Definition of Refusal

What is a Refusal?

Thinking is always emerging from the middle of a historically situated embodied and enactive doing. Thinking emerges in relation to what he calls a “dispositive” – a specific historic “apparatus” of tools, techniques, practices, skilled bodies, environments, etc., that collectively construct the seeable, the sayable, the knowable, and the doable.  From this perspective then, is this question posed by Michel Foucault, not the very definition of a creative practice? “…The object was to learn to what extent the effort to think one’s own history can free thought from what it silently thinks, and so enable it to think differently.

Foucault was often criticized for offering deep critical histories of how we came to be who we are – without offering any alternative – without ever suggesting what we should be or aspire to be. But this limit – this refusal to say anything positive – is precisely what is most important for a style of creative practice that actually wishes to embrace that the qualitatively new is possible. We cannot know a truly novel and alternative future until we make it. A futurist claims to know in advance what we will become, what we can become, or what we should become – might be interesting – but they are ways of reducing the future to what we already can know and imagine. Foucault – and a radical comportment towards creativity, is asking us to trust the non-knowable – to trust that other worlds are possible. And to believe that we can co-shape new worlds via creative collective emergent processes that will go beyond the known if we are willing to disclose and block what is disclosed. Then, we can actively co-create new ways of being alive beyond knowing.

on What Is Innovation, and How to Innovate

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