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Serres’s language thus seems to lead in all directions, whether in turn or all at once. His writing is neither strictly conceptual, nor metalingual, nor poetic, nor affective, nor expressive, nor referential, but rather all of these in quick and sometimes dizzying succession. Meaning in his texts does not ›ow in a linear, laminar fashion, whether downstream toward unproblematic concepts and referents or back upstream toward the conditions of its production via a re›exivity determined to question the illusion of representation.

Spontaneously, he accepts the dangerous position that is determined by his knowledge of the laws of the universe and of human mechanisms. Faced with these horrible menaces, he goes forward unarmed. . To take on oneself alone the ‹re of the heavens and not to foist unleashed violence on the ‹rst passerby, the virgin Iphigenia, to go forward unarmed, straight ahead, lucidly deciphering what is happening, is to proceed in a fashion opposed to the world’s religions and contrary to the terrifying constitution of the sacred.

And this communication proves the truth of the division. It was indeed the excluded third who scrambled the messages, since excluding him was enough to begin to understand one another. The foundational narrative always presents itself in the same way, except for a few variations. The correct understanding of messages rests, everywhere, on the same misunderstanding. Neither the scienti‹c text, nor the philosophical text, nor the mythical text ever enunciates, by de‹nition, the misunderstanding that structures them.

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Crucibles: The story of chemistry by BERNARD JAFFE

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