I want to invoke Deleuze and Guattari’s double-sided interrogation: “Given a certain effect, what machine is capable of producing it? And given a certain machine, what can it be used for?” (Anti-Oedipus, F8, E3).
Such an interrogation has fed its authors’ insistence on the primacy of a “machinic production” for human nature, a production for which the greatest threat is the distorting transformation of its status from a fundament into a goal, from a process that deploys its productions, registrations, and consumptions along typically unpredictable lines, which is to say, from a process that plays, dreams, and associates, as Winnicott understood these terms, into a stagnant and interminable “wreck” (AO, F11, E5) that can only “fantasy” and “dissociate” in its struggle for self-perpetuation and propagation.
This is one of a number of links and relays that I would like to pursue between the presumably post-Freudian project of Winnicott and the supposedly anti-Freudian project of Deleuze and Guattari.
My investment is not in a history of psychoanalytic ideas that hopes to bridge the divide between the French and the British, each a tradition that, for the most part, has thrived on recognising its other only to dispute its legitimacy as fantasmatic and/or mundane, on, in other words, dissociating itself from that other, a history, and by extension a methodology, that would invariably, righteously, grant itself the status of an integration or incorporation that is greater, wiser, or truer than both.
Nor is my investment in exposing and clarifying the ways in which each of these two traditions is, after all and presumably, a metaphor for, or, better still, the metamorphosing outcome of the other. I would much rather spare both my Winnicottian and Deleuzo-Guattarian readers the disappointment and/or irritation of witnessing their distinctive perspectives and strongly held convictions dismissed as the derivatives of some previously or elsewhere more convincingly elaborated views.
Nor do I hope to facilitate a triumphal coupling of the two sets of disparate texts and strategies with the aim of producing a clinical and/or meta-psychological offshoot—-a strange beast indeed—-that is part Winnicottian and part Deleuzo-Guattarian, part post- and part anti-, forever honouring, which is also to say forever hemmed in by, its provenance and heritage.
Nor, lastly, is my investment in a utopian “in-between” that has gripped much of the imagination amongst contemporary readers of both Winnicott and Deleuze and Guattari, an “in-between” whose advocates, I suspect, must forever struggle to keep from drowning in the treacherous waters of the Oceanus Britannicus. On this score, and though the notion of a topographical “in-between” seems to be precisely what brings both projects in line with one another, I find the Winnicottian transitional and the Deleuzo-Guattarian intermezzo, when considered primarily as psychological topographies, to be particularly sparse and unyielding. Moreover, and just as the found object for Winnicott is an experience rather than an “object” that needs to be itemised and localised, I would like to suggest that the transitional and the intermezzo are a playing and a bricolage, a basic form of living (“Playing: A Theoretical Statement”, 50) and a handyman’s tinkering (AO, F7, E1) that have little to do with spaces or locations that ought to be mapped, striated, and/or bound, and everything to do with events, processes, and experiences that are lived. Ditto for the “in-between.”
My investment is primarily in re-posing the question of found object and play and of machine and effect, while doubling its data, so to speak. Given two machines, each with its specific set of clinical and theoretical procedures, what can their juxtaposition be used for and what effects can that juxtaposition be made to produce? At stake here is a process that treats of dynamic effects as much as it treats of developmental causes, of potential products as much as of hidden aetiologies, and of eventual deployments as much as of retrograde analyses. Ultimately, my hope in posing this question is that these effects, products, and deployments may not only communicate to us hitherto unexplored yet constitutive theoretical and/or clinical components about either Winnicott or Deleuze and Guattari, but that they may also shed a new light on, if not indeed instantiate desire, and, in the process, allow us to do with that desire, or do with it differently, as much as it does with us.
In positing this reflexive implication, I take my cue from the “machines” I am considering, insofar as each, in its own way, has more or less relinquished as artificial and ineffectual the distinction between the functions of theory and practice, observer and observed, analyst and analysand. Indeed, by the end of his career, Winnicott was quite unequivocal when he declared that psychoanalysis “has to do with two people playing together” (PTS, 38), that such a doing takes place “in the overlap of the two play areas, that of the patient and that of the therapist” (“Playing”, 54), that, in other words, psychoanalysis has little to do with one subject developing, interpreting, or correcting another subject’s experience according to some externally pre-elaborated path toward truth or health, and everything to do with the playing that occurs “in between” these two subjects. Winnicottian psychoanalysis is therefore as much a practice as it is a theory of transitionality; it is therefore as invested in consolidating and legitimising an Ego, a Self, or a Subject, be it true or false, as a found object could be said to consolidate or legitimise a reality, be it hallucinatory or concrete.
Similarly, and equally forcefully, Deleuze and Guattari identified the principal task of their analytic orientation (which they termed “schizoanalysis”) as the dismantling of the distinction between a subject that emits a statement and a subject about or on behalf of whom, or which, a statement is emitted (AO, F323-324, E271). In schizoanalysis, there is no subject that imparts to another its accomplishments in knowledge, health, or experience; there is only an analytic machine that is neither an imaginary projection, as phantasy, nor a real projection, as cure, but a recurring factor of production among parts (associations, syntheses, subjectivities) functioning alongside one another and under specific clinical conditions. These are the gears that create new gears alongside preceding ones, indefinitely, even if, or even as they seem to function in discordant or opposing ways. As Deleuze and Guattari have summed it up, “That which makes a machine [the schizoanalytic sine qua non] are connections, all the connections that operate the disassembly” (Kafka, 84).
That something may be gained from elaborating a relationship between these Deleuzo-Guattarian connections and the Winnicottian transitional, between, in other words, the machine and the found object, that such a relationship can be productive precisely because it is as fractious and abrasive as it may be smooth, that, in other words, the friction between the presumably incongruous concepts and orientations may set off a spark capable of shedding light on hitherto unexplored territories, these are the principle assumptions motivating the project.