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The Body Without Organs
A Corpus of Post-Modern Terms

Graphic Version List of Terms

An Introduction
By Zen Dochterman

This project came out of an undergraduate Anthropology course that I took at U.C. Santa Cruz entitled "Contemporary Cultural Theory". We read a number of post-modern theorists including Foucault, Baudrillard, Derrida, and Judith Butler. For my final paper I decided to make a definition list of some of the key terms covered in the course and to relate them to Deleuze and Guattari's idea of desiring-production and the body without organs. They argue that subjectivity is something grafted onto the disconnected sites of desire rather than the source of desire. The body without organs functions as a recording site for the workings of the organs (desiring-machines) whose productive nature is always in battle with the anti-production of the BwO. While desire appears to emanate from the BwO (as if it stood "behind all desire"), the BwO arises when these desiring machines break down. The BwO resists the organ-ization of the body that implies an individualized subject to whom all these organs are a "part of", as opposed to being autonomous producers of desire. The "body suffers from being organized in this way, from not having some other sort of organization or no organization at all" with the Oedipal structure of sexuality being the most obvious and perhaps most dangerous example of how the organs (genitals, mouth, anus) are defined and made to connect to only certain other machines, or none at all (Deleuze & Guattari 8). The relation of organs to the possible connecting machines produces subjectivities that define people as gay or straight, perverse or normal based on how desire is controlled. Deleuze and Guattari read the figure of Oedipus as the great regulator and normalizer of a potentially disjunctive and polymorphous production of desire, who relates all desire to mother, father, and childhood sexuality.

This website is an attempt to show how these post-modern terms work on the body in order to channel, redirect, control, de- and re-territorialize desries. I have established connections between terms that relate the effects that these discourses produce on the body to other sites that may display similar effects. If there is a major failing of the undertaking it is the fact that I have not displayed the conflicts that arise between terms, such as say "Oedipalization" and "Schizophrenia" other than by inference. I would like to somehow connect the terms so as to produce a discourse between them rather than presenting them as having isolated definitions. On a more technical note, choosing to make the body without organs white was only in order to imply its lack of skin color (as an organ and site of desire) and not to ignore the question of race in producing subjectivity, or defining a relation to desiring-production. I could not see a way around this complication by painting the body green or purple which might imply substance. Another failure is my presentation of the body as disconnected from the machines to which it might be attached such as books, hands, stars, or dirt. This has not been done to try to create the notion of an individual body but rather for lack of space and for the sake of clarity.

Finally, I feel that many undergraduates and other people feel that "theory," as it is usually disparagingly called, has nothing to do with real life on the streets, in our homes, and with friends. My purpose in this project is ultimately to show that "theory" is not the work of a handful of academics for the sake of producing marketable books, but that rather these theories affect our relation to our bodies, our world, other people and the desires that make connections between all of these things possible. Studying theory is a way of challenging the directions our desires take and the sites of connection prepared for them, the social situations these desires produce, and the "real life"consequences of societies' desires that are increasing the numbers of prisons, forging stricter immigration laws, and upholding sexist practices in work, school and home. Theory is a way of understanding the complex functioning of discipline, normalization, and the workings of power. More importantly, theory is a way of producing and rejoicing in new desires, revealing possiblities for more intense experiences, desubjectifying individuals, and connecting humans more intimately with the world around them.

Enter the Body Without Organs

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Thank you to Covell at UCSC for providing me with a number of definitions and to my brother Josef Dochterman who devoted many hours to setting this page up on the internet.

Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Trans. Robert Hurley, Mark Seem and Helen R. Lane. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1996.