I don’t want to be a rhizome
One of the strange side-effects of my trip, and my uncertainty, was an inability to concentrate on the book I’m supposed to be reading, Dispatches by Michael Herr. Instead, I spent some time on A Thousand Plateaus. As is often my practice with books, I opened it up to a random page and started to read. Sometimes I think like a hypertext, but all the same I’m resistant to it. I have an uncanny knack for opening up any book to whatever page I need, at the time.
It was a section about nomadism and territorialism, and the way that music establishes territory. I thought of Shelley’s skylark right away, and then decided that perhaps I should at least look at the beginning. I found myself hating the book at the start, nearly as much as I loved it in the middle. There is something so counter-intuitive about rhizomes.
You see, they’re promiscuous. They’ll join with anything, anywhere. I don’t think life is like that. I don’t form associations with everything I touch, only some things. There’s a pattern to it, and it’s not rhizomatic. In case you’re not familiar with the concept (I wasn’t until this weekend) here is a nice treatment of what may be a perfect example of a rhizome, the Internet. On a certain level, yes, I’d agree. On another level, the social level, I don’t.
It was incredible to happen on this totally by chance right now. Turbulent Velvet recommended the book to me a while back, and I ordered it, but it had been sitting on the bottom of a pile before this trip. Just before I left, I read a nice essay that abuddahs memes pointed out about the shape of the universe. The article took a somewhat spiritual stance that the most prevalent cultural image is that of the tree. Deluze and Guattari seek to overthrow that dominance, by proposing the rhizome.
I don’t like it much at all as a model. I’d rather be a tree. Without constraint, there is no communication, just a jumbled mess of weeds. I can’t see it as the efficient paradigm for the future at all. As much as I love the concept of nomadism, I hate the concept of rhizomes. We all make choices, we don’t just join arbitrarily. Or maybe it’s just me, who wants to be an irreligious spiritualist, who just can’t buy into the new order.
But other than that, I really like the book so far. I like the approach. I forget who said it, but I do believe that books are machines for thinking, not books that remove the need to think. I don’t think that books are frozen conversations, but instead doors into new worlds where conversation plays a part, but isn’t the central focus.