creative transformation


creative transformation
  ---- by Adrian Parr
  In developing the idea of 'creative transformation' Deleuze draws on a variety of philosophical sources. Initially in his work on Henri Bergson he picks up on the philosopher's concept of 'creative evolution' and 'duration', revamping these in Difference and Repetition into a discussion of the productive understanding of repetition, all the while embracing a concept of difference that belies the negative structure of a 'difference to or from' in favour of 'difference in itself '. Keen to expand upon the generative and dynamic implications of Bergsonian creative evolution he turns to Baruch Spinoza's Ethics, in particular the conception of bodies that Bergson and Spinoza share: a body is constituted on an immanent plane. The next philosophical influence in Deleuze's use of creative transformation would have to be Friedrich Nietzsche's concept of the 'eternal return'. Then, in his collaboration with Guattari, creative transformation takes a turn through biophilosophy, bypassing both the human condition and teleological theories of evolution characteristic of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck in favour of a transhuman theory of heredity.
  The question of 'life', namely the force that persists over time and the changes that ensue, is addressed by Deleuze as an experimental, spontaneous, and open process of transformation. As it was articulated in Difference and Repetition, evolution is construed as a process of repetition that is inherently creative: it is productive of difference. In the hands of Deleuze (remember, like Michel Foucault, concepts are tools for Deleuze), creative transformation becomes a system of involution where transversal movements engage material forces and affects.
  In both his 1956 essay on Bergson and his 1966 book Bergsonism (D 1988a) Deleuze utilises the idea of 'evolution' proposed by Bergson in terms of transmission. Expanding on this a little more, Deleuze shifts the focus of inheritance away from determination and the continuance of a fixed essence that is passed on over time. Like Bergson, Deleuze chooses to bring to our attention the creative dimension inherent in evolution. It is the force of life that persists, thus, through change, the vitality of life and difference are affirmed. According to this schema creative transformation is immanent, taking place on a plane of consistency that precedes univocal Being. In Bergson Deleuze finds the possibility for a philosophy that grasps life in terms of duration and the inhuman. The temporality of duration is not conceived of chronologically, whereby the end of one moment marks the beginning of the next; nor is it a measurable time, that is broken down into seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, or years. Put differently, Deleuzian duration needs to be construed as the flow of time; it is intensive as much as it is creative in so far as it is the movement of time that marks the force of life. Hence, duration maintains life in an open state of indeterminacy.
  The theory of creative inheritance and the emphasis placed on nonorganic life is then given a makeover and turned into the concept of the 'rhizome' in his collaboration with Guattari. Early on in A Thousand Plateaus Deleuze and Guattari characterise a rhizome as indeterminate and experimental. Steering the emphasis away from representational interpretative frameworks, they clearly state that a rhizome is a map not a trace. Explaining this distinction they write that what 'distinguishes the map from the tracing is that it is entirely oriented toward an experimentation in contact with the real' (D&G 1987: 12). The rhizome is conceived of as an open multiplicity, and all life is a rhizomatic mode of change without firm and fixed boundaries that proceeds 'from the middle, through the middle, coming and going rather than starting and finishing' (D&G 1987: 25). It is, however, important to note that their use of 'open' here is not conceived of negatively, which is to say it is not the antithesis of being 'closed'; rather, the machinic character of a rhizome arises out of the virtual and the dynamic boundaries that constitute it.
  In A Thousand Plateaus the force of life is described by Deleuze and Guattari as inherently innovative and social. Inheritance is not articulated within an essentialist framework that places the emphasis on species, genes and organisms, because Deleuze and Guattari recognise that it is the power of affect that is creative - to produce affects and being open to being affected. Here creativity is taken to be a machinic mode of evolution that is productive in and of itself. The whole question of transformation is clearly situated by both Deleuze and Guattari in an experimental milieu and the creativity of this milieu is necessarily social.
  Connectives
   § difference

The Deleuze dictionary. . 2010.

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