Tag Archives: #rhizo15

so much to be uncertain about… #rhizo15

Well, this, for example: do you or do you not own art?  Why would anyone say “I put no energy into my physical appearance?”  Really?  You don’t wear clothes?  You’re disdaining choices?


I am fascinated by the passionate responses to Deleuze and Guattari – the refusal to read them, even while discussing their concepts; the wondering of how far one can go with a metaphor (that they say is not a metaphor) of the rhizome?

I’ve been flying kites.  Thinking of lines of flight.  Walking beaches, sitting by campfires, even singing a Janis Joplin song in the dark of the woods.  Thinking of maps and tracings.  Drawing pictures.  Trying some dowsing.  Thinking of rupture.  Thinking about 1000 Plateaus, dipping in here and there, dipping into people who are writing about it with such clarity (or not).  Thinking about Whitman: 

Allons! to that which is endless, as it was beginningless,
To undergo much, tramps of days, rests of nights,
To merge all in the travel they tend to, and the days and nights they tend to,
Again to merge them in the start of superior journeys;
To see nothing anywhere but what you may reach it and pass it,
To conceive no time, however distant, but what you may reach it and pass it,
To look up or down no road but it stretches and waits for you—however long, but it stretches and waits for you;
To see no being, not God’s or any, but you also go thither,
To see no possession but you may possess it—enjoying all without labor or purchase—abstracting the feast, yet not abstracting one particle of it…

All in all I have had and am having a wonderful time.  Occasionally in my readings I come across some student who is obviously taking a class in D & G and trying to write a sensible response to something about them and I feel rather badly…   Like Whitman, I don’t think they really work as subjects in the classroom or, rather, in most classrooms.

Which makes me think, yet again, of how I don’t much like classrooms and about how I keep ending up in the same places with the whole education thing…  it has not served those I care about well, and those who provide the service are, for the most part, not considering who is marginalised and being left out.

So the question of the week is whether or not the #rhizo15 rhizome is invasive.  First, I think this lamentably defines the rhizomatic in one way – some rhizomes, botanically, are certainly invasive.  As are some plants that propagate by seeds or spores or…   the difference between those kinds of propagation and rhizomatic propagation is, I think, that with rhizomes – horizontal stems that grow shoots – they can pop up anywhere, theoretically, and one doesn’t see them coming.  The capacity for rupture.


However, there are many kinds of rhizomatic plants that are not at all invasive – which actually need to be cosseted and provided for in really specific ways.  The very breath of roughness destroys them.   This interests me more – and the ways in which the ideas of rhizomatic investigations and a nomadology approach can honour the less powerful.  D & G point out the powerful, overarching aborescent cultural forces that can so quickly and decisively damage any of us, but particularly those who were less likely to be heard in the first place.   There are lots of critics of the “science” of Deleuze and Guattari (again, what is it that compels such passionate responses?) but we know that they were aware of such plants in their specificity:

The orchid deterritorializes (γ) by forming an image, a tracing of a wasp; but the wasp reterritorializes on that image. The wasp is nevertheless deterritorialized, becoming a piece in the orchid’s reproductive apparatus. But it reterritorializes the orchid by transporting its pollen. Wasp and orchid, as heterogeneous elements, form a rhizome. It could be said that the orchid imitates the wasp, reproducing the image in a signifying fashion (mimesis, mimicry, lure, etc.). But this is true only on the level of the strata — a parallelism between two strata such that a plant organization on one imitates an animal organization on the other. At the same time, something else entirely is going on: not imitation at all but a capture of code, surplus value of code, an increase in valence, a veritable becoming, a becoming-wasp of the orchid and a becoming-orchid of the wasp. 

And I return to Whitman:

Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons,
It is to grow in the open air, and to eat and sleep with the earth.
Here a great personal deed has room;
A great deed seizes upon the hearts of the whole race of men,
Its effusion of strength and will overwhelms law, and mocks all authority and all argument against it.

Here is the test of wisdom;
Wisdom is not finally tested in schools;
Wisdom cannot be pass’d from one having it, to another not having it;
Wisdom is of the Soul, is not susceptible of proof, is its own proof,
Applies to all stages and objects and qualities, and is content,
Is the certainty of the reality and immortality of things, and the excellence of things;
Something there is in the float of the sight of things that provokes it out of the Soul.

Now I reëxamine philosophies and religions,
They may prove well in lecture-rooms, yet not prove at all under the spacious clouds, and along the landscape and flowing currents.
Here is realization;
Here is a man tallied—he realizes here what he has in him;
The past, the future, majesty, love—if they are vacant of you, you are vacant of them.

Only the kernel of every object nourishes;
Where is he who tears off the husks for you and me?
Where is he that undoes stratagems and envelopes for you and me?Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons,
It is to grow in the open air, and to eat and sleep with the earth.

Here a great personal deed has room
A great deed seizes upon the hearts of the whole race of men,
Its effusion of strength and will overwhelms law, and mocks all authority and all argument against it.


Tagged , , ,

Bricolage: “Those crunching noises pervading the air!” 1980 #rhizo15

I started thinking that, as in studying an art work one likes, it’s important to know the historical context out of which something came and I began working on this post.  Given that this is the last (?) week of #rhizo15  I realized that, imperfect and incomplete as it is, I better post it.  It was an interesting exploration, not least because I realized how subjective my own sense of the 1980s was…  your history-mileage may vary 🙂

David Fullerton "Behold the Apocalypse" from the installation, Sisyphus Office Exhibition, Houston 2009*

David Fullerton “Behold the Apocalypse” from the installation, Sisyphus Office Exhibition, Houston 2009*

All images except this, the middle one by Jennifer Bartlett and the last one are from 1980(ish) unless otherwise stated.

As we investigate Deleuze and particularly A Thousand Plateaus; Capitalism and Schizophrenia, it’s interesting to consider what else was happening in popular culture and in art when it was published in English…  as a theme song we might imagine Sondheim’s singular and offbeat “Try a Little Priest” from Sweeney Todd, first staged in 1979 – a strange, dark homage to capitalism, equality and cannibalistic humour that asks, what can one do but laugh (and take advantage) when things no longer make sense.  Mrs Lovett, who bakes meat pies, is as mad as Sweeney, though for different reasons.

Screen Shot 2015-05-09 at 10.53.46 PM

Try a Little Priest

That’s all very well, but what we gonna do about him?
Later on when it’s dark, we’ll take it to some secret place and bury him
Oh yeah. Of course we could do that. I don’t ‘spose he’s got any relatives gonna come pokin’ ’round lookin’ for him.

Seems a downright shame…


The conflation of capitalism and art and eating were already being brought together in new ways by Andy Warhol in 1962 with his Soup Can paintings and by 1980 critics were writing books about these  as part of the Pop “canon.”  Never before had a movement in “art” been so publicly and quickly reified.

CRI_318242However, some critics by the ’80s were calling Warhol “superficial, facile and commercial,” and he was responding in a new way, battling capitalist media judgement with the one-two punch of the unapologist veneration of the objectified subjective: “I love Los Angeles. I love Hollywood. They’re so beautiful. Everything’s plastic, but I love plastic. I want to be plastic.”

In retrospect, some wonder if Warhol’s superficiality and commerciality was not “the most brilliant mirror of our times.”

In 1980 Art Spiegelman began publishing Maus as a serial, and later as a graphic novel that was personal, political, transformational and based on his father’s stories of the Holocaust.


Seems an awful waste…
Such a nice, plump frame
Wot’s ‘is name has…
Nor it can’t be traced…
Bus’ness needs a lift,
Debts to be erased…
Think of it as thrift,
As a gift,
If you get my drift

Seems an awful waste…
I mean, with the price of meat
What it is,
When you get it,
If you get it…


Good, you got it!

Keith Haring took graffiti street culture and added new aspects of language and subjectivities that asked questions about what mattered…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Stephen Sondheim’s new musical Marry Me A Little was opening on Broadway – a play about two people who live in apartments in the same building but never find a way to move forward into relationship…  it might have been quite different if they’d been on Facebook…


It would be seven more years before he would deconstruct and reconstruct Bruno Bettelheim’s 1976 The Uses Of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales as the musical Into The Woods but people were already very excited about what this book might mean, based on Bettelheim’s experiences with troubled children (later to be questioned).  It was a whole new way of looking at the implications of stories in our lives.  Tracings, maps, rhizomes.

Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 3.33.17 AM

Angela Carter, in Britain, was starting to ask similar questions about the implications of myth, tales and stories in our lives in her short story collection, The Bloody Chamber, from which her story “The Werewolf” would become the movie, In The Company of Wolves:


However, she was also exploring a much wider range of source materials, including a feminist re-reading of De Sade as emancipatory:


All over, from the edges and margins, different groups were coming to the forefront to interrogate even the interrogated…  to question how social construction was creating conditions for marginalization and then making of that marginalization different sub-groups.

CityofNightRechyGay people were about to be inflicted with an epidemic that would transform everything, when they had only just begun to find themselves in a new kind of sexual freedom, described by John Rechy in the 1963 novel City of Night, which he would later say (like 1000 Plateaus) was based on and made up of letters and correspondence but not originally written as a text, was, like Warhol, not an apologist representative: “Gay men should not adopt the sophomoric model of heterosexual dating; gay men should always have sex first.”  In 1980 he was continuing on course with the novel Rushes, a novel that ended with a kind of cultish sexual sacrifice in an S & M bar.


The arrival of AIDS created the opportunity for a new kind of panopticonism (which Foucault was exploring in 1980 with the publication of his essays on Power/Knowledge) in which directives from an establishment that had been appalled by the emancipation of gay people began to demand abstinence at best and decried that this was the fate homosexuals deserved at worst.  Newly created gay organizations were given grants to conduct education campaigns, for the first time, becoming responsible for the de-radicalisation of a new, loud minority.  Instead, a new, louder minority was created:

AidsACTUp.52 PM AidsACTUp.22 PM

AidsGraph.17 PMTake, for instance, Mrs. Mooney and her pie shop!
Bus’ness never better using only pussycats and toast!
Now a pussy’s good for maybe six or seven at the most!
And I’m sure they can’t compare as far as taste!


Mrs. Lovett, what a charming notion

Well, it does seem a waste…

Eminently practical
And yet appropriate as always!

Think about it…

Mrs. Lovett, how I’ve lived
Without you all these years, I’ll never know!
How delectable!
Also undetectable!

“I am no doubt not the only one who writes in order to have no face. Do not ask who I am and do not ask me to remain the same: leave it to our bureaucrats and our police to see that our papers are in order.” Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge

“Is it surprising,” Foucault asked in Surveiller et punir (English translation: Discipline and Punish, 1977), “that prisons resemble factories, schools, barracks, hospitals, which all resemble prisons?”  Meanwhile, in his private life, he too was experimenting with sado-masochism.  Alexander Nehamas has said that “sadomasochism was a kind of blessing in Foucault’s life. It provided the occasion to experience relations of power as a source of delight.”  Ruptures and ruptures and rapture.

Foucault.58 PM

These investigations of sexuality were creating a map for Foucault to think about the personal as political in a new way.  His “new scholarly interest in the self had grown out of his study of sexuality”:

So it was that Michel Foucault, on the night of October 20, 1980, found himself facing a mob at the University of California at Berkeley.

That evening he was slated to deliver the first of his two Howison lectures on the campus; in these lectures, he would be offering the most succinct overview yet of where his research was headed — namely, back to the founding fathers of Western thought. His American public, however, knew nothing about this program. Students were still stuck on the grisly opening of Discipline and Punish — and the mysterious ending of The Will to Know. Bodies! Pleasures! Torture! Had philosophy ever sounded so sexy?

They began arriving an hour in advance, filling every seat in the large hall [Wheeler Auditorium]. And still they kept coming. Soon several hundred more people had gathered outside the hall, clamoring to get in. Police rushed to the scene. The doors to the hall were locked shut. Enraged, the crowd outside began to push and shout, pounding on the doors.

Foucault was nonplussed. Advised of the baying throng, he turned to Hubert Dreyfus, the Berkeley professor who was to introduce him, and begged him to do something, anything, to make these people go away.

Halfheartedly, Dreyfus addressed the crowd — and complied with Foucault’s wishes: “Michel Foucault says this is a very technical lecture, and difficult, and, I think, he wants to imply, boring; and he suggests that it would be better for everyone to leave now.

Nobody budged.

Foucault and Deleuze were making philosophy sexy.  Kind of like the academic version of Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball.”  As Jeremy Livingston  says in a commentary on this blog post:

In 1977, Gilles Deleuze jotted down some notes on his own and Foucault’s respective conceptions of desire and pleasure; they were published, and now they’re reprinted in “Two Regimes of Madness”, under the title “Desire and Pleasure” (pp122ff in the Semiotext(e) English edition).

Basically, he says (citing private conversations with Foucault), when Foucault hears “desire”, he thinks either of a lack, or of something being repressed and interrupted; whereas, for Deleuze, there’s no lack, but rather the putting-together of something, and the sustained note of an intensity. But, where Deleuze hears “pleasure”, that’s where he thinks of a lack, the cessation of desire and the termination of the process; whereas, for Foucault, pleasure seems to have to do with exultation.

Deleuze suggests, in a “ha ha just serious” kind of way, that it’s the difference between a Sadist (Foucault) and a Masochist (Deleuze).

Lots of other gentlemen’ll
Soon be comin’ for a shave,
Won’t they?
Think of
All them

How choice!

MiracleMan-002 MiracleMan

1980 marked the rebirth of my second favourite superhero, Miracleman, and started a new post-structuralist monomyth sequelae  – would it really be possible to have unlimited power and resist taking over everything and make it all work better?  really?  what would you do, if you could do anything?  what might you be driven to?  Allan Moore’s story arc investigated two variations on this – one an admitted fascist ego-maniac who turns out to be the adopted son of the earlier MiracleMan hero, coming back to life with a new agenda.  Quotes by Nietzsche are sprinkled throughout the text.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Once he has defeated the anti-hero, MiracleMan realizes that the only way to lasting peace and something like equity is if he himself takes over – but, of course, he’s not a fascist…  is he?  Can’t he be a kindly despot?


Notice in the bottom left corner the rhizomatic cobra-plants with teeth – part of the odd garden that is never explained, which is created in the temple that MiracleMan creates to venerate himself.

MiracleMan, because of some legal issues, was reshaped for North America and lost his obvious fascist control issues and became a relatively normal hero.  Because that’s how we roll.  However – think rhizomatic rupture – Jean Gray, of the Xmen, is taken over by the infinite Phoenix power and becomes a kind of Kali the Destroyer figure in the same year.  All other superheroes cringe in horror.  Territorialisation, de-territorialisation, re-territorialisation.


The realization that Jean Gray must be destroyed occurs after she, in constant need of energy to sustain her infinite and growing powers, and with ever less conscience, subsumes a star which is circled by a planet on which a race of strange asparagus-like (rhizomatic!) people live in peace and harmony, until they are wiped out by the careless actions of the war machine she has become, consuming, growing, careless.


For what’s the sound of the world out there?

What, Mr. Todd?
What, Mr. Todd?
What is that sound?

Those crunching noises pervading the air!

Yes, Mr. Todd!
Yes, Mr. Todd!
Yes, all around!

It’s man devouring man, my dear!

And/Then who are we to deny it in here?

Jennifer Bartlett put aside the modular, abstract conceptual art made of industrial materials, which she had become known for,

Surface Substitution on 36 Plates 1972 Jennifer Bartlett born 1941 Offered to HM Government in lieu of Inheritance Tax by David, Maggi, Joshua and Daniel Gordon in memory of Max Gordon. Accepted and allocated to the Tate Gallery 1992 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T06637

Surface Substitution on 36 Plates 1972 Jennifer Bartlett born 1941 Offered to HM Government in lieu of Inheritance Tax by David, Maggi, Joshua and Daniel Gordon in memory of Max Gordon. Accepted and allocated to the Tate Gallery 1992 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T06637

and travelled to France where she rented a house with a derelict garden and began drawing and painting figurative pictures, to everyone’s amazement:

Jennifer_Bartlett_In_The_Garden_141It the pictures images repeated themselves, were abstracted and then gestural…  the artist’s marks evident and erased and then evident again.  Later she would marry these ideas into large works such as “grasses” which moves across two canvasses – the out of control takes control…

Jennifer Barlett, Grasses, 2011

Jennifer Barlett, Grasses, 2011


Warhol left the loop of re-creating and recycling imagery which had become almost archetypal by then and connected with young new york artists like Jean Basquiet and graffiti artist Keith Haring, creating kinds of collages with the former as new kinds of “art stars.”


His own art was re-energised by these relationships, literally larger and more involved in mythic statements:


As well, moving in another direction, incredibly intimate and questing, after a career built on removing “the artist” from the work (of “the factory”).   In the Oxidation paintings he and friends urinated on copper plates to create abstract works:Warhol-002 Those interested in a previous blog posting about how art is sterilized into assignments for school children will be interested in this lesson plan).

Screen Shot 2015-05-09 at 11.26.48 PMTODD (spoken) These are desperate times,

Mrs. Lovett, and desperate measures are called for!

Here we are, now! Hot out of the oven!

What is that?

It’s priest. Have a little priest.

Is it really good?

Sir, it’s too good, at least!
Then again, they don’t commit sins of the flesh,
So it’s pretty fresh.

Awful lot of fat.

Only where it sat.

In Canada the sound poets took over from the Black Mountain writers and re-claimed the idea of poetry as oral performance, particularly B. P. Nichol, who published the duo, Translating Translating Apollinaire, A Preliminary Report  in 1979 and Sharp Facts: Selections from TTA 26 in 1980.

Screen Shot 2015-05-09 at 11.30.51 PM

The book covers give a good indication of the kind of language explorations that were intended.  On the west coast bill bissett created visionary texts and pictures that were described as “intensely libidinal and violently anti-grammatical” – a kind orgasm on the page(s).  Hundreds of pages in book after book, of his own work, and young poets that he took a chance on.

In his poem “rose th night nd th green flowr” from 1980’s beyond even faithful legends, he writes:

bill bissett, not at all an entrepreneur, was a determined publisher of new works and dozens of Canadian writers owed their starts to him:

Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 12.05.20 AMTODD
Haven’t you got poet, or something like that?

No, y’see, the trouble with poet is
‘Ow do you know it’s deceased?
Try the priest!

Lawyer’s rather nice.

If it’s for a price.

Order something else, though, to follow,
Since no one should swallow it twice!

Meanwhile, in England Gilbert and George were investigating the boundaries of art and performance, avant garde and system, religious icons and pop art:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Anything that’s lean?

Well, then, if you’re British and loyal,
You might enjoy Royal Marine!
Anyway, it’s clean.
Though of course, it tastes of wherever it’s been!

Robert Maplethorpe, in New York, documented in photographs and self-portraits similar ruptures of gender, sexuality and exploration:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Is that squire, on the fire?

Mercy no, sir, look closer,
You’ll notice it’s grocer!

Looks thicker,
More like vicar!

No, it has to be grocer —
(Loud whisper) It’s green!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

James Baldwin, incredibly, given his background and lineage, became one of the world’s most articulate and enlivening writers and speakers on race relations and marginalization.  In 1980 he had finished his last novel and was beginning non-fiction works that would culminate in the wonderful book The Evidence of Things Not Seen, about “the worst two years in Atlanta’s history were 1980 and 1981, when the bodies of dead black children turned up all over the city.”  Baldwin found the investigations and the trial sloppy and suspect and pronounced: “Others may see American progress in economic, racial and social affairs–I do not.”

It was a similar statement to those of the BBC series of 1980, “Yes, Minister,” which painted government and elected officials as bumbling fools:

YesMinister.17 PMTODD

The history of the world, my love —

Save a lot of graves,
Do a lot of relatives favors!

Is those below serving those up above!

Meanwhile, in America, the ultimate nomadic movie….


Ev’rybody shaves,
So there should be plenty of flavors!

How gratifying for once to know

That those above will serve those down below!

Robert Rauschenberg, with his then-lover, Jasper Johns, was working on various kinds of “assemblage” – note the photo of him with the nomadic rugs and a work called “Mongolian Cousin.”  From Deleuze and becoming resistance:

“What is an assemblage? It is a multiplicity which is made up of many heterogeneous terms and which establishes liasions, relations between them, across ages, sexes and reigns–different natures. Thus, the assemblage’s only unity is that of co-functioning: it is symbiosis, a “sympathy.” It is never filiations which are important, but alliances, alloys; these are not successions, lines of descent, but contagions, epidemics, the wind.” Deleuze and Parnet, 1977, 69

“An assemblage is precisely this increase in the dimensions of a multiplicity that necessarily changes in nature as it expands its connections.” Thousand Plateaus p 8

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What is that?

It’s fop.
Finest in the shop.
And we have some shepherd’s pie peppered
With actual shepherd on top!
And I’ve just begun —
Here’s the politician, so oily
It’s served with a doily,
Have one!

Put it on a bun.
Well, you never know if it’s going to run!

Lou Reed was encouraging us, in a whole new kind of love song, to “Think it Over” – to not just be in love but be smart:

“He asks the woman to marry him. She wonders if he knows what he’s getting into. (“When you ask for someone’s heart / You must make sure you’re smart.”) He wants to rush, but she tells him to cool it down and think it over. Love is like a lot of other addictions – first thing you learn is that you always gotta wait.”  From 


Try the friar,
Fried, it’s drier!

No, the clergy is really
Too coarse and too mealy!

Then actor,
It’s compacter!

Ah but always arrives overdone!
(spoken) I’ll come again when you have judge on the menu!

(singing) Have charity towards the world, my pet!

Yes, yes, I know, my love!

We’ll take the customers that we can get!

High-born and low, my love!

We’ll not discriminate great from small!
No, we’ll serve anyone,
Meaning anyone (LOVETT sings “we’ll serve anyone”)

And to anyone


Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 11.38.27 AM

Shirley Brice Heath was working on the research that would lead to the transformational (for me) book Ways with Words – in which she demonstrated how empathy and caring could be part of respectful research into diversity.  Jonathon Kozol was suggesting that illiteracy might be part of a larger sociological construction in Prisoners of Silence: Breaking the bonds of Adult Illiteracy in the united States.  

For some reason it seems good to end this with Roseanne Roseannadanna’s 1980 skit in which she’s been asked at the last minute (because Geraldo Rivera has a boil that would make them sick if they saw it) to give the commencement address to Columbia School of Journalism, thinking it was her journalism alma mater, Columbia School of Broadcasting (“I guess I will have to wait for that honour”), and gives a speech in which she asks: What does journalism have to offer me?  What do I have to offer journalism?  What is there to write about?  What is there to write with?  Should I use a pencil or a typewriter?  What kind of pencil?  A number 2 pencil or one that writes darker?  Where do I get these pencils?  Do I bring them in or does my boss bring them in for me?  If I don’t bring them in will I get fired – if I get fired I’ll starve and then I’ll die… What should I do?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Meanwhile, behind her and paralysed by not knowing what the “right thing to do” might be, the College Deans and Faculty convey their discomfort:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And that skit might sum up 1980, when America welcomed the English translation of Deleuze and Gauttari’s One Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia.  People already wondered what to do with the new world – beyond one’s choice of pencil or typewriter, while D & G offered a new model for how to think rhizomatically, like a nomad, dealing with the war machine.


* David Fullerton is one of my favourite artists and his work is available through the Compound Gallery in San Francisco – wonderful mail order service and friendly folks with great ideas about collaboration and (affordable) art and community.  Check out the records of Fullerton’s Sisyphus Office Exhibition, Houston 2009 here and see his site here.

Tagged , , , , ,

112 Scott Johnson Quotes: out of context and in no particular order. #rhizo15

“The radical, committed to human liberation, does not become the prisoner of a ‘circle of certainty’ within which reality is also imprisoned. On the contrary, the more radical the person is, the more fully he or she enters into reality so that, knowing it better, he or she can better transform it. This individual is not afraid to confront, to listen, to see the world unveiled. This person is not afraid to meet the people or to enter into dialogue with them. This person does not consider himself or herself the proprietor of history or of all people, or the liberator of the oppressed; but he or she does commit himself or herself, within history, to fight at their side.”

― Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Marc Ngui, 1000 Plateaus drawings, Introduction, Paragraph 13 http://www.bumblenut.com/drawing/art/plateaus/index.shtml

Marc Ngui, 1000 Plateaus drawings, Introduction, Paragraph 13 http://www.bumblenut.com/drawing/art/plateaus/index.shtml

The alternative to someone like Dave is someone like us – and, importantly, we can imagine ourselves as teachers but I think it’s also an opportunity to recognise the importance of colleagues – the person at the desk beside us, or in the moodle forum, who says the things that make us think or move us from one concept to another.   I was thinking about this week four topic in #rhizo15, what happens if there is no Dave (no teacher), and realized that as I check my #rhizo15 newsfeeds each morning, a bit obsessively, Scott is one of the people I start to look for.   He’s part of the aggregate that I attend to and hope to participate in, as Sarah Honeychurch (another important part of my aggregate) has said: “Scott, maybe we should meme you.”  I knew them both a bit from #rhizo14. I didn’t know Dave Harris but he’s suddenly sprung up (like a rhizome!) and now I watch for him too.

So, thinking about this, on a night when I couldn’t sleep, I started going through Scott’s postings.  I have whittled these down to 100… oh wait no there’s more… a rhizomatic thing is that he keeps talking as I work on this list  (and just then I get a tweet-comic from Kevin Hodgson, another person I look for, about Scott

CElyegHW0AEt6vEand through the magic of web 2.0 i get to add it to this too)… It also just occurred to me that in effect I am transposing Dave’s handing over of the week’s question to Viplav by handing over this posting to Scott…

Thanks to Scott for not being too weirded out by this idea and giving me permission to pursue this posting.  There are many amazing voices in #rhizo15 – but I am interested in how Scott has enriched my experience of learning here.

  1. At one time it seemed preferable to be clear in what I mean. Now I’m not so sure. Contradictions matter though.
  2. I find connections suggestive of what I weakly understand as rhizomatic material. The community as curriculum extends beyond the academic community to less directed and unintentional sources.
  3. …finding connections to what I think D&G are saying in the words of others confirms to me that they are somehow understandable. This might be bad technique but it’s also refreshing to see people not let go of something just because it’s difficult.
  4. This wanders back to nomads and independent learning. Explaining to me feels like it falls into logos by association with institutionalized sense making and accepting definitions confined to the needs of the state. Propaganda, religion, advertising and political persuasion. So teaching as a form of explaining is presumably a structured description of reality yet there are times in my wanderings in self initiated learning where I hit a wall, For instance I can complain about D&G being deliberately obscure but really, I don’t understand them in the way Sian was able to make D&G accessible and I think it’s fair to ask just how independent are we? My having an “attitude” about Continental Philosophy is way different than understanding and then arguing against it.
  5. In school my inability to understand was considered a “failure” by definition of the state. Here the importance lies in the willingness to ask for help? Or maybe the freedom to choose the help I find helpful?
  6. The hurricane picture reminds me of the smooth and striated spaces where the outer mess is smooth and variable and the center resolved into rules that pretend to prediction but are just bossy orderliness.
  7. If objectivity is seen not as an ideal model of universal acceptance but simply a statement of the way things are then the rhizome need not be an abstraction but more a difference machine working the tension landscape of things-that-are and things-that-could-be?
  8. …being literally days ago when I wrote that post I have no idea what I meant.
  9. …a Simonizer would generate unpredictable outcomes appropriate the Rhizomatic zone of dis-similarity where nothing quite fits.
  10. Patrick’s mention of fear of the unknown suggests we need some way to relax around uncertainty so we can draw conclusions from things that have no reason or intention to match up.
  11. an unprovoked attention drifts

Screen Shot 2015-05-09 at 11.40.22 AM

  1. I’m not sure the lightness of random thinking is anything more than Brownian Motion
  2. …there will be none of the follow-through that distinguishes a course, only synaptic bilge-water
  3. though conservative governments may wish to shut down big education centres as dangerous gatherings of thinking people, online delivery encourages thinking to infect wider and more remote areas with ideas that befuddle the conservative message
  4. …imagination can be taught or at least cultivated. One form of evil is the discouragement of imagination, which may originate in the social fear of difference?
  5. The stranger is unpredictable.


  1. The idea of permanence is attractive yes though recent history for me is about dumping my past and that’s fun too.
  2. The tension in IT is over the predictable, do we need machines that think like people, or people who think like machines?
  3. Positive sides of ed tech: the IT department becomes lord over all content and though they may lack imagination, they at least aren’t evil.   Bandwidth hogs like D&G are cut down–more than 3 plateaus and you are out of here. Small tyrants running small minded institutions are exposed to the whole academic community and their “good-enough-for-our-students” course ware is now subject to merciless mocking and forced to meet almost modern standards.
  4. Some staff in our department won a Smart Table for the office and being close to the day care it act as both a baby changing table and electronic piano.
  5. …are thoughts and theories of academics the only source of validity. If the goal is to encourage me to think independently and I come up with my own method of discovering “truth” and am willing to defend that method isn’t that better than borrowing a recommended or approved source which I need not account for?
    1914, paragraph 5, drawing.  http://athousandplateaus-drawings.tumblr.com/

    1914, paragraph 5, drawing. http://athousandplateaus-drawings.tumblr.com/ Marc Ngui


  6. Thinking of how school invaded my life declaring itself rightful judge and master suggests the rhizome has to break through many layers of assumption–so common and whole-worldly as to be unnoticeable (irresistible in its meta-normality). We are conditioned to respond only to the known and the crafty answers it displays to name itself correct (answering our question before we can even form it) which I guess is the Objective claiming the decided and posting itself as the apparent. This many stepped process is controllable with it’s structured needs and supposed neutrality while the Subjective only needs to make sense to itself. By any manner of ‘proof’ the Subjective skips through life unperturbed by the need for ‘evidence’ and though we might not like this loosy-goosy attitude, it does provide us with the opportunity for first contact with ideas our judgement will soon pick to death.
  7. Maybe we talk-over the voice of content.
  8. Thinking about content led to applying numbers to learning and how they are currently misapplied leading me to think about how important questions are and how difficult it is to construct a question that reveals a really meaningful answer which had me thinking about Jane Jacobs on urban planning and the way she inquires about the world.
  9. I’m not convinced that division of Pedagogy and Andragogy is based on anything more complex than the fact that adults are bigger and harder to push around.
  10. If something is unconnected to your life then it needs to be made compelling.
  11. We trip over the term “relevant” when talking about education because simply calling something uninteresting “important” still leaves us uninterested.
  12. I’ve been dealing with an institution that holds onto control by responding like a snail. Poke it in the right place with a meaningful question and it responds by withdrawing into its shell and issuing a meaningless policy statement. No doubt the shell is a useful and robust adaptation but the snail itself is useless.

    Gathie Falk, The Last Summer in the Old Eden Already

    Gathie Falk, The Last Summer in the Old Eden Already

  13. I have an image of content being selected for its completeness, correctness and decidedness. It displays as closed object to us–maybe with entry points though not really open. How do we engage with something so finished?
  14. How much of our life is spent as an improved and acceptable model to please others? And who are we learning for when not ourselves?
  15. Huge swing across the political spectrum from conservative to social democratic but I don’t think is represents change. Conservatives had been in office for 44 years straight and had gotten out of the habit of explaining themselves or feeling the need to explain their erratic actions. Strangely, there is plenty of wise and useful advice out there but people prefer reasoning to be simple, even if it’s wrong. What we want to hear rules us.
  16. With not too many more years of conservative government the places will all be turned over to concession stands
  17. did you not pay attention in Sunday school?
  18. It worries me a bit that system design is actually a profession on its own. How can people “know” everything except at the level of abstraction? Or should it be called at the level of objectivity?
  19. Most measuring seems intent on finding single indicators to describe a complex system. Boil down the details and a central truth will emerge.
    portrait of Deleuze

    portrait of Deleuze


  20. …in fact bad connections can spice up a network and make it more vital.
  21. I don’t see a problem with a system in contrast with itself.
  22. In fact it may be a sign of disloyalty to be an independent learner.
  23. It’s a mythology of totalitarian power justified by attaching it to the moral vacuum of business as an imaginary place where screwing each other is held to be a neutral and non-personal activity.
  24. …she gets that just-stepped-out-of-a-saloon look in her hair by dancing with balloons so she might be reacting to the latex?
  25. Is it possible for networks to induce emergence? Aren’t networks the sum of the parts endlessly summing their parts?
  26. I don’t think age is a factor here, more to do with curiosity and the willingness to engage the unfamiliar.
  27. The college she works for has been asked to create an OER course and it will be interesting to see how a totalitarian organization approaches openness.
  28. It seems that a form of management that replaces humans with predictable models that suit organizational goals has become popular in education.
  29. There will always be missing links in any network, things that are missed or even that prefer not to be known by the network. All knowledge is limited by being incomplete but some knowledge collectives seem content on a declaration of completeness. Does this over-confidence lead to more of itself, a lock-down of thought?

Screen Shot 2015-05-09 at 11.54.11 AM

  1. The notion that putting dull ideas on a screen will make them more interesting is the old lipstick-on-a-pig design model popular in politics. We seem to process images differently than spoken word but still a bad spoken idea can always be made worse with imagery.
  2. On collage: Being “art” understood by an adolescent mind it was always a soup of subjectivity, but it still was fun–especially because there was no fixed explanation for it. Any story would fit.
  3. the signature pedagogy idea seems right though for hands-on trades some mistakes can be allowed, just not too much blood the first time–tactile learners need all the fingers they came with.
  4. adult learning always felt precarious as in “everyone else seems to have gotten it and I’m here trying AGAIN.” Fortunately the we-get-it crowd don’t hang around places like this.
Foucault’s copy of Anti-Oedipus offered by Deleuze with drawings by his two children. Deleuze points to the drawings and notes in yellow, “Oedipus does not exist.

Foucault’s copy of Anti-Oedipus offered by Deleuze with drawings by his two children. Deleuze points to the drawings and notes in yellow, “Oedipus does not exist.

  1. …welcome to the whatever-it-is-here:-)
  2. it seem like rhizomatic projects involve a commitment to cooperation where convincing yourself of the value of participation is an attitude that seeks confusion over orderliness. To me, cats are open to decision making unconstrained by an initial need to make sense of the world. First rule is to chase whatever moves. The unfortunate outcome is that catching and playing with that which was chased kills it, at which point the cats disburse leaving a dead object ready for academic discovery.
  3. Hard enough deciding on who I am at the moment:-) Is it nomadic to be everywhere’ish?
  4. if we don’t worry wouldn’t we be less attentive?
  5. could we look at objectivity as a form of bonding such that trying to “keep up” is socially considerate while the subjective is inconsiderate? As open as I would like to appear it’s also vital that I stay intact and sometimes distort experiences to fit my needs. To have and cultivate bad “manners” and not give a rats-ass what others think. Can being nomadic also include being biased?
  6. It all plays to unexamined tacit assumptions or social mythologies that in a way are objective. To break through this level of “understanding” requires accessing a different part of the brain–maybe a less hurried part?
  7. those plant people are strangely appealing.
  8. at one time it seemed this MOOC would get simpler. That some strategy would kick in… it hasn’t and I’m thinking it doesn’t matter. Things just keep moving with each thought building on the one before by taking it apart and leaving us wondering how long the current one will last.
Bill Reid's Spirit Canoe at Vancouver International Airport, multiple exposure with Hipstamic app

Bill Reid’s Spirit Canoe at Vancouver International Airport, multiple exposure with Hipstamic app

  1. Being driven might be our natural state while others settle. My parents were artists and never mentioned end-points. There were places to go but they were never described as destinations. More like different base camps to branch out from. Have to think about this.
  2. Advice from your children is tricky because you never know if they learned from you and arguing against it is disagreeing with yourself.
  3. …like to at least explore a person’s thoughts on WHY something happened before the WHAT happened to get the personal feel before the analysis. People do things for reasons that may not be revealed in what came back at them.
  4. Cause and effect in human relations can be very difficult to untangle and our encounters with constructs like institutions can feature a sensitive and aware human encountering a cold and impersonal policy. The WHAT of what happened has no will or reasoning power–it just happened to a model individual unrelated to the real person who triggered the response.
  5. We give up our intuitions and insights in an attempt to be the dispassionate observer uninfluenced by beauty.
  6. …maybe just needing to be right we become wrong?
  7. good point about power. It distorts the objective to its own end of seeming rational because “everyone knows” disarms us because we need the social so badly. That’s my key problem with the medical system–they have sanctified themselves in the objectivity of the oppressor. And here I go after another rabbit.
  8. how about a list of the failings of objectivity if it were personified? ‘Subjective’ is a not-so-nice way to refer to the personal and tends to devalue experience as unreliable or a distortion of some higher understanding. If we enthrone objectivity as a higher state of experiencing the world then we are tasked with deciding which reality is most true? Fault #1, objectivity is a construct of naturally subjective humans who are notoriously unreliable.
  9. Here in rhizo it’s kind of “call us when you get there” thing where everyone smiles as you get on the wrong bus.
  10. that looks like the wrong wrong bus.Screen Shot 2015-05-09 at 12.02.24 PM
  11. There was some disappointment last year that D&G never really got discussed. Some us, like me avoided the discussion by making up elaborate excuses and creating distractions (not to mention despairing remarks) and the whole thing became known as “The Tragedy of the Rhizome” as it on the scale of the sinking of the Titanic but went unnoticed. Sad really–though predictable in this crowd.
  12. Maybe D&G weren’t meant to be read?
  13. life would be so much easier if we all could just wiggle out of problems that won’t resolve . . . our current election campaigning features the corrupted logic of the managed argument that a candidate can be ‘for’ services to constituents while being ‘for’ lower taxes raising the problem of cutting staffing at the services to pay for increased services.
  14. Alternately, the rhizome allows you to adapt to changing conditions by frequently changing your mind.
  15. …a fixed outcome for a traveler could be an openness to the unexpected. This need not disorient the person but delight them in the strangeness of contrast. Traveling outside one’s comfort zone can erase strategies for learning and be quite uncomfortable but sometimes the safe linear stepping stones create a false model of the world as predictable as A followed by B and instead of knowing how navigate people just sail to the same place every time. What happens when expectation fails? What next?
  16. …a subjective is an unrevealed destination while a objective is an argument for not going there at all.Screen Shot 2015-05-09 at 12.05.27 PM
  17. proof of participation seems different than proof of contribution but I’m unsure why? Being there isn’t enough, nor to my mind is the melding of voices into one. Can collaboration matter if it doesn’t leverage difference?
  18. The limitations, disagreements, personal interests and general unwillingness of humans to cooperate makes collaboration either close to a miraculous achievement or a forced march to nowhere.
  19. So the difference is my personal perception that collaboration is unproductive and personally invasive unless it allows for a range of differences which may make it practically too difficult to manage.
  20. Submitting yourself as neutral while simultaneously being investigator and subject can seriously mess with a person’s identity.
  21. the irresistible messiness of rhizomatic jack-foolery.
  22. we should let people go astray and not always worry them about bad choices. (And this doesn’t mean letting children run out into traffic). Maybe encouraging learning from all experiences including “mistakes” is the key. Saying “shit-happens” is really poor pedagogy and a huge loss of potential.


  1. To me, the whole structure of education was / is centred on discovering what someone else already knows. There’s no invitation to genuinely participate–only to go around collecting ‘appropriate’ answers that can be traded.
  2. When I’m asked to remove my self to be ‘objective’ I find my thoughts push all the learning from experience that built me away and I need to operate as channel for ideas that are borrowed and not of myself.
  3. …like a herd of freely associating, autonomous cats.
  4. I remember libraries as attempting to confirm reality by displaying so many versions of it that it couldn’t not exist. From there you were on your own to pick one, some, or just start your own.
  5. in school it often seemed the teachers were crushed if you didn’t “learn” something measurable. It wasn’t for their selfish needs, though they might have felt it a personal or professional failure to have not “gotten through” to me. The need to demonstrate learning has been reduced to cause and effect–take math, learn math, exhibit math on tests. What you can do with math is limited to what you’ve been given to do. Not knowing where we are going and going anyway is unresolved at the start and maybe we are averse to begin without knowing how it will end?
  6. I think people who believe in equity will act with fairness but most people have to be hammered into awareness.
  7. How do we get past mistaking contemplation for passivity?
  8. introverts as change makers feels like something difficult to measure.
  9. This is a free service by the way:-)
  10. No one likes hard topics, though I suppose a discussion over why the Tooth Fairy pays less for girl’s teeth might catch on:-)
  11. But I do worry that we’ve become immune to what measurements tell us by their overuse. Maybe we need to feel the inequality first and then the numbers confirm it?
from David Fullerton's

from David Fullerton’s “I’m Sorry” series. http://davidfullarton.com/

  1. I do like the notion of thinking systematically, creatively and critically being measured by schools as institutions. It gives the impression that these qualities are a public value to be judged by experts. Something else to fail at in the eyes of the state.
  2. There’s a close relationship between locality as a space between the imagining of nodes. Locality seems less fixed yet more understandable by its chance to be variable and living while the node is an object or artifact needing a single identity to hold its position.
  3. neurons form pathways to favorites or groups of faves and though these affinity groups may evolve they tend to evolve together–maybe as a loyalty to the rut they all share? In a way this a self limiting system. In Viviana’s nodeless rhizome concept we have lines without the need for destinations. Things appear and often vanish leaving you to explain…what?
  4. Networks seem like an artificial model conceived by humans and then applied to nature. And then we turn and take the biological rhizome and apply it to human learning, then as George Seimens mentioned rhizomes act as generators of copies and we’ve been talking about them (I think) as instigators of diversity–or as I prefer, signal jammers and suggesters of alternative pathways.
  5. The rhizome waits for no one.
  6. The problems were solved by getting rid of all the “difficult” students, their teachers and having nightly inspirational talks on the actual meaning of the word “Wonder” as applies to doughy whiteness in a loaf of Wonder Bread.
  7. When objectivity becomes a form of publicly accepted bullshit it needs challenging or it becomes further embedded.
  8. we still need to go out into the mess or we’ll run out of things we think we know.
  9. it does feed my interest in how things fail so it’s interesting to watch
  1. When the city paved our street everything grew wheels.
  2. . . . the world repackaged in tedious explanations passing for understandings. Or maybe there’s process we can learn for seeding ideas that we can stand away from and not feel the need to intrude and direct? .
  3. We need a Pleasing Number Generator that could take any data and make it agreeable to the receiver.
  4. Why do we suppose taking things apart will reveal something about the world?
  5. for as often the term ‘free range’ comes up on the menu these days it might be better for us chickens to do our thinking inside the barn where no one is looking for us?
  6. Content is insecure completeness.
  7. During a brief career in education I realized that I’d always found learning vital even though school pushed me away.
  8. The online world has made them accountable beyond their tiny empires and that matters a lot to students here who deserve more than shit for education.
  9. I feel compelled to provide transitions between boundaries which almost feels like a slavery to content.
  10. The idea of waiting until we are deep into the mess to start on a strategy of sense making beats avoiding the mess to be safe. That said and notwithstanding housekeeping tips from an anarchist, I think I’ll stay out a bit longer.
  11. educational technology is developing theories though it seems to be mostly trial and error at the moment and hasn’t reached magnificence of a philosophy.
  1. the level of trial and error beats resolved theories and makes for more interesting discussions.
  2. the idea of renewal and shedding old baggage is essential–I won’t say essential to progress which I wonder about o I’ll say essential to allow new voices to be heard.Rauschenberg, Express, 1974
Tagged , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: