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The Chair of the ‘Now’

The Chair of the ‘Now’ is made up of a set of classes entitled Diagonales, which are identified by discipline. Each of the Diagonales has a coordinating teacher, who will invite two to three guests to develop or shed light on an aspect of current events in their discipline.

 

The Diagonales of the ‘Now’ are: Sciences / Society / Literature / Philosophy / Economy / Politics. Artists pit themselves against the world’s challenges by bringing together a scattered knowledge that they extend, diverts or brush up against, but that they use as just so many inspiring elements to formulate their vision. This particular use of available knowledge, this way of exploring the new, the old, the obsolete, the essential and the marginal with the same enthusiasm, of immersing oneself in the incomprehensible is what characterises artistic practice.

 

In a famous letter, the poet John Keats made an apology for what he called “negative capability”. He made use of this notion to try to describe what was in his eyes the genius of Shakespeare: a kind of gift allowing him to remain within mystery, to enter a field of doubt and feed on incomprehension. Shakespeare does not succumb to the temptation to put data into logical order. Rather he transforms the anxiety of not understanding into beauty. He stakes himself on the discomfort of not grasping the laws of the world in order to better reinvent them. This strange "negative capability" allows us to reconstruct a sense of the universe, as we do a dinosaur from one of its fossilised vertebrae.

 

The Chair of the ‘Now’ makes a similar bet, reaching towards the limits of understanding. The ambition of the Diagonales of the ‘Now’ (a set of transversal subjects) is to propel us to the most extreme point of these speculative fields and to experience the vertigo that there reigns rather than aiming to form a collection of notions and ideas.