Those who follow this blog know that Creal is not originally an acronym. It is an ontological axiom on which I have written more or less (less than more) extensively since 2008. See for example the Crealectic Intelligence entry of the Palgrave Encyclopaedia of the Possible:
Or see this paper on the concept of Creal published in The Dark Precursor on Deleuze and artistic Research:
Other references include my essay Being and Neonness (MIT Press), or for example the following open access article on the difference between analytic intelligence and crealectic intelligence.
I first “discovered” Creal in the process of writing the novel Paridaiza (originally in French in 2007 and recently available in American English translation). I moved on to academic life quite late, as I was offered in 2014 (I was born in 1971) very generous funding to write a PhD at Edinburgh University, a work that became a book with Edinburgh University Press, Ensemblance, available in paperback since the current month. In 2017, I moved to Sweden both for family reasons and personal reasons, as I had been admiring their way of life for a while (quite remote from the unhealthy Paris environment I struggled with from age 3 to age 41).
After a parenthesis at Örebro University where I co-founded CREA (the L was still missing!), I am currently completing the first year of my postdoc at the department for History of Ideas and Science of Uppsala University, where I think, write and teach at the Center for Medical Humanities. My research concept is Philosophical Health.
Since 2018, I also work as a philosophical counselor with individuals and groups. I help them get closer to a philosophically healthy life, a protocol on which I have published this year the following two articles for example:
A bit less than one year ago, I recommended that Vattenfall, a power-production multinational I am advising via some of its head managers, starts looking into the regenerative paradigm, which is slowly replacing the sustainable notion. How do we co-create a regenerative world? What does this even mean?
The scientific-industrial-capitalist world has been organised into an ideological scheme that implied a fragmentation of reality imposed by analytical forms of intelligence, competition between individuals for the same (often mechanical or bureaucratic) jobs, antagonistic rivalry between groups, progressive exhaustion of the earth’s affordances, and forms of organisation that disrespect beings or ecosystems that are not concerned by their main focus. The result of that is a dissonant, fragmented and unhealthy world without a shared global cosmology and without a common affirmative purpose.
Since I completed my PhD, I decided to focus my research on what is most important and personal for me, that is the crealectic practice and theory and the Creal vision. This was clearly not the easiest choice, but this kind of relative epistemological courage is not proving (for the moment) to be a complete losing strategy, even by the mainstream standards of academia (but who knows, I might fail in a way or another).
So let’s say that C.R.E.A.L. stands for: Cocreative and Regenerative Environments of Attuned Living. The cocreative adjective was easy to suggest: that is what the Creal is about, it is a cosmology of cocreative fluxes, in the manner of Bergson, Whithead, Deleuze, Heraclitus, etc. The regenerative adjective is connected to my work with Vattenfall but also to the renewal and joyful factor of creativity. I don’t find the word sustainability very sexy, but regenerative has certainly some appeal to it. The idea that this broken world should be regenerated is not knew: the Ancient Greeks called it apocatastasis.
In many fields it is claimed that the 21st century will be the century of “regeneration”. Regenerative medicine is steadily making progress and expected to revolutionise the way we treat both the body and the mind via regenerative therapies. Regenerative ecology proposes to replace the insufficiencies of sustainability, as explained for example in this interesting book. Regenerative economy, regenerative corporations are labelling the new discourse of capitalism in yet another of its transformations, hopefully the transformation that will be the self-destruction or eudynamic mutation of capitalism itself.
The idea of regeneration, while currently gaining global and multifarious momentum, is not new. Regeneration is a concept that has fascinated humans for centuries. Whether we have been trying to bring things back to life, extract additional resources from the world, or remodel our living spaces, domestic and urban, regenerescence (I like this wording more than regeneration) is presented as an unproblematic force for good. But what exactly does it mean to regenerate a body, mind or space?
Clearly, we need a history of the concept of regeneration (which is not my core project). Concepts underpinning the modern discourse of regeneration can perhaps be traced to Aristotelean ideas posited in On Generation and Corruption. However, the brand of regeneration research stemmed from ideas articulated at the very outset of the twentieth century with the biologist Thomas Hunt Morgan. In his book Regeneration, Morgan drew on examples of the phenomenon of biological regeneration of cells, tissues and structures from across the natural world, beginning with a historical account of investigations into regeneration and ending with a rebuttal of the atomistic conception of life: “the most fundamental characteristics of the organism, those that concern growth, development, regeneration, etc., seem to involve in many cases the organism as a whole.” So regenerative models are holistic.
Can this concern for holism be the common thread between the various regenerative fields? But if regenerative practices attempt to tap and control natural forces, isn’t there a paradox in mediating the regenerative authenticity of life via technique (biotechnologies, AI, hard or soft protocols of human intervention)? Is mediated regeneration an existential risk that does more than what it promises or is it the new utopia for the century to come?
Several companies are now branding themselves regenerative or aiming to become so. But no one really knows what it means at this stage. Rather than be cynical and see “regeneration” as a buzz word, I propose we take it seriously and co-create its meaning, engagements and protocols.
Environments is a convenient term than connects with environmental issues. Restorative environment has been a concept of ecological psychology for a while. The plural in environments is important, since we want to keep some diversity in the exemplars of attuned living we shall examine or invent. Pluralism, multiplicity is a core element of crealectics, since the Creal is infinite multiplicity.
Which leads to the idea of attuned living. That one was the most difficult to find in the acronym game. I knew I wanted a world that started with A. I thought of Ample, Auspicious, Antitoxic, Ataractic, Appreciative, Authentic, Abounding, Accorded, Assonant. Eventually I felt that attunement was the right concept, partly because it echoes one of the 5 principles of philosophical health I have defended in the above Eidos Journal publication: deep listening. The musical metaphor in attunement also echoes what I wrote in Being and Neonness regarding the fact that everything is music, vibrations, waves.
Living beings are increasingly exposed to unhealthy environments, and in order to counter the multifarious expansion of unhealthy living and to facilitate the growth of healing environments, I wish to explore the possibility, reality and design of healthy milieus defined as cocreative and regenerative environments of attuned living (C.R.E.A.L.).