- ---- by Bruce Baugh'Body' for Deleuze is defined as any whole composed of parts, where these parts stand in some definite relation to one another, and has a capacity for being affected by other bodies. The human body is just one example of such a body; the animal body is another, but a body can also be a body of work, a social body or collectivity, a linguistic corpus, a political party, or even an idea. A body is not defined by either simple materiality, by its occupying space ('extension'), or by organic structure. It is defined by the relations of its parts (relations of relative motion and rest, speed and slowness), and by its actions and reactions with respect both to its environment or milieu and to its internal milieu. The parts of a body vary depending on the kind of body: for a simple material object, such as a rock, its parts are minute particles of matter; for a social body, its parts are human individuals who stand in a certain relation to each other. The relations and interactions of the parts compound to form a dominant relation, expressing the 'essence' or a power of existing of that body, a degree of physical intensity that is identical to its power of being affected. A body exists when, for whatever reason, a number of parts enter into the characteristic relation that defines it, and which corresponds to its essence or power of existing. Since nature as a whole contains all elements and relations, nature as a whole is a body, a system of relations among its parts, expressing the whole order of causal relations in all its combinations.Deleuze is fond of quoting Baruch Spinoza's dictum that 'no one knows what a body can do'. The more power a thing has, or the greater its power of existence, the greater number of ways in which it can be affected. Bodies are affected by different things, and in different ways, each type of body being characterised by minimum and maximum thresholds for being affected by other bodies: what can and what cannot affect it, and to what degree. Certain external bodies may prove insufficient to produce a reaction in a body, or fail to pass the minimum threshold, whereas in other cases, the body being affected may reach a maximum threshold, such that it is incapable of being affected any further, as in a tick that dies of engorgement. A body being affected by another, such that the relations of its parts are the effect of other bodies acting on it, is a passive determination of the body, or passion. If an external body is combined or 'composed' with a body in a way that increases the affected body's power of being affected, this transition to a higher state of activity is experienced as joy; if the combination decreases the affected body's power of being affected, this is the affect of sadness. It is impossible to know in advance which bodies will compose with others in a way that is consonant with a body's characteristic relation or ratio of its parts, or which bodies will decompose a body by causing its parts to enter into experimental relations.Whether the effect is to increase or decrease a body's power of acting and being affected, one body affecting another, or producing effects in it, is in reality a combining and a mixing of the two bodies, and most often 'bit by bit', or part by part. Sometimes this mixing alters one of the bodies (as when food is altered in being assimilated, or when a poison destroys a body's vital parts); sometimes it alters both and produces a composite relation of parts that dominates the relations of both components (as when chyle and lymph mix to form blood, which is of a different nature from its components); and sometimes it preserves the relation of parts among them both, in which case the two bodies form parts of a whole. The characteristic relation that results from harmoniously combining the relations of the two component bodies into a 'higher individual' or 'collective person', such as a community or an association, corresponds to a collective power of being affected, and results in collective or communal affects. Since a body is a relation of parts corresponding to an essence, or a degree of physical intensity, a body need not have the hierarchical and dominating organisation of organs we call an 'organism'. It is rather an intensive reality, differentiated by the maximum and minimum thresholds of its power of being affected.Connectives§ power§ space
The Deleuze dictionary. Revised Edition Edited by Adrian Parr . 2010.