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  • Print publication year: 2013
  • Online publication date: April 2014

17 - Being alive to a world without objects

  • Edited by Graham Harvey, Open University, UK
  • Publisher: Acumen Publishing
  • pp 213-225



In his notebooks the painter Paul Klee repeatedly insisted, and demonstrated by example, that the processes of genesis and growth that give rise to forms in the world we inhabit are more important than the forms themselves. “Form is the end, death”, he wrote. “Form-giving is movement, action. Form-giving is life” (Klee 1973: 269). This, in turn, lay at the heart of his celebrated “Creative Credo” of 1920: “Art does not reproduce the visible but makes visible” (Klee 1961: 76). It does not, in other words, seek to replicate finished forms that are already settled, whether as images in the mind or as objects in the world. It seeks, rather, to join with those very forces that bring form into being. Thus the line grows from a point that has been set in motion, as the plant grows from its seed. Taking their cue from Klee, philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari argue that the essential relation, in a world of life, is not between matter and form, or between substance and appearance, but between materials and forces (Deleuze & Guattari 2004: 377). It is about the way in which materials of all sorts, with various and variable properties, and enlivened by the forces of the cosmos, mix and meld with one another in the generation of things. And what they seek to overcome in their rhetoric is the lingering influence of a way of thinking about things, and about how they are made and used, that has been around in the Western world for the past two millennia and more. It goes back to Aristotle.