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Deleuze on flows

Recently I started to read Anti-Oedipus by Deleuze and Guattari, and (of course) I’m having some difficulty understanding it. In an effort to understand more of it I’ve started to dip into English translations of seminars Deleuze gave in 1971 before Anti-Oedipus was published

The following is from the first in the series of seminars titled Anti-Oedipus I :

This is ultimately the essential problem of coding and of the territorialization which is always coding flows with it, as a fundamental means of operation: marking persons (because persons are situated at the interception and at the cutting off coupure of flows, they exist at the points where flows are cut off coupure).1

Flow V. Capture (terriroralize)

There is a joke (meme) on the internet: Explain Deleuze to me right now, or I’ll fucking kill you!”

Why is this funny? Because it is difficult to explain Deleuze, be that as it may I’ll try to explain what I think I can about Deleuae’s thinking.

In this first bit of text we have the terms flows and captures.


Flows are raw potential, think of melted metal that is flowing” before it is poured into a mold. This molten-flowing metal could be shaped into any number of things, it has not become anything yet.

When things are in flows they are interesting because they might become anything. However, we can’t read the flows until after they have been captured and turned into (become coded) into something we can recognize.

In the seminar Deleuze uses unsettled hair as a flow. Unstyled hair does not say anything about the person who has it.

Captures (territories, codes):

Captures are what happens when the molten metal flows into a mold and cools down and become whatever the mold shapes it into. The potential of the flowing-molten metal is now captured and coded into something we can recognize as a particular object.

Again, in the seminar Deleuze show how when we style our hair into a particular pattern we have captured a flow. When a person styles their hair (when they capture the flow of the hair) they make a readable statement about what sort of person they are”.


What I like about what (I think) Deleuze is saying here is that it captures the fact that we have to make choices about how we are going to live our lives. When we make a choice we capture a flow, and create a territory.

Deluze points out is that both territories (captures)and de-territorilization (flows), are contingent upon/dependent upon one another.

One without the other is non-existent.

  1. Gilles Deleuze, Anti-Oedipus I, a lecture given by Deleuze on 11/16/1971 as part of a seminar. Accessed online at The Deleuze Seminars on 4/17/30.

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