Body without organs

The term originates from Antonin Artaud's radio play To Have Done with the Judgment of God (1947):

When you will have made him a body without organs, then you will have delivered him from all his automatic reactions and restored him to his true freedom.

The "body without organs" (French: corps sans organes) is a concept used by Deleuze. It usually refers to the deeper reality underlying some well-formed whole constructed from fully functioning parts. At the same time, it may also describe a relationship to one's literal body.

Deleuze began using the term in The Logic of Sense (1969), while discussing the experiences of playwright Antonin Artaud. "Body without Organs" (or "BwO") later became a major part of the vocabulary for Capitalism and Schizophrenia, two volumes (Anti-Oedipus [1972] and A Thousand Plateaus [1980]) written collaboratively with Félix Guattari. In these works, the term took on an expanded meaning, referring variously to literal bodies and to a certain perspective on realities of any type. The term's overloaded meaning is provocative, perhaps intentionally.

In Deleuze and Guattari's collaboration, the term describes an undifferentiated, unhierarchical realm that lies deeper than the world of appearances.

It relates to the proto-world described in the mythology of many different cultures. Deleuze and Guattari often use the example of the Dogon egg, based primarily on anthropological reports from Marcel Griaule. Describing the Dogon story of the origins of the cosmos, Griaule writes:

These primordial movements are conceived in terms of an ovoid form—'the egg of the world' (aduno tal)—within which lie, already differentiated, the germs of things; in consequence of the spiral movement of extension the germs develop first in seven segments of increasing length, representing the seven fundamental seeds of cultivation, which are to be found again in the human body [...]


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