Alain Badiou and the Event


While contemplating Badiou’s notion of the event and subjective truths it is clear that the raised question of whether or not the vitality of the event can be “communicated and shared” provides no easy answers – given the fact the the signification of the event itself has remained an elusive abstraction.

If I understood Badiou’s concept of truths correctly he is arguing that truths are only revealed by an event, a break from the situation exposing the void contained within. He states, “ the truth as such …is the multiple, internal to the situation, that the fidelity constructs, bit by bit…”,(67-8).

Yet, he counters that this truth is, “a process from which something new occurs” yet, remains endlessly obscure to the subject who is confined to the ongoing relentless vitality to overcome the dichotomy of perception and reality towards truth.

Badiou reveals that, “ What arises from a truth -process ….cannot be communicated ….communication is suited only by opinions [he explains] to enter into the composition of a subject of truth can only be something that happens to you”,(51). I would like to expand on Badiou’s assertion to the subjective nature of truth processes. I agree that there are many instances where a breaking of the situation can be achieved only in the subjective nature of an individual’s consciousness. However I think this subjectivity pertains only to certain types of events. It seems to me one needs to question the nature of communication. What defines communication? Is it the witnessed tangible form of Saussure’s’ Sign and Signifier ( for instance) or can one argue that communication can also fall into the intangible realm of the metaphysical? It is my contention that it is a reasonable premise to view Badiou’s assertion to the subjectivity of events as failing to acknowledge the existence of a independent ‘universal’ vitality whose force cannot be grasped within the standard realm of our logical reasoning.

Badiou proposed that ,“ If a truth is never communicable … it nevertheless implies, at a distance from itself, powerful reshaping of the forms of communication”, (70). Given Badiou’s own notions that despite being “non-communicable” truths are still “powerful reshaping of the forms of communication.” Lends credit to my assertion regarding the necessity of investigating the signification of communication itself.

This leads me into my discussion regarding the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria in 1914 by a Bosnian Serb nationalist. In this case, the act of murder ‘the event’ caused a rupture in the situation. One could argue that this event transcends Badiou’s notion of subjectivity. In this instance, the act set of a chain of political events that were unpredictable and unprecedented that once unleashed, imminent, ultimately resulting in World War1.

After the assassination Austria-Hungary pointed to the Serbian government as the perpetrator. Meantime, Serbia had the backing of Russia a powerful force (being allied with France and Great Britain) causing the Austria-Hungary government to ask Germany for confirmation of alliance. Ultimately, the assassination resulted in a total collapse of Europe’s powers. This set of unpredictable events changed the western world in unimaginable ways. In this instance notions of a subjective truth become irrelevant to the actual truth to the situation. The retroactive exposed the void of the necessity for Europe’s ‘subconscious collective’ need for political change. While it is a subjective truth the immanent momentum of the Event – a break in the situation – catapulted a collective shared subjectivity of exposing the void of the situation. Enabling the masses a collective break from the situation and promoted a collective vitality to the void, resulting in a complete shift of the landscape of political reality.


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