Wide Open Windows

- Overview messages -

Rizoom
2022-07-25

Rhizoom

One of the strangest books is this work by the philosopher Gilles Deleuze and the philosopher/psychotherapist/activist FĂ©lix Guattari, both of whom belong to the "post-modern" or "post-structuralist" direction in philosophy. I have not read it in French, but in a Dutch translation, published by the libertarian publishing house 'Spreeuw'. This is not surprising, because it is a subversive work that tries to completely dismantle 'normal', conditioned, linear and hierarchical thinking. It is therefore not at all easy to follow what is explained in this book, precisely because we are conditioned.

I read it at the end of my studies and also at the end of my engagement with an anarcho-activist group in my hometown. Tired of both, looking for new paths and challenges, this book came to push the boundaries and offer an escape from the platitudes of traditional thought patterns in which I felt trapped. My fellow activists didn't understand much of it and I couldn't blame them ...

I also see similarities with a figure like Hakim Bey who also proposes subversive alternatives, but does not go nearly as far as Deleuze and Guattari, because they not only propose other forms of activism, but in the first place propose a revolution in the mind.

Instead of the hierarchical tree structures in which the world and organisations are usually arranged, Deleuze and Guattari propose to think, act and organise in the manner of rhizomes. Rhizomes make connections, both between parts of themselves and between parts of different entities. An example of the former is the rhizome of, say, the root system of a grass species. An example of a heterogeneous rhizome is the connection that arises between a particular species of wasp and an orchid. The wasp and the orchid make a connection without anyone giving the order to do so! An organically grown unit that arises of its own accord is a much more stable structure (or anti-structure) than the artificial formation of organisations imposed from above. Such a thing can also arise, for example, as a result of a certain idea or ideology, which is supposed to be the central hub, around which and from which recruitment takes place. After a while, the structure falls apart, because there are in fact no 'real' connections between the members of the organisation and with other organisations. There is competition, jealousy, manipulation and oppression.

Been there, done that ...

Deleuze and Guattari conclude their story with the following words: _"Do not conjure up a general in yourself! Make maps, not pictures or drawings! Be the pink panther and love each other like the wasp and the orchid, like the cat and the baboon.