“The BwO is the field of immanence of desire, the plane of consistency specific to desire (with desire as a process of production without reference to any exterior agency, whether it be a lack that hollows it or a pleasure that fills it).” (1000 Plateaus 154)
The body without organs (BwO), in other words, is what desire would construct on the plane of immanence/consistency, if left to its own devices and not caught into the axiomatic of capital. Whoa, lots of complicated concepts in the previous sentence, which need explanation. Let’s start with immanence, since this is the topic for today (this week/month?).
Can we talk of immanence without mentioning capitalism? Obviously, immanence is a philosophical concept that can stay on its own feet. Even in Deleuze (and Guattari) – and Guattari is in parentheses not because he’s an afterthought, but because Deleuze has written on immanence on his own, as well as with Guattari – immanence has its own distinct life, apart from capitalism. [What’s more, capitalism has constructed its plane of immanence by performing relative deterritorialization, and always deferring its own internal limits to prevent the creation of the BwO.] Wikipedia has a good discussion of the plane of immanence. However, where my understanding differs from common readings of the Deleuzian immanence is here: “Thus all real distinctions (mind and body, God and matter, interiority and exteriority, etc.) are collapsed or flattened into an even consistency or plane, namely immanence itself, that is, immanence without opposition” (Wikipedia, bold emphasis mine). As I tried to explain in the previous entry, I see the plane of immanence of corporatism as rhizomatic, rather than a flattening or collapsing of all the machines onto a literal flat plane. This doesn’t mean that I take the plane of immanence as a metaphor of something else; rather, I believe that flattening and collapsing are the metaphors by which discussants are making sense this pivotal notion for both Deleuzian philosophy, and for today’s world situation. I’m not sure if there’s anything wrong with resorting to metaphor to explain an utterly non-metaphorical discourse. However, when resistance to metaphor is another pillar of this discourse, caution and explanation are necessary. The idea of flattening arguably appears in D&G when they talk of smoothing and striation, but these concepts would unduly complicate this point.
Rather than resorting to the metaphor of flattening, one can view immanence as a network of rhizomatically connected machines and lines, which does not imply any two-dimensional collapse onto a literal plane. The plane is abstract, rather than metaphorical, and the idea that lines of flight can be potentially drawn in all directions supports the multi-dimensionality of the plane of consistency. A line of flight points to a possibility of escape, i.e., to the construction of a BwO and not to transcendence.
After all of this conceptual running in circles, what is the implication of immanence for corporatism?
Firstly, corporatism – the name I’m using for the present situation in which we find ourselves – refers to the overtaking of biopower by corporations (in Foucauldian terms), or to the appropriation/construction of the plane of immanence of desiring-production by the same corporations (in D&G speak). The notion of desiring-production already points to the imbrication of economic production with the reproduction of life. What that means, therefore, is that life itself, in all of its aspects, has become the domain of formerly exclusive economic entities, to the detriment of the State, which used to have the upper hand when it came to the administration of life. Again but with other words: corporations have made it their business to be concerned with both economic production and the less abstract motor behind it, i.e., the social force driving it, people’s lives and all of the other connected issues. Corporations have thus created themselves a plane of immanence, in which people are rhizomatically connected to industrial machines, to the more abstract bottom line, and to the even more abstract stock exchange performance of a particular company.
Six degrees of separation? Yes, but no longer restricted to people; instead, opened up for everything in existence. Fortunately, that’s also how we can escape it, change it, construct alternative (non-transcending) planes of immanence: “becoming is to extract particles between which one establishes the relations of movement and rest, speed and slowness that are closest to what one is becoming, and through which one becomes. This is the sense in which becoming is the process of desire” (1000 Plateaus 272).