The Fool

Seminar 1: The Fool

Wednesday, September 20 / 13:00 – 17:00

Auditorium Knut Knaus

What particular languages and narratives does artistic practice incite or provoke? How might one speak of artistic works that are fundamentally at odds with conventions of discourse and description? Are there unique forms of knowledge generated by artistic research that require other ways of speaking? The seminar will focus on how the materials and processes of art making generate what we may call “poetic knowledge”. In contrast to discourses based on rational thought – a making sense – poetic knowledge will be considered as being aligned with the irrational and the unnameable, and which requires methods of confusion and unlearning when approaching language and articulation. Poetic knowledge, and the fevers of poetic discourses, will be explored as offering a critical interruption and imagination onto the structures of linguistic and social ordering through a radical position of Not Knowing.

For this first seminar we will concentrate on the figure of the Fool, the conditions of laughter, and states of stupidity. The Fool will be explored as a poetical figure that, through a range of practices, from clowning to delirious festivity, locates us on the edge of knowledge. As Georges Bataille suggests, laughter relates us explicitly to the unknown, interrupting knowledge, and the capacity of the Master, with its forceful vibration. We will follow the Fool into states of delirium and intoxication, considering a number of artists and creative expressions, including Joseph Beuys and gestures of the shaman, Hélène Cixous’ hysterical writings, and Charlie Chaplin and his performances of the tramp. The Fool will open up the poetic as being deeply tied to experiences of radical idiocy.


Avital Ronell, Stupidity.

Georges Bataille, The Unfinished System of Nonknowledge

Hélène Cixous, “The Laugh of the Medusa”; Angst

Jean-Jacques Lecercle, Philosophy through the looking glass


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