#Rhizo14: the Uncomfortable Future Emerges, Flux Happens. Part One.

Here are some initial notes on the “course” Rhizomatic Learning and Dave Cormier’s introduction..

“Rhizomatic learning is a story.”

Is this a narrative played out in nature or is it an artificial, man-inspired sortie? The reason I ask the question is because I think of nature’s story as anthropomorphizing.  There is no story in nature.  A rhizome is a rhizome and nothing more. Move along, no story here folks.

I think of stories as part of our newer DNA, the social DNA that comes from orality and literacy.  By itself, nature tells no stories.  Humans mediate stories.  We try to interpret nature as best we can and that’s none too good.  It fails to varying degrees because of the approximate nature of analogy and metaphor.  Words piled high into stories only approximate the unknown and perhaps unknowable basis of nature.

And as Thomas Berry warns, “It’s all a question of story.”

We are in trouble just now because we do not have a good story.  We are in between stories.  The old story, the account of how the world came to be and how we fit into it, is no longer effective (123).

(Berry, Thomas. The Dream of the Earth. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1988. Print.)

To go even further, some of the old stories (earth dominion, capitalism, be fruitful and multiply) might be destroying us all with their re-telling and re-enactment.  I think the education story that Cormier outlines in the first paragraph is one of those self-destructive stories.  Acknowledging that makes us all iconoclasts.  I just don’t think we have found our new story yet. I would love to think that ‘rhizomatic learning’ in all its vague glory might be just the ticket.

The video below isn’t specifically about rhizomatic learning, but it represents the thinking of one of its most important proponents, , Slavoj Žižek.  Just look at it ‘slant’as dear divine Miss Emily suggests and you might see the connection.  If not, down a couple of shots of Four Roses Yellow Label, and come back to it.

Zizek on Cultural Capitalism



  1. // Reply

    I had never heard of the term “Rhizomatic” before CLMOOC so I am still grappling with the concept and what it means to me as a learner and as a teacher. Another journey ….

    1. // Reply

      I keep thinking about fairy rings and morelles in the spring and bamboos corms expanding ever out. I am only vaguely familiar with the litcrit underpinnings of the likes of Deleuze and Zizek. So shall we all learn.

  2. // Reply

    Is it rhizomatic to make a difference between old stories and new stories? Are our new stories always somehow connected to the same rhizomatic world and narrative as the old stories?
    Our rhizomatic selfs producing these narratives with same language, and on same rhizome?

  3. // Reply

    I am just saying that Nature is story agnostic. Her written script is the world as we experience it. Language and story only mimic nature and probably tell a piss-poor story about her in the process. All I am saying is that rhizomatic learning is man-made artifice. Except…our stories are now impinging on Nature’s home-grown narrative with a tale of domination, overpopulation, climate change, and corruption. We do not want our story fighting hers–we will lose. It’s 120 F in Sydney. It was -5 Fahrenheit here on Monday and it will be 60 F today. We are 10 inches over the average on rain this year and we were 15 inches under in 2012. This is my story about how we shouldn’t mess with Mother Nature, but really she doesn’t tell stories. She just is. Her motives need no back story. She is pure action. Hurricane Sandy, et al.

      1. // Reply

        We are part of nature, sometimes the anathema part.

          1. //

            I wish humanity was not so important, but we are over 7 billion now. We cannot understate how we are crushing the carrying capacity of nature. I understand that everything is natural coming from a particularly legalistic definition, but at some point we might be said to be a cancer on the rhizome.

            Thanks for continuing this conversation, for working with me on making and sharing the “secret connections’ of the shared root of our learning.

  4. // Reply

    I came to this post via @Clarissmfb on Twitter .
    I don’t think we have found our new story yet but thanks to that wonderful animation, I realise that I am engaging in some soft apocalyptic thinking about what the new story may be.

  5. // Reply

    Yes, it’s nice to have someone come ‘in the middle’ like @clarissamfb and uncover little gems that were unseen before. I particularly like that you have foreshadowed orality and literacy here. Thank you for the video. Sobering thought. We had 12 inches of rain in 3 days here on Maui….

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