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Chiasmi International

Volume 16, 2014

Between Yesterday and Tomorrow

Stefan Kristensen
Pages 127-147

L’inconscient machinique et L’idée d’une ontologie politique de la chair

The psychoanalyical notion of the unconscious is often considered as being out of reach for phenomenological thinking. When Merleau-Ponty refl ects on it, he takes the unconscious as the realm, in bodily life, that being not yet conscious, is likely to become conscious. He formulates it in his Résumés de cours with the famous sentence “The unconscious is the sensing itself”. Lacan, facing this interpretation, explains that Merleau-Ponty fails to recongnize the essential discontinuity between consciousness and the unconscious. From that criticism, it is possible to follow the reflection of Félix Guattari who develops, both alone and in collaboration with Gilles Deleuze, a conception of the “machinic unconscious”, a notion that can be read as an attempt to articulate the merleau-pontian and the lacanian approaches and to sketch out a theory of the becoming-subject. My aim in this paper, in speaking about “Merleau-Ponty Tomorrow”, consists therefore in appropriating some of his suggestions in this regard and to detect them in an unexpected context (the writing of Guattari), thereby also noting the differences between them. Through this dialogue, I get to a position where it is possible to outline a critique of the contemporary “theory of the self”, which in my view is unaware of the fact that the self is always already caught in power relations. Guattari’s “micropolitics of desire” allows precisely to account for that and thus to develop the phenomenological approach to the self.

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