BADIOU’S BECOMING-DELEUZE: a personal observation

1) OPPOSITION, RESISTANCE

I neither forget nor excuse any of Badiou’s “militant” mafia tactics in disrupting Deleuze’s seminar and setting himself up as judge in a caricature of a tribunal of the people.

My current attitude towards Badiou has evolved over a 36 year period. I first read his diatribe against Deleuze and Guattari, “The Flux and the Party”, in 1980, and I was incensed. It took me 8 years to see things more coolly.

2) MISMATCH, PHASE LAG

I read BEING AND EVENT when it came out in French in 1988, and I was very impressed, even if I did not agree with much of it. I felt that it was a monument to a failed chance at dialogue, as it had far more relevance to Deleuze’s DIFFERENCE AND REPETITION and LOGIC OF SENSE published nearly 20 years earlier. Similarly, LOGICS OF WORLDS (2006) is a more satisfying work, which seems to be in dialogue with A THOUSAND PLATEAUS (1980).

Recently I have been reading Badiou’s seminars as soon as they are published in French. I think Badiou’s Heidegger seminar (1986-1987) is brilliant. He engages the discussion with Heidegger’s philosophy as an equal, and his alternative ontological hypothesis allows him to re-integrate Heidegger’s discourse, hardly the most dialogical, inside an argumentative field.

3) BLOCKAGES AND FAILED DIALOGUE

I was living in Paris then, and I now regret that I was “blocked” against Badiou, and I wish I had attended that seminar and the preceding ones, as I stayed in Paris from 1980 to 1987. I attended Deleuze’s seminars, but noone told me about Badiou’s.This is a lost opportunity arising in part from the division of philsophy into rival teams of followers.

Everyone has the right to evolve, and it would be un-Deleuzian to “freeze” someone, even Badiou, into a static stereotype and then to judge them. Yes, Badiou was “blocked” against Deleuze, and is responsible for serious misreadings and mistakes about Deleuze’s ideas.

4) EVOLUTION NOT JUDGEMENT

However, I have been following Badiou’s seminars on THE IMMANENCE OF TRUTHS for the last few years via the videos, lecture notes and summaries that are being published, and I find that he is still evolving, and becoming more interesting. His writings show an increasing rapprochement with Deleuze.

Similarly, I have been reading and thinking about Deleuze for 38 years now, and the time for hagiography, uncritical adulation or one-sided partisan devotion is long past. I have no status, money or career interests in a Deleuze franchise. My own vision has evolved, and Badiou’s writings, despite his mistakes, have contributed to that evolution.

5) BEING DELEUZIAN, BECOMING (NON-)DELEUZIAN

My own “Deleuzism”, apart from continuing to live in France after having come here to attend Deleuze’s seminars, manifests itself philosophically in my involvement with the work and ideas of Michel Serres, François Laruelle, Bernard Stiegler and Bruno Latour, not to mention my continuing interest in Badiou’s latest developments.

Practically, it is present in the language I speak and think in (French, most of the time), in my conjugal life (I met my wife in Paris, while I was trying to learn French to understand Deleuze’s books and seminars), in my body (I took up tai chi to understand Deleuze more concretely), etc. Everyone has their own story to tell.

I am certainly not a Deleuze “scholar”. Although I am not hostile and I think that Deleuze scholarship is interesting and useful, my own understanding of Deleuze, such as it is, has not in the slightest way been indebted to that particular academic milieu nor to its productions.

6) FROM CONVERGENCE TO DIVERGENCE

It may be the case that the more a philosopher is successful the more he or she seeks convergent dialogues. I do not know, but it would be a shame if that were true. But in the case of a philosopher that we love, and that functions as an educator for us, a large degree of convergence may be a good heuristic phase to go through. However, it is good to have one’s own individuation, to bifurcate off and diverge from what was once individuating but that with time becomes a new alienation.

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10 Responses to BADIOU’S BECOMING-DELEUZE: a personal observation

  1. Do you have links to any of the ‘Immanence of Truths’ material?

    Like

  2. don socha says:

    You still practice Tai Chi? If so, does it continue to inform your reading?

    Liked by 1 person

    • terenceblake says:

      Yes I continue to practice tai chi and it helps me understand philosophers better. For example, when Deleuze and Lyotard talk about sensation in relation to art I transpose it into yoga and tai chi as I consider these practices more widely accessible than Lyotard’s rather élitist references.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Carl Looper says:

    In the cinema books is an understanding of how filmmakers think, or rather: how filmmaking thinks. This thinking is not in terms of the written word, but in terms of images and sounds. Even if the way that Deleuze elaborates this understanding is in words. For a filmmaker, there is no script to be found in Deleuze. There is no guidance to be found . There is no “this is the way films should be made”. And nor are there any obstacles. There is no “you can’t do this”. There is instead a kind of enthusiastic understanding of what filmmakers or film making is doing. It’s not a full understanding, but it is a very good understanding. It is a start. It is an appreciation of cinema. It appreciates cinema as philosophy (rather than as entertainment or enterprise) Now the philosopher/filmmaker is not in any way at risk of being unable to individuate from Deleuze. For there is no Deleuzian school of film making into which the filmmaker might find themselves otherwise trapped. If the filmmaker becomes a philosopher it is by entirely different means to how Deleuze becomes a philosopher. There is no way for some retrogressive feedback and implosion to take place between a filmmaker the philosopher, and Deleuze the philosopher. There is, in a sense, an already understood dis-agreement between the two. A critical chasm. But there is respect for this chasm.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: DELEUZE, BADIOU, LARUELLE, CIORAN: a plea for polychromatic vision | AGENT SWARM

  5. Pingback: CLEARING THE GROUND (2): | AGENT SWARM

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