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[Deleuze-Invented Concepts] 22. Rhizome

compost 2022.01.24 16:32 조회 수 : 152

22. Rhizome

Yi-Jinkyung, Professor

Seoul National University of Technology

 

[Download]22 Rhizome.pdf

Rhizome is one of the most well-known of all Deleuze/Guattari’s concepts. Rhizome means underground stem or root stem. From the botanical viewpoint, the underground stem is rather upper category, under which there are root stem, corm, tuber, bulb. tuberous root, etc. However, when it comes to rhizome as a philosophical concept. such an taxological distinction is not important. The key point, here, is that it is a concept about root or 'tree' as the target.

A root has a pivot, from which rootlets are branched out one after another. In case of fibrous root like that of the corn plant, there is no pivot, but rootlets are sent out from one center. Every one has a firm center, from which rootlets are branched off. Not only the underground roots, it is true of the tree branches on the ground. The trunk of the wood grows upward from the root, and tree branches branch off from it. The plant whose trunk is the firm center is called arbor or tree, whereas, in case of the shrub, multiple stems spread out from the ground. In any case, branching occurs from one center.

On the other hand, the underground stems or root stems are interwined with each other without the center. However, rootlets are not interconnected with each other because roots split and branch one after another from the center, In order to go from one rootlet to another, it is required to go back to the center first and then go down there. The same goes for the tree branches. However, root stems are connected to each other like a net. It is possible to go directly from branch to branch or from rootlet to rootlet without needing to go back to the center. The centralized multiplicity that branches one by one is root or tree, whereas the multiplicity where branches are connected to each other without any center is rhizome.

As is well known, the ‘Internet,’ a communication network devised with the nuclaer war in mind, has been realized with the ‘concept’ of this very rhizomatic network. In the tree-type communication network, as every branch is connected to the upper branch one by one without omission, the communication to the center is cut off if there is a cut anywhere. That is why the Internet was created by adopting a network that pluralizes connections in layers so that the path to the center is not cut off no matter what kind of cut occurs. In contrast, this shows the incompetence of the tree-type network that branches one after another from the center. Since then, people get to become aware of the potent power of the rhizomatic network, which opens a new epoch called ‘the era of network.’ The fact that ‘network analysis’ has more influence than statistics is also correlated with this. In this regard, it can be said the concept of rhizome was a symptomatic concept of ‘prophetic’ intuition about the world to come. The fact that the concept of rhizome became well-known is not irrelevant to this.

The Internet is a network where the path to the center is pluralized in order to ensure the communicability with the ‘center’ as much as possible. In a network where the path to the center is pluralized, the privileged center disappears. Here, we see the paradox that the network the ‘center’ of which is reachable under any circumstances is the network without its center. Rhizome is a multiplicity whose center is removed as such(TP 8).

Unlike rhizome, ‘tree’ or ‘root’ has a center. However, what is aimed at with the word ‘tree’ or ‘root’ is ‘tree diagram,’ which is often seen in mathematics and biology. A tree diagram is a diagram that shows the number of cases of a particular event using point and line. For example, when you throw two dice and calculate the probability that you get 6 from both dice, you draw 6 branches for the 6 spots of the first die and then draw 6 branches again at the end of each and every branches for those of the second die. You calculate the probability by counting the number of branches where both numbers are 6. This is how artificial intelligence does it when it does path finding. You repeat drawing branches and calculate things like probability or cost in each case. This is commonly used for the work of classifications like that in biology. The biological system is divided into bacteria, archaea, and eukarya, eukarya are divided into protists, algae, fungi, plants, and animals, and animals are divided into vertebrates and non-vertebrates. The classification branches continue to split in this way. The history of evolution is also depicted in tree diagram in this way. Chomsky uses this for language. He divides a sentence into noun phrase and verb phrase, and again divides each divided phrase into noun phrase and verb phrase. In either case, it is a ‘tree diagram’ in that overall, it is a diagram where branches are spread out from one point and diverge again from each end point.

However, the history of life shows that this tree diagram is wrong and not fit for living things. The evolution of organism represented in tree diagram assumes that branches diverge only from the previous branch or point. An example would be that chimpanzee and human diverge from primate. However, it is extremely unlikely that an organism with nucleus is diverged from and come out of an organism without nucleus. That's because we have to assume a "miracle" in which a nucleus that didn't exist before suddenly appears. When we call this mutation, mutation becomes another name for biological miracle. Studies on mitochondria and chloroplasts shows that such organelles are the products of symbiosis that accidently began when one microorganism ate another one but failed to digest it. In other word, it is not that one creature splits into two, but that two different creatures merge to give birth to a creature with organelle. It is true of multicellular organisms. However much a single cell organism is split and differenciated, it can't become a multicellular organism but only a single cell organism. It is when single-celled organisms unite and begin to live 'as one' that multicellular organisms are born. This also tells that what made the evolution possible was not branching but connection.

As such, evolution through connection and alliance occurs not only between different species but also between different kingdoms and domains. Lichens, for example, are symbionts born through the union of fungi and green algae. The mitochondria in human cells testify to the event in which the human species merged with alpha proteobacteria. And the gene of the virus in the human genome is the evidence of the virus's merging back into the merged body

Deleuze/Guattari, with the case of orchids and wasps, point out that this connection and alliance exists even between creatures that are individuated into independent organisms. Orchid seduces wasps by making its flower similar to the shape of female wasp and pollinates by dusting the wasp sitting on its flowers with lots of pollen. If you say, about this, that it is one-sided because wasps are deceived by the mimicry of the orchid, you are ignoring the abilities of wasps or organisms. That is because if it is a mere deception, such a behavior couldn't have continued over the long period of evolution. Such an idea is a misunderstanding stemming from the viewpoint that 'fertilization' and 'eating' only are the purpose of the activity of life. Rather, we should think the wasps somehow may be benefiting from it in their own way, considering such behavior of wasps lasts for such a long time. We should ask what benefits they obtain from it. Considering a certain species that enjoys the pornography, although they are sure that it not only is unhelpful for fertilization and reproduction but also is a waste of precious resource that is 'seed,' for example, wouldn't it be said the wasps are also enjoying it? Can't it be said they are enjoying it more 'realistically' than humans?

The model of the tree diagram tries to understand the creatures and revolution as a process of sequential differenciation. On the other hand, the 'aparallel evolution' caused by this kind of alliance bespeaks that rapid connections could be the branchpoint of evolution. what has led the history of life, indeed, is the transversal communication that shakes up the genealogy of pedigree rather than the pedigree differenciation that is done in the way of spreading seed. In this respect, rhizome is adjacent to the fundamentally new thinking about the essence and history of life. The ‘symbiotic evolution’ discovered by Lynn Margulis and confirmed by Jeon, Gwang-U in his laboratory for amoeba research can be said to be an example of ‘aparallel evolution’(1, 15, TP 10) that proceeded independently of rhizomatic thinking. The theory that treats organism as the survival machine of the gene is the microscopic expansion of the pedigreeism of ‘seeding,’ whereas the rhizomatic thinking is expanding into all areas the extension of the transversal allianceism that traverses between microbes and organisms and between species and domains.

The same goes for the language. Such a thing as universality, which has two branches that are noun phrase and verb phrase, can be laughed at lightly by the mere fact that a single word such as ‘cold’ or’ tonight’ can express a lot of very different senses. Here, what makes the same word have different senses is not the grammatical structure but the tone and facial expression. The same word gets to have different senses depending on which tone and facial expression are connected. It can be said senses are created not by the branching into noun phrase and verb phrase of the sentence but by the connection of heterogeneous things such as words, tones, and facial expressions.

The connection of heterogeneous things, this is the core ‘principle’ that determines the rhizome(1, 11, TP 7). That any line can be connected to another line and any point on a line can be connected to another point, this is the ‘principle’ of connection. However, even when dealing with connections and alliances, we are naturally inclined to do it between similar things on an equal level. When dealing with political alliances, we commonly do so on an equal level like between states or between tribes. And when dealing with the alliances of creatures, we also do so on an equal level like between human and dog or between crocodile and crocodile bird. However, as organisms, we humans are in alliances with the microbes inside our bodies. Even political alliances often occur between different levels, such as between states and tribes, or between states and small groups. There also are alliances between linguistic signs and facial expressions. As such, the conncection that occurs between heterogeneous things and consequently between all things, rhizome makes it a principle.

Although it is called a 'principle,' it is a very different principle from those called principles in philosophy, science, or politics, etc. When it come to a principle, it presupposes multiple meanings, for example, the 'center' as the origin and the ultimate conclusion of everything, the single 'arche' that clarifies everything, the Grund/ground the unifies everything, etc. This is often referred to as the 'One.' However, when connection or heterogeneity is referred to as the 'principle,' there's no unity to regulate the connection or content to realize, and no center to integrate the things that are connected. Therefore, it is difficult to call this a principle. It is a principle that doesn't deserve to be called a principle. Deleuze/Guattari go on to define this multiplicy, which is constituted by removing this kind of 'One,' as the Rhizome(1, 11, TP 8). It can be said to have the principle against the principle in that it makes removing the principle that unifies, regulates, and homogenizes a principle.

To express this meaning, rhizome is denoted as 'n-1.' For the multiplicity comprised of n parts to become a true multiplicity, for each part of that multiplicity to properly activate the forces that make up the diversity, the One is supposed to be removed. This One may be the transcendent model like the Idea, the transcendent being like the god, the single law or transcendent coordinate system, or the homogenized minimum unit that can be found everywhere. The same goes for genes or atoms that have become the base of reduction within the reductionist thinking. It is only when this One is removed that the continuous multiplicity, which differs from part to part and varies every time it is divided, becomes possible. This is what it means to say that the third 'principle' of rhizome, following connection and heterogeneity, is multiplicity(1, 12, TP 8).

This multiplicity has neither subject nor object, neither meaning nor model. When alpha proteobacteria and archaea form a symbiont, the archaea are not the 'subject' because they ate alpha proteobacteria but failed to eat them, and the bacteria are not the 'object' either because they were eaten but survived without being eaten. If archaea were the subject and bacteria the object, there will only exist archaea which ate up the prey, without symbiont. As the result of the connection through the unexpected event, the symbiont came into being. And gotten in-volved in that new individuation are the bacteria and archaea. The same is true of the orchid and wasp. When being in-volved in the orchid, the wasp is not the subject because it 'acts for' the desire of the orchid, and it is not merely the object because it does not just realize the desire of the orchid only. Like the Heavenly twins revolving around each other, there exists the 'community' of those that got in-volved in one assemblage. The same goes for the meaning. The bacteria that became the symbiont because of the failed eating get out of the meaning of 'prey,' and the archaea don't have the meaning of 'predator' either. The event that appeared in the process of the connection between the two creatures was rather made rupturing the usual meaning of 'predation,' the bacteria that were eaten but survived become allies because they rupture the meaning of 'prey.' In this sense, rhizome makes 'asignifying rupture' another principle(1, 13, TP 9)

We are all liable to think of the orchid’s making the figure of female wasp to attract wasps as mimesis or ‘tracing.’ But that’s because we see only the external similarity that meets the eye. When the orchid creates such an appearance, it is not to imitate a wasp but to reterritorialize wasp’s body and activity on its own body. The wasp is deterritorialized from its body through the orchid, deviating to another path. In order to find a new way in reality, it is creating something that it didn't have in itself before. Even when we look like we are learning and 'imitating' something from others' lives, we are not just imitating it but finding and trying new ways for our own lives. This is what it means to say that what is there is the cartography for reterritorialization and deterritorialization rather than tracing. This is the fifth principle of Rhizome. In other word, it can be said, making maps, not only the orchid and the wasp but also the archaea and bacteria capture each other's code in such a way and use its surplus value. In that respect, even the mimesis is, indeed, decoding the original code and deconstructing the traced using the margin of the code. This is why the sixth principle of rhizome is 'decalcomanie,' which means the deconstruction of the traced.

Rhizome was said to be the multiplicity that removed the One that reigns over and unifies everything. In that respect, it is on the opposite side of the old Western thought of transcendence, which reduces everything to the transcendent One. When the One disappears, everything gets to have a different nature on each occasion time by the other party it connect with. This is what it means to say "Multiplicities are defined by the outside”(1, 13, TP 9). "(They are defined) by the abstract line, the line of flight or deterritorialization according to which they change in nature and connect with other multiplicities.”(1, 13, TP 9) This opens up the thinking toward the plane of immanence: in the sense that the nature of everything immanent in its relation to that which connects with it; in the sense that everything is both the cause of what it connects with and the result that is, in turn, determined by the neighbor it has determined.

 

 

translated by Jung Ki Lee

 

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