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badiou / becoming / Deleuze / form / language / machine / myth / notion / ontology



At the height of its concentration, the art of the [twentieth] century — but also all the other truth procedures, each according to its own resources — aimed to conjoin the present, the real intensity of life, and the name of this present as given in the formula, a formula that is always at the same time the invention of a form. It is then that the pain of the world changes into joy.

Alain Badiou, The Century 146


To move beyond an age, a century, an image of thought — what, today, does this require, and what would it allow? What does it mean to exit the territory, to proceed beyond the limits of a century, that is, while still maintaining oneself firmly within it, and thus despite constituting a series of processions within it? 

Immersed in the viscous flow of time, to turn over a new leaf, to work out a new concept, to produce a new kind of humanity, for a new kind of world. The concept of novelty is fraught with internal fissures and cracks. It is neither wretched nor glorious, but already an experiment in formalization, the process of deactivating a mythology, a path.

To deactivate a machine, there must be an overflow, a glitch or fault, topologically speaking a bursting, as though the paradoxical new formula itself unfolded in order to become a smooth space of thought. The notion escapes in two directions, a new earth rises within the old.

Alain Badiou argues the new is neither an inexplicable sacrifice of tradition nor a mediation of the various dimensions of human becoming, but rather the production, the education, and the very culmination of a new humanity, ready for a new thought, a new world. There is here, perhaps, more than a parallel to the work of Gilles Deleuze. The paths by which one leaves the territory, the lines of flight or vectors of deterritorialization, are exacting experiments — a cautious but unsparing dislocation of cognitive and cultural coordinates.

The Author

mostly noise and glare


  1. “To move beyond an age, a century, an image of thought — what, today, does this require, and what would it allow?”

    In my humble opinion, it requires the removal or, at least, the minimization of man’s debilitating desire to make finite the infinite; to define space and time for the purpose of making himself more comfortable within it; and to know the unknown and unknowable.

    I see the value in watches and calendars for making connections efficiently with other people and marking significant events that are worth remembering, but I try my best to avoid the temptation of compartmentalizing time into decades, centuries, and millenniums (at least in my own mind).

    The difference between the last moment of the 20th century, and all that it holds, and the first moment of the 21st century, and all that it has to offer, is not 100 years. As for what that difference is, I will leave for other philosophers to argue while I live my life…

    I understand the human curiosity but I also understand the human ignorance, which is rooted in the failure to know what we do not know and the failure or inability to admit and submit to the fact that there is not an answer to everything… and be content with that…

    “Freedom from the desire for an answer is essential to the understanding of a problem.” Jiddu Krishnamurti

    Thanks for provoking thought. I am a fan of your blog…


    Kent (The Financial Philosopher)

  2. Kent,

    I agree with you in large part. It strikes me that knowledge becomes wise only when it learns restraint, a “reasonable” reason as opposed to, say, a “pure” reason.

    On the other hand, discoveries are made precisely on this borderline you mentioned, between the known and the unknown. As Hegel might say, to think this boundary is already to cross it.

    The consciousness of failure is already theoretical. The apparent hubris which makes us so unwilling to submit to a religious explanation is also the burning heart of the scientific revolution, an enlightenment which corresponds to the deactivation of a mythology machine some thousands of years in the making.

    The thing is that science has a machine of its own, which on the surface looks nothing like that of religion, but beneath this calm veneer of “rationality” we find this same, spiritual desire to purify and become-purified, to gain access to pure knowledge or truth. Cosmic wisdom, both the youngest and most ancient species of mysticism, becomes wrapped up with modern scientific theory. The desire for an “answer,” a formula which explains everything, has driven the modern scientific revolution. The dream of a unified field theory haunted Einstein until his death.

    There is a certain amount of “organic reunification” we should be ready and willing to accept, in order for the transformation of art, science and philosophy to continue. On the other hand, caution and restraint must be our watchwords, the basis of our experimental rigor. It is so easy to botch it, to wake up hollowed out, petrified — and precisely at the moment we think we are free…

    Thanks so much for your thoughts!


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