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 “The ancients did not attain unto the points already made,” Cusanus tells us, “for they lacked learned ignorance.” To read his Docta Ignorantia with Cassirer, “If human knowledge can reach non­-knowledge of the absolute, it thereby gains knowledge of this non­-knowledge itself. It does not [positively] grasp absolute unity in its pure ‘whatness’; but it does grasp itself in its complete ‘otherness’.” This same absolutely absent ‘wholly other’ persists in Kant and Hegel, in Wittgenstein and Heidegger, despite residing nowhere. While “this otherness implies a relation to this negative pole of knowledge” it stands in contrast to the omniscient deity presumed to reside elsewhere. But is the paranoid narcissism implied by the latter not simply the historical norm? Cusanus refers his new Humanist model back to the old Hermetic metaphor—however, at that time a papal envoy, he risks drawing an heretical equivalence. By shifting the reference points of the Hermetic compass from theology to cosmology, he voids its claim to have circumscribed divinity via gnostic paradox. Nevertheless, from fig.59 to fig.60 (over), his abject subject ‘changes places’ on the Aristotelian axes.

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 As Poulet puts it, thanks to Copernicus, “man seemed to lose the central position [in and as] the absolute center of the world,yet thanks to Cusanus, when­-and-wherever “he might find himself, he could transform this point into a center of universal investigation. In the infinite every point is a center, or to speak as did Bruno, the universe is all center’.” The aporetic being (qua Being) “who is everywhere and nowhere” sets the absolute pole beyond all fixity—but a cosmos relative to each particular view from somewhere, “will have its center everywhere” in the manifest subject, universal­-ized by traumatic passage through nowhere. To retrace the latter with Lacan, What we have to circumscribe by means of the path [Merleau­-Ponty] indicates for us [in Le Visible et l’invisible], is the pre­-existence of a gaze—I see only from one point, but in my existence I am looked at from all sides.” (1964) The former fixes a perspectival point; the latter marks an “anamorphic stain”—which, as Žižek puts it, corrects “‘subjective idealism’ by rendering the gap between the eye and the gaze: the perceiving subject is always­-already gazed at from a point that eludes his eyes.” (1992)

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