September 20, 2005


Submitted by Robin B. Hamman
MA Sociology Scheme, University of Essex, May 28, 1996
This paper is in response to the essay question: Can the Internet be used as an example of the "Rhizome" from Deleuze and Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia ? Cybersoc Cybersociology Magazine

After rereading A Thousand Plateaus, I decided that it might be a worthwhile task to concentrate on one theory in the book, the rhizome, and try to apply it to something just so that I could see if it worked. The rhizome, according to Moulthrop, is the "concept of social order defined by active transversal or encounter rather than objectification... Figures for this order include the ocean of the navigator or the desert of the nomad." Another figure, or example of the rhizome, is the Internet. In A Thousand Plateaus : Capitalism and Schizophrenia, Deleuze and Guattari describe the characteristics of their concept of the rhizome. These principles are presented briefly here.
  • The first two principles of the rhizome are the "principles of connection and heterogenity." These two principles require that any point of a rhizome system can be connected to any other point. In other words, the rhizome is not hierarchical in structure. It is the anti-hierarchical: no point must come before another, no specific point must be connected to another point, but all points are and must be connected.
  • The third principle of the rhizome is that of "multiplicity". The best way to understand this principle of the rhizome is by looking at the actions of a puppet and it's master. After deconstruction we can see that it is not the will of the puppeteer that controls the actions of the puppet, it is a "multiplicity of nerve fibers." The puppeteer is him or herself a puppet of this multiplicity. It is not the points of contact between the strings and the puppet or the point of contact between the hands of the puppeteer and the wooden frame to which the strings are attached that are important when thinking rhizomatically, it is the lines between the points that are important.
  • The fourth principle of the rhizome is called the "principle of asignifying rupture." According to this principle, the rhizome may be "shattered at a given spot, but will start up again on one of its old lines, or on new lines."
  • The fifth and sixth principles of the rhizome are those of "cartography" and "decalcomania". These principles state that the rhizome is not a tracing mechanism, but is a map with multiple entry points. Psychoanalysis, for example, is a representative tracing of the subconscious that exists prior to it's tracing. Tracing is not creating new, it is representing old - following lines that are already there. Mapping, on the other hand, "constructs the unconscious" by orientation "toward an experimentation of contact with the real." That is, maps can exist as themselves without need for anything outside of the map to exist while tracings can only exists as representations.
To summarise the key aspects of the rhizome as described above, Deleuze and Guattari state that, "The rhizome is an accentered, nonhierarchical, nonsignifying system without a General and without an organizing memory or central automation, defined solely by a circulation of states." The Internet is very close to what Deleuze and Guattari describe above as a rhizomatic system. Rhizomatic systems, according to Deleuze and Guattari, are "finite networks of automata in which communication runs from any neighbor to any other, the stems or channels do not pre-exist, and all individuals are interchangeable, defined only by their state at a given moment - such that the local operations are coordinated and the final, global result synchronized without central agency."
Let us look now to the social usage of the Internet in comparison to the principles of Deleuze and Guattari's rhizome. True, Internet access points create a hierarchy, but once on the Internet, there is no hierarchy.The third principle of the rhizome, which follows the above principles that any point may be connected to any other point in the rhizome and that there be no hierarchy within for a system for it to be rhizomatic, is the principle of multiplicity. In the example used earlier it was stated that it is the "multiplicity of nerve fiber" and not the hands of the puppeteer that control the puppet. There is even a further multiplicity present when using the Internet and that is the multiplicity of light pixels on the computer screen. Another part of this third principle of rhizomes is that there are no points or positions, just lines in a rhizome. At first glance, this seems to call into question the suitability of the Internet as an example of a rhizome. So far, none of the principles of Deleuze and Guattari's rhizome has seriously called into question the suitability of the Internet as an example of a rhizome. Let us look now at the remaining principles of the rhizome and compare those with the Internet.
The fourth principle of the rhizome is that it can be shattered at any spot which would cause it to start again on either an old or new line. It was mentioned earlier that the Internet, as it was first envisioned by the people at ARPA, was designed to withstand a nuclear holocaust. Surely today's Internet could withstand all but a total, world-wide, and sustained war. CompuServe users whose access to news groups had been "shattered" regained access by creating new links between their computers and the ones that contained the databases where the banned groups were stored. This example of attempts to regulate the Internet can be useful to our discussions of the next principle of rhizomes as well.
The fifth principle of a rhizome is that it is "not amenable to any structural or generative model." The example of CompuServe's attempt to regulate user access to specific news groups is an example of how the Internet is a model of this principle. The structure of the Internet is forever changing and changeable.
The last principle of the rhizome is that the rhizome is "a map and not a tracing", and that this map has "multiple entryways." It has been mentioned earlier that there are many routes, or links, amongst computers on the Internet. These links are sometimes well established while at other times new routes and linkages take place. There are multiple entryways in the sense that, once on the Internet, I can choose whichever Internet site or home page I wish as my entryway. There are also, like in the rhizome, multiple entryways onto and within the Internet.
There are several problems with using the Internet as a model of the rhizome. There is the problem of the hierarchical nature of computer data and computer functioning. Computers do not know things, they follow steps of instructions to calculate things. This is true of each individual computer and server on the Internet. The way that I route around this problem is by looking at the Internet not as many individual computers, but as system that functions as one large unit. In this case, there is no hierarchy of computers, no order with which one must form links between databases. Since the rhizome is a system concept, I see no problem with the way that I have dealt with this difficulty by looking at the Internet as a system. The other problem with using the Internet as a model of the rhizome arises when discussing the principle of the rhizome which requires that rhizomes have multiple entryways. So the Internet is not truly a rhizome for all it's users, but for a select few it remains a rhizome with multiple entryways.
101: One Zero One is a magazine which uses the rhizome, a non-hierarchical organic system, as its central organizing element. The magazine provides a venue for my writing and is my Master of Arts in English, Creative Writing Thesis at CSU Hayward in Hayward, CA. In addition to fulfilling the requirements for the M.A. Degree, the magazine also provides space for participating projects with other writers, artists, and filmmakers. From beginning to end, the magazine will take 8.5 years to produce. In every way, this is, of course, an arbitrary period of time. This is how I determined the time frame. When considering versioning rather than issues, I had to decide when new versions occur. Since nothing is deleted, merely expanded, corrected, or changed, I decided to save a copy once a month starting October 1, 1996 and call that a version. 101 versions later takes us to February 1, 2004 and the last of 101: One Zero One. One other question you might ask: how do I read 101: One Zero One? The more appropriate question might be: where do I begin to read the magazine? The following notes are the closest thing you will ever get to a comprehensive index. So, start anywhere. Sometimes, you will dead end or sometimes you will try toleap a gap too wide, but sometimes you will connect and 101: One Zero One will breakaway, separate, and be yours.

Reading Ken Wilber

A beginner's guide to his works.
All two dozen of Ken Wilber's books are still in print. So where to begin? Here's a quick guide.
Kosmic Consciousness
This 10 CD set is a popular audio recording of Ken explaining the overall integral model in response to questions from Tami Simon, the founder of Sounds True.
A Theory of Everything: An Integral Vision for Business, Politics, Science, and Spirituality
This book is Wilber's shortest, simplest overview of his work.

The Marriage of Sense and Soul: Integrating Science and Religion specifically applies the integral approach to bringing together these two traditional enemies. Numerous critics felt it was the best attempt to date to integrate science and religion in a plausible way.

Grace and Grit: Spirituality and Healing in the Life and Death of Treya Killam Wilber
The most personal of Wilber's books, it is the story of his wife's battle with cancer. Publisher's Weekly called it "an incredibly moving love story," and some people claim it is one of those rare books that can change your life.

A Brief History of Everything
Not to be confused with A Theory of Everything, this book is a more thorough look at the integral approach, but in an accessible Q & A format. This is probably the most widely read of Wilber's serious books, and is still the best in-depth introduction to the overall model.

Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution
This 800-page book is Wilber's magnum opus, called by Larry Dossey "one of the most significant books ever published." This one's written for serious students, but everything is still conveyed in Wilber's clear and engaging prose.

One Taste: Daily Reflections on Integral Spirituality
Wilber's journals from one year, a personal glimpse into his inner and outer worlds.

The web site is about waking up from the sleep of everyday life. There have been many things in my life that have helped awaken me from that sleep: people, places, events, activities, books, movies, etc. The technical psychological meaning of "the sleep of everyday life" is consensus consciousness trance as described in Charles T. Tart's book Waking Up.
"Whole atoms are parts of molecules; whole molecules are parts of cells; whole cells are parts of organisms, and so on. Each whole is simultaneously a part, a whole/part, a holon. And reality is composed, not of things nor processes nor wholes nor parts, but of whole/parts, holons."
"A new perspective on whole-part relationships is taking shape around the concept of the holon - a term coined by Arthur Koestler to designate that which is simultaneously a whole in its own right and a part of a larger whole. An atom is a whole in itself. When it is also part of a molecule it becomes a holon, or a whole-part. The molecule that is also part of a cell is a holon, as is the cell that is part of an organ, and so on. This hierarchy of relationships from the atom to the organism is known as a holarchy. The concepts of holon and holarchy are fundamental to understanding the healthy function of complex living systems, which requires that each of their whole-parts maintain its own identity and boundaries even as it functions as part of the larger whole."

David C. Korten, The Post-Corporate World

Integral Institute

Integral Institute is dedicated to the proposition that partial and piecemeal approaches to complex problems are ineffective. Whether addressing individual and personal issues of meaning and transformation, or increasingly complex social problems such as war, hunger, disease, over-population, housing, ecology, and education, partial and fragmented approaches need to be replaced by solutions that are more comprehensive, systematic, encompassing—and integral.Accordingly, there are four main goals for the Institute:

1. Integrate the largest amount of research from the largest number of disciplines—including the natural sciences (physics, chemistry, biology, neurology, ecology), art, ethics, religion, psychology, politics, business, sociology, and spirituality.
2. Develop practical products and services from this research—which can be used by individuals in their own development, or by groups, businesses, national and international organizations.
3. Apply this integrated knowledge and method of problem solving to critical and urgent issues—especially the serious political, health, educational, business, and environmental problems facing humanity. This integral approach to problem solving is employed by the Institute’s own members; by forming alliances with other organizations; and by training organizational leaders, managers, and change agents in the Integral Approach.
4. Create the world’s first Integral Learning Community—with national and international communities of Integral Practice, as well as with Integral University.
Integral Institute functions as the world’s premier site for integral research and applications; as a generator of consulting services, seminars, and conferences; as a network of the most influential integral theorists from around the world; and as an open organization for disseminating and applying integral methods to complex problems in a wide variety of fields, personal to professional. The mission of the Institute is to assist people and organizations along integral, comprehensive, balanced, and sustainable lines in order to dramatically improve the quality of life on this planet. Integral Institute’s founding belief is that by helping individuals, companies, organizations, governments, NGOs, and communities to become integrally informed, they can more effectively chart their courses and make wiser and saner decisions today and in the future; develop successful, breakthrough strategies to help solve their problems; and more successfully mobilize their resources to implement desired solutions consonant with integral sustainability. By assisting people in various settings to become more balanced and comprehensive in their decisions, Integral Institute believes that it can assist a collective increase in wisdom and basic sanity for the planet and future generations.

Welcome to Spiral Dynamics Integral

The remarkable body of work attracting a growing constellation of thousands of people around the world.

Spiral Dynamics Integral, or SDi for short, concerns itself with the deep complexity codes that shape our many worlds. The model describes and makes sense of the enormous complexity of human existence, and then shows how to craft elegant, systemic problem-solutions that meet people and address situations where they are. Conceived and led by Dr. Don Beck, a leading global authority on value systems, societal change, and stratified democracy, SDi is an advanced extension and elaboration of the biopsychosocial systems concept originated by the late Dr. Clare W. Graves of Union College, New York, and later developed as Spiral Dynamics - a model that Canada’s Maclean’s Magazine rather grandly dubbed “The Theory that Explains Everything.”

Well, almost ...

Spiral Dynamics™ reveals the hidden complexity codes that shape human nature, create global diversities, and drive evolutionary change.These dynamic Spiral forces attract and repel individuals, form the webs and meshes that connect people within groups, communities and organizations, and forge the rise and fall of nations and cultures. Spiral Dynamics meshes the new science of memetics with Gravesian value systems to form “value memes” or ”vMemes” to craft a model of transformational change. By exploring and describing the core intelligences and deep values that flow beneath what we believe and do, the model offers a profoundly incisive, dynamic perspective on complex matters such as:

HOW people think about things (as opposed to “what” they think)
WHY people make decisions in different ways
WHY people respond to different motivators
WHY and HOW values arise and spread
The nature of CHANGE

Spiral Dynamics suggests ways to move more quickly in the direction of deep dialogue and comprehensive, integral solutions. As our world is now moving into the next stage of cultural pluralism and diversity programs, Spiral Dynamics offers a point of view that looks at the evolutionary dynamic of the deep underlying values systems. MACRO applications of Spiral Dynamics re-examine the whole globalization issue through an entirely new lens. The focus is on the underlying vMeme currents and contours of the diverse, competing economic, political, health care, education, religious, and community-based models.

Spiral Dynamics connects everything to everything else. For example: The work shows clearly why attempts to deal with the HIV pandemic only through medical solutions fail dismally unless equal time and resources are spent on the interior, cultural dynamics that contribute to the spread of the virus. It also demonstrates why simplistic, fragmented approaches to international and domestic terrorism, crime and drug-related problems, education, economic and social development - the list is endless - and the complexity of challenges in the Middle East and other hot spots around the globe will continue to confound us unless we integrate, align and synergize the efforts of all these stakeholders.

"It’s not that we need to form new organizations. It's simply that we have to awaken to new ways of thinking. I believe it makes no sense to spend a lot of time attacking the current realities. It is time to create the new models that have in them the complexity that makes the older systems obsolete. And to the extent that we can do that, and do that quickly, I think we can provide what will be necessary for a major breakthrough for the future."

~ Dr. Don Beck

At the National Values Center we have been tracking and researching the emergence of human nature since 1978 by using the BioPsychoSocial Systems perspective of Dr. Clare W. Graves. The publication of the book, Spiral Dynamics, in 1996 introduced that term. The foundational Gravesian model - the core of SD - focuses on the elements that create choice, change, personality and behavior. It addresses change in social systems, management practices, education and variations in 'consciousness,' a variant which is currently quite popular. Our concentration is on practical uses of deep values theory and application of Spiral Dynamics® while expanding on the foundational work of Dr. Graves with new research and studies.

As NVC Consulting and Humergence® in Santa Barbara, CA, we teach the model and how to use it in understanding human value systems via the Emergent, Cyclical Levels of Existence Theory (ECLET) and answering the Design Question: "How should who manage (teach, influence, motivate, etc.) whom to do what when?" The work is especially important when people factors and differences in Value Systems shape decisions, drive relationships, and form personality. Welcome to the Gravesian map to human nature, and the definitive source for SD. Visit our sister website,, to read more about Dr. Graves in his own words. There are copies of many of his original papers available for online reading.