Why Deleuze would have loved the Internet

When I was a university student I loved French Philosopher, Gilles Deleuze for his complex and almost impregnable ideas which busted open the traditional pillars of western thought.

Deleuze approached philosophy as an outsider.

“What got me by during that period was conceiving of the history of philosophy as a kind of ass-fuck, or, what amounts to the same thing, an immaculate conception. I imagined myself approaching an author from behind and giving him a child that would indeed be his but would nonetheless be monstrous.”

There is a lot to learn from this kind of approach to life. Rather than accepting life as it meanders along from study to work to marriage to retirement, you can make the rules and break the rules. We should embrace the schizophrenic, the multiple, and the edge of the limit over the awful and doddering established truth.

Deleuze and his collaborator Felix Guattari wrote a magnificent book called Capitalism & Shizophrenia where they introduced the concept of the rhizome. The rhizome is the Internet imagined before the Internet. They write:

Let us summarize the principal characteristics of a rhizome: unlike trees or their roots, the rhizome connects any point to any other point, and its traits are not necessarily linked to traits of the same nature; it brings into play very different regimes of signs, and even nonsign states. The rhizome is reducible to neither the One or the multiple. It is not the One that becomes Two or even directly three, four, five etc….It has neither beginning nor end, but always a middle (milieu) from which it grows and which it overspills. It constitutes linear multiplicities with n dimensions having neither subject nor object, which can be laid out on a plane of consistency, and from which the one is always subtracted (n-1). When a multiplicity of this kind changes dimension, it necessairly changes in nature as well, undergoes a metamorphisis. Unlike a structure, which is defined by a set of points and positions, the rhizome is made only of lines; lines of segmentarity and stratification as its dimensions, and the line of flight or deterritorialization as the maximum dimension after which the multiplicity undergoes metamorphosis, changes in nature.

Comparing the rhizome in relation to the transformational possibilities of the Internet is very useful. Just as the rhizome is neither the One or the multiple, the Internet is a non-linear series of inter-connected networks which grows, changes in nature, and is subject to multiple dimensions. Whilst the Internet may have become inherently commercial and an abject expression of the lonely desires of billions searching for meaning on facebook, ebay, and Google+, it remains a fragile place easily disrupted. Pre-Internet commerce was interrupted by natural disasters, 747s dropping out the sky and bombs blowing up in pubs. Now a malevolent 14 year old can bring down a billion dollar business with a script.

The terrifying possibility of the Internet’s metamorphosis was recently demonstrated by the erudite, talented, and scary hackers from @LULZSec. After their June 2011 campaign of terror they wrote:

For the past 50 days we’ve been disrupting and exposing corporations, governments, often the general population itself, and quite possibly everything in between, just because we could. All to selflessly entertain others – vanity, fame, recognition, all of these things are shadowed by our desire for that which we all love. The raw, uninterrupted, chaotic thrill of entertainment and anarchy. It’s what we all crave, even the seemingly lifeless politicians and emotionless, middle-aged self-titled failures. You are not failures. You have not blown away. You can get what you want and you are worth having it, believe in yourself.

Now if that’s not shizophrenic, I don’t know what is. Deleuze would have been proud.

What do you think?