Desire under neurocultural paradigms
by Arran James
Doing the rounds of reading, going from Guattari and realising its better to begin where he begins, where possible, I move back to Lacan, Foucault and others. I’m back in the territory of French Thought (TM). Speculative whatsoever, and object oriented doings have led me, via the still in development postnihilist praxis, back to libidinal economies. Perhaps we will never really be done with libido and the whole philosophy of desire. After writing the two entries today I couldn’t help notice French antipsychiatry’s relation to fascism. The first wave is defined by its resistance to macrofascism while the second wave is devoted to microfascism, the fascism in our heads. And today we are living through the reactivation of macrofascisms, a tumble into the barbaric reason of Golden Dawn, Britain First, Le Pen’s Front nationale, and so on. And at that same moment, a reactivation of antipsychiatry, or the birth of something new from its remains. This is surely more than a coincidence. What the fuck is going on? It is perhaps a question of precarious consciousness, but also, even more, of precarious desire.
In the 1940s fascism was accompanied by a psychiatry in love with eugenics. Today’s fascism has emerged into a world of neuropsychiatric technologies, one of the more speculative edges of technocapitalism. As Craig Hickman- and now Bifo, in a new book- put it, we are perhaps living at the beginning of a neurototalitarianism, or at least within its possibility, its emergence into our imaginary. The direct control of neurological electrical activity, its stimulation or its cancellation. Today desire is under threat. not particular desires, not homosexual desire or trans-desire, but desire as such. It can be cancelled at the flick of a switch, the passing of a current between electrodes. Transcranial treatments already exist for drugs users. Desire can be made to disappear.
Some questions then: in this brave post-intentional world, do we renounce the language of desire, or do we forcefully proclaim it? If we choose the later, are we just fools to ourselves, held captive by the mirror images of a yesterday that is long departed? Or can we reclaim the technologies of formerly-desire? I believe in the power of psychonauts, of experimentation with pharmacology, and in the possibility of a pharmacosyndicalism in which the drugs are free, produced under the control of the workers in the laboratories. Surely the same can be said of the new technologies? Will we be able to stimulate any desire we want? Should we be able to? Does communism become less about the common ownership of production and more about the common ownership of the production of desire. The production of desire; the production of production. Are we talking about the production of desiring-machines? If so, it seems I begin with a false dilemma. Post-intentionalism wouldn’t necessary destroy desire but might liberate it from so many organic restrictions.
I’ll end it there before I end up saying “accelerationism”, I’d only hate myself afterward.