Pause, reset

A book, say Deleuze and Guattari, can be attributed neither subject nor object.  Historically, writers have tended to disavow this truth.  The disavowal gives rise to the arborescent type of book.  Now according to DG’s botanical typology, there are two types of arborescent books: the root-book and the fascicular book.  One could say that the difference between the two is that with the former the disavowal of a book’s unattributability appears at the empirical level of the work while with the latter the disavowal shifts from the empirical to the transcendental level.

DG’s typology quite purposefully echoes the typology Foucault set forth perfunctorily in the essay “What is an Author?”  As one knows, Foucault asserts that Roland Barthes’ proclamation of the death of the author was actually premature.  Mission not accomplished.  The author was merely routed from the empirical level of the work.  Setting up shop in the transcendental as a ghost, the author grew all the more enormous and euchring.  And this is “modernism.”  So when DG talk about the “fascicular” book, they mean the “modernist” book.  Hence their examples include Joyce, Burroughs, etc.

So the modernist text only pretends to disavow attributing a subject (author) or object (intention) to itself.  In truth, it still does so, “esoterically,” through the promise of a subject or object that lies before and beyond it, that is past or yet to come.  A possible subject.  A possible object.

Foucault tries to look beyond the modernist horizon, but doesn’t name the monster he sees forming there.  DG call the monster the “rhizome” book, and set it against the two types of “arborescent” books.

An evident problem: the typologies of DG and Foucault appear a bit evolutionist.  First came the root-book, then the fascicular book and now comes the rhizomatic.  But DG are always at pains to address explicitly this potential misinterpretation.  They deny evolutionism in a thousand different ways.  The reality is that the book has always been rhizomatic.  The root and the fascicular forms are derived from the rhizomatic.  The rhizomatic does not evolve from the fascicular book’s overcoming of its root book predecessor.  A book can never truly be attributed a subject or object.  But there has always been a tendency to do so.  This tendency perhaps is akin to a Kantian transcendental illusion, something inbuilt into the very act of writing.  For DG, the tendency arises from the phenemonon of stratification.  Thus one could take any book from any period and analyze the conflict between its arborescent and rhizomatic tendencies.

I started writing this in order to initiate a cut.  I have been a way a while and the thought of immediately returning to an analysis of CYE was growing increasingly paralyzing.  The thought of having to return to that analysis was an arborescent thought.  It wasn’t without its fruits.  I turned over several possible ways to do so, and some of them seem fruitful.  For example, approaching the motif last mentioned (that of Larry trying to bust his interlocutor for lying) through the related ideas of faciality and the signifying regime of signs… In any case, I had to find a way to initiate a new line of flight and this is what I came up with.


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