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“We’re tired of trees. We should stop believing in trees, roots, and radicles. They’ve made us suffer too much.”
There’s a metaphor in Deleuze and Guattari’s Thousand Plateaux that has always stuck with me, and a recent series of blog posts has provoked me into adding this to my blog. D&G insist that knowledge is rhizomatic, not arborescent. Trees only have one trunk, and one way in. Rhizomes have lateral shoots and adventitious roots, and hence multiple entryways.
“… It is odd how the tree has dominated Western reality and all of Western thought… Thought is not arborescent, and the brain is not a rooted or ramified matter … A rhizome as subterranean stem is absolutely different from roots and radicles … Let us summarize the principal characteristics of a rhizome: unlike 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 … The rhizome includes the best and the worst: potato and couchgrass, or the weed.”
And there’s more. Trees trace knowledge, whereas rhizomes map it. Tracing is just a copying, which can show competence. Mapping is not passive – it is something that must be constructed – it is a performance. This reminds me of the distinctions between active/passive learning and deep/surface learning, which I must pursue later.
So think like a strawberry, not like a tree 😉