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Rhizome yourself : experiencing Deleuze and Guattari from theory to practice.

by R. C. Douglas-Jones, S. Sariola
()

Abstract

The leitmotif of this paper is the act of bridging gaps between the conceptual, methodological and experiential. Foremost it is an attempt to productively fuse aspects of the abstract and literary philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari with anthropological understandings of Global Assemblages (Ong and Collier 2005) through incorporation of theory in to everyday life. Here, we describe our journey exploring Deleuze and Guattari's conceptual Rhizome. It was an experiment, undertaken in order to bring new ideas to bear on our current and future ethnographic research relating to bioethics, clinical trials and the complexities of international science collaborations in Sri Lanka. In working to bridge a perceived gap between Deleuze and Guattari's philosophy and our familiar anthropological canon, we made real the abstract rhizomatic thinking they describe, through interaction with a physical rhizome, or plant root. In this paper we introduce BLAD, the Double Articulated Lobster Body (BLAD, acronym, in reverse) which acts as the focus of the narrative of the journey: how BLAD came to live in our house in a vase, how BLAD got 'its' name, how BLAD is a rhizome, a lobster and a deity, and how we subsequently replanted it. We suggest that just as a root of the rhizomic plant needs to be close to the surface to flower, so does rhizomatic thinking need to be present in daily life to affect thought. It is a tool most effective when personally incorporated. The story we tell in this paper is just one way in which the gap between the physical rhizomatic root and the conceptual tool has been bridged. The method described is as much creative as it is destructive. In order to 'live' the theory as commanded, the tool has been woven into thought as far more than a metaphor. For this to occur, a physical root has served as the means for breaking prior (arborescent) templates of thought, clearing the path for the thinking of new thoughts, extension of ideas and hopefully a fuller understanding of the productive relations between Deleuze-Guattarian Rhizomes and anthropological analysis.

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