Certain elements of Deleuze and Guattari stubbornly retain a
Deleuze and Guattari rescue desire from the rethoric of lack and
basically remind us that desire is productive. Now with desire they use similar twists and turns of logic as Foucault does when
describing power. That is why Deleuze asks in 'desire and pleasure': how
can power be desired? Remember Foucault's manifesto-style prose in the
intro to their Anti-Oedipus? Don't become enamoured of power! He says.
So Deleuze's conclusion that power is an affection of desire is
unsatisfactory and seems to only place a semi colon on this rhymeless
poetry of immanence that still waits to be written.
What is Foucault's pleasure? We know that Foucault ascribes the
overemphasis on desire to a progressive scientisation of the ethical
discourse that derives directly from a sorrowful idea of the subject
practised in early Christianity. This idea finally culminates into the
psychoanalytical category of the Ego, a subject that has a particular
relation to truth and to the practices of the self modulated on the
subjugating coordinates of self-negation and self-deciphering.
See for instance his 'Sexuality and solitude', when he decribes Augustine's
libidinisation of sex.
Foucault continuously problematises the disappearance of pleasure from philosophical
discourse and this is doubtlessly a reinstatement of his criticism of
the repressive hypothesis. But it is more than that. It is also a
formulation of the constitutive aspect of freedom within power
relations. Foucault counterposes practices of freedom to processes of
liberation. In fact, by recognising that power can only operate on the
terrain of freedom, those practices allow us to understand current forms
of subjectivation as much as the possibilities intrinsic to power
So pleasure is as productive for Foucault as desire is for Deleuze and
Back to square one.
Then, what is desire for Deleuze and Guattari, really?
In the interview on desire and pleasure, Deleuze keeps distinguishing between the
emphasis of desire on deterritorialisation, and the emphasis of pleasure
on re-territorialisation. Do you see this dynamics in the use of these
concepts by D&G and F? I don't. Bodies and pleasures are the 'rallying
points of counterattack' against the noise of the bourgeois economy of
christian ascetism, Foucault says in VS. And they are the field of the
aesthetics of existence that is a deprise de soi, or a line of flight
from subjectivation, whichever language you speak. So, bodies and
pleasures do produce deterritorialisations. But they are also the field
of play for ethics. Now, for Deleuze and perhaps Guattari it is the
conjunction or conjugation of these lines of flights into a 'veritable
diagram' that constitutes the assemblage produced by desire. A clear
But what does Foucault's pleasure leave us with instead?
'Just' experience, it seems. Or Bataille's upturned orb?
For Foucault on this, see youtube