The Rhizome is one of a panoply of concepts that Deleuze and Guattari deploy in A Thousand Plateaus to describe the dynamics of their nomadology. While they reject binarism, which they consider to be founded on the transcendence of the one, many of Deleuze and Guattari's concepts are detailed "in contrast to".

"We employ a dualism of models only in order to arrive at a process that challenges all models. Each time, mental correctives are necessary to undo the dualisms we had no wish to construct but through which we pass" (Thousand Plateaus, p. 20) Here the opposition is between the rhizome and the tree. Their modernity "pays willing allegiance" (p.5) to a series of figures meant, as it were, to shake the tree, to subvert all the ossifying tendencies of the state apparatus, of repressively understood psychoanalysis, of the dominant history and philosophy of western thought.


The Rhizome is a system of plant radicles that allows for proliferation (like weeds), which connects everywhere, and which disrupts the idea of the unit. Unlike the tree, which for Deleuze and Guattari, is geneaological and historical, the rhizome consists of "machinic assemblages of desire and collective assemblages of enunciation" The notion of unity (unité) "only appears when there is a power takover in the multiplicity". The work of D & G is a ceaseless effort to disrupt that unity.

The term of multiplicity can be thought of as disruption, partiality, juxtaposition, etc. or as proliferation, growth, actualization. D+G seem to equate both senses. This is a link between their thought and the scientific study of complex systems.

The writing of a Thousand Plateaus becomes the motor of a reflection on the import of the multiple , which must be made, or assembled. It is a literary machine similar to a war machine, love machine, revolutionary machine, all swept along by an abstract machine.

Problems are assumed to become intractable when they become tangled, yet models of rhizomes and networks that value links are a kind of countermodel. Stuart Kauffman identifies this countermodel with the origin of life. He believes that the origin of life was not an enormously improbable event, but law-like and governed by new principles of of self-organization in complex webs of catalysts -- that we can think of the origin of life as an expected emergent collective property of a modestly complex mixture of catalytic polymers.