For Gregory Bateson, it is a “pathology of epistemology” (1973) that causes us to overlook our connections to the broader environment, threatening the very existence of humanity and causing the ecological crisis.
Writing in 1989, Felix Guattari recognizes that what is called ‘”the ecological crisis” is not just a crisis of the environment, but also of both individual and collective human life. In an ecosophical approach to subjectivity, it behoves us to think not of subject, or even of subject and environment together, but of dispersed vectors or “components of subjectification”.
In explaining this, Guattari states that
“Vectors of subjectification do not necessarily pass through the individual, which in reality appears to be something like a ‘terminal’ for processes that involve human groups, socio-economic ensembles, data-processing machines etc. Therefore, interiority establishes itself at the crossroads of multiple components, each relatively autonomous in relation to the other and, if need be, in open conflict” (Guattari, 2000:25)
This reminds me of Jodi Dean’s comments:
“How is it that the subject remains reduced to the individual, as if there were an individual who is subjected rather than a collective, exercising the power of its own self-determination, that becomes fragmented and desubjectified, pacified as it is divided up into ever smaller portions?”
So the question becomes from us patchers: ‘how to weave such diverse vectors to begin enacting more ecological viable socio-political prospects, given most institutions and modes of production in the global North remain mired in the cultural swamps of neo-liberalism?’ What media and social habits can we mangle together for future viability in climate chaos ecosystems?
“We live in a time of ruin and decay. This is true of our subjective formations as much as it is of our infrastructural relations. We have to build from those ruins, assembling anything that we can find, whatever is at hand, turning it into a means of coping, of surviving, or, if possible, into a weapon.”
Guattari and his friend Gilles borrowed heavily from Bateson, but didn’t have a lot to say explicitly about that. Here is someone who reads well and investigated that jankyness:
“Bringing Deleuze and Guattari down to Earth through Gregory Bateson: Plateaus, Rhizomes and Ecosophical Subjectivity” (2015), by Robert Shaw
Abstract: While Deleuze and Guattari described themselves as ‘geophilosophers’, researchers are just beginning to explore the influences on their writing which lead them to this conclusion. Gregory Bateson, who is dismissed by Deleuze and Guattari as living “une carrière à l’américaine”, contributed to the development of several concepts which Deleuze and Guattari later used to build up their vision of the relationship between earth and subjectivity. Perhaps because of their dismissal of him, there have been few attempts to construct a Batesonian reading of Deleuze and Guattari.
This paper begins to offer two central ways in which we might do this. First, it explores the concepts which moved from Bateson to the two-volumes of Capitalism and Schizophrenia. In doing so, Bateson is used to develop an understanding of Capitalism and Schizophrenia as an attempt to create new non-schismogenic formats of social relation. Here, the earth is a necessary ‘grounding’ for plateaus. Second, this paper then builds on this through Guattari’s concept of ecosophical subjectivity, arguing that through further engagement with Bateson, Guattari builds up what he refers to as the ‘ethico-political’ dimensions of his work. It concludes with the claim that as a key influence on several elements of their work, exploring Bateson in relation to Deleuze and Guattari can open up new understandings of their ideas, particularly with regards to the forms of ‘earthliness’ that they develop.