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Reducing the Sophist to Silence



Alain Badiou

translated by Susan Spitzer


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The Wolfman I

Reducing the Sophist to Silence

The Jouissance Program…

Freud and the Object…

The Universal Eye…

Transcendental Black Metal

Leave the Screen Empty!

Mike Kelley,
Carroll Dunham,
Olaf Breuning

Breuning image — Let’s begin at the beginning. If it’s clear that justice is not what the poets and tyrants claim it is, whatever can it be?
A heavy silence greeted Socrates’ question. Thrasymachus then sensed that his moment had come. Many times over the course of the debate he had been consumed by a burning desire to take part in it. But the people sitting near him had prevented him from doing so because they wanted to hear the arguments to the end. This time, however, taking advantage of the confusion that followed the—admittedly oddly abrupt—return to the initial form of the question, Thrasymachus finally broke out of the silence they had imposed on him. Flexing all his muscles and crouching like a wild animal about to bare its huge claws, he advanced on Socrates to tear him apart and eat him alive. Socrates and Polemarchus recoiled in terror. Once he’d reached the middle of the room, the monster glowered at the whole audience and began speaking in a voice to which the room’s high ceiling, the French windows, the darkness that had fallen over the sailboats, indeed, the whole world seemed to impart a thunderous power:
— What pathetic hogwash Socrates has been subjecting us to for hours now! Why do the two of you kowtow to each other all the while bombarding us by turns with your stupid nonsense? If you really want to know what justice is, Socrates, stop asking pointless questions and rubbing your hands in glee when you’ve refuted something one of your sidekicks has managed to stammer out. Questions are easy, answers less so. So tell us once and for all how you define justice. And don’t come saying that justice is anything but justice, that it’s duty, the useful, advantage, profit, interest, and so on. Tell us precisely and clearly what you have to say. Because I won’t do what all the other bit players in your three-ring circus do, I won’t put up with all your hot air.

Art: Olaf Breuning
Me, me, me, you and me - wood, hardware, hot glue, acrylic paint, 2009
courtesy Metro Pictures, NYC.

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