philosophical meaning. Given the paradigmatic importance of Plato’s discussion of the One and the Many in the
in Badiou’s project (as the rst philosophyto ‘think multiplicity’ in the Western tradition), it is hardly surprising to see himrepeat the Platonic banishment, albeit in a more indirect fashion.
While Badiou concedes that philosophy ‘uses ctive incarnations in the texture of its exposition’,
and refers briey to the various ways in which philosophy makesuse of dialogue, image, comparison, rhythm, narrative, parable and fable, theseoccurences of the literary within the philosophical are emphatically qualied:However, these occurences of literature as such are placed under the jurisdiction of a principle of thought which they do not constitute.They are
in certain points where, in order to establish aplace where they can articulate how and why a truth makes a gap inmeaning and escapes interpretation, it is necessary, through a para-dox of exposition, to propose a fable, an image or a ction, tointerpretation itself.
Poetry, then, in Badiou’s model is strictly subordinate to (under the
of) a‘principle of thought’ which is exterior to it – it is a localized means, or instrument,of philosophy and not philosophical in itself. This subordination is clearly visible inthe other two essays on poetry in
, where Badiou discusses the poetry of Mallarme´ and Rimbaud as ‘methods’.
Mallarme´’s poems are seen in terms of Badiou’s own philosophy as acts of ‘evenemental naming’ (
which function by mean of threekinds of negation: ‘disappearance’ (
), ‘annulation’ (
), and‘foreclosure’ (
). Disappearance, for example, involves the introduction of what Badiou calls ‘disappearing terms’ (
termes e ´ vanouissants
), that is names or termswhich are cancelled or obliterated. For example the poem ‘A la nue accablante’,which evokes a ‘sepulchral shipwreck’ (
) is said to introduce the vanishing term ‘ship’ (
) which is then obliterated in the event of shipwreck. ‘Theship is not evoked except through its abolition’, says Badiou, and this is characteristicof the naming-event, in that it inscribes terms in the indecidable and ‘summons fromthe place or situation its void, which is its being insofar as it is being’.
For Badioupoetry (or at least Mallarme´’s poetry) is the ‘thought of the event
’ – ‘only thepoem’, he says, ‘can give us the gift of the event
along with its indecidability
Rimbaud’s poetry, on the other hand, operates according to a di
erent logic, whichBadiou calls ‘interruption’. ‘The poem’, he says, ‘is its own interruption’.
This‘interruptive function’ (
la fonction interruptrice
) which Badiou sees as reaching its apogeein Rimbaud’s poem
, is that which disrupts thought, but also that which‘disorders the order of speech’.
The poem of Rimbaud is most often consecrated to interruption itself,to that which inscribes in language less the ecstacy of donation or theunrepresentable obligation of being-there, than the instantaneousoscillation between the one and the other.