Deleuze & Guattari: Notes on Rhizome


Quotes from A Thousand Plateaus in no certain order for a Book Project:

D & G: “How can the book find an adequate outside with which to assemble in heterogeneity, rather than a world to reproduce?”

Rhizome it.

The rhizome is an anti-genealogy.

Perhaps one of the most important characteristics of the rhizome is that it always has multiple entryways…

Writing has nothing to do with signifying. It has to do with surveying, mapping, even realms that are yet to come. …

The rhizome is altogether different, a map and not a tracing. Make a map, not a tracing.

A rhizome ceaselessly establishes connections between semiotic chains, organizations of power, and circumstances relative to the arts, sciences, and social struggles. A semiotic chain is like a tuber agglomerating very diverse acts, not only linguistic, but also perceptive, mimetic, gestural, and cognitive: there is no language in itself, nor are there any linguistic universals, only a throng of dialects, patois, slangs, and specialized languages.

Principle of multiplicity: it is only when the multiple is effectively treated as a substantive, “multiplicity,” that it ceases to have any relation to the One as subject or object, natural or spiritual reality, image and world. Multiplicities are rhizomatic, and expose arborescent pseudomulti-plicities for what they are. There is no unity to serve as a pivot in the object, or to divide in the subject. There is not even the unity to abort in the object or “return” in the subject. A multiplicity has neither subject nor object, only determinations, magnitudes, and dimensions that cannot increase in number without the multiplicity changing in nature.

All multiplicities are flat, in the sense that they fill or occupy all of their dimensions: we will therefore speak of a plane of consistency of multiplicities …

Writing weds a war machine and lines of flight, abandoning the strata, segmentarities, sedentarity, the State apparatus. … Is there a need for a more profound nomadism… a nomadism of true nomads, or of those who no longer even move or imitate anything? The nomadism of those who only assemble (agencent).

The ideal for a book would be to lay everything out on a plane of exteriority of this kind, on a single page, the same sheet: lived events, historical determinations, concepts, individuals, groups, social formations.

The cultural book is necessarily a tracing: already a tracing of itself, a tracing of the previous book by the same author, a tracing of other books however different they may be, an endless tracing of established concepts and words, a tracing of the world present, past, and future. … Imperceptible rupture, not signifying break.

The nomads invented a war machine in opposition to the State apparatus.

The war machine’s relation to an outside is not another “model”; it is an assemblage that makes thought itself nomadic, and the book a working part in every mobile machine, a stem for a rhizome. Write to the nth power, the n – 1 power, write with slogans: Make rhizomes, not roots, never plant! Don’t sow, grow offshoots! Don’t be one or multiple, be multiplicities! Run lines, never plot a point! Speed turns the point into a line! Be quick, even when standing still! Line of chance, line of hips, line of flight.

Kleist invented a writing of this type, a broken chain of affects and variable speeds, with accelerations and transformations, always in a relation with the outside.

Make maps, not photos or drawings. Be the Pink Panther and your loves will be like the wasp and the orchid, the cat and the baboon.

A rhizome has no beginning or end; it is always in the middle, between things, interbeing, intermezzo.

How could movements of deterritorialization and processes of reterri-torialization not be relative, always connected, caught up in one another? The orchid deterritorializes by forming an image, a tracing of a wasp; but the wasp reterritorializes on that image. The wasp is nevertheless deterritorialized, becoming a piece in the orchid’s reproductive apparatus. But it reterritorializes the orchid by transporting its pollen. Wasp and orchid, as heterogeneous elements, form a rhizome.

American literature, and already English literature, manifest this rhizomatic direction to an even greater extent; they know how to move between things, establish a logic of the AND, overthrow ontology, do away with foundations, nullify endings and beginnings. They know how to practice pragmatics.

The middle is by no means an average; on the contrary, it is where things pick up speed.

Between things does not designate a localizable relation going from one thing to the other and back again, but a perpendicular direction, a transversal movement that sweeps one and the other away, a stream without beginning or end that undermines its banks and picks up speed in the middle

—Gilles Deleuze; Felix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (University of Minnesota Press; 2 edition (December 21, 1987)


6 thoughts on “Deleuze & Guattari: Notes on Rhizome

  1. There has been incalculable damage done to the humanities by a combination of this kind of prose, the shallowness of thought, and the seemingly disparate need on the part of literary faculty to impose a dogmatic aura of “theory” to legitimize presenting literary texts. The notion of the rhizome as the metaphoric year somehow “real” manifestation of all that thought should be seeks to peg the notions of language and meaning to “science” or “nature.” The quick slide into “war” indicates the far lefts fascination with a violence its proponents have never endured and would never volunteer to undertake. The absolutist language in defining categories, relationships, and the meanings of words is simply a language seeing acolytes not critical thinkers.

    What kind of “rhizome” is here reified? The honey fungus which colonizes and destroys trees and plants, and which produces mushrooms (so has an “end” as do other organisms”); or


  2. or by “rhizome” is the reference to the reproductive cycle of the fern, poplar, ginger, turmeric, or lotus? A rhizome, like a root, produces and sustains an organism and is part of the life cycle of a plant. So does a root. It is not an endless, purposeless network of meaning that is also meaningless, even as a semiotic referent.

    “Make maps, not photos or drawings. Be the Pink Panther and your loves will be like the wasp and the orchid, the cat and the baboon.” This imperative operates at the same level as bot-generated memes or aphorisms. It seems meaningful, but only if the reader is desperate to project meaning onto it. It is not inclusive; it is exclusive, an invitation to a smug cult.


    • I have to ask: Have you ever read either Gilles Deleuze or Felix Guattari? Don’t take this experimental later work from which I collected a few fragmentary notes out of context unless you know of what you speak. This work was written way back in the late 80’s, and both thinkers were leading French intellectuals and left leaning activists of whose two main works together Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus form a critique of capitalism as seen through both a working psychologist and philosophers eyes. And as stated above this is nothing more than a few notes I took from the first chapter of their work. So your critique seems both endlessly superficial and a sort of militant spout against a strawman figure rather than a confrontation with their actual work. I want even begin to critique your harangue which is at best misplaced.

      Liked by 1 person

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