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Deitch Projects
ALAIN BADIOU on "Art and Philosophy"
November 30, 2000


Thursday, November 30th, 2000, 8 pm, Deitch Projects hosted the presentation of the Fall issue - number 17 - of the journal lacanian ink. The show on the walls - photographs - belongs to Vanessa Beecroft.

The event consisted of an introduction to lacanian ink and to the French philosopher, playwright, and novelist, Alain Badiou, by the journal's editor, Josefina Ayerza. Badiou read from his piece, "Art and Philosophy", published in English for the first time in lacanian ink 17, recited a poem by Mallarmé, and answered questions from the audience.

Alain Badiou is Director of the Department of Philosophy at École Normale Supérieure, Rue d'Ulm, Paris. He is also Conference Director at the Collège International de Philosophie. His latest books are: Abrégé de métapolitique, and Petit manuel d'inesthétique.


Josefina AyerzaBeecroft image and audience

I am Josefina Ayerza, the editor of Lacanian Ink - a journal that combines Lacanian texts, poetry, fiction, and contemporary art projects, and has been going since 1990.
Issue 17 is publishing Alain Badiou - whom I am delighted to be able to introduce to you tonight. Badiou will be reading from his article "Art and philosophy," translated into English in this same issue, 17.
I very much want to thank Jeffrey Deitch for letting us have the space, and I want to thank Columbia University - with us tonight in the figure of the Departmental Representative Bruno Bosteels - for the invitation of our honorable guest to the US.

With Jacques Lacan we have that when he gives a formula like the desire man, it is the desire of the Other.

The painting on the cover of lacanian ink 17, at the outset of the esthetical, centers the drama at the core of the feminine, precisely in the mirrors. Woman changes herself in the mirror, in behalf of the esthetical... "it is their secret celebration," says Peter Schoolworth, the artist. Now you look close enough into the women's features... aside from the color of the hair, they are identical...

Not only Other to the man, woman is Other as such, and in this she unfolds...

Again, Lacan, in his Ethics, relates the mechanisms of hysteria, of obsessive neurosis, of paranoia, to the three terms of sublimation: art, religion and science.

You sublimate in relation to the Thing-a void...
- Art gets organized around the void... this accords with hysteria and repression. - Religion eludes the void and respects it... it entails obsessive neurosis, and displacement.
- Science doesn't believe in the void, it eludes it...this comports paranoia and foreclosure.

What is the void? It represents the Thing.

What is the Thing - Das Ding?

With Freud, the goal is not to find an object that corresponds to the subject's representation at that moment, but to search for it...

"The conditions given, the object will be there," says Lacan... "after all what you search for cannot be found. It's the nature of the object to be lost... It will never be found."

The object that will never be found is the Thing.

The experience characterizes the subject, its object and the desire.

The object has never been lost, even if the case is to search for it. And this object hasn't been spoken. It slides between the words and the things, in the illusion that words correspond to things. An incessant illusion denied by the misunderstanding, the object is forever being re-born.

The Thing will always be represented by a void, precisely because it cannot be represented by something else-or more precisely, it can only be represented by something else.
-It is represented by a void... we're on the side of logic, of the real.
-It is represented by something else... we're on the side of representation, of art.

In the first case, the matter is philosophical variations, or theological, as for example the empty set, or the ex-nihilo creation. From the point of view of the signifier chain, it is the lacking signifier, the one that makes the chain move - the zero in the numbers sequence. From the point of view of topology it will be the hole...

In the second case it will be what makes holes in the real. That is the name, and better, the name of the Father. Art goes beyond the symbolic... So it uses the structure of language, and this is what allows for the articulation of truth. Here the hole corresponds with what is empty - with what cannot be spoken - as Woman cannot be spoken - still it can be shown, represented.

With Badiou philosophy and art are coupled the way the Master and the Hysteric coalesce in Lacan.... Bruno Bosteels will quickly summarize for you on Badiou's theories of art along his conspicuous writings.



[The following is an excerpt from Alain Badiou's lecture.
Now he is reading from lacanian ink 17.]

I want tonight to protest against the idea... because one day you write a difficult responsible tale - a text in French and Josefina says to you that you have to read it in English, but my English is something between French and Spanish... so, the job is very difficult. I don't know if it is possible to read this text in English, but I shall try... But before, I want to say to you that this text is... the link between art and philosophy is very difficult because the philosopher says that truth is in philosophy and thinks that truth that art is a sort of section, a selection of truth and against truth, so Plato says "You know that an artist has to come out of the city, and the state is the link between art and philosophy, it is a sort of battle, a sort of war..." and some philosophers think that the war is impossible, they want peace between the philosopher and the artist - that peace is very difficult to find. So, my text is a text of peace... The good news... but peace is sometimes more difficult than war. And I don't know if that peace is a better piece of the war, of these wars in peace, something like that... though if you read the text it is better to read it than to hear the English between the French and Spanish. You have to say to me, if really it is a text of peace or a text of new war... if the philosopher, isn't a new sort of war, is why there is no new peace, is sort of mathisme or camouflage. Now I shall read the text but, sometimes I prefer to read, to say to you some French poems. Don't be surprised if I stop the text and say a poem...

Art and Philosophybadiou

A bond that is forever affected by a symptom, one of oscillation, of throbbing.

From the very beginning there is Plato's judgement ostracizing poetry, theatre and music. By and large the founding father of philosophy - a refined connoisseur of the arts no doubt - preserves, in The Republic, only military music and patriotic chants... yet the philosopher has a tendency to preserve in art, convey the spirit of art. So military music is the best. And Plato says the best of art is his art is the best being military music, so it's a pity. On top of that you find a pious devotion to art... its own angst.


It's modern of philosophy to say that art is the milieu of truth. Its not a veritable peace. It's a feat of philosophy. And I don't know that this orientation that art is the true pace of truths, that philosophy is finished, is nothing... is better than that of Plato that art is nothing and philosophy is ignorant. The hand of philosophy and, the hand that is proferred, is symmetrical of the Platonism declaration that art is about seeing, and philosophy a great sin. So the greater way of peace is between the duality of the... but neither in the history of philosophy nor in the victory of art, but after all Protagoras the sophist, singled out the apprenticeship of arts as the key to education. There was an alliance of Protagoras and Simonides the poet, which Plato's Socrates attempts to thwart the casuistry and enslave the rational's intensity to his own benefit.

That point is very important [...]




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