How Do You Make Yourself a Body-Without-Organs?

When asked, via other channels, what twentieth-century theorist I am, I should have known the eventual response:

You are Giles Deleuze and Felix Guattari! That’s right! You’re two people! Actually, you’re probably a lot more than that, because you argued that all of us are, fundamentally, schizophrenics. Your notion of the rhizome is far too popular amoung people who fantasize about digital technology. One of you is dead, and the other isn’t.

My students, who hated A Thousand Plateaus by what I take to be about an 18-to-2 margin, will either find this hysterically funny, or aggravatingly typical, or will simply smirk in an ironic gesture of knowingness.


  1. I’m Michel Foucault, apparently.

    So far as I can tell, the quiz doesn’t really acknowledge the existence of women…note the “who really hates you” (your wife?) and “who likes you sections” (your frat broters), etc.

  2. Not to mention, of course, the man-hating feminists. But I found myself most bemused by the lack of imagination in the “what pisses you off?” responses. There are ever so many things that piss me off, and the only one that came close at all was “racists.” Sigh.

  3. There aren’t any undergraduates (I don’t think an 18-22 year old could be trained from birth to do it) capable of understanding that book, so the resentment you observed was to be expected.

    We can, of course, quibble about the what “understanding” means and whether you (or I) understand it ourselves; but I think the honest and informed observer will agree with me.

    The key issue is whether the book can be understood without something closely approximating Deleuze’s philosphical background and range of reference, which no one that young can possibly have.

  4. KF does get to teach graduate students, if I’m not mistaken.

    I took the quiz and came out Jacques Lacan, which is weird because I hate psychoanalytic theory. I wonder what that says about me…? No, wait! No I don’t!

  5. Actually, I do get to teach grad students, via CGU, but it is the undergrads upon whom I inflicted (their construction; to whom I most generously granted, being mine) D&G. They got enough to know to be baffled. And two of them, as my stats suggest, really dug it, whether they “understood” it or not. I figure ten percent is not bad for the digging. And understanding — one of me wants to argue that understanding is all wrong as a mode of engagement with the plateaus. Too linear. Too (phal)logocentric. I think one can only “understand” D&G as one “understands” a poem — through immersion, re-reading, and writing, writing, writing.

  6. Turns out I’m Foucault, too. Which makes sense, I guess, except for the whole S&M club scene and his, umm, problematic stance on Marxism.

    But I like teaching “Panopticism.” Even though I don’t think it correctly describes contemporary social relations….

  7. And understanding — one of me wants to argue that understanding is all wrong as a mode of engagement with the plateaus. Too linear. Too (phal)logocentric. I think one can only “understand” D&G as one “understands” a poem

    As one pro to another, you don’t really believe this bullshit, do you? Of course you don’t. It’s all very ludic.

    There are two broad intepretations of Deleuze as far as I can see: 1) it’s a kind of Rorschach test and 2) you can get it if you’ve read enough of his sources. I suppose most lit folks subscribe to #1. I’m more of a #2 person, myself.

  8. Ah, it’s only one of me who wants to make that argument. Fortunately, I am multiple enough to embrace both positions. Which is to say, yes. And yes.

  9. Make that thrice.

    My turn to wear the Lacan hat. And, like George, I find the idea odd, b/c I really dislike psychoanalytic theory…

    Tell me about your mother.

  10. Well I don’t know what it says about this allegedly phallocentric quiz, but I ended up a woman, Julia Kristeva. I have no real idea who she is, and I think I got assigned to her because the only word I picked was “intertextual.” But I suppose I could do worse than be a student of Barthes. Plus, I’m not dead.

  11. Actually, I’ve decided that there’s either a random theorist generator working behind the quiz-scenes, or one is assigned, in the best tradition of graduate school, precisely the theorist one attempts to avoid. I most intentionally did not choose either “deterritorialization” or “schizophrenia,” and still ended up D&G. It’s like our very own return of the repressed.

  12. Yeah, well, at least none of you ended up Louis Althusser. I don’t mind the structuralism/marxism/psychoanalytic theory thing, but killing my wife and dying in an institution is a real drag.

  13. Hug spelt backwards is “guh” and with which theorist thinker would one associated such a vocable? “guh” a la Foucault. “guh” a la Lacan.

    Kristevean guh. Deleuzian guh. I wonder if Chun gets it…

    If Roscharch is to projecting and getting it is to extraction, where is the productive double bind of the classic schiz-analytic stance? Either/or or and/and/and !!

  14. as one of the 2 students who dug (dug-guh?) the mille plateaux, i had to laugh when i turned out to be none other than the dynamic duo themselves.

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