File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0110, message 102

Date: Fri, 19 Oct 2001 17:24:50 +0100
Subject: singular

The conflict between the individual and the universal has its origin and 
cause in language. The word 'terrorist' designates all terrorists with 
indifference, in so far as it proposes the unique and purposeful 
signifier of singuilar ands perhaps even ineffable terrorists. In 
certainty this transforms singularities into members of a class, a 
collective whose meaning is defined by the commonality of there supposed 
common properties. They belong under one definition...

This is of course set-theory written large, for the definition of a set 
is the definition of linguistic meaning. The related definition of 
normalisation is the understanding of a set as containing non-repeating 
groups, made up singularities. The comprehension of singlarities as a 
whole is nothing but the perception of the normalised set. You cannot 
therefore escape the paradox of a class. Nothing can resolve this. A 
type, a set called 'terrorist' cannot be resolved into a singular 
meaning, a type, because meaning is actually only resolvable at the 
level of the singular. A normalised set is merely a set that contains 
unique singularities; language re-defines the singularities into 
misnamed groups. The paradox refers to our plane in language. It places 
our relationship to a singularity called 'terrorist' and conflates it 
with a set. This is a deeply political act - for all acts are political 
- that defines us, a terrorist, , this terrorist, that terrorist, (all) 
terrorists and so on. Drawn out on the experimental field of an 
inclusive set. Defining the other explicitly as belonging to an 
exclusive set. This set is them. Normalised as the political mediation 
of meaning. The meaning is balanced between the singular meaning and the 
universal plural.

The transition from the singular to the universal takes place from the 
construction of examples. The example enables and allows the production 
of the set, the 911 event, creation of the new set, which should as 
Virillo has proposed be considered as a unique event, the start of the 
set rather than the continuation of previous sets, the continuation of 
the set 'terrorist' has allowed the states to construct a revised 
version of the inclusive set of terrorism. If the 911 event is just a 
singular event that does not refer to a 'set called terrorism' then the 
unjustified nature of the coalition response becomes blatantly apparent. 
How many 10s of thousands of non-westerners have died so far as a result 
of the coalitions actions?

Members of the coalition have constructed a new inclusive set which they 
are interpreting as legitimating the oppression of terrorists struggling 
for their liberty and/or rights. (Usually, banally to re-oppress 
themselves into a renewed nation state, a return to the rule of a 
redundant theocracy, the social group of yesterday...However this is a 
different story...)

But another form of example exists, the one that insists that all 
examples are specific cases; which cannot be dealt with in their 
particularity, in their singularity because they do not refer to any 
universal, any set. But this is impossible to address in a political act 
of normalisation because of its example, the political needs and prefers 
'sets' and singularities, which are the signs of the inoperative community.

I would suggest that an example can be considered as a singularity that 
does not have an encompassing set, it exists in the empty moment of the 
example, without any commonality of comparative properties and no common 
identities.... These are the singularities that form the leading moments 
of change.

regards sdv


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