Zizek on Badiou’s Logique des Mondes
April 16, 2010
In Badiou’s Logiques des mondes, the shift is from the axis Being-Event to the axis World-Event. What this means is that, in Logiques des mondes, Being, World and Event do not form a triad: we have either the opposition of Being and World (appearance), or the opposition of World and Event. There is an unexpected conclusion to be drawn from this: insofar as (Badiou emphasizes this point again and again) a true Event is not merely a negative gesture, but opens up a positive dimension of the New, an Event IS the imposition of a new world, of a new Master-Signifier (a new Naming, as Badiou puts it, or, what Lacan calls vers un nouveau significant). The true evental change is the passage from the old to the new world. One should even make a step further and introduce the dimension of dialectics here: an Event CAN be accounted for by the tension between the multiplicity of Being and the World, its site is the symptomal torsion of a World, it is generated by the excess of Being over World (of presence over re-presentation). The properly Hegelian enigma is here not “how is an Event, the rise of something truly New, possible?”, but, rather, how do we pass from Being to World, to (finite) appearance, i.e., how can Being, its flat infinite multiplicity, APPEAR (to itself)? Is it not that this presupposes a kind of “negativity” that has to be somehow operative in the midst of Being itself, some force of (not infinity, but, on the contrary) finitization, what Hegel called the “absolute power” of tearing apart what in reality belongs together, of giving autonomy to appearance. Prior to any “synthesis,” Spirit is what Kant called “transcendental imagination,” the power to abstract, to simplify/mortify, to reduce a thing to its “unary feature,” to erase its empirical wealth. Spirit is the power to say, when it is confronted with the confusing wealth of empirical features: “All this doesn’t really matter! Just tell me if the feature X is there or not!” Maybe, a FOURTH term is thus needed, which sustains the triad of Being/World/Event, a negativity (“death drive”) reducible to none of the three.