Rhizome, Revisited: An Interpretive Walk through The Interpretation of Dreams

"Deleuze and Guattari"

A root is always a discovery. We dream it more than we see it.
(Gaston Bachelard)


We are writing this paper as a rhizome. It is composed of plateaus. Writing a paper as a rhizome entails reaching the point, not where one no longer says I, but where it is no longer of any importance whether one says I. Not where one no longer uses quotation marks, but where it is no longer of any importance whether one uses quotation marks.

The content of this paper is recycled. This makes us think: perhaps we have reached the point where there is no difference between what a paper talks about and the manner in which it is made.

When someone (a tree, for example, or a tree reconstituted as a paper) comes along and attributes this or that statement to a book by Deleuze and Guattari (a book, mind you, that works to undo the entire system of attribution and subjectivization) our readers demonstrate that they are a long way from ever reading Rhizome. Not only words, not only sentences, but entire paragraphs, entire chapters have been put in our mouths. But instead of eating the book, it is we who have been swallowed up by it.

A text exists only on the outside by forming a rhizome with the outside. As an assemblage with the outside the text abandons any sense of interiority. It is like those houses that consist of little more than what one finds in one's immediate environment. Dersu Uzala needed nothing more than the marsh grass that he found at hand. What he formed in the Siberian wilderness was an assemblage with his environment: the nomadic human machine linking up with the local ecological tundra machine. Even when he was enveloped by the marsh grasses, he still was outside. Only by ceasing to acknowledge a distinction between the inside and the outside could he survive. When he went indoors, in other words, when he resigned himself to a division between an exterior and an interior, he had to die.

A book is a multiplicity, but we didn't know what the multiple would entail when it is no longer attributed, that is, when it is elevated to the status of a substantive. The present paper is an attempt to produce such a multiplicity. Initially, we underestimated the difficulties of presentation. By authoring a book, we authored our own destruction: we brought difference into our being. For one cannot write of oneself without entirely undoing oneself.

Rhizome can be cracked and broken at any point; it/they will start off again following one or the other of its/their lines. Only by either extending ourselves to include what was without us could we write as a rhizome. When we composed Rhizome, we wrote we are no longer ourselves. But we were not capable of ceasing to be ourselves on our own. Others have had to usurp our names, to form assemblages with us, to show that we are a multiplicity, that the book is heterogeneous, that it is, as such, inattributable. We have been aided, inspired, multiplied, hyperextended, and deterritorialized. Our good name has been ransacked, our lines have been lengthened. In order to become what we are, we have been divested of everything that was ours.

Only now that we are not writing have we been able to write as a rhizome.

Deleuze And Guattari, 1976, 2007
The length of his walk uniformly made the length of his writing. If shut up in the house, he did not write at all.
(Emerson writing on Thoreau walking)

[1] On that day in the late summer of 1897 the subject of Sigmund Freud's investigations was the collection of edible fungi. Despite the recent death of his father, Freud found great delight observing the remarkable variety of fungi that grew in the evergreen forests surrounding the family vacation house in Aussee. "Father," as Freud's son Martin simply refers to him, often organized interpretive walks, such as this one, with the purpose of identifying and gathering the savoury Steinpilz, or boletus edulis. Years later his children will look back on this day with pleasure. "Our expedition," reminisces Martin Freud in Sigmund Freud: Man and Father, "had the warmth of a delightful story which is well constructed and never lacking a good climax" (57). On the other hand, the routes taken by these expeditions were not so well organized; they "seldom, if ever, followed roads or pathways: they were made through wild forests and woods"(59). Ladies, as a rule, stayed at home, as "they would have been much too seriously encumbered to force their way through the bramble-infested dense undergrowth" (60).

[2] Unencumbered as he was, Freud, on the other hand, took pride in penetrating his way through the densest of thickets and the narrowest of defiles. An obsessive collector and a meticulous organizer, Freud in fact had scouted out the area beforehand for fruitful areas. To detect the highly coveted Steinpilz one must proceed indirectly; knowing that a certain, more conspicuous toadstool, red with white dots, always grows in the vicinity of the savoury Steinpilz, Freud had turned his efforts to locating this indicator species, even though it was not what he was looking for. Forcing a footpath through the bramble-infested dense undergrowth, he found a fairy circle of the vibrant red toadstools (quite possibly the infamous amanita muscaria, a species of psilocybin of which he certainly could have made good use!) [i] and quickly found several adjacent specimens of the boletus edulis. One of them was mature, meaning it was exceedingly large and flabby. Freud referred to these as Alte Herren and left them untouched in the ground, as they had lost their firm texture and were quite inedible. However, an adjacent robust specimen looked just right: the brown, thick-fleshed convex cap and the stout, light-brown stalk were unmistakable. And so, in his ritualistic fashion, Freud removed his Austrian hat, the grey-green velour one with the wide dark-green silk ribbon, and with a certain flourish flung it over this robust specimen, obscuring it entirely. Extracting a flat silver whistle from his waistcoat pocket, he gave a shrill signal, and the children came crashing through the dense undergrowth towards the sound of the whistle on paths entirely of their own making.

Relocating around their bareheaded father, they assumed the requisite silence and concentration before the obscured specimen, at which point Freud completed the ritual by removing the hat and allowing the children to inspect and admire the spoils. Severing the stalk from the rhizomorphic mycelium, Freud returned home with his children, where their mother prepared the mushroom for her family to consume.

[3] In the years surrounding these interpretive walks Freud has been forging his way through his first major work of dream interpretation: The Interpretation of Dreams (1900) [ii]. The path-breaking, mushroom-hunting excursions continue and extend into interpretation of dreams, whose scene of writing is defined by Freud in a passage from a letter to his friend and collaborator, Wilhelm Fließ (6. August 1899):

The whole work is laid out [angelegt] as a imaginary walk [Spaziergangsphantasie]. Initially the dark woods of the authors (who do not see the trees), without an outlook, full of detours. Then a covered defile [Hohlweg] through which I lead the reader—my model dream with all of ist peculiarities, details, indiscretions, bad jokes,—and then suddenly a plateau and the overlook and the question: which way do you want to go?

Even as this letter leads outside [iii] the book into a fantastic representation of the book, it provides a passageway into the book In the convoluted layout of this book, the announcement of the book is contained in the book, discretely embedded in a somewhat indiscrete footnote on the first page of the second chapter in which the entire book is laid out as an act of exegesis. In this letter the book is laid out as a walk, and it announces a walk to be laid out within the book. It is a rather bewildering walk. The walk laid out in (angelegt) the book is, more precisely, the layout (Auslegung) of, and leading-out (exegesis, "to lead out") from, a state of bewilderment. This passage does not have to be understood metaphorically for it re-introduces into interpretation the literal meaning of exegesis as a leading-out of, and a path-breaking through, a bewildering book.

[4] Bewilderment forms the setting for Freudian dream interpretation: Initially a dark woods. One often is losing one's way in this considerably dense text expounding a form of thinking whose representability is achieved only through distortion, displacement, revision, and censorship. Tracking down passages, following interpretive chains, reading traces of effacement, forming concordances, following abandoned lines of thought, traversing convoluted paths of free association: the material and physical difficulty of exegesis is made manifest in The Interpretation of Dreams.

[5] If a walk can be an act of interpretation, as the naturalist's interpretive walk exhibits, then interpretation too could be conceived of as a particular form of locomotion through, as we say, a textfield. And within the textfield before us, The Interpretation of Dreams, one object in particular catches our attention: a mushroom. But it is not the mushroom that is of interest to us so much as the underlying mycelium. This mycelium is, mycologically speaking, a rhizomorph. It is rhizome-like: the structural metaphor of a rhizome. Such a root, in the words of Bachelard, is always a discovery. And the greatest discovery of all, which is pointed out already by Sam Weber in The Legend of Freud, is the absence of a true root in the mushroom. Indeed: we have dreamed these roots more than we have seen them. What we actually see, and what we confront in The Interpretation of Dreams, is a rhizomorph. This strangely displaced rhizome has caught the attention of a few readers already [iv]. Yet no reader, to our knowledge, has traced out the extent to which the rhizomorphic mycelium of this mushroom pervades this textfield. No one has considered The Interpretation of Dreams, structurally, as a rhizomorph. This is what we propose to do with this paper.

[6] Just as dream interpretation proposes to retrace ancient passageways of psychic activity, our reading of Freud proposes to retrace a passage already forged by Sam Weber through The Interpretation of Dreams. However, the unavoidable divergences of our reading from this former one offer a new passageway through the book. For what is a reading if not the organization of a particular set of passages and thereby the formation of a new passageway? Particularly in Freud, though to a considerable extent in any extended text, one passage runs out into other passages. The passage is uncontainable. That's the point. One passage calls forth other passages: the passage opens up into a passageway. But even as the passage is already inscribed within a network of passages, this network consists of a single passage. The ambivalence of the passage, as both a single place and a movement through that place, simultaneously a point and a line, becomes increasingly apparent.

[7] While this passageway must bypass most of the book, the increased accessibility it would seem to afford is one of the cherished virtues of interpretation. Yet the topos of inaccessibility—the obscure passages, the frequent abandonment of interpretation, the resistance to analysis, the judgements of insignificance (das Verwerfungsurteil), the ethical "considerations" that often prevent Freud from continuing his interpretation, the unspoken censorship that pervades the text—rises up in Freud's writing to form a pronounced resistance to the interpretation of passages in, and the passage of interpretation through, The Interpretation of Dreams. Sooner or later the passage of interpretation will be thoroughly frustrated:

Before we break this new path with our thoughts, we want to stop here and look around, to see if we have overlooked anything of importance. For I have to be clear that the comfortable and agreeable stretch of our path lies behind us. Hitherto, unless I have not erred too greatly, all of our ways have led to light, toward enlightenment [Aufklärung] and complete understanding; but from this moment on, as we want to penetrate deeper into the mental processes involved in dreaming, all paths flow into darkness. (503)

But by now we already know it: we're on a bad trip. The overlook looks over an abysmal and intricate badlands—les mauvaises terres à traverser—the contours of which might be known and charted even when the terrain itself is entirely inaccessible. And so the most interesting question posed by the text is not so much "Where do you wish to go?" as it is "Where and how are you hindered from going and why?"

[8] Let us retrace our steps. Already we have indicated Freud's interest in those fungal organisms that dwell in the forest undergrowth. Following Freud's insistence on organized excursions with well-constructed climaxes, and the primary layout of the book on the ground of a walking excursion, and following the attention Deleuze and Guattari have drawn to the rhizome and the rhizomorphic, we have selected the identification and interpretation of mushrooms in The Interpretation of Dreams as our objective in reading. In order to reach these rhizomorphs we will have to forge a passageway which might lead only to confusion and disorientation, through what has proved to be one of the more dense and obscure passages in the book. Our reading might itself describe the course of a rhizomorph. There is, of course, no difference between what a book talks about and how it is made.

[9] The mushroom passage installs a scene of interpretation entirely commensurate with the repeated suspension of interpretation in The Interpretation of Dreams:

Often in the best interpreted dreams one must leave a passage in obscurity [eine Stelle im Dunkel lassen], because one notices during the interpretation that an entanglement of dream thoughts, which do not want to be unravelled, rise up, but which add nothing to our knowledge of the content of the dream. This is the navel of the dream, the place [Stelle] where it straddles the the unknown [das Unerkannten] (524).

This passage—which leads to the only mushroom in the entire book—must be interrupted momentarily by the appearance of an impasse on this, the royal road to the unconscious. Eine Stelle im Dunkel lassen: how could Freud, unencumbered as he is, and as invested as he is in forging passageways through the unknown world of thought, voluntarily leave any significant interpretive pathway unexplored? On the contrary: at decisive moments in his itinerary, Freud reaches critical impasses beyond which interpretation will not and cannot penetrate. This impasse takes the form of unknown and obscure passages (eine Stelle im Dunkel), intricate reticulations of the linear pathway of interpretation, and even the destabilization of the literal and figurative ground on which interpretation occurs. His is a reading in which every statement, especially the statement of dismissal, requires and simultaneously resists interpretation. For, the existence of unfathomable and thoroughly obscure passages does not occur in most dreams but rather in every dream and at multiple points in the dream: "Every dream has at least one place [Stelle], on which it is unfathomable [unergründerlich], just like a navel, through which it links up with the unknown [Unerkannten]" (125 Fn.). Freud's insistence on the navel is significant in so far as the navel is the mark of a rupture in the connection between two bodies. It is not, as he would have it, the sign of continuity and cohesion—a Zusammenhang—but rather one of discontinuity and separation.

[10] In the severed passage interpretation makes an intervention. It intervenes as the promise of a link, a pathway, the illumination of an obscure passage, a recuperated umbilical cord, or other facilitation of transport (such as metaphor) between the known and the unknown, between the dream and the underlying dream thoughts. Yet the intervention of interpretation signals an interruption [v] in the unity of the text, an irruption within a passage of an indeterminate meaning or other referential abyss whose explication requires the formation of new lines of writing bridging these gaping holes.

[11] Interpretation will be organized along the lines of detours, diversions, deviations, and divarications from an unapproachable subject. It will be organized, like a plateau, along the lines of a rhizome. Even when Deutung is defined operationally as the forging of passageways— "In interpretation [Deuten] we make a pathway that leads from the dream elements back to the dream thoughts" –the most essential pathway of interpretation, the one that would establish a link between dreaming and thinking, is found to be impassable in the direction taken by interpretation: "Dream work has taken the reversed pathway, and it is not at all likely that this path is passable in the reversed direction" (524) [vi]. That the path-breaking project of interpretation itself is broken up is an outcome that Freud passes over without much concern, because the interruption of interpretation is a constitutive moment of interpretation. Like the rhizome, the interruption facilitates the proliferation of interpretation. This is the rhizomatic principle of asignifying rupture and it is highly active in The Interpretation of Dreams. Perpetuated by obstructions, the course of interpretation describes an interminable detour away from an established but now impassable path: "It seems much more likely, that by day we drive shafts which lead along novel chains of thought [Gedankenverbindungen], which make contact with intermediate thoughts and the dream thoughts now at one point and now at another. We can see how the fresh thought-material of the day inserts itself into the interpretive chains, and it is probable that the increase in resistance, which has entered during nighttime, makes new and more out of the way detours necessary" (524).

[12] Whereas The Interpretation of Dreams would claim to have opened up the overgrown and scarcely explored world of thought to development–by constructing, in the industrial scriptorium of a thought factory (Gedankenfabrik), and cataloguing, with a monstrous system of thought-connections (Gedankenverbindungen) including rows of interpretation (Deutungsreihen), memory traces (Erinnerungspuren), chains of thought (Gedankenketten), chains of associations (Assoziationsketten), pathway of association (Assoziationswege), thought pathways (Gedankenwege), thought-bridges (Gedankenbrücken), word-bridges (Wortbrücken), a tremendous system of psychic passageways—the unimpeded movement necessary for this free-flowing mode of interpretation is hardly facilitated by the impassable course of interpretation articulated in The Interpretation of Dreams. For the pathways of thought facilitating interpretation, which at first take the form of roads, streets, and other "civilized" pathways, eventually reach an impasse, diverging and detouring [vii] into paths, defiles, trace, and, most importantly, new in-roads [viii], the construction of which requires trails to be blazed, bridges to be built, channels [ix] to be excavated, tunnels to be bored, and subterranean shafts to be hollowed out. All of which facilitates not so much a transport system (there are far too many impasses and blind alleys in Freud's writing to facilitate an efficient system) as it facilitates the ceaseless production of new pathways, new connections, new networks. Interpretation, in so far as it is a forging of passageways, is a two-fold process of divarication (branching out) and reticulation (forming associations). We can observe this process in secondary revision, in which the distance between the latent and manifest dream-content is elongated by the revisionary psychical material that intervenes between the two, a process which corresponds to the unfolding of writing (ex-plication) in the production of an interpretive text that, far from retracing the dream-content back to its unconscious origin, consists merely in the continual extension and interweaving of psychic and textual chains of thought [x]. Interpretation here manifests a rhizomorphic procedure of travelling. Considering the construction of so many side-paths and spur-roads that occurs in the course of dream interpretation, we are now in a better position to see how interpretation, this forging of passageways, is in the final analysis the forging of detours, deviations, digressions, and divarications: a short-circuit that causes the entire system to malfunction: an unintended bypassing of its intended subject.

[13] The intended subject of this essay, the rhizomorphic mycelium in Freud, would seem to have been bypassed as well. Yet when we reach the mushroom—and we are approaching it even in our digressive divarications—we might see that we have been describing and articulating such a rhizomorph all along. (If it's not easy to see the grass in things and in words it is even more difficult to see the mycelium in them. A brief excursion into the fundamentals of mushroom formation will be necessary at this point.) To a considerable and poorly understood extent, the unconscious, as articulated by Freud, is informed by mycological and rhizomorphic structures; likewise dream formation is informed by the process of mushroom formation. When a fungal spore germinates, either underground or in another substrate, it elongates itself in the microscopic, tubular, and thread-like filaments known as hyphae (from Greek huphē, web). The hyphae, which form the thallus of the fungus, branch out in all directions, extending by tip growth rather than cell division, penetrating into and spreading within whatever substrate is serving as a source of sustenance.

Figure 1. The mycelium is composed of a membrane of interweaving, continuously branching chain cells.
Photograph by C.W. Mims.

Once the hyphae have increased in density to a certain mass, they are described as a mycelium. And once the hyphae from two compatible spores mate, the hyphae fuse to form a mycelium, the "unity" of which is nevertheless rather unfathomable. Under certain environmental conditions, the resulting cellular network will produce descendent fertile mushrooms, the reproductive organ of the organism. Under optimal growing conditions, the hyphae will continue to branch out, encompassing in the most extreme cases areas several thousands of acres large [xi], thereby describing the structure of a rhizomorph, the rhizome-like dense aggregation of the hyphae formed in some fungi. As film sequences of mycelial growth show, a single line can develop into a reticulated network within the span of a single day.

Figure 2. Film sequence of mycelial growth (Phycomyces) on agar. Arrows indicate germinating spores. The pictures were taken about 16, 18, 22, and 27 hours after plating the spores. Photograph by Luis M. Corrochano.

[14] The rhizomorph, then, is precisely the production of the unconscious, in other words, that which facillitates the articulation of the unconscious:

The dream thoughts, which one happens upon in interpretation, remain without closure, running out into a reticulate entanglement of our world of thoughts. From a dense node in this network the dream wish erects itself, like the mushroom out of the mycelium. (517)

[Die Traumgedanken, auf die man bei der Deutung gerät, müssen ja ganz allgemein ohne Abschluß bleiben und nach allen Seiten hin in die netzartige Verstrickung unserer Gedankenwelt auslaufen. Aus einer dichteren Stelle dieses Geflechts erhebt sich dann der Traumwunsch wie der Pilz aus seinem Mycelium.]

The structure Freud describes in this passage is a rhizomorph, and the process of interpretation, in the radical divarication of several dreams no more than a few pages in length to the dense tome that is The Interpretation of Dreams, can be said to be thoroughly rhizomorphic. Just as a rhizome may be broken, shattered, and deflected at any given spot, Freudian dream interpretation (analysis) continues on one of its old lines, or on new lines, and entails an exegetical elongation of trains of thought and memory-traces that have been broken off or otherwise been abandoned. The analysis of this dense passage likewise forms a rhizomorphic structure.


[15] Die Traumgedankenthe dream-thoughts are what remain to be articulated, what resist articulation, what is given to us dis-articulated in the dream-content; they are what interpretation promises to articulate—auf die man bei der Deutung gerät—as the activity of interpretation, "geraten," or "unbeabsichtigt irgendwohin gelangen," curiously suggests a movement both unintentional and non-directional, whose outcome is not only unknown but often unwanted; typical idiomatic uses include "ins Panik geraten, in Schwierigkeiten geraten, in Schulden geraten, außer Kontrolle geraten, in Abwege geraten": namely interpretation as a process of being carried away. That the dream thoughts can be arrived at only indirectly, even, accidentally, suspends the certainty thereof—müssen ja ganz allgemein ohne Abschluß bleiben—not only the dream thoughts but by default interpretation remains without closure, uncontainable, without a definitive ending, inconclusive, in a word, rhizomorphic—und nach allen Seiten hin in die netzartige Verstrickung unserer Gedankenwelt auslaufen. This "branching out" in all directions describes the endless bifurcation and divarigation [xii] of the mycelium; equally, though, it is an extending out on all "pages," configured in a "reticulate entanglement" or "hyphal rhizomorph," of what Freud calls the for-the-most-part unconscious "world of thought": equally the mind and the book can serve as a substrate for the unconscious; yet the "branching out" could signify a "running out" in the sense of a "dissipating" both of the death of the organism and the abandonment of interpretation.

[16] Aus einer dichteren Stelle dieses Geflechts—out of a dense point of this network, but also out of a poetically condensed passage of text: the ambivalence of "Stelle," as both a node in a network (mycological and psychological) and a passage of text, opens up another scene of reference than that of the psychological and the mycological, namely, a scene of writing ("Deutung" – "Seiten" – "Stelle") that already has been present for some time—erhebt sich dann der Traumwunschthe dream-wish, whose trajectory is one of ascension, rises, not at all unlike the ascension described by interpretation in the opening of the third chapter ("Plötzlich diese Höhe")— wie der Pilz aus seinem Mycelium. Like the mushroom out of its mycelium: the sudden shift to the mycological signals a radical detour away from the psychological, and yet the mycological already was there in the psychological description. Freud has been describing the structure of a mushroom all along: the "indefinite ending" of the dream-thought, a product of the constant synthesis of new psychical material (so-called "secondary revision"), in fact describes the process of hyphal elongation and growth via the Spitzenkörper structure—a dynamic mycological growth structure lacking closure—located at the outermost tip of the hyphae; due to this structure, the hyphae in periods of growth and activity are continually "branching out," that is, they are continually forming the reticular (the mycological equivalent of "netzartig") networks known as rhizomorphs; and the fruiting body (spore-producing structure) of this organism rises out of the structure in mycological literature often described as a "Geflecht," namely, the mycelium. Only now, after this extensive detour (though by now we hope to have détourned the very opposition between a road and a detour) into mycology can we begin to appreciate the definition, in Rhizome, of the rhizome as the production of the unconscious. The rhizome or rhizomorph produces—that is, it articulates—the Freudian unconscious.

[17] I have now completed the interpretation of this passage, Freud is fond of saying. But the interpretation of the passage entails the formation of a new passage [xiii]. Interpretation starts again, right where it left off, by admitting how it has left something out. Likewise, the recourse to the mushroom and the mycelium at this crucial stage of psychological analysis (Freud has been describing the limits of interpretation) belongs entirely to the rhizomorphic structure of interpretation as a deferral of explication, the deferral of interpretation through distortion, displacement, and substitution. The unknown psychological structure must be explained, if it is to be explained, by a known mycological one. This process is what might be called the becoming-terrestrial of the psychic apparatus, the becoming-botanic of interpretation.

[18] Such a mutualistic mode of interpretation is enacted in the mycological structure of the mycorrhiza, or "fungus root." Lacking certain nutrients due to an inability to photosynthesize light into sugars, most fungi grow in mutualistic association with the roots of plants and trees. They are botanical plateaus connecting multiplicities. In this mutualism, the hyphae extending from the mycelium of a fungus bond with the roots of a host plant, both intracellularly or extracellularly, thereby obtaining access to important carbons while providing to the plant other important nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus. These mutualistic associations extend into the ecology of interpretation, which enters into a mutualism with the earth, and which allows the mycelium and the earth to enter into a mutualism with the text. This mutualistic association also is present in cross-disciplinary work, such as The Interpretation of Dreams, which draws heavily on certain structures from scientific discourse, and which also restores into these structures the necessary element of imagination.

[19] Mutualism is the task of interpretation. Even as interpretation promises to forge novel passageways through the dense entanglements of another text to the unconscious dream thought, interpretation only extends the lines of another text by entering into the dense entanglement of that text, reticulating and amassing it in density until achieving the critical mass at which point it becomes the basis for fresh growth and new development, namely, the proliferation of the rhizomorphic organism of writing, the continued existence of the literary institution.



[i] Incidentally, psilocybin has been used as an effective treatment agains obsessive-compulsive disorder. See Francisco, et. al., 2003.

[ii] Citations refer to Die Traumdeutung (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 1991). English translations are our own.

[iii] What passage, even in the most closed of close readings, does not lead outside of the book, does not permeate and destabilize the boundaries of the book (or the paper)?

[iv] See, among others: J. Hillis Miller, "Constructions in Criticism". boundary 2, Vol. 12, No. 3 (Spring, 1984): 157-172; Cynthia Chase, Oedipal Textuality: Reading Freud's Reading of Oedipus, Diacritics, Vol. 9, No. 1 (Spring, 1979): 53-68.; and Samuel Weber "The Meaning of the Thallus" in The Legend of Freud.

[v] Consider the analysis of the model dream on 23. / 24. July 1895. In Freud's analysis of the dream, the original italicised text of the dream is shattered and fragmented, and then synthesized, with the intervening interpretive text, into a new text, in which each original, italicised textual segment of the dream has elongated itself into a paragraph many times the length of the original material. Considered structurally, the analysis is rhizomorphic, in that the dream-text is shattered at multiple points, whereby Freud's analysis, branching out from each of those points, begins synthesizing new text.

Nor is the resultant interpretive text any more complete, any less reticulated, any less deserving or in need of interpretation than the original dream text. Even when Freud announces in the first edition the completion of dream interpretation, No I have completed the interpretation of this dream (132), he cannot help but add to this remark a revisionary footnote in the second edition indicating the incompleteness of his account: Even when I, it is understandable, have not shared everything that occurred to me in the work of interpretation (132). The very form of the footnote as a secondary revision and metastatic elongation of textual chains, signals this incompleteness.

[vi] This crucial revision renders impassable the path Freud had opened up only just earlier in the same chapter: "For our interpretation it remains a precept to disregard the ostensible coherence of the dream, as being of suspicious origin...and to follow the same pathway back to the material of the dream-thought" (493).

[vii] The traffic obstruction, effecting a necessary leave from main thoroughfares rendered impassable, seems to occupy an originary moment in Freud's writing. The primal scene of this obstruction is a flood so powerful as to be inscribed in the memoirs of Freud's son Martin, who tells how, during a family vacation in the mountains, a flood made the usual supply routes impassable, causing his father to abandon the main roads for footpaths winding through the mountains: "With many villages cut off through the collapsing of bridges...the supply of food for our family soon became difficult, and my parents grew anxious as the larder became bare. The only safe exit from our cottage was a pathway leading over the hills and mountains, and this, in view of continuous rain, was exposed to landslides" (62). This flood resurfaces in Freud's discussion of censorship: It is as when a common traffic jam, for example a flood, renders the large and wide streets impassable; the flow of traffic is then maintained on the uncomfortable and steep footpaths that otherwise are reserved for the huntsman (522). The transportation system describes a rhizomorphic structure that can be cracked and broken at any point only to start again following one or another of its lines. It describes an alternating movement between the obstruction and detour.

[viii] We should examine more closely—which we cannot do here— all that Freud and Derrida invite us to think about under the term die Bahnung, or "breaching," namely, "the psychical repetition of this previously neurological notion: opening up of its own space, effraction, breaking of a path against resistances, rupture and irruption becoming a route (rupta, via rupta), violent inscription of a form, tracing of a difference in nature or a matter which are conceivable only in their opposition to writing. The route is opened in nature or matter, forest or wood (hyle)..." (Writing and Difference, 214). We welcome Derrida's invitation "to study together, genetically and structurally, the history of the road and the history of writing" and have endeavored in this paper to present a mutualistic association of walking and writing, even when a systematic procedure is lacking.

[ix] The channel, recurring throughout The Interpretation of Dreams (see the Pas de Calais dream) and elsewhere, plays a significant role in the Freudian topography. In the Drei Abhandlungen zur Sexualtheorie he describes the libido behaving "...like a stream whose main bed has been blocked. It proceeds to fill up collateral channels which may hitherto have been empty".

[x] Accordingly the Gedankenverbindung is perhaps the supreme agent in the Freudian Gedankenwelt. The liasing of thought drives analysis, just as the liasing of passages drives interpretation. (Freud, too, was driven to a few secret liaisons in his day. Of course, he couldn't help but leave a few traces.) The question of whether these liaisons arise first during analysis is not disputed. What is disputed is the role of analysis in forming these connections. When pushed, Freud will never admit to forging—the double-meaning of this word should be audible by now—new passages in his analysis. The passageways he travels down, he is convinced, were already there. Yet one should not underestimate the importance of the new, secondary connections, for these are what make a network, a system, out of a few lines of thought.

[xi] In Mycelium Running, mycophile Paul Staments describes a 2,400 acre contiguous mycelium in eastern Oregon (45). He also includes, on page 23, a fine image of Dusty Yao, to whom the book is dedicated, gleefully displaying a harvest of wild porcinis, in other words the mycorrhizal and Freudian favorite Boletus edulis.

[xii] Straddling, from the earlier phrase, dem Unerkannten aufsitzen, "straddling the unknown," suggests, as Weber explains, a botanical synonym, "to divaricate," i.e. "to diverge." As Weber points out, the divarication the OED entry for "straddle" into the botanical parallels the process of uncontainable divergence of meaning in Freud's dream interpretations. See, for example, Freud's dream of the botanical monograph: "'Botanic' is truly a nodal point in which numerous lines of thought come together" (289).

[xiii] Several years later, in 1909, Freud will add the following footnote to his statement: "Though I, understandably, have not reported everything that occurred to me during the process of interpretation [Deutungsarbeit]."


Deleuze, Gilles and Guattari, Felix. Rhizome (Paris: Éd. de Minuit, 1976)

Derrida, Jacques. Writing and Difference trans. Alan Bass (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1978)

Freud, Martin. Sigmund Freud: Man and Father. (New York: The Vanguard Press, 1958)

Freud, Sigmund. Die Traumdeutung (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 1991).

Moreno Francisco, A., Delgado, Pedro and Gelenberg, Alan J. "Effects of Psilocybin in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder." Psilocybin in the Treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. (20 Aug. 2003). MAPS.org. 22 Nov. 2003

Stamets, Paul. Mycelium Running (Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 2005),

Weber, Samuel The Legend of Freud. (Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press, 1982)