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In response to subjects raised within the crit of my CO2 project murmur, here is an extract from On Not Knowing: How Artists Think.

Rather than recoup this ability via our power to think the infinite, Lyotard places the emphasis more on the value of this temporary incapacitation. It is only when we are thus undone as knowing subjects that we are able to remain open to the singularity of the material event, which Lyotard describes in terms of:

‘ [A] singular, incomparable quality- unforgettable and immediately forgotten- of the grain of a skin or a piece of wood, the fragrance of an aroma, the savour of a secretion or a piece of flesh, as well as a timbre or nuance. All these terms […] designate the event of a passion, a passibility for which the mind will not have been prepared, which will have unsettled it.

Nuance or timbre are the distress and despair of exact division […] From this aspect of matter, one must say that it must be immaterial. […] The matter I’m talking about is ‘immaterial,’ anobjectable, because it can only ‘take place’ or find its occasion at the price of suspending the active powers of the mind.’

Though Lyotard does not describe the sublime in terms of wonder here, perhaps wonder is still present in the ‘passion’ and ‘passibility’ that allows us to remain open to the material event. Such events are immaterial to the knowing subject who can only betray their incomparable uniqueness by trying to grasp them via familiar forms and concepts. […]the moment of not knowing thus holds an ethical promise, that of being able to do justice to the singular by letting go of the desire to know, and allowing ourselves to be unsettled into being witness to the incomparable and irreplaceable.

Extract from On Not Knowing: How Artists Think, Elizabeth Fisher and Rebecca Fortnum, Black Dog Publishing, 2013 p.23-24, featuring quotations from Lyotard: The Inhuman: Reflections on Time

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