Psychoanalytic wibble about bdsm 2: Deleuze & Guattari!

Continuing our series on complete vacuous wibble on bdsm by Freud-inspired writers from twentieth century France, this one is concerned with “masochism”. Take it away, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari!

D & G: Delouse is on the left, demonstrating the 1970s French idea of a comb-over, Guattari, on the right, accessorises

D & G: Deleuze is on the left, demonstrating the 1970s French idea of a comb-over. Guattari, on the right, accessorises

“What is certain is that the masochist has made himself a BwO [Body without Organs] under such conditions that the BwO can no longer be populated by anything but intensities of pain, pain waves. It is false to say that the masochist is looking for pain but just as false to say that he is looking for pleasure in a particularly suspensive or roundabout way. The masochist is looking for a kind of BwO that only pain can fill, or travel over, due to the very conditions under which that BwO was constituted. Pains are populations, packs, modes of king-masochist-in-the-desert that he engenders and augments .”

From A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, The Althone Press, London, 1988, page 152.

Leaving aside the question of whether things like “king-Masochist-in-the-desert” actually mean anything, and the question of whether it means anything to say that pains are modes of king-masochist-in-the-desert, there’s a bigger problem when D & G talk about “masochism”.

Particularly nasty weather! "Leda and the Swan": photo by Ralph Gibson

Particularly nasty weather! “Leda and the Swan”: photo by Ralph Gibson

In their writings, words like “sadism” and “masochism” are sometimes used to mean “resemblance to the character or works of Sade, or Sacher-Masoch”, and sometimes used in some of the many other common meanings, some of which have something to do with sexual desires and tastes and some of which do not. Deleuze and Guattari slip from one meaning to another without ever indicating what either word is intended to mean at any particular moment.

But once you’ve written that a body without organs can only be populated by pain waves, and you didn’t immediately groan and delete it, then it hardly matters what you think you mean.

Oh bugger it, let’s have another hot swan.

"Ahh, tickle your arse with a feather," shouted Zeus. Sculpture by Igor Zeinalov

“Ahh, tickle your arse with a feather,” ejaculated Zeus. Sculpture by Igor Zeinalov

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