Rhizome theory or Mycelial theory?
Rhizome theory or Mycelial theory?
Some preliminary (and extremely disjointed) questions about creating a natural theory for civilizations' active entropy.
(Disclaimer: using natural systems to explain what humans do is problematic. People have used all kinds of ways to link their theory with natural systems (weather, evolution, pack dynamics, trees, plagues) with terrible results. This isn't to say that there isn't anything to learn from nature & try to adapt it to help you. I like better the vice versa where the natural world is compared to humans a little better, in that it humanizes in another way that can encourage connection to the land.)
I personally don't like to view the system as a monolith, although I do see the charm in it. The system today is a series of apparatuses (Agamben 'What is an Apparatus') that exist on a spectrum of importance to overall stability. I like this analysis because it takes into account the historical rise to the systems modern day institutions (Michel Foucault, various texts). And the networking of specific branches of the state (DOJ, the branches of military, the DSHS and other safety nets, the Forest Service, etc.) with specific branches of capitalist industries (such as prisons, arms manufacture, computers, automobiles, etc.) portray a more complex canopy than labeling the systems of control simply as 'an oligarchy' or whatever the fuck Chris Hedges calls it. The methods of control that shaped these institutional branches shaped the social restraints like racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. but also things like the Protestant work ethic, guilt and shame, the tendency to accept hierarchies, etc. It's obvious to me that Europe was a clusterfuck of emotional resentment that launched a series of bizarre chains of events that landed us all in this hell scape (Silvia Federici 'Caliban and the Witch). Witch trials, religious wars, enforced Christian practices, ideas about sexuality, etc. really did a number on people & they built their social structures to match their mental illnesses. Now all of those earlier vulgar institutions have grown, strengthened & subdivided out in order to fill any void of freedom left not yet brought into the fold. And while they (property, law) all seem to have formed together and can thus be seen as a singular entity (like the growth of a single tree), it of course operates as a pretty complex series of fucked up relationships. Some branches seem more huge & solid like the military, some small twigs like a school principals association. Some are internalized prejudices or unexamined subservient reactions (or maybe these are the trees digestive or immunological system?).
I'd really like to use an arboreal metaphor for the major institutions that form the system and a fungal one to describe our past, current & future resistance to it's continued existence, but I'm worried I'm already stretching too far. Hyphae move forward & gather strength in that forward movement before branching out into the surrounding substrate. The way mycelium exists as it feeds it's way through substrates & distributes nourishment across huge distances illustrates a way for anarchists to network & fight the system, but I can't quite put it into words.
If your goal is some form of total revolution then the entire tree has to be dissolved.
Mycelium uses various enzymes to dissolve the various materials, sometimes it may take many species to totally eat away something large, like a tree. First the tree has to have some sort of weakness & opening (like a wound or already fighting off another infection) in order to infect the tree. It may even keep the tree alive for years, sapping it's energy and providing very little nourishment in exchange, before the tree finally succumbs to it's parasite, like the largest organism on Earth, the honey mushroom Armillaria.
What species do trees hold back (younger saplings, etc) & what new life can grow from it's digested minerals in the wake of it's decay (or ashes for that matter) as it's unlocked body changes the quality, and therefore type, of the topsoil? What new forms of life can then emerge when we play this entropic role?
Are we ready to give up control over what happens next if we, through our own anti-control oriented fungal-like resistance, lay a specific kind of groundwork through our destructive processes? By already attacking prisons, banks, sexism, art, etc does this already shape what comes next? I mean, does the motivation and specific branches we choose to focus our destructive capacities on really fundamentally different than if these collapse-oriented practices were done by religious fanatics or just straight up racists like atomwaffen or whatever the fuck they're called? I think it makes a huge difference in what comes next.
When a tree does die, it's still there as a log needing to be broken down further. Is this the stage of history right now? Is the system so rotten that it already resembles a fallen tree?
Or are it's branches (the institutions & the ones that grow from them, ie the smaller twigs) still holding back the sun?
A tree has many parts that must be dissolved before it is entirely gone, (lignin, cellulose, etc). What do these parts represent? Is it traditions or types of languages or technologies or what?
Are we (together) or I (alone) just one species playing our (or my) part in the overall death & destruction of the tree?
Or are we the entire process of the trees' decay and redistribution?
If we, as anarchists, are one species in the process then who are our natural competitors or allies (Maoists, liberals, environmentalists, Eco-extremists, etc.)?
If we, as anarchists, are the entire process of natural succession, then who amongst us plays what corresponding ecological roles: What is the infoshop, who is the theorist, who are the rioters, what is the anarchist press, what is land projects, who is the assassin, who is the herbalist, who the squatter bike mechanic, who is the traveler, who is the hacker, what is single issue pressure activism? What could they be if they structured themselves more like their natural counterparts?
Or, in keeping with us (anarchists) as a singular species in the process and borrowing from D & G's whole 'body without organs' thing (which I know is supposed to describe eggs), are each of those roles the various parts that unintentionally make up our mycelial body? And is the destruction of the tree our becoming?
The tree can’t exist without the mycelial network and there is usually a clear line drawn between the two. Mycelium can abandon a tree that is toxic/infected and risks the health of the rest of the community, or if it’s a vital part of the group they can funnel a greater portion of energy to it to aid in its survival. Can the tree (that is the system) be the infected one, while natural structures that are beneficial for us to grow represent the rest of the forest that has been shut off from the aid of the mycorrhizal mycelium as it tries to keep the tree alive?
And we can redirect energy and decomposition towards favoring those structures that help us and just what are those structures?
Are we, as entropic anarchists, the saprophytic fungi while those who build a counter-culture (musicians, artists, comedians) represent the mycorrhiza that the tree needs through the recuperation of their emotionally driven projects?
Can they (counter-culture) learn to abandon their host tree, because it's beginning to rot, and refocus their energies on the rest of the forest? Or will they focus their energy on trying to fix the problems in the system through activism or strengthen the system through capitalist recuperation?
Is it through our (sapro) attacks and weakening of the system that drives them (mycorrhiza) to stop supporting the infected trees (the systems) growth and refocus them elsewhere? In this way is the entire analogy linked to the process of 'deterritorialization & reterritorialization' described by Deluze & Guattari?
Is Deluze & Guattari use of the plant rhizome analogy a misnomer? Paul Stammets and others have more accurately deduced that the historical & current threads of human relations resemble mycelium (the internet, their transportation systems (slime mold/Tokyo subway), the spread of ideas). But does that entire analysis negate using the infected tree as a metaphor?
Or do human actions themselves not always coincide with the organization of the system & therefore the arboreal metaphor still stands?
I have a lot more questions, but I suppose I just want to hear if this is even a project worth undertaking & if anyone else has been thinking about this. Please be patient with my scattered thoughts & limited scope! Thanks!