nikki moore

Posts Tagged ‘Alain Badiou’

the importance of please and thank you.

In Subjection on May 4, 2009 at 1:46 pm

springing from larval subjects’ post this morning on/by Terry Eagleton’s ‘come to jesus’ (and, of course, my dissertation) i’m undertaking a close reading (translate: close writing) of Ritual and It’s Consequences: An Essay on the Limits of Sincerity.

In the opening sentence of the last chapter of his new book, “Reason, Faith and Revolution,” the British critic Terry Eagleton asks, “Why are the most unlikely people, including myself, suddenly talking about God?” His answer, elaborated in prose that is alternately witty, scabrous and angry, is that the other candidates for guidance — science, reason, liberalism, capitalism — just don’t deliver what is ultimately needed.

for me, this quote just begs the question: what is ultimately needed?  and doesn’t this ‘ultimately’ already cede far too much?

guessing that ‘delivering what is ultimately needed’ means something like, for Badiou, creating the conditions for evental sites, or, for Zizek, overthrowing the money changer’s tables, i.e. making spaces for alternatives to capitalism… then Eagleton is jumping on a very large and already quite loud bandwagon.  i don’t blame him.  but i am increasingly convinced that formal, aestheticized and even radicalized Christianities such as those put forth by the abovementioned philosophers are simply a first step, when we are already on to the next riser.

enter Ritual and its Consequences, by Seligman, Weller, Puett and Simon.

Ritual: clearly a very old concept, predating monotheism, or, if you prefer, potentially pre-conscious.  As the social sciences formulate it, ritual is community building in at least one of two ways: 1) ritual order is ‘an artifice of humanity’ – think: the Confucians – designed to create social cohesion or, 2) ritual is ‘a divine construct, sent to allow humans to live properly in and even help support a divinely created order’ – think: rabbinic literature.  Concurring that both of these formulations short circuit the real strengths of ritual, Seligman, et al propose:

…ritual as a subjunctive – the creation of an order as if it were truly the case.  Or, putting it in different words, the subjunctive creates an order that is self-consciously distinct from other possible social worlds.  (Seligman, et al, p. 20)

Going back to Eagleton and the need for ‘what is ultimately needed’, Ritual and its Consequences sees Eagleton’s bet in Reason, Faith and Revolution and raises it one, proposing that it is not the nature of religion that revolutionaries (or post-marxists, if you prefer…) are seeking but a subjunctive universe, an ‘as if’, which can and does take place outside of religious frameworks.  Take the ritual courtesies of “please” and “thank you” – as Ritual writes it, with these seeming formalities,

…we are inviting our interlocutor to join us in  imagining a particular symbolic universe within which to construe our actions.  When I frame my requests with please and thank you, I am not giving a command (to pass the salt), but I am very much recognizing your agency (your ability to decline my request).  Hence, saying please and thank you communicates in a formal and invariant manner – to both of us – that we understand our interaction as the voluntary actions of free and equal individuals.  “Please” creates the illusion of equality by recognizing the other’s power to decline.  (Seligman, et al, p. 21)

Of course the ‘illusion of equality’ at first rings hollow.  Surely ‘what is ultimately needed’ is not the illusion of equality but real equality itself.  At this crux, we are faced with what will become questions of illusion which will be answered and further problematized in my dissertation on performativity, answered and further problematized in that same work on iterability, yet for now, staying close to Seligman, et al, the illusion of equality brings us near an anecdote I couldn’t have ordered if I’d tried.  This week on the F train, I overheard the following:

no, really, i can’t remember where i read it.  i think it was the new york times, or maybe, no, it was the times, i think: the point is that some people are just more comfortable lying.  they are good liars.  and you know what else – they are also really good competitive swimmers.  really, this was part of it.  they did a study and people who were good liars were also really good swimmers.  they said the correlation is that winning in swimming is, like, impossible. but the people who could lie to themselves and think they’d win actually did better and won more often.  i know, you want to see the survey sample, but still, i read it like, last week.

Between swimmers and liars, though we should very surely make a distinction between lying and illusion-ing, we are back again to the subjunctive, to the world ‘as if’ rather than the daunting unwinnable world ‘as is’.  Competitive swimmers who are good liars are able to illusion and imagine themselves into what was formerly and impossible truth.  They are able to please and thank you into a world where please and thank you is actualized: in short, the commonality between competitive swimmers and illusion is potentiality.  Or as Ritual writes it:

We argue that what constitutes society – what makes the social a sui generis entity, irreducible to any other – is precisely a shared “could be,” a mutual illusion of the sort that all rituals create.  To a great extent, this is what symbols do more than anything else: they represent a “could be”.

Echoing here is the impossible possibility of Derrida, and Zizek and Badiou’s shared injunction that only the impossible is worth doing.  Clearly Seligman, et als formulation is not free and clear, but what this work does expose is a slippage that Eagleton, Zizek, Badiou, Critchley and others may be reifying by merging the subjunctive with the religious.  We’ll keep going here, with this reading of ritual and, in this work in progress, I look forward to your feedback.

un.content.ed forms

In Love, resurrection, Subjection on April 21, 2009 at 5:00 pm


it may be an antiquated binary, form vs content.  and while it isn’t quite fair to collude it with the mind/body distinction, it is fair to say that martin heidegger went after both in Being and Time.  dasein, being-in-the-world, the read-to-hand: you know where this is going.  as did nancy after him.  for both of these theorists form is content is form.  in nancy there is skin, there is surface and this is the very content in question as well.  ronell complicates this in crack wars posing bodies of addiction: to literature, to mind, to love… where psychoanalysis meets heidegger meets reagan era politics (not so far behind our new obsession with the mexican border) things get more complicated.

as they should be…?


form vs. content: as zizek often says, ‘i have not lost my thread.’

so zizek’s thread.  we could call it badiou’s, we could call it st. paul’s.  but what we cannot call it is revolutionary.  that’s any easy put down, but a put down is not what i have in mind.  i’m all for derrida, and now recently zizek’s call toward the impossible possibility.  what i can’t stand behind (yet..?) is the move zizek, badiou and others are making toward a formal christianity, a mode of belief in the form, not the content, of a particular religious belief.  again, this is not because i’m for the content.  it is in fact that i am for change, i am for a way of shifting out of where we are and i’m just not sure that formalism is going to be enough to drive the needed change.


the puppet and the dwarf, published in 2003.  slavoj zizek.

st. paul: the foundations of universalism, published in 2003.  alain badiou. 

the political theology of paul, published in 2003.  from lectures given in 1987.  jacob taubes.

a jewish theologian, a lacanian psychoanalyst and a post-marxist mathematician all walk into a bar…


as fast as zizek thinks, it is still probably fair to say that the puppet and the dwarf was conceived at least a year before its publication.  that puts this response (hear: responsibility in all the best ways) somewhere in 2001 and 2002. while many other significant things happened in the world in 2001, 2 actions continue to eclipse the rest of life: the 9/11 attacks and america’s invasion of iraq. in 2002 Jacques Chirac and Jean-Marie Le Pen ran for president of France.  the US created the iraq WMD threat, declared war on iraq, and, finally, froze Bin Laden’s assets.   and this is just what bubbled up to the surface.  suicide bombers went to work.  the US military complex continued to go to work.  and billboards all over the rural south continued to call people to prayer – not for peace, but for justice against the ‘evil doers’ of the world.  

nothing like the death of innocents, particularly the death of foreign muslims, to get us thinking about Christianity.


form vs. content

was it capitalism or otherwise that reared its head before and after 9-11?  what did Zizek and Badiou, among others, see in the world in 2001 and 2002 that brought them to st. paul?  ideology, certainly.  a form that was unaware of its content.  clearly.  but also a content fully in control of manipulating forms: Cheney, Rumsfeld… but then again, maybe not.  as Badiou continues to charge, capitalism is worldless, and you should hear all the echoes of Heidegger here as it is not that capitalism is otherworldly, or that it destroys cultures, but that it destroys the worlding of worlds, the environment of Dasein and mit-Dasein.  it is form without content. force without content.ment.


this is where things get strange.  within the inescapable confines of the worldless world of capitalism, Zizek and Badiou, post-marxists at least, continued to look for a way not out, but on-the-outs with capitalism.  did they need a leader?  did they need a lamp post?  what was the appeal of a jewish pharisee turned christian apostle?  

paul’s own path opens up some possibilites for thinking zizek’s appropriations: saul was  pharisee, a man of the law and the letter, a leader in stonings and persecutions of those who crossed the line.  he has a vision, a transformation ensues and saul becomes saul becomes the leader of the church of the excluded, the mouthpiece of universality  ‘there is neither  jew nor greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female…’

perfect.  in the shadow of a ‘you are for us or you are against us…’ wrapped up in market ideology and religious belief, the post-marxists find one from the inside, paul of tarsus, who is ready to wield both the sword and the pen for the cause.  the only problem is, well, of course… the cause.

i said this would get strange: during a time when religious rhetoric and christian collusions are at their peak, Zizek gets on board.  but he gets on board with a hollowed out version of christianity, one that is purely formal, one that sees a revolutionary dedicated to a cause, living and dying for that very cause… not that he agrees with that cause.  no, he just agrees with the move.  the man overturning the money changer’s tables – yes, ok, in the temple, but it could be, for zizek, anywhere.  the man who says you must hate your mother, ‘if anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters-yes, even his own life-he cannot be my disciple…’ – yes, ok, for the love of God, but what is god but a universal, universality = equality… and there you  have it socialism revived as soon as we thrown out the content of both the forms that are paul and jesus.

of course, it isn’t that simple.  and zizek is well aware of the complexity: this is why we love him.

but what do we do with a form without content?  holding this up to revolutions past it is hard to see the french revolution as a move toward formal equality, and not the content thereof.  it is hard to see the american revolution as a driven by a form, but not belief.  even as i write this i am disturbed and displaced the distinction between form and content – so archaic in fact, but even if we withdraw from this divide, if we take up Nancy and Heidegger’s positions, we are even further away from the formal embraces of Zizek and Badiou’s work.


so what next?  as Susan Buck-Morss, Zizek and Badiou move toward the form of religious belief, even a specifically christian religious belief, consider this a sounding from somewhere close by, if not within.  in support, not detraction, but in earnest support – perhaps a tough love toward the above group’s dis.content.ment.  

yes, perhaps.

void transaction

In Uncategorized on April 6, 2009 at 10:45 pm

there is something i am trying to say.

i could start it around amy hollywood: hysterical, heretical women… speaking, over-speaking and hyper-signifying.

i could start it with marx as well, the gaping empty proletariat upon which history was to be made, to be written.

i could work it from badiou’s void, from heidegger’s nothing, lacan’s lack…

kierkegaard’s don juan.

yes, now i’ve hit it.

or they  have.

or they’d like to…

irigaray, though i don’t agree with her bases, begins these rounds.  the open, the clearing, the forgotten void is that from which all thinking comes and fills and endlessly forgets.  she could have gone further.  but she didn’t have to as marx, badiou, heidegger, lacan… they had already gone the distance.  

what distance?  what’s the point?

what we’ve looked at as an obsession with death, with violent clearings, with absence, lack and emptiness is, well… we’ve been here before

and again i’m just circling.  

coming up empty handed…

what about sublimation?  kristeva’s creativity?  

yes, this sounds right for the moment: filling the void, it is, like christianity in nietzsche in zupancic 

hyperspeak.  not the panacea, the numbing, but its opposite.  the influx of joy, passion, meaning and making.

we don’t call it hyperdrive any more, so what… networking?

is this social networking? making links to fill time and space?  

yes, maybe.  and what is specific about the way that is male, or at least not female is the insemination.  the dispersal into what appears to be nothing.  and certainly isn’t (if it is woman) and is (if it is lacan’s real, heidegger’s nothing)

now, now we are getting no.where.

the history of what…

In what is philosophy? on April 5, 2009 at 10:16 pm

it might be a question of form.  

of what is in-form,


the question is: what is philosophy?  

i read it daily.  i have books of it lined up on my shelf.  but when pressed to think of how to present it to new readers, how to teach it to undergraduate students, how could i be so shocked to find out that it is only what it is and cannot be what it is not?

the problem, for me, began as follows: in thinking through a potential undergraduate syllabus, i started looking for women.  i found the token essays in the more recent anthologies (usually simone de beauvoir and helene cixous) but started wondering about the women who wrote during the suffragist movement, and then the men who wrote during the american civil war, and the people who have long written about class struggle.  the more i looked for these people the more deeply they disappeared and the further they disappeared the more disheartened i became.

in frustration, as usual, i intellectualized the problem and leaned on my mentors:  i thought about ronell and derrida, about the margins of philosophy, about discourses on inclusion and exclusion.

and then, in doing so, i realized my mistake.

in 1954 Heidegger wrote an essay titled ‘what is called thinking’… where he left philosophy, the history of metaphysical thought, behind for a different pursuit.  perhaps part of what heidegger recognized is that philosophy is a narrow history of a very particular sort of questioning.  it is not the ‘love of wisdom’ it’s name purports: it is the history of posing and answering a very narrow set of questions, beginning in a very particular time and place. and while this specificity doesn’t excuse philosophy for all that it ignored and silenced, it is clearly part of what has lead to all the late modernist and post-modernist’s disciplinary death cries.  as the field of philosophers expanded, philosophy as it was known necessarily burst at the seams with new, needful infusions.  it brought ‘theory’ in its wake, it opened to include not only race, class and gender theory, but also literature, psychoanalysis, music, art, science and media discourses…

today, standing in the middle of this outpouring, i, unthinkingly, looked around in search of texts to teach, open and explain the worlds of theory that are whirling past me.  struck by the fecundity of my time i was shocked to look back and see the dearth philosophy had traversed.  and at this funny juncture, the question again stands: 

what is philosophy?  

is it a history of a particular questioning?  is it a narrow misrepresentation of a broader history of thought?  is it a dominating dialogue, a power play that established what could and could not be known, thought, understood?  is it a tradition, a trust, even a belief that is now fading?  

or is even this an outmoded way of thinking about philosophy, when people like Badiou and Zizek, reacting to the breadth we’re all witnessing, are tightening down in both new and old ways, calling for philosophy’s return and revival?

what is philosophy?

what is philosophy?

sons of bitches.

In Law, Subjection on January 14, 2009 at 12:23 am

funny. has bitch listed as, of course, a female dog.  but under the subheading ‘offensive’ you’ll find

1) a woman considered to be overbearing

2) a man considered to be weak or contemptible

but as no one (well, not that badiou is everyone) is talking about women today, perhaps there’s no purpose in bringing all this up.


lacanian ink #32, badiou has a really delightful little piece on aleatory sons.  and i do mean delightful.  this piece is almost poetic.  at least i think Badiou should consider it so… for a man concerned with false sutures, with ‘improper ties’ between philosophy and poetry (think deconstruction)  in fact there are moments when he comes so close to the work of Avital Ronell, well… you do wonder if the son got in this purist’s eyes.  and perhaps blindness is the works’ very strength.  perhaps without a certain closing of the eyes, this piece couldn’t have been written at all. but then, i am getting ahead of myself.

in ‘The Son’s Aleatory Identity in Today’s World” Badiou plays the role of a concerned (albeit disconcerting) father figure. he begins this role with the claim that between freud’s totem and taboo and moses and monotheism and the lives of our present day sons, some serious ground has been lost.  in the cited texts, the original freudian construction had boys hating their jouissance loving fathers quite literally to death.  post-burial, the return of the father, in law, brought order, regularity and simply job descriptions for men-to-be.  this regularity bred (yes it did) love.  love for order, love for harmony.  love for (are we forgetting a few historical ‘heartbreaks’ or just reading metaphorically?)… you get the idea.  

but, here, now, in Badiou’s view, that idea, those ideas, they are all gone.  today, according to “The Son’s Aleatory Identity…” sons have no clear track.  or they have three + 1 tracks… none of which lead to decapitation or patricide, rendering them, therefore, clearly insufficient. Badiou describes these tracks as follows:

first, right from the start, track one is perversion – think tattooing, marking, a physical, mental and technical working to differentiate the (fore)skin in order to bring sons into their own by right.rite… right.  as we’ve seen from badiou before, this perversion looks very much like what badiou nicknames pornography: i.e. anything which is a rejection of its intended purpose, (purpose in this case being the  making of a subject.)  

the second option looks just like terrorism, mainly because it is. in option 2, perversion inverts to traditional dogmatism and we have sons sacrificing themselves for ideas and ideals which are not only planes in the sky but pie in the sky as well.  (these are terrible puns, but it is late… in the day and otherwise.)

the third and presumably final option is simply that of the sell-out.  badiou calls him something more glamorous but essentially this son is a harvard grad with a secured job on wall street attached to his diploma.  he’s been groomed for this.  protected by, what badiou calls a policing (see Avital Ronell’s “Trauma TV” in Finitude’s Score for stellar work on the police force) that structures society and separates the wheat from the chaff while meritoriously concealing a deep seated nihilism.

the point of all three of these options is, for badiou, that the real points have all been blunted.  we are left with miserable, and clearly fatherless sons: perverts, terrorists and sell outs abound and there is nothing to be done about it. 

or almost nothing.  badiou ends the article with the +1: Rimbaud, who, it seems, lived the bastard trinity himself… yet rose above.  found his true father.  learned to kill, and thereby reinstall a saving symbolic.   he, like philosophy was saved by “‘His body!  The dreamed-of redemption, the shattering of grace meeting with new violence’.  “This,” writes Badiou, “could be the maxim of our common efforts in the service of the new initiation of our sons.”    

as we’ve seen and read before from badiou, whether he is calling to the lawless or the fatherless, (the point being always, with lacan, that they are the same), the shadow of the cross is never far behind.  this time, when law recedes, grace – and grace by the sword no less – can be found to (in full christian chorus) ‘bridge the gap’.  but what gap is badiou bridging?  is ‘aleanation’ being equated with grace?  if so, if you’ll follow me following blanchot, something interesting may be seen:

“luck and grace, in being compared, help to determine certain relations to the law.  grace is unjust, an unjustified gift that does not take what is right into consideration, while confirming it nonetheless…  the law is empty authority, before which no one in particular can maintain himself and which could not be softened by mediation, the veil of grace  that would make this approach tolerable… the circle of the law is this: there must be a crossing in order for there to be a limit, but only the limit, in as much as uncrossable, summons to cross, affirms the desire (the false step) that has always already, through an unforeseeable movement, crossed the line.”  (The Step Not Beyond, Maurice Blanchot p. 24) 

in all of this law and grace and line crossing we are back to the stake, to the totem, with freud.  the empty authority of the father must be surpassed, the father must be killed, but only to return in such a way (as law redoubled after death) that shows he was never lost or cut off to begin with…


“the law says ‘in spite of you’ [“malagre toi”] familiarity that indicates no one.  grace says, ‘without you, without your being there for anything and in your own absence’, but this familiarity which seems to designate only the lack of anyone, restores the intimacy and the singularity of the relation.” (Blanchot, Step Not Beyond, p 25)

here what Blanchot writes, is that the subject Badiou is building, searching out, hoping for in Rimbaud, in grace, is a ‘lack of anyone’.  it is an empty subject.  one who was singled out not by merit (that would be law), not by familiarity (that would be favoritism, or…) but by sheer… luck?

“luck joins these two traits.  luck comes only through playing.  and the game does not address itself to anyone in particular.  he who is lucky is not lucky and is not so for himself or because of himself.  the ‘without you’ of luck frees, through the familiar address, for the anonymous” (Blanchot, Step Not Beyond, p. 26)

In this de.scription, Blanchot addresses what Badiou has yet to formalize.  the empty, anonymous recipient of “grace, the rupture and the new violence” are the same bastard sons Badiou had hoped to make into subjects. yet, by reinstating a randomly violent, virilent father, luck-loving father, could these sons really be anything but hollow receptacles, anonymous ‘without you’s’ targeted by a grace without stability, a father’s love that knows nothing more of his son than that he is a body, a replica, a random recipient of his, the father’s, good graces?  yet, perhaps this is Badiou’s dream.  perhaps this is the hollowing out he has been up to since his book on st. paul.  it might, in fact, be his savior made in fumbling textual flesh: and is that what all this sword raising is heading toward?  hollow subjectivities?  haven’t we seen these before (in marx, in the march of history, in hegel, in…)?  and if this hollow recipient of the event, of truth, is not on Badiou’s hit parade, what is he doing with luck, grace and law that doesn’t end in a pew?

By now, with ‘grace meeting with new violence’ and ‘the new initiation of our sons’, I’m simply (and surely not the only one) thinking: Where are these boys’ (overbearing) mothers?  

Wouldn’t a few good bitches just clean up this whole messy problem of contemptible and weak fathers?

Or did I miss something?  because really, Alain, even web.ster could see that one coming…


habit forming.

In Subjection on November 8, 2008 at 8:15 pm

what do parsifal, bertrand russell and Nip/Tuck have in common?

slavoj zizek.  or rather he has them in common.  or was i correct the first time..?

yes, in fact, parsifal, bertrand russell and Nip/Tuck have slavoj zizek in common, if we hold to his line of thinking in “tolerance as an ideological category” critical inquiry, vol 34, #4.  in brief, it goes like this… 

from wendy brown’s latest book – Regulating Aversion:Tolerance in the Age of Identity and Empire zizek both praises and critiques her assessment of liberalism and choice, ultimately coming down on the side of critique.  as brown finds the particularity in universalizing claims since descartes, pointing out that liberal tolerance is only tolerant of tolerance.  On questions such as veiling women, clitorisectomies, ‘sati’ or widow burning, liberals will and do consider themselves justified in not tolerating (even violently acting against) perceived intolerance. taking up an uncommon defense of liberalism against brown’s analysis, zizek points out that what remains unthought and/or flawed in her work is the following: 

“First, she ignores the tremendously liberating aspect of experiencing one’s own cultural background as contingent.  There is an authentic core to political liberalism.  Let us not forget that liberalism emerged in Europe after the catastrophe of the Thirty Years War between Catholics and Protestants; it was an answer to the pressing quesiton, How could people who differ in their fundamental religious allegiances coexist? …It is only within this ideological space that one can experience one’s identity as something contingent and discursively constructed; to cut a long story short, philosophically, there is no Judith Butler (with her theory  of gender identity as performatively enacted) without the Cartesian subject.” (p. 666)  

Easy enough, zizek easily sights the ways in which Brown’s own position would be impossible without the very emergence of cultural contingency she is critiquing.  Yet why would zizek, leftist extraordinaire, defend liberalism? (Not) knowing better, one might think zizek was simply playing the devil’s advocate.  Yet in fact, he has something more of an angel in mind.  And:

“This brings us to Brown’s next limitation.  Her critique of liberalism remains at the standard Marxist level of denouncing false universality, of showing how a position that presents itself as neutral or universal effectively privileges a certain (heterosexual, male, Christian) culture.  More precisely, she remains within the standard postmodern, antiessentialist position… “Man,” the bearer of human rights, is generated by a set of political practices that materialize citizenship; human rights are such a false ideological universality that masks and legitimizes a concrete politics of Western imperialism, and domination, legitimizing military interventions and neocolonialism.  Is this analysis enough?” (p. 668)

In the context zizek himself lays out in catching wendy in the game she is critiquing, isn’t zizek’s ending question to the quote above something of the same fault?

Yet beside and to that point, of course this analysis is not enough.  It is not enough to say that formal freedom is merely formal.  Jacques Ranciere and Claude Lefort, even Stalin, and, well… women voters, have shown otherwise.  And were it enough, there would be no need for the post-marxists.  And were it enough, there would be no need for badiou. 

and here is where we have been going all along.  in a gesture of praise and solidarity, zizek writes:

“The key moment of any theoretical (and ethical, and political, and – as Badious demonstrated – even aesthetic) struggle is the rise of universality out of the particular lifeworld… the authentic moment of discovery, the breakthrough, occurs when a properly universal dimension explodes form within a particular context and becomes for-itself, directly experienced as such (as universal).  This universality-for-itself is not simply external to (or above) the particular context.  It is inscribed into it, it perturbs and affects it from within, so that the identity of the particular is split into its particular universal aspect.” (p. 670)

In an almost perfect inversion of post-structuralism, paired with an uncanny condensation of badiou’s ontological project, zizek here unmasks where a large strain of philosophy, since derrida, since marx, since foucault, has gone and is going.  from the unearthing of particularity in universality toward a de-essentializing, the likes of which Wendy Brown and Judith Butler are practicing, to a search for universality in the particular sounds like a terrifying fall back.  anticipating this, zizek offers a re-vision of universality, consistent with badiou’s: “Actual universality is not the deep feeling that, above all differences, different civilizations share the same basic values; actual universality appears (actualizes itself) as the experience of negativity, of the inadequacy-to-itself of a particular identity.”

when questioned at his Cardozo lectures last week as to a definition or a ground for his own use of and push toward universality, badiou answered much like zizek did in the quote above, saying essentially, he did not know what universality or equality would look like but he knew where it was not. in the problems surrounding the french workers sans papiers the in-equality, or non-universality of the french state is evident to badiou.  zizek would explain these workers as figures ‘marked by a profound split’, or ‘thwarted in [their] endeavor to reach their identity’.  either way, for both thinkers, oddly the absence of equality marks the possibility for universality, signifying that we are oddly back to the socratic dialogues wherein not-knowing is one’s most secure form of knowledge.  badiou, a vocal platonist, would affirm this link (or should i say, would not disavow it?) yet…

the temptation is now, of course, to ask:  if this (negative) analysis enough?

but perhaps the problem is not one of inadequacy, falling short, or not being enough… perhaps the question to be asked is: isn’t this already too much?  

for in fact, despite a negative definition of universalism, it isn’t a minimalism or scarcity in badiou and zizek’s claims that raises problems.  it isn’t this movement i’m tracing of the ‘it is not’… it is ‘what is’ that raises red flags, and it is ‘what could be’ that really becomes frightening.  universality, even by badiou’s definition, is a concept in full strength and universality has the timber of destruction in its voicing.  to this end, zizek cites ‘revolutionary-egalitarian figures from Robespierre to John Brown’ as figures without habits, those who refused to play by the rules of social ‘potlatch’.  and here i get stuck.  as zizek performs and enacts his own beef with brown over the ability of liberals to raise their own guns of intolerance against the intolerant, he consistently moves toward a subjectivity that comes at the point of that same gun*.  while badiou will broaden violence to include things like ‘worker’s strikes’ and not simply bloodshed per se, he and zizek seem strained to find suitably non-violent alternatives.

it is these ‘what is’ and ‘what could be’ options that do, in fact, push us (philosophers? thinkers? subjects? liberals?) past the point of potlatch.  with only a negative definition of universality and equality, i cannot simply nod and say thank you.  yet, would positivism be any less frightening?  is this analysis too much?  is it already enough?

and yet this is precisely what zizek goes on to propose: in our acceptance of the potlatch, i take up habits and, according to zizek, identities, which are ‘in their very transparency, …the medium of social violence’.  violence is not something i can choose to take part in or to reject either for or against universality.  as we began, with zizek resulting as the commonality of parsifal, russell and Nip/Tuck, the subject is, for zizek, a result of habits, of culture.  Using Lacan’s distinction between the subject of the enunciated and the subject of enunciating (could we swap this out for Heidegger’s ‘said’ and ‘saying’ respectively?) we have zizek’s point. Wherein the first, the subject of the enunciated, a subject moves to change the world while holding her position, in the second, the subject of the enunciation the subject moves to change the world and herself with it.  In both cases, violence is occuring: in the enunciated the subject is passive and subjected to a violence from without.  in the enunciating, the subject is actively and violently applying violence to itself.  what zizek is doing with these examples is laying out the impossibility of non-violence.  he is offering the positive choice of self-infliction (the only ‘real’ choice contemporary liberalism has to offer) rather than passive reception.  he is offering John Brown.  he is offering Robespierre.  he is, in fact, offering the messiah.

just don’t let the name Badiou fool you… 


*when, in Saas-Fee in August of 2008 I pointed out, in conversation with him, that his description of the subject as the object which objects sounded in very close harmony with Butler’s performative subject, he replied, in concert with his argument in question, that yes, it might be close, but for him subject formation has to hurt.

neo or retro..?

In Law on October 30, 2008 at 4:50 pm

back to lecture 2, Alain Badiou at the New School, Tuesday October 28th: The possibility of change in the law.

Recapping his first lecture, Badiou recalled his three closing possibilities for lawful continuity looking to his previous 8 definitions for sites of continuity.  These could be:

1) law as juridical, i.e. law in relation to the social order, as something like the expression of the social order.  Or,

2) law as the formalization of natural rights, i.e. law in relationship to human nature wherein law cannot be defined on its own without first defining its relationship to human nature.  Or,

3) law as a universal in relationship to a particular, as in Plato, i.e. as law that relates to a transcendent principle.

What is difficult, or important, is not defining the law, but defining what law is in relation to.  This relationary status introduces a fundamental ambiguity into any definition of law.

Further probing these three possibilities for law, Badiou asked the following:

1) Is the law the formalization of something or an expression of something?

-if law is formalization, then it is on the side of science (think Kelson).

-if law is instead the expressive sublimation of something, then it is on the side of art, with aesthetic rules and an aesthetic notion of rights (like the rules/laws of classical tragedy, etc).

Perhaps, Badiou posed, law is something between both science and art.  But even then:

2) What of the commitment vs commandment distinction, i.e. who is the subjet of the law?  Is it a subject or is it on the side of objective existence?  Is it something precise – i.e. to the letter? or is it something like an internal voice – i.e. spirit?  

Badiou then stated that outside the law, (in the outlaw) there can be both spirit and letter, both objectivity and subjectivity… but in/of the law itself, is it something in relation to pure fact? is it normative?  Can we, Badiou asked, find something like the continental vs analytic distinction in law as in philosophy?  Sure given all of this, Badiou affirmed, we cannot have something like a simple definition and this is why not only law, but change in the law is so obscure.

Badiou then re-entered the topic of this lecture’s headlines: the possibility of change in law.  First, he recounted, we usually don’t move to change laws we consider good.  We move to change bad laws and this is the first thought in the process of change in the law. What then is a bad law?

Interestingly, for Badiou, a bad law is not really a law at all.  Looking back to his 8 definitions of law (to which he admitted there may be more, there may be less…) Badiou argued that if law is the expression of a community, then a bad law is not a law as it does not properly express or represent the conditions of the community.  Expressive law would fall under the 1st of his 8 definitions, i.e. law as the juridical form of the structural order.  (see ‘eyes or ears..?’ for all 8 definitions).  He then gave the example of gay marriage – for the conservative laws allowing gay marriage are not really laws as they do not express his natural order, but only bring chaos… Looking to definition 6, i.e. law as the relationship of different strengths (think Nietzsche), a bad law is a law that does not express those strengths properly and therefore, is not really a law by definition.  Interestingly, Badiou notes, Nietzsche is in a mess on this point as well as his understanding of law as the expression of different strengths is ultimately a law of weakness, as law (the priestly law & class) is ultimately a law of revenge of weakness against strength.  The problem obviously is that if law is the expression of strength then how can this weakness win?  Finally, looking to law as the singular expression of something objective, (definition 7), there can be no bad law.  Simply put, a need for change in law represents the change in particular relationships to universals in a given society, i.e. when a law needs to be changed it is because the world has changed ahead of it.

Badiou then goes on to ask: Yet what about bad laws in relation to a minority group?  If the law is an expression of a universal part of human being, what happens in the case of say, minority groups as they are in france today?  There is a claim on their behalf that ‘bad laws’ exist that discriminate against these groups, but in fact these ‘bad laws’ are not laws at all, as laws cannot be negative laws.  Negative laws are laws which:

1) forbid something

2) deny a right to part of the people that is extended to others.  

When a right is said to be for only a particular group of people, we can say, according to Badiou that this right is not, in fact, a right but a privilege.  Formally, such negative laws mirror the laws instituted during WWII against the Jews and cannot be real law.  But positive law, Badiou holds, is different, even positive law for a minority group.  For example, affirmative action.  Sometimes to create a concrete universality you must give something more to persecuted peoples for a period of time in order to bring them to a status of equality.  All of this, positive and negative law, illustrates how laws can come to be abolished, or could come to be abolished.  Though, as Badiou notes, governments rarely abolish laws as this abolishing would call their judgement and authority into question along with the law itself. 

So from all of this, after all of this, Badiou cited two possibilities for forms of change of the law:

1) there can be a new law that is an improvement of an old law, a law that neither radically breaks with nor reinstates the exact terms of the old law.  This form of law is called modification.

2) there can be a new law that is an explicit destruction of the old law.  This form of law is the form of the event.

The difference between modifying law and evental law can be compared to artistic creation, wherein we think about modification as a variation of form and material, with new forms emerging from the same material.  As a work of art is always already at the boundary of what is and what is not recognizable, on the secure side of modification one would develop a recognizable form from recognizable material.  Yet on the evental side, one would be on the boundary of recognition, and if the artist accepts the risk, she is now in the terrain of developing completely new forms, and even further, she is developing the possibility of new forms of forms.  

Moving back to the law, Badiou proposes that a political event could be something that is the possibility of law in the second artistic sense.  It is law that opens the means for new laws and new possibilities of new laws.  Badiou concedes that negation, displaying the boundary between old and new, must come before.  The old world must be destroyed but the movement in all of this destruction must only be toward universality – the law must be for everybody, opening a new space for universality, introducing new possible fields of equalities.  In this vein, the change of law cannot be about liberty or freedom, as one can have freedom without equality (property laws, for example) and liberty without equality, but not the reverse. Real change, for Badiou, is always a new space for equality, in new forms of law.

Moving toward summation, Badiou finally asked: Is there a limit in to the possible successions of new spaces for equality? And answered: We have in the idea of art the end of art itself.  This idea is that form and life fuse into identicality and we find the idea of the ‘end of art’ at the limit where life is an artistic creation.  In the evental creation of change in art forms, art itself is the restriction which must be destroyed in order for art to equal life.  In politics, Badiou cites the same idea, present in Plato and Marx: the good law is the non-law, the good state is always the non-state.  Law, as the mediator, as the separation between life and socialization can only be a good law when that separation no longer exists.

To conclude, Badiou recounted his main points as to the passage from bad law to good:

1) modification of the law is an infinite process of adjustment – it is the transformation of law without destruction.

2) the transformation of law as event comes with the question of the limit point, wherein the law disappears through itself.

Law then, for Badiou, persists for as long as we have not solved the problems of inequality.  Yet the obvious problem here is exactly who sets the terms for equality, universality, etc. This is the easy hit at Badiou’s work and, while interesting, yes, I am after a different question today.  Between Louis Althusser’s conception of subjection via the law and Badiou’s formulation of the evental law that is in fact outlaw, and creates subjects from the break, the cut, and it’s resulting truth procedures, there is a stark difference.  In Althusser’s formulation, the “Hey You!” of the law creates the respondent, forms the subject, in their turn to answer the call.  Yet for Badiou, subjects are formed in the wake of an event. Fidelity, subject formation, is rooted in an absence of law, an artistic creation of hitherto unknown forms and the possibilities of new types of forms – or, the creation of hitherto unknown subjects and the possibilities of new types of subjects.  In the Paris Commune the disintegration of law into the commune’s daily life, via the disillusion of the state, created a new type of subject, and new processes for subjectivation not in relation to law at all. Or, are they directly in relation as outlaws?  Are we back at the necessity of mediation, or forward in fact, outlined by Badiou in his 3rd Cardozo lecture?  And if this mediation, this distance, this necessary law is in fact essential not for defining as such, but as spacing, are we not once again at the argument for Free Will? Suspending that for another moment, is it fair to say that Badiou’s subjects, in their relationship to law, are a radical break from subjection in Nietzsche, Lacan and Marx as read by Althusser?  Certainly they are dramatically different from Foucauldian (and Butler’s) subjectivations.

I can’t help but think something else is at play.  Something else is being built, protected, enabled that makes this subjection a subsidiary, an accomplice to something more important for Badiou.  Whether that object of import is a throw back or a radical step toward the outlaw is still, for me, unclear.

– My thanks again to Professor Alain Badiou for his talk at The New School, as part of the Cardozo sessions, October 28th.  And to Dr. Simon Critchley for the course couching and prepping us for this guest discourse.

mourning has broken..?

In Law, resurrection on October 30, 2008 at 4:13 am

“There shall be no mourning [il n’y aura pas de deuil].”  Jean-Francois Lyotard

out from the concept that there is novelty in negation alone.  out from the idea that critique is in itself production.  out from.  out with.  and just letting it all hang out.

Today in Badiou’s third and final lecture at Cardozo, we thought the disappearance of the law.  Ironically,  I find as I write that I have skipped negation itself, skipping Badiou’s second lecture in this journaling process and skipping the 2nd of the Hegel’s dialectical three.  It is (was) an unknowing performance that perhaps betrays my all-too-eager desire to jump the gun.  with badiou and otherwise.

So, deferring as the Derrida I read today…

Badiou began with a recap:  after defining law as that which is always mediating between law and something else, he moved on to retrace two possibilities for the transformation of the law:  

1) modification

2) event, the creation of new possibilities, opening the space for equality and for new subjects of the law

For law as event, in law as event, the first steps are taken toward the disappearance of the law itself, heading toward what Badiou calls the limit point or (though he would never say so?) toward what Derrida describes as the ‘to come’ that can never arrive but is always on its way.  Finding this conception in Marx, particularly the Communist Manifesto of 1848, Badiou recalled that Marx’ goal was ultimately the destruction of private property.  For Marx the question of the state is in direct relation to private property, and Badiou sees the (anachronistic) mirror of this concept in Plato as well.  For both, Badiou claims, there is the question of equality: private property is the objective form of inequality, the material form of desire as the real relationship to law.  From this Badiou recalls Engel’s trio – 

law . desire . property

and claims that if we have communism (as it was in Marx) as the will to restrict private property, this is in conjunction or collusion with the will to restrict the law and initiate its disappearance.  For Marx, this disappearance would come to fruition in the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Before Stalin or Mao (mis)appropriated this term, this potential, the dictatorship of the proletariat was the form of the state without law.  It is a dictatorship because it is not a state from the point of view of the law, but the destruction of the state as such, a state not separated from civil society and as the end of that very separation.  It is the destruction of bureaucracy, if by bureaucracy we can name the separation of the state from its people.

This is critical in that, for Marx, the social form of private life is the family, i.e., the bureaucratized form of private life, where laws about marriage, children, etc are administrated.  Against this, Marx aimed to 

1) abolish marriage as a contract, aiming for free association of sexed positions

2) create organized public education of children, bringing that out of the family realm into the public

3) suppress inheritance

in order to block all laws concerning private life and move toward the disappearance of law in private, social and business realms in order to end private property, family organization and the state.  (See Engels’ book on these 3 pillars by the same name).  In these movements of law to their limit point, criminal law would also disappear as theft, etc, were negated.  At this point, the juridical status of the body would also fall to question and disappearance.  Badiou noted that in the past the body was the property of the family and thus wars, marriages, etc were the domain of the family.  Next the state assumed jurisdiction, evening ordering the body to its own death in state wars.  What we have now, Badiou claims, is something more like a mercenary body, a body whose jurisprudence belongs to the domain of money. Looking to the 1970’s feminist revolt and claims like ‘my body is mine’ that came in its wake, Badiou recalls this point of resistance as an attempt to block the family . property . state trio.

Ultimately, Badiou summed this up by saying that from Plato until today, if society is a direct production of life itself, then concrete equality is incompatible with private property and familial selfishness.  Badiou then moved toward a picture of the possibilities for change, for bringing the law closer to its limit point and finds these not in the revolutionary mandates of the 60’s and 70’s, but in locally realized politics of experimentation.  He said we have to think a new experiment & experience that is open to all society.  Closed experiments, such as those that are an attempt to realize a principle in concrete life, are not political for Badiou… they are instead moral, because there is no circulation between the small group and society.  They equal a general lesson which is akin to a moral vision as the direct relationship between a principle and its reality.  What occurs, he says, in this corrupt form, is the supression of mediation into something akin to a moral commandment, a moral sacrifice destined to terror and sacrifice, which is not equal to a truth.  

For the evental form of law, that which initiates the disappearance of the law, there must be a local yet open experience.  This experience must be proposed to everyone and, as such, is equal to the proposal of the disappearance of the initiating law itself. 

Thus saith Badiou.

Jeanne Schroeder followed Badiou’s talk with what she called a Lacanian feminist view to jurisprudence.  Looking both back and forth she recalled that Locke situated the origin of private property in the idea of ones ownership of his own body.  She traced this through Hart and went straight to Lacan’s four discourses of the symbolic order: the Master, the University, the Hysteric and the Analyst and located the lawyer as the Hysterical figure.  This allowed her to describe law as a broken instrument, always pinned to failure where the only right is that ‘you are wrong’.  For Schroeder the symbolic order is where the subject is created by mediating and creating desire via the family, property and state.  This desire is founded on a necessary separation in order for desire to operate across the distance and she cited Lacan’s injunction: Don’t give way to your desire.  Linking this to Kant, Schroeder pointed to the necessary separation between individuals and the moral law, reminding us that if there were no separation, we would all be marionettes…

Now that I have built and padded this text, ensuring a separation of my own body of writing from the (now textual) bodies of Badiou and Schroeder… am I free to desire what is apart?

or have I in fact simply sublimated their law into my own skin?  

In the shared agnosticized dialogues of both Badiou and Schroeder, there is a barely hidden throw-back to the theological argument for free will.  Oversimplified, this argument (extracted from Wikipedia) runs as follows:

1) Emanuel Swedenborg (founder of The New Church) argued that if God is love itself, people must have free will.

2) If God is love itself, then He desires no harm to come to anyone: and so it is impossible that he would predestine anyone to hell.

3) On the other hand, if God is love itself, then He must love things outside of Himself; and if people do not have the freedom to choose evil, they are simply extensions of God, and He cannot love them as something outside of Himself.

***In addition, Swedenborg argues that if a person does not have free will to choose goodness and faith, then all of the commandments in the Bible to love God and the neighbor are worthless, since no one can choose to do them – and it is impossible that a God who is love itself and wisdom itself would give impossible commandments.

Clearly neither Badiou nor Schroeder are arguing for the existence of God.  But the overlap, the formal movement of their arguments maps out the same dance.  For Badiou, mediation between idea and creative reconstitution must exist to avoid the terrorizing moralist’s dialogue.  For Schroeder, desire must be mediated by the law (distance) in order to continue to desire.  Interestingly both site Lacan as their body guards in this endeavor.  Both look to Lacan to undo the ‘law of the Father’ whether in defense of feminism (Schroeder) or in defense of the possibility of new possibilities (Badiou).  Is it fair to find in this formal cohesion the shadow of Heidegger, the shadow of a philosophy which, even in its most active strivings knew it could not escape the bounds of metaphysical presence?  And if so, are we still, despite Badiou’s phenomenal effort, still bound to endless mourning?

What would Badiou say here?  Is he content with the (hollow) strength of the phallus?

When I asked him how one (he) could posit a universality without defaulting to the law of the father, he turned to Lacan and said the following:  Law constitutes both what is forbidden and what is impossible, but these two terms are not the same.  It is impossibility, not the forbidden, that is creative.  The Law of the Father is on the side of the Forbidden, yet in Lacan we already see the move to elevate the phallus from impotence to impossibility.  The move out from the law of the Father is the move toward the formalization of social order, not a despotic interdiction, running the gammit between impotence and impossibility.

Why is it that I still see, in this rising, this elevating, the swelling of a cross..?

– Sincere thanks to Alain Badiou for his October 27th, 28th and 29th presentations given at both Cardozo Law School and the New School for Social Research, the content of which is summarized here, and in “eyes or ears..?”

ears or eyes?

In Law, Subjection on October 28, 2008 at 3:15 pm

maybe the point is both.  precisely.

I am reading ‘the ends of man’ by Derrida, and Alain Badiou lectured for my class with Simon Critchley at Cardozo Law School yesterday afternoon, as he will continue to do for the next 2+ days.

Somehow i can’t quit thinking about sequence – that “the ends of man” was written before Badiou announced his candidacy for the Ubermensch, that, as Zizek contends phrases like the ‘end of man’ or ‘the death of man’ beg to be toppled like the twin towers.  Perhaps then, Badiou’s thought is less an event than an inevitable.

if there hadn’t been napoleon, etc…

oh how uncomfortable.

from (or to) ‘the ends of man’

…Hegel, Heidegger, Husserl and the understanding that man was to be slowly removed from his cartesian post at once misunderstood by those, like sartre, or sartre precisely, who could not let go of the existential humanist position.

I flagged a section that reads as follows:

“It remains that Being, which is nothing, is not a being, cannot be said, cannot say itself, except in the ontic metaphor.  And the choice of one or another group of metaphors is necessarily significant.  It is within a metaphorical insistence, then, that the interpretation of the meaning of Being is produced.  And if Heidegger has radically deconstructed the domination of metaphysics by the present, he has done so in order to lead us to think the presence of the present.  But the thinking of this presence can only metaphorize, by means of a profound necessity from which one cannot simply decide to escape, the language that it deconstructs.” (Derrida, Margins of Philosophy, p. 131)

Werner Hammacher presented a beautiful paper this summer on metaphor and Being and Heidegger, though Wolfgang didn’t let him finish.

But back to Badiou… and sequence.  A student of Althusser, Badiou is surely aware of his mentor’s concept of interpellation and the infamous metaphor he, Judith Butler and others have repeated to illustrate the point which looks like this:

An individual is walking down a street when a policeman yells, “Hey You!”  The individual turns and in that turn, toward the policeman, toward the law, toward the call, becomes the subject of the call.  It is subjection and subjectivity in one full/foul turn.  Zizek explains this succinctly, ‘the subject becomes the call it answers’.  

For Butler and Althusser, subjection takes place in relation to the call of the law.  For Badiou, as stated in his presentation yesterday, the evental inauguration of the subject takes place when law is suspended, altered and phased into reformation.  Even broken, in the figure of the out-law.

Is it reading too graciously to allow, to enable (to force?) the feminine to enter here?  And did I just write that as if it were an essence, a something other than what was already present in that room yesterday?  Why did the law of the father feel more oppressive at 55 5th Avenue than it has before?

Were we, as Avital Ronell writes, taking it through the ear?  

Or is the problematic somewhere right between the eyes

and ears


There is something utopian that Badiou is blatantly endorsing.  Something reasonable, rational and something eerily like Ayn Rand… not in content as much as in form.  Perhaps there isn’t enough body in what he proposed?

What did he propose?

First, a 3 day seminar in 3 parts.  

1) the Dialectics of the law – finding a clear definition of the law.

2) the change of the law – is there a possibility for the signification of change?

3) the law as the disappearance of law.


So first things, first:

If we are to think law’s definition, we can begin this thinking by thinking law’s opposite.  Perhaps disorder? We can also think through the verbage around both law and disorder.  The Outlaw came to mind as a topological framing.  There is juridical law, a topologically ordered space, a closed space.  And then the laws of nature, laws of pure contingency.  Bibilical law, where the spirit is opposed to the letter as its opposite.  Here we enter into questions of commandments vs. commitments.  Then there is the Kantian law of duty, a purely subjective and purely immanent construction.  The law of natural rights, which would pitch universality against culture.  

After laying out these options, Badiou went to his source: Plato.  For Plato law (nomos) is opposed to nature as a purely intellectual creation.  Looking at the debate on law between plato and the sophists we find that:

for the sophists – law is the political result of the agent of strength, or of might.  There is no default to universality, as law is the projection of the nature of the strongest for a particularity. It is the formal result of natural particularity.

for plato – law is the concrete realization of the transcendency of the good.  Universality is on the side of law, and more accurately on the side of the idea of the law, which is the transcendent norm.  It is the particular result of a universal principle.  In fact, however, law is something of the form of weakness: if all were in its place, no law would be needed as it would be innate.

Badiou then gives the interesting distinction between young Plato who still believes in direct access to the good and the un-necessity of law, as opposed to the aged Plato who wrote 9 books of law in the Republic.  This is important for Badiou in that communism as theory, as hope, is on the side of the young Plato, while communism as practice is always, in its coercion, on the side of the older Plato.  For Marx, neither the ‘good state’ nor the ‘good law’ exists.

And then there is Rousseau, for whom law is not simply conceptual but active.  As proffered in the Social Contract, the general will is the active creation of a collectivity… yet… there is the supplement.  The ‘special man’, the legislator who is from the outside, a stranger who mediates between the universal principle and the singularities.

And finally, Badiou’s 8 definitions of the law and their dialectics (as, for Badiou, law is always between two entitities).

1) Law as juridical structural order.  The dialectics here are between the multiple and the one as unity of the multiple.  It is the imposition of the form of one to ensure multiplicity, i.e. it is the expressive unity of law, of community, of difference. (Could this be lacanian?)

2) Law as the form of necessity.  The dialectics here emerge between necessity and contingency.  This type of law centers on knowledge, not justice, as law is the valuation of all that might stand outside itself.  It is the explanation of the outside.

3) Law as the extended letter of duty or obligation.  Read: Pauline.  The dialectics are between the letter and the spirit.  The law is always written and this is a law of transmission, between tradition and interpretation of duty.

4) Law as an internal subjective commitment.  Read: Kant’s moral law with dialectics between the subjective universal and subjective desire. This law creates a problematics of selfishness.

5) Law as the foundation of natural rights.  This law is relative to/by culture yet searches out something universal in human being.

6) Law as strength.  The dialectics are between formalization and strength, and nothing like the ‘law as such’ can exist in this conception.  (Nietzsche?)

7) Law as the particular inspiration of a universal.  Read: Plato.  Dialectics are here between hierarchies of concepts.  Law here mediates between such concepts.

8) Law as the active relationship between people. Read: Rousseau. The dialectics in this formation are between something like the technology of history and nature.  Law by this demarcation is a non-natural concept.

Under the weight of these laws, “I” am sinking.  But wasn’t that the point: the ends of man, the ends of woman, the ends of ‘we’?  

Or.  What happens if the conversation around in and through Being is only ever metaphor?  When Badiou breaks with the law of the father, the law of the Master Signifier, even the law of the sets, will he find more rationality?  Is there any room outside these 8 points and these 3 points and, and, and… Where is Kristeva?  Where is the irrational?  The unconscious?  What happens when the law breaks and revolution doesn’t go where you had hoped?


– thanks to Julia Honkasalo & Krista Johansson for their conversation on these ideas.