rhizome + technology
- ---- by Verena ConleyThe 'rhizome' replaces an arborescent structure that has been dominating the west and the world for centuries. The rhizome carries images of the natural world, of pliable grasses, of weightlessness, and of landscapes of the east. It is horizontal and ﬂat, bearing what the mathematician in Deleuze calls 'n-1 dimensions'. It is always a multiplicity; it has no genealogy; it could be taken from different contexts (including Freudian psychoanalysis); and is neither genesis nor childhood. The rhizome does away with hierarchies. It augments its valences through hybrid connections that consist by virtue of addition, of one thing 'and' another. The rhizome operates in a space without boundaries and defies established categories such as binaries or points that would mark-off and be used to fix positions in extensive space. It ceaselessly connects and reconnects over fissures and gaps, deterritorialising and reterritorialising itself at once. It works toward abstract machines and produces lines of flight.The rhizome does not imitate or represent, rather it connects through the middle and invents hybrids with viruses that become part of the cells that scramble the dominant lines of genealogical trees. The rhizome creates a web or a network; through capture of code, it increases its valences and is always in a state of becoming. It creates and recreates the world through connections. A rhizome has no structure or centre, no graph or regulation. Models are both in construction and collapse. In a rhizome, movement is more intensive than extensive. Unlike graphic arts, the rhizome makes a map and not a tracing of lines (that would belong to a representation of an object). It is a war machine: rhizomatic or nomadic writing operates as a mobile war machine that moves at top speed to form lines, making alliances that form a temporary plateau. The rhizome is in a constant process of making active, but always temporary, selections. The selections can be good or bad. Good or bad ideas, states Deleuze in consort with Gregory Bateson, can lead to good or bad connections.The proximity of the rhizome to digital technology and the computer is evident. The connection with Donna Haraway's cyborg has often been made. Yet Deleuze and Guattari do not write much about computers. They derive some of their ideas on rhizomes from Bateson's Steps to an Ecology of Mind. They connect with the anthropologist's pronouncements in which biology and information theory are conjoined. Bateson argues that a person is not limited to her or his visible body. Of importance is the person's brain that transmits information as discrete differences. The brain fires electrons that move along circuits. Through the transmission of differences, the person connects and reconnects with other humans, animals and the world.Deleuze and Guattari see the potential in Bateson's work for rhizomatic thinking. The nervous system is said to be a rhizome, web or network. The terminology is the same as for computers though it does not pertain to them exclusively. Clearly, computers do offer possibilities. Not only the brain, but humans and the world consist of circuits in which differences are transmitted along pathways. Through computerassisted subjectivity, humans can increase their valences. Deleuze and Guattari write about a 'becoming-radio' or 'becoming-television' that can yield good or bad connections; productive or nefarious becomings. Computers and the internet have great potential as rhizomatic war machines. The way they are being captured by capitalism, that deploys order-words, consumer codes, and their multifarious redundancies makes them too often become ends in and for themselves, in a sphere of what Deleuze calls a generalised 'techno-narcissism'. The science of technology takes over with its order-words. Yet, in Deleuze's practical utopia, just as every major language is worked through by minor languages, so the capitalist war machine is always being threatened by mobile nomadic war machines that use technologies to form new rhizomes and open up to becoming.
The Deleuze dictionary. Revised Edition Edited by Adrian Parr . 2010.
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