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Beyond bodies, culture and language: an introduction to Alain Badiou

Jon Baldwin, London Metropolitan University

The work of Alain Badiou presents itself as emerging like the rumbling Paul Celan (1) speaks of in the following, from Atemwende, 1967:

A RUMBLING: truth
itself has appeared
among humankind
in the very thick of their
flurrying metaphors.

The murmur of a truth emanates out of the void, despite humankind’s sophistic preoccupation with ‘flurrying metaphors’. Badiou’s work is devoted to the effect of listening to these murmurs (2). The murmur of something new coming to happen interrupts the norm of a situation - that is, an event occurs. Those who correctly investigate the consequence(s) of the event and maintain fidelity to this interruption are subject to, and produce, a truth resulting from that event. This truth transforms existing knowledge and is universal - intelligible for everyone. This is how Badiou often uses the word truth - vérité - as connoting "something close to the English expressions ‘to be true to something’ or ‘to be faithful to something’" (Hallward 2002: xxvi). His work has been presented as the unexpected and eventful return of a notion of truth to philosophy. [Read more]