Autism: Schizo of Postmodern Capital

Hans A. Skott-Myhre and Christina Taylor

Brock University

This article follows Deleuze in investigating the ways in which the symptom as a form of representation can be collapsed into immanence. Exploring the symptoms of schizophrenia and autism, it examines what implications such a collapse may have for the production of the symptom in its double articulation as representation and immanent production. The argument follows Deleuze and Guattari in asserting that symptoms hold an implicit limit for the social forms that deploy them. Arguing that schizophrenia, as one such limit, has been successfully appropriated and deferred by postmodern capitalism, it is proposed that the proliferating symptom cluster of autism may indicate a new form of limit and that ‘becoming autistic’ thus may have potential as revolutionary practice. Keywords: symptom, schizophrenia, immanence, Mary Baggs autism, becoming, limit,

The previous part of this video was in my native language. Many people have assumed that when I talked about this being my language that means that each part of the video must have a particular symbolic message within it designed for the human mind to interpret. But my language is not about designing words or even visual symbols for people to interpret. It’s about being in constant conversation with every aspect of my environment. (Amanda Baggs, diagnosed autistic). The ‘Good’ or healthy life . . . is an overflowing and ascending form of existence, a mode of life that is able to transform itself depending on the forces it encounters, always increasing the power to live, always opening up to the new possibilities of life. (Smith 1997: xv)

Deleuze Studies 5.1 (2011): 35–48 DOI: 10.3366/dls.2011.0004 © Edinburgh University Press

Rather. but not as binary formations of opposites. the symptom functions in terms of difference. to produce the act of expression as separate from the thing expressed. inadequate (Spinoza 2001: IIP11C). Skott-Myhre and Christina Taylor If you want to look at the moon don’t look to the finger that is pointing at it.1 In this sense. repetition or conclusion. the logic of the symptom holds the possibility of being incomplete or. There are transcendent and transcendental forms of the symptom. As Spinoza would have it. Such inadequacy does not constitute an outside world of fantasy or illusion. Illness is not a process but a stopping of the process’ (Deleuze 1997: 3) and as an articulation of a certain kind of domination. However. the symptom is a thoroughly abstract form distinct from the life upon which it is inscribed. Immanent expression blurs the boundary between experience and articulation opening them both to an infinite field of extensive connectivity. blocked or plugged up. the exploration of what implications such a collapse may have for the production of the symptom in its double articulation as representation and immanent production becomes of interest. While this is certainly one function that expression can perform. In other words. logic. Nor does the inadequacy of any given symptom mitigate its capacity to have profound material effect both functionally and constitutively. what is at stake in rejecting metaphor and simile is the founding of an investigation into the ways in which representation can be collapsed into immanence. . the symptom holds no binary relation to an outside. That is.36 Hans A. (Zen proverb) To express the world as metaphor or simile is to produce the world as separated from itself. there are differences but no oppositions (Spinoza 2001: IIP11C). we are interested in another kind of expression here: the act of expression as immanent production. resisting everything that crushes and imprisons’ (Deleuze 1997: 4). in Spinozist terminology. Deleuze describes the symptom’s double articulation as both ‘the states into which we fall when the process [of life] is interrupted. this articulation of domination is simultaneously a blockage and an indicator of an ‘oppressed bastard race that ceaselessly stirs beneath dominations. In this. Any symptom’s inadequacy lies in its inability to become more than an effect. What is the act of immanence expressing itself? It is the communal production of the world as a mutually constitutive act founded in the relation of the material and the virtual. It is this relation of the symptom as both the order word and the password beneath the order word that is of interest here. function and effect. That is to say. representation. In this formulation. a function.

Deleuze and Guattari’s desire. one must. In Marx’s Grundrisse. Spinoza’s conatus. the full field of immanent expression – expression as unmediated bios. will not respond to the reasoned entreaties of the dialectic. This is not the world of ideal possibility. It is the moment of unpredictable creation in which ‘life is liberated in humanity’ (Negri 1999: 103) and simultaneously the moment of the savage violence of the mob. as well as the force which ‘ceaselessly stirs’ below. These conditions hold a parallel form of actuality that contains simultaneously. rather. and sensed only partially formed at the edge of awareness. It is. it is the actual simultaneous production of multiple material worlds. dreams and agonies. then it becomes critical to examine the question of virtual tendency. It is that which destroys what has been. this life is the ghost in the machine that may be glimpsed in fragments between the lines and moments of unspoken terror. the horde. through and in the clusters of symptoms delineated as schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorder. Foucault’s power. the thoroughly material instantiated form of being and the infinite virtual production of all its attributes and alternative forms. which is life itself. The expressions of immanence in this sense hold the possibility that the absolute force. This is the terrain of the Lacanian Real. Indeed. the mass. Given that the current mode of sovereignty promotes and sustains an experience of the world that denies any form of subjectivity outside the sophisticated apparatuses of capture deployed by late-stage capital. perceived selectively through the contingent conditions of any given event. is not the consciousness of the modern individual with its repressions. the Reichian unconscious. If one is to argue from the inside that current subjectivity at its limits contains modes already fully engaged in the transition to a postcapitalist lived community. it is critical to be able to go beyond such experience. the realm of the modes of life. in each moment. Whitman’s grass and Baudelaire’s flowers. turn towards the inside and the very conditions that ‘account for things. In other words. without any certainty of what will come. quite specifically.2 This is not to say.Autism: Schizo of Postmodern Capital 37 With this ontological distinction between the symptom and life itself we enter into the central thesis of our exploration of the role of the symptom within the realm of postmodern capital: life itself as the revolutionary force expressed through subjectivity as consciousness. however. each perception of materiality is incomplete and contingent upon the capacity of temporal extensity or diachronic time to include such . within each moment. however. the crowd. states of things and their mixture’ (Boundas 1996: 87). that one can escape to an outside. Rather. This consciousness.

As Negri points out: It is obvious that scientific attention will have to be focused more on the discontinuities (be they ruptures or innovations) than on the continuities: in effect. it serves as a symptom simultaneously in both registers of the symptom as we have defined it above. When we move towards the inside. in which all that has been produced exists but has not yet fully extended itself in time. Symptoms are always innovations that mark a limit and an attempt at containing the virtuality of a failed revolution. the continuities are nothing other than discontinuities or ruptures which have been dominated . In this respect. Capitalism shares this trait in the ways that it decodes social and cultural systems and recodes them into monetary terms. schizophrenia as a social mode of absolute decoding serves as the limit condition for capitalism. Skott-Myhre and Christina Taylor perception. They assert that the social category of schizophrenia marks a limit condition for the socio-economic system of capitalism. schizophrenic thought functions as a model of immanent production that exceeds the limits of industrial capital and offers the possibility of opening all elements of the social to infections and parasitic engagement. every innovation is a revolution which failed – but also one which was attempted.38 Hans A. as the line it cannot cross without risking its own integrity as a system. Temporal extensity is built upon the capacity of experience to be continuous. Deleuze and Guattari outline a clear connection between socioeconomic systems and socially constructed definitions of pathology in Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus. . As an assemblage of possibility for capital. (Negri 1999: 158) This then is the tension of the symptom in its function as a moment of a particular capacity of perception contingent upon the ruptures and fractures in extensive time. and that the primary mode of schizophrenic thought is that of decoding dominant language systems rendering them problematic as systems of control. Ruptures in that continuity produce fractures and schisms of intensive temporality within which the full force of virtual production of that which has not yet been fully expressed exists. it serves as a blockage to élan vital that hopes to control and maintain the force of life turned to the ends of the parasitic form. In this sense. However. . Deleuze and Guattari argue that capitalism cannot afford to thoroughly decode the social without losing its capacity as a system of social control. we enter the realm of intensive temporality or the time of the virtual in which all events exist within the same time or. that is. put another way. That is. At the . a placeholder that marks a disruption in the deceptively smooth fabric of dominated life.

Michael Hardt (1995) also traces this in his work on ‘The Withering of Civil Society’ in which he says that capitalism has decoded our social forms such as the family. Kanner focused on the case histories of 11 children aged between two and eight. Leo Kanner first identified autism as a psychological disorder a little over 50 years ago (see Kanner 1943). stereotypy. In terms of our interest in the function and deployment of the symptom. it was initially perceived as a subset made up of symptoms . Negri (1996) has suggested that. then the question remains: is there a limit capacity for capitalism and what are its symptoms? One possibility is autism. autism constitutes a very interesting case. These are social forms that look like the originals. but have ceased to function except as extensions of capital. Autism is here proposed as a limit on three grounds: 1) it was initially thought to be a form of schizophrenia and so has both an affinity with and a difference from schizophrenia. has entered into a co-evolutionary process in which the parasite has taken on the characteristics of the host immunology and produced itself along similar registers of becoming. the symptom of schizophrenic thought. it was thought that perhaps these children. That is to say. echolalia and social remoteness. However. First. and 3) the escalating prevalence rate of autism indicates an emerging and compelling social coding that calls for deconstruction. In this sense. in fact. If this is correct. which might signal an autopoetic immunity on the part of the social body. Initially. 2) it became a central focus of psychiatric control and concern under the previous regime of industrial capitalism and is now the focus of behavioural and psychiatric attention under the new regime of global capitalism. let’s note that it is premised within the symptomatological taxonomy of schizophrenia. who exhibited behaviours such as obsessiveness.Autism: Schizo of Postmodern Capital 39 same time. the church and government into empty copies of themselves. it functions as an inimitable force of resistance that stands to dissemble the force of the parasite itself by provoking a mutation in the social body that will produce that body as toxic to the parasite. Kanner argued that they had a unique cluster of symptoms that warranted a unique diagnosis that he called autism. Baudrillard (1995) makes a similar argument in his theory of contemporary society as a simulacrum or a copy of a copy. had some form of childhood schizophrenia. However. capital has already crossed the line into a completely decoded system of absolute appropriation in which there is no real capacity to effectively recode. and capitalism has indeed exceeded the limit capacity of schizophrenic thought proposed by Deleuze and Guattari.

It is important to note. In terms of our description thus far. Put another way. autism signals a difference in the symbolic register of the social significance of schizophrenia. of course. function and effect? To approach this question. Luhmann suggests that the current social formation consists of communications between functionally differentiated systems (see Luhmann 1995). and in terms of logic. in relation to the development of autism as a symptom. we might wonder in what way autism is necessary as a new kind of blockage. or is it needed to promulgate the failure of these forms as a blockage? The concomitant reading is that autism emerges in dominant discourse as a placeholder for a subject to come – for an emerging form of subjectivity on the horizon of the social as virtual event. the emergence of autism out of schizophrenia is anything but an objective act of scientific taxonomic clarification. Luhmann posits that once these function systems are initiated. in this regard. What then is its logic. function and effect. Skott-Myhre and Christina Taylor that fall within the diagnostic criteria for schizophrenia. is not the set itself. although it is frantically covered over by pharmaceutical and psychiatric discourses. they are purely transcendent linguistic codes that function according to their own logic. schizophrenia itself has a rather uncertain relation to its symptoms: The problem with both psychiatry and psychoanalysis is that these negative symptoms [of schizophrenia] are dispersed and scattered. we can turn to Luhmann’s explication of the relation between logics of communication and their effects on social systems. Is it needed in order to support emerging forms of dominance in response to new deployments of the blockages of schizophrenic process. Clearly. our earlier assertion that the symptom is to be read in terms of difference. which. What is of interest for us. Anything that does not fall within the linguistic code of the function set constitutes the environment for that set.40 Hans A. or even localizable ‘mode of existence’: ‘schizophrenia is a discordant syndrome. they auto-poetically . Living forms and other function systems can perturb them. In either case. is determining what set of social and historical conditions called for a new constellation that separated itself from schizophrenia. However. but they are closed off from anything but their own function logic. (Smith 1997: xx) This diagnostic imprecision and lack of an agreed-upon aetiology continues to mark schizophrenia to this day. He argues that these communication systems are separate from life and operate purely according to the logic of their differentiation from other systems. and are difficult to totalize or unify in a coherent clinical entity. always in flight from itself’.

In fact. we should note that it is imperative to the function system of psychiatry that a schizophrenic is produced in such a manner as to block the force of the alternative immanent system of life itself. etc. and symptoms such as autism and schizophrenia are modalities by which it auto-poetically proliferates. and because the environment upon which it is dependent for its perturbations and extensions is life. As a system whose coding is premised on the binary medical code of ‘this is illness and this is health’ psychiatric diagnosis must premise its symptoms on the observable acts of the body. Because such a functionally differentiated system is closed off from its environment. the diagnostic codes associated with psychiatry and its relation to symptoms form a uniquely compelling case. While the definition of infant autism has remained fairly stable. but flat systems differentiated by function. holds the dual function of the symptom we have delineated thus far. the emergence of any new symptom cluster signals a shift in the environment that is constituted by life itself. its function is to proliferate through distinguishing a panoply of symptom clusters and diagnoses that produce research. Indeed. as found in the current DSM-IV-TR.Autism: Schizo of Postmodern Capital 41 proliferate. the function of psychiatry in this respect has nothing to do with healing mental disorders. Instead. Autism. of course. in this sense. Indeed. This is. This is in part because the linguistic codes of diagnosis are thoroughly dependent on the perturbations of living bodies. In this regard. a particular form of immanence as a self-producing system whose conatus is the persistence of its becoming. That is. it by definition constitutes a representational blockage to expressions of life that would exceed its functional capacity. Clearly. the disorder itself has become increasingly complex and includes a spectrum of behaviours and ages ranging from infant to adult (see American Psychiatric Association 2000). The proliferation of this distinction is the basis of its continuation as a function system. the DSM IV has now expanded to include five disorders clustered under the term . its premise of difference is dependent on the functional distinction between disordered and ordered behaviour. autism has proliferated both demographically and descriptively. In this sense. treatments and interventions that produce more symptom clusters. since Kanner developed his diagnosis in the early 1940s. One such system is the psychiatric function system. It is important to note that these systems are not hierarchical. It is for this reason that Deleuze and Guattari state that ‘the problem of schizophrenization as a cure consists in this: how can schizophrenia be disengaged as a power of humanity and of Nature without a schizophrenic being produced?’ (cited in Smith 2007: xxi).

the autism spectrum is not premised on the disruption of thought or speech. In this regard. In terms of differences they include variations in age of onset. it is within the realm of expression in literature and philosophy that the schizophrenic can be delineated from schizophrenia as process of life – that is. schizophrenia comprises at least two of the following: delusions. Rett’s Disorder. autism refuses the conscious self and turns inward. the moment at which the fluid recoding of experience enters the flow of infinite process. since at the time of their writing the relevant symptom cluster was still considered within the domain of schizophrenia and they simply read it as an extreme blockage akin to catatonia. Childhood Disintegrative Disorder. an inability to communicate. and epidemiology. as the new limit condition for capitalism. That is to say. hallucinations. there are significant variations from developmental norms including impairments in three key areas: reciprocal social interaction. The symptom constellation of autism is founded on a perceived and socially ascribed inability to engage with others. Indeed. In Anti-Oedipus Deleuze and Guattari address autism peripherally in their discussion of schizophrenia. paranoia. By contrast. Our argument proceeds along two main lines: 1) postmodern capitalism . namely. it is specifically the way that schizophrenic thought produces a fluid recoding of the dominant cultural structures that marks the possibility of a limit for Deleuze and Guattari. in some respects. Skott-Myhre and Christina Taylor Pervasive Developmental Disorder. hallucinations and disorganised speech. As to similarities. and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. communication skills and behavioural variability.42 Hans A. Autistic Disorder. in autism we have a turning away from the entire field of representation. Where schizophrenia in some ways engages the unconscious as a rupture of the conscious social self.3 We might note the ways that the symptom cluster identified as schizophrenia has morphed within the proliferating discourse that comprises the symptom cluster of autism. According to current diagnostic practices. and repetitive and compulsive behaviours. aetiology. disorganised speech. grossly disorganised behaviour. associated conditions. and absence of affect or initiative. Instead of the active expressions of schizophrenia in delusions. We would suggest that now autism might be read in a more significant register as the current schizo of postmodern capital. These diagnostic categories have both similarities and differences across subjects. nor are its behavioural variations responsive to internal systems of belief on the part of the autistic subject. a reduced capacity for empathy and affect. Asperger’s Disorder.

the unconscious in this formulation is contingently constituted in each moment out of all the experiences of the body and the thoughts produced by those experiences. This new schizo simulacrum is distributed on a daily basis as reality through the mass media in its representation of global events and in particular in the media’s ‘analysis’ of the economy. solely problems of use. To develop this more fully. we need to take a closer look at the notion of the subject. as did schizophrenia. takes us into the field of immanence. what are the conditions of its production as immanent function? . It means nothing but it works’ (Deleuze and Guattari 2003: 119). however. and in particular to the concept of the unconscious found in Deleuze and Guattari. If. the conscious rational self.Autism: Schizo of Postmodern Capital 43 has appropriated psychosis and produced its own transcendent schizo social system complete with all the symptoms of schizophrenia: delusion. The question posed by desire is not “What does it mean?” but rather “how does it work?” . It is important to note. but through the perturbation of bodies on a series of abstract function systems. We might ask. simply produces. the schizo is simply a more obvious manifestation of a thoroughly mad society. We describe this form of the unconscious as the constitutive property of the opportune moment. the possibilities inherent in the current production of the social subject within the regimes of capital. hallucinations. but also as a certain kind of consciousness. of course. Because we are interested in the modes of consciousness involved in autism and schizophrenia we will leave the dominant form of consciousness. 2) Autism represents. the schizo of capital is a simulacrum of schizophrenia. disrupted and disturbed speech. And this formulation. The unconscious. . As Deleuze and Guattari point out in Anti-Oedipus: ‘The unconscious poses no problem of meaning. paranoia. [The unconscious] represents nothing but it produces. This means that the unconscious is produced simultaneously in extensive and intensive time as pure virtuality. We would argue that the current social production of the subject cannot help but be responsive to the schizo simulacrum and its thoroughly delusional representations of itself. that this schizo does not originate in a body. . then autism is indeed the premier example of the radically alienated subject whose very life has become a copy of a copy (see Laing 1983). behind and turn to the form of thought delineated as the unconscious. however. That is to say. as an immanent function. however. as Laing argued. As a result of its production as a copy of the representation of the acts of bodies defined as schizophrenic. For this purpose we will define subjectivity not simply as a philosophical concept or affect.

The subjectivity of autism is specifically non-linguistic. although it sustains a form of thought. Indeed. a consonant description would be as a field of infinite potentials. the symptom is produced by what Deleuze and Guattari in A Thousand Plateaus delineate as the molar line. then autism produces a limit condition in its limitations to expression. is both a production of a limit within the current system of domination as well as a mark of its pathology. as ‘psychiatrist’ or ‘patient’. the chapters on repression and the unconscious suggest one possible beginning for a description of the unconscious within the logic of immanence (Freud 1963). Skott-Myhre and Christina Taylor In Freud’s General Psychological Theory. The binary logic of molar segmentation is foundational for identitarian practices: a body becomes identifiable in rigidly molar structures – in one’s identity as ‘mad’ or ‘sane’. Freud lays out the three psychic forms he is investigating – conscious. They are rather dynamic forces that can be mapped onto psychic planes. This is the rigid line that territorialises. Freud describes it as a field of latent conceptions. The unconscious is portrayed as a psychic apparatus through which sensation initially passes. orders and segments space. Interestingly. autism. in this sense of the immanent unconscious.44 Hans A. It is. In this regard. applied behavioural analysis is the preferred and often mandated method of treatment that relentlessly seeks to reconnect the immanent unconscious subjectivity of autism to the schizo simulacra. However. there is no space comprised by their construction and no interiority. In his account. In our terms. ultimately a logic of containment and capture. is central to our understanding of autism as the new limit condition for capital. one of the common tasks taught to autistic individuals in these types of ‘treatment’ is the ability to recognise and deploy the value system of money. . regulates. Subjectivity. bodies and social relations through the either/or logic of binary oppositions. unconscious and preconscious – as though on a plane. as a symptom constellation. A limit condition that operates both as a disregard for the regimes of the symbolic and meaning that are deployed by capital in its schizo simulacra and through an immersion into the flow of time and event. The production of the autistic is a product of this line. If schizophrenia functioned as a limit condition for capital in its production of the unconscious as a proliferation of expression. It is the either/or logic of the functionally differentiated system of psychiatry that produces the blockage of the immanent unconscious as the autistic that must be behaviourally induced into participating as an integrated member of the existing social order. This is the placeholder for a people to come out of the catastrophe of the current historical moment.

Her interactions . forces of deterritorialisation. Similarly.Autism: Schizo of Postmodern Capital 45 Deleuze and Guattari. destabilisation. In terms of autism. and transformation. In short. It is a peculiar and serendipitous aspect of the systems of domination and limit that each apparatus of capture inadvertently sets up the conditions for resistance and flight. Where molarity presupposes ‘the submission of the line to the point’ (Deleuze and Guattari 1987: 293) – the destination to the path – lines of flight constitute passages away from. however. Mary speaks to us in translation in a video she produced on YouTube entitled In My Language. points. there has been a concomitant extension of capacities for self-advocacy as some bodies on the highly functional edge sustain a form of subjectivity that allows for a certain kind of border dwelling between modes of consciousness and affect. offer us another way to understand the production and function of the autism symptom through their description of the molecular line. mutation and release. the third line proposed by Deleuze and Guattari. there has been the developing ability of subjects to advocate what they have termed neuro-diversity. by definition. it must apply its binary logic to an ever-widening field of subjects. This is a more fluid and flexible line that forms relations and establishes connections beyond the rigid segmentation of molar structures. The first part of the video records Mary singing somewhat tonelessly (but reminiscent of Tibetan Buddhist chanting) and interacting with various objects in her environment. such as computer-mediated speech systems. Here we return to the voice of Mary Baggs from our opening epigraph. In order to expand. the molecular line of disturbance has produced the unintentional development of a minoritarian voice for autism that has begun to call for its self-valorisation as a viable alternative form of consciousness and subjectivity. Lines of flight are. this has meant the production of an ever-expanding range of bodies identified as having specific sets of symptoms associated with autism. Whereas the molecular line simply establishes a clearing for a potential move beyond rigid segmentations. which form and stabilise identities. or even the breaking of. As the range of bodies has proliferated. Autism is no exception. the nomadic line (the line of flight) takes us to places beyond the territorialising reach of molar unities. This is commonly referred to as the autism spectrum. with the development of tools that allow for translation between previously non-verbal subjects and the dominant normative population. The psychiatric function system has as its primary impetus the proliferation of its function. In contrast to molar lines. molecular lines operate by introducing instabilities or openings into the fabric of molar unities and as such map the potential for movement.

This. She repudiates this judgement as being falsely premised on valorising what she terms ‘a tiny and limited part of the world’. In a profound moment. by informing us that her definition of language is going to be radically different from what we are accustomed to. Following this. and although we seek to apply meaning to and give a reason for them. her language is an expression of profound engagement with and production of a non-anthropocentric social reality. As she moves her finger back and forth through a stream of water. they often do not. I am just interacting with the water as the water interacts with me. It is a direct challenge to the realm of functional differentiation in drawing its constituent force directly through an encounter with the environment. Mary begins. Such action and interaction with things and experimenting with unique body movements are common within autism. translate into the dominant vernacular. Mary reflects on the fact that her ongoing response to everything she encounters in her environment is often interpreted by the dominant culture as ‘being in a world of her own’. there is simply the act as interaction between bodies.’ There is a flow between Mary and the environment that is mutually constitutive and contingent. Her language is that of the act rooted in what Spinoza would term the collision between bodies. What Mary seems to be proposing is that. is a native language. Skott-Myhre and Christina Taylor are unconventional. She goes on to further challenge the terms on which her ‘existence. Here she challenges one of the central assumptions of the symptom constellation of autism – that non-response to dominant codes of interaction constitutes a withdrawal from social reality.46 Hans A. she rubs her face into a book rather than reading it. far from being a withdrawal from society. Mary says: ‘In this part of the video the water doesn’t symbolize anything. There is no meaning to the act. there is a note on the screen that reads ‘Translation’.’ This is a very peculiar definition of language. She states: ‘My language is not about designing words or even visual symbols for people to interpret. awareness and personhood’ are judged. is so radically different that ‘some people do not consider . in a computer-mediated voice. It’s about being in constant conversation with every aspect of my environment. and are not intended to. Reacting physically to all parts of my surroundings. in its expansive responsiveness to everything. To say that her language is not symbolic or available for interpretation is clearly a line of flight along the same line as Deleuze’s call for the creation of ‘vacuoles of non-communication’ (Deleuze 1995: 175) as a response to the predatory nature of capital in the realm of the symbolic. Her thought. For example. she says.

her personhood is invalidated unless she thinks within the frameworks prescribed by it. The schizo simulacra is irrelevant to such a subjectivity because its currency is the symbol and that currency holds little value in the world of autism. It is no longer to be read but to be lived. This becoming autistic can be found historically in the disciplines of Taoist. She calls for a mutuality in which those of us in the dominant social reality learn her language and take it seriously. Buddhist and Hindu practice and thought. however. ‘it is a way of thinking in its own right’. In this way. The terrain of postmodern capital as an array of functionally differentiated communication systems is premised on the obverse form of the process of non-life as a non-organic and impersonal power. That it is now ever more prevalent signals the immanent possibility of an impersonal subject extending finally beyond the bounded shell of humanity into an encounter with life itself. she says. It is a refusal of the mediation of the symbolic not through an act of will but through the biological capacities of a specific array of bodies to directly engage the world in a communication composed of acts. . The line of flight in autism. The connection between thought and personhood is so firmly bounded in that dominant reality that. In the Western tradition. it is to be found in the lineage of Spinoza. Both life and capital operate as immanent systems that creatively produce themselves. until now. as explicated by Mary Baggs. not in the form of the autistic subject per se. But. we would argue that it extends the lines of flight of the schizo into the terrain of ‘The process of Life as a non-organic and impersonal power’ (Smith 2007: xxi). only the immanent field of life as force can produce itself without reliance on anything outside itself. However. she says she can only be taken seriously if she learns the dominant vernacular. It marks a subject to come. We might ask. She says it is only when she types something in our language that ‘you refer to me as having communication’. in what ways does it serve as a possible limit condition for capital? In partial response. We argue that this form of living constitutes a direct challenge to the codes and functional differentiations of postmodern capital. this becoming autistic was a flow on the margins of the dominant social reality. disturbing it at the edges. lies in her definition of language as an impersonal expression of collision with all bodies. However. Quite clearly this discourse qualifies as a profoundly minoritarian mode of thought and action. but in the becoming autistic of all of us. the symptom implodes into itself as act rather than meaning. she goes on to assert.Autism: Schizo of Postmodern Capital 47 it thought at all’. However.

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