V. In Love: From The "Other Scene" To The "Neill Scene"

Author: Hanjo Berressem (University of Aachen)

  • V. In Love: From The "Other Scene" To The "Neill Scene"


    V. In Love: From The "Other Scene" To The "Neill Scene"



In his "Seminar II," Jacques Lacan describes the brain as a "machine made to dream." Philip K. Dick's question, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is the title of the book on Which the post-industr1a1 cult movie Blade Runner is based; Dick's question may almost be read as a comment on Lacan's statement. Both quotations testify to the fact that, after having invaded the subject's garden, the machine has finally invaded the subject itself. Freud's and certainly Lacan's theories are already constructed from systems to which images of interlocking optical, linguistic and sexual "machines" are central. Most drastically, however, the machine figures in the theories of Deleuze/Guattari, whose work begins with and departs from Freud. For them, the machine's entry into the unconscious as the pattern of unconscious registration marks a new beginning: "the unconscious itself is no more structural than personal, it does not symbolize any more than it imagines or represents: it engineerst it is machinic." This heralds a possible breakup of what Deleuze/Guattari regard as old, corroded Oedipal structures and a release of "culturally" unregulated and unmediated flows of pure desire/energy, with a generally liberating effect. But even within this paradoxical promise, the "machinic" carries more sinister connotations which resonate in the background of Deleuze/Guattari's study. Borrowing their terminology from chemistry and physics, they use the contrasting terms molar and molecular. Molar machines are great machinic networks following certain well: defined parameters, in which all flows are directed towards a particular projective (the Oedipal Machine, the Social Machine, the Capitalist Machine). In contrast, their molecular Desiring machines are machines without operational use, "formative machines, whose very misfirings are functional" (A0 286). Like the machinic sculptures of Jean Tinguely, these desiring-machines are in fact defined by their very uselessness and their aesthetics of pure motion, flows, passages and movements, completely free of directed, functional parameters: "A machine may be defined as a system of interruptions or breaks" (AD 36). These machines, in their dynamics also reminiscent of the Futurists' spectacles of pure speed and energy, find their dark doubles in the cold, mechanical robot of the factory, or of any "operative" endeavour, for that matter. Within the molecular machine, the (utopian) liberation and the liberating dispersion of the subject as well as the "objectification" of Rachel's sexual relation to her MG; Fergus, the extension of the TV set; Esther's nose; Eigenvalue's dentures; the "inanimate buddies from Detroit" (V 357); Profane's dream about an all-electronic woman ("Any problems with her, you could look it up in the maintenance manual. Module concept: fingers' height, heart's temperature, mouth's size out of tolerance? Remove and replace, was all" [V 361]) ). These all add up to a universe streaked through with the mechanical and the machinic. The female body, all/ever, seems to be a privileged site for this mutation. Being simultaneously the direct phallic object and the Ultimate "other" of the phallic scene, Woman is defined by these functions within a general economy, and she is the first, but also the last, to fall prey to this mechanization.

How to Cite:

Berressem, H., (1986) “V. In Love: From The "Other Scene" To The "Neill Scene"”, Pynchon Notes , 5-28. doi:

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Published on
22 Sep 1986