In the philosophical work of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, rhizomes refer to a way of thinking about networks, connections, and structures that is in contrast to the more traditional hierarchical models.

Rhizomes are root systems that spread horizontally and grow without a central point of control, unlike trees with their trunks and branches. In Deleuze’s view, rhizomatic structures represent a non-linear, decentralized, and multiplicitous way of understanding the world.

Deleuze and Guattari argue that rhizomatic structures can be found in a wide range of phenomena, from biological systems such as fungi and coral reefs, to social and cultural systems such as the internet or subcultures.

The rhizome model emphasizes the importance of connections, flows, and diversity over fixed hierarchies and centralized control. In this view, knowledge and ideas spread through a network of interconnected nodes, and there is no single “correct” way of understanding or organizing them.

Overall, the rhizome concept represents a different way of thinking about how things are connected and structured in the world, one that values diversity, flexibility, and interconnectedness.

Deleuze takes a closer look at history and examines how we thought about things in terms of what he sees as static, simplistic notions, and he tries to offer a different perspective from the traditional methods we think of ontology or politics. The definition of’ rhizome’ by Deleuze and Guattari stems from its etymological sense, where’ rhizo’ means “combination of shapes” and the biological word’ rhizome’ describes a plant type that can spread through its tuber-like root system and develop new plants.

Rhizomes have no hierarchical order in their networks as opposed to descending evolutionary classification models. Rather, Deleuzian rhizomatic thinking acts as an

open-ended efficient structure in which random associations and interactions drive, sidetrack, and abstract component relationships.

So, a rhizome is an extremely chaotic subterranean plant stem, not a root. It follows, of course, that roots system networks are formed … and then these random root offshoots can often connect one root network to another in bizarre ways at times.With what the mathematician calls ‘ n-1 dimensions, the rhizome contains horizontal and smooth representations of the natural world.

‘ It is always a multiplicity; it has no genealogy; it can be drawn from different contexts including Freudian psychoanalysis.

Deleuze and Guattari derive some of their ideas on rhizomes from Bateson’s Steps to an Ecology of Mind in which biology and information theory are conjoined. Bateson argues that a person is not limited to her or his visible body. The brain shoots electrons traveling through circuits. The person interacts and reconnects with other people, animals and the environment through the transmission of differences.

There is no form or core in a rhizome. Models are both in construction and collapse. In a rhizome, any point, connecting to any other point, may act as a beginning or end.

The verb “to be” is dictated by an arborescent thought process. Rhizomatic thinking works with the “and” conjunction:

‘ Rhizome ‘ explains the links that exist between distant things, places and people; the mysterious chains of events that link people together: the sensation of ‘ six degrees of separation, ‘ the sense of ‘ being here before ‘.

Every part of a rhizome can be linked to another component, providing an atmosphere with no distinctive end or entry point.


As we formulate information structures, we always follow a pattern that has dominated much of history in Western thought: The Tree. The tree is a plant having a a single usually elongate main stem generally with few or no branches on its lower part, ordinarily growing to a considerable height, and usually developing branches at some distance from the ground.

Now, a tree it’s rooted in one place. It doesn’t move. There are clear demarcation lines between the different parts. The roots are giving way to the trunk, the trunk is giving way to the branches, the branches are giving way to the leaves. This type of awareness D & G call arborescent (or “tree-like”).

The problem with that is that, a deeply rooted structure is incapable of movement. So how do we account with well-defined parts that make up it and perform various roles, such as the person, the government, the economy, laws these things all work together and play their part within a framework?

Hierarchies are replaced by the rhizome which consists of one element’ and’ another by virtue of addition. The rhizome lives in an infinite space and defies binaries or points which would be used to assign locations in large space. In a world that builds finite games, Deleuze argues that such structures/finite games constrain creativity and position things and people into regulatory orders.

The rhizome is a much more accurate metaphor when it comes to the relation between thought, ideas and movements. Where is the center? There’s not one, to Deleuze, just as there’s no beginning, middle and end to a systems of ideas … just people get tunnel vision on a little section of the wall and then make a case why they’ve found out the whole wall. This is the mistake of the philosophers of the last two thousand years. When somebody creates a hierarchical system of ideas we just have a little section of the elephant masquerading as the whole elephant.

It is not a single growth line, but a lot of different stories at very different rates progressing and regressing. Deleuze’s view of the world can get us out of philosophy of this linear way of thinking. The aim is to create a pluralism of modes of thought, not a simplistic confrontation.

Rhizomatic formations can serve to overcome, overturn and transform structures of rigid, fixed or binary thought and judgement — the rhizome is ‘anti-genealogy’.

Rhizomes are everywhere, not just in human ideas. It is said that the nervous system is a rhizome, an internet or a network. Ant colonies, rat burrows, termite nests, vast habitats, human societies, nervous systems, city architecture, people’s actions within the city, books are rhizomes, connected to other books, videos. Deleuze and Guattari see the promise of rhizomatic thought in Bateson’s research.

But just to demonstrate how difficult it is to nail Deleuze down. In spite of all this rhizome talk, he still has no issue at all with the tree.

Deleuze and Guattari write about a’ becoming-radio’ or’ becoming-television’ that can give rise to good or bad connections; constructive or destructive. The way they are being captured by capitalism and its multifarious redundancies makes them too often become ends in and for themselves, in a sphere of what Deleuze calls a generalized ‘techno-narcissism’.

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