Body Without Organs

From P2P Foundation
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Concept from Deleuze and Guattari, here explained by Manuel De Landa.

In simpler words??

Michel Bauwens:

This is how I understand the concept and its importance: there exists outside of us a myriads of elements and processes, in nature, life, and culture, that can aggregate and harden themselves in various structures: Hierarchy or Meshworks. An understanding of how these aggregate consolidate in hard (hierarchies) or softer (meshworks) structures is important if we want to have a greater mastery of social life.


"First of all, the fact that meshworks and hierarchies occur mostly in mixtures, makes it convenient to have a label to refer to these changing combinations. If the hierarchical components of the mix dominate over the meshwork ones we may speak of a highly stratified structure, while the opposite combination will be referred to as one with a low degree of stratification. Moreover, since meshworks give rise to hierarchies and hierarchies to meshworks, we may speak of a given mixture as undergoing processes of destratification as well as restratification, as its proportions of homogenous and heterogeneous components change. Finally, since according to this way of viewing things what truly defines the real world are neither uniform strata nor variable meshworks but the unformed and unstructured morphogenetic flows from which these two derive, it will also be useful to have a label to refer to this special state of matter-energy-information, to this flowing reality animated from within by self-organizing processes constituting a veritable non-organic life : the Body without Organs (BwO):

"The organism is not at all the body, the BwO; rather it is a stratum on the BwO, in other words, a phenomenon of accumulation, coagulation, and sedimentation that, in order to extract useful labor from the BwO, imposes upon it forms, functions, bonds, dominant and hierarchized organizations, organized trascendences...the BwO is that glacial reality where the alluvions, sedimentations, coagulations, foldings, and recoilings that compose an organism -and also a signification and a subject- occur. " (Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus. op. cit. p.159)

The label itself is, of course, immaterial and insignificant. We could as well refer to this cauldron of non-organic life by a different name. (Elsewhere, for instance, I called it the "machinic phylum"). (from: Felix Guattari. The Plane of Consistency. In Molecular Revolution. (Penguin Books, New York 1984). p. 120)

Unlike the name, however, the referent of the label is of extreme importance, since the flows of lava, biomass, genes, memes, norms, money (and many others) are crucial for the emergence of just about any stable structure that we cherish and value (or, on the contrary, that oppresses and slaves us). We could define the BwO in terms of this unformed, destratified flows, as long as we keep in mind that what counts as destratified at any given time and space scale is entirely relative. The flow of genes and biomass are "unformed" if we compare them to any given individual organism, but they themselves have internal forms and functions. Indeed, if instead of taking a planetary perspective we adopted a properly cosmic viewpoint, our entire planet (together with its flows) would itself be a mere provisional hardening in the vast flows of plasma which permeate the universe." (