Ingimar Ólafsson Waage
The French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari developed the philosophical concept of the rhizome from botany. The term rhizome is used to describe an underlying tangle of roots that can shoot in all directions, something that could also be connected to the kind of learning that grew and spread out during the PIMDI project. In their seminal book, A Thousand Plateaus, Deleuze and Guattari (1987, pp. 7–12) define rhizomes not as systems but as six independent characteristics or principles. The two first are the principles of connection (1) and heterogeneity (2) which state that any part of a rhizome can establish connections with any other part: “A rhizome ceaselessly establishes connections between semiotic chains, organizations of power, and circumstances relative to the arts, science, and social struggles” (p. 7). The third principle is that of multiplicity (3), which describes the multiple as a substantial entity that “has neither subject nor object, only determinations, magnitudes, and dimensions that cannot increase in number without the multiplicity changing in nature” (p. 8). The fourth principle is that of asignifying rupture (4), which challenges the tendency to assign meaning to breaks that create divisions between structures or disrupt a single system. A broken or “shattered rhizome […] will start up again on one of its old lines, or on new lines” (p. 9). The fifth and sixth principles are those of cartography (5) and decalcomania (6). A rhizome is “a map and not a tracing” (p. 12) defying “any structural or generative model” (p. 12), rejecting the notion of a “genetic axis or deep structure” (p. 12) and remains detached from such concepts.
Everything seems to be in peaceful harmony in the Icelandic meadow near Skálholt where the third PIMDI intensive week was held in September 2022: the grass sways gracefully in the wind, each stem exhibits its unique characteristics. The turf cutter carefully selects his area, driving the spade firmly into the ground, pulling the spade and turning it, plunging it back in, repeating the process as he progresses, resulting in a block of turf that he lifts out of the ditch and arranges the chunk, starting to form a wall. This simple act opens a window into the past, revealing the intricate, complex root system that thrives underground. The turf houses made of these components are thus organic entities, forming themselves into a new unity and providing the basis for further growth, allowing humans to merge with the earth to which they belong.
Photos from the PIMDI intensive week in Skalholt, Iceland, September 2022. Left: The meadows near Skálholt in Iceland. Right: Sigurbjörn merges with the earth. Photos: Ingimar Ólafsson Waage.
Relevance for PIMDI
During the PIMDI project we worked with different visualizations of the PIMDI-methodology. One of these was the Icelandic turf because it visualizes how rhizomes grow in all directions forming a strong and ever growing mesh both concretely (in the turf) and metaphorically as a form of becoming through never ending entanglements. The organic rhizomatic process of the ancient Icelandic tradition of turf building does not conform to pre-established paths, as the dynamic interaction between the land and humans undergoes constant transformation and change. Similarly, a pedagogy of imaginative dialogue—analogous to rhizomes—is an organic process that adapts to ever-evolving and advancing circumstances of human existence.
References:Deleuze, G. & Guattari, F. (1987). A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (B. Massumi, Trans.). University of Minnesota Press.