Reflections on philosophy and culture

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Badiou on Beckett

I've yet to make heads or tails of Alain Badiou's systematic philosophy, but some of his critical and historical essays are fascinating. For example, this essay, entitled "Figures of Subjective Destiny: On Samuel Beckett," contains insights about Beckett I've never seen articulated quite so well.

Badiou really understands Beckett, especially the significance of Beckett's distinctive way of abstracting from the concrete vicissitudes of human life. This characteristic operation in Beckett's works always functions to outline what Badiou calls a 'figure': an image of the human subject and its encounters with others and the world - what Badiou calls "forms of the destiny of the human subject." These aren't images of a universal human subject - of what a human being is at anyplace or anytime - but of particular ways a human being might be.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

From Structure to Rhizome

I recently discovered the Backdoor Broadcasting Company, a company in the UK which records academic talks, conferences and the like and then posts them online. A recent addition is audio from the talks delivered at the recent "From Structure to Rhizome" conference on transdisciplinarity in post-WWII French thought, which took place at the embattled philosophy department at Middlesex University last month. Included are a fascinating talk by Etienne Balibar on the concept of structure and one by Eric Alliez on the concept of rhizome.

The conference is not only an interesting one, but one which is a testament to the vibrancy of work going on in Middlesex's philosophy department, now under the ax.