January 26, 2005


Quite wonderful passage from Badiou's Ethics which connects up with many things, not least of which the Joy Division post. Here, Badiou isolates the cultural political and psychological machineries which produce and propagate depressive quietism.

Read this and weep about the last twenty five years:

'A crisis of fidelity is always what puts to the test. following the collapse of an image, the sole maxim of consistency (and thus of ethics): 'Keep going!' Keep going even when you have lost the thread, when you no longer feel 'caught up' in the process, when the event itself has become obscure, when its name is lost, or when it seems that it may have been a mistake, if not a simulacrum.

For the well-known existence of simulacra is a powerful stimulus to the crystallization of crises. Opinion tells me (and therefore I tell myself, for I am never outside opinions) that my fidelity may well be terror exerted against myself, and that the fidelity to which I am faithful looks very much like - too much like - this or that certified Evil. It is always a possibility, since the formal characteristics of this Evil (as simulacrum) are exactly those of a truth.

What am I then exposed to is the temptation to betray a truth. Betrayal is not mere renunciation. Unfortunately, one cannot simply 'renounce' a truth. The denial of the Immortal in myself is something quite different from an abandonment, a cessation: I must convince myself that the Immortal in question never existed, and thus rally to opinion's perception of this point - opinion, whose sole purpose, in the service of interests, is precisely this negation. For the Immortal, if I recognize its existence, calls on me to continue; it has the eternal power of the truths that induce it. Consequently, I must betray the becoming-subject in myself, I must become the enemy of the truth whose subject is the 'some-one' that I am (accompanied, perhaps, by others) composed.

This explains why former revolutionaries are obliged to declare that they used to be in error and madness, why a former lover no longer understands why he loved a woman, why a tired scientist comes to misunderstand, and to frustrate through bureaucratic routine, the very development of his own science.' (79-80)

Posted by mark at January 26, 2005 02:05 PM | TrackBack