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Events as dual and narrative entities in Deleuze and Badiou

Matthew Wilkens, Duke University

In his recent book on the event and its relation to modernity, Jacques Lezra analyzes the fort-da game described by Freud in Beyond the Pleasure Principle in a way that mirrors Lezra’s own treatment of the event. He writes:

The toy, the child, and above all the mother is not first a cultural "site" or "function" that is then transformed into an ambivalent trope or screen: she is in Freud the improper name given to the allegorical "gap" opened up by the undecidable relation between the ontological "priority" of any cultural function over its representations and the epistemological "priority" of those representations for the work of the unconscious. (Lezra 1997: 73)

The impossibility identified here of assigning priority to a socially functional concept (here, the mother) or to any particular instance or manifestation of it is another configuration of the problem of the event. In the latter case, the difficulty comes in determining whether or not an event belongs properly to the situation in which it occurs. The solution to this problem—or an account of its implications, should it prove insoluble—is of more than abstract interest; social, historical, and subjective narratives all depend on our ability to link events and situations. An examination of the event is therefore a critical passage in any adequate account of the ways in which narrative functions. [Read more].