Guattari’s Glossary of Schizoanalysis

[I figured I might as well post this for fellow confuzzled readers of D&G. One should, however, note the suspicion of ‘tautological’ definitions posed by Bourdieu, following Wittgenstein, who decried the assumption of Western metaphysics that every word references a distinct object. Rather, we should look at words in terms of what they do: as a ‘toolbox’. Here, then, is a glimpse into some of the tools utilized by Guattari and Deleuze, though these are by no means exhaustive, tautological definitions, but merely two-dimensional renditions of multifaceted concepts. For other renditions, the reader is directed to this and this, as well as the following books:

  • Parr, A. (Ed.). (2005). Deleuze Dictionary. Edinburgh, Scotland: Edinburgh University Press.
  • Bonta, M. & Protevi, J. (2004). Deleuze & Geophilosophy: A Guide & Glossary. Edinburgh, Scotland: Edinburgh University Press.]


Arche-writing [arche-écriture]: expression put forward by Jacques Derrida who posits that writing is the basis of oral language. The writing of traces, imprints, conserved in the space of inscription, is logically anterior to time and space, signifier and signified oppositions. Schizo-analysis objects that this concept is still an all too totalizing vision, an all too “structuralist” concept of language.

A-signifier [a-signifiant]: we have to distinguish between signifying semiologies―that articulate signifying chains and signified contents―and a-signifying semiotics that work from syntagmatic chains without engendering any signification effect, in the linguistic sense, and that are susceptible of entering into direct contact with their referents in the context of diagrammatic interaction. An example of an a-signifying semiotics: musical writing, a mathematical corpus, computer syntax, robotics, etc.

Assemblage [agencement]: this notion is larger than structure, system, form, process, etc. An assemblage contains heterogeneous elements, on a biological, social, machinic, gnoseological, or imaginary order. In schizo-analytic theory of the unconscious, assemblage is employed in response to the Freudian “complex.”

Becoming [devenir]: this term related to the economy of desire. Desire flows proceed by affects and becomings, independently of the fact that they can fold over onto [se rabattre sur] persons, images and identifications or not. So an individual, anthropologically labelled masculine, can be traversed by multiple, and apparently contradictory, becomings: becoming feminine [devenir féminin] can coexist with becoming a child, becoming an animal, becoming invisible, etc.

Block [bloc]: This term resembles assemblage. It’s not a question of an infantile complex, but the crystallization of systems of intensities that traverse psychogenic strata and are susceptible of operating through perceptive, cognitive or affective systems of all kinds. An example of an intensity block: musical refrains in Proust, “Vinteul’s little phrase.”

Body without organs [corps sans organe]: Gilles Deleuze borrowed this idea from Antonin Artaud to describe the degree zero of intensity. The idea of the body without organs, unlike that of the death drive, does not implicate thermodynamic reference.

Break [coupure]: desiring machines are characterized as flow break systems. In Anti-Oedipus, the term break is inseparable from the term flow. (“Connecticut, connect―I cut,” cries out the little Joey of Bettelheim―Anti-Oedipus, p. 37).

Coding, over-coding [codage, sur-codage]: the idea of the code is used quite widely; it can refer to semiotic systems or social or material flows: the term overcoding corresponds to second-degree coding. For example, primitive agrarian societies functioning according to their own territorialized coding systems, are overcoded by a relatively deterritorialized, imperial structure, that imposes its own military, religious, fiscal, etc. hegemony on them.

Collective enunciation [énonciation collective]: linguistic theories of enunciation focalize linguistic production on individuated subjects, even if language, in its essence, it social and moreover, connected diagrammatically onto contextual realities. Beyond individuated instances of enunciation therefore we must reveal collective assemblages of enunciation [agencements collectifs d’enonciation]. Collective cannot be understood here only in the sense of social grouping; it also implies the inclusion of a variety of collections of technical objects, material or energetic flows, incorporeal entities, mathematical or esthetic idealities, etc.

Desiring production [production désirante]: (desiring economy). Unlike in Freud, desire here is not associated with representation. It is able directly to produce its object and the modes of subjectification corresponding to them, independently of subjective or intersubjective relations.

Fantasy-Imaginary [imaginaire-fantasme]: inasmuch as fantasy and the imaginary are not central to the economy of desire in schizo-analysis, they must be redescribed within notions like assemblage, block, etc.

Flow [flux]: material and semiotic flows “precede” subjects and objects; desire, as the economy of flow, is therefore not first of all subjective and representative.

Machine (and machinic) [machine (et machinique)]: we have here to distinguish between machines and Mechanics. Mechanics is relatively closed; it entertains only perfectly coded relations to external flows. Machines, though, considered in their historical evolution, constitute a phylum comparable to that of living species. They engender themselves, choose themselves, eliminate themselves, and make new lines of possibilities open up.

Machines, in their widest sense, i.e. not just technical machines by theoretical, social, esthetic, etc., machines, never function in isolation, but by aggregates or assemblages. A technical machine, for example, in a factory, interacts with a social machine, a training machine, a research machine, a commercial machine, etc.

Molecular/molar [moléculaire/molaire]: the same elements existing in flows, strata, and assemblages can be organized in a molar or a molecular mode. The molar order corresponds to signification that delimits objects, subjects, representations and their reference systems. Whereas the molecular order is that of flows, becomings, phase transitions and intensities. This molecular traversal of strata and levels, operated by different kinds of assemblages, is called “transversality” [“transversalité“].

Objet petit “a”: this term was put forward by Lacan in the context of a general theory of partial objects in psychoanalysis. The objet petit “a” is a function of implicating oral objects, anal objects, the penis, the gaze, the voice, etc. I suggested to Lacan to join this petit “a” with petit “b” objects, corresponding to Winnicott’s transitional objects, and petit “c” object, corresponding to institutional objects.

Personological [personnologique]: adjective to describe molar relations in the subjective order. The emphasis placed on the roles played by persons, identities, and identifications, is characteristic of theoretical concepts in psychoanalysis. The psychoanalytical Oedipus brings into play persons, character types; it reduces intensities, projects the molecular level of investment onto a “personological theatre,” i.e. onto a system of representation cut off from real desiring production (an equivalent expression: oedipal triangulation [triangulation œdipienne].

Plane of consistency [plan de consistance]: flows, territories, machines, universes of desire, whatever their differences, refer to a single plane of consistency (or plane of immanence [plan d’immanence]), which cannot be confused with a plane of reference. Indeed, these different existence modalities of the systems of intensity are not transcendental idealities, but real engenderment and transformation processes.

Sector politics [politique de secteur]: starting in 1960, public authority in France, resting on progressive currents in institutional psychiatry, attempted to take psychiatry out of large repressive psychiatric hospitals. The idea was to bring psychiatry back into the cities. This lead to the creation of what was called extra-hospital equipment: dispensaries, clubs [foyers], protected studios, outpatient clinics, home visits, etc. This reformist experiment transformed the social aspect of psychiatry on the outside without effecting any real work of curbing alienation. Psychiatric equipment was miniaturized; but relations of segregation and oppression were not fundamentally transformed.

Semiotic interaction and diagrammatism [interaction sémiotique et diagrammatique]: diagram: this expression is from Charles Sanders Peirce. He classifies diagrams under the general rubric of icons; and describes them as “icons of relation.” diagrammatic interactions (or semiotic interactions), in our present terminology, are opposed to semiological redundancies. The former make sign systems work directly with the realities they refer to; they work at the existential production of referents, whereas the latter represent, by giving “equivalents” that have no operational function. Examples: mathematical algorithms, technological charts, computer programming, all directly participate in the process of engendering objects, whereas an advertisement only gives an extrinsic representation of its object (though it is also producing subjectivity).

Subject group/production of subjectivity [groupe sujet/production de subjectivité]: subjectivity is not here considered as a thing in itself, an immutable essence. Such or another subjectivity exists only insofar as an enunciation assemblage produces it. (For example: modern capitalism, through the media and collective facilities, produces a new type of subjectivity on a large scale.) Behind the appearance of individuated subjectivity, we have to map out real subjectification processes.

Subject groups are different from subjected groups [groupes assujettis]. This opposition implies a micropolitics: the subject group has, for its vocation, to manage its own relations to external determination and to its internal law as much as possible. While a subjected group tends to be manipulated by all sorts of external determinations and to be dominated by its own internal law (the Superego).

Process [processus]: continuous series of facts or operations that can lead to other series of facts and operations. A process implies the idea of a permanent rupture in established equilibria. This term is not used in the sense of schizophrenic processes in classical psychiatry, which always implies an arrival to a terminal state. Rather, it echoes what Ilya Prigogine and Isabelle Stengers call “dissipative processes.”

Redundancy [redondance]: this term was created by communication theorists and linguists. Redundancy is the unutilized capacity of a given code. Deleuze, in Difference and Repetition, distinguishes between empty repetition and complex repetition, the latter being irreducible to mechanical or material repetition. This term also implies the opposition between signifying redundancy, which is cut off from any contact with reality, and machinic redundancy which produces effects on the real.

Rhizome, rhizomatic [rhizome, rhizomatique]: arborescent diagrams proceed by successive hierarchies, from a central point, each local element going back to the central point. Whereas rhizomatic or trellis systems can drift infinitely, establish transversal connections, without being circumscribed or closed off. The term “rhizome” describes a system of subterranean stems among perennials that emit buds and adventive roots in their lower parts. (For example: iris rhizomes.)

Schize [schizes]: a system of breaks that are not only the interruption of a process, but its crossroads. The schize is the bearer of new potentiality capital.

Schizo-analysis: whereas psychoanalysis is based on a model of the psyche founded on the study of neuroses, focused on the person and identification, and working with transfer and interpretation, schizo-analysis turns to research on psychosis; it refuses to fold desire over onto personological systems; and challenges the efficacy of transfer and interpretation.

Territoriality, deterritorialization, reterritorialization [territorialité, déterritorialisation, reterritorialization]: The idea of territory is understood very widely, as it surpasses its usage by ethologists and ethnologists. Territory describes a lived space, or a perceived system in which a subject “feels at home.” Territory is synonymous with appropriation, subjectification closed in on itself. A territory can also be deterritorialized, i.e. open up, to be engaged in lines of flight, and even become deleterious and self-destructive. Reterritorialization consists of an attempt to recompose a territory engaged in a process of deterritorialization.


1: This glossary was written at the request of the English editors of La Révolution moléculaire: Molecular RevolutionPsychiatry and Politics, (trans. Rosemary Sheed and introduced by David Cooper, Penguin Books, 1984). Published in Félix Guattari, Les années d’hiver 1980-85, (Paris: Bernard Barrauet, 1986): 287―295.


[from Guattari, F.; Nadaud, S. (Ed.).; Gotman, K. (trans.). (2006). The Anti-Oedipus Papers. New York: Semiotext(e), pg. 415-421. The footnote is on page 437, and is appended to the title.]


About Graham Joncas

We are a way for capital to know itself.

Posted on October 6, 2011, in Psychoanalysis, Quotation, Schizoanalysis and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Splendid and imaginative assemblage wherein we can visually look up the anatomy of a person. Very unique.

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