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The rhizome, the net and the book

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In A Thousand Plateaus, Deleuze and Guattari launched the concept of rhizome as a critical alternative to the ‘root-book’. However, the environment in which we now cultivate our reading habits is not the printed book, but the rhizomatics of the World Wide Web, which according to some leads to distracted ways of reading. Due to the plasticity of the brain, new habits of shared attention make it physiologically more difficult for us to do a deep reading of books. Are Deleuze and Guattari, who simply wanted to open the way to more experimentation, victims of the irony of history? Has the concept of rhizome finished its task? The article discusses the tortured relationship between the rhizome as a philosophical concept and its success as a way to describe the Internet. The Internet, however, only conforms to what they called the ‘canal-rhizome’: the rhizome in its despotic form. Herein lies the concept’s continued relevance.
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Keywords: Deleuze; Guattari; Internet; attention; communication; neuroscience; reading; rhizome

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences

Publication date: November 1, 2017

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  • Empedocles aims to provide a publication and discussion platform for those working at the interface of philosophy and the study of communication, in all its aspects. This Journal is published in cooperation with the Section for the Philosophy of Communication of ECREA, the European Communication Reserach and Education Association.
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