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“Machinic Eros” is a collection of texts about Japan written by French philosopher and psychoanalyst Felix Guattari during the bubbly 1980s. In his many trips to Japan, Guattari saw, like others, a mixture of the archaic and hypermodern, and a way out of Western binary thought. He even imagined, overly optimistically in the opening essay “Tokyo, the Proud,” that the city would become “the capital of the emancipation of the Third World.”

While his view of Japan’s criticality was sadly exaggerated, his robust and often difficult ideas remain pertinent. Linking political and libidinal economies, he argues that labor has become “completely mass mediatized” and that capitalism influences subjectivity. He concludes that the unconscious is a political concern — a vital insight in Japan, where advertising agencies hold formidable sway and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration strong-arms the media.

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