Affect as the rhizome

A Thousand Plateaus by Deleuze and Guattari challenges the traditional thought structure they describe as arborescent, in which ideas are hierarchical and unidirectional. Authors instead promote “the rhizome” or rhizomatic structure in which nothing has a beginning or an end but is always in the middle or in between. The characteristic of rhizome becomes more clear when the authors argue that a book’s importance is not in and of itself but instead stems from its relationship with others, in no fixed order. To illustrate this point they have designed their book as the rhizome, where each chapter can be read in any order. From my understanding of the text, an arborescent structures are that of tracing, where an order is given and causality determined, whereas a rhizomatic structure is more close to a map, an environment that is free to change and holds multiple entryways. I suppose Prof. Nicole Starosielski’s project, Surfacing.In, would be a good example of a rhizomatic structure where every element of the project is linked to other themes, locations, ideas, and thoughts without a clear hierarchy or order.

For me the idea of rhizome was confusing on its own but was easier to understand in relation to the Brennan text, The Transmission of Affect. In her book, Brennan argues that our individual self/psyche is not the sole source of affects or drives, noting that we are not self-contained in terms of our energies, that “there is no secure distinction between the ‘individual’ and the ‘environment’”. This statement particularly reminded me of a rhizome, given that the affects are not merely products of our self-contained thoughts but rather a mixed result of our own thoughts as well as signals/smells we pick up from the environment. The notion that all affects originate from self is described as akin to an arborescent thought, rejecting the possibility that negative affects can come from us with positive affects coming from others.

Her explanation of the entrainment process was especially intriguing for me since it has much to do with the core theme of my potential ecology project. For my project, I want to explore a certain oeuvre of Korea town. Even before considering the reasons for which inhabitants of K-town relocated to U.S., their financial condition before and after relocation, or whether they are first generation or second generation, I want to focus on the degree of cultural assimilation in the neighborhood and its reasons for my project. As someone who has never fully relocated to another country as they have, having studied abroad and gone back home for breaks for the past decade, I’d like to explore the effect of semi-permanent relocation to another environment (U.S.) and also the effect of their choice to work/live in their native ethnic enclave (Korea town). The idea of transmission of affect will be effective in exploring certain group consciousness that exists in this specific ethnic enclave.

– Jeff C


~ by yjc298 on February 10, 2015.

5 Responses to “Affect as the rhizome”

  1. I feel that your blog post is the best post of the week, especially because it links “A Thousand Plateaus”, Prof. Nicole Starosielski’s project and “The Transmission of Affect” in a seamless and relevant way. Moreover, what really caught my attention was when you pointed out that the design of “A Thousand Plateaus” was like a rhizome, in that each chapter can be read in any order. This, along with other pieces of analysis, demonstrate a macro, zoom-out view of the reading which I did not think about before; and therefore is something that I can learn from for the future readings. I also love the word/ vocabulary choices in your post.

  2. Winner of the best blog post for me, anyone that helps me understand Brennan and the Rhizome guys is great.

    But really, I think for a reading about connectivity, I find it super fascinating how you really wove several different projects and readings together to great a more digestible context.

  3. I especially enjoyed reading this post and would award it the most provocative in terms of style/voice. The syntax and verbiage used was eloquent and if this were shown to someone before reading the Rhizome article, I’m sure that person would have a much clearer understanding of what was being spoken about. I specifically enjoyed Jeff’s elaboration on the muddled distinction between the individual and the environment, and his assessment of the cultural assimilation from K-town to the U.S. and the multiplicity of factors that have affected it.

  4. Well, you were also the most provocative in relation to content. Like I said, I hadn’t really pictured tying so many of these pieces together, especially not to “Surfacing in.”

  5. I think this content was the most informational to me because I myself had trouble really figuring out the ideas and information from the “Rhizome” article but through your blog post I was able to learn new information of things I didn’t pick up while reading the assigned reading especially when you connected the “Rhizome” reading and the Brennan text.

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