Marjolaine Arpin
No. 101 - fall 2012

The Miniature and the Boundless

An Era of the Boundless?

Defining the boundless is not an easy task—actually, it is almost as dizzying to think about it as it is to experience it. One can sometimes grasp it as the infinite (literally without bounds) sometimes as excess (implying the overstepping of whatever limit), and sometimes as the incommensurable. It is in this last sense that we will envisage the term here. In other words, as an immense, elusive dimension with limits that are hard to make out or imagine. Quasi-infinite, one could say: something that is grasped as being beyond any possible measure in the here and now by someone who experiences it. Understood as such, the boundless remains highly relative and always potential; it is not based on fact but on lived experience; it describes experience (the relation) and not the object.

The incommensurables with which it is linked seem to be multiplying and intensifying nowadays, and this to such an extent that one begins to wonder, like the philosopher Étienne Tassin, “if this boundless […] has not become the unique and impossible ‘measure’ of our world:”1 elements that are a thousand times smaller than a thousandth of a millimeter (the nanometric) no longer follow the laws of physics of the world on “our” scale; exoplanets that are several billions kilometers away, and which we can see nevertheless and “hear;”2 the entire world (or almost) is translated into 0 and 1 (the binary code underpinning all digital technology), “hosted” on the servers of a

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