Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Ribbon of DarknessInferencing from the Shadowy Arts and Sciences$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Barbara Maria Stafford

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226630489

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226630656.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 24 July 2021

From Communicable Matter to Incommunicable “Stuff”

From Communicable Matter to Incommunicable “Stuff”

Extreme Combinatorics and the Return of Ineffability

(p.81) 5 From Communicable Matter to Incommunicable “Stuff”
Ribbon of Darkness

Barbara Maria Stafford

University of Chicago Press

Since Kant, there has been an intense debate around the question of the location of the Sublime: Is it in the object or in the subject? This essay tackles ineffability’s dark side: the fast-growing, even ubiquitous, socio-cultural phenomenon of not being able to speak or image what we create. These range from a dubious contemporary Cabinet of Wonders stocked with the unnameable products of transplant surgery, to the undecideables emerging from Synthetic Biology Laboratories, to the science-fiction Outback of wetware BioArt. If Neoplatonism linked ineffability with ultimate matters and mattering, such as awe in the presence of the sublime unity of God, light, cosmic harmony, the concept has now descended into shambling unspeakability. This current inexpressibility, evident in the prevalence of the popular non-descriptor, “stuff,” aligns with the imagistic, linguistic, and ontological inability to configure a rising tide of bewildering biological and online entities. These confounding products of an extreme combinatorial laboratory science, technology, and art are not only without a concept, but without the possibility of a concept.

Keywords:   BioArt, Cabinet of Wonders, Extreme Combinatorics, Ineffability, Kant, Neoplatonism, Stuff, Synthetic Biology, Transplant Surgery, Undecidables

Chicago Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.