Deleuze, Spinoza, and the Body Without Organs.

In How do you make yourself a body without organs, Deleuze combines uses psychoanalysis terminology as a means to examine ways in which our bodies interact with the world. He asks us to consider how our bodies immediately control the way we experience the world around us and shape our desires. Whether it be through pleasure, pain, and the acquisition of knowledge, we receive and transmit information through a series of organized systems that make up our organs which then make up our bodies. In this chapter,  Deleuze and Guattari ask us to consider in what ways are have our experiences been confined  to this unidirectional interaction, and how can the functionality of our bodies be used as an analog for the way in which we make our decisions and our judgments. We are also asked, is it possible to free ourselves of our organs, or to free ourselves from the limitations of the body and the senses in which we experience our environments? Are there rituals that already exist, even if they are taboo or destructive, that break this process down and produce immanence.

When considering how our bodies, Deleuze connects psychoanalysis interpretations of behavior and how they are used in such a way to be repressive. One of the ways in which Deleuze discusses desire is through sexuality, or what is considered a sexual deviance such as Masochism. To Deleuze, the psychoanalytic interpretation of Masochism is flawed. What it describes is only as a bizarre way in which to achieve pleasure. A way in which pain wards off anxiety and reaches a climax, or a way in which there is simply a goal and certain self-prescribed means to reach that goal. This viewpoint, for Deleuze, is a large oversight to the real purpose of Masochism as a behavior, to sustain the journey toward pleasure. It is the desire itself that the masochist finds fulfilling rather than an end goal or conclusion of that desire. He sums up this idea by saying “the masochist’s suffering is the price he must pay, not to achieve pleasure, but to untie the pseudobond between desire and pleasure as an extrinsic measure. (Deleuze and Guatarri, p.155)” Pleasure must be delayed as long as possible because receiving it only “interrupts the continuous process of positive desire. (Deleuze and Guattari, p.155). In this sense, pleasure is attributed as the end point of desire, and so, prolonging its arrival achieves immanence of desire , or what Deleuze calls the plane of consistency specific to desire (Deleuze and Guattari, p.154).

According to Deleuze, the longest standing institution or figure in disrupting this plane is the priest, who places limitation through negative law, extrinsic rule, and the transcendent ideal. In other words and through the scope of sexuality, we are given a set  absolute rules that are placed onto us but come from an outside force outside of our perception and control, and then we are given a set of goals in which we are encouraged to reach (Deleuze and Guattari, p.154). To Deleuze, a similar, more modern structure is born through psychoanalysis. A psychoanalyst see’s a deviant behavior, deviant because it doesn’t fall into the dogmatic norms of society’s, the behavior is attributed to a force or desire outside of oneself, perhaps in the subconscious, and is acted out through a transcendent ideal or phantasy (Deleuze and Guattari, p.154-155).

Noted by Deleuze, is the way in which his viewpoints on the body are congruent with Spinoza’s in terms of what actually makes up the body. To Spinoza, there body is also infinite or terms of its components. There are two key elements that define the body. The first element is the movement or speed of interactions taking place within or a part of that body. The second element that defines a body is its ability to affect other bodies that are situated in it’s millue or be affected by other bodies. Bodies are not defined by their parts because their parts can never  truly be quantified. They can only be viewed though the scope of varying intensities and their interactions with other bodies (Spinoza and Us, 123-124). Further more, it is the speed of a bodies’ reactions to its own processes as well as the processes of other bodies that position itself in the plane of immanence (Spinoza and Us, 125-126).

To Deleuze, the plain of immanence is something that must be actively constructed and does not per-exist. It is something that can emerge through the on-going development on multiple bodies without organs, or in other words, bodies such as art, politics, sex, and science that have unlimited potential for expansion, development, and exploration. It is through their overlapping and co-existence that would create what Deleuze refers to as a “multiplicity of immanence” (Deleuze and Guitarri, 157). Whether the bodies are the correct ones, if a correct one even exists, is irrelevant. As he puts in in the very beginning of the chapter, a body without organs is already “accomplished the moment you undertake it” (Deleuze and Guattari, 149).



One Response to “Deleuze, Spinoza, and the Body Without Organs.”

  1. Victor Peterson Says:

    I really liked this post and it reminded me a lot of an article I’ve recently read on Sade. It’s amazing to me, and I’m finding myself more and more, equating the formation of identity as a form of mediation itself. Expressively with a Deleuzian twist, this idea seems ever more so pertinent. Many forms of “sexual deviance”, or what the revolutionary machine in society deems as such, can be used a method of control. A way to render identity static, quantifiable, biological and a method to create a superior identity based on alterity.

    In the Sade article (as well as your post when you say that when pleasure is reached, it becomes the end of desire) it makes identity a form of becoming, an ontogenesis, and essentially always in movement between zones. Anti-teleological.

    “Sade invents what we might call the autometaphor – each being or object concealing its own excessiveness inside itself – which perhaps the first radical, poetic criticism of the ideological deviation which any metaphor, in the uncertainty of passing from one state to another, risks not being able to avoid. For in Sade’s work, metaphorization seems to have the particular quality of taking place without the external detour – without passing through the other. His intense use of literalness further constitutes a model for this autometaphorization that transports each image to the limits of itself”. (Sade, A Sudden Abyss by Anie Le Burn source:

    Doesn’t seem to far of a stretch to say that Sade’s work is similar to this concept of pushing identity to its limits. Keeping it in motion by inventing new forms of expression (Deleuze’s “On Minor Literature” and his other writings on language). For if identity itself, as well as language, is rendered static, it becomes merely representational. Maybe there is some benefit to hearing in popular society Sadism and Masochism together if put in the context of Deleuze’s critique.

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