Alain Badiou
Does the Notion of Activist Art
still have a Meaning?

A Lacanian Ink Event – Miguel Abreu Gallery – NYC, 10/13/2010 – video by Katherine Pickard

Transcript by Richard James Jermain:

My question this evening will be “Is it possible to propose a general definition of a militant vision of artistic creation?” The first and simple possibility is to say something like that. A militant vision of artistic creation is when an art – a work of art – is a part of something which is not reducible to an artistic determination. For example stained-glass windows in churches. It’s a symbol of the Light of God, and it’s also a part of artistic creation. Greek temples, which are also something for collective cult; military music, which is something inside the creation of patriotic courage; Egyptian pyramids, which are works of art certainly, but also the old symbolic question of the death of the king, and so on. In all these cases we have the phenomena of artistic creation, certainly, but which is included in something else which is the ? of something which is outside of artistic determination. We can speak of an official artistic activity much more than a militant one. Finally, it’s the artistic creation in the space of the State, of the power.


In this situation – the space of the State, of the power, – we can have some magnificent works of art. It’s not an objection to the existence of creative activity. Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach, Gothic castles – all of the castles of aristocracy, a large part of painting and so on. The point is that artistical novelty is inscribed in the continuity of the State including the church, and so on. In fact, the goal is to find a use of artistic creation for the glory of conservative institution. We have, for example, in France the case of the King Louie XIV. Certainly it’s the purely despotic power, but it’s also the personal protection of so great artists as Molière or Racine, and so on. The price that we must pay is that the artist must sing the praises of the king, and they do in any case. In fact it has been the same thing from some great artists under the power of Stalin or Mao Zedong. In all these cases we have the determination of artistic creation by the space of power, which probably creates, on one part a new possibility for artistic creation with the protection of the king, the protection of the power, and the means of the power; and, on the other side, a limit which is the necessity to be inscribed inside the pure, political necessity of the power itself. So I propose to distinguish an art which is close to the State power, in dependency to state power, and a properly militant art. This distinction is very important and sometimes is unclear. We shall name the first artistic creation inside the space of the State power an official art; and we must say that to mistake official art for militant art has been the great problem during the last century. Some artists, sometimes some genius, has been at the center of that sort of confusion. We can quote Bertolt Brecht or Heiner Müller for the theater, Eisenstein for the cinema. ? and Pasternak for the novel Aragon or Eluard for the French poetry and even, in some circumstances, Picasso for painting. In all these cases it’s very difficult to clearly distinguish between the pulsion of official art and the freedom of militant art. And so during the last century we have had some difficulty we have found some difficulty concerning the definition, the clear definition of militant art.


What official art and militant art have in common: that is the point of the confusion, the possible confusion, between the two. We can say that what official art and militant art have in common is ideology. By ideology I understand a subjective conviction which is exposed in the language with a universal destination. We can have for example democratic ideology, communist ideology, human rights ideology, but also religious ideology or a conservative one, or monarchic ideology in the case of great artistic creation under the King Louie XIV. It’s very important to understand that ideology is common is some sense to official art and militant art, but that ideology is not at the same place in the two. And so the difference between official art – ideological art in the space of the power of the State – and militant art which is not enclosed in the power of the State, is not an ideological difference but much more a difference concerning the place of the ideological conviction in the work of art itself. In an official art the point is that ideology is realized as a power. The subjective function of ideology is inscribed into an objective apparatus, the party of the State, of the Party-state like in Soviet Union or in Communist China. So you see in official art ideology is realized in an objective form, and the inscription of the work of art is in the space of that sort of objectivity.


In real militant art ideology is the subjective determination not of an apparatus but of a process, a struggle, a resistance. An official art describes the glory of what exists. It’s an art of victory. I think that is the most important point. An official art with an ideological determination is fundamentally an act of victory that is an art not of weakness but of strength. A militant art is the subjective expression not of what exists but of what becomes. Its an art of the choice and not an art of victory. An official art is an art of affirmative certainty. A militant art is an art of the contradiction, an art of the contradiction between the affirmative nature of principles and the dubious result of struggles. And the point where ideology is inscribed in the work of art is not at all the same. In an official art, the place of ideology is the glory of the work of art itself. In a militant art the place of ideology is the place of the contradiction and also of the dubious result of the struggle. And so we are, in some sense, an art of the glorious victory and an art of the dubious struggle.


There is in fact an ontological and formal difference between the two. Ontologically, in its proper being, the official art is an art of the result, of what has been victoriously decided. In my jargon it’s on the side not of the situation but of the state of the situation. On the side not of presentation but on the side of representation. In fact, very often, official art must be a representation of the result, of the ideological potency of the victory, of the historical potency. Militant art is the reverse. It’s an art of what has been showed but not yet decided or completely decided. It’s an art of the situation and not an art of the state of the situation. And, probably the most important, it’s an art of the presentation and not an art of representation. And so militant art can only be the image of something which exists but must be the pure existence of what is becoming, and the difference is not only an ontological difference but also as you can see a formal difference, and in the same background. Formally, that is the second point, the first – the official art – uses old established means to glorify the new result, and it is why there is always something conservative in the official art. What is new is the political result, the new power if you want. And to glorify this result, this novelty, the use is the use of all old means, and it is why generally speaking official art under a new ideology is conservative in the sense of a sort of neo-classicism, which can see something like that not only in the socialism, [socialist realism] under Stalin, but also in fact under all the sequence where the new result of political struggle is glorified by the mobilization of old means established in the field of artistic creation.


In the case of a true militant art we must create a new means to formalize the novelty, and we have not the mobilization of old means of creativity to glorify the result because the result is not here. We have the process and not the result, so we cannot glorify the result by the mobilization of old means, but we must create new means to formalize the process itself, to glorify, if you want, what does not exist because the result is not here. And it is why the militant art is always in some sense an art of something which is presented in its proper non-existence and in its weakness, and not in the glorification of its existence as a result. And in fact not only you have to formalize the process but you must also formalize the uncertainty of the novelty itself. In the official art we have – always – the affirmative glorification of the result, but in the militant art we have something which is much more near the process, near something which does not existence, near something which has a real weakness, and so something which is an uncertainty. And so that sort of hesitation ? which is inside all a very real process, is also a formal necessity. And it is why in militant art we cannot have the glorification of the form. We must have something in the form itself which is the [translation] of the uncertainty of the process.


And so – all that may be in the same ideological background, I insist on this point. Maybe we have in any case an artist or artistic creation with a subjective determination which is in some sense the same, but the formal activity, the formal artistic creativity is completely different because in one case we have the glorificaition of the result and in the other case we have something which [is] the attempt to be inside the uncertainty of the process. So in a more aesthetic language, we can say that the first (the official art) under the Idea of le grand art, the great art, the high, monumental art of the glorification of the result, under militant art is under the idea of experimental art, of avant-garde, in some sense of this word. So we can clearly distinguish between the two and recognize that from the same subjective conviction two completely different formal orientations can be defined. But there is also a sort of dialectics between the two. We cannot stop to the point of their difference, of their opposition – official art on one side, militant art on the other side. The militant art can be, and is very often a critique of the official art, it’s true; and we know that the official art is very often a critique of the militant art, because the glorificaiton of the result is not the love of the glorificaiton of uncertainty of the process. But the official art uses some new means of the militant art because the militant art is very often of the same ideology. And the militant art is also stimulated by the potency of the official art when the offical art is of the same ideology. The fact that the same ideology is realized in the artistical field in two different forms creates by necessity an historical dialectics betwen the two. There is a sort of exchange between the two, and some great common moments where official art and militant art are something in common. We can quote for example the congress of anti-fascist intellectuals in paris or Moscow in the ’30s, or even as a small example the portrait of Stalin by Picasso. Is the portrait of Stalin by Picasso official art? Certainly. But is it something which is a real militant cereation? Certainly. Yes, [that] too. And even the Mao of Andy Warhol which is finally something ironic but ironic in the shadow of the existence of official art. And we can quote many a situation concerning the great artist like Brecht or Pasternak or Prokiev where we cannot distinguish clearly between the potency of official art, the means of official art, and the experimentation, and the pure presentaiton of militant art. So we have something which is in common: there is a tension between the two, there is a contradiciton between the two, but also they are in the same ideological space and so there exists an historical exchange between the two.


The condition of all that – first the clear distinction between offical art, official revolutionary art if you want in the space of the space and true militant art, so the distinction between the two; and also the point of exchange and unity between the two – the condition of all that is the existence of a strong ideology. What I name a strong ideology is an ideology which presents or proposes a complete different vision of the history of human being as such. A strong ideology cannot be only a difference between forms of democratic vision and so on, a strong ideology . . . is something which creates the idea, the global idea, of another posibility. Ideology is not a simple concept, naturally. There exists a strong ideology but also a soft ideology, something like that. And in the case of the historical existence of the strong ideology we can have a clear vision of what is the existence of an offical revolutionary art, what is in the sense of a true militant art, what is the difference between them, and also what are the common points between them. So we can say that the situation today is in my opinion really different. And so when we have to expose today the question of the possibility of a militant art we cannot immediately immediately expose our thinking in the parameters of the distinction between official art and true militant art. And why? First, there is today no common strong ideology. There is no vision – a global vision – for another possibility of the world as such, for the historical world as such. Naturally, there exists opposition, there exists revolutionary movement, there exist struggles and so on. It’s not true that there exists nothing at all. I am not at all in the space of nihilist’s vision of the history of humanity, but it’s clear that we cannot affirm purely and simply the existence of another possibility as such, which was clearly affirmative in the second part of the last century. So there is no common ideology and we must observe that democracy, for example, which is a clear example of a weak ideology and not of a strong ideology, because it’s too consensure, it’s a complete equivocation between reactionary camp and the revolutionary camp, between progressive and conservative and so on. In fact everybody is [a] democrat today. But when everybody [is a] democrat we can see that the ideology may be something and not nothing, but is certainly a weak ideology. It was impossible in the fifty years before – something like that, or much more- it was impossible to affirm that everybody was communist. It was a difference. And it’s independent of the value of the determination. I am not saying that communism was something exciting and democracy was something very sad. I am just saying that communism was a difference and was not a consensure concept, and democracy is a consensure concept, so the ideolgical situation is not the same it’s different. We are today maybe for a moment, not forever, but we are now in the context of the existence of weak ideological constituation. And it’s the first point. So when there does not exist a strong ideology it is much more diffictult to explain what is precisely, first militant art because the subjective conviction is unclear, and second to explain what is the difference between official art and militant art on the same ideological background, is the first point of difference. And the second point is that there is no -today – carismatic power of the result of history, and so there is no possibility for a strong official art because there is no space of the power, space of the State, where something like an official revolutionary art can be given and inscribed. So the two major conditions of official art, militant art, and the difference between the two are not realized today. We are in a completely different situation.



So the quesiton today is the question of an isolated militant art, a militant art which is not in relationship – in the dialectics – with an official art on the same ideological background. But what is an isolated militant art, what is the strange determination the condition of existence of that sort of art? The difficulty – I think, but we can discuss all that – the difficulty is that without a content in relationship with a strong ideology, the militant art cannot be clearly distinguished from purely experimental art. The difficulty is that it’s very difficult – practically impossible to distinguish between the formal level of experimenation and the political level of militant art as such. And it is ? because the formal novelty, in the condition of today, the formal novelty cannot be inscribed in clear references to progressive contexts because this inscription in a progressive context was in fact always in relationship with a strong ideology: direct, mediate, indirect, explicit, inexplicit, but finally we can find in the sequence of the past that the formal novelty in the case of militant art is in relationship to the strong ideology by successive mediation. In the absence of strong ideology, the abscence also of the space of a power and the same background, it’s very difficult to create the relationship between the formal novelty and the progressive position in the political field. So the tempation today is to say that artistic creation, formal novelty, are by themselves sufficient to define politcal destiny of the arts. And much more sometimes to say that in the weakness, the contemporary weakness of the political novelty, artistical creation as such, has a political content, a political determination. Finally to say that art, as a novelty, as a creativity, is by itself political. It’s a temptation and we must understand that this tempation is today a necessity. A necessity in the context where [there] does not exist a clear mediation between the field of artistic creation on one side and the field of poltical activity on the other side, because this mediation was in fact for one part the existence of a strong ideolgical context, and for the other part the existence of a power, a space of power, which can define an official art. But this tempation is a tempation of avant-garde as such, or maybe the temptation to identify, purely and simply, artistic avant-garde and political avant-garde. We know the last century has been the century of very complex relationship between artistic avant-garde and political avant-garde. It has been the century of difficult relationship between surrealist and communist, between the question of formalism in art and the question of realism in politics and so on. And certainly this is not simple at all and with many conflicts, tensions, difficulties and so on. But it was a real history, it was a histroy of a real mediation betweeen the two separated fields of creativity, artistic creativity, in the form of different avant garde and the current of revolutionary politics with its proper organization and the state power of Soviet Union, and so on. This history is finished, it’s clear, because the components of this history does not exist today. There is no strong ideology, there is no real power with differences to the strong ideology, and in fact there is no clear vision of artistic avant-garde, so all the components of this history have disappeared. So the temptation is that in every field where we create something, we decide that the field is by itself also a political one. And I think all our problem today is to refuse this tempation, is my position. To refuse this position and to say that certainly, art, work of art can be a subjective anticipation of some political event. Art is not separated from politics, it’s not my idea. Art can be a preparation, a subjective preparation to the reception of a political event, because art is really an effective subjective process, the transformation of subjectivity. The old forms of conetmporary artistic experience – performances, installations, and so on and so on – also subjective mobilization in the direction of acceptation of the possibility of a political event, but art cannot be the creation of the political event as such because the political event as such has its proper laws. So the political consequences of an event are not of artistic nature. So we can accept that the situation today of militant art is complex and unclear situation because there is something like an autonomy of artistic creation without the possibility to say that this autonomy is by itself of political nature. So we can only give some rules, some indication, in the direction of what is today a militant art, condition which assume that there is a real weakness of the possible relationship between art and politics today. And this weakness is precisely our problem and we cannot substitute to this problem the weakness of the relationship between the two by the affirmation of a pure identity between the two. It’s a tempation but it’s a tempation which cannot have good results. So to finish this presentaiton I propose four provisial rules concerning the question of a weak militant art.


First I think that it’s a necessity to be in concrete relationship with localized political experiences. I think it’s a necessity to create the common space. The first common space was precisely the existence of strong ideology and strong organizations. In the absence of all that the common space must be a practical common space, a real proximity. And so I think the artists must search and find the form of a concrete relationship with some local political experiences which exist today. Could be the Palestinian situation, could be mobilizaiton of minorities, could be what you want. But I think it’s not possible to be at a distance from all that. We have a new imperative for artists, for possibility of militant art, which is to be in effective relationship with all that. In fact my proposition for this first point is to substitute an ideological proximity by concrete or real proximitiy. In the abscence of the strong ideology we must be really near the local experiences in the field of politics; the first point. And I think we can find new formal means in this proximity itself. Second we must know and assume the attempts, the contemporary attempts to organize progressively the return to a strong idea. So the first point is to accept the weakness, but the second point is to accept also the possibility to go beyond the weakness. And so to know and to participate in the different attempts to return to a strong ideology concerning the global destiny of human beings. Is it possible today to propose one small global idea of the transformation of our destiny? I don’t know if it is possible, but if we want the creation of a new form of militant activity in the field of artistic creation, we must know and participate in the attempts to go in that sort of direction. And so there is a necessity for the contempoary art to have a strong intellecutality, to know and practice really the intellectual dispostioin of today and not only concerning the formal means of creativity itself but also to have an intellectual space really as great as possible. And so the third point is to participate, naturally, in the inventions of new forms in the direction . . . which substitutes presentaiton for representation, so in the militant direction, the formal direction, which is as much as possible in the direction of a purely presentative function of artistic vision. So the three imperatives of today. First: concrete relationship to political activities in local forms, because globally there is no strong vision, but there is really intense local experiences, so to go in the direction of what is intense locally much more than in the direciton of what is powerful globally. And so it’s the imperative of weakness if you want. Intensity, weak intensity – but intensity. The second imperative is to assume all the attempts, which are of a philosophical nature in some sense, in the direction to return to a strong idea, from the weakness itself. From the weakness, inside the weakness, to find the new way for the possibility of a strong idea. And first in the formal, to appropriate to all that, the new formal means in the clear direction of presentation and not representative glorification of the result because, as we know there is no results of the mark. And so the glorificaiton of the result is really something void. So that’s the first three imperatives. And after that, I think that the fourth point – and it’s a point, which is of really an artistic nature, is to propose the possibility of synthesis of the first three points. Synthesis between relationship to local experiences, knowledge of the attempts of something much more strong and global, and a new formalization in the direction of pure presenation. Doing something which is really like a sensible concrete synthesis of these three determinations. So to propose work of art which is really in relationship to action (first point) local action, local transformation, which is intellectually ambitious, and not poor, and which is formally avant-garde – avant-garde in the classical sense of substitution of presentation for the fundamental vision of representation. And, you know, if something can be done in that direction, and I think it’s possible, we can have a militant art in a strong sense, a militant art which is really inside the contemporary possibility of actions, but which is also at the level of intellectual activity and in the direction of a strong idea and which is in the descendancy of the new formal invention of the last century and of today. And so to conclude all that, I think that a militant art today is possible, not as a direct illustration or realization of a strong ideology, but as a sort of composition, a sort of montage of these three determinations. And so I hope that what exists today concerning artistic creation, which is a great existence, all that progressively constitutes a sort of reference for the passage of the first stage of our history which is close to another stage which is the opening of a new potency of the idea. Thank you.





Q: Hi, I’m interested in your translation of Plato, and I’m wondering if you consider that act of translation to be a work of militant art. And I’m wondering how you might relate that to going toward local intensity, and to the other three.


A: You know I think that maybe in some sense, yes, in a sense, because it’s a proposition of writing a book in a form which is completely different of the classical form of what is a classical book. And so, it’s the possiblity of saying that Plato writes today. So in this sense it’s the artistic transformation of myself in Plato, or the monstrous transformation of Plato in myself. And so, in this sense, there is seomthing like the metamorphosis which is not exactly of a philosophical nature but which is also a formal operation. But in the I end I state a philosophy. But maybe it’s philosophy with the consciousness of the necessity of new means and new formal means for philosophy itself.


Q: I was wondering whether the fundamentalist movements all over the world, whether it’s American fundamentalism or Asian fundamentalism, is not a powerful ideological presence in our time that could serve the model that you set out.


A: Naturally, during all my talk concerning strong ideology, naturally, notreactionary strong ideology was implicit. We are exposed today in fact, I agree with you in some sense, we are exposed today to return to some forms of reactionary, strong ideology. It is a possibility in this crisis and so on. It’s clearly no ? We can observe the development of some ideology of closed identities, rationalist ideology and so on, which are pre-fascist in nature, but all that is not our problem.


Our problem is to create, against all that, the new possibilty, maybe, of a strong revolutionary ideology; or a strong, progressive ideology as you want; or a strong democratic ideology – we can change the word. And naturally there is no possibility of real artistical creativity in the field of reactive ideology. And so this sort of strong ideology is something which is much more, for us, a condition of a new fight, a new struggle. And natrually the question of art when there is the possibility of a new struggle it is also a very important question, because in all the sequence of the history of humanity there is a correlation between the new forms of struggle and the new forms of artistic creation, naturally. And so the problem of what is today an avant-garde, new militant form of art, is also a very important question in the context of the reactive possibility of the world today.


You know, I think it’s very important to observe that we are between two historical sequences. There is one sequence which is closed, certainly, which has been the sequence of the dream of a final victory. Something like that, we can say that. The dream, the terrible dream, the brutal dream of the final victory of the revolutionary form. This sequence where the fundamental idea was the idea of a victory is closed. We know that that sort of final victory does not exist. And so the background of an official revolutionary art is closed too, because official art was really the art of that sort of victory, the glory of the final victory.


So we have that but we have not a clear other possibility, and we are between two sequences. And so the militant art must be an art of anticipation, an art of possibility, an art which proposes the existence of new local possibilities which open the subjectivity. I think it’s the destiny of art today, to create some opening of subjectivity to something else, and not only the purely negative critique of the world as it is, but the creation of something like a new possibility, a new opening, and fundamentally a new courage. Because, finally, the existence of art, of artistic creation has been in all the history of humanity has been very useful to have some courage in existence. It’s true. Without painting, without cinema, without great novels, without poetry, the existence is in some sense a closed existence. Naturally there is also scientific invention and so on, but in the subjective field the opening of the subjectivity by the work of art is a necessity and not only something which is of secondary importance. Or today, precisely because we are (in my conviction) between two different sequences of the progressive history of the human being and with the real possibility of operation of reactive, purely reactive vision, we must have creative activity in the artistical field not only to say the world as it is is not good – which is clear in my opinion – but to say that it’s not our final destiny, and we can open our subjectivity to something else. And if this something else is not the global possibility which is inscribed in strong ideology, if this new opening of the subjectivity must be localized and much more weak than before, then the work of art is a good means for that. And so there is really (my conviction) an historical responsibility of artistic creation today.


Q: You spoke a lot about the role of the militant artist and the work of militant art. I was wondering, unfortuanetely – maybe for better or worse – we’re not all artists, so what’s the work of the militant spectator? What are the responsibilities there?


B: I cannot distinguish between the two finally, because artistic creation naturally is at a beginning. It cannot be an audience without a spectacle. But precisely in the new forms of artistic creation there is always distinction between the two. And we have a solicitation of the audience and intervention of the public and so on. And all that is precisely the direction of what I name presentation much more than representation. But if we have presentation much more than representation, we have naturally a sort of difficulty of distinction between purely creative objectivity the public or the audience. And so it’s also the point where the relationship between artistic creation and political experiences can be less separated than before. Maybe artistic creation can be much more inside the process of political experience than before. And it is also beacuse we cannot have the big Art of glorification of the result.


Q: Here there might be some connection with what he asked. Let’s say that there is no separation of the artist and the spectator in the forms you are talking about, how would the affirmation happen if there is not also a militant institution? You know if there’s no institution that will affirm that this is art or not, how can you actually know that this is art? If we are sure that this kind of equality comes, we can say that there is a militant institution that provides that sort of equality.


-Is there?


No, it’s not. But, let’s say in this idea he’s talking about, of these new forms of militant art, maybe there is the possibility of militant institutions.


B: You know it’s a part of a much more difficult and important problem which is the question of what is today a political organization.



And what is today a political organization is precisely the most obscure question for clear reasons. Finally, the failure of forms of revolutionary power during the last century has been the failure of the dominant type of organization. It is the failure of the party, as the form of power and which finally has created a form of state which was oppressive and which has been a complete failure after the dissipation of the Soviet Union. And so in all fields today the question of what is a good institution, what is an institution which is really a creative one is a difficult question.


It’s not only the problem of artistic institutions, it’s the more general problem of organization. And I think we have only one rule: an organization can be an organization of a process and not an organization of the state, of this position. And so we must construct something from the concrete situation, from the concrete problem, from the process, from the struggle, and not in the pure vision of the global result or something like that. So, finally, in the artistical field there is no general solution of the problem of institution…And in fact, the question of organization or institution is always a problem between the open and the closed. And precisely the party, the form of the party, the Communist party, of the revolutionary party, has been the choice for a closed.


And why? Because the closed form was the form of the military action, of the violent action. And it was the form where something like military victory was possible against the reactionary state. And the choice, by Lenin in fact, but finally by Trotsky and the others – Mao too – the choice of the party form has been the choice of the victory of the result absolutely. Before, during the all 19th century, all insurrection, all revolution has been crushed by military means. And so the conclusion has been: we must create a new form of organization which is disciplined and closed. And with that form we have a chance to be victorious. And if the Soviet revolution of 1917 has been so popular, has been with millions of people enthusiastic for all that, it was because for the first time that popular insurrection has been victorious. There is no other reason.


And so after that we have a long sequence in which everybody is convinced that the key of the revolutionary trend is to construct a closed organization. And we can understand all that. The victory is really something extraordinary, in fact. It really was a new sequence in the history of human beings after all. But we know today that maybe the closed organization, the instutitions, the specialized institutions in any field, maybe is the possibility of some result, but that it’s impossible to continue after that sort of victory, is the direction of human emancipation in general. The closure, finally, is victorious itself. It’s not that you have first the victory by the means of closed organization, but after that we have the victory of closure as such. And so the victory becomes a sort of new, complete failure. And we are here.


And so the problem is really: what is an open organization? But the problem of an open organization which is not reducible to the problem of no organization at all, I understand your question. No organization at all – it’s too distant from any possible victory. And so the general philosophical, material, empircal question today is to find something which is to find something which is in fact neither closed nor open. Something between the two. It’s a topological problem and it’s also an artistical problem, because in fact, in many tendencies of the artistical creation today, there is something which also finds a way between the strict closure of the work of art as an object, and the complete opening of the work of art as something which is completely dissipated into the ordinary life.


And the two tendencies are different. And we find something which is not reducible to the closure of an object, which is not completely dissipated in the opening into ordinary life, and this problem is in fact the general problem of our historical sequence – to find something which is neither reducible to closure nor reducible to the pure opening, and so the point is to have not only the victory but the continuation. How to continue in the direction of emancipation, and to find the victory only as the beginning and not as the goal. Because after the 19th century the idea was that victory was the goal. But we know that after the victory we must continue, and if it is impossible to continue, if you have finally the construction of a monstrous State, oppressive and so on, we have nothing. But in the field of art, we’re having the same problem. Certainly, we cannot repeat the pure glorious objectivity of the work of art in its classic representative form, but it’s not possible to finally identify the work of art to the ordinary life. There must be a difference, and in the political field it’s the same thing. We must have something which is a difference of political activity to something else, but this difference cannot be the closure of an organization. And if I know the solution, I [will] give [it to] you immediately. But it is only our experience. It’s our experience today to find that sort of direction in any field: philosophy, artistic creation, political activity, and so on. And it’s only because we have, certainly, between two different sequences of history. One is closed, but we cannot know exactly when the new sequence begins.


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