becoming, difference, flow, recurence, structure, transversality, truth


Rene Magritte, "The Lovers" (1928)

Will. The question of the will is not whether to emphasize cycles or fluxes (identities or events, structures or processes, concepts and percepts or acts and effects); still less how to conduct a grand unifying synthesis of the two — events and processes as differing stages or aspects of what is ultimately some overly ideal dialectical Unity; the question is rather, first and foremost, to determine how we can possibly proceed (vis a vis the unconscious) given the radical discontinuity between the two accounts of thought and existence. A theory of the will (a diagnostics of the sick will and a genealogy of the healthy, that is to say the real analysis of the unconscious) must affirm the divergence of a purely ‘immanent’ theory of flows and a purely ‘ideal’ theory of machines. Yet the very difficulty in convincingly theorizing the will is precisely the fact that these two modes of interpretation beg one another and are ultimately cut from the same cloth; a successful account of the will cannot disguise the deadlocks which have hitherto almost completely blocked the progress of understanding the unconscious. (It was owing to the sterile dogmatism wherein both accounts decayed for centuries, each thinking itself “complete,” that their kinship and even mutual implication had been able to go so long unnoticed.)

Resemblances. The event has an excess over existence, as a surplus; must this intimate some radical intervention of Truth or more simply, an intangible and virtual dimension of immanence — that the event happens to return, perhaps without limit, breaking with the continuity of resemblances, linking up with a pre-individual and differential flux?

Ground. Becoming can also be understood as a terrible guest: a noisy, ill-mannered, and parasitic inhabitant of beings. Both noise and parasites (and bad manners for that matter) indicate pathways to grasping becoming — these transversal or transevental vectors each affirm a dangerous divergence from the smooth severity of the host or background. Becoming fractures (a) being into a prism: it is precisely the assemblages of parasitic flows of matter and of life which collectively constitute “becoming,” the eruption and eviction of Being; and yet, in another sense, the singular, material and sufficient cause of existence.

Degeneration. Growth (whether cosmic or vital) is never simply a question of similarity, it is not a matter of the general but rather precisely of the repeated: not of convergent series but “degenerate” planes and lines which expand only through a rigorous fragmentation, a limitless mechanism of tortuous recurrence. What is ontologically primary are these infested and “aware” surfaces, the resurgence of certain parasitic elements within the event, the systematic degeneration on the part of the surface of being, the positive knowledge of our incapability to maintain the stability of the surface against the rising ground.

badiou, becoming, difference, force, function, metaphysics, ontology, virus



A science of being is not enough. This subtraction which purifies, this selection and division which makes holy, which ‘invents’ and ‘discovers’ truth — how could ontology do anything but give us theories of the One, of the Law, of the Real, of the existing-as-such? How could it do anything but carefully induce multiplicity to subtract itself into unified theory, divide itself into functions and axioms; endlessly seduce differences into homogeneity, and minorities into conformity; plumb the depths only in order to reproduce an absolute height for an absolute voice?

Ontology is always the political ontology of Power, taken to the absolute point of dispersion where nothing remains, everything is subtracted, except for forces and matter — only functions, pure functions, and even concepts are now only seen in terms of effects, the site they create, “their” ontology. Ontology as both lens and situation, a regime where truths are always the same, is insufficient as long as it remains without a phenomenology of becoming, the concept as event, coming from outside of being which throws existence into doubt.

Multiplicity is first apprehended as risk, as danger; this much seems to be always already understood. The ontological question is how much can we take, what can be subtracted — from the situation, in short from life. Life as subtraction and transubstantiation. The holiness of being should not be misunderstood, for we encounter the most peculiar bifurcation precisely here, the curvature of space itself, the uncanny pull of the invisible — the Other, a zone which implies another reality — where being merges with non-being. The fold between us.

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