ABSTRACT

In his essay What Children Say (1997) the philosopher Gilles Deleuze observes that children frequently maintain a continuous stream of talk about whatever activity they are engaged in. Their activities, he suggests, can be seen as dynamic trajectories of practice and their talk as constructing mental maps of these trajectories. Children’s auto-conversations provide an example of how human selves come into being through an unending process of emergence. Children strive to become what they desire to be, creating what Deleuze terms a ‘line (or plane) of immanence’. The creation of this line involves a dual activity. Children plot a trajectory that negotiates the more rigid, settled structures and expectations that surround them, what Deleuze calls ‘line (or plane) of organization’. This includes such things as the family and the school, which are (relatively) segmented into separate institutions, or territories, each with their own rules and norms of behaviour. In general terms these rules operate by creating mutually exclusive dichotomies: culture and nature; male and female; child and adult; home and school. These strive to shape children, to fix them into ‘normal’ patterns – thus limiting their desire and creativity but, simultaneously, creating stability and thus making the world appear more certain and less fearful. In the process children are incorporated into the plane of organization (which imposes its expectations of normality upon them) but they also plot ‘flights’ away from it. This transforms them, allows them to enter into new forms of expression and content and thus create something new as the process goes along. Such lines of immanence tend to dissolve these segmentations and binary divisions, ignoring and hybridizing them and creating new entities.