TABLE OF CONTENTS

JOKES AND INNOVATIVE ACTION

The Leaky Kettle:

Concerning the Difficulty of Applying a Rule

THE INCONSPICUOUS LABORATORY of the transformation of a form of life lies within the dissimilar, and at times contradictory, ways in which it is possible to apply a rule to a particular case. The “creativity” of the human animal is nothing other than a response to the dilemmas provoked by this application. Jokes exhibit the logico-linguistic resources that nurture innovation in general, precisely because they are found in a no-man’s-land that separates any norm from its own realization within a contingent situation. The joke is the loquacious sentry of this no-man’s-land: It shows, again and again, how tortured, and subject to abrupt diversions, is its own path.

How to apply a rule to a particular case: The problem crops up again, in forms not all that different, in the Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle, in Kant’s Critique of

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW at the special holiday rate of $45 a year—70% off the newsstand price. You’ll receive the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the January 2008 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.