The Paradoxical Form of Creative Practice: Exploring Deleuze’s Theory of Time in Logic of Sense

Deleuze is a philosopher of creation, intent on explaining the necessary preconditions for the possibility of radical creativity in all its forms. For Deleuze the problem of creation, and the connected problem of genesis, is central to his aesthetic, political, scientific, and purely philosophical theories. This paper will offer an analysis of the way in which Deleuze clears a space for the possibility of radical creativity by developing a non-deterministic theory of time.

The creative practice that Deleuze wishes to describe must be rigorously defined, pragmatic, and methodologically viable, while simultaneously affirming a poststructuralist metaphysic that embraces indeterminacy and radical change. This philosophical position generates a paradox: creative practices must be both non-deterministic and somehow controllable or predictable.

Instead of considering this paradox as a barrier to the possibility of creative thought, in Logic of Sense, Deleuze uses this paradox as the starting point for an original philosophy of creativity that is based on a radical understanding of time. Here Deleuze describes the way in which the nonsensical structure of a paradox allows us to see the process by which sense is generated. His theory functions by bringing to light the circular temporal structure of the paradox, and especially the paradoxes developed by C. S. Lewis in his Alice in Wonderland series. Unlike the linear time of lived experience, which Deleuze calls “Chronos,” the paradoxical form of time that defines a creative practice is non-linear and intensive. Deleuze calls this second form of time “Aion.”

The theory of Aionic time developed by Deleuze in Logic of Sense is not only intended to provide an answer to the problem of creative practice, it is also part of a larger theory of language. In this book, Deleuze aims to show how the paradoxical form of time that defines the creative process is also the key to describing how resonances can be developed between the two heterogeneous realms of bodies and language. It is the circular and non-extended empty form of the Aion that allows the two sides of the signifying series to interact.

In this paper I will outline the theory of time that Deleuze puts forward in Logic of Sense and will attempt to show how this work creates a theory of intensive time, which allows for the possibility of a creative practice that is both rigorous and non-deterministic. I will end by looking at the practical implications for artists wishing to create this form of creative practice and for researchers who wish to engage with them productively.