matias on 8 Dec 2000 05:49:56 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Rhizome & the City

Rhizome and the City 				

Abstract: This is an attempt to explore the concept of the rhizome departing from Deleuze's idea that each rhizome has a "plan of consistancy". Forgive me for the spelling mistakes. Please comment it.

The rhizome is a living structure that is constantly moved by the expansions and contractions of its centers of energy. The rhizome is constituted of multidimensional networks of different sizes and speeds. Microenergies tend to contract the muscles of the beast, attempting to attract and concentrate the powerflows. The global financial systems; megacities such as New York, Sidney, Tokyo; or on another scale, multinational corporations are macrorhizomes.

The differentiation between micro and macro is arbitrary.  I use it just to bring the picture within our scale of vision, and to picture the multiplicity and multidimensionality of rhizomatic networks. In the rhizome, end and beginning exist together and perpetually. 

Living networks --micro or macro-- are rhizomes in the rhizome they naturally aspire to their own evolution and extension.  Pure monopoly of power would be the most intense expression of the rhizome. At this point the rhizome would exist by itself. Achieve the complete reversal of its eyes on itself. It would be itself, because it would see itself completely, everywhere it looks. However, the rhizome will never achieve the pure realization of its oneness because the rhizome is itself transversed by rhizomes. There are so many rhizomes that there cannot be one rhizome.

A rhizome is any living network that links several points of power together. These structures changes all the time as the points which they link together change all the time. These points themselves are not finite and are networked to an infinidimensional number of other points in movement. Power flows between all of them at different speeds. These points are themselves rhizomes transversed by rhizomes. Some very large rhizomes seem to be moving more slowly, for instance, the cosmos or at a closer scale: political systems. The speed at which rhizomes seem to move, again, is not absolute: it is a function of the distance from our own speed or viewpoint.

The expansion of a rhizome is accomplished by lowering the speed of change or keeping energy flows growing in a constant direction. The number of multidirectional links a rhizome has with the rhizome(s) in which it is embodied determines the distance at which it is situated from the dominant rhizome(s), and in consequence its relative speed.

Powerful rhizomes tend to absorb the energy of microrhizomes around them in order to slower their own speed. They neutralize as many transversal rhizomes as they can and capture their energy, making their own power flow in them. The most rhizomes are embodied in one rhizome, the most powerful it becomes.

 The classical economic equilibrium concept is an expression of the will of the rhizome to attain stability / constant speed. In a moving environment stability is achieved by canalizing the multidimensional flows of energies within which each rhizome evolves. The energy is canalized through solid and compact structures that smaller rhizomes can hardly transverse. These structures constrain mircorhizomes and limit their expansion. The most obvious way a rhizome can grow in a constraint environment is to fusion with it. But by fusioning [as opposed to connecting], the rhizome will move only in the direction of the 
marcorhizome it is embodied in. Thus, it will be alienated from evolving multidirectionally. 

Paradoxically, the most power the rhizome canalizes, the less it is transversed by multidimensional rhizomes, the most rigid it becomes and the most fragile it becomes. This is because it starts following its own logic too much, and disconnects itself from rhizomes around. It stops being a rhizome and becomes a dead, self-insufficient organism.

Fortunately, a rhizome cannot really die altogether because it is composed of multiple rhizomes that go at different speed. The smaller the faster.

The transport and communication technologies of late-modernity --of slow, monolithic and dying modernity-- when they are dominated by it [modernity], do not increase its speed, but decrease it. The Concord was indeed slowing down, consolidating, and expanding modernity. Because it was strengthening the existing canalization / structure of the dominant political rhizomatic system. Similarly, the optical cable that will soon link the financial and informational flows between the world cities at an unprecedented speed, will strengthen the dominant rhizome by rigidifying further the existing relations of power between itself and the microrhizomes that live within it.

The highest speed possibly attainable is immobility. It is attainable only through the absolute neatness of the surfaces on which the flows circulate. At this speed the canals through which energy flows are totally smooth and thus totally impermeable. Not organic transversal connection exists between the flows and the surface on which they flow.

The hardening of the matter is obtained by its concentration at a very high level of tension. Similarly, the construction of the canals of the rhizome is made by exercising a very high tension on the rhizomes embodied within it, so that they all in turn exercise a tension on each other to maintain their relative position. It is natural that rhizomes resist this tension that restrict their freedom of movement.

The accomplishment of this absolute immobile unity through the perfect canalization of the flux of life is the paradoxical aim of the rhizome. What is paradoxical is that the rhizome tends to the negation of its own system / nature. Fortunately this state can never completely exist. 

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