6 March 2011
"Secondly, proper names are transmitted by hearsay, in the same way information in general is propagated. We hear art spoken about as we hear So and So spoken about. One speaks of art as one spreads rumors, without necessarily verifying them, without knowing from whence they originate, without remembering from whom one got them, and without bothering about where they will go. A large part of culture, understood as acquired knowledge, as familiarity, as habitus, even as savoir-vivre, is woven of such rumors. Proper names posit themselves in this culture in order to maintain systems of references; this is their only function, as Kripke has shown. One knows of whom or what one speaks, even when one wouldn't know exactly what is understood or what is being said. Among proper names in general, cultural rumor circulates names of artists and names of works, to which it attaches the name of art. But rumor is not enough to make a tradition. Not that it lacks a sufficient amount of translations and betrayals, since, to the contrary, noise is the most probable state of all transmission. Rather, de jure if not de facto, the chains of transmission woven by cultural rumor imply no judgment other than the initial baptism."
Thierry de Duve, Kant After Duchamp, p. 68