Yesterday (March 7th 2012) I attended a lunchtime seminar by Prof. Ian Buchanan, who numbers among the pre-eminent Deleuze and Guattari scholars currently writing and who works here at the University of Wollongong*. Prof. Buchanan was primarily focused on drawing the distinction between psychoanalysis and Deleuzo-Guattarian schizoanalysis, which in some ways is tangential to my own uses of rhizomatics, but also can be seen as the foundational move of rhizomatics, the point from which it begins its line of flight.
There was actually a lot of fantastic and insightful ideas raised during his paper, but the thing that seems to have hammered through into my brain is the way that he made the distinction between traditional psychoanalysis as a transcendental hermeneutic, and schizoanalysis as an immanent hermeneutic. In other words, psychoanalysis is constantly trying to refer things (dreams, behaviours, neuroses) back to some external referent beyond whatever system is being analysed (referring everything back to the parents), while schizoanalysis, and rhizomatics more generally, looks for meaning within the system. Bear in mind, I can’t take credit for these ideas and probably Prof. Buchanan can’t either. But it provides a good, if oversimplified, focus for my understanding of how Deleuze and Guattari got to the rhizome in the first place.
Prof. Buchanan focused primarily on analysis within a psychotherapeutic context (including a marginal diversion into why Deleuze is considered a serious philosopher and Guattari the butt of some great poststructuralist joke). However, the distinction between transcendental and immanent analyses is useful beyond psychotherapy.
Arguably, it’s impossible to analyse communication (in my case, literary communication in poetry) in purely immanent terms because it arises socially, and it has a referential function regardless of the fact that communicative referentiality might be arbitrary, as per Saussure. There is something ‘outside’ the system of signs and that forms a vital part of what makes communication actually effective. But by offering a model of an immanent hermeneutic, Deleuze and Guattari emphasise the power of relationships, forces, associations within the system being studied, rather than deferring analytic power to a transcendental referent.
*and I’m mortified that I’m in my third year of a PhD on Deleuze and Guattari and I didn’t know this, just because he happens to be in a different faculty to me and I’m utterly oblivious to really important valuable information, apparently. However, Prof. Buchanan has been generous enough to offer to discuss my thesis tomorrow, so now all I have to do is act coherent and knowledgeable.