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.

Eventum Tantum: On the Paradoxes of Sense, Dark Precursors, Quasi-Causes, and the Excessive Rest

Deleuze’s notion of the “dark precursor” makes its first appearance in Difference and Repetition as that agent or force that initiates and ensures the communication between two series of differences. It is thus assigned the task of differentiation as such and burdened with its own disappearance once the differences have been differentiated. A certain affiliation with the tradition and critique of reification, with the logic of the disappearance of the process under the product, has been asserted by various readers of Deleuze: difference as becoming (process/virtuality) tends to disappear within the differentiated as being (product/actuality). I will try to show, why the question that makes Deleuze so interesting for contemporary art is how one can reveal the traces of the artistic process while it insists on them and at the same time, buries them beneath its product? How can one not fall back into a deterministic or reductionist model of causes and effects? In The Logic of Sense, this problematic is further developed within a theory of the event, defined as the event of sense and, thus, as strictly incorporeal. The “dark precursor,” I would like to argue in my presentation, reappears in The Logic of Sense as the “quasi-cause,” a notion Deleuze develops out of the stoic differentiation between the body, on one hand, and incorporeal effects, on the other hand. I will trace the notions of the “dark precursor” and the “quasi-cause” within the two cited works and point out their relevance for a non-deterministic and non-reductionist account of the world as infinite becoming. I will do so by confronting these Deleuzian concepts with exemplary artistic positions and their influence on artistic research since the late 1960s, thereby questioning the (im)possibility of escaping reification.

Life Must First Imitate Matter

This is a small exhibition of sculptural experiments-in-progress in mixed media, including phosphorescent honey, paper, and plaster. The works touch on the themes of double affirmation and “couples and coupling” in the thought of Deleuze by focusing on two of his “cold creatures of resentment,” Ariadne and Venus.

Both Venus and Ariadne are identified with astrological phenomena. Transits of Venus are among the rarest of predictable astronomical phenomena, the last one occurred on 5 June 2012. In mythological accounts, Ariadne’s crown is set as the small constellation of stars, Corona Borealis, visible in the Northern Celestial Hemisphere. My small experiments trace the intricate pattern of Venus transiting the sun, as well as Ariadne’s metamorphosis into a constellation of stars—her luminous rebirth of “perpetual virginity.”

Deleuze describes how Masoch’s Venus initiates a flow of desire, characterised by waiting and suspense becoming a plenitude of “physical and spiritual intensity.” Images thicken and slow. They gather as frozen reflections in the tain of a mirror or lens. In the frozen silence of the steppe and other geographic and celestial cartographies, “woman and animal become indiscernible.” Bringing these two ideas together one might think of Mallarmé, who describes “a quarrelsome and agonising frame, of a mirror hung up in the back (of a room), with its reflection, stellar and incomprehensible, of the Ursa Major,” a constellation depicted as a bear in celestial cartographies. The mirror forms the zone of indiscernibility between human, animal, and stellar anatomies as reflected in the linguistic structure of the sonnet itself. Matter reflects life as life reflects art.

In another night sky, Ariadne’s lament of abandonment dissolves into lightness as she draws closer to Dionysus. The architectural burden, of carrying and bearing the weight of Theseus’s labyrinth, gives way to the radiant and sonorous labyrinth of Dionysus. Ariadne acquires “small ears: the round ear, propitious to the eternal return.” The labyrinth becomes the ear, the circle, a ritornello, or a ring of shimmering stars. Venus and Ariadne offer a techne that functions as a practice for living. While a wound or misfortune embodied is not always visible, the opposite is true for the “splendour and brightness which dry up misfortune.” If we understand the “splendour and magnificence” of the event as the luminous yet mysterious moment of “the immaculate conception,” as Deleuze writes in The Logic of Sense, then we see that life is not something that happens accidentally to us. When purely expressed, the event “signals and awaits us” as one might imagine a pregnancy to come, the unborn, as it were. Untangled from their own suffering and resentment, Ariadne and Venus become regenerating organisms, perpetually affirming the potentiality of life. This is their luminous style, their “great and rare art.”

By mapping Ariadne and Venus through the thought of Deleuze, I experiment through art, exploring how following a thread of light, a flow or movement of matter, a vibration or trembling, one may discover patterns, rhythms, and velocities for living.