Final Thoughts on “A Thousand Plateaus”

Out of all the readings – many of which were quite challenging – A Thousand Plateaus was by far the most difficult for me to read and comprehend. It’s not that I don’t understand the concepts of Rhizome, Bodies WIthout Organs, Striated/Smooth Space, et al, but rather the difficulty I encountered lay in the style of writing. When first reading the book, I was taken back by the almost poetic stream of consciousness that showers from each paragraph, and it was only when I realized that this was indeed the point of much of the writing that I began to engage in a fruitful relationship with the text.

The text made me recall Nietzsche’s style of writing, which in itself confronts the supposedly sedentary status of language while at the same time putting forth new concepts. Indeed it would seem highly reductive to speak of Nietzsche’s concepts without addressing the means by which he explicates and expands on these concepts. In the work of Deleuze and Guattari, making this productive link between form and content made all the difference for me in understanding the works. It would be wrong to say that there aren’t serious concepts being explored in this tome, but in order for me to grasp them it was necessary to adopt a kind of intuition and reflection after the fact – much like Bazin insists on the meaning being produced a posterioriin neorealist cinema.

Though I couldn’t make the event at the Whitney, I was pleased to watch the video of the event. Apart from the fascinating nature of the combined and shared trades, I couldn’t help but feel that the reading of A Thousand Plateaus was entirely appropriate-achieving the poetic stream of consciousness I mentioned above. Though certainly useful to study in an academic context, I believe the value of the text is in its freedom of expression and form. Though sometimes I feel like it gets bogged down in digression and red herrings, there is a totally unique quality to the book because of this. It raises interesting questions concerning the written word and language in relation to philosophy. This of course seems entirely consistant with Deleuze’s project of linking art with philosophy and creating productive conduits between each field.

Forgive the brevity of my final post.
I have some Rhizomes to attend to.

Ian

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