“The rhizome itself assumes very diverse forms, from ramified surface extension in all directions to concretion into bulbs and tubers. When rats swarm over each other. The rhizome includes the best and the worst: potato and couchgrass, or the weed. Animal and plant, couchgrass is crabgrass. We get the distinct feeling that we will convince no one unless we enumerate certain approximate characteristics of the rhizome. “
Introduction Rhizome pdf A Thousand Plateaus
“The rhizome is altogether different, a map and not a tracing. Make a map, not a tracing. The orchid does not reproduce the tracing of the wasp; it forms a map with the wasp, in a rhizome.”
Deleuze and Guattari – The Concept of the Rhizome
The concept of the Rhizome as developed by Deleuze and Guattari in A Thousand Plateaus is highly relevant to a discussion of a shifting configuration of media-elements; a conflation of language systems. The authors relate this definition:
Let us summarize the principal characteristics of a rhizome: unlike trees 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. The rhizome is reducible to neither the One or the multiple. It is not the One that becomes Two or even directly three, four, five etc. It is not a multiple derived from the one, or to which one is added (n+1). It is comprised not of units but of dimensions, or rather directions in motion. It has neither beginning nor end, but always a middle (milieu) from which it grows and which it overspills. It constitutes linear multiplicities with n dimensions having neither subject nor object, which can be laid out on a plane of coinsistency, and from which the one is always subtracted (n-1). When a multiplicity of this kind changes dimension, it necessairly changes in nature as well, undergoes a metamorphisis. Unlike a structure, which is defined by a set of points and positions, the rhizome is made only of lines; lines of segmentarity and stratification as its dimensions, and the line of flight or deterritorialization as the maximum dimension after which the multiplicity undergoes metamorphosis, changes in nature. These lines, or ligaments, should noty be confused with lineages of the aborescent type, which are merely localizable linkages between points and positions…Unlike the graphic arts, drawing or photography, unlike tracings, the rhizome pertains to a map that must be produced, constructed, a map that is always detatchable, connectable, reversable, modifiable,, and has multiple entranceways and exits and its own lines of flight.(see Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 21)
Recombinant Poetics seeks to explore the notion of the rhizome through operative technological engagement with media-elements as well as through text [as in this paper]. The techno-poetic mechanism exhibits many of the criteria that Deleuze and Guattari describe above. The techno-poetic mechanism enables the connection of “any point to any other point” through navigation and construction processes. It seeks to explore “states of meaning” where “it brings into play very different regimes of signs, and even nonsign states” via this operative environment. The non-closed nature of the system means it is not reducible to “the One or the multiple.” It’s importance does not lie in the units alone but in “rather directions in motion” and configuration that give rise to an emergent series of readings. It is inherent to an emergent space to “change in nature.” It is a machine whose purpose is to embody “deterritorialization” as an experiential process. It is a “map that is always detatchable, connectable, reversable, modifiable, and has multiple entranceways and exits and its own lines of flight.” Yet as Baudrillard states in Simulation and Simulacra it is “the cartographer’s mad project of the ideal coextensivity of map and territory,” (Baudrillard, 1994, p.2) with all of my intention as a transdisciplanary “cartographer.”
We must here ask how such a situation is different from Deleuze and Guattari’s Rhizome. If we say such a situation is asignifying – we are essentially stating that all situations engendered through the combination of image, sound and text are asignifying, and this is not the case. The vuser of such a system both draws individual meanings based on momentary combinations, as well as time-based accumulated meaning as related to encountered juxtaposed elements. I am calling this “states of meaning” because at moments the media-elements may take on an asignifying combination. yet even an abstraction still is suggestive of a felt meaning [See Gendlin on Felt Meaning] . Thus the circulation moves back and forth from asignifying to signifying, to accumulations of memory artefacts gleened during participation over this range. What is momentarily unclear, may later make perfect sense — or perfect nonsense, where non-sense is also seen as relevant to the construction of context when explored in a pointed manner.
MAPPING RHIZOMATIC NETWORKS AS TOPOLOGICAL ISOMORPHISMS
In “Introduction: Rhizome”, Deleuze and Guattari introduce the notion of rhizomatic networks which can be seen to counter the fixed structure of rigid binarisms; and thus reveal the formation of a rhizomatic plateau of thought, through the consideration of the a multiplicity of relational bodies and ideas. The rhizome is any network of things brought into contact with one another, and its function is as an assemblage machine for new affects, new concepts, new bodies, new thoughts, and the rhizomatic network is a mapping of the forces that move and/or immobilise bodies. D&G’s concept of the ‘rhizome’ may be seen through etymological origin of Rhizome: ‘rhizo’ means combining form and the biological term ‘rhizome’ describes a form of a plant that can extend itself through its underground horizontal tuber-like root system and develop new plants, where in “any point of this rhizome can be connected to anything other, and must be” (7). The rhizomatic network is opposed to an arborescent, platonian conception of knowledge, which D&G argue is a limiting structure that “flattens the multipliticities” and constrains creativity when it tries to position things and people into regulatory, genealogical order. What Deleuze and Guattari also say, is that the rhizome “ceaselessly establishes connections between semiotic chains, organisations of power, and circumstances relative to the arts, sciences, and social struggle,” and thus, can be recognised as the method behind many different abstract entities: from mathematics, music, ecology, art, even the cosmos, etc,.
By reconceptualising the information architecture as a RHIZOME rather than a TREE, D&G paves the way for the reassessment of hierarchical thought.
Speaking of mapping the information architecture, in mathematics we use plane geometry to illustrate the abstractions of algebra, because when dealing with conceptual ideas (no matter how abstract) there is always a tendency to want to be able to visualise it or illustrate it, in order to really understand it.
And perhaps another useful mathematical term for us here could be: ISOMORPHISM, from Greek isos- [equal] + -morphous [form]. The term is derived from biology and chemistry, where it has been used to describe “similar organisms or crystalline structures which differ in their evolution (biology) or composition (chemistry). What does this mean? It means the two groups are structurally the same even though the names and notation for the elements might be completely different. The use of the term in mathematics/toplogy and criticism/semiotics isomorphically is already metaphorical in itself.
For example: although D&G do not use the term “Isomorphism” in their writing, perhaps we can read their introduction here to be isomorphic (ie: they appear to have structured the introduction on the rhizome in a rhizomatic form) — thus this is an isomorphism between meaning and form.
I have used the word “Topological” to describe this Isomorphism in order to illustrate its concern with “place”. This leads us to the word “Locus”, which is Latin word for place; and corresponds to the Greek word “Topos”. The word “Locus” is used in geometry to describe all points that satisfy a given relationship (eg: the locus of points equidistant from the same point would thus be describing a circle). A Topographical Isomorphism, would thus be concerned greatly with place, and refer to the body/thing’s relationship with PLACE.
Something as mathematical as a “Topographical Isomorphism” may seem as far as you could get from Literature (a faraway place?), but, it is, arguably Deleuzian in that if we were to view bodies and things in the context of its being within a rhizomatic network, then it is only logical that we take it to a new dimension – in the form of a spatial isomorphism – allowing Literature and Meaning to take on new dimensions through their contact with different and even divergent entities over time.
Herbert Smith: “If Barthes is correct and criticism, ever resembling more and more the literature it criticizes, is to “speak the locus of meaning, and not to name it,” the modern critic would be wise to recall some of the sign systems that have served in other disciplines, at other times. One of those is the ancient relationship between quantities and shapes best illustrated by the well-known isomorphisms between numbers and geometry.”