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Body without organs

Related: body - visceral - Gilles Deleuze - Antonin Artaud - Félix Guattari


In Anti-Oedipus, Deleuze and Guattari begin to develop their concept of the BwO - body without organs, their term for the changing social body of desire. Since desire can take on as many forms as there are persons to implement it, it must seek new channels and different combinations to realize itself, forming a BwO for every instance. Desire is not limited to the affections of a subject.

In their later work, A Thousand Plateaus (1980), Deleuze and Guattari eventually differentiate between three kinds of BwO: cancerous, empty, and full. Roughly, the empty BwO is the BwO of Anti-Oedipus. This BwO is also described as "catatonic" because it is completely de-organ-ized; all flows pass through it freely, with no stopping, and no directing. Even though any form of desire can be produced on it, the empty BwO is non-productive. The full BwO is the healthy BwO; it is productive, but not petrified in its organ-ization. The cancerous BwO is caught in a pattern of endless reproduction of the self-same pattern. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_without_organs#Body_Without_Organs [Jan 2006]

The body of organs, of identity (not forgetting that organs without a body might be more dangerous still) has privileged the eye, and in contemporary culture, makes this privileging a site of control: "the eye is a masochistic orifice in the age of panoptic power, capable of endless discipline and of being seduced beyond bodily subjectivity into a floating free fall within the society of the spectacle", leaving the ear repressed, except in terms of receiving "spectacular" sound (muzak, MTV) (Kroker, Spasm, 49). The body without organs, though, would not free us from this, but drive us further in, playing masochism beyond jouissance. "Freeing" the ear would not liberate us, either. Rather, the ear has to become masochistic, in the Deleuzian sense (see "Coldness and Cruelty" in Masochism (New York: Zone, 1994), 9-138) instead of being forced to submit. It must then renounce both control and contract. There is, of course, another story of the eye -- Bataille's, followed up by Foucault, in which the upturned eye, removed, trans(un)figured, is the site of the loss of meaning. Eugene Thacker assimilates this story with noise music: "the visuality of Bataille transgressing itself is analogous to the music of noise" ("Bataille/Body/ Noise: Notes Toward a Techno-Erotics", (63), in Brett Woodward (ed.), Merzbook: The Pleasuredome of Noise (Melbourne, Cologne: Extreme, 1999), 57-65). The comparison is perhaps too easy as the ear does not have the status of the eye, nor is music of noise in itself capable of the reversibility of the eye, which seeks to be both medium and control of media. --Paul Hegarty in http://www.re-lab.lv/rezone/arhivs/msg01483.html

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