Tuesday 29 November 2011

Creativity and "Eigen-Forms of Life"

I've been recently working through papers by Von Foerster and Louis Kauffman on Eigenform: there's a powerful confluence of ideas which is hitting me quite strongly at the moment - something which doesn't happen very often. In such circumstances, it's difficult to get done what ought to be getting done - but some degree of reorganisation is necessary to make space for the intellectual work which has to be done at the 'right' moment in the 'right' conditions.

In other words, I think I'm experiencing a rich period of creativity. I think everyone experiences these at some points in life. Personally, I feel energized, switched-on, buzzing with ideas... generally good (ironic given the pretty dismal outlook of UK HE). I'm consciously trying to create the right conditions for things to be done. For me, those conditions include going to the John Rylands University Library - often quite late at night. The conditions also include certain practices - blogging (which has become increasingly important), going to the pub, going to church, having coffee, McDonalds (!), as well as the consequent bodily functions of various forms (which I won't go into!) which I think are particularly important to creativity. There's also travel (train journey on Thursday to Brighton). It has also required some discipline in terms of making sure I don't neglect other more prosaic things... although I am finding that even prosaic things are firing the imagination in ways I hadn't expected.

I'm fascinated by the richness of these things which I do in the 'right' conditions and their relationship to those conditions. It is as if something has happened inside me which seeks some sort of resolution through particular types of object relations with the outside world. It is as if I have entered a particular "form of life" (to use Wittgenstein's phrase) which drives to some sort of perfection, having articulated some renewed concept of my 'identity' and seeking particular relationships with the things and people around me in order to realise that identity. It may be that my 'identity' is now not the same as it was before this creative burst. I may have become a different person; in short I may have 'learnt' something. 

This is particularly exciting because my explanation for what is happening to me coincides with the object of my fascination and the thing which is stimulating me so much: Von Foerster's Eigenform. The nature of that excitement, and the recursive folding-in on itself of the Eigenform idea onto my own creative experiences are connected. If I believe Von Foerster to be right, then I trace the recusive patterns of my own experience onto the logical structure of an Eigenform.

Actually, I don't think Von Foerster is quite right. Because I don't think my apprehension of objects is an apprehension of an Eigenform. What I think is that an Eigenform is an anticipation of an object, with which a real perceived object interferes. It is in the process of interference that observation occurs, and (incidentally) time is made. But sometimes there is real confluence between the idealised Eigenform and the sense-object: mediative practices, minimalist music, op-art, drug experiences. The fact that in these experiences a sense of time is lost suggests to me that time is made in the process of interference. Where there is no interference from the sense object, the Eigenform closes in on itself and we become sucked into a pattern of our own recursions of thought, where recognising the pattern is itself part of the pattern.

My creative state is borne of the fact that I seem to have stepped-up a few levels of recursion, finding myself part of a large-scale Eigenform with the world. The large Eigenform helps me to situate the other Eigenforms I know from ordinary life. I know I could be deluded. But until such a point that some sense-perception disturbs the large-scale Eigenform that I am caught in, I don't think I can really believe any of it isn't true...

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