Perhaps it’s like this. The eternal and universal are not something that is already there, but rather are something that is produced. Here, of course, I’m dancing with Badiou. If it is true that the eternal and universal are something produced, then they are also wagers. No one can know in advance whether something will be eternal or universal. Only time will tell. This entails that both universality and eternity will perpetually face challenges. At any moment these crystals of time could fracture and shatter to pieces. I am here, above all, thinking about works of art. The eternal and universal work of art– song, painting, sculpture, prose, poem, architecture, etc. –is slippery. From the beginning, it doesn’t fit with its time. It’s irreducible and can’t be dated, even if we know its date and its origin. Often it will create strife or controversy; which is to say, discussion. There’s something about it that already exceeds its origin. It doesn’t fit with the culture of its time even while marking that time, nor can it be erased by the biography of the artist. Moreover, it can’t be reduced to a proposition. That is to say, it can’t be translated into a set of statements that would replace it. No, there’s something excessive about it that’s out of joint. It doesn’t fit with its time or author. It belongs without belonging. Yet that is not enough. Not only does it not fit with its time but it doesn’t fit with any time. It travels through time and exists in time, yet no context ever saturates it. Like a rogue planet, it disrupts whatever time it falls into and provokes thought, discussion, and affect, but always in a different way. The origin has produced something that is out of place, a shard of eternity, that travels across time without having a home even though it began somewhere. We say that context stipulates the being of a being, yet crystals of eternity escape all stipulation, instead stipulating. They are absolute orphans and for this reason, universal.
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