Rene — Alliez — The BwO Condition or, The Politics of Sensation*

Topic(s): Deleuze & Guattari | Comments Off on Rene — Alliez — The BwO Condition or, The Politics of Sensation*

The BwO Condition or, The Politics of Sensation*
Éric Alliez
The Body without Organs has to hurt. And it hurts the philosopher. And it’s a hard blow. Body without Organs. Artaud’s Body without Organs – an affective, an intensive, an anarchic relation of the body to forces (it hurts), relations
to forces qua becomings (when it works) – To Have Done With the Judgement of
God and Its Power of Organisation Ad Infinitum. BwO – A fashionable logo, an
up-to-date trademark, a badge of membership? A new scholasticism? A
schizo-scholasticism? As such it hurts, it hurts the ‘Deleuzian’ philosopher
caught in a trap. As neurotic anti-production, as imitation without
invention, as repetition without forces and differences, as logo(s), this
refrain of the BwO hurts. But it does not hurt as the Body without Organs
has to hurt me as a philosopher, because it does not dis-organ-ise my
(supposed) philosophical identity. Quoting Deleuze and Guattari, the BwO
vulgate hurts because »Becoming is not imitating;« because »No problem of
meaning, but only of usage;« because »To chant viva the Multiple is not to
do it. We have to make it. We have to make thought become nomadic;« because
»The cheat has a real future but no becoming at all …« An anti-productive
schizo-scholasticism 1 has alimented the reaction against Anti-Oedipus and A
Thousand Plateaus which considers them as dated by-products of ’68 thought.
And we know how many people would like ’68 to have exclusively been the
phantasm of some mauvais maîtres … Foucault in his preface to the English
translation of Anti-Oedipus wrote that being-Anti-Oedipal had become a
life-style. But a lifestyle is neither a fashion nor a hyper-textual
exegesis. In a Foucaldian sense, it is an art, an art de soi: “I think that
Anti-Oedipus can best be read as an ‘art’. […] Questions that are less
concerned with why this or that than with how to proceed. How does one
introduce desire into thought, into discourse, into action? […]
Anti-Oedipus is a book of ethics.” 2 From the Anti-Oedipus the Body without
Organs is the point of crystallisation of a contradictory and paradoxical
movement. On one side, a neurotic hyper-textuality unable to put the forces
infolded in the text to work in a productive inside/outside (in a Deleuzian
manner). On the other, a viral and rhizomatic diffusion of the thousand
plateaus of Deleuzo-Guattarian thought. Involving non-philosophers,
involving artists. We can’t ignore the fact that now, in France, more
artists read Deleuze and Guattari, the books signed by Deleuze and Guattari,
than academic philosophers, as if philosophy as a disciplinary institution
must not risk itself in this experimentation. These non-philosophers give
Deleuze and Guattari’s thought a new earth, they actualise philosophy –
philosophy, nothing but philosophy in its constitutive relation to the
present – in a process of change which involves their lives and their works.
This experimental reading/becoming of/in Capitalism and Schizophrenia, means
that for them abandoning the Marxist orthodoxy, Psychoanalysis, and
Structuralism has never been a ‘real’ problem. What is real is the becoming
‘itself’ – what has been ignored, denied by these, yes, reductive theories.
Let’s come back to the extreme difficulty of the philosopher in front of
the Body without Organs, for the first cruelty of the BwO, of this expulsive
formula of Antonin Artaud, is against the Philosopher. Prior to
Anti-Oedipus Deleuze wrote some beautiful books, books already in a
relationship of constant excess to the institutional ‘History of
Philosophy’: on Hume, Nietzsche, Bergson, Spinoza, Kant as the ‘enemy’ (his
expression)… These works will be implied and employed in the first
elaboration of the Deleuzian system, Difference and Repetition. But, as
Deleuze himself said, talking about this ‘pre-Guattarian’ period, everything
may have been conceptually consistant, formally developed and argued, but
anyway it was still strangely innefficient. Going one step further, the
retrospective effect is this one: moving towards a formal definition of the
BwO, the logic of the system remained prisoner of the pure form of the
determinable in thought, as the philosophical neurosis. (We know how it
hurts to get free of it – a perpetual fight against me.) And the fact is
that Difference and Repetition will be immediately followed by this very
unique book, The Logic of Sense, where the BwO emerges for the first time,
with Artaud’s physical words, in the middle of a process it breaks – the
project of a structuralist logic of sense – leading to an aporetic end, an
end which will require and announce the work with Guattari … See what
Deleuze declared about this period in an interview immediately after the
publication of Anti-Oedipus: “I was working exclusively in concepts and I
have to admit in a very timid, in a very self-conscious way. Felix talked to
me about what he called the desiring machines. It was all a theoretical and
practical conception of the unconscious as a machine, it was a conception of
a schizophrenic unconscious. Then I had the impression that he was more
advanced.” 3 The question of a gap between a before and an after (the works
with Félix Guattari) is made more complex inasmuch as in Anti-Oedipus (1972)
and A Thousand Plateaus (1980) Deleuze and Guattari propose two definitions
of the BwO – (1) A BwO is an egg, (2) The Body without Organs is the Ethics
of Spinoza – which nominaly, discursively, pre-exist in a certain way these
two books. The association of Simondon’s singular and pre-individual being
with the intensive field of individuation of the egg in Difference and
Repetition (1968) already identifies this problematisation (the problematic
is the ontological state of the “pre-individual,” and as such is opposed to
the negative) as an ethics of the “trans-individual.” 4 If we also consider
the contemporaneous Spinoza and the Problem of Expression (1968) – with its
Nietzschean and Bergsonian background –, it’s all there, the paradigmatic
egg and the full centrality of Spinoza’s philosophy of pure immanence. And,
en vérité, this double definition turns into a single one: the Spinozist
Substance is a distribution of intensities at the surface of the Egg.
Deleuze points towards this affirmation of intensity, without needing the
BwO as such (but what this really means, as such, we don’t really know for
the moment – we just imagine that it means the break between before and
after), except as the possible common notion (to come) of this (still)
nominal definition. I would say, that for Deleuze, Spinoza is the
philosopher who has been able to relate and identify for ever
“Expressionism” (through his “theory of expression”) and “Constructivism”
(the so-called “geometrical method”) because Spinozist Expression is the
pure expression of univocity as the affirmation of the non-indifference and
of the opening of Being. As I understand this point, it means that from
Spinoza – a Spinoza with whom Nietzsche and Bergson never stopped to
confront themselves… – Deleuzian philosophy has been a bio-philosophy in the
modern and contemporary sense Deleuze gave to it (Expression = Construction
qua the immanent truth, the truth of the immanence of the modern image of
thought), and that Deleuze could have said, from this, the ‘best’ plane of
immanence, I hope that I’ll never write a single sentence which is not
immediately a vitalist affirmation. This notion of bio-philosophy involves
vitalism as the constructive expression of a non-organic totality. It
appropriates the founding figure of modern neo-Darwinism, August Weismann,
and his formalisation of germinal life. Weismann posits an egg of germinal
intensity, with an intensive field of differenciation as a dynamism of pure
potentiality and virtuality. Germinal life refers not to points of origin
but solely to moments of creative becoming. In his reconfiguration of the
Weismannian legacy – rigorously studied by Keith Ansell Pearson – Deleuze
will insist that becoming is less an overdetermined evolution than a
creative evolution-involution involving transversal communication between
heterogeneous populations of non-individualised singularities. The egg is a
rhizome avant la lettre. The egg is an “intensive multiplicity,” to use a
Bergsonian concept that Deleuze elaborated for years (from the first
articles on Bergson in 1956 until the publication of Bergsonism in 1966). It
means that becoming and intensive multiplicity are one and the same. In
Difference and Repetition and A Thousand Plateaus Deleuze will present
“pedagogically” (a pedagogy of concepts…) the controversy between Cuvier and
Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire as the opposition between a plane of organisation, a
structure of organs developed in an overdetermined evolution, and a plane of
composition, going beyond organs to pure materials that enter into various
combinations, forming a given organ depending on their degrees of speed and
slowness. If Cuvier develops a logic of organs in their relation to a
transcendent unity which realises itself in terms of irreducible functional
organs, Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire goes beyond organs and functions to Nature as
an immanent abstract machine involving materials in intense combinations. It
is speed and slowness, relations of movement and rest, that assume priority
over the forms of a fixed structure, a fixed organism. It is this mapping of
the plane of Nature as an immanent plane of consistency that provides
insight into the nature of the BwO. It affirms a molecular plane of Nature
traversed by non-formal elements that enter into this or that individuated
assemblage. Keith Ansell Pearson’s important book Germinal Life clearly
understands this Deleuzian plane as implying an ethology of assemblages, and
the egg-plane freed from the continuity of the germ-plasm as allowing for
“the powers of life to express a creative evolution beyond entropic
containment” – through singularities-events (qua a field of individuation
and pre-individual singularities…). In Spinoza’s Ethics, in the
Introduction to Book III, we read that the geometric method is nothing else
than a way “to study each thing as if they were bodies, planes, lines,
points.” But the point, Deleuze explains, is that the geometric method is
necessarily genetic because – using the very same terms – its elements are
no longer forms or functions and are distinguished only by movement and
rest, slowness and speed… Spinoza’s Substance is a plane of consistency
peopled by an infinity of pieces of anonymous matter entering into
connections. To every relation of movement and rest corresponds a degree of
power, a kind of intensity that affects it. It is in this sense that affects
are becomings determining “what a body can do” (the title of chapter XIV of
Spinoza and the Problem of Expression), and that the Ethics is an ethology
(developed in A Thousand Plateaus). We know nothing about the body until we
know what it can do, what its affects are, how it can or cannot enter into
composition with other affects. The representation (Descartes) is dissolved
by the affection (Spinoza), leading to the specific question of a practical
philosophy. 5 It is on this Spinozist field that the Body without Organs
will be projected as an attack on the organism qua a transcendent
organisation, and as the immanent alternative of the body opening it up to
connections and relations bio-philosophically indissociable from “an
impersonal and pre-individual transcendental field,” already analysed in
terms of an “unconscious surface” in The Logic of Sense. We read: “We seek
to determine an impersonal and pre-individual transcendental field, which
does not resemble the corresponding empirical fields, and which nevertheless
is not confused with an undifferentiated depth. […] What is neither
individual nor personal are, on the contrary, emissions of singularities
insofar as they occur on an unconscious surface and possess a mobile,
immanent principle of auto-unification through a nomadic distribution,
radically distinct from fixed and sedentary distributions as conditions of
the syntheses of consciousness. Singularities are the true transcendental
events […] Only when the world, teaming with anonymous and nomadic,
impersonal and pre-individual singularities, opens up, do we tread at last
on the field of the transcendental.” 6 The Kantian transcendental field
becomes an intensive and nomadic surface leading “unconsciously” to the
Spinozist Egg as the formal definition of the BwO. I mean: susceptible to a
formal reading, analysable through a continuous logic (the one followed
here: in accordance with the logique des énoncés), until we perceive the
deep Spaltung of the Body without Organs for philosophical discourse itself.
After Difference and Repetition and Spinoza and the Problem of Expression
(both published in 1968), The Logic of Sense (1969) is where Deleuze
confronts the concrete affirmation of the Spinozist univocity of Being
developed from the rapport of expression – as it implies the parity of the
actions/passions of the soul with those of the body, and gives a real
dynamic for the anti-symbolic equation Expression = Construction – with
Structuralism as the contemporary form of Constructivism. A Constructivism
which under-stands the sphere of expression as purely linguistic in the
sense that there is no structure without language – verbal or non-verbal.
Deleuze explains: in relation to psychoanalysis, there is a structure of
bodies in so far as bodies are supposed to talk in a language of symptoms. 7
Aiming at a “speculative univocity of Being and language,” The Logic of
Sense is going to be an incredible attempt to examine the conditions under
which Structuralism as a “new transcendental philosophy” 8 may be adequate
to the expression of the Untersinn of the chaotic world of bodies, adequate
to their affects and mixtures, to the depths and the groundlessness of the
body, since sense is nothing else than the event as an incorporal effect of
the surface. The main question for the series of The Logic of Sense is to
invest, above and beyond the opposition of the ground and the surface, the
propositional articulation of sense and language in the actions and passions
of bodies able to climb up to the surface of language. Sense being an
incorporeal event implies that the depths of the body are expressed as a
pure surface, making the language games of Lewis Carroll, the paradoxes of
sense and non-sense (the mirror) developed through the double series
(bodies-language, “to eat”-“to talk”…), absolutely paradigmatic of a
movement that goes from bodies to the incorporeal, in a becoming-unlimited
(devenir-illimité) travelling along the surface. Becoming, the unlimited
becoming of bodies, is strictly coextensive to language when everything
climbs up to the surface. Alice in Wonderland… The language games are
surface games, animated nonsenses ‘circulating’ as flat manifestations of
the incorporeal essence of sense. Immaterial, sense is nothing else than an
effect, expressing any affect as a surface effect – like an optical effect
(or effet de miroir). In the Eleventh series, Deleuze proposes this
‘explanation’ of Structuralism: “The authors referred to as ‘Structuralists’
by recent practice may have no essential point in common other than this:
sense, regarded not at all as appearance but as surface effect and position
effect […]. Structuralism, whether consciously or not, celebrates new
findings of a Stoic and Carrollian inspiration. Structure is in fact a
machine for the production of incorporeal sense.” 9 With the Thirteenth
series (!), “Of the Schizophrenic and the Little Girl,” The Logic of Sense
reveals itself as a, if not unique, then very singular case in the history
of philosophic literature. Breakdown. Breakdown of Structuralism as this new
materialism, new atheism, new anti-humanism, of this «productivity that is
that of our era” (as it is celebrated in the article “How Do We Recognize
Structuralism?”). 10 The breakdown of Carrollian Structuralism is provoked
by Artaud’s convulsive Body without Organs as an insurrection of the two
“languages” in depth, of corporal actions and passions, which is going to
threaten, to menace, to lead to implosion the project of a serial Logic of
Sense – and of a “psychoanalysis of sense” (even if Deleuze still
distinguishes it from “bad psychoanalysis”). Suddenly, a schizophrenic body
emerges that destroys the “superficial” organisation of sense and language,
making the question of the thirteenth series: how to conceive of a surface
adequate to the ultimate broken depths of the body once the series have
disappeared? At this moment, Artaud’s discovery of a “vital body” cracks the
surface “à force de souffrance.” Under the name of the “body without organs
of Artaud,” 11 a pure language-affect of breath-words (mots-souffles) and
howl-words (mots-cris), of words-actions and words-passions exclusively
tonic and not written, is substituted for the effect of language. The
language-affect of an ex-pulsive body – or, better, quoting Artaud:
“l’espace du souffle entre la fuite de tous les mots.” 12 It is a machine
which breathes. Deleuze writes – and it has to be quoted at length to let
Deleuze ‘himself’ declare this BwO workshop open,” to feel the Body without
Organs dis-organ-ising the philosophical surface (including that of
Deleuze’s bio-philosophy, this experience being indissociable from ’68 and
from his political decision to work with Guattari in 1969): Nothing is more
fragile than the surface. […] We see now that we have changed elements,
that we have entered a storm. We might have thought to be still among little
girls and children, but we are already in an irreversible madness. We might
have believed to be at the latest edge of literary research, at the point of
the highest invention of languages and words; we are already faced by the
agitations of a convulsive life, in the night of a pathological creation
affecting bodies. […] [We are] in another world and in an entirely
different language. With horror, we recognize it easily: it is the language
of schizophrenia. Even the portmanteau words seem to function differently,
being caught up in syncopes and being overloaded with gutterals. We measure
at the same moment the distance separating Carroll’s language and Artaud’s
language – the former emitted at the surface, the latter carved into the
depth of bodies. We measure the difference between their respective
problems. We’re thus able to acknowledge the full impact of the declarations
made by Artaud in his letter from Rodez: ‘I have not produced a translation
of ‘Jabberwocky’. I tried to translate a fragment of it, but it bored me. I
never liked this poem, which always struck me as an affected infantilism…
I do not like poems or languages of the surface which smell of happy
leisures and of intellectual success – as if the intellect relied on the
anus, but without any heart or soul in it. The anus is always terror, and I
will not admit that one loses an excrement without being torn from, thereby
losing one’s soul as well, and there is no soul in ‘Jabberwocky’… One may
invent one’s language, and make pure language speak with an
extra-grammatical or a-grammatical meaning, but this meaning must have value
in itself, that is, it must issue from torment… ‘Jabberwocky’ is the work
of a profiteer who, satiated after a fine meal, seeks to indulge himself in
the pain of others… When one digs through the shit of being and its
language, the poem necessarily smells badly, and ‘Jabberwocky’ is a poem
whose author took steps to keep himself from the uterine being of suffering
into which every great poet has plunged, and having been born from it,
smells badly. There are in ‘Jabberwocky’ passages of fecality, but it is the
fecality of an English snob, who curls the obscene within himself like
ringlets of hair around a curling iron… It is the work of a man who ate
well – and this makes itself felt in his writing…’ Summing this up, we
could say that Artaud considers Lewis Carroll a pervert, a little pervert,
who holds onto the establishment of a surface language, and who has not felt
the real problem of a language in depth – namely, the schizophrenic problem
of suffering, of death, and of life. To Artaud, Carroll’s games seem
puerile, his food too worldly, and even his fecality hypocritical and too
well bred.” 13 We are in another world… In a world that sees through the
“ridiculousness of the thinker,” of the “abstract thinker,” “remaining on
the shore,” limiting him/herself to the counter-actualization of the violent
alternative of the Body without Organs – “to the actor or dancer’s simple,
flat representation.” 14 And if, as Deleuze concludes, we would not give a
single page of Artaud for the complete works of Carroll, it’s because
Artaud’s Body without Organs hurts philosophy in such a way that Deleuzian
biophilosophy has no other choice than to act the productivity of the
surface from the intensities of the schizo body and “its progressive and
creative disorganisation.” It will be the task of Anti-Oedipus to give to
contemporary philosophy the plane of immanence as this surface of
intensities, without which concepts can’t be real, and as the movement of
life going through the material field of thought in a body without subject,
interacting a machinic body. Break, breakthrough without which materialism
remains an Idea, or a Decision (Badiou, Lardreau, and their viva the
Materialism! 15); without which conceptual operations can’t be made as
physical ones. (The physicality of the concept – as a “center of vibrations”
– is developed in What is Philosophy?, Deleuze and Guattari’s
testament-book. But we also have to quote Deleuze’s answer, in an interview
from 1980: “The idea of a non-organic life is constant in A Thousand
Plateaus. It’s precisely the life of the concept.” This Nietzschean
affirmation associates the Body without Organs with the Dionysian
insurrection against the Apollinian world and Schopenhauerian philosophy…)
Dionysian breakthrough, without which the
gg = BwO can’t be experimented with as the “schizophrenic unconscious” of
the world giving its internal conditions to events, as the only consistancy
of concepts. (The confrontation Deleuze/Badiou on this question of the Event
is, here, absolutely fundamental – knowing that Badiou, in his book about
Deleuze, totally eliminated the works with Guattari because he needed to
ignore the renewal of Deleuzian philosophy from the BwO’s breakthrough 16…)
It is in this experimental sense – on a field of transcendantal
experimentation – that the Body without Organs is indissociable from the
absolute break/down it provoked in the Deleuzian discourse, from the
Thirteenth series of The Logic of Sense to the opening of Anti-Oedipus (it
cost Deleuze the Collège de France): “It breathes, it heats, it eats. It
shits and fucks. What a mistake to have ever said the id. Everywhere it is
machines – real ones, not figurative ones: machines driving other machines,
machines being driven by other machines, with all the necessary couplings
and connections.” 17 Substituting this machinic constructivism for the
structuralist one, Deleuze and Guattari offer the Body without Organs as the
physical identity between Expressionism and Constructivism. Physical
identity means that it is not anymore a problem for thought (thought
“immanent to life”) but the vital dimension of life, of the body, into which
thought plunges to reach the unthought, 18 to become philosophy AND
non-philosophy, flowing “into this emotion that makes the mind aware of this
terrible, disturbing sun of matter, and passes through its white hot flame”
(Artaud). A “philosophical reversal” (Deleuze’s terms) allowing the
philosopher, in this schizo experimentation, “to become nonphilosopher so
that non-philosophy becomes the earth and people of philosophy.” 19 The
crystallisation on the ‘BwO’ of the viral and rhizomatic diffusion of
Deleuzo-Guattarian thought we evoked at the beginning has no other ground
than this mutual becoming. It realises the equation Expression =
Construction = Becoming (the unthinkable for Badiou’s Lacanian
Post/Hyper-Structuralism 20), and involves “nothing but bands of intensity,
potentials, thresholds, and gradients. A harrowing, emotionally overwhelming
experience, which brings the schizo as close as possible to matter, to a
burning living center of matter.” 21 The question, here, is not to answer
once more to the mauvais procès regarding the so-called “apology for
schizophrenia,” supposedly incorporated in the notion of the Body without
Organs. Deleuze and Guattari did it at length in A Thousand Plateaus. When
the BwO becomes the name of the becoming of philosophy itself, the first
question is to determine as precisely as possible the lines of becoming
implied by this new feeling. (In the sense in which Artaud wrote that
thought “has to be able to answer to all the manifestations of feeling and
life.” 22) I see two lines, which are necessarily and absolutely One,
informing and deforming the plane of consistency of Deleuzo-Guattarian
thought: 1 / The Logic of Sense becomes a Logic of Sensation; 2 /
Biophilosophy realises itself as a Biopolitics. To conclude, let’s
briefly follow these two lines of becoming. 1 / The aporetic lot of The
Logic of Sense is fixed in its last paragraph, when the question of a
‘something else’ remains as the fact of the Stoic-Carrollian logic of sense,
and which must await the work of art to come which will only give an answer.
In Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature (1975), published by Deleuze and
Guattari as a sort of Appendix to Anti-Oedipus, the ‘something else’ is a
sequence of intensive states forming a collective becoming which limits
Sense to the direction of its “lines of flight.” (“Du sens, subsiste
seulement de quoi diriger les lignes de fuite [Of sense there remains only
enough to direct the lines of flight].” 23) An asignifying, intensive use of
language, “speaking on the same level as states of things (parlant à même
les choses ),” 24 which gives to the syntax the forces’ cry, and makes it a
machine of expression in an intense matter = energy. These forces are all
positives in relation to the intensity = 0 of the Body without Organs, a
“production of the real as an intensive magnitude starting at zero” (that’s
why the BwO is an egg) 25, and requires an “I feel” deeper than any vécu… To
feel is to become, to become-other. I feel that I become means that what is
real is the becoming itself, the breakthrough of the nomadic intensities
produced on the BwO – and this is not a correspondance of relations making a
structure, fixing the becoming in a structure (against Structuralism: “a
correspondance of relations does not add up to a becoming” 26). Kafka (the
becomings-animal of Kafka) meets Artaud (a world of pure intensities) when
Art has no other question than “to capture forces” (capter des forces)
because force is the constitutive condition of sensation for a body; because
sensation reaches the body by breaking through the organism which imprisons
life. But at this point, Literature, “Minor Literature,” must be relieved by
Painting, Painting rendering visible, immediately, the “pure presence of the
body,” the materiality of the body, its intensive reality as a Body without
Organs liberated from its organic representation. (The figure of D.H.
Lawrence is important here: not only because he suddenly began to paint in
1926 – four years before his death –; but after all, because his conception
of the plastic arts is based on the reality of a glorious body which, after
having animated his literary works, necessarily turned to the pictural
act 27.) Painting makes the Bwo visible in the sensation: this experience
has been Artaud’s, who discovered the “body without organs” through Van Gogh
– Van Gogh le suicidé de la société 28 – and, possibly, anticipated this
discovery in drawings which (explains Artaud) “are not anymore artistic
themes,” “works of art, works of aesthetic simulation.” Action-drawing, says
Derrida 29. (See illustrations No. 2, 3, and 9, for the sequence: “Couti
l’anatomie,” c. september 1945, “La potence du gouffre,” c. october 1945,
“L’exécration du Père-Mère,” april 1946, and “La projection du véritable
corps,” november 1946 – december 1947/january 1948 30.) There is no other
reason for the Logic of Sense to be substituted with the Logic of Sensation,
and to be associated with painting, once painting, action-painting
hystericaly presents (“by an excess of presence”) the sequence Expression =
Construction = Becoming – and does so without the concept of ‘sign’
(deconstructed, in terms of literature, in the Kafka book). Francis Bacon.
Logic of Sensation (1981) follows A Thousand Plateaus (1980) so closely
because painting presents materially the work of art as “a being of
sensation, and nothing else” 31… Being the most Cezannian of contemporary
painters, Bacon makes – Deleuze explains –truth fall back on the body to
liberate through its de-formation, its dis-organ-isation, a most profound
and almost unlivable Power (une Puissance plus profonde et presque
invivable) 32. What is this truth? It is less an aesthetic truth than the
truth as pure sensible, the intensive truth of the Body without Organs which
embodies aesthetics as aisthesis = sensation. Logic of Sensation means that
any true immanence is “aisthetic” – and that it is the work of art to
express it in a politics of sensation, constructing a block of sensation
that “stands alone” (the Whiteheadian expression rediscovered by Deleuze and
Guattari in What is Philosophy?) as a new possibility of life. This means
a politics of sensation rather than an ‘aesthetics’ in the common sense of
the notion. Because Art is not an end, but a way to draw lines of life, a
way to liberate matters of expression in constructing new sensible
territorialities which involve real becomings as the real media of Art in
its vital association with Non-Art. An Art and an Anti-Art. (Extending this
Artaudian line, we come across the material actions of Viennese Actionism,
plunging bodies into the chaos of sensations, dis-organ-ising them to
present bodies as Living Paintings of a schizo process involving a “machinic
unconscious.” Mühl especially, who proposed the “guiding principle Materie =
Farbe,” and writes: “in the material action, the body is like a broken egg
that lets its yolk be seen”). 2 / That Biophilosophy realises itself as a
Biopolitics, as a Politics of Being qua Life constitutively related to
Sensation (and not anymore, necessarily, under the conditions of the
Unconscious), it means “How Do You Make Yourself A Body Without Organs?” 33.
Before being a question, it is a constructive answer to the crack up of a
Logic of Sense, as formalised in the Twenty-Second series, “Porcelain and
Volcano”: “If to will is to will the event, how could we not also will its
full actualization in the corporeal mixture, subject to this tragic will
which presides over all ingestions? […] [Perhaps] it is possible to
maintain the inherence of the incorporeal crack while taking care not to
bring it into existence, and not to incarnate it in the depth of the body?
More precisely, is it possible to limit ourselves to the
counter-actualization of an event – to the actor or dancer’s simple, flat
representation – while taking care to prevent the full actualization which
characterizes the victim or the true patient? All these questions point out
the ridiculousness of the thinker: […] When Artaud speaks of the erosion of
thought as something both essential and accidental, a radical impotence and
nevertheless a great power, it is already from the bottom of schizophrenia.
Each one risked something and went as far as possible in taking this risk;
each one drew from it an irrepressible right. What is left for the abstract
thinker once she has given advice of wisdom and distinction? Well then, are
we to speak of Bousquet’s wound, about Fitzgerald’s and Lowry’s alcoholism,
Nietzsche’s and Artaud’s madness while remaining on the shore? Are we to
become the professionals who give talks on these topics? […] Indeed, how
are we to stay on the surface without staying on the shore? How do we save
ourselves by saving the surface and every surface organization including
language and life? How is this politics, this full guerilla warfare to be
attained?” 34 A politics, a complete guerilla warfare through which Artaud
is Spinoza raised from the dead (Spinoza ressuscité) because it is only from
Artaud the Schizo that we can “try to perceive and understand Spinoza by way
of the middle.” 35 It means that the great book about the BwO is the Ethics
because the only universal process is Schizophrenia as the field of
immanence of desire (it is through the BwO that we desire, the BwO is the
continuum of desire). The fact that “the same word, schizo, […] to designate
both the eventual breakthough and the possible breakdown, and all the
transitions, the implications of the two extremes” is the inevitable
confirmation of the absolute productivity of the schizophrenic process, and
of its social repression everytime desire is taken away from its field of
immanence by the organ-ised transcendances of the Judgement of God. The
breakdown: “the more the process of production is led off course, brutally
interrupted, the more the shizo-as-entity arises as a specific product.” 36
If the BwO is the Real, always-already expressed, but which has to be
singularly constructed for each of us, there where the intensities go and
break through; if it is “not at all a notion or a concept, but a practice, a
set of practices” 37 implying a maximum of caution to be able to separate
the BwO from its emptied or cancerous doubles, it is because the Body
without Organs is the Combat in us. What combats Judgement and all the
organ-isations that imprison life, all the regressions that render desire
fascist or mortified; but, after all, as Deleuze explains in this late text,
“To Have Done With Judgement,” it is the combat between forces, the combat
by which a force captures and eliminates others, all these associations of
forces creating a selective becoming and produced by a powerfull non-organic
vitality. Make Combat, not War. Because the Judgement of God is always on
the side of war, against the social power of difference. “In war,» Deleuze
writes in a terribly actual proposition, «the will to power means that the
will wants strength [puissance] as a maximum of power [pouvoir] or
domination.” 38 Combat War – or, Comment se faire un Corps sans organes.
This was the beginning of Pour en finir avec le jugement de dieu, when
Artaud was combating the American relation to war, “to demonstrate by the
crushing properties of force the superiority of American products.” 39 With
Artaud and his burning will “to practise life” (exercer la vie), Deleuze and
Guattari draw the lines of a “becoming-revolutionary” for the present world.
This is the BwO Condition for their philosophy to become an onto-
ethopoiethics. 40
* The notes from which I (dis-?)organised this communication (as required
by a workshop) have been directly written in English. Stephen Zepke did the
transcription and revised the final version. I am particularly grateful to
him for this work and for his suggestions. This communication had as its
first necessity the “re-presentation” of the Body without Organs in
Deleuzian / Deleuzo-Guattarian thought.
1 I use this locution in a very immediate and primitive way, as a sort of
‘phenomenological’ description of this new oedipian ‘D&G’ territoriality,
which has nothing to do with Keith Ansell Pearson’s use of this term (I
have only seen this now correcting the transcription of my communication!)
when he writes that Difference and Repetition produced a “unique
‘schizo-scholasticism’,” cf. K.A. Pearson, Germinal Life. The difference
and repetition of Deleuze, London-New York, Routledge, 1999, p. 2.
2 Michel Foucault, Preface to Anti-Oedipus, Minneapolis, University of
Minnesota Press, 1983, p. xii-xiii. In a text published in 1983,
“L’écriture de soi,” Foucault also understands the “aesthetics of the
existence” as an “ethopoiethics;” re-edited in M. Foucault, Dits et
écrits, vol. IV, Paris, Gallimard, 1994, p. 415-430.
3 Gilles Deleuze, “Entretien sur l’Anti-Œdipe” [1972], Pourparlers, Paris,
Minuit, 1990, p.24 .
4 See Deleuze’s article “Gilbert Simondon, L’Individu et sa genèse
physico-biologique,” Revue philosophique de la France et de l’Etranger, vol.
CLVI, n° 1-3, janvier-mars 1966, p. 115-8; re-edited in Gilles Deleuze,
L’Île déserte et autres textes (Textes et entretiens 1954-1974), Paris,
Minuit, 2002, p. 120-4. Simondon’s book was published in 1964 (Paris, PUF)
– it means (in terms of the Deleuzian chronology) exactly between
Nietzsche et la philosophie (1962) and Le bergsonisme (1966). On the
question of the egg, Deleuze constantly refers to A. Dalcq, L’Œuf et son
dynamisme organisateur, Paris, Albin Michel, 1941.
5 See Gilles Deleuze, Spinoza. Philosophie pratique, Paris, PUF, 1970;
re-edited, modified and augmented in 1981 (Paris, Minuit). Spinoza:
Practical Philosophy, San Francisco, City Light Books, 1988.
6 Gilles Deleuze, Logique du sens, Paris, Minuit, 1969, p. 124-5; The
Logic of Sense, New York, Columbia University Press, 1990, p. 102-3. See as
well, in the Fifteenth series, “Of singularities,” the footnote about
Simondon’s book which presents it as a new conception of the
7 This crucial ‘example’ is given by Deleuze at the very beginning of his
important article about Structuralism, cf. G. Deleuze, “A quoi reconnaît-on
le structuralisme?,” in F. Châtelet (ed.), Histoire de la philosophie, t.
VII: Le XXe siècle, Paris, Hachette, 1972; republished in Deleuze, L’Île
déserte, op.cit., p. 239. “How Do We Recognize Structuralism?” in C. S.
Stivale, The Two-Fold Thought of Deleuze and Guattari: Intersections and
Animations, New York, The Guilford Press, 1998, p. 259. The article was
written in 1967 and is presented as such: “We are in 1967,” underlines
Deleuze. Let’s remember that Anti-Œdipe was published in 1972, the same
year as the ‘structuralist’ article, but the ‘Carollian’ plane of
Structuralism affirmed in the article clearly makes it philosophically
contemporary to The Logic of Sense (1969).
8 Deleuze, “A quoi reconnaît-on le structuralisme?”, loc.cit., p. 244;
“How Do We Recognize Structuralism?”, in C. S. Stivale, op.cit., p. 263.
9 Deleuze, Logique du sens, op.cit., p. 88; Logic of Sense, op.cit., p.
10 Deleuze, “A quoi reconnaît-on le structuralisme?” loc.cit., p. 245, p.
269; “How Do We Recognize Structuralism?” in C. S. Stivale, op.cit., p.
264, p. 282.
11 Deleuze quotes the following passage of Artaud’s in a footnote: “Pas de
bouche Pas de langue Pas de dents Pas de larynx Pas d’œsophage Pas
d’estomac Pas de ventre Pas d’anus Je reconstruirai l’homme que je suis”
(Logique du sens, p. 108). “No teeth No larynx No esophagus No stomach No
intestine No anus I shall reconstruct the man that I am” (Logic of Sense,
op.cit., p. 342).
12 Antonin Artaud, “Projet de lettre à Georges Le Breton,” in Œuvres
complètes, Paris, Gallimard, vol. XI, p. 187.
13 Deleuze, Logique du sens, p. 101-4; Logic of Sense, op.cit., p. 82-4.
We should notice that in his article about Louis Wolfson’s book, Le schizo
et les langues, Deleuze writes that the vitalist cosmology of the Artaudian
body without organs, because of Artaud’s breath-words, goes beyond the
limits of the Wolfsonian ‘equation’ in its proximity to Carroll’s games
(Gilles Deleuze, “Louis Wolfson, ou le procédé,” Critique et clinique,
Paris, Minuit, 1993, p. 28, n. 5; reedition modified of the preface to
Wolfson’s book, Paris, Gallimard, 1970, entitled “Schizologie;” Essays
Critical and Clinical, “Louis Wolfson, or, The Procedure,” Minneapolis,
Minnesota University Press, 1997, p. 16).
14 Deleuze, Logique du sens, op.cit., p. 183-4; Logic of Sense, op.cit.,
p. 157.
15 See the pseudo-anonymous, Vive le materialisme!, Lagrasse, Verdier,
16 Cf. Alain Badiou, Deleuze. La Clameur de l’Etre, Paris, Hachette, 1997;
see also the “Dossier Badiou/Deleuze” I published in Futur Antérieur, n°
43, 1997-98/3 and Multitudes, n° 1, mars 2000 – and its prolongation in my
article “Badiou. La grâce de l’universel,” Multitudes, n° 6, septembre
17 Deleuze, Anti-Œdipe, op.cit., p. 7; Anti-Oedipus, op.cit., p. 1.
18 Cf. Gilles Deleuze, “L’immanence: une vie…,” Philosophie, n° 47,
septembre 1995. Deleuze’s very last text “Immanence: A Life…,” Pure
Immanence. Essays on Life, New York, Zone Books, 2001. Id., L’image-temps,
Paris, Minuit, 1985, p. 246 : “‘Donnez-moi donc un corps’ : c’est la
formule du renversement philosophique. Le corps n’est plus l’obstacle qui
sépare la pensée d’elle-même, ce qu’elle doit surmonter pour arriver à
penser. C’est au contraire ce dans quoi elle plonge ou doit plonger, pour
atteindre à l’impensé, c’est-à-dire à la vie. Non pas que le corps pense,
mais obstiné, têtu, il force à penser, et force à penser ce qui se dérobe
à la pensée, la vie. On ne fera plus comparaître la vie devant les
catégories de la pensée, on jettera la pensée dans les catégories de la
vie. [ / ] ‘Give me a body then’: this is the formula of philosophical
reversal. The body is no longer the obstacle that separates thought from
itself, that which it has to overcome to reach thinking. It is on the
contrary that which it plunges into or must plunge into, in order to reach
the unthought, that is life. Not that the body thinks, but, obstinate and
stubborn, it forces us to think, and forces us to think what is concealed
from thought, life. Life will no longer appear before the categories of
thought: thought will be thrown into the categories of life.” Cinema 2, The
Time-Image, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1989 p. 189.
19 Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, Qu’est-ce que la philosophie?, Paris,
Minuit, 1991, p. 105; What Is Philosophy?, New York, Columbia University
Press, 1994 p. 109.
20 With this equation, we verify that Deleuzo-Guattarian thought is not a
Post-Structuralism (if this notion has not a purely chronological meaning).
Conversely and strictly speaking, one can say that The Logic of Sense tried
to develop a Post-Structuralist philosophy. In his recent book, Le périple
structural, figures et paradigme (Paris, Le Seuil, 2002), Jean-Claude
Milner presents, quite rightly, Lacanism as a Hyper-Structuralism – and
reads Anti-Oedipus as ‘anti-structure.’
21 Quoting the beginning of this passage from Anti-Oedipus, p. 19: “The
breasts on […] judge [Schreber’s] naked torso are neither delirious nor
hallucinatory phenomena: they designate, first of all, a band of intensity,
a zone of intensity on his body without organs. The body without organs is
an egg: it is crisscrossed with axes and thresholds, with latitudes and
longitudes and geodesic lines, traversed by gradients marking the
transitions and the becomings, the destinations of the subject developing
along these particular vectors. Nothing here is representative; rather, it
is all life and lived experience: the actual, lived emotion of having
breasts does not resemble breasts, it does not represent them, any more
than a predestined zone in the egg resembles the organ that it is going to
be stimulated to produce within itself.” Unsurprisingly, the third Thesis
of Viva the Materialism reads: as pure Decision, “Materialism has nothing
to do with matter” – this, of course, is said against Deleuze (cf. G.
Lardreau, L’exercice différé de la philosophie. A l’occasion de Deleuze,
Lagrasse, Verdier, 1999).
22 Antonin Artaud, “Lettre à monsieur le législateur de la loi sur les
stupéfiants,” Œuvres complètes, Paris, Gallimard vol. I, p. 68: “qu’elle
[la pensée] puisse répondre à toutes les manifestations du sentiment et de
la vie.”
23 Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, Kafka. Pour une littérature mineure,
Paris, Minuit 1975, p. 39; Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature,
Minneapolis-London, University of Minnesota Press, 1986, p. 21.
24 Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, Mille plateaux, Paris, Minuit, 1980, p.
110; A Thousand Plateaus, London, Athlone Press, 1988, p. 87.
25 Deleuze/Guattari, Mille plateaux, op.cit., p. 189-190; A Thousand
Plateaus, op.cit., p. 153.
26 Cf. Deleuze/Guattari, Mille plateaux, op.cit., p. 290; A Thousand
Plateaus, op.cit., p. 237. The critique of Structuralism is developed in
Plateau 10 (“Becoming-intense, Becoming-animal, Becoming-imperceptible…”).
27 See D.H. Lawrence, “Introduction to these paintings,” in The Paintings
of D.H. Lawrence, Mandrake Press, 1929. In “Pour en finir avec le
jugement,” chap. XV of Critique et clinique, Deleuze refers the body
without organs to both Artaud and Lawrence (p. 164); Essays Critical and
Clinical, “To Have Done with Judgement,” p. 131.
28 Artaud’s texts with the “body without organs” are gathered in the
volume XIII (!) of the Œuvres complètes, Paris, Gallimard. This volume
consists of Van Gogh le suicidé de la société (1947); Pour en finir avec
le jugement de dieu (1948); Le Théâtre de la cruauté (1948).
29 Jacques Derrida, Artaud le Moma, Paris, Galilée, 2002, p. 98.
30 These four drawings are presented in the exhibition “Hommage à Antonin
Artaud,” Museum moderner Kunst (mumok), Vienna, 7 September – 17 November
2002, curated by Cathrin Pichler and Hans-Peter Litscher. On the drawing “La
potence du gouffre,” we read: “La potence du gouffre est l’être et non son
âme et c’est son corps.”
31 Deleuze/Guattari, Qu’est-ce que la philosophie?, op.cit., p. 155; What
Is Philosophy?, op.cit., p. 164.
32 Cf. Deleuze, Francis Bacon. Logique de la sensation, Paris, Ed. de la
Différence, 1981, chap. VII (“L’hystérie”) and VIII (“Peindre les forces”).
33 Associated with the Artaudian date of November 28th 1947 – the date of
“Pour en finir avec le jugement de dieu” – “Comment se faire un Corps sans
Organes?” is the title of Plateau 6. In the Preface to the Italian
translation of A Thousand Plateaus, Deleuze and Guattari explain that its
difference to Anti-Oedipus is that multiplicity is no longer considered as
a synthesis under the conditions of the Unconscious, but as a pure
substantive (p. XII). Plateau 6 will develop the idea that Artaud’s
Héliogabale and Tarahumaras express precisely this “multiplicity of
fusion, the fusibility as infinite zero, plane of consistancy” (p. 196). It
means that from Anti-Oedipus to A Thousand Plateaus, Artaud is still at
34 Deleuze, Logique du sens, op.cit., p. 183-4; Logic of Sense, op.cit.,
p. 157-8.
35 Deleuze, Spinoza. Philosophie pratique, op.cit., p. 164; Spinoza:
Practical Philosophy, op.cit., p. 122.
36 Deleuze, F. Guattari, Anti-Œdipe, op.cit., p. 161-2; Anti-Oedipus,
op.cit., p. 136.
37 Deleuze, F. Guattari, Mille plateaux, op.cit., p. 186; A Thousand
Plateaus, op.cit., p. 149-150.
38 Deleuze, “Pour en finir avec le jugement,” in Critique et clinique,
op.cit., p. 167; Essays critical and clinical, op.cit., p. 133.
39 Cf. Artaud, “Pour en finir avec le jugement de dieu,” loc.cit., p. 72:
“[les Américains] veulent à toute force et par tous les moyens possibles
faire et fabriquer des soldats en vue de toutes les guerres
planétaires qui pourraient ultérieurement avoir lieu, et qui seraient
destinés à démontrer par les vertus écrasantes de la force la
surexcellence des produits américains, et des fruits de la saveur
américaine sur tous les champs de l’activité et du dynamisme possible de la
force.” – English translation in Antonin Artaud Selected Writings,
Berkeley, University of California Press, 1988, p. 555: “[The Americans]
want at all costs and by every possible means to make and manufacture
soldiers with a view to all the planetary wars which might take place, and
which would be intended to demonstrate by the overwhelming virtues of force
the superiority of American products, and the fruits of American sweat in
all fields of activity and of the superiority of the possible dynamism of
40 In La Signature du monde, ou Qu’est-ce que la philosophie de Deleuze et
Guattari?, Paris, Cerf, 1993, I experimented the concept of