Beginning D&G's Anti-Oedipus, I was struck by the invocation of orphans, atheists, and nomads as categories that gesture towards rhizomatic thinking and living, because it reminded me very much of Harraway's similar use of the language of seemingly 'disenfranchised', 'fringe' groups to open the discussion about the cyborg rupture. I-and judging by the last twelve hours on the blog I'm not alone in this- see strong parallels between rhizomatic thinking/being and cyborg epistemology/ontology. I see some differences, however, in the ways the becoming-processes for either.
Deleuze and Guattari
Can someone with a background in science weigh in on the claims D&G make about biology and evolution supporting their rhizome theories? This is a last minute grab to insert science into today's in class discussion agenda...
Bulgarian crowd theorist Elias Canetti also writes about Judge Schreber in 'Crowds and Power,' so I thought I would share a little for those who were tantalized by the sunbeam-ass segment in D+G:
I'm surprised that no one has posted yet about D+G's segments on rhizomic consciousness. The key slogan ('Write with slogans!') is at 15 in TP: 'Many people have a tree growing in their heads, but the brain itself is much more a grass than a tree.'
When D+G write that long-term memory '(family, race, society, or civilization [TP, 16])' is an arborescent tracing-over of the rhizome of short-term memory relations, and suggest that we 'forget' these 'artificial, imaginary, or symbolic territorialities' (AO, 34), I find myself wondering whether this rhizomic, 'subversive' forgetfulness is a reformulation of 'the death of history.' (For what it's worth, I also find myself wondering this when D+G call for Nomadology, 'the opposite of history' [TP, 23].) There have been a lot of heart-boners on the blog for the 'life-affirming' message or 'so
I've noticed several posts wondering where rhizome theory leaves the individual, or at least where exactly this theory manifests itself in "real world."
In the same way that the Haraway essay answered a lot of my questions about what it means to be an individual agent in postmodernity--how agency and the atomizations etc., of postmodernity are fully compatible and not mutually exclusive--I think that essay has a similar clarifying potential for what a rhizomatic person might look like: a cyborg.
So: where does the subject stand in D&G? It's as if agency is returned to the individual by deterritorializing the individual--"not the point where one no longer says I, but the point where it is no longer of any importance whether one says I." By emphasizing agency of the collective instead of the subject, or rather by exploding the dichotomy of subject and collective into rhizomic fireworks, D&G suggest that we can create new planes and a politics of desire freed from beliefs. Any other thoughts about (individual?) agency in D&G?
In Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus, Deleuze and Guattari very often describe their multiplicity of concepts in spatial terms: a recording surface covering a body without organs, points of disjunction forming circles on the body without organs, machines that are adjoined next to the desiring-machine. The rhizome is always in the middle, between things. All these prepositions, off-shoots and parabolic sweeps serve to let the reader work out these concepts in space, a picture of machines in motion, gears inter-locked.
Deleuze and Guattari seem to have this nasty habit of introducing words they create or place new meaning on, but do not ever explain, or explain after the fact. He introduces assemblage, machines, and body without organs in the first five pages. I had to stop reading, read the anti-Oedipus, and then come back to have an idea of what machines and a body without organs are. Its impossible to comprehend their writing without know the meaning of these terms, yet they never adequately explain them.
The definition of a machine has changed, or at least been altered, by D&G by the end of the anti-oedipus. "A machine may be defined as a system of interruptions or breaks". (36) The machine becomes slightly more clarified through this description; it is no longer "everything" but something. It reverts back to the idea of production and through production the creation of something that will again produce, hence a flow which can be interrupted. I still don't see this explaining anything about the world as we know it, but at least they clarified their own creation.