A Methodology for Reading D&G
Reading A Thousand Plateaus can be a confusing and potentially frustrating experience. Readers often complain that they do not understand precisely what the authors are talking about, or what the point of the whole thing is anyways. I know often in my own experience I find myself thinking, “What in the world do they mean by strata? Plane of consistency? What is all this nonsense about anyways?” So I try to read in a looser, more flexible way. I let the words wash over me. I pay more attention when a phrase strikes me, but not too much attention lest I get caught up on concerns of precisely sorting out the difference between content and expression. If there is one thing D&G know how to do, it is to name things. The defining of things, not so much. This can be frustrating, to put it mildly.
Luckily, I stumbled upon the ideal method for encountering this esoteric text. I have a particular talent that lends itself to this methodology known within the medical world as idiopathic hypersomnulance. In everyday terms this means, “you are really sleepy, and we don’t know why.”
As I sit at the table diligently plowing through Prof. Challenger’s lecture, I surreptitiously slip out the side door into a less linear narrative that complements his style quite nicely. Strata slide into new assemblages that revolve around a wagon wheel spinning and bumping rhythmically along a trail that is both over and in the strata. It wobbles along terrain, bumpy and uneven, but with a flow that suddenly slips and flies off into a gully unseen from the original angle of view.
I jolt back to the room as my eyelids fly open and encounter the white page with black text adorned with a few stray marks of purple lines, placed practically randomly upon the page. Probably the best way to situate them. I make a new mark in blue. Those knees. Yes, I like the knees. Imagine breaking to make this articulation. We break trail to make a new possibility. Destruction is perhaps then simply planes of consistency reaching stratum for new assemblages. I mean, look at where our dear professor ends up when this is all said and done.
Signifiers and signs blur and disarticulate. This feels so cozy and familiar. I’d forgotten the pleasure of the slipping away, of watching the world remove itself from its banal congruity and take on more surprising and simple forms. The comfort of nothing more than the eyes, barely open. The next word on the page. What was it? Time becomes elastic, measured in eye-beats. One. Substratum. Two. Divisions of stratum. Three. (hold onto the phrase. Don’t move the eyeballs while they are closed. It’s easier to find the word again then with little effort) Four. Stratum. And so on this trance reading slips between the black figures on the page and illustrative assemblages behind closed eyelids.
“Hello.” Eyes shoot open. Smile. Greetings. I look down. “woman-bow-steppe assemblage?” Of course. Like my body-bike-terrain assemblage.
And so you can see that this method of somnambulistic reflection offers much promise to the scholar seeking to read with D&G in a manner befitting their style.