vasboot! - 1 May 2008 Professor Jacobs ENG 3116-002 Vas: An...

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1 May 2008 Professor Jacobs ENG 3116-002 Vas: An Opera in Flatland and its Rhizomic Roots Steve Tomasula’s Vas: An Opera in Flatland is a heterogeneous work exploring the form of conventional novels and deviating from literary tradition. In the novel, Tomasula adopts a free form rich with images and complex narrative investigating the application of science and the structural hierarchy associated with scientific organization. Vas: An Opera in Flatland examines the arbitrariness of linear organization in a three- page fold out that shows the etymology, derivation, definition, and pedigree of the noun “nostratic” circa 12,000 B.C. This linear model of structural hierarchy manifests itself several times within the text contributing to a critique of the tree model in a serious lens and also with a satirical and limited vision as well. Deleuze and Guattari share a similar view with Tomasula in the “Introduction: Rhizome.” They are both critical of the linear model presented in Chomsky’s hierarchy where a tree is representational of language. They find the tree model limiting and problematic and is not an accurate vision of language as a fluid and dynamic system called the “rhizome” presents. Deleuze and Guattari’s analysis of the rhizome system is heavily invested in the multiple perspectives provided in the form of the novel. The novel is a representational system of meaning making, with a cohesive appearance and an objective vision of a subject. The novel is often depicted as a tree with a hierarchal structure attached to it. Deleuze and Guattari are skeptical with Noam Chomsky’s model of linguistic classification. “Chomsky’s hierarchy” is a critique of formal language derived from a 1
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tree as its root. The linguistic tree is a monolithic force grounded in a set agenda with only one direction for interpretation. “Chomsky’s grammaticality, the categorical S symbol that dominates every sentence is more fundamentally a marker of power than a syntactic marker: you will construct grammatically correct sentences, you will divide each statement into a noun phrase and a verb phrase” (7). They view Chomsky’s model as problematic in its effect on linguistics. Language is much more polyvalent than a single root system with a linear perspective presented in the tree model. Deleuze and Guattari are more concerned with the heterogenic nature of language and how these connections are made within a work. They argue that a book is more fluid and dynamic than a tree model gives credit leaving one direction of thinking in a linear model. They say Chomsky’s model is too limiting, “Our criticism of these linguistic models is not that they are too abstract but, on the contrary, that they are not abstract enough, that they do not reach the abstract machine that connects a language to the semantic and pragmatic contents of statements, to collective assemblages of enunciation, to a whole micropolitics of the social field” (7). The abstract machine
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This note was uploaded on 03/18/2009 for the course ENGL 3116 taught by Professor Karoljacobs during the Spring '08 term at Colorado.

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vasboot! - 1 May 2008 Professor Jacobs ENG 3116-002 Vas: An...

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