Two giants of French philosophy discuss psychology, Western culture and the Kantian turn in the history of philosophy in this hidden gem of a video. Michel Foucault is interviewed by Alain Badiou, the acclaimed author of many books including Pocket Pantheon, and the forthcoming The Adventure of French Philosophy (2012), which both engage with Foucault's thought.
Following on from our announcement of Alain Badiou and Slavoj Žižek's New York conference, Communism, A New Beginning?, we have brought together the numerous reports, responses, commentary and resources relating to the first Idea of Communism conference in London.
If there's anything missing, please add in the comments below.
'Daily Humiliation' is from Alain Badiou's Polemics, first published in Le Monde following the riots in Parisian banlieues and throughout France in November 2005.
'Constant identity checks and questioning by police.' Of all the complaints made by the youth of this country in revolt, the omnipresence of police checks and being arrested in their everyday lives, this harassment without respite, is the most constant, the most widely shared. Do we really realize what this grievance means? The dose of humiliation and violence it implies?
I have a 16-year-old, adopted son who is black. Let's call him Gérard. No sociological or misérabiliste 'explanations' can be applied to him. He grew up in Paris, in all simplicity.
Slavoj Žižek writes for the London Review of Books on the UK riots:
Repetition, according to Hegel, plays a crucial role in history: when something happens just once, it may be dismissed as an accident, something that might have been avoided if the situation had been handled differently; but when the same event repeats itself, it is a sign that a deeper historical process is unfolding. When Napoleon lost at Leipzig in 1813, it looked like bad luck; when he lost again at Waterloo, it was clear that his time was over. The same holds for the continuing financial crisis. In September 2008, it was presented by some as an anomaly that could be corrected through better regulations etc; now that signs of a repeated financial meltdown are gathering it is clear that we are dealing with a structural phenomenon.
We are told again and again that we are living through a debt crisis, and that we all have to share the burden and tighten our belts. All, that is, except the (very) rich. The idea of taxing them more is taboo: if we did, the argument runs, the rich would have no incentive to invest, fewer jobs would be created and we would all suffer. The only way to save ourselves from hard times is for the poor to get poorer and the rich to get richer. What should the poor do? What can they do?
New Yorker music critic Alex Ross writes about Alain Badiou's Five Lessons on Wagner (mistakenly presented as co-authored with Slavoj Žižek, who wrote the lengthy afterword). In his substantial essay on Wagner's Ring in the New Yorker Ross agrees with both Badiou and Žižek that in Wagner's music can be found the possibilities of a different world and a new politics.
Wagner's music is marked by a constant tension between a will to power and a willingness to surrender. The contradiction is not one that we should seek to resolve; rather it is integral to the survival of the composer's work. Because we can no longer idealize Wagner, he is more involving than ever. This idea animates Five Lessons on Wagner, a recent book of essays by the philosophers Alain Badiou and Slavoj Žižek. The latest in a long line of thinkers who have tussled with Wagner, Badiou and Žižek try to revise the prevalent picture of the composer as a proto-Fascist - the phrase was "virtually invented to describe Wagner", Badiou says - by heightening his paradoxes. In Wotan's monologue, Badiou sees a pivotal moment in which "power and impotence are in equipoise"; that paralysis creates the possibility of a different world. He goes on to paint the "Ring" as a mythological tale that annuls, one by one, the consolations of mythology. Žižek sees in Brunnhilde's sacrifice the hope for a new kind of politics - a space of selfless action beyond the failed ideologies of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Wisely, Žižek does not spell out what these politics might be. The music offers hope, nothing more.
Visit the New Yorker to read the article in full (subscribers only).
Also check out Alex Ross' excellent blog, The Rest is Noise.