Concrescence and the unfashionably new
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Concrescence and the unfashionably new book
Questions about ‘the new’ go back at least as far as the ﬁfth century BCE when Parmenides remarked on its impossibility stating that what exists, exists; and what does not exist, does not (Steinitz, 1994). While at the outset straightforward enough, this soon leads us into diﬃculties because if only ‘something’ exists, then the existence of ‘nothing’ cannot be conceived, as ‘something cannot come from nothing’. Absolute reality, or what-is, means that change is impossible, and existence is uniform and timeless. Concurrently, in contrast to reason, a creature’s sensory faculties lead to premises that are false and deceitful. This cosmology sees reality as eternal and unchanging, and reality as very diﬀerent from what we suppose ourselves to be living in. This chapter (perhaps thankfully) makes a very diﬀerent argument – a highly modern virtual opposite. It argues that despite having contributing parts what is new, or that which is uniquely experienced, is deﬁnable only in terms of itself. Indeed without the new we have stasis, and much preferred here is a view of life that privileges becoming rather than being. This point is a crucial one as it reﬂects a preference for change, plurality
and multiplicity rather than an interest in ﬁxity. This is a second-hand argument, although a valuable one, that ﬁnds expression in James, Bergson, Whitehead, and Deleuze along with more recent process-based thinkers (for example Shapiro, Massumi and Manning). Although that which is new emerges out of reference to others, creativity is the capacity to go beyond these and bring something new (and valuable) into being. This proposition is predicated on James’ (1897) declaration that without the chance that possibility can spill over from actuality, the diﬀerence between future and past is wiped out. While it is often the case that what is new emerges because the time is ripe, this chapter argues that what is new must necessarily escape predetermination. In discussion of what is creative and new, this chapter is deeply inﬂuenced by Whitehead’s (1985 ) notion of concrescence as the coming into being of something new. This is how, out of the many, a new ‘one’ is added. The way in which this occurs is not entirely determined and chance plays a role, as does will. This chapter then is dedicated to exploring the implications of concrescence for creativity, and how what is new comes to be. Unlike other
chapters, this one does not address advertising directly, but the ideas developed here underpin arguments made in the following chapter that deals more directly with media, creativity, transformation, spilling over and excess.