Rhizomes and cyborgs

I've noticed several posts wondering where rhizome theory leaves the individual, or at least where exactly this theory manifests itself in "real world."

In the same way that the Haraway essay answered a lot of my questions about what it means to be an individual agent in postmodernity--how agency and the atomizations etc., of postmodernity are fully compatible and not mutually exclusive--I think that essay has a similar clarifying potential for what a rhizomatic person might look like: a cyborg.

I noted a lot of similarities between the two concepts, and I wonder what others think, since there are absolutely some fairly substantive parts of D&G I'm a little foggy on. Both explicitly reject Freudian and Marxist meta-narratives, genealogies, and monad-like individuals in favor of multiplicities, connections, and anti-hierarchically horizontal conceptions of being.

Haraway: "[The cyborg] has no truck with bisexuality, pre-oedipal symbiosis, unalienated labour, or other seductions to organic wholeness through the final appropriation of all the powers of all the parts into a higher unity. In a sense, the cyborg has no origin story in the Western sense (150)"; "Our best machines are made of sunshine; they are all light and clean because they are nothing but signals, electromagnetic waves, a section of a spectrum ... Cyborgs are ether, quintessence" (153); "What kind of politics could embrace partial, contradictory, permanently unclosed constructions of the personal and collective selves and still be faithful, effective, and, ironically, socialist-feminist?" (157).

D&G: "Our criticism of these linguistic models is not that they are too abstract, but on the contrary, are not abstract enough, that they do not reach the abstract machine that connects a language to the semantic and pragmatic contents of statements, to collective assemblages of enunciation, to a whole micropolitics of the social field. A rhizome ceaselessly establishes connections between semiotic chains, organizations of power, and circumstances relative to the arts, sciences, and social struggle" (TP 7).

There are a lot more quotes I could pull, but these struck me as suggestive of the ways in which rhizomes and cyborgs can both be "abstract machines", that state where being consists of a continual middle, of continuing intersections, of being "multiplicities."

Thoughts? How far do you think this parallel can be fairly stretched, and where does it start to break down?

how about bodies without organs--missed that obvious parallel the first time around. How closely does the organ-less correspond with the cyborg?

Good question. Because the BwO is defined as a field of immanance or the state of pure desire before being channeled and directed through desiring-machines, I don't think the BwO can be called cyborg. However, by understanding the 'subject' as a pure, de-organized field, D&G conceive of fairly limitless possible combinations of machines, infinite organizations of desire in a way which sounds exactly like what Haraway has in mind. So I guess I think of the BwO as a sort of pre-cyborg.

'Because the BwO is defined as a field of immanance or the state of pure desire before being channeled and directed through desiring-machines, I don't think the BwO can be called cyborg.'


a) Don't BwO form paranoiac or miraculating machines, if not desiring ones? And couldn't a BwO be noncontradictorily paired with a literal machine (e.g. a pulse-cannon arm), even if not with desiring- or paranoiac- or miraculating-machines? In fact, since desiring-machines are interruptions in flows, and the BwO is ideally open and connectable across all matter and history, wouldn't it be contradictory to say that the BwO //couldn't// couple with literal machines, since it would serve as an interruption in the man-machine, nature-industry flow that BwOs are in part designed to precipitate?

b) Do Haraway's cyborgs literally need to be coupled with machines at all? Don't wholly flesh 'cyborgs' still qualify so long as they recognize the contaminated divisions between man-machine and nature-industry? And if Haraway's cyborgs do need to be coupled with some kind of machine to qualify, is there any reason it need be a desiring-machine (notably the one machine that would render them and BwO's mutually exclusive)? Couldn't it just be a paranoiac machine or miraculating machine or pulse-cannon arm?

--Guattari Hero

D+G: "There is no such thing as either man or nature now, only a process that produces the one within the other and couples the machines together" (2).

Haraway: "The second leaky distinction is between animal-human (organism) and machine" (152).

Haraway and D+G set up their arguments with strikingly similar vocabulary. However, I read Haraway's cyborgs as a new development whereas D+Gs desiring-machines have always been with us, even if they have gone unacknowledged. The cyborg stems from new technological capabilities (literally or metaphorically) while the D+G's schizophrenia results from a rearrangement of already existing BwOs and desiring-machines.