2020-02Thematic Section
Three Spheres of Catatonia in the Works of Gilles Deleuze


The text traces the development of the notion of catatonia in the work of Gilles Deleuze across three spheres – the individual (subjectivity), social and literary. The need for an analysis is based on (1) the author’s perception that Deleuze (and Guattari’s) thought on catatonia and slowness has been undervalued in many interpretations (particularly those linking the philosophers with accelerationism); (2) the recognition, in works of sociologists such as Hartmut Rosa, of the adverse effects of social acceleration. In the individual sphere, catatonia is the effect of a radical withdrawal into anti-production or the body without organs. In the social sphere, catatonia is also linked to anti-production, but since in capitalism most anti-production (or the socius) is included in the sphere of production (as capital), catatonia represents a special case of resistance to this tendency. Deleuze shows how these two spheres intertwine in his analyses of Herman Melville’s works, especially Billy Budd and Bartleby; the title characters of these two texts are interpreted as embodiments of the catatonic as a political-revolutionary figure.


Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, catatonia, schizophrenia, Herman Melville, slowness

How to cite:

Skonieczny, Krzysztof. “Three Spheres of Catatonia in the Works of Gilles Deleuze.” Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture 4, no. 2 (2020):  90-101. https://doi.org/10.14394/eidos.jpc.2020.0018.


Krzysztof Skonieczny
Faculty of Artes Liberales, University of Warsaw
Nowy Świat 69, 00-046 Warsaw, Poland


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