Rhizomatic Storytelling

Deleuze and Guattari’s essay articulates and uses itself as an example of a different model of knowledge than something strictly hierarchical. Their concern isn’t with finding a unidirectional source of knowledge within a hierarchical structure, but rather with forging connections interdisciplinarily in order to create a ‘map’ of our knowledge and culture. Pretty much high-minded, soft-headed drivel, right?

But I digress- the model they suggest (a metaphorical ‘complete graph‘) is analogous and well-suited to the form of hypertext storytelling. In Shelley Jackson’s “Body & a Wunderkammer,” we’re given a story, but our notions of reading have been totally delineated. We’re not given a clear beginning or end, but rather a mess of interconnected ruminations about the author’s body. There is no clear point A-to-Point B narrative; Jackson does not come to terms with having a tale or come of age or anything. Instead, the reader is presented with a web of information to parse through. The lack of narrative order gives a feeling of endlessness. Even when one reads all of the available text, there is no signification of an ending, just as there was no clear point of entrance. One page will lead you to another, the reader can only choose to stop looking at it.

Using Deleuze and Guattari’s formulation, Jackson’s ‘map’ is her body, with each part working as a clump of rootstocks running and entangling into the next. Jackson exhibits the kind of anarchic reformation of narrative and understanding that Deleuze and Guattari call for at the end of ‘Rhizome.’ Interesting that they were formulating these ideas in the 80s…


edit: interesting because the internet is such an exemplary platform on which to enact them. I should qualify my statements.


~ by wro1 on February 3, 2013.

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