The Virtual Rhizome

Over years, decades, I have dreamed many versions of this repetitive dream: 

Homeless, wandering, some connection with others who then are gone. I am in a city. I have a plastic bag with some things in it. Other than that I have nothing. I am wandering the streets. I have nowhere to go, nothing to do … there is nothing I can do about it. None to rescue me. Night is falling; nowhere to go. This reality is sinking in remorselessly. No escape.

The mood of all these variations is one of loss of purpose, uncertainty, unexpected surprises, wandering and relentlessness, an insistence that I get used to this topography, along with a spectrum of ego reactions to that condition. I am to live there! For about 20 years my waking life mirrored this condition. But, all things pass in time, and my outer life became more ordered, gentle, regular even, and my chronic anxiety eased. But the dreams continued, into this year (2021). I began to imagine living in both domains simultaneously. I also began to write stories of rhizomic life, i.e. how to live as the rhizome! How could this be? 

This repetitive dream began to affect my outer life in unexpected ways. I was drawn to the rhetoric  others used to describe certain phenomena. My attraction expanded into research and in return it seemed that books and other resources were attracted to me. They all began to swirl around a certain term—the rhizome, with its associated rhetoric (in red text below)! Hear a few quotes from others:

Any gardener can think of an example of a rhizome—plants like the Iris, ginger, certain kinds of bamboo or couch grass have underground roots or stems. When you pull up a shoot of couch grass sticking up through the soil you uncover a straggly white tough fibrous stem that wanders off unpredictably under the surface. Sometimes, you find it connected unexpectedly to another green shoot somewhere else. Lots of apparently unconnected bits of couch grass are really connected underground. 

See my essay below

Life has always seemed to me like a plant that lives on its rhizome. Its true life is invisible, hidden in the rhizome. The part that appears above ground lasts only a single summer. Then it withers away—an ephemeral apparition. When we think of the unending growth and decay of life and civilizations, we cannot escape the impression of absolute nullity. Yet I have never lost a sense of something that lives and endures underneath the eternal flux. What we see is the blossom, which passes. The rhizome remains.

C. G. Jung: Prologue. In Memories, Dreams, Reflections.

If we hold that myths disclose the ties uniting man [with] the primary processes of world-creation and formation, we are likely to see in that unforgettable picture of the Gorgon’s head, with serpents writhing about it instead of hair, that turns to stone all who look on it, not only an image of ordinary consciousness cut off from extraordinary consciousness, but also … an image of the writhing convolutions of the physical brain in process of formation, before the consolidation of matter. 

Barfield, O. Dream, Myth, and Philosophical Double Vision.

I have recently written an essay, due for publication in August on rhizomic reality, a refinement of many years work on understanding the rhizome as a the “invisible true life” as Jung says.  In my essay, I trace the astounding fact that our Western culture of materialism is groping towards embracing the reality of the invisible rhizome, even as it also continues to crush any sense of the invisible (the occult) completely. Here is the abstract to my latest essay, Approaching the Invisible: Overcoming Materialism:

There have been many names for invisible reality ever since we gained language: gods, angels, daimon, the Creator, etc. In modern times Western philosophy eschews any such metaphysical or occult references to invisible reality as being culturally obsolete. Modern culture now privileges language that reflects our unshakeable allegiance to materialism in which the things of the world no longer have any depth of meaning. This chapter compares two modern cultural approaches to invisible reality emerging in the late 20th century in response to the growing world-wide crisis of meaninglessness. The first approach gathers many different methodologies under the umbrella term The New Materialism. The second approach focusses on initiatory experiences once known as Spiritual Emergency. Both approaches are moving us towards a new understanding of matter, based on the reality of the invisible. Throughout the chapter, the author will italicise words such as “invisible”, “life”, “alive”, “alien”, “ether”, “spatial”, “virtual”, “fluid” and “absence” in order to refer to a new kind of fluid, living, invisible matter that we are bringing to language in modern times.

You can find my draft essay here.  Comments welcome.