All 19 entries tagged Creativity
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June 23, 2005
"Deleuze seeks to undermine the idea of knowledge that is implied in the transcendental model of modern metaphysics, which, he argues, is a model and form of recognition (between self and world, or subject and object, and self and other." Ansell Pearson, Germinal Life p.89
…to a 'superior empiricism' of "something in the world forcing us to think" .
"The overman exceeds established philosophical modes of recognition and the reduction of becomings in the world to perceptual and affective cliches." (KAP p.89)
…referring back to Bergson's critique of natural perception
As i wrote earlier of the helper concept "creativity":
"Deleuze moves the focus away from recognizing what Is to the question of 'how can we create?'"
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I'm now into the second chapter of Germinal Life, which turns its attention to Gilles Deleuze's early work Difference and Repetition. After a few difficult pages in which it is placed in relation to the a broad range of other thinkers (including interestingly Merleau-Ponty and Satre), this superb passage...
The aim of this new art of living is not to identify with the line, though madness and suicide always exist as a risk, since this would destroy all thinking and life. Rather, the task is to both 'cross the line' and make it endurable and workable; in short, this is the line of life cracked by death and concieved as germinal. The 'outside' is the line of life that links up random and arbitrary events in a creative mixture of chance and necessity. Ansell Pearson, 1999, p.85
…note the allusion to Jacques Monod's book…
A new thought of the outside, and a new way of living on the outside, involves drawing new figures of thought and mapping new diagrams, in short, an intensive and vital topology that folds the outside into the inside. The passion of the outside is the passion of germinal life, releasing the forces of life from entropic containment and opening them up for a time to come. ibid p.85
Or as I previously wrote, the virtual of active memory works on the singularity so that a "trait can be extracted, picked up and carried onwards….traits that give a sense of the possible, a future, a continuity, a return".
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June 21, 2005
De Landa's A Thousand Years of Non-linear History left me with a sense that Deleuze and Guattari have the most effective and exciting practical approach to creating active and dynamical models of the world. But that book is one of examples underpinned with a few key concepts. It aims to show how far those concepts can be taken. I suspect that it intentionally leaves unsatisfied philosophical challeneges. A niche that Keith Ansell Pearson's Germinal Life: The Difference and Repetition of Deleuze fills more than adequately. Here's my thoughts on reading the first chapter.
The 'ethical' character of this method of philosophy resides, therefore, in the cultivation of a 'sympathetic communication' that it seeks to establish between the human and the rest of living matter. Ansell Pearson, Germinal Life, 1999, p.33
Keith's emphasis on the 'ethical' dimension of Bergson's method of intuition is very significant (and he notes, few others have made this link). The significance for me follows from the idea that the ethical dimension requires a consideration of something beyond any singular act or entity (as the sufficient reason of the act), but which does not assume any kind of totality or finality. I'm not usually interested in talk of Being (with a capital 'B'), although it is often more effective than counting sheep. But there is something in this angle on it that has made me take it much more seriously. And that something is in the negative ethical implications of thinking becoming without Being.
The argument seems to demonstrate how a concept of Being is an essential precursor to an encounter with duration, the key concept invented by Bergson. These encounters with duration connect us with the temporal problematics that (it is claimed) drives all activity and differentiation: real time or the asymmetrical synthesis of the sensible – that is, the sufficient reason behind the richness of the world.
Importantly, the encounter with duration is not singular and purely metaphysical, to be done in one philosophical-historic-eschatological event (it's not Hegel). Rather it is a pedagogical method that must be re-applied, with the aim of leading us away from conceptual confusions ('badly analyzed composites'), along lines that differentiate but at the same time follow virtual tendencies, to an understanding and acceptance of specific differences in kind – for example, to apprehend historical singularities (as De Landa does so brilliantly).
Even more importantly, we should recognize the active nature of this method. It takes us away from a passive relation between a subject and an object. It is an act of perception, intelligence and consciousness, but one that is always an active operation on and in the world. Keith provides a great sample on this from Bergson:
to percieve consists in condensing enourmous periods of an infinitely diluted existence into a few more differentiated moments of an intenser life, and in this summing up a very long history. To percieve means to immobilize Matter and Memory p.208 cited in _Ansell Pearson, Germinal Life, 1999, p.34
The method of intuition is therefore both a means of leading us to a comprehension of differences in kind and at the same time through its immanence to the world in which it perceives, actively creates new differences in kind. It is a method that places thought absolutely in the world. We should always remember that the return of thought and philosophy [in]to the world is really what Deleuzianisms (or neo-Bergsonisms) are about
But this then raises the big question: why philosophy? – why this tendency towards conceptual activity and the apprehension of differences in kind? – wht this method of intuition? The answer to this varies slightly but importantly between Bergson and Deleuze (but the principle is the same). Philosophy is the perception of nature, or nature’s own perception (later Deleuze will see perception as a property existing beyond the human). Differentiation is never a simple or ontologically foundational act, but rather is already complex. How the world differs from itself is not reducible to a mechanism or dialectic. In each case the actual mode of its differentiation is that which is indeterminate in its differentiation (the radical difference). If it were otherwise, nature would never differ from itself. There could be no asymmetry, no drive to overcome and reconnect, no real time, no elan vital, no life. The indeterminacy introduced by this radical difference is essential:
The crucial element that Bergson wishes to grant to life is not a mysterious force but rather a principle of 'indetermination'. It is this indetermination, and with it the capacity for novel adaption, that he sees as being 'engrafted' onto the necessity of physical forces, so as making possible a 'creative', as opposed to a purely mechanistic or deterministic, evolution. ibid p.48
But at this point we risk losing any connecting principle between the differentiations. Does radical difference leave us with an absolute becoming? In what sense is there anything to differentiate from? The world has lost itself, cannot perceive itself, is inert and lifeless. In Bergson’s terms, the elan vital is gone. Saving us from this undifferentiated becoming, we have the ‘ethical’ turn. It is an ethics that seeks to posit some principle of reconnection beyond the differentiation. Some exchange and interlocking between the differences. Some expression that carries content across between the two differentiated worlds. A principle assumed in both sides (but not itself outside of the world) that acts as a virtuality in which the differentiation is played out: a Being that they assume.
The important point to realise is that it is on the virtual plane that unification is to be sought. The 'whole' is 'pure virtuality'. Moreover, differentiation is only an actualization to the extent that it preseupposes a unity, which is the primordial virtual totality that differentiates itself according to lines of divergence but which still subsists in its unity and totality in each line. ibid p.67
For me this is where Being gets interesting: being virtual. For a virtuality always has a technics, the coding and decoding mechanisms of intelligence. As Keith indicates, a technology is the solution to indeterminacy, a virtuality that operates in parallel to real time. At this point technology, ethics, philosophy and metaphysics conjoin. And most importantly for me, creativity is shown to be underpinned with technology.
The next question is this: to what extent is this virtuality contained within and maintainable by an organism, an internally differentiating germ? And to what extent is it always reliant upon a third term, an externally constituted and relatively autonomus viral plane cutting transversally across? Both are true to an extent in different specific situations. Here Deleuze discovers an ethology of such types of differentiation: abstract machines. From an ethics to an ethology.
And I will coninue reading Germinal Life.
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March 22, 2005
March 04, 2005
…and a tension exists in the work of Deleuze between:
- the move from an ontologically foundational Being to a recurrently disruptive but still at the same time foundational and ontological difference and repetition;
- the requirement that on each application of that ontology (in science, in painting, in cinema, in psychotherapy…) it is renewed and rephrased differently, but again drawing on its conceptual power.
But of course as Deleuze moves the focus away from recognizing what Is to the question of 'how can we create?' that is not a problem. If a helper concept of creativity or difference works to make thought more creative, less repressive, then use it. If not, abandon it.
And that also makes sense of Deleuze and Guattari's notion of the philosopher as conceptual personae or friend of the concept – a friend recognizes and relies upon a friend, but its not a relationship of absolute foundational dependency. Rather, there is rivalry, competition, and sometimes abandonment.
The answer, for Deleuze at least, is yes. Or rather, the concept of the new or difference (in its composite with repetition), is one of these 'helper concepts' – Nietzsche's best friend, saving him from the interminable closed cycle of Cartesian recognition or Kantian good-sense.
The Image of Thought chapter in Difference and Repetition states it quite plainly. The really big question for philosophy is not how recognition (clear, distinct, true or otherwise) is possible - that's trivial. Rather it is the question of how we break out of the everyday, the familiar. It is the question of how difference is possible. But not in some abstract sense, but genuinely how we go beyond the algorithms of our constitution. So it is the case that Deleuze is not Kantian (or as Keith Robinson has said, perhaps he is re-activating a pre-Kantianism). He was out to engineer a creative turn rather than fixing the critical turn.
In Difference and Repetition, as in Logic of Sense, we see Deleuze dealing with the metaphysical question of how creativity, difference, is metaphysically possible: what is its ontology? In this domain the question concerns the possibility of time itself.
Nietzsche's distinction between the creation of new values and the recognition of established values should not be understood in a historically relative manner… In fact it concerns a difference which is both formal and in kind. Difference and Repetition p.136
But it takes an involvement with Guattari to give Deleuze a chance to answer the really useful problem of creativity. Guattari the psychotherapist involved on a daily basis with dislodging people from the viscious circle. This engagement combines with Deleuze's fascination with painting and with cinema to establish, following on from the ontology of difference and repetitiion, a practical approach to creativity.
February 15, 2005
Does the concept of 'creativity' have this power? Many of the questions that are asked of creativity actually concern its relation to a possessor: can I possess creativity? can it create creativity? can it transmit, and hence carry, creativity?
Perhaps the task is to free-up the concept of creativity from the concept of possession in which it is lodged?
To repeat that conjecture: there is a class of special helper concepts that assist us through the pain and uncertainty of deep conceptual change, that manage our entry into and exit from chaos, being companions on the journey, modifying appropriately with the new situation, being recognizable as we emerge out of the other side, but at the same time being different. Art .
The second conjecture is that: there are some concepts that appear to help us through such change, but in fact are empty, absolutely un-changing, and hence of no effect, black-holes that merely absorb any efforts to effectuate change. Origin .
A third conjecture: this class of pseudo-helper concepts exist to offer hope and comfort in the face of deep and irreversible material change, apocolypse even. Being completely transcendent, they are the first tool that we reach for after the disaster. God .
What sort of concept is creativity ?
Schizoanalysis as a method brought together a psychotherapist (Guattari) and a philosopher (Deleuze). Guattari was concerned with the provision of philosophical concepts to patients in an attempt to give them room to manouvre, the chance of escape, freeing them up from patterns of addiction and inescapable habits. Deleuze moved in the opposite direction, from his studies in the history of philosophy, seeking to re-personalise, situate, and re-animate philosophical concepts, restoring their vitality and application, reconnecting them with their generation in a powerful philosophical imagination, with 'conceptual personae', and hence making the emergence of new concepts a real possibility for us.
The method that resulted, schizoanalysis, tends towards the production of concepts, philosophical creativity and experimentation. The elements of this being:
- the creation and pedagogy of the concept, its creation and re-creation, its journey (deterritorialization and reterritorialization) in time and space, localized in and transported between people, places, societies, texts and other abstract machines;
- the result of what could be called a 'philosophical imagination';
- an imagination that acts to 'free-up' abstract machines, not simply by offering a novel set of possible-worlds, but more radically by offering new sense to what it means to be possible and impossible, to be a world;
- an imagination capable of taking us beyond the permutations of our operational ontology;
- doing so in response to and to enable changes in the material of thought and the apparatus of reality, for example at the extremes of physics, or the social production of the human;
- freeing up and enabling new directions in science and art otherwise locked-in to the currently operational ontology;
- providing a special class of concepts that can be relied upon to help carry us through these changes, concepts such as 'art', 'science', 'imagination', 'schizoanalysis', and perhaps also 'creativity';
- whilst guarding against concepts that appear to have this power, but which in fact are empty, meaningless, black-hole concepts that merely absorb energies that drive towards such freeing-up, that act on every such desire with indifference – transcendent.
February 08, 2005
- What happens to concepts when they pass the extent of their engagement? If the concept doesn't become figural, perhaps the components in some way operate independently of the concept, and start to find new connections and new components not mediated by the concept? The concept becomes…
- Is a 'minor literature' the activity of a set of components from a concept operating beyond its extent?
- Is creativity a concept necessary for a set of activities that generates new concepts out of the collapse of old concepts? – drawing together a range of eccentric and risky techniques.
January 16, 2005
A misconception of a misconception:
"A third misconception is that creativity is to do with free expression. This is partly why there's such concern about creativity in education." Out Of Our Minds: Learning To Be Creative, Ken Robinson, Capstone 2001, p.112
Of course Ken is right to argue that creative activity necessarily involves more than just wild and unguided behaviour. Creativity requires a discipline, some kind of order. However, in placing such disciplined creativity in opposition to 'free expression' a powerful connection is missed.
Firstly, we could say that creativity and freedom are dependent upon each other. This follows from considering that any activity that tends towards the stereotypical and away from difference is in no way free, being determined by the stereotype. And if we then consider that creativity always involves such differentiation, we could argue that: to be creative is to differentiate, to differentiate is to be free. Similarly, there is no freedom in a speech that simply applies stereotypes and secondhand opinions.
Secondly, we could argue that all expression requires some form of discipline, order, organisation: a language of expression, or the 'material' of expression. And therefore, all 'free expression' is ordered and disciplined to a varying extent.
From these arguments we can conclude that creativity must always be in some way a free expression, a differentiation that applies a discipline to break out of some stereotypical behaviour.
Going one step further, we could consider if a unified and strongly deterministic discipline, one that is unaltered by its application, is ever capable of producing anything new? If that is the case, then free expression is a special form of expression in which the tools, the material or language of the expression, and the potential of those tools, is somehow extendable and modifiable. Perhaps being modified by the act of expression in which they are applied: a non-linearity in expression.
Now consider again the fear of 'free expression' that Ken talks of. What real fear does it mask? A fear of chaos? Or rather the fear that a cherished discipline will become modified? A fear that a toolset will be developed independently of its stereotypical application?
Is it then the case that this simplistic concept, deployed in the campaign against creativity in education, is a parody-concept designed to lead us away from more sophisticated, powerful and essential concepts of freedom, expression, creativity and intelligence? For readers of Deleuze and Guattari this will be a familiar ploy, they repeatedly identify concepts that are designed to parody complexity, creativity, desire and chaosmosis. The parody is always the same: portraying them as an uninhibited and undifferentiated sublime.
November 27, 2004
Writing about an entry you don't have permission to view
"Experimental method does sometimes manipulate things" – no, it always manipulates things. Tell me of an experiment that doesn't involve the manipulation of a variable and the recording of the effect of that manipulation. Even in the case of experiments that seek to be purely the observation of 'natural events', those events are manipulated such that variables may be isolated and their relationships, as events occur, quantified. So every form of experiment is engineered, constructed, manufactured. And for every experiment, there is possibly an alternative configuration, a different engineering solution.
"Some of the most famous experiments in modern physics are gedankenexperiment – thought experiments – that don't actually require any prodding of stuff at all." – it depends on what you think that stuff is. A thought experiment considers a possible world in which variable A is somehow related to variable B. Some mechanism is posited that explains how the variables interact. Again the whole thing is engineered, this time as a simulated set of variables and functives. However, those simulated objects must still be constituted as mathematical, computational or conceptual objects so that they may be manipulated. For the thought experiment to have any 'scientific validity' that engineering must hold up to scrutiny, must work, in the same way as any engineered structure must work.
And here's the final twist: are physical experiments and scientific thought experiments different in kind, or only by degree? In the former case, a model is applied to the physical world in order to see if something is missing or inaccurate. The model predicts what will happen. Even when we are just seeking to gather empirical data, we apply a model, assuming that the things that we are measuring are the things that we think them to be and not some figment of our imagination (consider if the sense data that we are tracking turns out not to belong to the object that we assume it to be part of, and in fact is just there by coincidence). In the case of thought experiments, we are again looking to see if the relationships that we posit can be seen to necessarily result in the effect that we posit as the result of the interactions – or is there something missing from our model? Perhaps the only difference between scientific thought experiments, which I am calling simulations, and physical experiments, is that the former deals with a restricted and less complex environment.
Notice the shift of terminology there, from talking of scientific thought experiments to referring to them as simulations. At the moment i'm reading the section of What Is Philosophy? (Deleuze and Guattari) that deals with the difference between science and philosophy. Science we are told is concerned with functions and variable. Philosophy is the realm of concepts, which are quite different. I'm still working on this, but it seems that the key difference is that functions and variables represent reversibles, and concepts are irreversible. Anyhow, D&G seem to reserve the term 'thought experiment' for a mode of experimentation that works with concepts, and is therefore the domain of philosophy. This implies that they see a commonality between experimentation in science (be it physical or simulated) and experimentation in philosophy (with concepts):
To be sure, there is as much experimentation in the form of thought experiment in philosophy as there is in science, and being close to chaos, the experience can be overwhelming in both. What is Philosophy?, Deleuze and Guattari 1994, p. 127
The different modes of experimentation are defined by their relationship with chaos. In the case of philosophy, the aim is to pass through chaos such that an impossible world is actualised, a formerly inconcievable state is reached. In the case of science, experimentation posits a set of possible states that can be interchanged for each other through the operation of a function along variables. The model opens itself to chaos through its application, and on the discovery of missing elements, assimilates them back into the model as further possibilities, as further variables. In this way science progresses, whereas philosophy differentiates.
But in reality science and philosophy are mixed. Scientific models can suddenly breakdown upon their engagement with chaos. And creation (or differentiation, its pseudonymn in D&G) then occurs:
But there is also as much creation in science as there is in philosophy or the arts. ibid p.127
The tendency of science, it could be said, is to sometimes creatively fictionalise the sense of progression by reinventing its model in a new but familiar form. Philosophy, of course, also suffers from this delusion, and must itself be more prepared to abandon the concept of progress. Art, the third of the trinity of disciplines, suffers from a related delusion, in this case the idea that it proceeds without experimentation, simply through a sensus communis of good taste experienced as genius:
There is no creation without experiment. ibid p.127
November 06, 2004
Habit! Of course the important concept in understanding Deleuze and Guattari's ethics (derived from Spinoza). Habit and habitat. The quote continues…
The English nomadize over the old Greek earth, broken up, fractalized, and extended to the universe…
…a concept is acquired by pitching one's tent, by inhabiting it, by contracting a habit. In the trinity Founding-Building-Inhabiting, the French build and the Germans lay foundations, but the English inhabit. For them a tent is all that is needed. They develop an extraordinary conception of habit: habits are taken on by contemplating and by contracting that which is contemplated. Habit is creative....We are all contemplations, and therefore habits. I is a habit. Wherever there are habits there are concepts, and habits are developed and given up on the plane of immanence of radical experience: they are "conventions". That is why English philosophy is a free and wild creation of concepts.
Habit, a creative nomadic dwelling with the concept.
Contemplation is the positing of a virtual field of incompossibles. Actuality is a path through that virtuality. A habit is the repetition of an actuality, a path through the virtual.
I think that this is one of the few and most interesting examples of Deleuze and Guattari using the term 'creativity':
We do not lack communication. On the contrary, we have too much of it. We lack creation. We lack resistance to the present. (What Is Philosophy? p.108)
Art and philosophy converge at this point: the constitution of an earth and a people that are lacking as the correlate of creation.