Apparently innocent queries for explanations, which barely mask violent demands for meaning, pretend to illuminate depths but, in effect, merely delay what will not come. The explanation that would portray the significance of what cannot be understood condemns recognition with a strangely satiated oblivion. On the other hand, reason’s presupposed denial of its own intemperate efforts tempts complicity with its own omnipotence, surrendering to itself, when reason should resist itself, outdo its own powers and perhaps show its own accomplishments to be unaccomplished. If ‘the vital element of art’, by which it resists what happens, merely, to exist, is ‘spontaneity amid the involuntary’, one way to consider this exhibition is as a relinquishment of questions that it still believes it is expected to answer, which it nevertheless reacts to, but which it has productively forgotten how to articulate.1 The real pressure of imaginary demands alternately animates and constipates ‘creativity’; one work may be the result of both––often dissonantly simultaneous––actions. Something both brought to life and thwarted by that which fails to be life expresses art’s condemnation to freedom, or its ambivalent ‘release’.
I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then: I wish I could release what I now know into the prehistory of its being known.
I wish I could be released from the change whereby what I did not know became known.
I wish to modify my previous not knowing as not being able to know.
May the afterlife of what I did not know act as ‘plenipotentiary for the in-itself that does not yet exist.’2
1 Adorno, Theodor W. Aesthetic Theory (trans. Robert Hullot-Kentor) Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997, p. 114.
2 Ibid., p. 252. (Plenipotentiary: A person, especially a diplomat, invested with the full power of independent action on behalf of their government, typically in a foreign country.)