# DELEUZE /// Episode 5: The Body as a Desiring Machine


illustration by Fernando Vicente

In 1972, Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari publish the Anti-Oedipus (first volume of Capitalism and Schizophrenia before A Thousand Plateaus) which consisted in a frontal and very caustic criticism of psychoanalysis as it has been conceived by Freud and later by Lacan. Accusing psychoanalysts  to have the same relationship to their patient that priest have on their flock, Deleuze and Guattari -who was himself a student of Lacan- blame them for making the castration as an equivalent of the religious sin and for interpreting the unconscious as a theater. On the contrary the two French men, far from the dreams and fantasies as representation of the desire, invent a vision of the unconscious as a factory and the body as an assemblage of machines producing desire.

Those desiring machines are directly inspired by Antonin Artaud and his notion of bodies without organs but more expressively by William Burroughs and his Naked Lunch:

The physical changes were slow at first, then jumped forward in black klunks, falling through his slack tissue, washing away the human lines…In his place of total darkness mouth and eyes are one organ that leaps forward to snap with transparent teeth…but no organ is constant as regards either function or position…sex organs sprout anywhere…rectums open, defecate and close…the entire organism changes color and consistency in split-second adjustments…

Burroughs William. The Naked Lunch. Grove Press 

This text can be put in relation with the first paragraph of the Anti-Oedipus that manages as beautifully -Deleuze’s poetic style is another great thing about it even if some people might think the contrary- to describe this factory constituted by the body:

It is at work everywhere, functioning smoothly at times, at other times in fits and starts. It breathes, it heats, it eats. It shits and fucks. What a mistake to have ever saidt he id. Everywhereit is machines—real ones, not figurative ones: machines driving other ma- chines, machines being driven by other machines, with all the necessary couplings and connections. An organ-machine is plugged into an energy-source-machine: the one produces a flow that the other inter- rupts. The breast is a machine that produces milk, and the mouthi machine coupled to it. The mouth of the anorexic wavers between several functions: its possessor is uncertain as to whether it is an eating-machine, an anal machine, a talking-machine, or a breathing machine (asthma attacks). Hence we are all handymen: each with his little machines. For every organ-machine, an energy-machine: all the time, flows and interruptions. Judge Schreber* has sunbeams in his ass. A solar anus. And rest assured that it works: Judge Schreber feels something, produces something, and is capable of explaining the process theoretically. Something is produced: the effects of a machine, not mere metaphors.

Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari. Anti Oedipus. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000.

This paragraph introduce a new discipline created by Deleuze and Guattari, the schizo-analysis which consists at the same time in the destruction in what they consider as the transcendental masquerade from the psychoanalysts and as a study of the immanent production of those desiring machines that biologically and chemically produce the desire of our bodies.