chapter  5
29 Pages


It is common to view Lyotard's work in its entirety as an attempt to argue for a special role for events or unpredictable occurrences. Their function is two-fold. First, events prevent illusory applications of types of judgement to things that necessarily exceed their proper field. Second, events defined as limits to knowledge demand the greatest attention in art, philosophy and politics. These disciplines are in fact intertwined in their relation to events. Thus, as we have seen, Lyotard's libidinal philosophy investigates the disruptive effect of intensities on dispositions, defined respectively as unpredictable events and any structure organised according to a unifying set of rules or laws. The libidinal politics then goes on to advocate experimentation with ways of encouraging the occurrence of intensities and the extension of different dispositions into one another through the disruptive capacity of events. Modern art is one form of this experimentation. Thanks to it, and to a study of Far Eastern texts and theatre, Lyotard begins to sketch a set of principles for this experimentation. I have singled these out and argued that they provide the key for a consistent and exciting development of his libidinal philosophy and politics of active passivity. This is itself a move out of an impasse that he is seen to go down in the early works on Algeria and in some of the later texts on Marx and Freud.