Time, Creativity and History

Tim Ingold (University of Aberdeen)

Creativity is often portrayed as an unknown, X-factor that accounts for the spontaneous generation of the absolutely new. I show that this notion of creativity is not just a function of, but required by, the distinction between history as a record of unique, motivated events and time as unmotivated repetition. Following Bergson, I argue that where anything lives and grows, time is being inscribed. Creativity, then, lies in the capacity of living, growing things continually to surpass themselves. In surpassing themselves, they make history. If follows, however, that we must think of history not as a record of past events strung out in time, but as a process of carrying on, in which everything is its own record. And this means focusing not on the antiquity of things, but on their perdurance.