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Invitation to Alain Badiou at Jack Tilton Gallery



ALAIN BADIOU–The Arts: Appearing in the Service of Being
Jack Tilton Gallery,
March 7/2006

Josefina and Alain

I am Josefina Ayerza, the editor of Lacanian Ink. Let me thank you all for being here tonight, and a very special thanks to Jack Tilton for hosting the event. Certainly signaled by the word of Jacques Lacan, we can say that Lacanian Ink's major premise lies in interpreting the very word. And this is how we've had few writers along the years - 16 consecutive years - and each one is so much each one...in that they know what they are talking about, in that they are most productive...the best writers if I may say so.

Issue 26 is taking up on Anxiety as it breaks in with the notion that lacanian anxiety is an access route to the real. What real? Lacan calls it objet a, and he calls it a left-over. The objet a is what in anxiety has fallen from the subject, precisely the cause-of-the-desire. Again, anxiety as such is not signifier. Says Jacques-Alain Miller in his Reading of Lacan's Seminar X, "as access route to the left over which is not signifier Lacan chose an equivocal route...which is that of an affect." And this is an affect of the subject..." a "subject that talks," set up and determined as an effect of the signifier.

Of affects and effects... How soon, asks Lacan, is this subject affected by anxiety? In the event of anxiety, the subject is affected by the desire of the Other: d(A), in a direct manner - in a non-dialectical way. And this shows how, relative to the affect of the subject, anxiety doesn't lie. What doesn't lie is the radical point at which anxiety functions in the guise of a sign, actually, how it gets written. Little Hans, for example, talks about anxiety-producing horses, Angstpferde. And Lacan corrects him: "No, not at all, they are not anxiety-producing horses. What he experiences with horses is fear."

Those who remember the story know that there was a fugitive moment in which Little Hans signals that, in front of the horse's mouth, in front of the muzzle, there was a kind of stain. It is not the construct of phobia which interested Lacan, not the removal of anxiety by the phobia, but rather the reprise of this stain, of this singular residue which is also a blur to make an object of it, to make the objet a of it.

Lacan opposes traditional psychology where fear is distinguished from anxiety. Fear and anxiety are one and the same thing. Again, anxiety is not without an object. With Alain Badiou, our guest tonight, he comments Seminar X in this same issue, 26: Lacan tells us, Anxiety has a proper object, it is vor etwas, confronting something."

This Seminar demonstrates that in the structure of language, there is something that cannot be reduced to a signifier. With art we have that it reaches "beyond the symbolic" that is, visual art makes use of the structure of language without, in most cases, making use of signifiers - words.

To draw the distinction between seeing and looking, Lacan began with the statement that I see from a single point - but that I am looked at from everywhere. Indeed, your subjectivity does not simply depend on what you see, but also on how you are looked at.

Let's say you look at at a work-of-art when you do not see exactly what it is about, or when something seems to escape your sight. You look you are searching. Now you say "I see," it means you have stopped looking.

Badiou on T.V. Badiou on T.V.

The point Lacan wanted to make is that the work of art is not simply looked at by the viewer, but that it is at the same time looking back at him.

And what is even more significant is the fact that the work-of-art is not simply looking back at him with the look of one of the people represented, but rather that it is looking back at the viewer with a look that he does not see. This look in the painting looking out at the viewer is the viewer's own look. Somehow the viewer has been dispossessed of his own look.

Lacan continued to assert that the recognition that your own look is looking at you, is fixing you, and has stopped you in your tracks before the work of art, produces anxiety.. Anxiety is produced when you see your look in another space; for that is the moment when you realize your loss.

Alain Badiou teaches at the Ecole Normale Superieure and at the College International de Philosophie in Paris. He has published plays and political essays, as well as a number of major philosophical works. Many books and articles by Badiou have become available in English. The latest ones are Handbook of Inesthetics, Metapolitics, and Being and Event.

With you Alain Badiou on "The arts: Appearing in the service of Being"

photo credits: Jack Tilton



ALAIN BADIOU – Art's Imperative: Speaking the Unspeakable
The Drawing Center,
March 8, 2006

The lecture webcast live by the August Sound Coalition was recorded the following night at The Drawing Center in New York City

I am Josefina Ayerza, the editor of Lacanian Ink.

Let me thank you all for being here tonight, and very much thank Catherine de Zegher and The Drawing Center for hosting the event.

In the early 60's Jacques Lacan construed his world in between structures and talked accordingly. Never more so than throughout his Seminar X: Anxiety - a rendez-vous point as he called it – where, as he proclaimed, all he had taught till then would regain a strong presence. On these grounds, le fantasme, essential as it is, got very soon measured against the structure of anxiety; they are, as a matter of fact, one and the same structure.

Curiously enough both figures can be traced throughout Lacan's most difficult times. At this poit the S.F.P. (Societé Française de Psychanalyse) - Lacan is one of its members - wanted to be recognized by the I.P.A. (International Psychanalytical Association). In 1961, at the Congress of Edinburgh, the I.P.A. recommended the admission of the S.F.P. as a study group within I.P.A.'s supervision, but conditioned the admittance with the banning of Lacan, of Françoise Dolto... from the training analysts course: the problem was the short sessions, back for consideration, as in the split of 1953.

The S.F.P. chose not to make a decision for the time being: a motion was adopted stating that "any attempt to force the expulsion of one of its founder members would be discriminatory and would offend both the principles of scientific objectivity and the spirit of justice."

However, in 1963, at the Congress of Stockholm, the I.P.A. voted an ultimatum: in three months Lacan's name had to be crossed off the list of didacticians, or they were not going to affiliate with the S.F.P.

Two weeks before the expiration of the deadline fixed by the I.P.A. (October 31), the committee of didacticians of the S.F.P. gave up its courageous position of 1962.

While Serge Leclaire was the president, Daniel Lagache, Vladimir Granoff and Juliette Favez brought the final draw of the so called the ex-communion of Lacan.

Leclaire then received a letter from Lacan himself announcing he was not going to attend the meeting because he could foresee the disavowal. Thereby, on November 19, the majority ruled in favor of the ban. Same night, Lacan was informed about the outcome of the meeting. He, no longer, was one of the didacticians. The following day, his seminar "The Names-of-the-Father" was to start at Sainte-Anne.

Of the names of the father... Why the plural for the name of the father? Lacan questioned his own title at his one day Seminar and he announced that it was to be the last one. Then, he remitted the title to his paternal metaphor of 1958; to the function of the proper name he referred to in 1961/62; to the father drama in the Claudelian trilogy from 1960... he ultimately hooked up with his latest Seminar, Anxiety.

With Alain Badiou, our guest here tonight, it is Art's Imperative: Speaking the Unspeakable"