Between Desire and Pleasure

Between Desire and Pleasure: A Deleuzian Theory of Sexuality

Frida Beckman
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    Between Desire and Pleasure
    Book Description:

    Intervening into fields including posthumanist, disability, animal and feminist studies, and current critiques of capitalism and consumerism, Frida Beckman explores the possibility of recovering a theory of sexuality from Deleuze's work. She thereby makes a definitive contribution to cultural, conceptual and political debates about sexuality.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-4593-0
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vi-viii)
  4. Introduction: The Body without Orgasm
    (pp. 1-15)

    The notion of a plateau, or plateaus, is a suggestive one that stirs the imagination, or may even be felt in the body. The idea of a peak, or a number of peaks, around which intensities are built makes it almost too easy to allow oneself to make associations with some kind of graph of sexual excitation. Yet, the notion of a ‘plateau’, as Brian Massumi notes in his introduction toA Thousand Plateaus, must not be confused with direct sexual pleasure and release. Gregory Bateson’sdétournementof the word, in a study on Balinese culture, is based exactly on...

  5. 1 A Nonlinear History of Sexuality: Deleuze with Foucault
    (pp. 16-29)

    Deleuze’s understanding of pleasure as a mode of capture and his claiming of desire as a mode of production build on a rather disparate tradition of theories of sexuality. Therefore, it is necessary to approach hisoeuvrewith an eye to his ideas about pleasure and desire by identifying key moments of influence. Our point of arrival is an explication of how the relationship between desire and pleasure in Deleuze is illuminated, enhanced or problematised by the rich tradition of writing on which it is built. Deleuze’s philosophy of desire in general demands attention to how both cultural artefacts and...

  6. 2 Psychoanalysis Unhinged: Deleuze with Lacan, Klein and Reich
    (pp. 30-44)

    That Deleuze and Guattari disapprove of Freud’s conception of desire has been well noted. Their vehement rejection of the regulation of desire through Oedipal structures and the triangle of daddy-mummy-me in many ways serves as the very starting point of theirCapitalism and Schizophreniaproject. On the topic of the orgasm, Freud’s theories, which we will have occasion to return to repeatedly through this book, not least in Chapter 3, are largely preoccupied with keeping sexual pleasure under control and within the limits of ‘normal’ sexual exchange. Thus, for example, he argues that once girls hit puberty, clitoral orgasm should...

  7. 3 Folding, Individuation and the Pleasurable Body
    (pp. 45-69)

    After outlining some of the central theoretical explanations and impasses that have shaped Deleuze’s understanding of desire, pleasure and the orgasm, and before moving on to how specific pleasurable configurations of bodies in literature and culture challenge this understanding, this chapter offers a preliminary exploration of what a Deleuzian theory of the body and pleasure might look like. It also tests such a theory against contemporary conceptualisations of pleasurable bodies more generally. The body as other, as that which bleeds, and leaks, and comes back to haunt us in its glorious but fallible construction, has been of interest to theoretical...

  8. 4 Orgasmic Feminism
    (pp. 70-97)

    Positioned as secondary to male ejaculation, discouraged if clitoral, and seen as ‘signifying nothing’, the female orgasm has had a very different status in history than its male counterpart. On the one hand, a deeper understanding of the female orgasm has been overshadowed by its being subsumed as a subcategory of male sexuality, and on the other, the differences between how male and female sexual pleasure have been perceived and theorised are enormous. In both cases, it seems indefensible to disregard the deeply gendered politics of the orgasm, whether your aim is to defend its philosophical and political potential or...

  9. 5 Disabling Sex: Inventing a People who are Missing
    (pp. 98-119)

    Deleuze’s philosophy is intently preoccupied with the production that emerges through the collapse of the traditionally functional. The straight routes of the sea merchant, the unified subject and the organisation of the body called the organism all, in different ways, symbolise the stratification of desire and thereby the delimitation of becoming. Deleuze regards functionality through the lens of the social and political theft of the force of the body – the enforced organisation of matter according to transcendent principles of utility. The striated, as he notes with Guattari, produces distinct order and form and thereby fixes the variable into points between...

  10. 6 Becoming-Animal and the Posthuman Orgasm
    (pp. 120-144)

    As we have seen in previous chapters, part of Deleuze’s quarrel with sexual pleasure and the orgasm is the way in which he perceives them to tie subject and organism into one constitutive entity. Pleasure and orgasm are linked to a sexuality associated with stratified systems of interpretation and organisation, such as psychoanalysis and State power, that in different ways delimit and determine the boundaries of the body and what it can do. In this way, pleasure and the orgasm also come to stand in the way of desire as a force of connectivity and creation. As such, sexuality understood...

  11. 7 Capitalism and Sexuality
    (pp. 145-169)

    Where the previous chapters of this book have mapped the implications of Deleuze’s rejection of pleasure as a productive force, and the possibilities that emerge if we recuperate pleasure as part of his philosophy along a number of tracks, one central question remains. Throughout the present book I have worked through different ways in which traces of the Oedipal and distinctly male linger in Deleuze’s understanding of the orgasm and suggested ways in which a rethinking of sexual pleasure along more Deleuzian terms can assist in strengthening a Deleuzian conception of bodies, desires and pleasure. But if the Oedipal thus...

  12. Epilogue: Swedish Sin, or the Importance of Remaining Curious
    (pp. 170-178)

    When this book was still in its infancy, an American friend and Deleuze scholar insisted that being a Swedish woman writing about sex without addressing the associations between Swedish women and sex would simply be inappropriate. In the light of what this book has ended up as – a kind of defence of the cultural, conceptual and political importance of sexual pleasure – I find this comment rather intriguing. Just as I had no idea that the associations of Sweden with sex were so powerful until I started travelling beyond the Swedish borders, it had not crossed my mind that my interest...

  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 179-188)
  14. Index
    (pp. 189-192)