LOST OCCASIONS (3): Garcia and Badiou

A similar encounter between openness and dogmatic closure can be seen in the interview between Tristan Garcia and Alain Badiou.

Garcia begins by saying that of course he is a “universalist”, but that all the reading he has been doing in minority struggles, de-colonialism and third wave feminism have led him to question the neutrality, and the universality, of his own white male privileged theoretical subjectivity.

Badiou listens politely then hits back with Lacan’s distinction of the three registers of the symbolic, the imaginary and the real. He asks where Garcia’s idea of “groups” is situated in these Lacanian terms. The rest of the discussion, though very interesting, is downhill after that.

The openness that Garcia introduces tentatively at the beginning was neutralised and rejected by Badiou’s dogmatic deployment of Lacanism.

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4 Responses to LOST OCCASIONS (3): Garcia and Badiou


    What does the “universal” mean, when its articulation ensues from a locus that is otherwise susceptible to particularised characterisations? When the ‘articulation’ itself is localisable, & indeed, when that ‘articulation’ can be seen to stem off from ‘histories’ both empirical & theoretical, even such distinction between this ’empiric’ & ‘theoretic’ being an artifact, in practice a particularised metaphysical distribution & weighting, of one of those histories?

    In such considerations, of course, the notion of totalisation necessarily arises, as ineluctable corollary of the ‘universal’. Which ‘universal’ is being referred to, what ‘totality’ in in operation? This multiplication is unavoidable, when universality is approached through differential articulation. Not that anyone actually ‘knows’ what ‘the universal’ is; as if the unlimited voracity of total inclusion could in any way be reduced to knowledge & ontology. As if the selective & identifying gesture, through its very selection & identification, did not engage in the very particularisation both vitiating & producing the notion of the ‘universal’, producing yet another identity? Could this be any more than a holistic perspective, a convention of totalising intuition? What secrets circle in these conceptions?

    I quickly looked at Lacan’s distinction of the three registers of the symbolic, the imaginary and the real.
    A conventional range of particularisations, following an ordinary metaphysical distribution & its categories; ‘Self’; communicational semiotics or code; ‘the Real’, as nostalgic principle of normative guidance in relations of accordancy with the empirically-lived. I say ‘nostalgic’ because Lacan can, & does, use this this principle as motivic guide, leading knowing or knowledge through his particular mappings, in traditional ways, as a kind of unifying phenomenology of ‘psyche’, ‘communion-code’, & ‘Reality’. He valorises ‘Reality’ as a kind of facticity beyond negation, yet essentially positions this ‘facticity’ in an assertoric way as being the negation of ‘psyche’ & ‘communion-code’. His assertoric mapping neglects the possibility that as such a ‘facticity’ is categorised using these negations, it is thereby implicated, at its origination, with what it allegedly negates. Taking such originary implication into account, any one of Lacan’s assertoric distinctions (“symbolic, the imaginary and the real”) can quite legitimately be inflated into universality, as sublationary & holistic perspective over the others. There is no necessary ordering of assertoric distinctions, except those that are chosen or constructed. This is not an issue at conventional levels, but could be, if Lacan’s mappings are seen as anything more than investigations into phenomenology of traditional sociopsychologic possibility, as those have possibilities have arisen within an age informed by scientific & structural reflections.


  2. Nice micro example in the Discourse. Women get it all the time.


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