Rhizomatics

I spent last week at the Ad:Tech interactive advertising and technology conference in San Francisco talking to people about where they see the Web heading and what life online is going to look like in a few more years. The range of future views I heard was, as expected, diverse. While I do not have a clear idea of my own about how all the plethora of possible scenarios will play out, what did emerge was the distinct view of this space as a potentiality, an undefined, nonlinear, anything-is-possible vortex. I kept being reminded of A Thousand Plateaus, the mindblowing, rhapsodic “book” (hard to call it that) by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. A few salient quotes:

The principal characteristics of a rhizome: unlike tress or their roots, the rhizome connects any point to any other point, and its traits are not necessarily linked to traits of the same nature; it brings into play very different regimes of signs, and even nonsign states.

A rhizome has no beginning or end; it is always in the middle, between things, interbeing, intermezzo.

Unlike the tree, the rhizome is not the object of reproduction: neither external reproduction as image-tree nor internal reproduction as tree-structure. The rhizome is an antigeneaology. It is short term memory, or antimemory. The rhizome operates by variation, expansion, conquest, capture, offshoots.

Once a rhizome has been obstructed, aborified, it’s all over, no desire stirs; for it is always by rhizome that desire moves and produces.

The wisdom of the plants; even when they have roots, there is always an outside where they form a rhizome with something else–with the wind, an animal, human beings.

Write, form a rhizome, increase your territory by deterritorialization, extend the line of flight to the point where it becomes an abstract machine covering the entire plane of consistency.

We have lost the rhizome, or the grass. Henry Miller:…”Grass is the only way out.”

Make rhizomes, not roots, never plant! Don’t sow, grow offshoots! Don’t be one or multiple, be multiplicities! Run lines, never plot a point! Speed turns the point into a line!

The parallels for creative thinking and making in this rhizomatic model go without saying…

6 Comment

  1. mjau says:

    I’ve been encountering Deleuze for a while now, recently in my feminist image analysis course (in March-April). The concept of rhizome is quite new to me, but I’m starting to really like it. I guess I’ll have to read A Thousand Plateaus now… because it seems the thought of rhizomes fits very well into an exploration of the field of artistic production… how for example could you use it in relation to concepts like structure, or power-knowledge (as in Foucault).
    Thanks for this quote!

  2. Jenny,
    I LOVE this book. Knowing you as I do through our deep blog connection– ;-)–I predict that you too will go ape shit (is that a phrase you are familiar with? It means really get excited in American slang) over the ideas presented in this amazing assemblage of thoughts, insights, connectivity, rhizomoidry. And besides, I can’t wait to see how your mind takes their thinking apart, bit by bit. That’s a whole set of little essays, to be sure!

  3. mjau says:

    Oh, I’ve heard ape shit… there are some Swedish equivalents more along the lines of “going ape”, or something is “ape fat” (the fat-thing must be from american rap right?), but generally English expressions (with apes or monkeys) are so much more fun than Swedish ones…

    I have Deleuze’s The Fold at home, it felt very difficult (so I’ve only looked at it once or twice)… but now that I have gathered bits and pieces from others reading Deleuze, perhaps my brain is ready for A Thousand Plateaus (and such a pretty title too).

    I’ve thought about blogs connecting people, for example there are a number of bloggers that seem to read many of the same blogs I read (of course I find new blogs through other bloggers, so that’s only natural), but eventually a sort of group will form, with unclear edges, but nevertheless a group…

  4. J,
    I love my blog “neighbors”, people I wave to from day to day and whose lives I care about. So a blogging variation of Deleuze’s rhizome is definitely manifesting and folding us into its reach. And gratefully so.

  5. […] i am writing this as i am sitting on the bus, heading to the alliance for arts and culture. the bus just stopped in front of a café, called rhizome. rhizome, in botany, is a type of root. one of my father’s pet philosophical ideas in his later years was the philosophy of rhizome. […]

  6. Rhizome Cuisine? I’m sure Deleuze wrote about that too…

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