Žižek, Slavoj. Organs Without Bodies: On Deleuze and Consequences. (New York and London: Routledge, 2004) 149-182.
annotation by Amanda Flemming (Theories of Media, Winter 2004)

In Section 2 of Organs Without Bodies: On Deleuze and Consequences Slavoj Žižek explores the consequences of turning a Deleuzian concept on its head ("bodies without organs") while investigating the intersection of art and the Lacanian Real. While already deep into his overall argument that Lacan and Deleuze are reconcilable when considering science, art and politics, in Section 2, Žižek offers several examples from culture of "organs without bodies" as his support for his overarching claim.

Žižek claims "cinema is the Deleuzian art par excellence" and Hitchcock is the most appropriate director to perform Lacanian readings of "organs without bodies" (150). In the subsection "Kino Eye," Žižek argues the plethora of gross factual mistakes in analyses of Hitchcock’s films suggests the theorists’ libidinal investment in the reality of the screen characters. These misrepresentations are related, quite often, to theorists’ claims that certain shots are subjective when they are clearly not. According to Žižek, the camera eye is given its own sort of subjectivity. The organ (camera), therefore, takes on a life of its own and is autonomous of any body. In the next few subsections Žižek uses several films (namely Vertigo) as a way to begin to talk about copies and originals and the Platonist notion that art is a copy of a copy. Art manifests the Idea of the Thing, meaning art manifests the Real—the inexpressible. The examples Žižek provides all lead to the inversion of the Platonist idea, that in fact, the copy was really the original, that the representation was the Real thing. In the case of Vertigo, the copy, Judy, really is Madeleine, the original.

Žižek uses Mulholland Drive to connect the dissolution of fantasy and organs without bodies. In the famous night club scene, the singer collapses but the music continues. The audience understands that they had been listening to a recording; hence, the vocal chords take on a life of their own (an undead voice) as the fantasy breaks down. Zizek meditates on Lacan’s phrase from "La Chose freudienne:" "c’est moi, la vérité, qui parle" in relation to women’s "second" voice which emanates from the vagina. Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues attributes subjectivity to a woman’s sexual organs, as she (as subject) speaks through her vagina. "[T]he subject emerges out of the person as the product of the violent reduction of the person’s body to a partial object" (175).

Žižek wrestles with many different ideas surrounding art and the Real, and for this, I found his work thought-provoking and extremely relevant to media studies. While his overall argument focuses on Deleuze (who does not necessarily fall within the category of media studies theorists) seeing media as organs without bodies harkens to McLuhan’s notion of media as extensions of man. The amputated parts are the media, much in the same way that the kino-eye is not only a medium, but also a stand-in for human subjectivity.