BADIOU ON FACING A SITUATION VOID OF THOUGHT

From the first class of Badiou’s seminar for 2014-2015: The Immanence of Truths (3), my translation.

Badiou discusses HYPERION by Hölderlin:

“The contemporary relevance of this novel is quite striking because fundamentally what Hölderlin is meditating on concerning the the Greek national situation is the question of what remains of the lessons of the Revolution in a context that is not that of the Revolution itself, all of that taken up in Hölderlin’s allegorical style. Ultimately, this means: what use can one make of the revolutionary idea when the situation is not revolutionary? After all, this is what it comes down to. This meditation seems to me to be in truth contemporary. There is in particular Hölderlin’s capacity to grasp what a situation is that is apparently void, a situation from which it could be said that every idea has withdrawn and that therefore we must face up without mediation to its national, historical, political, etc. vacuity. What Hölderlin has his hero Hyperion, a young man, say – as this is really a novel about youth confronted with history –  is that one must all the more be in the calm of thought when the situation is void. One cannot fill an empty situation with imprecations against the void. One must on the contrary rise to the occasion of this void in a way that lets thought play in its own certainty”.

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