Rhizome, sweet Rhizome


When I began reading Deleuze and Guattari’s “Introduction:Rhizome” I thought that they were slightly mad, simply writing incoherent gibberish. By the end of the article, I found that their piece  resonated with me, and presented ideas I hope to incorporate into my own work. They, like Bennet, talk about the world as an assemblage, except they progress one step further, describing it as a rhizome: something without a beginning or an end, essentially “all middle.” I see the relationships between music and materials as representing a rhizome, something alluded to, but not elaborated throughout D and G’s article. Music creates instruments, which create further music, which create further instruments, which create more complex music, which creates spaces, that create new performances, that create new musicians who needs instruments to create music, in a never-ending, never beginning process of creation and recreation, that doubles back on itself infinitely. When attempting to understand or describe music, one cannot begin at the beginning, because one does not exist. One must start in the middle of this complex assemblage and work out words, following diverging path after diverging path.

The one serious problem I had with the “Rhizome” article involved their attempts at rhizomic writing, what I described as incoherent gibberish in the beginning. Writing is a linear medium, and thus I feel that any project to “re-write” writing will simply fail in the process of communication. But then I began to think further, and thought about how the internet functions as the ultimate rhizome: it has no beginning or end, but simply exists as this massive assemblage that creates new paths and links to old ones constantly.


One Response to “Rhizome, sweet Rhizome”

  1. gabriel Says:

    Deleuze & Guattari go against the hierarchical power-based identity of binary logic—that the thinking subject (spirit) imposes (through conceptualization) on the object (matter)—which is based on self-resemblance (of the subject/spirit or object/matter with itself) and on the Aristotelian principle of tertium non datur that operates through “negation: x = x = non y” (introduction to A Thousand Plateaus, xii). They propose, against the reductio ad unum (and thus erasure) of multiplicity, an emphasis on difference as expression of multiplicity—a multiplicity that is unbounded and open to continuous rearrangements given its fluctuating becoming (vs. static being), and which is obtained through the erasure of unity (“subtracting the one” p. 6) and its inherent univocality and its reinsertion in multiplicity. A multiplicity that allows for no boundaries and thus enables everything (ruptures, becoming, offshoots) to occur “in the middle”.
    The rhizome is connected, heterogeneous, open, multiple and center-less; it is based on the principle of asignifying rupture that allows for a rupture to be a new beginning, for a segmentary line to be a line of flight (9). What happens with temporality? Is there a principle of simultaneity, of multiple temporalities, or of disentangled temporalities?
    The rhizome as antigenealogy (11) which does allow for traceability becomes a map (principles of cartography and decalcomania) that has no given form insofar as it is open (it has multiple entryways) and constantly creating itself—and this is exemplifies what to me is a fundamental contribution of this text: concentrating on (Nietzschean) becoming, Deleuze & Guattari do away with a fixed ontology (“overthrow ontology”, 25); matter is not given, it is in constant transformation and cannot always be caged in a definition but rather it performs and transforms itself. If this thought is right, it resonates with Deleuze & Guattari’s attack on tracing (13) insofar as it implies a reduction of the rhizome to image and to (pinpointable) identity instead of (untraceable) multiplicity. If “the rhizome is the production of the unconscious” (18); Freudian psychoanalysis is the tracing back to Oedipus (Chapter 2) of a linear (thin, in Geertzian terms) genealogy.
    If the rhizome is based on circulation (21), is it killed by immobility?
    Bennet (unfortunately) does not take on board Deleuze & Guattari’s “recusal” of ontology and begins her onto-story of trash as a material assemblage that resists (348) its intended function. Thing-power renders trash multiple according to the different emphases the scholar chooses (silhouettes, colors, smells) or according to which “non-human materiality (…) ‘self-organizes’” (351) and then presents to the scholar’s eyes. Furthermore, if some thing “resists” (by breaking down, refusing to cooperate, etc) its function, does resistance not become a sort of indexical agency (insofar as it is a reaction, not an action) of the second degree, where things once more (like in Gell’s artworks) are not the protagonists of their action?
    The interesting point is the reduction of agency (thing-power) from the thing to the assemblage: “a material body always resides in some assemblage or other, and its thing-power is a function of that grouping. A thing has power by virtue of its operating in conjunction with other things.” (354) My concern here is that Deleuze & Guattari do not seem interested in agency and go against power.
    Relationality: assemblages and thing-power seem to be based on relationality, but could they not be based on their elements being subjected to activation, instead of being in constant “forced” relation? I.e. could elements be “dormient” and in need of activation (for example through rupture)?

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