The Judgment of Singularities
by Philip Armstrong — The Ohio State University
October 05, 2012 – 00:00
If the act of “curating” is less a form of management that takes “care” of something than a decision in which something comes into appearance, then the initial question I would like to pose concerns the place of judgment—how does judgment relate to “political networks”?
The invitation to select a video “prompt” that “inspires” some commentary has been a daunting task, not because of any lack of material—clearly there is an overwhelming excess—but because the very reading of these lines, interrupted in media res by clicking on the link, appears to turn the prompts into examples and cases, representations or illustrations of … a thesis, a universal claim, a proposal drawing us toward a renewed understanding of political networks. I take it that rethinking the grammar that binds politics and networks implies questioning the assumptions in which such claims or proposals are made, a recognition that what appears here is not just mediated, enframed, and discursively produced but is always already networked, open to the contingent and obsessional play—the incessant sense of a rhythm or resonance—of yet another link, another performance. In this sense, the exemplarity of this scene finds its originary measure—a measure without measure—in and as the exteriority and contingency of the network in which it is now composed, its appearance not simply founded in an infinite reproducibility but in the incessant turns of what comes into appearance, presence, and exposure.
Following Arendt’s insistence on thinking the singular within a post-Kantian theory of reflective judgment, and questioning how this lends to the establishment of a “public realm,” Reiner Schürmann asks how it is only through judgment that we encounter phenomena “head-on,” that is, as singular. Refusing the subsumption of particulars under universals, refusing the identification of phenomena that become the object of cognition or knowledge, Arendt intimates that it is only through reflective judgment that the event—the rare occurrence—that we call “political” finds its originary measure. This is my question, then: in what sense is it through judgment that we are exposed to the sense of what, once again, comes into appearance, as it comes into appearance?