Energenesis: A Philosophy of Creation

28 July 2007 at 2:25 pm 3 comments

I’ve been reading Peter Hallword’s Out of this World:  Deleuze’s Philosophy of Creation, which starts its first chapter, titled “The Conditions of Creation,” with the following:  “Deleuze equates being with unlimited creativity.  This means that all actual beings exist as facets of a single productive energy or force” (8).   Hallword introduces the book with reference to the Spinozist focus of Deleuze’s thought (“Deleuze’s own philosophy is less distinctively modern or critical so much as enthusiastically neo-Spinozist” [12]; Deleuze affirms “a Spinozist cogitor or being-thought” [12]), which puts the above statement into context:

Deleuze certainly doesn’t acknowledge any transcendent idea of God.  Nevertheless, in a number of important ways his work is consistent with the general logic of a cosmic pantheism, i.e. the notion that the universe and all it contains is a facet of a singular and absolute creative power. (4)

This is the first time I have encountered a theological spin in an explication of Deleuze, but it makes perfect sense, especially given the heavy debt Deleuze is said to pay to Spinoza for his immanentism and anti-transcendentalism (as Todd May writes in his essay on “Difference and Unity in Gilles Deleuze,” published in Gilles Deleuze and the Theater of Philosophy, “The philosophical problem Spinoza sets himself is one of developing a perspective within which the antitranscendental position can be coherently realized” [41]).

Hallword also delves deeply into Bergson’s work on mysticism, which furthers the theological tint of his explanation.  As Hallword writes,

Bergon’s mystic is that person or rather that impersonal  super-person who seeks ‘to complete the creation of the human species and make of humanity  what it would have straightway become, had it been able to assume its final shape without the assistance of man itself’.  To complete the creation of the human species is nothing other than to make it an adequate vehicle for creation as such, i.e. it is to participate in God’s own ‘undertaking to create creators’. (22)

Elsewhere Hallword writes,

The great mystics are people who become  perfectly transparent vehicles for the singular creative force  that surges through all living things.  They incarnate a maximally expressive power or creativity.  By leaping across all social and material boundaries, they achieve ‘identification of the human will with the divine will’.  They ‘simply open their souls to the oncoming wave’, such that ‘it is God who is acting through the soul in the soul.’ The description of such action is explicitly mystical in Bergson but only implicitly so in Deleuze.  One of the aims of the present book is to demonstrate that this difference, at least, is largely insignificant. (21)

 All of this gives some form to my neologism of “energenesis,” which was the first invented term that later morphed into “energonomics.”  But I think there is a place for this first term, especially given Hallword’s sense of Deleuze’s “philosophy of creation.”  “Energenesis,” invoking as it does “genesis” and the first book of the Hebrew Bible, points to the creation of energy, whereas “energonomics” involves the “management of energy” and energy flows once energy been created.  The title of Hallword’s book certainly invokes a kind of theological theme as well. 

Of interest here, ultimately, is the focus on energy:  quoting Deleuze, Hallword writes, “There is only one matter’, ‘matter equals energy’, and there is no ontological distinction between ‘matter and life'” (which quotes, variously,  A Thousand Plateaus 153 and 335, cf. Leibniz and the Baroque 7 and Empiricism and Subjectivity 119) (10); “Deleuze’s ontology is meant to revitalise or re-energise being, to endow it with a primary and irreducible dynamism” (13).

What really excites me about this book is the same thing that excited me about Todd May’s book-length introduction to Deleuze:  Hallword suggests that, “With sufficient effort, we can learn to become what we are” (20).  May writes that Deleuze’s entire body of work addresses the question How might one live?


Entry filed under: books, Deleuze, energonomics, philosophy, words.

Harnessing the Energy of the Winds The “Raw Creative Energy” of Kerouac

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. mark  |  11 September 2007 at 12:49 am

    thanks for this post.

    I’ve too been reading through Hallward’s book/critique on Deleuze. What i found interesting is the two type of deleuze that emerge from the readings of DeLanda and Hallward. In the former there is the neo-materialism, with the emphasis on assemblages, and in the other there is a spiritual-idealist deleuze. I tend to side with DeLanda as through his reading there is a lot of practical purposes for Deleuze’s philiosophy, while Hallward is rather more concerned on removing Deleuze from our image of thought through arguing his impractical philosophy – especially for political thought/purposes.

    there is an interesting review of hallward’s book by John Protevi at this address: http://ndpr.nd.edu/review.cfm?id=10564

  • 2. Richard Smyth  |  11 September 2007 at 1:26 am

    Thanks for leaving a *real* comment on my blog. Nice to know that somebody’s out there reading it. I too am very much taken by DeLanda’s work and find his texts to be the most helpful in terms of explicating Deleuze’s work. I am finding that DeLanda’s interpretations, however rigorously supported (both in INTENSIVE SCIENCE AND VIRTUAL PHILOSOPHY and 1000 YEARS OF NONLINEAR HISTORY, which is *incredible* if you haven’t read it), are being questioned by some of the other Deleuzian readers (if you’re interested, I’ll dig up the references) as being somewhat limiting….

    I was a bit surprised too by Hallward’s spiritual-idealist Deleuze as well, but you can’t deny that it’s convincing. I really like the extensive presentation of primary source material from Bergson (THE CREATIVE MIND, CREATIVE EVOLUTION, TWO SOURCES OF MORALITY AND RELIGION). If Deleuze did read all of this and incorporate it somehow, then we can’t ignore it, despite the spiritual references. Same with Spinoza, the “Christ” of the trinity (Nietzsche, Spinoza, Bergson). Though I’m more and more inclined to ignore the baggage that words like “spirituality” carry anymore (am I an atheist? a pantheist/panentheist? a Deleuzian/Bergsonian mystic? does it really matter?). As Hallward writes, the difference (between the explicit Bergsonian mysticism and the implicit Deleuzian mysticism) is “largely insignificant” (p. 21).

    I’ll add your blog to my “blog roll” on the site and try to get over there and keep up with your work. I do tend to remain bookish, though, in this age of the electronic.

    Thanks again for introducing yourself. I look forward to further dialogue.

  • 3. Goxu  |  6 July 2010 at 8:12 am

    Строительный форум. Куплю лестницы
    Нужен каменщик


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