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Capitalism and Schizophrenia

Contemporary Visual Culture and the Acceleration of Identity Formation/Dissolution Jonah Peretti
This article demonstrates the psychological link between one-dimensionality and advertising. In the time that it has taken to write and publish this paper, Internet shopping has entered mainstream culture. Every major corporation in the world has a web site offering product information, interactive advertisements, and, increasingly, the ability to buy products on-line. Discount books (www.ama on.com!, pi a delivery (www."i a#et.net!, stocks (www.schwab.com!, and just about anything else you can imagine (virtumall.com! are available for purchase in cyberspace. Internet based commerce e$emplifies and e$tends the trends in capitalism that this paper attempts to elucidate. In particular, %orld %ide %eb shopping accelerates the rate at which a shopper can ac&uire products. 'he only thing that separates an advertisement from a purchase is a couple of mouse clicks. (y central contention is that late capitalism not only accelerates the flow of capital, but also accelerates the rate at which subjects assume identities. Identity formation is ine$tricably linked to the urge to consume, and therefore the acceleration of capitalism necessitates an increase in the rate at which individuals assume and shed identities. 'he internet is one of many late capitalist phenomena that allow for more fle$ible, rapid, and profitable mechanisms of identity formation. )onnecting capitalism and identity formation re&uires e$tensive conte$tuali ation. * considerable portion of this essay is spent wading through the murky waters of +acanian and post-+acanian psychoanalytic theory. Evaluating competing theories of identification is essential to my project. %hat is meant by identification, 'his preliminary &uestion informs my discussion of how identification functions in the media saturated world of late capitalism and, more importantly, the issue of how identities can be fostered that resist the logic of commodification.

1. Capitalism and Schizophrenia


I focus my discussion of identification by comparing two contradictory te$ts. 'he first is the groundbreaking essay by -redric .ameson, entitled, /"ostmodernism and )onsumer 0ociety/ (1234!. 'he second is 5illes Deleu e and -eli$ 5uattari6s controversial book *nti-7edipus (1234!. .ameson6s essay and *nti-7edipus present two distinct perspectives on how subjects form identities within late capitalism. *lthough very

different, both te$ts approach identification through an analysis of schi ophrenia and capitalism. 'o further e$plore these two themes, I place these te$ts in conversation with each other and with other te$ts that focus more narrowly on psychoanalytic studies of contemporary visual culture. .ameson associates postmodern aesthetic and cultural movements with the psychoanalytic category of schi ophrenia. 8orrowing from +acan, .ameson defines schi ophrenia as /the failure of the infant to accede fully into the realm of speech and language/ (.ameson 113!. 'he schi oid neonate fails to fully ac&uire language, and as a result cannot individuate, because the infant must enter into a social9linguistic field to develop an ego. .ameson writes that: schi ophrenic e$perience is an e$perience of isolated, disconnected, discontinuous material signifiers which fail to link up into a coherent se&uence. 'he schi ophrenic thus does not know personal identity in our sense, since our feeling of identity depends on our sense of the persistence of the /I/ and the /me/ over time (112!. *ccording to .ameson, the schi ophrenic lacks a personal identity, is unable to differentiate between self and world, and is incapable of e$periencing continuity through time. 'here are several reasons why .ameson associates these attributes of schi ophrenia with postmodernism and late capitalism. In many respects the media culture of the late twentieth century simulates schi oid e$perience. 'he rapid fire succession of signifiers in ('; style media erodes the viewers sense of temporal continuity. 'o use the same words that .ameson uses to describe schi ophrenic e$periences, the images that flash across the ('; viewers6 retina are /isolated, disconnected, discontinuous material signifiers which fail to link up into a coherent se&uence./ 'his postmodern montage can have the effect of disorienting the subject, and may contribute to the egolessness that is characteristic of schi ophrenia. .ameson is concerned that the emerging postmodern art forms will lack the subversive, critical function that modernist art served. /<(=odernism was oppositional art,/ asserts .ameson. It /did not go well with overstuffed ;ictorian furniture, with ;ictorian moral taboos, or with the conventions of polite society/ (1>4-1>?!. *s modernism lost its subversive nature and became canoni ed (i.e. "icasso, Elliot, 0artre, etc.! it is unclear weather postmodernism filled in as a radical social9political movement. 8y destroying the distinction between high and low art, postmodern culture was able to integrate itself into the capitalist mass culture. ('; can serve as our e$ample once again. -or all its se$ual e$plicitness, ('; fails to shock, and contributes to capitalist culture more than it threatens it. 'hus, .ameson concludes that /postmodernism is closely related to... late capitalism/ (1>@!. %here modernism often attacked the bourgeois society from which it emerged, postmodernism /replicates... reproduces... <and= reinforces... the logic of consumer capitalism/ (1>@!. .ameson leaves open the possibility that /there is also a way in which <postmodernism=... resists/ the logic of capitalism (1>@!. #evertheless, he reveals his (ar$ist background and modernist leanings through his skepticism toward the political potential of postmodernism. .ameson links schi ophrenia to postmodernism, and postmodernism to consumer capitalism. Ae is saying, in effect, that contemporary capitalism has e$tended the

symptoms of schi ophrenia to the masses in the form of postmodern culture. Ais formulation sees both postmodernism and schi ophrenia as cultural forces that scramble and confuse. 'he schi ophrenic confusion destroys the possibility of critical perspectives, such as those found in modernist traditions. In a fragmented cultural milieu, capitalist, consumer culture can thrive unopposed. %hen .ameson diagnoses our culture as schi ophrenic, he is telling us that our culture is not fully human. * schi ophrenic culture fails /to accede fully into the realm of speech and language./ (113! +ike the schi ophrenic, such a culture is rootless, separated from history, and outside of /human time/ (112!. +ike .ameson, Deleu e and 5uattari see correspondences between capitalism and schi ophrenia, although they conceptuali e the relationship &uite differently. 'his difference stems in part from the philosophies of the authors. %here .ameson is a (ar$ist with modernist sympathies, Deleu e and 5uattari could be classified as postmodernist, or poststructuralist. .ameson would certainly consider these author6s work to be part of (schi ophrenic! postmodern1 cultural production. -urthermore, .ameson is a modernist intellectual who studies postmodernism while Deleu e and 5uattari can be described as postmodernist theorists. 'hus, when Deleu e and 5uattari discuss the relationship between schi ophrenia and capitalism, a postmodern sensibility is always lurking in the background. Deleu e and 5uattari react strongly against the -reudian and +acanian treatment of schi ophrenia. In characteristically playful and combative language they warn us of -reud6s distaste for the schi ophrenic: -or we must not delude ourselves: -reud doesn6t like schi ophrenics. Ae doesn6t like their resistance to being oedipali ed, and tends to treat them more or less as animals. 'hey mistake words for things, he says. 'hey are apathetic, narcissistic, cut off from reality, incapable of achieving transferenceB they resemble philosophers --/an undesirable resemblance/ (>4!. *ccording to Deleu e and 5uattari, -reud does not like the schi ophrenic because s9he is a direct affront to -reud6s psychoanalytic system. 'he schi ophrenic has not developed an ego, or gone through the 7edipal process of individuation. 'hus, the schi oid is /somewhere else, beyond or behind or below/ the 7edipal triad that is so central to -reudian analysis (>4!. 'he schi oid has no /me/ and hence does not have an unconscious that is preoccupied with the 7edipal drama of daddy, mommy, and me. In attempts to cure schi ophrenics, -reudian psychoanalysts have often tried to lead the schi ophrenic down the road to ego formation, and normality. 'his has often meant forcibly imposing the 7edipal cycle, which is supposedly characteristic of normal psychic development. (elanie Clein is perhaps /the analyst least prone to see everything in terms of 7edipus/ (Deleu e and 5uattari ?@!. #evertheless, even she was unremitting in her attempts to oedipali e her psychotic patients. %hen a psychotic child named Dick came to see her for therapy she encouraged him to play with toy trains. Deleu e and 5uattari &uote Cline6s first person account of the session: I took the big train and put it beside a smaller one and called them 6Daddy-train6 and 6Dick-train.6 'hereupon he picked up the train I called 6Dick6 and made it roll <toward the

station=.... I e$plained: 6'he station is mummyB Dick is going into mummy6 (&td. in Deleu e and 5uattari ?@!. Cline6s statements terrified the kid, causing him to run into a closet to hide. Clein responded to this by saying that /<i=t is dark inside mummy. Dick is inside dark mummy/ (?@!. #o matter what behavior the child e$hibited, Clein imposed an 7edipal interpretation. 'he purpose of this treatment was to make the disjointed and incoherent behavior of the patient coalesce into a normal (i.e. 7edipal! identity formation. Deleu e and 5uattari see this kind of treatment as a form of terrorism. In the course of such treatment /<a=ll the chains of the unconscious are...lineari ed, suspended from a despotic signifier (i.e. 7edipus!/ (@?!. Indeed, they assert that schi ophrenics who are treated this way often digress into autism, which has unfortunately been associated with schi ophrenia. -or Deleu e and 5uattari, it is the analyst and the psychiatric ward that make the schi oid sick, and turn him9her into a silent and psychologically unproductive autist. 'he healthy schi oid has an essentially productive (un!consciousness. 09he does not fantasi e. Instead, Deleu e and 5uattari assert, s9he produces and makes the real. 'his production of the real is fundamentally incongruent with -reudian and +acanian models of the unconscious. -reud and +acan see the unconscious as symbolic, fantasy laden, and dramatic filled with semiotic pu les and ancient 5reek theater. Aence, for both authors desire is associated with lack. 'hat is to say, desire desires that which is fantasi ed, repressed, wished for, or absent. Desire is engaged entirely with that which is lacking and needs to be represented. Aence, /desire gives way to a representation/ of that which is lacking the phallus, the 7edipal escapade, the ideal /I/, etc. (@?!. 'he schi oid, on the other hand, is incapable of e$periencing lack. -or him or her the unconscious is always productive and never fantastical. Desire itself produces the real and creates new worlds. 'he -reudian unconscious is too unproductive and otherworldly to entice the schi oid into normality. It has nothing to offer the schi oid. Aence, the schi oid scrambles, decodes, and reconfigures the psychoanalytic dialogue transfiguring signifiers into the real, and refusing to be 7edipali ed. 0chi ophrenics /escape coding, scramble the codes, and flee in all directions...<they are=: orphans (no daddy-mommy-me!, atheists (no beliefs!, and nomads (no habits, no territories!/ (0eem $$i!. Deleu e and 5uattari6s schi ophrenic will not be trapped by the power-laden and despotic webs of signifiers that saturate society and psychoanalytic practice. It is the schi oid6s ability to scramble and decode that Deleu e and 5uattari associate with contemporary capitalism. +ike the schi ophrenic, capitalism can insert itself anywhere and everywhere as a decoder and scrambler. *lthough, <o=ur <capitalist= societies e$hibit a marked taste for all codes codes foreign and e$otic...this taste is destructive and morbid. %hile decoding doubtless means understanding and translating a code, it also means destroying the code as such, assigning it an archaic, folkloric, or residual function (>?@!. (obile, fle$ible capital is capable of inserting itself into any cultural milieu. In countries as different as .apan, 8ra il, -rance, and Cenya, capitalism is able to take advantage of the local symbolic order (Aarvey 1232!. 'he forms that capitalism takes in these various

countries reflect the symbolic order that the capitalist machine has plugged into. 'hus, Deleu e and 5uattari do not characteri e the capitalist machine as monolithic or unitary it does not have an /I/, an ego, or a unified identity. It works instead as a polymorphous destroyer of codes. It continually breaks down the cultural, symbolic, and linguistic barriers that create territories and limit e$change. 'hus, Deleu e and 5uattari assert that /<c=ivili ation is defined by the decoding and deterritoriali ation of flows in capitalist production/ (>??!. It would seem that Deleu e and 5uattari are making a move similar to .ameson6s by asserting that schi ophrenia resembles and is associated with the logic of late capitalism. /Det it would be a serious error,/ assert Deleu e and 5uattari, /to consider the capitalist flows and the schi ophrenic flows as identical, under the general theme of... decoding/ (>??!. )apitalism /produces schi os the same way it produces "rell shampoo or -ord cars/ but the schi os are not salable. (>?@! Indeed, the schi ophrenic is locked up in institutions, and turned into a /confined clinical entity/ (>?@!. If the schi ophrenic really e$emplified the culture of capitalism, why aren6t schi os celebrated as heroes and heroines in contemporary capitalist society, Deleu e and 5uattari conclude that: schi ophrenia is the e$terior limit of capitalism itself or the conclusion of its deepest tendency, but that capitalism only functions on condition that it inhibit this tendency, or that it push back or displace this limit....Aence schi ophrenia is not the identity of capitalism, but on the contrary its difference, its divergence, and its death (>?E!. *s capitalism decodes and deterritoriali es it reaches a limit at which point it must artificially reterritoriali e by augmenting the state apparatus, and repressive bureaucratic and symbolic regimes. 'he schi ophrenic never reaches such a limit. 09he resists such reterritoriali ation, just as s9he resists the symbolic and despotic territoriali ation of the oedipali ing psychotherapist. 'hus, Deleu e and 5uattari disagree with .ameson6s argument that schi ophrenia reinforces and contributes to the hegemony of capitalism. Instead, Deleu e and 5uattari see the schi ophrenic as capitalism6s e$terminating angel. -or them the schi o is a radical, revolutionary, nomadic wanderer who resists all forms of oppressive power. 'hey believe that radical political movements should /learn from the psychotic how to shake off the 7edipal yoke and the effects of power, in order to initiate a radical politics of desire freed from all beliefs/ (0eem $$i!. 0chi ophrenic sensibilities can replace ideological and dogmatic political goals with a radical form of productive desire. 'his /desiring-production/ brings the unconscious into the real, and unleashes its radical world-making potential. "roductive desire need not be solipsistic, and includes the /group psychosis/ induced by radical postmodern artistic creations and political movements. #either is desiring-production limited to clinical schi ophrenics. Desiringproduction marks the schi ophrenic potential in everyone to resist the power of despotic signifiers and capitalist reterritoriali ation. Deleu e and 5uattari see schi ophrenia as a central part of a subversive postmodern politics with the radical potential to bring down capitalism. .ameson6s view could not be more different. -or him, postmodern schi ophrenic culture /replicates,/ /reproduces,/ and /reinforces/ the logic of capitalism (.ameson 1>@!. Aow can we resolve this contradiction which transverses the divide between modernism and postmodernism and

highlights the fundamentally different political sensibilities of these two groups, It is a contradiction which causes us to &uestion how psychoanalytical concepts and capitalism resist and reinforce each other. (ost importantly, it is a contradiction that informs our reaction and resistance to consumer capitalist culture.

. Identification and !ate Capitalist Visual Culturee


Aoping for some insight into a possible resolution to this conflict, I turn to .ac&ues +acan, Foland 8arthes, and .ean +aplanche. I use +acan to show the importance that images play in the process of ego formation and identification. 8arthes6 work helps to e$tend this analysis to capitalist culture. Ae e$plains how media images act as +acanian mirrors that cause identity formations to be ideologically laden. +aplanche6s work adds a much needed temporal dimension. +aplanche6s theory of time provides a tool for understanding the contemporary acceleration of visual culture and its impact on identification. +acan6s concept of the mirror stage describes the process by which the schi oid, polyperverse infant first gains a sense of having a unified identity. +acan asserts that this e$perience of identity formation /leads us to oppose any philosophy directly issuing from the )ogito/ (1!. 'he )artesian concept of the self, grounded in the self-evidence of the Cogito, assumes that the ego is pregiven, re&uires no formation process, e$ists before the world, and even goes so far as to posit the self as the analytic precondition to the world6s e$istence. +acan6s work refutes this view by demonstrating that the neonate is forced into a world of already e$isting social and semiotic structures. 'he newborn must be inserted into this linguistic order and can only gain an ego in relation to this order. *s .ameson told us earlier, there is no /self/, /ego/, /I/, or /me/ without language. "erhaps the first semiotic stepping stone on the road to ego formation is the recognition of one6s own reflection: the /Ideal-I/. +acan describes the process whereby an infant first comes to recogni e itself in a mirror. 8efore this point of identification the child does not conceptuali e itself as a physically and psychologically bounded individual. If it is shown a mirror, it will not recogni e itself, and will take little interest in the light bouncing off the glass. 'his changes sometime after the infant6s si$th month when an identification occurs. Identification is /the transformation that takes place in the subject when he assumes an image,/ or imago (>!. %hen the child recogni es its own image /the I is precipitated in a primordial form/ which +acan refers to as the /Ideal-I/ (>!. In this way, ego formation begins with a misrepresentation the neonate mistakes itself for its reflection. 'he reflection is a /mirage/ which represents an /e$teriority in which...<the child6s= form is certainly more constituent than constituted/ (>!. 'hat is to say, the child6s image is merely a single component of the child6s being that metonymically represents the child as a totality. 'he ideality of the image /contrast<s= with the turbulent movements that the subject feels to be animating him/ (>!. 'he bounded and coherent symmetry of the visual image, an image which serves as a (mis!representation of the child, is utterly incongruent

with the polyperverse, schi oid nature of the little /hommelette./ #evertheless, the force of this misrepresentation is undeniable, and marks the establishment of /a relation between the organism and its reality/ (?!. 'hus, it is at the mirror stage that the neonate first reali es that it is one object among many. *t this point, it is able to compare the way the imago of it6s own body relates to other images in the e$terior world. 'he child is normally e$ceedingly happy with its new imago often laughing and smiling at the reflection. 'he situation changes however, when the fictional nature of the imago becomes apparent to the child. 'he child begins to reali e that the /Ideal-I/, with which it was so jubilant to identify, is in fact incongruent with the child6s more comple$ constitution. 'his results in /the identification with the imago of the counterpart and the drama of primordial jealousy/ (@!. 'hat is to say, the child becomes alienated from the /Ideal-I/ and begins to see it as another, competing subjectivity. 'he love for the /IdealI/ gives way to jealously and fear of competition. 'his is the point at which humans first learn to desire the other, which in this case is the ideali ed imago of ones own body. 8y linking desire with alterity, the child moves beyond the mirror stage into the world of /socially elaborated situations/ that force the child to reconcile its own ego with the desire of the other (i.e. that which is lacking!, and social, linguistic, and symbolic constraint. 'his is how +acan e$plains ego formation and the subse&uent identification and alienation with ideali ed (mis!representations. 'he story is useful in the present conte$t for two reasons. -irst of all, it details how the schi oid comes to identify with an imago and develops an ego. 0econdly, the conception of the mirror stage has been used e$tensively by media critics to e$plain the force images have in the regime of consumer capitalism. 'he mirroring that +acan describes happens when a woman looks at ideali ed images in a fashion maga ine, when a teenager stares at a poster of a rock star, or when the man on the street ga es up at the (arlboro man on the billboard. 0uch e$amples are omnipresent in this media saturated society. Foland 8arthes e$periences the pleasure of the +acanian mirror when he visits the cinema: /In the movie theater, however far away I am sitting, I press my nose against the screen6s mirror, against that /other/ image-repertoire with which I narcissistically identify myself/ (8arthes 4?3!. 8arthes6 short essay, /+eaving the (ovie 'heater,/ illustrates how visual culture lures viewers, producing pleasure, but also communicating and transmitting ideology. I am glued to the representation <in the film=. 'he historical subject, like the cinema spectator I am imagining, is also glued to ideological discourse... the Ideological would actually be the image-repertoire of a period of history, the )inema of a society (4?3!. 'he viewer /narcissistically identifies/ with an image-repertoire that defines the ideological content of a period in history. 8arthes connects the pleasure of a +acanian identification with ideological indoctrination. +ike all +acanian identifications, this filmic e$perience produces a misrecognition. 'he viewing subject, /glued/ to the screen, mistakes himself or herself for an ideologically laden /image-repertoire./ In this sense, the very process of ego formation reinforces the logic of a capitalist society. 8arthes implies that understanding the image-repertoire of a society will elucidate the types of (ideologically laden! subject formations possible within that society. %hat, then,

is the image-repertoire of late capitalist society, "aging through a fashion maga ine such as Vogue or Elle, we encounter a variety of radically different images: some models are child-like, some are butch, some are waifs, some are tattooed, some wear elegant party dresses, some lounge in torn jeans. )losing the maga ine and taking the '; remote in hand, we encounter a similar visual cacophony. 'he viewer is encouraged to identify with cops, thieves, surfers, businessmen, princes, paupers, house wives, and athletes, to name but a few. Indeed, on ('; all of these characters may make an appearance in the course of a two minute video. #ewspapers, movies, billboards, and video games also offer a stunning array of images. #ot only does each of these mediums contain a surprisingly varied image-repertoire, but a late capitalist subject may encounter all of these mediums in a single day. 'hus, it is difficult to isolate a particular ideology from the image-repertoire of late capitalism. %hat is noticeable is not the content of the images but the efficiency and rapidity with which they are circulated and consumed. #evertheless, to promote consumer capitalism the images must have some content to create the possibility for a mirror stage identification. It is this identification with a model, athlete, or actor that encourages the purchase of the product being pitched. In order for an advertisement in GQ to be successful, it must provoke an ego formation that makes the product integral to the viewer6s identity. 'his fragile ego formation must persist long enough for the GQ reader to purchase the product. It is this commitment through time, dependent on a +acanian ego formation, that is re&uired for advertisements to successfully entice people into buying products. 'he schi ophrenic would make a terrible shopper, because s9he /does nothing, since to have a project means to be able to commit oneself to a certain continuity over time/ (.ameson 112->G!. 8ut, if the schi ophrenic is a terrible shopper, why is schi ophrenic consciousness associated with consumer capitalism, 'his &uestion forces us to consider the relationship between temporality and identity. .ean +aplanche6s recent work e$plores this theme, providing us with a psychoanalytic theory of temporality. -ollowing -reud, +aplanche associates the e$perience of time with rhythm. It is through changes in e$citation and the movement between pleasure and unpleasure that we develop our e$perience of time. +aplanche &uotes -reud: /"erhaps it < the e$perience of time= is the rhythm, the temporal se&uence of changes, rises and falls in the &uantity of stimulus/ (1E@!. In my view, the /rhythm/ of consumer capitalism is defined by the /flickering/ (8urgin 1G-11! images of the mass media. *s the word /flickering/ suggests, in late capitalist societies the rhythm that constitutes temporality is e$tremely rapid. Aow does this historically specific rhythm influence the formation and dissolution of identities, +aplanche links temporality and identification with the concept of /de-translation/ and /re-translation./ 'he process of de-translation is characteri ed by /the splitting up of signifying se&uences,/ that causes an individual to &uestion his or her current identity (1H1!. 'he psychoanalyst stimulates de-translation in the analysand, so that s9he can develop an alternative, and, they hope, less repressive, identity. 'his process works because /the individual has only too great a tendency to recompose a unity, to retranslate, to recast a synthetic vision of himself and his future/ (1H1!. It is this proclivity to /recompose a unity/ that allows the individual to project an identity into the future. Aence the e$perience of time, defined by +aplanche as rhythm, is created through the

continual pulse of de-translation and re-translation. De-translation re&uires a temporal discontinuity which produces a re-translation. 'hus, in +aplanche6s terms, time6s rhythm is marked by the ceaseless pulse of de-translation and re-translation. Fe-translation produces a temporal commitment, and de-translations allow that same commitment to be revised or replaced. 'his dual relation proves essential to the workings of consumer capitalism. It allows an individual to identify with an advertisement (re-translation!, and project an identity into the future that re&uires the purchase of a product. 0imultaneously, other advertisements will bombard the viewer, /splitting up signifying se&uences (de-translation!,/ and creating the possibility for fresh identity formations (retranslation!. In +acanian terms, consumer capitalism needs subjects who continually reenact the infantile drama of mirror stage identifications. 'hese subjects must oscillate &uickly between schi ophrenic consciousness and ideali ed ego formations. +aplanche6s concept of translation adds a temporal dimension to this analysis, showing how the rhythm defined by the capitalist media continually renews the process of identity formation and dissolution. +aplanche6s work leads me to a conclusion that +aplanche never drew himself. I assert that the increasingly rapid rate at which images are distributed and consumed in late capitalism necessitates a corresponding increase in the rate that individuals assume and shed identities. 8ecause advertisements link identity with the need to purchase products, the acceleration of visual culture promotes the hyperconsumption associated with late capitalism. "ut differently, capitalism needs schi ophrenia, but it also needs egos. 'he contradiction is resolved through the acceleration of the temporal rhythm of late capitalist visual culture. 'his type of acceleration encourages weak egos that are easily formed, and fade away just as easily. *n essentially schi o person can have a &uick ego formation, and buy a new wardrobe to compliment his or her new identity. 'his identity must be &uickly forsaken as styles change, and contradictory media images barrage the individual6s psyche. 'he person becomes schi o again, prepared for another round of +acanian identification and catalogue shopping. 'he /Ideal-I/s that the capitalist media offer are perhaps even less comple$ than the infantile imago of the child6s own reflection. #eedless to say, such an ego wears out fast, inspiring the consumer to shop around for another one. 'he acceleration of the process of de-translation and re-translation has necessitated new modes of shopping. 'he consumer must be able to make a purchase before one fragile identity is replaced by another. +ate capitalist society has seen the emergence of numerous techni&ues to make purchases more instantaneous: the global acceptance of the credit card, catalogue shopping, infomercials, the home shopping network, and the emerging Internet-based commerce. *s I mentioned at the beginning of this essay, computer based shopping makes purchasing as easy as double clicking on the image of the product you want. In this instance, an identity formation would only need to last 1G seconds to successfully engender a purchase. %hen the process of identification becomes this rapid, it closely resembles the inability to identify that characteri es schi ophrenia. 'he similarity between rapid fire identifications and schi ophrenia elucidates Deleu e and 5uattari6s claim that schi ophrenia is /the very limit of capitalism/ (4@!. If we understand the word /limit/ in its mathematical sense, we see that the acceleration of visual culture aims to produce a subject that approaches, but does not reach, a truly

schi ophrenic state. In this respect, .ameson is correct to be concerned that postmodernism and schi ophrenia reinforce, instead of resist, consumer capitalism. Det, Deleu e and 5uattari are &uick to point out that if the schi ophrenic flow transgresses a certain limit, ego identification becomes impossible altogether. In this scenario, the urge to buy would be utterly defused, and capitalism would become impossible. Despite the allure of Deleu e and 5uattari6s revolutionary schi ophrenic, it is &uestionable how such a figure could oppose capitalism. 'he clinically schi ophrenic live miserable and solipsistic lives. *lthough they do not contribute to the hyperconsumption of late capitalism, they can hardly be called revolutionary. 7f course, Deleu e and 5uattari do not propose that we should actually strive to become schi ophrenic. Father, they feel that we can learn from the schi ophrenic6s ability to escape the fascism of despotic signifiers. 8ut how can we learn from the schi ophrenic6s ability to de-translate oppressive technologies of identification, and still retain our sanity, Deleu e and 5uattari think that the schi ophrenic can teach us to resist the psychoanalytic association of desire and lack. It is this association, Deleu e and 5uattari contend, that prevents desire from becoming an essentially productive faculty. -or these authors, /<d=esire does not lack anythingB it does not lack its object/ (>E!. Indeed, /<t=he objective being of desire is the Feal in and of itself/ (>H!. 'hese assertions are parado$ical because they critici e psychoanalytic theory using its own technical language. %ithin the conte$t of psychoanalytic language, the idea that desire produces the Feal is completely ridiculous. If the clinical schi ophrenic acts as if desire produces the Feal for psychoanalysts it is only because s9he is delusional and completely isolated from the Feal. > #evertheless, Deleu e and 5uattari6s concept of a productive unconscious has value if one moves outside the strictures of psychoanalytic theory. In contemporary society, there are political actors who embody Deleu e and 5uattari6s vision of the radical schi ophrenic. %ho are these schi os, 7r as Deleu e asks elsewhere, /%ho are our nomads today, our real #iet cheans,/ (Deleu e >G!. 'hree groups, I believe, practice a desire that is divorced from the concept of ac&uisition and lack: contemporary &ueer activists and theorists, 0lackers, and postmodern artists. I conclude by evaluating these movements in particular, and schi ophrenic politics in general.

". A #adical Anti$Capitalist Schizophrenia%


*mong &ueer theorists, .udith 8utler6s concept of performative politics is compatible with Deleu e and 5uattari6s notion of desiring-production. 0he identifies / &ueer/ politics as a milieu that uses desire as an essentially productive force. 8utler refers to, traditions of cross-dressing, drag balls, street walking, butch-femme spectacles...die-ins by *)' I", kiss-ins by Jueer #ationB drag performance benefits for *ID0...the convergence of theatrical work with theatrical activismB performing e$cessive lesbian

se$uality and iconography that effectively counters the dese$uali ation of the lesbianB tactical interruptions of public forums by lesbian and gay activists in favor of drawing public attention and outrage to the failure of government funding of *ID0 research and outreach (>44!. In these e$amples the border between performance and politics is blurred or erased. *s this border erodes, so does the separation of desire and the Feal. Ciss-ins and e$cessive displays of lesbian se$uality celebrate precisely that which is not lacking: homo-erotic affection and desire. In these instances, desire is not defined by lack. Instead, we encounter a positive conception of desire that is capable of producing subversive politics. It is desiring-production, and not /identity politics,/ that is essential to the subversive politics that 8utler describes. Jueer political practice is probably the most fruitful use of Deleu e and 5uattari6s concept of the radical schi ophrenic. -urthermore, other late capitalist subjects have also managed to separate desire and lack. 7ne e$ample is the /0lacker/ phenomena. 'hese media-savvy youth consume the accelerated visual culture of late capitalism, yet do not develop ego formations that result in consumer shopping. It is as if the light and sound from the television is sufficient to satiate their desire. *ctual products become superfluous the media itself is the final object of consumption. 'his refusal to consume defuses the capitalist media6s efforts to accelerate the process of identity formation9 dissolution and capital accumulation. *lthough hardly revolutionary, the 0lacker6s refusal to identify may facilitate /forms of community that are played out over and above the logic of commodity e$change/ (Durkee 122@!. 'he final schi ophrenic subject I will address is the postmodern artist. *ccording to (artha Fosler, these artists produce /&uotational work/ that appropriates material from diverse sources often based on advertising images from the dominate popular culture (Fosler H4!. %arhol6s soup cans, +iechtenstein6s /cartoons,/ Duchamp6s ready-mades, and Coons6 (ichael .ackson statue are all e$amples of this form of appropriational or &uotational work. 0uch work can potentially produce a schi ophrenic consciousness for art viewers by dissociating advertising images from consumer products. 8y transforming media images into /isolated, disconnected, discontinuous material signifiers,/ these artists make identification more difficult (.ameson 112!. 0uch work magnifies the schi ophrenic tendencies inherent in capitalism, threatening to transgress what Deleu e and 5uattari call the schi ophrenic /limit of capitalism/ (>?E!. If this limit is transgressed, an advertisement can no longer function as a +acanian mirror. Instead, it will be consumed as art, and the consumer product will be forgotten altogether. -inally, .ameson6s &uestion remains: )an schi ophrenic social movements be effective at resisting the logic of late capitalism, 'he three political and cultural movements of &ueer activists, slackers, and postmodern artists, suggest that a schi ophrenic attitude can effect some level of resistance. Det, these same e$amples also highlight the limits of a schi ophrenic political practice. Jueer political movements have been &uite successful at subverting and challenging heterose$ist norms. (ore work needs to be done, however, to make this movement more than just oppositional, subversive, and shocking. %hat positive political vision do we have for a world where two men kissing in public is no longer shocking, 'his lack of a positive political vision is more evident in 0lacker culture. *lthough, /slacking off may produce endless local instances of noncommodified

social relations, it cannot envision modes of association that truly challenge...economic structures/ (Durkee 122@!. 'hese youth may not contribute to capitalism, but they do not mount a challenge to it, either. "ostmodern artistic production encounters similar problems. Fosler is skeptical about the /alternative vision <that= is suggested by such work...%e are not provided the space within the work to understand how things might be different/ (Fosler H>!. 'he idea of a different, better society is absent or underdeveloped in these e$amples of schi ophrenic cultural and political movements. Feturning to +aplanche6s analysis, we can say that Deleu e and 5uattari6s revolutionary schi ophrenic is skilled at effecting /de-translations./ 'his is necessary in a society dominated by heterose$ist, racist, colonialist, and se$ist norms. *s I have argued, schi ophrenic acts of de-translation may also be somewhat effective for resisting increasingly fle$ible and accelerated modes of capital accumulation. Det, for +aplanche, de-translation is followed by /a tendency to recompose a unity/ (1H2!. 'his is impossible a priori for schi ophrenic movements. #evertheless, new unites can prove to be politically strategic and socially beneficial. +aplanche imagines /a new synthesis of translation...that is less partial, less repressive, less symptomatic/ (1H1!. In political terms, this new translation evokes a vision of a society that is more inclusive. It also replaces a schi ophrenic refusal to identify, with a directive to form identities that oppose those offered by the capitalist media. I am not proposing that the unity produced by re-translations is politically superior to schi oid de-translations. Instead, I encourage radical people to e$plore the political possibilities of both de-transitional and re-transitional stances. *dvertising has successfully used both these strategies to accelerate identity formation9dissolution and, by e$tension, consumer capitalism. 'here is no reason that radical groups could not use similar methods to challenge capitalism and develop alternative collective identities. 'he contemporary focus on critical and deconstructive social theory offers fertile ground for positive and collective re-translations. 'he fear of unity, although understandable, can be limiting to radical political movements. 'he unity produced by re-translations are not necessarily oppressive, especially if these moments of unity are periodically disrupted and re-configured by schi ophrenic outbreaks. * successful contemporary politics has stakes in defining the rhythmic flow between schi ophrenic and identificatory impulses. Aopefully, alternative rhythms can challenge, or at least syncopate, the accelerating rhythm of late capitalism. pecial thanks to Victor !urgin, Gabe !rahm, and "orraine #ahn.

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1@-1H *pril, 122?. 8utler, .. !odies that ,atter* -n the .iscursive "imits o% / e&/, #ew Dork and +ondon, Foutledge, 1224. Deleu e, 5., /#omad 'hought./ trans. . %allace. emiote&t'e(, 0iet1sche2s $eturn, vol. 4, no. 1 (12H3!, pp. 1>->G. Deleu e, 5., and 5uattari, -. )nti--edipus* Capitalism and chi1ophrenia, (inneapolis, Iniversity of (innesota "ress, 1234. Durkee, ". /0lackspace: 'he "olitics of %aste,/ 3rosthetic Territories* 3olitics and 4ypertechnology. 8oulder, %estview "ress, 122@. Eco, I. Travels in 4yperreality, Aarcourt 8race .ovanovich, #ew Dork, 1234. Aaraway, D. /'he "romises of (onsters: * Fegenerative "olitics for Inappropriate9d 7thers,/ in Cultural tudies, #ew Dork and +ondon, Foutledge, 122>. Aarvey, D. The Condition o% 3ostmodernity* )n +n5uiry into the -rigins o% ocial Change. 7$ford, 8lackwell "ress, 1232. .ameson, -., /"ostmodernism and )onsumer 0ociety/, in The )nti-)esthetic* Essays on 3ostmodern Culture, ed. Aal -oster, %ashington, 8ay "ress, 1234. KKK /"ostmodernism or the )ultural +ogic of +ate )apitalism/, 0ew "e%t $eview, 1?E:@4-2>, 123?. Croker, *., )ook, D., The 3ostmodern cene* E&cremental Culture and 4yper)esthetics, 0aint (artin6s "ress, #ew Dork, 123E. +acan, .., /'he (irror 0tage as -ormative of the -unction of the I as Fevealed in "sychoanalytic E$perience/, in Ecrits* ) election, #ew Dork, #orton, 12HH. +aplanche, .., /"sychoanalysis, 'ime and 'ranslation/, in .ohn -letcher and (artin 0tanton, (eds.!, 6ean "aplanche* eduction, Translation, .rives, +ondon, Institute of )ontemporary *rts, 122>. +atour, 8. 7e 4ave 0ever !een ,odern, )ambridge, Aarvard Iniversity "ress, 1224. +yotard, .. The 3ostmodern Condition* ) $eport on #nowledge. (inneapolis, 'he Iniversity of (innesota "ress, 123?. Fabinow, ". /(eta-modern (ilieu$: Feal )himera,/ unpublished manuscript, 122>. Fosler, (. /#otes on Juotes,/ 7edge, no. >, -all 123>. 0eem, (. Introduction. *nti-7edipus: Capitalism and chi1ophrenia. 8y Deleu e and 5uattari, (inneapolis, Iniversity of (innesota "ress, 1234.

&otes
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If you6re viewing 0egations via another frame-based site, you can reach us directly at http:99www.datawranglers.com 1 %hen I use the term postmodernism, I mean it in the sense that .ameson defined in his essay. 'his might not be the best definition, and the term itself is currently a site of contestation. *n incomplete list of alternatives to the term /postmodernism/ (+yotard, 12H2! follows: hyperrealism (8audrillard, 1234, Eco, 1234!, late capitalism (.ameson, 123?!, ultramodernism (Croker and )ook, 123E!, fle$ible capitalism (Aarvey, 1232!, amodernism or nonmodernism (+atour, 1221 Aaraway, 122>!, and metamodernism (Fabinow, 122>!. > Deleu e and 5uattari6s attempt to make the Feal assessable is in line with the general post-structural move to challenge e$tra-linguistic, non-representable, and metaphysical concepts. 'his approach has been critici ed for its tendency to reduce everything to language and discourse. Deleu e and 5uattari6s formulation is interesting because it resists the /linguistic turn./ Instead of language and signification, Deleu e and 5uattari describe /Feal/ and /productive/ forces, flows, and desires. 'he result is an ironic materialism.