115th Annual Conference - Honolulu, Hawaii
Friday, November 10 - Sunday, November 12, 2017

“The BwO is desire”: Representation of Disability in John Belluso’s Gretty Good Time

Chun-Yi Shih, National Taiwan University

This paper will attempt to employ Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s notion of the Body without Organs (BwO) to explore the representation of the disabled body/sexuality in Gretty Good Time (1999) by the American disabled playwright, John Belluso (1969-2006). 

Proposal: 

This paper will attempt to employ Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s notion of the Body without Organs (BwO) to explore the representation of the disabled body/sexuality in Gretty Good Time (1999) by the American disabled playwright, John Belluso (1969-2006). The first part will expound Deleuze and Guattari’s conceptualization of the BwO in A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1987): the BwO is opposed to the stratification or organization of the body; it is a field for the production, circulation, and intensification of desire, the locus of the immanence of desire; it is a medium of becoming as its desire, flows, and intensities create deterritorializations, lines of flight, and reterritorializations. The second part will consider the disability of Gretty, the main female character in the play. Gretty, 32 years old, suffers from post-polio paralysis, and has been living in a nursing home. In medical discourse and in cultural imaginary, disabled people like Gretty are regarded as asexual, or lack of sexual potentiality. The third section will look at Gretty’s sexual expressions, with a focus on her desire for Dr. Henry and the scenes in which he touches her and he kisses her. Showing that desire in her disabled body, her Body without Organs, is not a lack or flaw, but a fundamental, free flow, Gretty subverts the medical authority and shatters the cultural myth. The fourth part will point out how Gretty’s desire moves her out of the confines—she gives up committing suicide which she has planned for long at the critical moment and accepts Dr. Henry’s suggestion to apply for the new In-Home Supportive Services Program; she becomes a different person and looks forward to a new life. Gretty’s desire eventually produces a trajectory of deterritorialization, lines of flight, and reterritorialization, a process of becoming. Finally, the paper will conclude that, by cripping mainstream representations of sexuality, that is, by presenting the disabled body as sexual, as positive fluid becoming, Gretty Good Time problematizes the issue of disability and sexuality and opens up differences and possibilities.

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