Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari
Born Deleuze: 1925, Paris, France

Guattari: 1930, Villeneuve-les-Sablons, France

Relevant Work A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia


(NATC, 2nd ed.)

Biographies Edit

Gilles Deleuze Edit

  • Born in Paris to a middle-class family
  • Educated and taught philosophy at the University of Paris at Vincennes from 1969 until his retirement in 1987
  • At the time of the 1968 student workers revolts in France, Deleuze began to write books in his "own" voice, aiming to replace official philosophy with what he called "bastard" philosophy.
  • Deleuze developed a new philosophy of becoming and exteriority--joining an orphan line of metaphysical thinkers that includes Lucretius, Benedict de Spinoza, Gottfried Leibnez, David Hume, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Henri Bergson--that his work combines the various other strands of contemporary theory.

Felix Guattari Edit

  • Born in the Paris suburb of Colombes
  • Never having earned any official degrees, he worked from the mid-1950s at a psychiatric hospital outside Paris known for innovative practices in group therapy.
  • One of Jacques Lacan's earliest trainees, Guattari quickly took leave of the master.
  • Guattari's antihierarchical and anarchic tendencies drew him into an alliance with Deleuze. Together they wrote the polemical Anti-Oedipus.

from A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia Edit

Background and Historical Context Edit

"Alternately hailed or dismissed in North America as the 'infants terrible' of post-structuralist philosophy and psychoanalysis following the publications of their Anti Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1972). Gilles Delouse and Félix Guattari are known for their antiestablishment thinking in many domains. Trained as a philosopher and a psychoanalyst, respectively, Delouse and Guattari critique the patterns of knowledge that govern the disciplines in which they were schooled. In the process, they question the dominance of conceptual stability, organization, and unity as such, Their critique is well summed up in their pun on the word 'General' : knowledge functions like an operation of conquest and mastery, driven by 'generality' as if it were a military 'General.'" (NATC 1447)

Key Words and Terms Edit

Rhizome - a continuously growing horizontal underground stem that pulls out lateral shoots and adventitious roots at intervals

Root-Book - "Classical" books that imitate the world. Described by Deleuze an Guattari as being typified by, "the most classical and well reflected, oldest, and weariest kind of thought" (1456).

Plateau - in the middle, never in the end or in the beginning

Minoritarian - is a neologism for a political structure or process in which a minority segment of the population has a certain degree of primacy in that entity's decision making.

Assemblage - a collection or gathering of things and people. A machine or object made of pieces fitting together.

Nomadic - not having a permanent place to be settled; constantly moving from place to place.

Binary Logic - the logic of either/or, in which all values comes in pairs of opposition.

Body Without Organs - A way of thinking of bodily experience as an interconnected system of flows and forces rather than a structure of organs

Line of Flight - looking for pieces from the texts "by means of which writers detach themselves from a mobilizing order" (1449).

Key Quotations Edit

"There is no difference between what a book talks about and how it is made. Therefore a book also has no object" (1455).

". . . when one writes, the only question is which other machine the literary machine can be plugged into, must be plugged into in order to work" (1455-1456).

"Thought lags behind nature" (1456).

"The world has lost its pivot; the subject can no longer even dichotomize, but accedes to a higher unity, of ambivalence or overdetermination, in an always supplementary dimension to that of its object" (1457).

"At any rate, what a vapid idea, the book as the image of the world" (1458).

"The rhizome itself assumes very diverse forms, from ramified surface extension in all directions to concretion into bulbs and tubers. When rats swarm over each other. The rhizome includes the best and the worst: potato and couchgrass, or weed. Animal and plant, couchgrass is crabgrass" (1458).

"Unlike the tree, the rhizome is not the object of reproduction: neither external reproduction as image-tree nor internal reproduction as tree-structure. The rhizome is an antigenealogy. It is a short-term memory, or antimemory" (1458).

"Rhizomes are made of plateaus . . . We call a plateau any multiplicity connected to other multiplicities by superficial underground stems in such a way as to form or extend a rhizome. We are writing this book as a rhizome" (1459).

"For science would go completely mad if left to its own devices" (1461).

"Write to the nth power, the n-1 power, write with slogans: Make Rhizomes, not roots, never plant! Don't sow, grow offshoots! Don't be one or multiple, but multiplicities! Run lines, never plot a point! Speed turns the point into a line! Be quick, even when standing still! Line of chance, line of hips, line of flight. Don't bring out the General in you! Don't have just ideas, just have an idea (Godard)" (1462).

"Be the Pink Panther and your loves will be like the wasp and the orchid, the cat and the baboon" (1462).

Discussion Edit

The Rhizome Edit

Deleuze and Guattari utilize a rhizome as a sort of metaphor to describe the multiplicities of human beings and to describe a position that comes from the middle rather than the tops or bottoms. The plateau serves as ground to emphasis neither the extremes of the one or of the multiple and serves a place of convergence. Like the rhizomes, human beings are an assemblage of lines that intersect and converge into a multiplicity of connections. Deleuze and Guattari suggest a way of movement that relies neither on the past or a beginning, but rather proceeds and picks up speed from the middle as it "sweeps one and the other way, a stream without a beginning" (1451).

Becoming Edit

Deleuze and Guattari state that family trees are more realistically family rhizomes, due to the "special relation of women to the man-standard" and that "all becomings...begin with the 'becoming-woman' of man (1448).

Rhizomatic thinking promotes becoming, not being. Yet the rhizomatic process is structured (not organized) by moments of synthesis (1448). Deleuze and Guattari claim to study subjectivity where it emerges, society where it mutates, and the world where it is re-created (1449). To accomplish this, it seems they would have to recognize the non-emergent, non-mutated, non-re-created aspects to see the "becoming."

Major Criticism and ReceptionEdit

Both the authors' prior work and this text have been criticized for asking many questions without providing answers. 

Related Works Edit

  • Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Translated by Robert Hurley, et al., Viking Penguin, 1977.
  • Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari. What is Philososphy? (1991; translated 1994).
  • Lacan, Jacques.
  • Braidotti, Rosi. Animals, Anomalies, and Inorganic Others.
  • McCall, Leslie. "The Complexities of Intersectionality." The University of Chicago Press Journals 30.3 (2005): 1771-1800. JSTOR Journals. Web. 5 Dec. 2016).
  • Aristotle. Poetics. Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism: 88.

References Edit

Leitch, Vincent B., editor. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed., W.W. Norton & Co., 2010.