Rhizome, Ecology, Geophilosophy (A Map to this Issue)

Dianne Chisholm

               Man and man's earth are unexhausted
and undiscovered.
Wake and listen!
Verily, the earth shall yet be a source of recovery.

             —Friedrich Nietzsche (1911), And Thus Spake Zarathustra

[1] How do Deleuze and Guattari help us rethink our ecological crises beyond the impasses of State-sanctioned resource exploitation and reactive environmentalism? Do these authors not abstract concepts from earth- and life-sciences and assemble a geophilosophy with which to construe a new earth? Does A Thousand Plateaus not expressly evolve what Gregory Bateson calls an "ecology of mind"? Let us, then, examine those plateaus—the "rhizome" plateau, "the geology of morals" plateau, "the becoming-intense, becoming-animal" plateau, and "the refrain" plateau"—that draw most explicitly upon ecology, biology, zoology, ethology, geography, geology, meteorology, and chaos and complexity theory, and that compose an ontology and politics for enhancing creative terrestrial life. Let us unearth the ecological wisdom of their plan/e of composition by putting it to the test in pressing case studies. Do Deleuze and Guattari not give us multiple outlines for ecological experimentation in their collaborative "rhizome-books," as well as independent proposals for eco-critical and clinical transvaluation such as Guattari's green manifesto, Three Ecologies, and Deleuze's philosophical assemblage of a "radical naturalism"?

[2] There is no one term or neologism in Deleuze and Guattari's ex-centric vocabulary that unites all the eco-bio-zoo-geo-meteoro-logical terms of their open and ever-expanding conceptual playing-field. The call for papers of this special issue on "Deleuze and Guattari's Ecophilosophy" deployed a misnomer to prompt Deleuze and Guattari's green readers to address pressing earth matters. Deleuze and Guattari, themselves, use the term "geophilosophy" to reorient philosophy away from transcendental ideas—ideas that are deduced and elaborated above and beyond the contingencies of terrestrial reality—to concepts of immanence, whose intuition is entirely contingent upon the complex processes of earthly life. In place of a top-down, vertical thinking that delineates being in higher to lower levels of categorical perfection, thinking becomes horizontal and experimental as Deleuze and Guattari articulate a virtually limitless connectivity between heterogeneous beings. Instead of specific genealogical lineages of origin, selection, reproduction, and evolution, they map a non-teleological and unpredictable network of symbiotic alliances, trans-species affiliations, symbiogenesis, and co-evolution.

[3] Deleuze and Guattari distinguish geophilosophy from geological science, even as they abstract and elaborate multiple geological concepts, as so evidently occurs in "The Geology of Morals." Unlike geology, geophilosophy probes the earth for an onto-geo-logic of complex processes of stratification. Not preoccupied by "faults" or "deposits" (events and things that State science would stabilize with industrial grids or extract for resource exploitation), geophilosophy affirms how the earth moves in flows and folds, and how it stratifies and deterritorializes, with a constant and creative instability that we should discern in human social stratification. If geophilosophy escapes instrumental science, it also brings philosophy down to earth. Geophilosophy would revitalize philosophy that has been morally and politically exhausted by the nationalist trajectories of Europe—as best seen in the case of German philosophy and its inextricable involvement with Nazism. From geophilosophy's perspective, Greek philosophy—Europe's "first and founding" philosophy—did not originate in the mental state of Athens so much as it coalesced within the fractal geography of the Attic peninsula. Before then, philosophers had always already been floating about the Aegean and only a coincidence of immanent forces (intensive sea-trade, energetic and attractive coastal outposts, an intertwining of thallocracy and democracy, etc.) enabled these strangers to assemble an autochthonous philosophy of Greece. Modern European philosophy, notably German philosophy, colonizes (or reterritorializes upon) Greek philosophy while overlooking and misconstruing the immanence and contingencies of its own territorial assemblage. To recover the philosophy of ancient Greece is an unrealistic option for a really innovative philosophy, a philosophy that is alive to the here and now of creative, geographic and demographic evolution, and to its own place in this process. Instead, Deleuze and Guattari urge that philosophy—and affiliated arts that share geophilosophy's desire to uproot the exhausted ground of thought—tune into earth's flows and forces from where they are, and that, with sympathetic intuition, they articulate the concepts and affects of a most becoming territorial refrain.

[4] Geophilosophy calls attention to the earth as philosophy's real subject. The prefix geo does not signify a specialized branch of philosophy; it signals, rather, the topos, or the now here, of philosophical inquiry in place of a transcendental metaphysics that believes itself above being placeable, abstractly nowhere and universally everywhere. But geophilosophy is neither grounded in place nor ambiguously situated between the local and the global. Deleuze and Guattari map earth forces and flows of "absolute deterritorialization" that social "apparatuses of capture" can territorialize with only relative success and constant realignment. Their "geo" calls to mind John Lovelock's "Gaia," since, like "Gaia," it evokes no singular (geological, biological, hydrological, thermodynamical, etc.) activity but, instead, emits a multiplicity of interconnecting "geos"—geology, geography, geophysics, and geopolitics, and emerging composites such as geophysiology, geomicrobiology, ad infinitum. Unlike "Gaia," Deleuze and Guattari's "geo" does not resolve these multiple and disparate earth processes and sciences into synthetic organicism or primordial (mythological) unity. The infinite "geos" of Deleuze and Guattari's earth-foregrounding and ground-breaking philosophy compose a "smooth space" or "body without organs" that virtually deterritorialize Gaia's unified field, as well as segmented State science.

[5] "Geophilosophy" and the various "plateaus" of A Thousand Plateaus describe and prescribe the becoming-earth of philosophy and art, bearing in mind the first principle of ecology: namely, that all things assemble with other things in heterogeneous composites. To ecology's conception of life's interconnectivity and diversity, they add the "double articulation" of macro and micro (or molar and molecular) fronts, along with a flux of affects and intensities. Accordingly, earth flows and forces give rise, on the one hand, to volatile, molecular haecceities (earthquakes, flash floods, tsunamis, stock exchange collapses, anarchic G8 demonstrations) and, on the other, to stable, molar assemblages (the Chinle formation, State flood canals and retaining sea-walls, the World Bank, the United Nations), that in turn, reterritorialize upon other, more stable assemblages (despotic infrastructure like the Three Gorges Dam, Federal Disaster Prevention and Relief Agencies, Transnational Corporations and Global Cartels), or yield to relative deterritorializations mobilized by less sedentary, more "nomadic" assemblages (portable or mobile "earth moves" architecture, anti-globalization coalitions, the Great Bear Rainforest alliance of ecological science, forest management, environmental activism, and aboriginal wisdom). Geophilosophy offers more than just a description of these matters and forces; it articulates an ontology of ecological consistency that maps for us a rhizome—or symbiotic network of matter-energy flow—that we can either block with environmental damage or extend so as to increase the functional and expressive health of machinic assemblages (couplings of earth and socius). As such, geophilosophy is more ecological than ecology, the discipline of which is restricted to the quantifying analytics of ecosystem dynamics, ecosite constituencies, and population stability and sustainability. Thinking along the lines of ecological chaos and complexity, Deleuze and Guattari's down-to-earth ontology finds allies (and even advocates) in radical earth-science that have emerged since the publication of "Geophilosophy" in 1991. [1] Philosophers and social/cultural critics who engage in ecology and environmental matters and crises are now starting to use Deleuze and Guattari. This development has been spearheaded by three important studies. Patrick Hayden's Multiplicity and Becoming devotes a substantial section to Deleuze's "radical naturalism" and its implications for "ecological politics." [2] Mark Halsey's Deleuze and Environmental Damage presents a complex case study of Australia's Goolengook forest block that uses Deleuze (and Guattari) to rewrite the history of State-sanctioned, industrial tree-harvesting. Instead of progressive forest management, Halsey unearths a devastating series of discursive events that name, zone, and plot the forest into reductive grids of recoverable "wood," and, simultaneously, write-off the nameless remainder as dispensable waste. [3] By shifting textual ground from taxonomic modernism to Deleuzian postmodernism, he (and we) can see not only the real damage such systematic blockage inflicts on the forest's ecological rhizome of matter-energy flow but also the virtual conduits of escape that become the way to renewal and that call for an alliance of human intervention and experimentation. In another Australian production, Stephen Muecke has collaborated with aboriginal elder Paddy Roe and artist Krim Benterrak to compose a nomad-cartography. Reading the Country maps nomadic dream-lines across the colonized landscape of Kimberley in Western Australia, digging up as it goes an aboriginal ecology beneath "white soil," and reterritorializing the country the State once proclaimed to be "terra nullis" before setting and settling its imperial boundaries. [4]

[6] New work by Halsey and Muecke appear in this collection, which is, to date, the first collection on Deleuze and Guattari, and ecology. [5] They are joined by John Protevi, another established Deleuze and Guattari reader. Protevi, along with Mark Bonta, compiled Deleuze and Geophilosophy, a primer to "Deleuzoguattarian geophilosophy" and, as yet, the most eco-relevant contribution to the Edinburgh University Press series of guides and glossaries to Deleuze. [6] The nine essays in this collection authored by new contributors to Deleuze and Guattari studies conduct bold experiments in using D/G's rhizome of concepts to alter and advance ecological literacy. Several of these essays absorb Halsey's lead in mapping an ecological ethics and micro-politics onto critical terrains of their own making.

[7] To introduce these contributions, we begin with Mark Halsey, whose essay "Deleuze/Guattari and the Ada Tree" presents another incisive and instructive case study of how to use "Deleuze/Guattari" to rethink environmental damage and ecological health. Reiterating the critical strategies of Deleuze and Environmental Damage, Halsey shows how State forestry categorically divides the rhizome of energy-matter flow and ecological connectivity into individual species, taxonomic hierarchies, and homogeneous timber blocks along the central utilitarian border that severs harvestable wood from non-harvestable waste ("useless" tree species, along with underbrush, watersheds, complex soils, animal habitats, aboriginal lands). He re-maps the linear history of the Yarra State Forest, just as he earlier re-mapped Goolengook forest block. But, reversing his analytic procedure, Halsey foregrounds the discursive plot of Yarra State Forest that isolates a single tree to exhibit, and shield, the object of industrial management. Proclaiming the Ada Tree to be a national treasure, the Yarra State Forest turns what is one of the largest trees on earth into a grotesquely de-natured marvel. Moreover, it capitalizes on the aesthetics of political economy that values rugged individualism above all else by singularizing the Ada Tree's robustness for exemplary exhibition. Severed from its ecological context, this remarkable individual serves as an industrial fetish that both blocks the view in the "background" of real devastation and show-cases the forest-cum-woodlot as its standard and homogeneous ideal. Against such legitimized ecological obstruction, Halsey uses Deleuze/Guattari to kill the tree in our head and clear the way for an alternative forestry-concept that cultivates rhizomatic complexity. In place of the icon of the Same, he urges that we perceive and respect the Ada Tree's multiplicity of differences: the different bodies ("carbon sink, faunal and entomological refuge, water producer") and different assemblages (aboriginal and non-aboriginal, social, cultural, political, economic, spiritual, and aesthetic) of which the Ada tree really consists. Until the rhizome-tree displaces the arboreal individual, we will literally not see the forest for the tree and most forests will be lost to a devastating mono-vision.

[8] John Protevi's essay explores the hydro-bio-litho-political complexity of what we, with deceptive simplicity, call "water." Protevi outlines a geohistory of water that challenges the dominant, molar model of hydraulic empire-building (notably exemplified in critical social histories of river-damming despotism in the American West ). Narrowly focused on State apparatuses of capture, these histories, Protevi argues, overlook the ontology and micropolitics of immanence—or the non-linear and complex enfolding that naturally takes place between different hydro-bio-lithic spheres and strata, and that become no less naturally bound up in the earth works of human industry. Far from being merely a matter of progressive despotism whereby Empire imposes its mega-machines of hydraulic capture (colossal dams, interstate canals, agricultural irrigation systems) on passive earth and pacified nomad lands, the history of water involves a multiplicity of micro-networks of "natureculture," as well as assemblages of deterritorializing and reterritorializing (nomadic and sedentary) forces. There is, Protevi discloses, a politics immanent to the ontology and physiology of water that involves organismic mutiplicities and ecologically-evolving compositions of organic and non-organic life that must capture water to live. He highlights the advent of "hypersea"—the cataclysmic move to land by creatures from the sea and the evolution of "animal skins" or retaining walls for holding water—to illustrate the earthly immanence of the process by which creative life captures or colonizes water. Protevi urges that we understand hypersea as a prelude to understanding diverse processes of harnessing water sources by human communities. These processes, he explains, do not necessarily entail empire-building but always involve nomadic war machines that are aligned more fluidly with the earth's flows and forces than the State's highly-segmented hydraulic apparatuses.

[9] To think how the earth becomes complexly territorialized beyond the simple, molar oppositions of Culture and Nature, Man and Animal, and the Civilized and the Wild, is the aim of Stephen Muecke's "The Cassowary Is Indifferent to All This." A Deleuzean pack-animal stars in Muecke's theoretical dramatization of a meeting between humans and non-humans to negotiate better ways of living together. Popularly imagined by metropolitan culture to symbolize the wildest of life "out back," the cassowary should be nature's most likely representative to send to the negotiating table to meet with culture's green coalition of scientists, artists, and philosophers. But when no such representative shows up, we start to realize how vastly the cassowary differs from our expectations, and how its different affects and alliances make it indifferent to all this human fuss over ecology and the environment. Tthe cassowary is indifferent not because it does not care but because it does not care as humans do, and because it partakes in earthly life in countless ways that cannot be singularly represented. The ensuing drama enacts a breakdown of the anthropogenic machine that would normally categorize the cassowary as non-human other. Instead of signifying wild nature versus human culture, the cassowary becomes a multiplicity of incommensurable differences—zoological, ecological, social, etc.—too numerous and complex to be simply and strictly oppositional, and always already too involved in human culture to be segregated. The cassowary needs no human proxy to speak to its concerns, rather, our concerns need to shift from representational thinking (and the differentiation of things in hierarchies of utilitarian importance) to compositional thinking. Muecke recalls Deleuze's prescription that "it is no longer a matter of utilizations or captures, but of sociabilities and communities," and he implies that the questions these negotiators should be asking are "how do individuals enter into composition with one another in order to form a higher individual, ad infinitum? how can a being take another being into its world, but while preserving or respecting the other's own relations and world?" [7] Given that scientists are so locked into technocracy too stratified to allow thinking across the nature/culture divide, Muecke looks to artists and philosophers to articulate new naturecultures, and to remap terrain that cassowaries and humans so differently traverse.

[10] Naturecultures and hydro-bio-lithic-political multiplicities imply embodiments of life that do not accord with the prevailing, biological, idea of life. Leslie Dema probes and clarifies Deleuze and Guattari's complex concepts of "inorganic life" and the "vitality" of "machinic assemblage." Far from being the exclusive essence of the organism, life for Deleuze and Guattari, Dema explains, involves couplings between heterogeneous elements (different molecules from different species, strata, and/or spheres) and the germinal symbioses of such involvements—life's "creative involution." Inorganic life is life that generates more life through non-reproductive couplings between disparate things. The machinic (non-organic, or more-than-organic) assemblage of inorganic life generates more vitality more creatively than organic life which is restricted to organismic self-replication or parthenogenesis (as in unicellular protista) and intra-species sexual reproduction (complex plants and animals). Inorganic life generates life's aliveness and diversity through symbiotic couplings between unlike things that produce some thing other than themselves—such as the wasp-orchid assemblage or the animal-virus-human assemblage: transversal communications which biology views as tangential to evolution. The concept of inorganic life lends itself to charges of "naive vitalism" or "empty emergentist theory of life" posed respectively by Slavoj Zizek and Alain Badiou. Dema defends Deleuze and Guattari, arguing that they "use vitalism strategically" by creating a new paradigm of life that breaks with the biological definition and by opening an ontological space where new theories can gain independence from the pre-existing biological framework. The stress that inorganic life places on the vitality of creative assemblage is consistent with ecology's first principle of the generative interconnectivity. It is critical that inorganic life appropriate life from biology so that we can see how everything is inorganically alive. How to help life assemble healthy symbioses to promote the vitality of all its connections becomes the foremost question for a clinical ecology. [8]

[11] The concept of inorganic life deterritorializes not only life that biology restricts to organisms but also life that genealogy restricts to morality or to the religious encoding of pious (non-vital) values. In "Molar, Moral, Molecular: Genealogy to Geology," Andrew Lopez outlines how philosophy evolves from Nietzsche's anti-genealogical transvaluation of life to Deleuze and Guattari's geophilosophy, and beyond. "Evolution," in this case, involves not tracing conceptual continuity from one generation of philosophers to another (as in literal genealogy) but mapping conceptual connections across concurrent intellectual imperatives to cast a new ecology of mind. Nietzsche may be regarded as the founder of geophilosophy but, instead of excavating the axiological or philological descent of Nietzschean concepts, Lopez joins Deleuze and Guattari on the frontier of transversality between philosophy and earth-science. Looking to the horizon of Nietzsche's thinking, he draws conceptual lines of flight that are being initiated by geophilosophy's virtual collaborators. He experiments with his own discipline of library science to chart a becoming-geophilosophy of genealogy. To Nietzsche's anti-genealogy and stress on the molecular contingencies of becoming which undermine the mortifying, molar institutions of morality, Lopez links Deleuze and Guattari's pro-creative "geology of morals" and stress on a micropolitics of stratification. With bibliographic links to ground-breaking geology, atomic physics, evolutionary theory, and architecture, as well as ecology, Lopez presents geophilosophy's plane of composition in the making. More than just archiving the lexical transversality of A Thousand Plateaus, Lopez turns Derrida's elaborate footnoting technique into a rhizome of intertexual connectivity, thereby adding another topographical dimension to geophilosophy's unfolding.

[12] A rhizome unravels our schemes of interpretation as we read A Thousand Plateaus even as it composes the conceptual structure of that book. For, as Deleuze and Guattari insist, their rhizome is not a metaphor but a virtual ecology of mind, a real becoming-rhizome of philosophy. Having entertained this creative thought-network and becoming mindfully lost, we are well-disposed to read along these lines again, as does the author of "Rhizome, Revisited" when he enters Freud's Interpretation of Dreams. Though Freud's book goes further than any other in its attempt to order for interpretation the wild subterranean life of unconscious desire (or at least the manifest text of the dream), and though it is the book with which Freud lays the groundwork for establishing psychoanalysis as Royal Science, our author unearths its germinal and unfathomably entangled subtext. Our author is none other than "Deleuze and Guattari": the writer-reader for whom the rhizome has supplanted that "tree in our heads" which Aristotle seeded and which arborists of Western ontological taxonomy have cultivated ever since. Freud, as our author astutely notes, was, himself, less the arborist he presents in theory than the edible-fungi collector he was in real life. So, when "Deleuze and Guattari" entertain an "interpretive walk" through Freud's ground-breaking book (keeping in mind those walks which Freud organized for his children in the woods around his family vacation home), they get caught in the rhizomic undergrowth that composes (and decomposes) the book's lexical and analytical organization. Where interpretation was, there is a rhizome of half-pursued, breaking-off and re-connecting, inextricably entangled and ever-sprouting lines of thought that weave their way through, around, across, and between the roots and branches of reason's taxonomic tree. Though Freud sets sights on the fruit of interpretation as the ultimate object of analysis (just as he lops off the head of his favorite toadstool for savoring without further consideration of its complex understory), "Deleuze and Guattari" continue to stumble upon the textual mycelium of (Freud's) unconscious desire. The confusion of pathways proliferate an outgrowth of inconclusive ideas, which is where "interpretation" leads in The Interpretation of Dreams. "Deleuze and Guattari's" interpretive walk goes as far as Freud, the edible fungi-collector, goes—to the coveted toadstool through the dense underbrush of its habitat and, beyond, to its even denser subterranean rhizome.

[13] If Freud's Interpretation of Dreams invites the Deleuzoguattarian reader to an interpretive walk along its de/composing rhizome, John Sallis's Topographies (2006) beckons her to step off the Platonic staircase of transcendent idealism and to enjoy the landscapes of terrestrial speculation. [9] In "Earth Aesthetics," Bobby George explores the concept of "geophilosophy" by taking it on tour through Sallis's phenomenological travelogue. Topographies, according to George, foregrounds both the place-making that is native to the traveler and the philosophy-making that is immanent to place. For Sallis, philosophy no more emerges from nowhere ex nihilo than it rises from a Heaven of Universal Forms. If "thinking consists in stretching out a plane of immanence that absorbs the earth," as Deleuze and Guattari project, then Sallis illustrates this thinking by logging his travels as a stranger to multiple and differing places where geography outlives guidebooks and tourist clichés, and becomes the germ of ideas. [10] As George illuminates, each topic on which Sallis dwells has its own topos or place, and "the graphia" of his travel writing "is not only a description of place but also a part of the rumination process: the line of thinking that escapes stratification." Reading Sallis's episodic meditations of here and there around the globe (to Naxos and Delos, to Finland, to Newfoundland, and elsewhere), George considers the Earth's part in assembling the wonder that Sallis thinks on-site. In one episode, Sallis journeys to Greece to lecture on Plato and Greek philosophy but, as George notes, Sallis's really creative thinking occurs during unplanned excursions on islands unknown for any contribution to the classical tradition. The geographic and meteorological contingencies that become Delos, for example, inspire Sallis to inquire beyond Plato. Instead of rehearsing the ancients, his thought follows a line of flight that, while expressing some vital consistency with Greek philosophy, breaks new phenomenological ground.

[14] Matthew Tiessen proposes that we design city planning with topographies of history instead of utilitarian grids. In "Accepting Invitations: Desire Lines as Earthly Offerings," Tiessen advises that we reconnect with the paved-over trails and blockaded meanderings of our nomadic urban past, and that we think along the lines of natural history, whose tree rings, geological folds, and rhizome networks map the future of our ecological becoming. He urges us to re-imagine the palimpsest of earthy pathways that lie buried beneath our sky-oriented megalopolis as belonging to not a remote, superceded layer of primitive life but to desire's ongoing experiment in territorializing space. For Tiessen, as for Deleuze and Guattari, desire strays across not only laws of incest and conjugality but also metropolitan zoning codes and traffic barriers. Echoing geohistorians like Manuel De Landa, who construct non-linear social history that intertwines with natural history, Tiessen urges urban historians and sociologists to attend more seriously to the desire lines of geology and subterranean culture, or the real ground on which cities have been built. Cities should be regarded not as cultural inventions that transcend their geological and geographical locations but as graphic designs of geomorphological desire, as territorial assemblages that conjoin nature and culture in experiments of earthly cohabitation. The urban grid no more than urban sprawl represents a desirable way to live with maximal machinic vitality (i.e. where all parts increase their functional and expressive capacities to connect and communicate, and where growth is generated in all directions and dimensions without degrading the vitality of any one intersection). Grid and sprawl evidence the blockage and parasitism of desire by social apparatuses of capture which stifle ecological health overall. To reclaim urban health we must unearth the desire lines that city dwellers have always walked and extend their connection to all parts of collective life. This is not to prescribe the reactive drift of metropolitan individualism, or the liberal detour of unconscious desire taken by Michel de Certeau's somnambulant pedestrians in "Walking the City." Tiessen is no psychogeographer. Instead, he urges that we city dwellers learn to move with/as the earth moves, and with as much sensitivity to our external ecology as the nomads of the open steppe.

[15] If Tiessen exhorts us to redesign our polis along desire-lines that cross and connect a thousand plateaus, Michael Mikulak cautions us to imagine how the very transversality with which we might liberate our mental ecology is open to totalitarian appropriation. Like many other contributors to this collection, Mikulak welcomes the liberation of thought that will flow once rhizome-thinking displaces tree-thinking. At the same time, he worries that if the rhizome becomes the new ontological "model" the way then opens for a new viral brand of biopower. Even the free-flowing rhizome can be re-aborealized by the regulatory regimes and capturing apparatuses of State science. Mikulak bases his fears on the dialectic of knowledge and power wherein Darwin's theory of evolution is always already ensnared. Re-reading Darwin's Origin of the Species in light of Deleuze and Guattari, we cannot, Mikulak observes, overlook his rhizome-thinking: "the notions of origins and order is arborescent, but the principles of evolution are rhizomatic." [11] Yet, the evolutionism that prevails in scientific society has been arborescent. Just as social Darwinism deployed the aborescent aspect of evolutionary theory to justify pernicious forms of racism and colonialism in the nineteenth-century, the coming age of biotechnology may deploy a rhizomatic understanding of cross-species gene-transfer and symbiogenesis (or neo-evolutionism) to justify the most pernicious manipulation of nature the world has ever seen. If Darwin's Victorian readers overlooked the rhizome for the tree in Darwin, Mikulak warns Deleuze and Guattari's green readers not to overlook the tree for the rhizome. We should pay serious attention, he implies, to those passages of A Thousand Plateaus that warn how the flow of inorganic life can become blocked and impaired by new regulatory systems to which new deterritorializations give rise. Mikulak spares no energy on ludic optimism: the way of the future is as open to biopolitical regimentation and imperalist rhizomatics as it is to healthy, ecological assemblages of chaosmosis.

[16] Science, as Muecke charges and Mikulak worries, is perhaps too restricted by corporate power to create healthy ecological assemblages. What, then, about art? Less cramped by the legitimizing systems of instrumental science and joyfully oblivious of the judgements of a technocratic God, should art not be more creative than science? Surely art can be useful beyond being utilitarian. Imagine experimental eco-art assemblages symbiotic machines that harvest the earth's bounty and enhance the earth's powers. Yet art, too, has its counterpart to State science, and, ironically, as Adam Dickinson contends, this part is played by the very school of art criticism that champions ecology. Ecocriticism—that is, criticism which focuses its analysis on the literary treatment of ecological themes and that promotes the literary articulation of ecological literacy—is no neutral discipline. According to Dickinson, ecocriticism possesses its own form of scientific dogmatism, or at least a prevailing belief that the literature most worthy of analysis and the style of analysis most worthy of applying ought to reiterate and reproduce scientific reality. Ecological science rules the criticism of ecological art, and so, literary experiments in ecological thinking that use surrealist (or other non- or anti-realist techniques) are deemed non-realistic and tangential to the study of literary ecology. [12] Dickinson challenges this norm of scientific literalness by arguing that scientific discourse is not reality per se but only one among many possible reality-productions. He underlines how ecology, when true to its axiomatic understanding of the interconnectivity of things, rejects the discursive logic of scientific metaphysics that divides the universe into subject (human reason) and object (other nature). Co-evolving in ways not fully understood, human subjects and natural objects involve each other in unforeseeable—surreal—becomings that are no less real for being virtually unknown. To illustrate his point, he presents two language poems by Lisa Robertson. As he shows, The Weather maps a rhizomorphic enfolding of climate and rhetoric in eighteenth-century English speech. Accordingly, Robertson's poem deploys a surrealist parataxis to evidence how percepts of weather and communicative convention affect and alter each other over time. Conversation becomes weather, and vice versa; the poem reveals how plain speech comes to combine the haecceities of cloud-formation in a volatile human-nature sociability. In Xeclogue, Robertson deterritorializes the pastoral, that exhausted paradigm of "green poetics" which privileges formal and thematic expressions of organic harmony. Her surreal pastoral assembles various umwelten—or autonomous worlds lived by multiplicities of human and non-human nature-dwellers—into an ecology of non-organized interconnected differences.

[17] The concept that most intrigues Louise Economides in her eco-literary research is not "rhizome" per se but "multiplicity." This is the concept that, Economides argues, most enables us to think beyond modernism's binarisms and its paradoxical privileging of the representative and exceptional individual. Like Patrick Hayden, she views multiplicity and becoming as keys to Deleuze's radical naturalism and the understanding of nature in terms of animal (or vital) assemblages rather than in terms of individual (or inert) species/essences. With Halsey in mind, she considers how to use these concepts to deconstruct "modernity's essentialist dualisms" and to conclusively defeat the reformist impulses of liberal ecology which inevitably reinstate the usual (human/animal) polarities with renewed sterility. To help map this deconstruction clear an opening for the creation of a new earth, Economides looks to the turning point in cultural history when philosophical individualism was revolutionizing feudal subjectivity. In Romanticism, she finds new articulations of moral sentiments that boldly promote the extension of the rights of the individual to non-humans. She even finds expressions of trans-species alliance or "becomings-animal of the human." But, just as Leslie Dema carefully defends Deleuze and Guattari from the charge of reviving a "naive vitalism," Economides carefully distinguishes those radical affiliations where animal and human both become-other, or become-multiple, from sympathetic innovations that stop at identifying animal individuals worthy of human empathy. She discovers motifs of a becoming-animal of the human (and vice versa) in Coleridge's poem "To a Young Ass" and in Anna Barbauld's poem "The Caterpillar," but at the same time, she discerns how these poems reinstate humanist individualism instead of further elaborating human-animal symbiosis. Surprisingly, it is in Coleridge's Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner that she finds a process of deterritorialization whereby arch-individuality gives way to symbiotic multiplicity. As she shows, Coleridge's arrogantly aloof Mariner loses all pretense to egoistic sovereignty once he embarks on a disastrous line of flight across the seas. As the wreckage of human life intensifies, he becomes ever more affected by and attuned to the haecceities of his marine environment. We might think of Coleridge's Mariner as the supreme articulation of the becoming-intense, becoming-animal of the human. Like Melville's Ahab, he becomes-animal, but he lives to relay his story and affect others with the ethical fable of his ethological volte-face.

[18] The search for an art of ecological ethics mobilizes Sheri Benning. "Claybank, Saskatchewan" is the place-name that Benning gives her peripatetic meditation on what new earth can emerge from radically re-articulating the exhausted farmlands of southern Saskatchewan. Simultaneously thinking, writing, and touring the land that no longer expresses the Natal of her childhood and that troubles her to acknowledge the irrevocable change wrought by agri-business, Benning ponders the untimely question of how to reclaim a sense of earthly vitality without returning nostalgically to the past or conjuring romantic wilds. As she traverses the fields of her (be)longing, she forges connections between childhood memories of innovative, if struggling, family farming and communal smallholding (now scattered, uprooted, deserted, and desertified by corporate farming) and the land's current ecological potential. She assembles these connections in intimate contiguity with the country she travels; and she performs a nomadology that shifts the ground of being away from State agriculture which has colonized it far too unimaginatively to be able to promote, or even sustain, ecological health. Haunted by a perception that the land, itself, is asking "what is to be done?" Benning considers interventions that art and philosophy have made to date, and she turns to Don McKay whose nature writing has launched a wave of ecopoetics across the plains of Canadian Literature. She follows the trajectory of his lyric philosophy through Emmanuel Levinas en route to rehabilitating the interface between self (human subject) and other (non-human nature). But where this trajectory fades into wilderness idealism, she stumbles prospectively across Deleuze and Guattari's more pragmatic assemblages of natureculture. The further she enter(tain)s Deleuze and Guattari's ontological terrain, the more creative and connected her thinking and writing becomes. On the horizon of her quest there appear her sister's various and recent art installations—schizo-assemblages that refunction farming reliquary at the same time they reinvoke the departed pathways of childhood affection and invention. To these installations, Benning adds kindred memories of her parent's experimental farm machines that had been devalued and rejected by the machinations of big business. The result of this untimely symbiosis is a view to a coming Saskatchewan: a Saskatchewan that reclaims its creative farming past for imaginatively reassembling what is left of the land's natural resources into a virtual, workable landscape of health. In Benning's essay we see the becoming-ecology of creative industry towards which all the essays in this collection aim.


[1]. See e.g., Daniel Botkin, Discordant Harmonies: A New Ecology for the Twenty-First Century (New York: Oxford UP, 1992); Mark McMenamin and Dianna McMenamin, Hypersea: Life on Land (1994); Lynn Margulis and Dorian Sagan, What Is Life? (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996); Lynn Margulis, Symbiotic Planet: A New Look at Evolution (New York: Basic Books, 1998); Robert Frodeman, ed., Earth Matters: The Earth Sciences, Philosophy, and the Claims of Community (2000); David W. Wolfe, Tales From the Underground: A Natural History of Subterranean Life (New York: Basic Books, 2001); Robert Frodeman, Geo-Logic: Breaking Ground Between Philosophy and the Earth Sciences (2003); Stan Rowe, Earth Alive: Essays on Ecology (2006); Yrjö Haila and Chuck Dyke, eds., How Nature Speaks: The Dynamics of the Human Ecological Condition (Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2006).

[2]. Patrick Hayden, Muliplicity and Becoming: The Pluralist Empiricism of Gilles Deleuze (New York: Peter Lang, 1998).

[3]. Mark Halsey, Deleuze and Environmental Damage: Violence of the Text (London: Ashgate, 2006).

[4]. Krim Benterrak, Stephen Muecke, Paddy Roe, Reading the Country: An Introduction to Nomadology (South Fremantle: Fremantle Arts Center P, 1996). Like Muecke, Halsey, and Hayden, Manuel De Landa uses Deleuze and Guattari to address social and cultural history from the earth's perspective. De Landa's A Thousand Years of Non-Linear History (New York: Swerve, 2000) rewrites European history from 1000 A.D. to 2000 A.D. by absorbing geophilosophy into historical materialism for analyzing the folds and stratifications of "geological history," "biological history," and "linguistic history."

[5]. This collection is but the harbinger of many such projects to come. See, e.g., Bernd Herzogenrath, ed., Deleuze/Guattari and Ecology (Palgrave), which is currently in press.

[6]. Mark Bonta and John Protevi, Deleuze and Geophilosophy: A Guide and Glossary (Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2004).

[7]. Gilles Deleuze, Spinoza: Practical Philosophy, trans. Robert Hurley (San Francisco: City Lights, 1988), 126.

[8]. For further investigations into the concept of "inorganic life" see Keith Ansell Pearson, Germinal Life and Jane Bennett, "The Force of Things: Steps Toward an Ecology of Matter," Political Theory 32.3 (2004): 347-72. See also Jane Bennett's outline of a new materialism in her forthcoming book on the subject.

[9]. John Sallis, Topographies (Indiana UP, 2006).

[10]. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, What Is Philosophy? trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Graham Burchell (New York: Columbia UP, 1994), 88.

[11]. For more on the Darwin and Darwinism of Deleuze and Guattari, see Elizabeth Grosz, The Nick of Time: Politics, Evolution, and the Untimely (Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2004).

[12]. A curious exception to ecocriticism's tendency to reproduce the arborescent taxonomy of science is Laurie Ricou's recent book on Salal: Listening for the Northwest Understory (Edmonton, AB: NeWest Press, 2007). This is a "rhizome-book" if ever there was one. Taking Deleuze and Guattari's ontological rhizome as its primary constructive strategy, Salal creates a Northwest literary ecology, assembling a multiplicity of stories about salal, the plant that literally dominates the Cascadian understory in complex rhizomic networks. "Chapter" headings signify a metaphorical rhizome of ecocritical processes: "listening," "mulling," "interviewing," "guiding," "naming," "nurturing," "depending," "arranging," "gardening," "picking," "collecting," " getting native," and so on. Yet, Dickinson criticizes Ricou for taking Deleuze and Guattari's rhizome too literally and compromising its radicality. Ricou too easily deterritorializes a culture dominated by the tree (think of the northwest logging industry) by mapping the literary ecology of an actual, botanical, rhizome. Is it not more aesthetically and politically challenging to de-create forestry's culture industry by making a rhizome of its fetish tree—as does, for example, the narrative ontology of John Vaillant's The Golden Spruce (Toronto: Knopf, 2005)?