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  • Par Nicolas B.

La pensée complexe

It is because the world is complex that it is beautiful.

Because everything is linked, interdependent, in motion, with a share of uncertainty, unknown and permanent hazards. A dynamic balance, an incessant back and forth between the part and its whole, a construction forever unfinished, irreducible, incompressible to some basic laws, but an incessant self-influence, a mise en abyme, a recursivity of the world on itself, of the thought of the world on itself.

All this I have always had in me.

I feel it but I tend to reprove it because nowadays, in our society, everything must be labelable, identifiable, clear, understandable, especially in order to be promoted and marketable.

For a product to sell, it is imperative that it responds rationally to a need, a lack, or a clearly identified flaw. It must have been designed with this goal in mind.

It is unfortunately also the case for art. It is necessary to have a "purpose", a "discourse", a "vision" that can be understood, without which there is little chance that financiers will follow you in your uncertainty. But what is art if, in its very questioning, uncertainty cannot be expressed?

It is precisely there where the work of art can still have perhaps a role to play: when it moves away from a good of consumption and does not answer any more to a need, to an expectation. As the artist and philosopher Gregory Chatonsky remarks:

"More and more often, we ask, we demand from art to be useful and to serve to save humanity by proposing solutions, even if they are utopian, opening at least new perspectives. To make the future desirable through innovation and activism. But by granting such a power to the work of art, we take away from it all capacity of action because of this overbidding. It is necessary to answer this requirement of use of the work of art by a suspension of the use which is also a setting in blank of the world: the possible.

The work of art does not have for objective to cure us or to look after us, to find a solution, but to make even more sensitive the wound of a trauma which is the world in itself. There is in the work of art a wound and a suffering, a pain previous even to our individual history which is that of the matter of which we are made, we living, and which was dead."(1)

I recently heard feedback from a spectator about a sound creation I made for a contemporary dance piece in which a passage was a priori questioning, but "not in a good way."

This remark obviously challenged me: would there be a good sense to the questioning?

Without having any further explanation, what I ended up concluding was that the person had accepted to question herself during the play, but that she had not been able to bear to leave the room without finally obtaining a resolution, and without understanding what - for her in any case - there should have been to understand.

I am regularly reproached for complicating things that could sometimes be simpler. But I don't complicate them on purpose. Nothing is simple. Everything is interrelated, interdependent. The slightest change in one element can have unimaginable consequences or none at all. This is the essence of the chaos theory that seems to govern part of the universe.

We are in an era of order where the web and its search engines offer us an instant answer to the slightest question. And when we do not get what we expect, we feel helpless. We accept not understanding, but only if this incomprehension is either playful, justified, or potentially explainable.

For me, complexity is to be resolutely irresolute to the incomprehension of the world and to be ourselves the engine of what escapes us.

This is what, for me in any case, seems to make the beauty of Edgar Morin's concept of complex thought, where in it lies the very answer to its irresolution. To him, then, to conclude this article:

"I am convinced that one of the aspects of the crisis of our century is the barbaric state of our ideas, the prehistoric state of the human mind which is still dominated by the concepts, theories, the doctrines it has produced, just as we thought that archaic men were dominated by their myths and by their magic. Our predecessors had more concrete mythologies. We are controlled by abstract powers.

Therefore, the establishment of dialogues between our minds and their reified productions in ideas and systems of ideas, is an indispensable thing to face the dramatic problems of the end of this millennium. Our need for civilization includes the need for a civilization of the mind. If we can still dare to hope for some improvements and some changes in the relationships of humans among themselves (I mean not only among empires, not only among nations but among people, among individuals and even between oneself and oneself), then this great civilizational and historical leap also includes, in my eyes, the leap towards the thought of complexity."(2)


(2) Edgard Morin, Introduction to complex thinking, Paris, Points, 2014, p17.


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