I am in the middle of A Thousand Plateaus and considering the relationship between rhizome and body without organs.

One thought I had is that they both take part in the constitution of relationships between ideas, society, groups; but neither are treated as closed.

Some investigation on the internet turned up the following:

Therefore, “desire-­‐machine” appears as a manifestation against the idea that desire is a lack. BwO as the body of rhizome-­‐philosophy constitutes desire as the essence of production. When the body reconstruct the property relations over itself and waive the idea of being an “individual”, it would truly be free and on the way of becoming BwO. Different from being an individual, this type of becoming means “individuation” or “haecceity” as called by Deleuze and Guattari. Intermezzo fits this concern and perfectly represents the body of rhizome-­‐philosophy. It re-­‐constructs its body again and again within an endless improvisation. It acts between the acts and composes the rhythm of intervals. This position is characterized by the concept of “nomad” in the rhizome-­‐ philosophy. Nomad/BwO/Desire Machine, whatever we all, is the body of rhizome-­‐philosophy and represents the face of collective body. This body, similarly with the “collective body” of Walter Benjamin, is a manifestation against the capitalist mode of production. (source)


But the smooth space of the rhizome is always under constant threat of hierarchization and stratification while the tree can proliferate into a-centered systems given changes in local conditions, thresholds of intensity, coefficients of transversality, etc. Hence both the tree and the rhizome face the strata and the body without organs (4). Yet it is precisely their relation to these two sides which simultaneously indicates the mode of their processes of crossing between the actual and the virtual. Although the two authors do not speak of these two registers, this “dualism” seems completely necessary in order to confront all the principles which they stipulate for understanding the rhizome—in effect, its connectivity, heterogeneity, multiplicity, cartography and decalcomania. (source)

But I'm still having trouble characterizing the two concepts' relationship to one another.

What is (a concise explanation of) the relationship between the body without organs and the rhizome?


1 Answer 1


This stuff is confusing

You're not the only one. In their article “1914: One or Several Wolves?” Deleuze & Guattari accuse Freud of being nothing more than a speculator who misunderstands the truth and goes on with meaningless associations. One thinks, et tu brute. However Gayatri Spivak acknowledges their poetic brilliance. The difficulty, is that they take a lot of philosophy - and specifically french philosophy for granted - this coupled to their use of neologisms mediated by the disciplines not naturally at home in academic philosophy and with their stated purpose to throw the reader (one might say the becoming-thinker) into things media res - in the middle of things, that is intermezzo - in between acts.

[what] is the relationship between rhizome and body without organs?

well, one might want to start by understanding the two notions separately.

The rhizome

I suggest one contrasts the rhizome against that of the tree. Notably both are expressions of ife, are organic and living - they grow. A tree, D+G, declare is paradigmatic of thought, one thinks of genealogies, the tree of life, the god-king and his subjects, the pyramid etc; the rhizome is more like a network, a bush, or a web; unlike the tree it has no central point, or perhaps one can say that every point is central. One should note, that a tree without its root is a bush; that is the subject of knowledge, thought of as the tree - the tree of knowledge - without its transcendent root (that is God) - is a bush - is a rhizome - it is unto itself - requiring no nourihsment, no anchoring out of itself (the transcendent again) - therefore immanent.

The Body without Organs

This is a term taken from Artaud, the originator of the theatre of cruelty; biologically, a body is nothing but the sum of its organs; by making the organs disappear, the body becomes smooth;D+G appropriate the example of the Dogon egg, based on the anthropological work of Griule, according to whom, organises all domains of Dogon life - kinship, village layout, the body etc; for D+G, Artuad, rejects the world of surfaces and appearances, and returning to the body, is an explorer of depths; that is the BwO signifies depth rather than surface - recall the skin of a actual, real-life body is an organ.

  • But well, if the tree of knowledge, perhaps concepts, would that mean that a Body without Organs, being a concept, originates from the tree? A body without organs is an smooth pain where desire emanates. But, a desire assumes many forms, just like sexuality, a group objective, the ideology of a nation. So, one tree is a BwO and its internal relations the organs? So, if the Dogon life is the BwO of the Dogon nation, kinship, village layout, the relation with the self physical body, would be the organs.
    – user36088
    Apr 25, 2014 at 4:48
  • In the fungi kingdom, for example, where relations are much more simple, the rhizome would be a huge network underground, undifferentiated, but ever-growing. The only body would be the mushrooms, which indeed do have a characteristic of body with organs ( its not flexible enough to be without organs, to learn, have culture), where rhizomes coalesces into such structures. Its function, is like a flower, a reproductive organ.
    – user36088
    Apr 25, 2014 at 4:58
  • So, the only subject of knowledge of a mushroom about itself is when there is successful reproduction. A simple binary relationship: non - fecundaded/fecunded. It's like a bush, as you say.
    – user36088
    Apr 25, 2014 at 5:03

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