Keywords: new hierarchies / rhizome / schizoanalysis
Literature: ‘Rhizome’ (Introduction from ‘A Thousand Plateaus’ Deleuze&Guattari 1980)
Lecturer: Introduction lectures by teachers GL, MH, TMB
In his book Invisible cities, Italo Calvino let the dialog between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan evolve as a narration of innumerous urban conditions, as complex descriptions of different strange cities: Kublai Khan had noticed that Marco Polo’s cities resembled one another, as if the passage from one to another involved not a journey but a change of elements. Now, from each city Marco described to him, the Great Khan’s mind set out on its own, and after dismantling the city piece by piece, he reconstructed it in other ways, substituting components, shifting them, inventing them. They didn’t speak the same language, and the dialogue was full of hidden stories within the story, with a constantly development of the perception of the city, and after a while: Kublai interrupted him [Marco Polo]: ’From now on I shall describe the cities and you will tell me if they exist and as I have conceived them.’ (Calvino 1972: 37)
The conversation between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan is maybe one of literature’s finest examples on how we see and experience along totally different trajectories consisting of perception and knowledge; shifting and alternating depending on mind-set, viewpoint and background. Even if the whole book probably is about the same city, the conversation reminds us about how different and complex the existence is – how it is perceived, conceived, expressed and lived. Every place, life and history can be divided and deconstructed into segments and layers like pieces of DNA that together assemble to whole organisms.
In his other book Six Memos for the Next Millennium, Calvino talks about the Italian poet Carlo Emilio Gadda’s book That Awful Mess: the least thing is seen as the center of a network of relationships that the writer cannot restrain himself from following, multiplying the details so that his descriptions and digressions become infinite. Whatever the starting point, the matter in hand spreads out and out, encompassing ever vaster horizons, and if it were permitted to go on further and further in every direction, it would end by embracing the entire universe. (Calvino 1988: 107)
Calvino is fascinated about the relationship of the particulate and the interconnected where each detail only presents an incomplete record – one point in the phase space of the system*. The notion that each connection infinitely lead to new connections predict a non-linear and non hierarchical network where each point is the centre of a network. Through the concept of rhizome lies the ultimate metamorphosis of a hierarchical system, as by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari termed as a tree structure: unlike the 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 non sign states. (…) 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 detachable, connectable, reversible, modifiable, and has multiple entryways and exits and its own lines of flight. (Deleuze&Guattari 1980: 23)
The conception of the rhizome liberates our search for knowledge and opens for experimentation about what is unexpected and unknown. It opens for infinite connections end juxtapositions of what is past and what is to become – regardless of limitations in time and space – revealing endless possibilities and new beginnings. In this open interactional space there are always connections yet to be made, juxtapositions yet to flower into interaction (Massey 2005: 11).
In the 1970 Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari developed the notion of schizoanalysis as a radical piece of philosophical theory primarily as a critique of Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis. Freud focus singularly on neurosis and define any desire as lack - and interprets whatever the ‘patient’ says in terms of a ‘castration complex’ or the ‘Oedipus complex’, (Collins) which Deleuze & Guattari argue strongly against in ‘Anti-Oedipus’, with its problematic logic and symbolic order. Schizoanalysis begins therefor apparently as a critique of psychoanalyses, and develops into a reworking or (…) a ‘metamodeling’ of its systematic malfunction in society (Guattari1996: 122, Guattari 1995: 58-76 in Collins). The process of remodelling (‘metamodeling’) is a process of reworking and reforming that is intrinsically artistic (Collins).
The intention of a schizoanalytic process is to prevent oversimplification and to allow complex systems of information to directly inform the process – and as such it is closely linked to the rhizome. Schizoanalysis rejects reductionist modifications in order to pursue complexification and processual enrichment towards the consistency of its virtual lines of bifurcation and differentiation (Guattari 1995: 61).
The etymology of ’schiz’ in schizophrenia and schizoanalysis comes from skhizein, meaning to split, break, separate or divide. With schizophrenia, this refers to the ’split’ in the mind (...) Schizoanalysis is trying to locate exactly where and how these breaks in reality arise, and then mobilize them to manufacture a new production of subjectivity (Collins). Guattari argue to expand and open the largely monadic, narrow and punitive process of institutionalization, so it can operate as a ‘polyphony’ that can bring into play ‘anthropological, social, and ethical dimensions that concern the whole of society (Guattari and Rolnik 2008: 376, in Collins) This is as a whole a question of expanding and remodelling the territory from which you stand and define your own way of being that is individually unique for you – from Guattari’s; autopoiesis, reappropriation or production of subjectivity (Guattari, 1995: 13).
The concepts are for us to use and develop into own understanding where the important thing is not the final result, but the possibility of complex mapping and cartographic methods to develop along processes of subjectivation. Felix Guattari is very clear stating this possibility in Chaosmosis:
I don't, however, consider my "schizoanalytic cartographies" to be scientific theories. Just as an artist borrows from his precursors and contemporaries the traits which suit him, I invite those who read me to take or reject my concepts freely. (Guattari, 1995: 12).
*(A phase space of a dynamical system is a space in which all possible states of a system are represented, with each possible state corresponding to one unique point in the phase space / A multidimensional representation of a dynamical system in which each dimension corresponds to one variable of the system. Thus, a point of phase space corresponds to a specific state of the system, and a path represents the evolution of the system through different states.)
Italo Calvino, Invisible cities, 1972
Italo Calvino, Six Memos for the next millennium, 1988
Lorna Collins, Schizoanalysis, https://lornacollins.com/schiz-basics/
Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, A thousand Plateaus, 1980
Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, Anti Oedipus: Capitalizm and Schizophrenia, 1972
Doreen Massey, for space, 2005
Felix Guattari, Chaosmosis 1995
Felix Guattari, Chaosophy 2009
Felix Guattari, The Guattari Reader, 1996
Felix Guattari & Suely Rolnik, Molecular Revolution in Brazil, 2008
/GL & MH
/GL & MH