The Desire Network

Interests: Minimalism, Revolutions and Eliminating Desire.

-- Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Profile, September 2010.

The corporate mission statement of the world's most famous social network embodies the cyberutopianism that has come to be synonymous with its founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. "Facebook's mission," it states, "is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected." Zuckerberg is the hyperevangelist of the network, proselytising the role of Facebook in making the global local by connecting a disparate populace and speculating on the myriad possibilities such an organising system could offer.

Coded in Zuckerberg's Harvard dorm, Facebook has rapidly permeated every facet of modern life. This digital colonialism has, thus far, largely passed without any thorough critical analysis, despite the fact that it has largely spread from within the university, which at Facebook's genesis was the locus of the system. Designed to connect students of select universities, the genius of the network was in this initial exclusivity that then allowed it to grow virally. If we appear now to be living in a post-ideological world, one in which ideology is thought to be exposed if not eliminated, we wish to propose that the social network is a new and covert form of ideology; moreover, it has not only been invisible as such to academia, but embraced there. Facebook is lauded for its ability to connect individuals in a way that has been previously not just impossible but inconceivable, creating not only a mode of communication but a system of interconnectivity that alters human relations and society. The striking aspect of this power is that the network is not only accorded benevolent effect or intention, but is regarded as a benevolent medium in and of itself, a value that pre-exists its function; the events of the Arab Spring and the discussion of the network's role in the uprising illustrated this assumed benevolence. We suggest that it is the structuration of the network that has led to its celebration as a revolution in democracy, facilitating a return to a decentred meaning of the term as the rule by the people of the people. However, as Derrida has shown, democracy is problematic in being already predicated upon a concept of sovereign power; ultimately located in the ipseity of the individual, nowhere is this sovereignty of the self replicated as a democracy built upon that collective potestas -- recalling, too, that capitalism rises from the individual and that liberal democracy is the engine of capitalism -- more starkly than in Facebook. [1] Where capitalism rises from the subject recast as the sovereign individual, liberal democracy -- the political structuration of the individual -- is the engine of capitalism. This new digital modernity ushered in by the social networking phenomenon, we suggest, is a shift in the ideology of capitalism through the concept of a deterritorialised and globalised liberal democracy.

Mark Zuckerberg's presentation of his multi-billion dollar company is akin to a Deleuzoguattarian rhizomic structure; as described in A Thousand Plateaus, the rhizome is "[u]nlike a structure, which is defined by a set of points and positions," for it "is made only of lines: lines of segmentarity and stratification as its dimensions, and the line of flight or deterritorialisation as the maximum dimension after which the multiplicity undergoes metamorphosis, changes in nature." [2] Hardt and Negri discuss the shift in twentieth-century capitalism towards the post-modernisation, or informatisation, of production, where "the assembly line has been replaced by the network as the organisational model of production, transforming the forms of cooperation and communication within each productive site and among productive sites." [3] They too understand the network as an example of Deleuze and Guattari's decentralised rhizome, recalling a structure like that of the invisible telegraphic technology in Henry James's In the Cage, the first to reveal a psycho-social dimension to the network: "The Internet thus resembles the structure of telephone networks, and indeed it generally incorporates them as its own paths of communication, just as it relies on computer technology for its points of communication." [4] By re-imagining users as the nodal points on a vast, non-hierarchical, decentered network, the very structuration of the system has become celebrated as a return to democracy. Yet following our argument above, we wish to suggest that Facebook is a form of "revolution without a revolution" [5] which is precisely why it has proved so influential to recent political uprisings that follow the same model, replacing one ideology with another that bears structural similarities to liberal democracy. Facebook might now be said to be both the medium and technology of that ideology, where the medium is not representative but now constitutive of the ideology itself.

Liberal media outlets in the geo-political West created narratives that were overly simplistic during the breathless coverage of the first "revolution" in Egypt, wherein the protesters in Tahrir Square were imagined as the oppressed agents of good, fighting the good fight against a tyrannical despot. However, this liberal optimism gave way to wary resignation as the Egyptian people opted to democratically instil a quasi-theocratic state in the place of Hosni Mubarak. When the protesters returned to Tahrir Square in April of 2013 to protest against the heavy-handed style of President Morsi's government, the same liberal media found itself in a journalistic bind. Its impulse to celebrate the toppling of the Muslim Brotherhood was neutered by the fact that democracy -- capitalism's conjoined twin -- had ultimately failed to produce the desired outcome. There has been a recent re-evaluation of the role that social media, once championed by the press with an evangelical zeal, played and could play in political revolutions which are, by their very rhizomic structure, decentralised and bereft of the traditional charismatic patriarchal leader figures who usually provide a focal point around which revolutionary fervour can be collectively harnessed. We, however, do not deem social media's role in Egypt as a complete failure and it could be argued that the outcome to such revolutionary Badiouian events are actually less significant than the process. More than its ultimate success or failure vis- -vis social media -- a function of which was to disseminate information and stage the scene of revolt to the West, particularly to the Western network -- one might wonder whether the primary role of the Arab Spring in Western consciousness, and the reason it was welcomed as a revolution, was that it provided ratification of Western technological process. Because of the notion of technology in its specifically progressive character as a teleological moral good -- a notion currently reified in the forms of social media -- the Arab Spring was a high-profile example of social media usage that was accorded the movement a progressive stance through that usage. As the progressive nature of the medium is difficult to separate from the idea of progress itself -- and within that, the idea of progress as a moral value -- so too was the revolution formalised in the media. The perception of the medium delivered the revolution because proponents of social media are predisposed to think the medium both inherently benevolent and revolutionary qua value and not merely function. That the promise of the Arab Spring has had a complex political legacy is separate from this point. The point is that social media, giving the impression of liberation from the dominant system, can never provide a (counter) revolution to the dominant system since it is itself the revolution of that system, enabling it to mutate as a continuing force. Slavoj Žižek rightly warned those gathered at Zuccotti Park not to look back at their involvement in the Occupy movement in terms of a romanticised moment, but as a moment where a real, dangerous, political alternative could begin. Still, and as with Tahrir Square, the lasting message should be that the mass organisation of people is now possible -- this is why urban town planners are in the process of redrawing cities so as to eliminate civic spaces where people can gather and exchange knowledge -- but no radical action can find articulation through a medium, in this case social networking, that has not simply been harnessed by capitalism (an assumption which implies its a priori separation and purity) but is, we argue, both its apparatus and mutating agent.

In embodying and thus disseminating liberal democracy, Facebook concomitantly represents an ideological shift in capitalism: it allows capitalism to permeate in a mode of organisation that alters and redefines relation to the other, to the self, and to society, a mode that has heretofore been unimaginable, while appearing to dissolve the barriers -- class, place, subjectivity itself -- that sustain the old modes of structuration and maintain the old orders. In September 2010, Zuckerberg cited "revolutions" as an interest on his own Facebook page, but in a PBS interview with the broadcaster Charlie Rose rescinded on this ideal, and is now keen to diminish the role of Facebook in both the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street movements. Social networking completely embodies and facilitates these phenomena in which the masses are now able to organise efficiently but without being unified by a radical ideological alternative. Indeed, they are united by an ideology passing as a neutral a priori and becoming more pervasive in its institution by revolution (or apparent revolution). The so-called 99% are already conditioned by a liberal democracy in which they have the self-identical sovereignty of an individualistic ideology that places the subject at the centre of the world; any further alternative issuing from that system would already be predicated upon it, and it is the insidiousness of the system of liberal democracy that is being sustained by these pseudo-revolutions. In the case of Zuccotti Park, the system is not escaped but perpetuated; in the case of the Arab Spring, it is disseminated in the guise of a radical alternative. To retool Robespierre's famous line, Facebook encourages non-revolution without the revolution. In the absence of any ideological alternative to capitalism and therefore to its socio-political branch, liberal democracy, both Egyptians and those camped out in Wall Street are simply participating in a revolution of capitalism wherein it reinvents itself as a new compassionate variant and which maintains its icon, the sovereign individual. Zuckerberg has inoculated against the threat posed by the rhizomic structure of the network by reterritorialising a technology that works towards the dissolution of its production, creating in it the virtual mobilisation without borders of democratic capitalism. [6] Lenin was right when he quipped to those gathered at the Second Congress of The Communist International in July 1920 that with capitalism "[t]here is no such thing as an absolutely hopeless situation." [7]

Zuckerberg's belief in Facebook's ability to connect the world in such a borderless way is the embodiment of the network of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's understanding of empire forming on a plain where minds and bodies become enmeshed, where "[t]he most natural thing in the world is that the world appears to be politically united, that the market is global, and that power is organised throughout this universality." [8] In fact, the network remains misunderstood, both in the sense that it is regarded as a medium which in itself has a benign value independent of its effects and also in that it is understood as a form within which ontology remains unaltered, though it may be considered to behave differently in social relations. Slavoj Žižek's response to a question posed to him in an interview in the New Scientist reveals how Facebook is popularly understood intellectually: "I hate Facebook. If you use it more than an hour a day you should be mobilised to clean streets for useful work." [9] Žižek's logic chimes with a young sophomore in David Fincher's Facebook movie The Social Network who casually claims that "[i]t is freakishly addictive … I'm on it, like, five times a day" -- as if Facebook were a tool encouraging and facilitating procrastination. In fact, the users of the rhizomic social reveal the hidden labour in the (net)work. Every click on the page, every minute spent on the site, every piece of data submitted can be liquidated, and in a strange perversion of Marx's theory of labour value users are, simultaneously, the labourers and consumers. Žižek, influenced by the Italian Post-Fordists -- most notably Carlo Vercellone and his theory of "becoming rent for profit" -- has analysed the hidden economy behind the wealth of figures like Bill Gates by revealing how they have effectively privatised Marx's conception of the general intellect; his contempt for Facebook, however, fails to fully grasp the immaterial nature of the labour that Facebook's 900 million participate in. When in July of 2013 the US whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that information from social media had been data mined in the NSA's mass harvesting of information through the PRISM program, the leaks were notable not only for their disclosure of the existence of the program but revelatory of the thinking which governed it. What several of the leaked slides demonstrate is how, at a state level, governments have come to view the Internet and social media: not as supra-national entities, but in the old feudal capitalistic terms of land and territory. Analysts were constantly reminded that the Internet is not a deterritorialised entity without a centre, but that the flow of communication and information require the housing of servers in vast storage centres hosted on US soil, and that terrorist communication could be flowing across US "borders." The Snowden slides showed the way in which state agents have territorialised that which is commonly thought of as radically deterritorialised -- the Internet. In essence, and at a state level, this is how Marx's notion of general intellect has been privatised and subsumed by democratic capitalism.

Yet, for Hardt and Negri, who maintain a belief in the general intellect to work towards the demise of capitalism, the Internet is a structure that radically unmoors the communicating points of the network from centralised control; social networking operates as an example of an "oligopolistic model," which "is not a rhizome but a tree structure that subordinates all of the branches to the central root." [10] Although Zuckerberg's creation does indeed resemble this "oligopolistic model," the truly revolutionary aspect of social networking is not how knowledge has become privatised, but the revolution that it has instigated in the way in which being now functions within this era of cyber-entrepreneurialism; this ontological shift effects, we argue, a correlative mutation in the function of desire which, in turn, effects a mutation in capitalism. Furthermore, we are reminded here of Deleuze's work on the distinction between disciplinary and control societies: "[i]n disciplinary societies one was always starting again (from school to the barracks, from the barracks to the factory), while in the societies of control one is never finished with anything." [11] We use this Deleuzian schemata to read the years following the "information revolution" where in today's cybernetic utopian dream of interconnectivity subjects never start again, the system is never rebooted, and everything exists perpetually online or in the cloud. This has also been accompanied by a profound semantic shift where we upload (not download) to the cloud (Twitter has its very own self-imagined ecosystem, the Twittersphere); it is surely no coincidence that this technomythological dimension has been installed in a superego position above and around us (we are now always living with a cloud over our heads) with a clear message: one is never finished with social networking. Hardware has become secondary to machine-readable instructions; nothing can ever be wiped or erased with information surviving on in an undead state long after the host hardware has been damaged or destroyed. This revolution began with Microsoft when they realised that the software used in the operating systems in computers was more important than the machines themselves. The production of hardware belongs to an outmoded discipline society, what we could call the neo-Fordist epoch of technological capitalism, whereas today's control society functions within this plain of the virtual. The ontological consequences of this society of network control, where corporations are now deterritorialised entities (video-conferencing, remote log-in, business intranet, etc), are that human beings now function as "constituent parts, instead of subjected workers or users." [12]

By arguing that Facebook effects a mutation in desire and thus in capitalism, we furthermore suggest that this represents a historical shift in the relationship between psychoanalysis and capitalism. It was Sigmund Freud's nephew Edward Bernays who first realised the importance of desire in capitalism, translating his uncle's revolutionary psychology into political and economic theories designed to safeguard democratic capitalism from the dual anxieties of over-production and European bolshevism in the early part of the twentieth century. Bernays utilised a Freudian conception of desire, centred on the figure of Oedipus as a synonym for lack, to propel ideology by making it the principle of his theories of consumerism; twentieth-century capitalism, as Bernays understood it, would be founded upon desire as its drive, and would channel such desire through advertising, thus creating a consumer culture that represented a movement from the model of spending based on necessity and a mass flow of capital from this new psycho-ideological perspective on the future. As such, the people became agents of capitalism, and the system achieved the illusion of self-organisation around a desire understood in terms of neurosis. His retooling of psychoanalysis for corporate America became the established frame by which the masses were to be understood by the socio-political institutions of capitalist democracy. In effect, Bernays removed Oedipus from the confines of the clinic and installed it at the heart of what Fredric Jameson designates as imperial and postmodernist capitalism. [13]

We wish to suggest that Facebook is the (web)site par excellence, facilitating the projection of desire in an altered fashion: desire remains impossible to satiate, but it is now without object. In order to argue this, we ought first to sketch a neurotic reading of the medium. In Lacanian terms, we situate Facebook within the Imaginary order; individuals trawl through profile pages gazing at pictures of other users without the threat of having to fulfil their projected, imagined fantasies in the order of rules, meta-rules, and societal surveillance. In David Fincher's bildungsfilm The Social Network, the Zuckerberg character reveals an understanding of the libidinal flows that propel the medium: "[p]eople want to go on the Internet and check out their friends, so why not build a website that offers that? Friends, pictures, profiles, whatever, you can visit, browse around, maybe it's someone you just met at a party." In the film, after "TheFacebook" has gone live and "Mark," in the words of the Divya Narendra character, has become "the biggest thing on a campus that included nineteen Nobel laureates, fifteen Pulitzer Prize winners, two future Olympians and a movie star," he and his current business partner and co-founder, the Eduardo Saverin character, are bundled into a toilet cubicle by two Facebook groupies. Fincher's camera voyeuristically follows Saverin throughout, with the viewer given only a teasing glimpse of Zuckerberg's ankles as his jeans are pulled down. As a disbelieving Eduardo braces himself for the removal of his belt, we can only hear Mark in the cubicle next door. Standing in profile, the wooden screen against which Eduardo stands is transformed into a psychic cinema screen allowing the audience to fantasise about the meta-film playing out in the adjacent stall. As the act of sex is always bound up in fantasy and with an image of our own narcissistic perfection, what Lacan refers to as the "Ideal-I," the film plays out in the order of projected fantasy or meconnaisance -- Mark only exists here as a specular other -- and as such we are spared from the devastating sight of his disappointing or grotesque physicality in the symbolic. Fincher's directorial strategy of myopically concentrating on Eduardo saves the movie from collapsing into a true horror film, rescuing the audience from the realised fantasy-turned-nightmare of doubt over whether Zuckerberg, the techno-progenitor, can perform sexually or not. Facebook, too, operates within this Imaginary dimension.

In fact, Freudian logic, the logic of Oedipus, systematises The Social Network, which can in turn be read as a psychoanalysis-by-numbers. The film divides its protagonists into a psychic tripartite wherein Zuckerberg is the ego, Saverin the super-ego, and the Sean Parker character the id. Operating on a logic of the supplementation of lack, its Freudo-Lacanian schema impelled by the name of the father is exposed in the palimpsestuous face of the absent actor Josh Pence, who stood in for one of the Winklevoss twins during filming, overlaid onto the doppelgänger Armie Hammer, the actor who occupies the place of both twins through the phantom of CGI. The absence of Pence in the final movie, save for a fleeting cameo, confirms The Social Network as portrait of modern capitalist politics operating, as Deleuze writes in Cinema 2, on the basis that "the people do not exist, or not yet … the people are missing." [14] This substitution is a scene of the Oedipal conflicts that traverse the film and double it, over and over, in its personification of psychic correspondences. The Winklevoss twin characters are subordinated to the power of an Oedipal father and to his prosthesis, Harvard president Larry Summers, as Cameron Winklevoss is also subordinated to his patriarchal twin. The Erica Albright character finally splits up with Zuckerberg when he impugns the name of her father, and Zuckerberg, in a manipulation of the super-ego by the ego, co-opts Saverin by giving him what he most craves, paternal approbation. When he includes Saverin's name on the masthead of TheFacebook as co-founder, the latter says "you don't know what this will mean to my father," to which Zuckerberg replies "Yes, I do." For it is only he who occupies the place of symbolic father, whose power it is to bring to others the praise or censure of their paternal figure. In this sense, the film presents the most uncanny double as Facebook itself, the double through which the person of Zuckerberg achieves victory in the machine. [15]

The only family romance we are privy to is that of the site, which itself bears the scars of the primal scene. Facemash, the obscene primogenitor of Facebook, is depicted as being born out of an orgy scored to a hypnotic dance track; while this orgy is taking place at a party within the oak-lined walls of the Porcellian club, the film cuts between that scene and its other, Zuckerberg and friends holed up in a single dorm room, designing the website. As the camera switches between the two, the continuous bass track underscores the fantasy wherein the two are symbolically intertwined, as if the boys are encoding the fantasies only played out elsewhere, the music cueing a build-up to the ejaculation of the Porcellian stud that is only a simulacrum of the ultimate ejaculation across campus when the scene cuts to the site going live. The film demonstrates how a paternal agency is the humiliating driving force behind this digital upstart. In doing so, it inadvertently reveals how Oedipus occupied the ideological centre of capitalism, harking back to its etymological root, the Latin capitalis a derivative of caput. Oedipus was not king of this model of entrepreneurial capitalism but the head of a vast ideological corporation: Oedipus Rex in the Freudo-Bernaysian economic schema becomes Oedipus Caput.

In Facebook, we see two developments arising out of this neurotic model: a development of the super-ego into what might be called a cyber super-ego, and an ontological change via an altered relation of the individual to experience. For Freud, society is the embodiment of the collective super-ego in all of its unrealistic and prohibitive demands. Freud's diagnosis of social modernity as neurotic -- functioning on loss rather than excess -- leads him to consider that the "fateful question for the human species" will be to what extent the "human instinct of aggression and self-destruction" can be mastered and controlled in order to facilitate communal life. [16] Zuckerberg subscribes to the view that homo homini lupus when, wary of the neighbour/stranger, he acts with super-ego agency in constructing the site so that the "befriending" function exists to include on the basis of exclusion, the message being "you can be my friend if I allow you to be." There is, however, an architectonic development in the super-ego effected by the network. The super-ego may be a malevolent agent -- "the price we pay for our advanced civilization is a loss of happiness" -- but when transposed over the social the cultural super-ego emerges as a vital component safeguarding the collective against the latent aggression of the individual neighbour/stranger figure. However, Facebook has seen a reworking of this Freudian formula whereby the aggression of an anonymous collective has now been turned back upon the individual. This collective, directed against the individual, is the structuration of a cyber-agency which becomes ever more vicious as the necessity of accountability is removed. This altered form can be termed the cyber super-ego: within this formulation, "cyber" is not synonymous with an "othered" version of reality, a retro cyber-space removed from the real. Rather, it is the reverse, for what the cyber super-ego represents is the collapse of the binary distinction of an illusory cyberspace, and its colonisation of reality. Thus the cyber super-ego is not a new idea but rather a progression of the form of the super-ego. The cyber super-ego exists on the Internet, but only because it exists "outside" of it, and by so doing fragments the border and the distinction it is predicated on. By taking the form of the cyber super-ego the cultural super-ego has progressed. As an evolutionary shift in the historiography of the super-ego, this new cyber incarnation has, furthermore, corresponded with an internalisation of super-ego agency within the minds of users of social networking sites.

In September 2011, Sean Duffy's eighteen-week custodial sentence was the first high-profile conviction against "trolling" in the United Kingdom; Duffy pleaded guilty to posting messages on a Facebook memorial page dedicated to a young woman who had committed suicide. The media reporting that surrounded these events and the trial of Duffy imagined Internet trolls as sociopaths cowering behind online anonymity. However, from the perspective of the trolls themselves, the trolling of memorial pages set up after events operates however as a corrective to a behaviour created by these social networks. We might call this phenomenon grief tourism, and it could be imagined that trolls react against what they perceive to be the falsity of such grief-by-proxy, the ego-definition it provides, and the manner in which social sites, especially Facebook, capitalise on grief. It is important, however, to note that although it might at first appear that trolling is an example of the cyber super-ego at play, the way in which the trolls define themselves posits them as a reaction to the cyber super-ego -- the collective that is performing mourning to humiliate those who are not -- which induces guilt hysteria through these memorial pages and posits it as an essentially false experience whereby one experiences the pleasure of guilt, the reinforcement of ego through guilt, and, as a byproduct, the ancillary thrill of a heightened vitality.

The normal formulation of an argument against social networking is that the computer, by allowing anonymity, removes accountability and both allows for and sanctions a permissiveness in behaviour that would not be permitted in a so-called "real life." What we suggest is that social networking has a more profound ontological consequence, effacing the distinction between real life (RL) and a second, virtual life (VL) by removing the binary between those states. It is not that anonymity allows for a behaviour that would not be practised in real life, thereby presenting a conscious distinction between the permissible and non-permissible and thus a conscious distinction between VL and RL wherein the latter is the natural and superior state and the former a clearly distinguished alternate world; rather, cyberspace creates the possibility for new behaviours and modes of being that remove the ontological distinction between real life and virtual life.

As a corollary of this dissolution, the internalisation of this new cyber, more savage, form of the super-ego has a profound consequence with regard to phenomenological experience. The cyber super-ego performs a mutation of the super-ego and, in doing so, a mutation of the ego in its relation to it. The altered relationality is manifested in the relation of the self to experience, and therefore also in self-relation -- the relation of the self to it own ipseity -- through experience. The cyber super-ego demonstrates the effect of Facebook upon what it now means in a virtualised age to have an experience.

With Facebook, people no longer live the present as present; [17] it exists only insofar as it is exists to be recorded and later uploaded to Facebook. As such, experience is now only lived after the fact: it is experienced on Facebook not as a record of the past but as a divided a priori experience. In effect, the experience as it takes place is the ghost of its future happening. One could suggest that phenomenological experience, as historically thought, no longer takes place. Reality becomes a placeholder for experience as it will happen: it effaces its own phenomenological reality with regard to the experiential subject (who realises it as reality through experience of that reality qua reality) as it becomes, to that subject, merely the deferred marker of its future fruition. That new figuration of experience is, itself, compromised with regard to its phenomenological history: transplanted to Facebook, the experience takes place for the first time; it does not, however, take place as a present and realised experience, thus leaving an understanding of phenomenological reality in which the experience, only transplanted from reality to the virtual, is intact. Rather, experience, as it takes place on Facebook, is both happening for the first time and not at all: it both alters our relation to reality in the former instance and, in the latter, shows that as it takes place, it is in reference to no experience so much as experience itself: it seeks to transcend the singularity of lived experience to accord a value to the idea of experience which is always already displacing the scene -- or photograph -- that provides for its iteration. It is an infinite deferral that means that, while one may visit Disneyland in the real world, one can now only ever go there once one's photographs are uploaded to Facebook; however, such photographs are important only insofar as they supplement the notion promoted by Facebook of experience as a value in and of itself, beyond that of the individual instance: thus experience on Facebook is caught, on multiple levels, in the double bind of this alteration by which it ceases to take place in order to elevate itself.

One illustration of this is in the idea of Facebook as a perpetual conversation between users, alerted to the online presence of "friends" through instant messaging. What this means is that any future (or past) "real world" event is discussed before (and after) the fact. An upcoming party becomes a part of the conversation, and the event itself serves as a continuation of the conversation, both specific and general. Those who are not on Facebook are excluded from the aspect of immediate continuation inherent in this experience -- such continuation is perhaps the most dominant aspect of such an experience. The party now becomes the after-party. It follows on so seamlessly from its online presence, and the dynamic is so much that of the online network that the normal function of such an experience is obsolete; it becomes posterior to itself. the experience then happens all over again, after the fact, on Facebook: as such, it is twice displaced from itself as the idea of experience undergoes further alteration. Such an altered experience relies on a notion of friendship -- a notion that is now neither primarily founded upon nor open to reality, as the epistemic category of reality dissolves -- that is a simulacra of the ideal. A vicious simulacrum, it operates (through the cyber super-ego) on a principle of exclusion of the other, and exposes the illusion of the social network as a benevolent interconnectivity.

Facebook is the recognition of the condition that the real is always elsewhere: the elsewhere is the real. There is no longer a shared, prioritised reality and therefore a shared society. It is important that we have yet, in this schema, to recognise the cyber as illusion: were we to say we lived in cyberspace, we would have to acknowledge the supremacy of a shared reality in the phenomenological world, because the cyber cannot exist outside this binary and thus is inscribed in that binary. If, in an initial move, the cyber upsets reality though, it can move beyond being the secondary term; doing so, it can show reality as not being primary, as reliant on cyber. Thus the cyber upsets the priority of reality and shows the infiltration of reality by it and vice versa, and therefore demonstrates the dissolution of the binary and the dissolution of a constructed "cyber," a domesticated space kept within those borders and understood in relation to a "reality." Once beyond the binary, we move too, beyond the reach of reality and cyber, into an ontic hinterland. We coexist in ourselves in several ways at once, of which "reality" is just one: we now have an ontic understanding of our "selves" through these multiple existences. Accordingly, if we consider that the real is such that now that it never happens, either in the present or as a present, this realisation could be construed as a development of the split subject, a recognition that as our psyches are split, so too is our ontic being in the world split. This is not simply a recognition and restatement of Heideggerian and Derridean difference, nor a deconstruction of a binary towards a lifting of the veil. Neither is it simply a variation on the psychoanalytic understanding that we can never know the other or indeed fully know ourselves. We argue that the structural shift in the world that Facebook effects -- and its concomitant structural realignment of the self --dissolves a binary in order to instate an even more pervasive ideological ontology. Experiencing the world differently through Facebook, the user views such an experience as an undoing of the Copernican revolution, a reinstating of the self at the centre of the universe. The effect of the collapse of the cyber into reality and the collapse of "reality" as such has been to construct the individual at the centre of this new relation. Thus the figure of the individual, upon which capitalism is centred, does not undergo fractured self-perception; on the contrary, the individual appears to be confirmed as such in reality as in the virtual.

At the same time, our selves are a collection of displacements. Facebook realises this, and it provides for these selves, and as it does so, it creates that type of selfhood in the world. If cyber is secondary, then we are safe in phenomenological reality (which is primary, in a hierarchy of reality and cyber). It is when the cyber escapes that imaginary space and vies with "reality" -- or when we suggest multiple realities -- that the traditional concept of the "cyber" thus breaks down because it is no longer secondary and cannot be if phenomenological "reality" is no longer primary, or at least no longer always primary: it shifts and shares points with others. When the cyber escapes its prosthetic support, the distinction breaks down, reality as collectively understood and prioritised breaks down, and the real and its location changes. Once our lives escape that distinction of the primary and secondary, in the sense of reality prioritised over the cyber, wherein the cyber is recognised as unreal (for instance, in avatars: the minute you create an avatar you recognise you can't have a second life) and the real is represented in the cyber, such as in emails, then there is no longer any priority of the location of the real in reality. And there is no longer any shared location of our lives primarily in objectified phenomenological reality. If an individual no longer relates to reality in the same way (and this is both created by and reflected in Facebook), then that individual cannot take part in a society based on that hierarchy of reality. Facebook does not show a coming together; it merely exhibits the dislocation it creates, whether in photos or in the idea of the "social" it promotes and of which it makes its user the agents of promotion. Without the constant prioritising of a single shared plane, they can no longer be located in a primary -- and, crucially, shared -- society. Thus society changes, and becomes schizophrenic, and this is what allows capitalism to change.

What is "shared" in Facebook is these multiple dislocations because it is the scene of these "never happenings" which only take place on Facebook. This is not simply a deferral; if I am with a friend, and later post that encounter on Facebook, this is not the happening of it, the realisation of our encounter, but actually the marker of that non-connectivity, which is also "never-happening" on a further level because it is replicating the social non-connectivity (simply put, nothing happens until it happens on Facebook). Far from bringing people together, it is promulgating an idea of the social that is actually a disconnection.

The sharing on Facebook is the recognition that we are only sharing the ontic dislocation of the self, which is the ontic dislocation of the self from society (and thus society itself). Facebook is the location and recognition of this non-happening rather than a final coming-into-being or realisation of experience. It is, paradoxically, both the happening and non-happening of non-happening. Facebook is a recognition of our second lives, our third lives, our fourth … it appears to be about connectivity but its philosophy of connectivity is entrenched in and designed to entrench a philosophy of individualism.

Zuckerberg has been repeatedly asked when Facebook intends to expand this illusion of interconnectivity to include the 1.3 billion people in China, responding consistently that such a move is not yet required when there is still growth left in the market that they are currently operating in. The question itself is strangely anachronistic to the Facebook enterprise. The expansionist capitalist model that developed throughout the twentieth century was anticipated by Marx and Engels in their Manifesto when they wrote that "[t]he need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere." [18] Similarly, in Empire, Hardt and Negri link the cyclical crises in capitalism with this inherent need to expand:

[A]dditional consumers can be created by drafting new populations into the capitalist relationship, but this cannot stabilize the basically unequal relationship between supply and demand, between the value created and the value that can be consumed by the population of proletarians and capitalists involved. [19]

This expansionist desire for capital drives capitalism beyond its boundaries in the creation of a globalised, interconnected market. It is when this system reaches saturation, when no new markets lead to the creation of surplus value, that expansionism transforms capitalism into an unstable system that begins to work against itself. "Capital," according to Hardt and Negri, "is an organism that cannot sustain itself without constantly looking beyond its boundaries, feeding off its external environment. Its outside is essential." [20] Facebook, however, offers a radically different mode from this imperialist form of capitalism. Marxists like Hardt and Negri share a common understanding with the twentieth-century capitalist technocrats who understand capitalism in terms of lack, when this model has been a mere illusion designed to control its threatening excesses; capitalism is an excess, a remainder that cannot be contained and exceeds. This myth of connectivity functions as a brace with which to suppress and regulate the true nature of social relations within capitalism.

Deleuze and Guattari describe free-market capitalism as inherently, schizophrenically, unstable:

Underneath all reason lies delirium drift. Everything is rational in capitalism, except capital or capitalism itself. The stock market is certainly rational; one can understand it, study it, the capitalists know how to use it, and yet it is completely delirious, it's mad. [21]

This cycle of incessant recession is not the effect of a capitalism gone wrong, the fault of Americans who defaulted on sub-prime mortgages or investment bankers; it is an effect of the capitalist system itself. [22] The capitalists of the early twentieth century were engaged in an impossible fight to constrain the schizophrenic nature of society. For Deleuze, this schizo dimension with the capitalist system can be explained through desire: "[t]he true story [of capitalism] is the history of desire. A capitalist, or today's technocrat, does not desire in the same way as a slave merchant or official of the ancient Chinese empire would." [23]

Capitalism has not advanced to a state of terminal decline, as argued by Žižek in Living in the End Times (2010), but social networks do provide evidence for a new evolution in the history of Western capitalism. Deleuze and Guattari celebrate Freud for his discovery of the unconscious and then immediately criticise him for purging the unconscious of all radical alterity, and for imposing a classical symbology upon it:

The unconscious ceases to be what it is -- a factory, a workshop -- to become a theater, a scene and its staging. And not even an avant-garde theater, such as existed in Freud's day (Wedekind), but the classical theater, the classical order of representation. The psychoanalyst becomes a director for a private theater, rather than the engineer or mechanic who sets up units of production, and grapples with collective agents of production and antiproduction. [24]

Facebook may have emerged out of a mode of capitalism wherein financial elites tried to control the schizo flows of capital by establishing regulatory financial frameworks upon epochs of overproduction; however, the architectonics of Facebook reveal a more sophisticated and advanced understanding of the role desire plays in the contemporary capitalist moment. The stellar rise of Facebook in an era of financial chaos -- crises are important to capitalism -- can be explained through Facebook's radical harnessing of individual desire and the manner which this is then subsequently reinvested into the social itself. Facebook recognises and reorganises subjects as desiring machines within this oligopolistic desire network. In A Thousand Plateaus, the concept of the assemblage replaces that of the desiring machine. Desire is materially constituted through the assemblage, a concept of a social grouping open to alteration, reformation and intersection through other assemblages. The assemblage suggests that ontology is not fixed, but created from heterogeneous elements that form and re-form relations. "All assemblages are assemblages of desire," and they function in tandem with the machine: in our case, a social machine and the network as assemblage. [25] It is the social rather than the computer which is primary, for

[i]t is the machine that is primary in relation to the technical element: not the technical machine, itself a collection of elements, but the social or collective machine, the machinic assemblage that determines what is a technical element at a given moment, what is its usage, extension, comprehension, etc. [26]

In the machinic assemblage of the network, the desire network, it is the social aspect -- the social network -- that is primary: the web of computers facilitating the network is the technical element determined by the social machine. Social networking operates on a new model of desire as a process of perpetual production; in other words, desire is not acquired after the traumatic moment of fracturing or dissolution, but is, in contrast, extant from the very beginning of life. Zuckerberg understands intuitively that the unconscious is a factory; Facebook is an empire of desire production and this is why it has yet to begin to colonise the most populous country on earth, because Facebook's virtuality frees it from a mode of interpretation that understands capitalist expansionist growth in terms of first national and then global boundaries. Facebook does not face the threat of saturation in the market because it is driven by a desire that has no goal.

When users click onto their profiles and those of others -- incessantly checking, incessantly updating, unable to resist just one more click -- such apparent incontinence represents a mutation in the function and ontology of desire. How, though, is the motion of refreshing the page not merely another example par excellence -- updated and perhaps even teleologised for the teleological technospace age -- of compulsion towards repetition, ending in the Freudian schematic conclusion that all desire is predicated on lack? In such an understanding, the itch to click becomes an attempt to fill the gap, repeated ad infinitum. We suggest that Facebook presents a mutation in desire according to two psychoanalytic schema. The first is Freudian, specifically the understanding of desire as lack. Facebook presents a new conception of the ontology of desire, based upon this epistemological functioning of its interface with users. Effectively, users of Facebook are employing it as a visible structure that, crucially, is effaceable; in this mode Facebook functions as a gateway to what we might call a desire network -- a network that uses Facebook as the prosthesis to access its circulation. In this understanding, each click functions not as a move towards a desired object, but as access to, and pay-off of, desire itself. Pleasure is located in the process, rather than the visual object it leads to: the photograph, message, status update, online hook-up, are by-products of the desire network. Facebook plugs the subject into this network, and desire functions neither upon a lack, opening up desire, nor towards a lack. With each click of the mouse onto Facebook desire is produced, and each click continues to produce desire: it becomes clear that such a repetition establishes a mutation in desire, whereby it is no longer the wish to access a picture, an update, a rumour -- to access the object of desire -- but rather the desire itself is the object, and the visual merely supplies the scaffolding. With Facebook, the human subject learns to take pleasure in desire itself: not in desire as a pleasurable by-product towards the object nor even in the only place where it is now conceded to be enjoyed as a primary product -- in lack, and therefore as a masochistic pleasure. The pleasure -- the pay-off -- is the affect of desire; it is a learned pleasure, wherein the subject is educated to desire desire itself. For Deleuze and Guattari, "[a]ssemblages are passional, they are compositions of desire … there is not desire but assembling, assembled desire." [27] Moreover, "the rationality, the efficiency, of an assemblage does not exist without the passions the assemblage brings into play, without the desires that constitute it as much as it constitutes them." [28] The assemblage is therefore libidinal, and the way in which Deleuze and Guattari characterise the unconscious: "the assemblage is fundamentally libidinal and unconscious. It is the unconscious in person." [29] The network, if thought as an assemblage, is libidinal; most importantly, however, we are suggesting that it effects a mutation in desire. If it, too, is constituted by desire, then the network is an assemblage that constitutes an altered desire and is constituted through that altered desire.

Facebook thus alters the ontology of desire by making desire objectless, or rather, by making it an object in itself. In such a way, desire becomes its own network. Nor is this desire as understood in the sense of a Lacanian investment. Within that understanding, it is indeed conceded that desire is the primary goal of the subject, beyond the object it is apparently located in. A prime example of this is a recent UK advert for Kellogg's Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, with the tag-line "Be overtaken by desire." This conception supports an understanding of desire as an end in itself; however, it is an end which is schematically viewed as more important than, and the ultimate aim of, the product, the box of cornflakes. Within this schema, the box of cornflakes is therefore necessary to the jouissance of desire that is the subject's end goal. It is, to continue in Lacanian terms, the objet petit a of the psychic impulse towards desire. In the altered desire there is neither an indefinable lack, an abstract, that spurs the desire (the hope, say, that the next picture, the next update, will be the Platonic one) nor is it reached as the veiled real of the objet petit a. Rather, in this alteration desire is not towards any object. The object -- the photo, the note, the update on the wall -- becomes the plus-de-jouir of the desire network. Nor is it that there is an undefinable lack, an absence in the abstract, that spurs the desire; if anything, it is an excess. It is desire as objectless: the Facebook structure -- both the user interface and resultant generated content, as well as the network itself -- is merely the frame for a new psychic system installed through it. There is now a removal, though not an absence, of the specific object of desire; even in the case of Kellogg's cornflakes, where the ultimate object is desire itself ("be overtaken by desire"), a nominal object (the box) is required to mark the place of desire. With Facebook, the photos, the notes, the updates -- the content of Facebook and also the site, the scaffolding of the social network itself -- these are no longer objects that mark the place and provide the material impetus for the liberation of desire (thus functioning as signifiers for the far more important operation they set in motion, which is a wholly psychic one) but are the plus-de-jouir of desire itself, already freed of material support, and of which this material effluence is the by-product. It follows, then, that Facebook is not about chasing the Platonic photo, party, or connection, but rather about the process, of which the visible end -- the specific photo, party, connection -- is not even a nominal object (which would imply the possibility of lack, and thus re-enter into the Freudian schema which we are precisely arguing it is going beyond) but the by-product of this altered modality of desire, a mutation of desire.

In Anti-Oedipus, Deleuze and Guattari conceive their schizoid dream of a society wherein desire flows freely within the machine. For Deleuze and Guattari, it is the desiring machines, in their multiple connections and dislocations, that break the tyranny of Oedipus. It has been said that in doing so they discount the plurality of Oedipus; it could also be said that Deleuze and Guattari still conceive of desire as being towards something or someone, towards an object. In this mutation of desire we observe through Facebook, there is a difference from desire as conceived by Deleuze and Guattari, and ultimately this mutation may better serve a conception of the schizo-society. We are proposing not multiple desires, or simply an excess, a constant production of desire, that travels off in all directions of a network, but a network in which desire occupies the traditional space of subject and object. It effaces the requirement for a nominal object, and it is in the production of desire that the real is located. The subject experiences himself qua subject in an altered way, no longer directing desire towards something but expecting, and enjoying, its production as the beginning and end in itself; this is not the same as being overtaken by desire, where desire is the covert goal of an exchange, but the liberation of desire without expectation, wherein the only expectation is that there will be no fulfilment, and that the fulfilment, perversely, comes from that knowledge and from the knowledge that this network will perpetuate itself. It is, then, not production towards but production of which is the subject position, and where the subject locates the real. In effect, the chronology has been altered; whereas previously production of desire could be the end of a process of production towards desire (even the ultimate end of the subject) what this mutation shows is that there no longer need be a process towards desire. Desire is produced, without aim, and that is its aim. The material prosthesis -- even where that prosthesis is in fact virtual, in the instance of the digital photo, the Facebook "poke," a Skype chat -- has been made completely irrelevant to both the beginning and the end of the process; it has been produced as waste. The object is removed and desire becomes the location of the real. The specific desire is always only towards desire: there is no heterogeneous external support, as in the case of Kellogg's cornflakes where the true desire is desire itself. Therefore the specific is the general and vice versa. The removal of the external to the internal -- or rather, the infiltration of the internal by that which is sought to make external by literalising it as the object -- means that desire now functions in its own circuit wherein no object of desire is more important than an understanding of the impetus and desire for desire itself. Desire is therefore gratified, but gratified because it is yet always producing, never ending, because desire is unending; the singular (specific) desire -- the desiring of desire in that singular instance -- is always towards the iterative, because it is general: the system is that of the desiring of desire, therefore the specific instance is always the general functioning of the system, rather than a devolved example of its abstract premise. This is not desire towards a lack but its satisfaction (though not the satisfaction of a lack). The structure of Facebook removes the scaffold of the object and becomes instead the structuration of desire. [30] Desire is not a closed system, but it no longer requires an object. The assemblage remains open by its nature, but we are asking what exterior, what machine, it opens into: if it opens into the social machine, it has created the social in its image and effected a change in its ontology. It remains open as an assemblage along lines of deterritorialisation, but the mutation in desire -- which constitutes the assemblage and by which the assemblage is constituted -- effects a mutation in social subjectification and in capitalism. It is hard to see where resistance might effectively take place, because the interior and exterior are interchangeable, and the relation the assemblage effects between desire and the subject in the process of subjectification ultimately strengthens the capitalist system. By appearing open, the network becomes a totalising enclosure, not panoptic but self-regulating and self-sustaining. The machinic assemblage (and capitalism) is mutating, reforming and reassembling along different lines. Desire has mutated to function completely without even the fiction of a nominal exchange, a subject and object transfer in the traditional sense. It has been removed fully into the psychic realm.

And it is from that mutation of desire that the mutation of capitalism can be seen, for it is in the invisibility of desire (the removal of the object) that the new capitalism may find its parallel. Facebook shows, through this mutated desire, the possibility of a mutated capitalism, a capitalism wherein the fiction of its possibility as one among an ideological plurality is exploded. What we mean by this is that while capitalism functions as it was traditionally systematised, as a system of monetary exchange in the form of hard currency for material goods, it shares its visibility as an ideology with the means of its conceptualisation and is indivisible from them. As long as the support of capitalism is visible, capitalism is prominent as a system and that prominence is a weakness: the visibility draws attention to its functioning, to its indivisibility from its means of functioning, and to its status as an ideology. To draw attention to capitalism's status as an ideology is then to conceive of the possibility of its existence as a possibility, among a plurality of others. The removal of desire from the literal scaffolding of the external -- and the concomitant mutation of desire into a network of production per se that it enables -- also provides for the removal of capitalism into a wholly unmaterial system, where there is no requirement for the traditional support of capitalism, currency and goods. If, through the assemblage, desire mutates, so does the relationship between subjectification and capitalism and, ultimately, capitalism itself. In "Postscript on the Societies of Control," Deleuze foresaw that the technological age would see a "mutation in capitalism." [31] Deleuze and Guattari were unable to determine the mutation; we posit that it is effected in the network, and in the concept of the social network the prevision of the cybernetic age takes place. This extends to technical machines, which are defined extrinsically in A Thousand Plateaus: through them, the state has "substituted an increasingly powerful social subjection for machinic enslavement," subjecting the subject to the machine in a dynamic that redefines it and ultimately returns the society of control (defined against the society of discipline as one which exerts force through self-sustaining control mechanisms as opposed to disciplinary structure) to one of machinic enslavement. [32] Moving further into the cybernetic era, the hardware or machine prosthesis gives way to a different kind of materiality constituted by the Internet. It is correct to say that in this age, the increased subjectification returns us to a disciplinary enslavement and that the "framework expands to all society.… Social subjection proportions itself to the model of realization." [33] In the working of the network and in that of the cyber super-ego is an assemblage unforeseen by Deleuze and Guattari, a framework which does not only expand to all society and expand proportionately and globally, but constitutes society in its mutated ontology. In the network as an assemblage as desire comes a change in desire, and, subsequently, a change in capitalism. Imagined in abstract terms by Deleuze and Guattari, the epoch of the social network within the cybernetic era constitutes the actual realisation of those pronouncements.


[1] For Derrida's thinking of democracy, see, for example, Rogues: Two Essays on Reason, trans. Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Naas (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001).

[2] Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. Brian Massumi (London: Continuum, 2004), 23.

[3] Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001), 295.

[4] Hardt and Negri, 299.

[5] George Henry Lewes, The Life of Maximilien Robespierre: With Extracts from His Unpublished Correspondence (London: Chapman and Hall, 1849), 270.

[6] Evgeny Mozorov discusses how, while Western liberals were celebrating when protesters took to Twitter and Facebook to organise demonstrations in the streets of Tehran against the oppressive Islamic state, the Iranian secret police were busy using the same medium to follow the digital trail back to dissenters. See Evgeny Mozorov, The Net Delusion: How Not to Liberate the World (London: Allen Lane, 2011).

[7] V.I. Lenin, "The Second Congress of the Communist International," from the Collected Works, 4th ed., vol. III (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1965), 215.

[8] Hardt and Negri, 354.

[9] Slavoj Žižek, interviewed by Liz Else, New Scientist, August 30 2010,, accessed on October 7 2012.

[10] Hardt and Negri, 300.

[11] Gilles Deleuze, "Postcript on the Societies of Control," October (Winter 1992), 3-7.

[12] Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 505.

[13] The tyranny of Oedipus is advanced by Jacques Lacan's theoretical and methodological return to Freud, in which desire originates at the point of intersection between the imaginary and the symbolic after a primal castration has occurred. Re-interpreting Freud's analysis of his nephew's fort/da game, Lacan reads the play as the child negotiating the absence of mother and his own otherness through language. In the silent order of the Real there is no language because the child exists in a pre-oedipal state of nature where no need goes unsatisfied. It is in the Imaginary that the child is confronted with the specular image, both of itself and other, which becomes mistaken for the "ideal-I" figure. This is the order of visual fantasy and projection, where a crucial méconnaisance occurs -- the projecting of fantasies of unity and control upon the reflected Other. The infant no longer comprehends itself as a collection of scattered images, having psychically constructed a unified avatar of itself, but now remains haunted by this specular image. As with Freud, once the child comprehends itself as forever divorced from the mother, an anxiety originates with the realisation that its demands for love can never be satisfied. Desire is always expressed through fantasy and is therefore driven by its own impossibility.

[14] Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta (London: Continuum, 2005), 208.

[15] It is notable that the film continually flirts with a fictitious correspondence between Zuckerberg and an implicit autism. Presenting Zuckerberg as functional to the point of pathology, it is nonetheless coy about what this pathology might be, gesturing tacitly through such moments as when Facebook gains its millionth member and Sean Parker embraces a visibly reticent Zuckerberg before drawing back and exclaiming "you're not a hugger!" This equation is underscored most vehemently, however, in the doubling of Mark and his creation; Fincher presents Facebook as a realisation of Mark, the transmutation of his awkward humanity into its ideal form.

[16] Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents, The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, trans. James Strachey, vol. XXI (London: The Hogarth Press, 1964), 145.

[17] Of course, the present is never fully present; what we are here referring to is a logocentric and anthropocentric understanding of the world. With Facebook, the division of presence is not only staged but made manifest so that the binary between reality and the virtual can no longer be upheld in order to posit a prioritised reality. Being is entered into a space where the traditional divisions of time are no longer in place, and therefore is displaced from immediate self-identity; as a result, phenomenal being is displaced from itself, and comes to experience that decentring through a phenomenological displacement of and from experience.

[18] Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), 6.

[19] Hardt and Negri, 224.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Félix Guattari, Interview with Gilles Deleuze, "Capitalism: A Special Delirium," in Chaosophy: Texts and Interviews 1972-1977, ed. Sylvère Lotringer (Cambridge: Semiotext(e)/MIT Press, 2008), 36.

[22] Faced with a saturation in the mortgage market in the US, banks began to court a constituency that had been traditionally excluded from property ownership in the cultivation of new markets and new revenues of profit.

[23] Guattari, 36.

[24] Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. Robert Hurley, Mark Seem, and Helen R. Lane (London: Continuum, 2004), 62.

[25] Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 441.

[26] Ibid., 439.

[27] Ibid., 440.

[28] Ibid., 440-1.

[29] Ibid., 40.

[30] Structure is always constructed through difference; however, this is not a return to Freud in terms of deferral/difference understood as a lack which would therefore posit the possibility of presence (even, in the Freudian schema, as an impossible possibility) but must simply be understood as the need to go on producing as a philosophical rejection of perfection as completion.

[31] Deleuze, 1992, 6.

[32] Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 505.

[33] Ibid.


Maria-Daniella Dick teaches theory and literature since 1900 at the University of Glasgow and works in literature and continental philosophy, particularly in the theory of modernity. Her doctoral research was on James Joyce, Dante Alighieri and Jacques Derrida, and she has research interests in international modernism and the avant-garde, media and representation, and in twenty-first century narratives of capitalism, focusing on bioscience and digital technologies. Professor Dick has written articles on Shakespeare, Joyce, Derrida, Ford Madox Ford, Proust, and Roland Barthes, on the aesthetics of disaster, and on Freud and Deleuze. She is the co-author, with Julian Wolfreys, of The Derrida Wordbook (Edinburgh University Press, 2013), and is currently completing a book on Joyce.

Robbie McLaughlan is currently a lecturer in postcolonial literature at Newcastle University, having previously been a Visiting Fellow in the Department of English at Harvard. His monograph, Re-Imagining the Dark Continent in fin de siècle Literature (Edinburgh University Press, 2013), examined the impact of a mercantile form of capitalism upon the nascent discipline of Freudian psychoanalysis.