is, then, a particular organ in a circuit, which implies the liver for example, a circuit whereby interactions are produced, pleasure and a jouissance of the body—a circuit of desire, therefore, which is itself action, that is, a libidinal economy of affective relationships and instrumental practices under a horizon of technical artefacts and traces, works, etc., which constitute a social horizon of organisations that concretise social organisms themselves individuating a law.
 
*
 
Such a project is comprehensible only from out of an organology of memory as the history of what I have called epiphylogenesis. Briefly recapped, this concept highlights the fact that with the human living being, that is to say, the technical living being, evolution qua negentropic differentiation is no longer played out between only germinal and somatic memories, but is quite literally overturned by the appearance of a third memory, an artificial and objectal one, constituted by the “film” of technical objects, and through which, and only through which, as Leroi-Gourhan puts it, the “interior milieu” of the social-technical “cell” that makes up the human group is able to enter into relations with its “exterior milieu”—and here the reference is to Claude Bernard. I recall this point by way of insisting on the fact that the emergence of this non-living memory is also that which opens onto the Freudian question of the emergence of desire as a defunctionalisation of natural organs, or “organic repression” linked to the conquest of the upright position. As we shall see, the question thus posed is that of the relations between inside and outside—this question remains more than troublesome for Freud throughout his career, because he could not access the concept of epiphylogenesis or the question of what I will later call the group of tertiary retentions.
André Bourguignon and Cyrille Koupernik state that Freud’s initial project was to found a neurological theory of desire which would issue in a neuro-organology qua anatomy. As these authors state, “after Freud gives up on his Project for a Scientific Psychology, he had to give up the aim of localising psychic instances from either the first or second systems, in anatomical sites.” I hold that this abandonment results from Freud’s failure to think the prosthesis and the form of memory it makes possible.
Contemporary reflection in the neurosciences on the central nervous system, of which the brain is the organ, can only sustain itself by adopting the hypothesis of the historicisation of this organ. Freud well understood the necessity of this, but he failed to produce the theory: I will attempt in a moment the isolate the cause of this failure.
Let us begin with what Freud understood, and which is revolutionary although still overlooked. Freud understood, in particular with respect to the organ of olfaction (in his letters to Fliess as well as in Civilisation and its Discontents) that the physiological organology of the human body unceasingly transforms itself throughout the genealogy of what he calls libidinal economy, and whose starting-off point is clearly, for Freud, the conquest of the upright position. The human brain, as well as the human hand, the human foot, the human nose—every human organ—is constantly in a meta-state of functional re-definition. The organ is inscribed in a system which is first and foremost the organological system of the human body. But this organological system exists only within a systemic relationship with another organological level which is that of human prostheses, human artefacts: tools, instruments, techniques of all kinds, all of which become functional only within social functions whose dimensions are those of family, geographical system, system of law, etc., functions which are unified within social organisations: there are, thus, three organological levels. Freud could not have seen this.
The defunctionalisation of the human body and its functional redefinition, which is constantly taking place, is originarily related to the other two organological levels. In other words, the former does not pilot the latter. The defunctionalisation of the human body, which then is always also its re-functionalisation, must however be thought from out of the Freudian theory of the libido.
There is then a process of co-evolution of the brain, through the opening up of the cortical fan, that is to say, as the definition of cortical zones of the human neurological organ on the one hand, and, on the other, technical objects, and in particular, flint tools. This co-evolution is not piloted by biological evolution that would overdetermine or condition technical evolution: it is a co-determination, a reciprocal determination wherein technics nevertheless progressively gains the upper hand in the selection processes constitutive of the struggle for life, and which therefore overdetermine the evolution of the brain. In other words, the conditions of the brain’s evolution are more and more intricately correlated to the conditions of evolution of flint tools, which are themselves artificial organs, up to the point when, cortical evolution finally stabilised, the co-evolution between the technical system and the other social systems is modified. This is the moment of emergence of the socio-ethnic group and, along with it, the typical idiomatisation of psychic and collective individuation, which must be intricately correlated with the explosion of the organological evolution of artefactual technical prostheses. Is this the moment of emergence of the horde? However we answer that question, it is, according to Leroi-Gourhan, the moment of emergence of funereal and esthetic practices. From this moment on, a process of functionalisation of the brain is set in place, which is no longer piloted by the characteristics of the brain itself, and this is the moment when the brain terminates its opening up of the cortical fan and therefore stabilises itself, through the articulation of the brain qua living memory with technical prostheses qua dead memories, which from the Neolithic age onward will become mnemotechnical and calculating prostheses in the strict sense of the term. Thus an exteriorisation occurs, a defunctionalisation of the brain itself, similar to the defunctionalisation of the nose, the hand, and the foot. It is, of course, also a refunctionalisation.
In the process of hominisation, the hand is no longer a motor-function, but becomes a fabricator. As for the foot, it has a motor-function, of course, but now from the upright position, and above all, it now begins to dance. If Leroi-Gourhan can say that everything begins through the feet, Nietzsche adds that one must think with the feet. Many things would have to be addressed here. Suffice it to say that there is a defunctionalisation and a refunctionalisation of the brain that is inscribed in the becoming of technics, and which must be thought in relation to the becoming of social organisation: there is also a defunctionalisation and a refunctionalisation of the social. This is evident, for example, when you study the structure of the family and its evolution. This could be developed in a thousand other respects. Especially for language and beyond language, to all the supports of symbolic exchange. Finally, the historical and political becoming of the human IS this permanent social refunctionalisation, and nothing therein is understandable, in the final analysis, without being conceived as a genealogical apparatus of a libidinal economy. Technics and its translations in social structures constitute memory supports which are not found in the brain and without which the brain is nothing at all. Insofar as the social concretises this transductive relation between the dead and the living, it makes possible, through the constitution of collective secondary retentions, the acquisition of new knowledge which broadens in sweep through cortical connections that take place as interiorisations of these collective secondary retentions: there are neurological translations of these transformations, these enlargenings, these refunctionalisations, in the shape of connections which can very well be analysed from a neurobiological point of view. These operations of the brain are but the consequences, the traces of what is produced in essential and originary relation with the second organological level—technics—itself a system of traces, and the third organological level—the social—which selects among these traces that which is to be interiorised by bodies in the social body (le faire-corps), through what I call retentional apparatuses, and which constitute psychic and collective individuation in the strict sense of the term.
 
*
 
In 1905, several years after the publication of Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams, Husserl develops his concept of the temporal object in order to understand the temporality of consciousness, this system perception/consciousness—or system PC—of which Beyond the Pleasure Principle will say that it must be studied from the perspective of an unconscious itself atemporal in nature.
This conference represents the development of a conference I gave at the ICA in 1997, when I attempted to show that the Husserlian concept of primary retention could have redeemed Kant’s analysis of the three syntheses of the transcendental imagination, and therefore of the schematism. I would like to show this time that Freud encounters the very same problem. In order to do so, I must recall, briefly, the characteristics of the Husserlian temporal object.
A temporal object—melody, film, radio broadcast, speech—is constituted by the time of its flowing off, which Husserl names a flux. It appears only to disappear: an object passing away. Consciousness as well is temporal in this sense. A temporal object is constituted by the fact that, as the consciousnesses of which it is the shared object, it flows away and disappears after having appeared.
An I is a consciousness consisting of a temporal flux of what Husserl calls primary retentions: a primary retention is what a consciousness retains in the now of the flux in which it consists. It is, for example, the note resonating in the present note and the point of passage of a melody, where the preceding note is not absent but present, because it is maintained in and by this “maintaining moment” that in French is the “now.” The passing note constitutes the following note by entering into a relationship with it, the interval. Another example: the word I have just pronounced primarily retains the preceding sentence so as to constitute the unity of my talk, etc. As phenomena that I receive as well as phenomena that I produce (a melody that I play or hear, a sentence that I pronounce or hear, a sequence of gestures or actions that I accomplish or undergo, etc.), my conscious life essentially consists in such retentions. Now, these retentions are selections: I cannot retain everything that could be retained[3]: in the flux of that which appears, consciousness makes selections which are actual retentions—should I listen twice to the same melody, my consciousness of the melody changes. These selections are made through filters that constitute the consistence of secondary retentions, that is to say, the memories of former primary retentions, conserved in memory and constitutive of experience. The life of consciousness consists in such dispositions of primary retentions, filtered by secondary retentions, while the relations between primary and secondary retentions are over-determined by tertiary retentions. By tertiary retentions I mean objects as supports of memory and mnemo-techniques, which enable traces to be spatially, materially and technically recorded.
Tertiary retentions are that which, like an alphabet, enables access to the preindividual stock of all psychic and collective individuation. They (the tertiary retentions) exist in all human societies: the aborigines’ churinga and mythograms in general are examples of tertiary retention, as are books and the web, which all condition individuation as symbolic sharing and distinction, made possible by the exteriorisation of individual experience in traces and as transmission.
 
This brief recap of Husserl’s theory indicates what has become the center of my work, because I believe that it was in his failure to understand the stakes of the discovery of primary retention that Freud got muddled, in his second system, in an inadequate comprehension of the relations holding between what he calls interior and exterior. Also, Freud cannot think the role of the technical prosthesis in the constitution of desire and the unconscious, and as the Wirklichkeit of libidinal economy, as that which may lead to this discontent at the heart of culture, that is to say, in epiphylogenesis, a motif that so worried him, and rightly, at the end of his life.
 
*
 
Primary retentions can modify the organisation of secondary retentions on the rebound from the primary selections in which they consist, and which take place following the criteria of already-constituted secondary retentions. A primary retention of course will eventually become a secondary retention. And in becoming one, it can either insert itself in the system of already existing secondary retentions—and in this case the former reinforces the latter, or it can upset the disposition of the latter: in this case a potential of individuation is unleashed in the existing secondary retentions but which has hitherto been repressed; in this case we are dealing with what I will call traumatypical secondary reflections. This corresponds, by the way, to Freud’s description, in Studies on Hysteria, of traces “concentrically set out around the pathogenic kernel.”
Secondary retentions can therefore be modified on the rebound by being themselves selected during conscious perception in two manners:
 
  1. Either as a re-inforcement of pre-existing expectations, virtually contained in the secondary retentions, and as protentions, the reinforcement consolidating the stereotyping of these expectations which become less and less liable to be surprised by the proto-expectations and arch-expectations of which they are, however, an echo. The latter being, then, what the standard expectations mask: they are then screen expectations, lure expectations—in short censoring screens, masking the relation to the drives embedded in the ego in traumatypical retentional forms.
  2. Or, precisely, by the integration on the rebound of the expression of the traumatypes through the primary selection taking place as primary retention, which leads to a upheaval of the organisation of the entire system of secondary retentions. These traumatypes are the positive echoes of the drive apparatuses and, as such, they cannot be incorporated by the PC system nor even by what Freud sometimes calls the pre-conscious. They can only be integrated providing they are trans-formed. This transformation is produced by a primary retention/selection, when it produces a significance, that is to say, the sur-prise of something unexpected affecting consciousness in such a way as to have it individuate itself, breaching a gap that Simondon calls a quantic leap. But this “unexpected” something was in fact expected: it was, but it was repressed. The freeing of the unexpected is therefore the freeing of a repressed expectation.
 
In the first case (repression and reinforcement), there is an accentuation of the power of synchronisation of consciousness, and in the second case, there is on the contrary diachronisation, that is to say, the experience of the schize. Here is where Deleuze and Guattari would have entered in opposition to Freud. But failing a thinking of retention, I do not consider that they succeeded in offering a convincing critique.
Within memory, the traumatypes are outlined, encircled, con-cernés (as we can say in French—let’s say implicated in English), and thereby contained by the stereotypical secondary retentions. There is a contention in retention, a content in what is retained, of which the traumatypical “kernel” is literally detained: placed in secrecy or solitary confinement. The stereotypical secondary retentions thus form a first kind of secondary retention; the second type is constituted in the traumatypical secondary retentions: the latter result, not from a re-inforcement of existing expectations—I call this comprehension—but from a sur-prehension of these expectations. Comprehension is the reduction to the identical, and the sur-prehension is the experience of the other—that is, the experience of the singularity of the sensible.
This is the experience of significance, in which the experimented, as a temporal phenomenon undergone by the perception/consciousness system, all of a sudden explodes the expectations held together by the stereotypical secondary retentions, and opens a path, for example as a joke, but more generally as all works of spirit. With the advent of this path, the traumatypical power of the repressed secondary retentions can resurface, in the form of what Proust calls an anamnesis: the return of a former traumatype which, returning as a ghost, as a spirit, for example in the form of a joke, itself echoes the arche-protentions and arche-retentions (originary phantasms and primal scenes) that constitute the apparatus of drives, as it took on singular form in the singularity of the traumatypes of a particular ego.
However, this traumatypical “resurfacing,” which also comes out of firstly a pre-individual stock belonging to the ego (proto-protentions and proto-retentions) and lived by it, and secondly, out of a stock shared by all desiring living beings, but which has not been lived by them (arch-protentions and arch-retentions of what Freud’s second system calls the id—but this is also what Levinas calls the absolute past as the past which has never been present). Such a resurfacing can only happen providing the presence of conditions made possible by the historic state of tertiary retentions, that is to say, both the defunctionalisations and refunctionalisations presupposed and empowered by tertiary retention. Thus Hitchcock can inscribe a cinema of quite powerful, original and popular protentions.
Therefore, we can have two possible experiences of primary retention understood as primary selection effected following the criteria formed in secondary retentions: this results in either the reinforcement of dominant stereotypes, or their being called into question by the traumatypes present in the ego, in the form in these traumatypical secondary retentions hidden by the stereotypes, and which are activated by the temporal phenomenon which happens to the PC system and by the cathartic stroke of genius of retentional organisations in which it consists. It can also happen that this cathartic stroke of genius only takes place in deferred time, due to another phenomenon: this is the case of Proust’s madeleine, of involuntary memory, but also, I believe, of platonic anamnesis.
It is from the perspective of this retentional upheaval that Freud’s sentence can now be highlighted:
 
We describe as “traumatic” any excitations from outside which are powerful enough to break through the protective shield. It seems to me that the concept of trauma necessarily implies a connection of this kind with a breach in an otherwise efficacious barrier against stimuli. (“Beyond the Pleasure Principle,” Standard Edition, vol. 18, page 29.)
 
Now all of this, that is, the traumatic which would appear to come from the exterior as a means of defense which would be on the interior, can only be constituted by secondary retentional apparatuses. The traumatism of the exterior is but the basis for the projection of a traumatype conserved in the interior but embedded in it and prevented from becoming conscious by the stereotypes, except when a pre-textuality causing primary retentional processes allows for the sudden freeing of the process of projection. Freud cannot see this: he is unable (just as Kant is unable) to distinguish between primary retentions and secondary ones. He must therefore oppose the inside and the outside.
 
*
 
Freud once again, on page 24-25 of the Standard Edition:
 
All excitatory processes that occur in the other systems leave permanent traces behind them which form the foundation of memory. Such memory-traces, then, have nothing to do with the fact of becoming conscious.
 
However, the Freudian definition of the system PC, which should be described as the site of constitution of the primary retentions that the primary selections are and as the depository in the other systems of new secondary retentions, runs here into the same problems as those of the Project for a Scientific Psychology. The system is unable to retain them. That means in this case that the system effaces them as they occur, which implies that the system PC is a temporal system. For those of us who have read Husserl, however, this means that its functioning consists precisely and necessarily in an aggregation of primary retentions that become secondary as they are produced, that is to say, they disappear in memory, passing into another system. This is why Freud adds:
 
The excitatory process becomes conscious in the system C. But leaves no permanent trace behind there; but that the excitation is transmitted to the systems lying next within and that it is in them that its traces are left. (ibid. p. 25.)
 
This downward direction of the system C toward neighbouring interior systems is very metaphysically unilateral:Freud does not see the horizon of expectation constituted by the secondary retentions in a state in which, charged traumatypically, they engage a dynamic that picks and chooses in the primary retentions of system C (depicted, as Freud specifies, in the schema shown in the speculative section of his The Interpretation of Dreams). Here we meet once again with the question of the evanescence of the flux, that is to say, the aporia of primary retention, which is an aporia only as long as one cannot distinguish primary from secondary retention in a process in which it passes from primary to secondary:
 
The system Cs. is characterised by the peculiarity that in it (in contrast to what happens in the other psychic systems) excitatory processes do not leave behind any permanent change in its elements but expire, as it were, in the phenomenon of becoming conscious.[4]
 
Freud adds then a description of traumatypical secondary retentions:
 
[such memory traces] are often most powerful and most enduring when the process which left them behind was one that never entered consciousness. (page 25.)
 
But the system PC cannot conserve such remains, for if it could
 
they would very soon set limits to the system’s aptitude for receiving fresh excitations.
 
Impossible not to agree. But there are, nevertheless, primary retentions, and tertiary ones, and given that the secondary retentions must be identified as either stereotypical or traumatypical, the question of projection must be entirely rethought, and the opposition between interior and exterior destroyed: this is what I am attempting in this review of the question of libidinal economy with regard to a general organalogy.
 
*
 
Freud, who sets the system PC off from the rest of the psychic apparatus, situates it between an “interior” and an “exterior” as the surface of the system, and he postulates that
 
such an event as an external trauma is bound to provoke a disturbance on a large scale in the functioning of the organism’s energy and to set in motion every possible defensive measure. (ibid. page 29.)
 
Now, the organism cannot be affected by an exterior traumatism except when it is expected, except when, being protentially charged, it is touchable, affectable by this exterior traumatism that is already within it, and that is thus not totally exterior. Otherwise, either it would not be affected by it, or it would be simply destroyed. Freud nevertheless continues his description of what I consider constitutive of the incorporation of traumatic primary retentions/protentions (produced by the traumatypical secondary retentions) following a scheme Derrida described with the term différance, but which constitutes for me what Simondon described as the process of internal resonance in which consists the process of individuation:
 
There is no longer any possibility of preventing the mental apparatus from being flooded with large amounts of stimulus, and another problem arises instead—the problem of mastering the amounts of stimulus which have broken in and of binding them, in the psychic sense, so that they can then be disposed of.[5]
 
In my own terms, the question becomes that of the way in which the psychic system, as a process of individuation, will tend to synchronise itself in a struggle against its own diachronicity, which occurs in the event of a pretextuality of the outside. What Freud cannot see is, as Aristotle says, that the act of the sensible is also the act of whom is sensible (à reprendre): the “outside” is produced by the “inside.”
 
*
 
Mallarmé thought, wrote and poeticised:
 
                        For the mediate, without traces, becomes evanescent.
 
If the brain can be placed in a vat, the question is one of the vat’s fracture. There are all manner of vats, and the brain, via the body, has always been in a kind of vat. The body of that whereby the brain is interfaced with this vat, and the vat is that which configures the organisations and apparatuses in which a libidinal energy flows, whose organisations and apparatuses making up the vat, and forming its bottom and sides, or the more or less fluid milieu, are not simply means, but actual constituting elements, tensors and transductors, in the guise of retentional apparatuses whereby the psychic, the social and the techno-logical co-individuate through their transductive relations.
As for the Freudian topographical system, it suggests that the unconscious must be localised, for example in a sub-cortical area, which is totally absurd. The unconscious is nowhere else than consciousness: it is a mode of being in a network, an organisation of networks which constitute the unconscious as so many metastable equilibriums, that is, equilibriums precariously established around these knots(organisation qui fait que dans ce reseau il y a des rets qui constituent de l’inconscient selon des équilibres métastables, c’est à dire précaires, établis autour de noyaux). And as for the inherited material basis binding these knots together, which Freud will later call the it/id (Et quant au fonds hérité que Freud nommera ensuite le çà, et qui relie ces noyaux), this is not only a biological apparatus, despite what we are led to believe in the Outline of Psychoanalysis: it is a retentional apparatus, one part of which is living (the brain), but this part is, however, nothing without the dead part—which Lacan names the name of the father, killed by the knife of the primal horde risen up against him, so that he may then return as a spirit.

 


[1] This last point receives particular attentionAttention.

Attention, Retention, Protention.

L’attention, la rétention et la protention forment la vie de la conscience. Si « l’ordre chronologique » est celui de la rétention du passé, de l’attention au présent, et de la protention à venir, l’ordre logique et phénoménologique (c’est à dire tel qu’il se présente à la conscience) impose de commencer par le milieu : par l’attention, qui ouvre l’une à l’autre rétention et protention.

Attention. L’attention est par excellence la modalité de la conscience : « être conscient » c’est être attentif. L’attention est ce qui constitue les objets de la conscience, même si toute conscience n’est pas attentive – toute attention étant évidemment consciente. La vie de l’attention se situe entre les rétentions (la mémoire) et les protentions (le projet, l'attente, le désir) qu’elle lie en étant ouverte à ce qui advient dans le « maintenant » depuis ce qu’elle retient de ce qui est advenu (rétention) et en attente de ce qui est en train d’advenir (protention).

L’attention n’est pas un réflexe ; autrement dit, l’attention est quelque chose qui se forme et qui forme. La formation de l’attention est toujours à la fois psychique et sociale, car l’attention est à la fois attention psychologique, perceptive ou cognitive (« être attentif », vigilant, concentré) et attention sociale, pratique ou éthique (« faire attention », prendre soin) : l’attention qui est la faculté psychique de se concentrer sur un objet, de se donner un objet, est aussi la faculté sociale de prendre soin de cet objet.

Il y a des techniques de captation de l’attention dont le but est de former l’attention (ainsi du livre), d’autres dont le but est de la capturer et de la canaliser – ce qui conduit à la dé-former, l’épuiser et la détruire. L’attention fait aujourd’hui l’objet d’une exploitation industrielle où la « matière première » valorisée – et la ressource rare – est devenue la capacité d’attention des consommateurs1. Toujours plus, et par tous les moyens, l’industrie publicitaire tente de capter notre attention, et personne n’échappe à cette saturation cognitive et affective. Il est désormais prouvé que l’usage massif des médias de masse dès le plus jeune âge conduit à un « attention deficit discorder »2. Le cerveau nourri au zapping perd l’attention un peu comme celui qui mange devant la télévision perd le goût de ce qu’il mange – et parfois perd l’appétit, parfois devient boulimique.

Rétention. Les rétentions sont ce qui est retenu ou recueilli par la conscience. Ce terme est emprunté à Husserl ; mais les rétentions tertiaires sont propres à la philosophie de Bernard Stiegler.

Rétentions primaires. Elles sont ce qui arrive au temps de la conscience, ce que la conscience retient dans le « maintenant qui passe », dans le flux perceptif qui soutient la conscience. Par exemple, la rétention primaire est la présence de la note tout juste passée dans une mélodie, qui a pour conséquence que le « mi » actuel n’est pas le même selon qu’il est précédé d’un « ré » ou d’un « fa ».

Rétentions secondaires. Les rétentions secondaires sont d’anciennes rétentions primaires (retenues par notre conscience) devenues des souvenirs. Elles appartiennent à la mémoire imaginative – je « vais chercher » mes souvenirs –, et non plus à la rétention-perception, sur laquelle elles ont cependant un impact. Les rétentions primaires sont en effet des sélections, car le flux de conscience que vous êtes ne peut pas tout retenir : ce que vous retenez est ce que vous êtes, mais ce que vous retenez dépend ce que vous avez déjà retenu.

Rétentions tertiaires. Elles sont le propre de l’espèce humaine. Ce sont les sédimentations hypomnésiques qui se sont accumulées au cours des générations en se spatialisant et en se matérialisant dans un monde d’artefacts – « supports de mémoire », c’est-à-dire hypomnémata –, et qui permettent de ce fait un processus d’individuation psycho-socio-technique. Les rétentions tertiaires surdéterminent les rétentions secondaires qui surdéterminent les rétentions primaires

Protention. La protention est le temps du désir ou le temps de la question, qui suppose le temps de l’attention et le temps des rétentions (tertiaires). En effet, d’une part il n’est pas de protention soutenable sans attention aux « consistances », d’autre part toute possibilité de protention est précédée par une projection prothétique. Autrement dit, c’est parce que l’homme est défini par son pharmakon technique que l’humain fait question, ou mieux que l’humain se fait question et se trouve mis en question.

La protention est le désir (et l’attente) de l’à venir, elle est ce qui dans le devenir constitue la possibilité de l’avenir – étant entendu que le devenir peut n’engager aucun avenir. Pour que l’à venir prenne consistance, il faut au minimum échapper au court-termisme qui gouverne notre monde. C’est là tout le paradoxe : la finance, qui est originellement le temps du crédit, soit donc l’organisation de protentions, accompagne aujourd’hui une économie consumériste qui détruit la possibilité même de se projeter dans l’à venir.

">i in Technics and Time, vol. 4. Symbols and Diaboles, or the War of the Spirits, forthcoming from Galilée.
[2] René Passet, L’Economique et le Vivant, Economica, 1996, pp. X-XII.
[3] Primary retentions enter into relations. For example, in a melody, notes in arpeggios forming interval or chords, or, in a sentence, semantic and syntactic links.
[4] Freud then picks up again his analyses in Project for a Scientific Psychology, but in a certain state of confusion: “the elements of the system Cs. would carry no bound energy but only energy capable of free discharge. It seems best, however, to express oneself as cautiously as possible on these points.” Caution is indeed necessary here, because Freud is making a serious error. He does not realize that, primary retentions being also primary selections, they always already encounter tensions and pressures that are constituted by protentions formed by the secondary retentions qua horizon of expectation. Freud does not see this at all.
[5] I believe Freud is wrong in presupposing that “the pleasure principle is for the moment put out of action.”