The artist gives force to the issues of the world by gathering for his or her work scattered knowledge that he or she deepens, diverts or brushes aside, but which he or she uses as so many inspiring elements to formulate his or her vision. This particular use of available knowledge, this way of delving into the new, the old, the obsolete, the essential and the marginal with the same passion, of plunging into the incomprehensible, characterises artistic practices.
In a famous letter, the poet John Keats praised what he called 'negative capability'. He uses this notion to try to describe what he sees as Shakespeare's genius: a kind of gift that allows one to dwell in mystery, to walk through doubt and to feed on incomprehension. Shakespeare does not succumb to the temptation to put the facts in logical order; he transforms the anxiety of not understanding into beauty. He gambled on the discomfort of not grasping the laws of the world in order to reinvent them. This strange 'negative capacity' allows us to reconstitute a sense of the universe, in the same way that we reconstitute a dinosaur from one of its fossilised vertebrae.
The Diagonales takes a similar gamble. It's a plunge into the furthest reaches of our understanding. Their ambition is to propel us to the most extreme point of these speculative domains, and to experience vertigo rather than collecting notions.
The Diagonales are identified by disciplines. Each has a professor who organises two two-day workshops each year, preceded and followed by working sessions with students.
The Diagonales are : Philosophy, Science, Film, Archival Studies, Technology and Metamorphoses.