Philosophically, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari are opposed to trees. Specifically, they position themselves against arborescent thought—thought, which like a tree, judges the world from one fixed point (roots, Descartean rationality), or requires that thinking proceed in only one direction (scientifically, dialectically). In place of foundations and immutable bodies, Deleuze and Guattari advocate a rhizomatic approach to philosophy, and, to what amounts to the same thing, to life. As they write, ‘There are no points or positions in a rhizome, such as those found in a structure, tree, or root. There are only lines‘. Critically, they charge that, ‘Many people have a tree growing in their heads‘. In a sense, the challenge issued by Deleuze and Guattari is to kill this tree, or, as Nietzsche might put it, to draw the curtain on the twilight of (our) idols. ‘The issue is to produce the unconscious, and with it new statements, different desires: the rhizome is precisely this production of the unconscious’.
Metaphorically, then, the tree has been incredibly productive in the work of Deleuze and Guattari—bringing into clearer focus the image of thought, and the dangers (more truly, impossibility) of stasis, of rigidity, of identity, of molarity. In this essay, I also want to talk about trees—specifically a tree, called the Ada Tree. In fact, I want to use Deleuze’s and Guattari’s work to produce this tree as something other than a tree—to write a brief rhizomatics of the Ada Tree. My aim in doing this is to dislodge the meanings traditionally associated with terms such as nature, conservation, and sustainability—in short, to indicate something of the damage done when nature is produced as a series of discrete and knowable bodies as opposed to an immanent force.