Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

What is a Rhizome, again? (my naive interpretations)

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

Readers, listeners, always interpret things from their own lens. Having never experienced a cMOOC before Nov 2013, reading about connectivism looked v different to me then than it does now. Same applies for D&G, I guess. I think back in Jan 2014, I would not have been able to connect what they’re saying to what I was experiencing, because I was yet to reflect on that experience properly first.

I’ve still not read them properly, only the very first chapter or the intro or something. It made a little bit of sense back then.

I came across this video (and I’m not a fan of videos at all, I’d rather read) where German (philosophers?) Kluge and Vogl discuss “What is a Rhizome?”  [I clicked it only because Keith Hamon was recently suggesting I might like to read D&G’s chapter with the same title] I am sure my interpretations will be a bit naive at the moment, but I wanted to record them to help me remember, as notes, and just to make them public in case others would like to correct me, or add to them or whatever 🙂

Well we already know the characteristics of the rhizome that I think Keith and Dave have been talking about a lot – that there is no beginning or end; that there is no center; and a structure of passages where it is not clear how to get from one place to another or how you got there – it’s all shortcuts and detours, says Vogl.

I was also interested in the part about the “labyrinth” with no beginning or end or center. That sort of sounds like how I’d like to imagine presenting rhizo14 to the others – as this maze of connections where you don’t know how you got from one to the other. Like I keep saying, it’s not just the narratives people wrote, it is also the blogposts (and of course the tweets and facebook discussions – which we prob can’t capture now)

I liked the part about contingent events – I posted a comment on an older post that I think the theory/practice tension that happened in the second week of rhizo14 was probably one such unpredictable event, a collision that could not have been predicted or prevented, and things may have happened differently if any number of things had been different. The causality behind it is also not clear, not direct, not one-dimensional. Vogl says that surprise encounters are essential for evolution to occur. This makes sense to me (though in biology, I am pretty sure evolution is a lot more complex than that seemingly simple statement). But connecitivism is all about surprise encounters. My twitterverse if full of them, and I’ve definitely evolved through them. [there is then a weird part about the need to preserve inertia so the mutation is not lost. No clue what that’s about!]

Now the “always remains underground” part is really interesting. I don’t necessarily think the learning in something like rhizo14 or any other cMOOC is “underground” – in the sense that it’s actually seemingly very “open” on twitter and blogs and the facebook group is open. However, this “openness” is only accessible to a few people. Twitter is still not something most people see. I think a lot of us who are active on social media may be representing the “undergrounds” within our own f2f lives, the dissenters… this thinking comes also out of an email exchange with Scott. That it may be what brings us together, our “alternativeness” from the people surrounding us. That for me, is quite true. I love my colleagues at work, I really do. I love them as friends and as colleagues and I love working with them and cannot live without them. But I also needed rhizo14 to stay sane, feel I was not the only crazy one with these weird ideas. That I could say these things and find an audience who nods (yes, agreement is important to set up online community) – but also to find others who challenge me further along the path, rather than feel like I was crazy enough as it is, to calm down, when I would rather keep going 🙂

Now there is a funny part (around minute 8:30 – I shoulda done this as a vialogue… ah well) – where he talks about D&G’s writing style – that they did something new and different, writing four-handed or two-handed – and I thought, he’s probably trying to say that they each took on multiple personalities and involved all of them in the one text. It made me think, though, of trying to write up an autoethnography with multiple/no authors, and what that brings in… And I so don’t want to produce something as difficult to follow as a D&G…but I also understand how complex ideas need to be presented in appropriate ways.

I lose focus for a second watching the video and saw the term “productive misunderstandings”. Loved it. He says something about generating them – is that what Dave was doing with his questions?

And then he talks about “theft without acquisition” – was the cheating as learning discussion of week 1?

[starting to wonder here, if people who really had read D&G closely before the course experienced it completely differently from the rest of us – but some still stayed, like Keith Hamon and Sarah Honeychurch for example]

I totally lost him near the end of that, talk of apocalyptic things.

Anyway, it’s not a great place to start thinking about something. It’s a German person speaking with English sub-titles, speaking about the thoughts of a couple of French guys and I don’t even know what happened to those ideas when they got translated into other languages. I am just saying there’s probably a lot of layers of interpretation between what D&G said and what I understood in that video. But I thought I’d share the ideas anyway 🙂

One Comment

  1. D&G really are a difficulty. Wish I didn’t get impatient with so easily. As a shot at explaining the Rhizome: familiarity is a human construction that is rebuilt with every moment of our lives. As a connected narrative, familiarity is of course continuous–one expectation building the next. Though it may occasionally jump a few frames and surprise us, continuity is most favored. We observe the universe with the skills we have….

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