“…under the idea of “Realpolitik” we have something like a negation without destruction. I define this: “opposition”, in the common democratic sense. Like democrats against Bush… The heart of “opposition” is to substitute some rules for the violence of the real. In my jargon, I can say: to substitute rules of history, or rules of economy, for the rupture of the Event. And when you do that, you “share the rules of the struggle” with your enemy. And finally you become “slave of your enemy”, a “brother” of your enemy.”
— Badiou, Alain, DESTRUCTION, NEGATION, SUBTRACTION - on Pier Paolo Pasolini, Graduate Seminar - Art Center College of Design in Pasadena - February 6, 2007
2:30 am • 10 March 2014 • 11 notes
“There must be, and there will be, a new act, a ‘new birth’ which it is the century’s task to invent. It is a question of responding, once and for all, to the imperative: ‘Erase the bygone days.’”
— Badiou, Alain, The Century (Polity 2007), p.57
2:30 am • 9 March 2014 • 18 notes
What experience and history teach is this — that nations and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted upon any lessons they might have drawn from it.
[The only lesson we learn from history is that we do not learn from history.]
— Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, Lectures on the Philosophy of History (1832), Introduction
2:30 am • 8 March 2014 • 41 notes
“Even then Cassandra opened her lips against the coming doom, lips cursed by a god never to be believed…”
— Virgil, Aeneid (via goneril-and-regan)
2:30 am • 7 March 2014 • 216 notes
Labour is, first of all, a process between man and nature, a process by which man, through his own actions, mediates, regulates and controls the metabolism between himself and nature. He confronts the material of nature as a force of nature. He sets in motion the natural forces which belong to his own body, his arms, legs, head and hands, in order to appropriate the materials of nature in a form adapted to his own needs. Through this movement he acts upon external nature and changes it, and in this way he simultaneously changes his own nature. (Capital, Vol. 1. (NLR/Penguin 1973) p. 283)
2:30 am • 6 March 2014 • 12 notes
“A demonstration or an insurrection, and more broadly a political sequence, or even an artistic creation seized in the violence of its gesture, are in no way representable. Fraternity is not representable… only inertia can be represented.”
— Badiou, Alain, The Century (Polity, 2007) p.108
2:30 am • 5 March 2014 • 17 notes
“It’s there, at that poignant moment when the weight of endured suffering seems about to engulf everything, that the very excessiveness of the test causes a change of sign, tending to bring the inaccessibly human over to the side of the accessible and to imbue the latter with a grandeur which it couldn’t have known without it [ … ]. One must go to the depths of human suffering, discover its strange capacities, in order to salute the similarly limitless gift that makes life worth living. The one definitive disgrace one can bring upon oneself in the face of such suffering, because it would make that conversion of sign impossible, would be to confront it with resignation. From whatever angle you noted the reactions that the worst evil you could conceive of left you open to, I always saw you put the heaviest accent on rebellion. There is, in fact, no more barefaced lie than the one that consists in asserting, even - and above all - when faced with an irretrievable situation, that rebellion is good for nothing. Rebellion is its own justification, completely independent of the chance it has to modify the state of affairs that gives rise to it. It’s a spark in the wind, but a spark in search of a powder keg. I revere the dark fire that comes into your eyes whenever you are reminded of the unsurpassable wrong that was done to you and which is inflamed and clouded over again at the memory of the miserable priests who tried to approach you on that occasion. I also know that the very same fire raises its bright flames so high for my benefit, twines them into living chimeras before my eyes. And I know that the love which at this point counts on nothing but itself does not recover and that my love for you is reborn from the ashes of the sun. Also, each time a train of thought treacherously brings you back to the point where one day all hope was denied you and, at the precipice where you then stand, threatens, like an arrow seeking a wing, to hurl you again into the abyss, having experienced myself the vanity of all words of consolation and holding all attempts at distraction to be unworthy, I have convinced myself that only a magic formula could be effective here, but what spell could instil in itself and instantaneously give you the whole force of living, of living with all the intensity possible, when I know that it came back to you so slowly? The one I decide to confine myself to, the only one I judge acceptable to call you back to me when it happens that you suddenly lean towards the opposite slope, consists in these words which, when you start to turn your head away, I just want to lightly brush your ear with: ‘Osiris is a black god’.”
— Breton, Andre, from Arcanum 17, 1944
2:30 am • 4 March 2014 • 20 notes
“…the new can only come about as the seizure of ruin. Novelty will only take place in the element of a fully accomplished destruction… a rotting on the spot, a nourishing decomposition.”
— Badiou, Alain, The Century (Polity 2007) p.45
2:30 am • 3 March 2014 • 34 notes
publicatiosui asked: perhaps i am confused by your answer to edcrypt, because it seems somewhat ... dated. does what you wrote not imply the inevitability of dialectical materialism as a form of thought, and thus run aground on the fact that the number of people who take it seriously as a form of thought is rapidly dwindling (to say the least)?
Dialectical materialism was never popular in the first place - but then popularity is a sign of very little. The number of people that take any idea of any sort seriously is rapidly dwindling - dialectical materialism is not alone in that. Whether this is secular or cyclical, we’ll see. It is the ‘Idea’ which is suffering:
"… the obstacle to the ecstatic becoming of the furious ‘we’ is ‘peaceful’ or ‘sedentary’ life. Yet this is exactly the sort of life that is glorified nowadays. Nothing is worth us tearing ourselves away from our ordinary cowardice, and especially not the Idea, or the ‘we’, which are summarily dismissed as nothing but ‘totalitarian phantasms’. (Badiou, Alain, The Century, p.124-5)
Personally - looking at the Arab uprisings, the Ukraine, enforced austerity, newly bipolar global politics - I expect more Ideas in the future.
Dialectical materialism, everything it has ever concretely said, could be found to be false, but the method (or rather the horizon) would remain. And it would remain political in its implications. You’re mistaking the individual consciousness (i.e. ‘everyone should know the rules of dialectical materialism’) for the idea that there is a world spirit that is attempting to become sufficiently conscious to understand itself. Call it dialectical materialism if you want, call it philosophy - all a Marxist/Hegelian demands is that there is a project of investigation based on interrogation of the part and the whole. Oh, and that Ideas are material - this is uncontroversial today, I assume, Idealism being even more obviously absurd/unpopular than dialectical materialism.
Or, in other words, how do we understand the banal materiality of the world, when we only have this kilogram of wet grey flesh - which is so distressingly material - to think it with? What else do we call the self-thinking of the bland stuff we call our 'selves'?
I’m not wedded to dialectical materialism, or ‘Hegelianism’ per se - but I do think there is something there, a ruin or a corpse, which must be faced down.
11:43 pm • 2 March 2014 • 3 notes
edcrypt asked: Do you think dialectical materialism should be understood as a heuristic for developing theories, more like a law of nature, or more like a language to describe history?
Dialectical materialism is a method of inquiry. Though of course, inquiry is material, so… y’know.
Dialectical materialism is a complex thought pattern, much as a flock of starlings is a complex bird pattern. It is part of the emergent self-thinking organisation of material reality. The claim is that with dialectical materialism the self-thinking of material becomes self-conscious - and therefore the pre-history of material is ending, but history is beginning.
In short, to rephrase your question as an obtuse answer: dialectical materialism is the heuristically derived language murmured by the historical development of the totality.
I love being guiltily seduced by hegelians, it’s like a hobby, until I grow out of it.
That is the Hegelian demand: ‘grow up!’
10:58 pm • 2 March 2014 • 12 notes