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The Rhizome Metaphor

“... 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. There is no ideal speaker-listener, any more than there is a homogeneous linguistic community... There is no mother tongue, only a power takeover by a dominant language within a political multiplicity. Language stabilizes around a parish, a bishopric, a capital. It forms a bulb. It evolves by subterranean stems and flows, along river valleys or train tracks; it spreads like a patch of oil. It is always possible to break a language down into internal structural elements, an undertaking not fundamentally different from a search for roots. There is always something genealogical about a tree. It is not a method for the people. A method of the rhizome type, on the contrary, can analyse language only by decentering it onto other dimensions and other registers. A language is never closed upon itself, except as a function of impotence...”

“... It is odd how the tree has dominated Western reality and all of Western thought. Thought is [, however,] not arborescent, and the brain is not a rooted or ramified matter. ... unlike trees or their roots, the rhizome connects any point to any other point ... In contrast to centered (even polycentric) systems with hierarchical modes of communication and preestablished paths, the rhizome is an acentered, nonhierarchical, nonsignifying system without a General... It is composed not of units but of dimensions, or rather directions in motion... A rhizome has no beginning or end; it is always in the middle, between things, interbeing, intermezzo. The tree is filiation, but the rhizome is alliance, uniquely alliance. The tree imposes the verb 'to be', but the fabric of the rhizome is the conjunction, 'and...and...and...'. This conjunction carries enough force to shake and uproot the verb 'to be'... The middle is by no means an average; on the contrary, it is where things pick up speed... The rhizome operates by variation, expansion, conquest, capture, offshoots...”

Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari: "Rhizome" (1976), “A Thousand Plateaus” (1980)