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Graduate Special Issue – Žižek & Badiou
Agalma at the void: on the ub!e"t o# an evental ublime
Adam Drury, Oregon State University
Over the last two decades, Slavoj Žižek’s Lacanian anti !hiloso!hy and Alain "adiou’s materialist dialectic !hiloso!hy can #e seen to have a!!roached each other asym!totically $ intentionally, and also inevita#ly so% &ithout 'uestion, the convergence o( their res!ective movements o( thought makes (or a !otent and indis!ensa#le critical war machine% And es!ecially so (or those to whom !sychoanalysis and materialist dialectical !hiloso!hy re!resent, in the !resent, a long tradition o( intellectual resistance to ca!italism and the theoretical destruction o( the demokratic materialism that under!ins its glo#al regime% )hat is to say, when we are s!eaking o( "adiou and Žižek in the conte*t o( the !olitical, we are s!eaking o( the +dea o( ,ommunism, and nothing else% So when Alain "adiou writes, tucked away in a short note in the #ack o( Logics of Worlds, that -we make u! a !olit#uro o( two which decides who will #e the (irst to shoot the other,. /"adiou 01123 4567 he shares with us more than just some !lay(ul hy!er#ole concerning his relationshi! with Žižek8 instead, the joke’s Stalinist (ramework reveals an a!!arently #rutal mutual e*clusivity o( the meta!olitical conse'uences o( these authors’ 1
divided conce!tuali9ations o( the real% : +n light o( "adiou’s and Žižek’s anti humanist advocacy (or the return to the +dea o( ,ommunism, their de#ate concerning the real ac'uires critical urgency, since what is ultimately at stake is a theori9ation o( the egalitarian emanci!atory su#ject% + will address this de#ate #y analy9ing what + take to #e its two main com!onents% )here is, !rimarily, the 'uestion o( structure, which is to say the 'uestion o( #odies% ;ore !recisely, the 'uestion involves the theory o( incor!oration o( two #odies $ in this case, the <natural’ #ody o( a human individual, and the #ody o( a truth% + aim to demonstrate that what se!arates "adiou and Žižek amounts to a kind o( <minimal di((erence’ concerning the !arado*ical status o( Lacan’s objet a in the incor!oration o( #odies% &hile "adiou and Žižek #oth (ollow Lacan in asserting the #ody’s e*timacy with regard to the evental #ecoming Other which marks the #eginning o( a su#ject’s gri! on an event’s trace, their di((ering conce!tuali9ations o( the modality o( this e*timacy $ as se'uential and contingent #ecoming (or "adiou8 as structure (or Žižek $ installs a !aralla* ga! at the heart o( what "adiou calls <the regime o( the cut’, the evental u!surge whose trace a((ects a #ody in such a way as to #e the #asis (or a new su#ject% &hat, then, is the <evental su#lime’= +n one sense it is a conce!tual (igure that seeks to ena#le one to think within the ga! se!arating anti !hiloso!hy and !hiloso!hy, and to em#race the antinomies that emerge #etween these !ositions, without /it is my ho!e7 #eing led into contradiction% "ut the evental su#lime is also a notion which endeavors to (ormulate a uni'ue and !articularly charged construction o( su#jectivity, !art "adiouvian, !art Žižekian% "etween the two models, there is a Lacanian su#jectivation that "adiou claims to have sur!assed /citing the limitation o( an indeli#le ske!ticism which restricts truths’ eternality at the same time that it !revents the creation o( the truly new7, while Žižek has asserted its (initude with more rigor and #ravado than any com!ara#le thinker% So to #e a #it more s!eci(ic, within what + am calling the evental su#lime + seek a su#jectivation that would harness all the su#tractive !ower o( negativity Žižek e*tracts (rom the Lacanian construction while avoiding the (initude and ske!ticism that would dis'uali(y it, in "adiou’s system, (rom the active com!osition o( an eternal truth% 0
which is actually a se'uence o( two theses. the desire (or continuity and monotonous shelter8 courage. one will note that he has yet to se!arate this (amous !sychoanalysis (rom !hiloso!hy.usical >ariant o( the . the desire (or a @reat Aoint8 an*iety. is more di((icult% "adiou characteri9es anti !hiloso!hy as the de a#soluti9ation o( lack as the lack o( an o#ject% &e know that (or Lacan the (ormula (or the lack o( an o#ject is objet petit a% "ut how does "adiou understand the category o( O#ject= Je conceives o( it in the same way as Iant. which a((irms the ine*ora#le discontinuity o( !oints8 justice.’ he takes a ste! too (ar in the direction o( (initude. as -the !oint o( undecida#ility #etween the em!irical and the transcendental. which de !hiloso!hi9es him% /"adiou 01123 HF:7 &hen this second !assage is read ne*t to the (irst.eta!hysics o( the Su#ject. a striking relation emerges% +n Iant’s Critique of Judgment the a((ects o( terror and an*iety are #ound together in the dialectic that com!oses )he Analytic o( the Su#lime% )o recogni9e the immanence o( a lacking o#ject to this dialectic.Agalma at the void + take as a !oint o( de!arture the ju*ta!osition o( two ostensi#ly disconnected !assages (rom Alain "adiou’s Logics of Worlds% )he (irst. a!!ears in the scholium -A . where the categories o( the act are su#ordinated to the contingency o( worlds% BCD )o o!!ose the value o( courage and justice to the <Evil’ o( an*iety and terror is to succum# to mere o!inion% All the a((ects are necessary in order (or the incor!oration o( a human animal to un(old in a su#jective !rocess% 6 /"adiou 01123 F5 FG7 )he immanence o( affect to su#jective incor!oration is one justi(ication (or recourse to the category o( the su#lime as the conce!tual (igure o( a logic that could think the disjunction o( !hiloso!hy and anti !hiloso!hy as !roductive (or answering the 'uestion o( the Su#ject% )he (ollowing is (ound in the section on Lacan in "ook >++3 &hen Lacan says that <the o#ject o( !sychoanalysis is not man. and what can only #e accessed #y incor!orating onesel( into the Other #ody $ which Lacan too #ears witness to%"ut when he adds <not a#solute lack. since #y <eternal truths’ we too understand what is missing in the man o( democratic materialism. however. with an eye (or the register o( the su#lime. #ut the lack o( an o#ject. it’s what he lacks’. #etween rece!tivity 3 . that concludes "ook +8 + have distilled it3 ?our a((ects signal the incor!oration o( a human animal into a su#jective truth !rocess3 )error.
given in intuition% ?or "adiou. (rom the real to the sym#olic% )hus. is instead the -!ostulate o( the real one o( atoms. the o#ject can also #e said to indicate the general (orm o( the !assage.7 and the !henomenal a!!earance o( any o#ject whatsoever. /"adiou 01123 06: 07% )his undecida#ility announces itsel( in the (orm o( a reversi#ility #etween the !ure or em!ty (orm o( the <o#ject in general’ /or in Iant’s voca#ulary. + will have occasion to return to "adiou’s conce!tion o( Iantian intuition% ?or now. /"adiou 01123 0667% H )his is in kee!ing with the initiative. Synthetic unity. then. 4 . (irst (ound in "adiou’s Theory of the Subject. and #etween the transcendental and ontological #eing 'ua #eing /(or "adiou7 /"adiou 01123 06H7% And neither o( these two domains im!lies. or the !oint o( undecida#ility and reversi#ility. and it leads him to develo! a com!letely novel inter!retation o( the Iantian <(aculties’. the -transcendental o#ject. we will (ind that he stri!s (rom the Iantian conce!tion o( the o#ject all residues o( a su#jective ca!acity% )he unity o( sel( consciousness that Iant attri#utes to an act o( transcendental a!!erce!tion $ the liaising o( the void o( the su#ject as an em!ty <+ think< with the void o( the em!ty (orm o( the o#ject in general $ is instead -the structural unity o( the transcendental o( a world%. there is an a!!arently su#jectless o#ject% )he im!ortant !oint is to sei9e the am#iguity o( the theory o( the o#ject’s undecida#ility% As "adiou demonstrates. the category o( O#ject designates the logical (orm o( the o#jectivity o( a!!earing that sutures the consistency o( worldly !henomena to their multi!le #eing% "adiou’s notion that a situation /or world7 is constructed around what does not a!!ear or is void in that situation is akin to the Lacanian theory that a sym#olic order is structured around an im!asse o( the real 'ua im!ossi#ility% )here(ore. it is !ossi#le to !roceed in two directions% +( we stay with "adiou. this reversi#ility designates the o#ject as a conjunction #etween the ontology o( #eing /as !ure indi((erent multi!licity7 and the logic o( #eing as #eing there /a!!earing in a world7% )he o#ject. + will traverse the other !ath. a su#ject% )hat the o#ject lacks a su#ject is crucial in "adiou’s system. however.and s!ontaneity and #etween o#jective and su#jective. is situated at the edge o( the void o( any situation8 it is what allows a situation’s governing transcendental to inde* the invariance o( the multi!le /or void7 to the intensities in which any given o#ject a!!ears in a world in relation to other given o#jects% Or also. this am#iguity circles around the <other’ o( the transcendental3 the o#ject is the reversi#ility #etween the transcendental and the em!irical /(or Iant7. to develo! a <(inally o#jectless su#ject’8 here. which de!ends on the <(aculties’ o( human consciousness. where <intuition’ in !articular receives a radical overhaul% ?urther along in this !a!er. (or "adiou o( course.
who !ersuasively argue that Lacan’s objet a is Iant’s transcendental o#ject in disguise% +t is through the collective (orce o( their arguments that the constellation o( o#ject a((ect su#ject emerges in an alignment that serves as a !artial (oundation (or the idea o( the evental su#lime% )hese arguments are. /Iant :25:3 :157% Oet this <error’ o( su#re!tion. cannot #e e*!lained away /as Iant does7 with a re(erence to sensi#ility’s inade'uacy when overdriven #y a colossal dis!lay o( Pature’s (orces% &hat Ku!anLiL argues in "thics of the #eal is that (or this su#re!tion to occur at all. res!ect (or the su#lime o#ject su#stitutes res!ect (or the -idea o( humanity in our own sel( $ the Su#ject. which is titled..which makes o( the undecida#ility o( the o#ject as logical (orm without content the !rinci!le o( the Lacanian su#ject e((ect% )his other !ath is the one taken #y the Slovenian Lacanians. that is res!ect (elt as -delight. is NESAE. -)he (eeling o( our inca!acity to attain to an idea that is a la! for us. it is !ossi#le to discern a !aralla* ga! in the conce!t o( an*iety which induces its anamor!hosis% "adiou lists an*iety as one o( the (our a((ects involved in an individual’s incor!oration into the su#ject #ody o( a truth $ an*iety is here distinctly <su#jective’ $ and also his claim that any <thinking’ o( the o#ject does not im!ly a su#ject% &hat Ku!anLiL accom!lishes is the anamor!hosis o( an inscri!tion o( the Lacanian theory o( an*iety $ as the <o#jective’ (eeling o( a subject’s nearness to the o#ject /objet a7 $ into Iant’s theory o( the (eeling o( respect% )he Iantian (eeling o( res!ect a!!ears $ though in a signi(icantly diluted (orm.).3 accordance with the ideas /laws7 o( reason /Iant :25:3 :157% +n short. which nevertheless manages to induce a !leasure (rom dis!leasure. as a negative !leasure in the (ace o( an e*!erience o( the su#lime. argues Ku!anLiL $ in section 0G o( the nalytic of the Sublime. is only a certain su#re!tion #y which we mistakenly attri#ute to the <su#lime o#ject’ the truth o( our -!ro!er vocation. /Iant :25:3 :147% "ut this res!ect. -Muality o( the delight o( our estimate o( the su#lime%. !recisely3 Žižek’s delineation o( the relationshi! #etween objet a and the real. whose seat is the ideas o( reason <intuited’ #y the 5 . <res!ect’ has to already have #een situated at the level o( a representation. nota#ly Alenka Ku!anLiL and Slavoj Žižek. which means :7 that the delight(ul (eeling o( res!ect induced #y the su#lime is $bloss Subje%ti&es' Bmerely su#jectiveD and thus a <!athological’ (eeling like anything else. through a recognition o( the shi(t in @erman +dealism (rom the su#ject o( transcendental a!!erce!tion /Iant7 to the su#ject as crack in universal Su#stance /Jegel78 and Ku!anLiL’s e*!osure o( anxiety as the category o( a((ect lying in the heart o( a su#jective !ro*imity to objet a%4 +n (act. and 07 that the moral law or <categorical im!erative’.
/Žižek :2263 627% ?urthermore. which is also the ga! se!arating our intuition (rom the !ure conce!ts o( our understanding%G )his rea((irmation asserts that the <su!rasensi#le +dea’ /o( the moral law. that is o( the moral law as its re!resentation in the (ield o( su#jective e*!erience= Žižek answers3 we #egin with a Jegelian rea((irmation o( the Iantian <ga!’ se!arating !henomena (rom noumenaQ)hings in themselves. su#re!tion $ the move where#y the su#ject attri#utes to an o#ject the cause o( a feeling of respect that is <really’ caused #y the awareness o( the su!remacy o( reason’s +deas over -the greatest (aculty o( sensi#ility. not even a <su#lime o#ject’. a void to which Iant may have necessarily #een #lind% +n any case. the su#ject might also <come to’ the void o( his own ground% )he conse'uence o( such a <coming to’ would amount to nothing less than the annihilation o( #oth the consistency o( the world around me and the consistency o( my 6 . argues Žižek. we are now in a !osition to understand Iant’s recourse to a su!eregoi9ation o( the moral law% Again. voided. (rom the reali9ation that its correlate. as it were. in !erceiving the transcendental o#ject as void. $ is not some innocent trans(erence% )his (eeling o( res!ect is o( a strictly reactionary nature.nothing but the inherent limitation o( intuition. or the co relation o( two voids3 the em!ty (orms o( the o#ject in general and the su#ject as !ure <+’% &hat respect reacts to is the !ossi#ility that. it is easy to see the s!ecial status o( the su#lime in Iant’s undertaking3 the su#lime is that which e*!oses (rom within Iantian moral !hiloso!hy the void on which it is (ounded. (or it accom!lishes with the noumenal )hing /Iant’s (ing)an)sich7 e*actly what Lacan will accom!lish with the Neal3 the <Neal )hing’ is de su#stantiali9ed. can sensuously (ul(ill% F ?rom this !ers!ective. Jegel’s move here is immanently Lacanian. is a sem#lance. . it has no !ositive #eing $ or. i%e% the transcendental o#ject. rather. must also #e a re!resentation /Ku!anLiL 01113 :H27% 5 And the name (or the representation of the moral la! is none other than superego% &hat is the (unction o( this su!eregoic moral law. (or e*am!le7 is neither an inaccessi#le )hing in itsel( /Iant’s !osition7 nor !resent in the <+’ o( transcendental a!!erce!tion8 it is. its su#stance is only the retroactive <mirage’ o( the transcendental o#ject that no given o#ject. a mere !rojection o( the void o( the )hingQNeal into his (antasy s!ace% )hus the im!ortance (or the trans(erence o( su#re!tion3 it allows the su#lime o#ject to su#stitute in !lace o( the sem#lance o( the transcendental o#ject /'ua (orm o( the a!!earance o( the void7 so that reality retains its consistency /Žižek :2263 6F7% "ut the consistency o( reality is not the only thing threatened #y the e*!erience o( the su#lime% "ear in mind that Iant attri#utes the unity o( sel( consciousness to an act o( transcendental a!!erce!tion.su#ject in su#lime e*!erience. whose only aim is to !rotect the su#ject.
As such. that nothing will ever satis(y the su!erego% )his claim is (ounded on the metonymy o( su#re!tion3 a judgment o( the su#lime designates the o#ject as the !lace where Pature. /Ku!anLiL 01113 :HG7% +( the ethic o( !sychoanalysis. or 7 . yet go on living% )he !ath o( the cure. in a monstrous dis!lay o( (orces without !ur!ose or end. then. one might add. which humiliates me and com!els me to act against my (undamental interests. is the e*act nature o( this cost= Žižek descri#es it as -an a#solute !ressure e*erted on me #y the su!erego. with the tormenting caveat that it will never #e . i( what we’re a(ter is an incor!oration o( an individual into the su#ject #ody o( a truth !rocess% &hat. this is to his great satis(action%2 Pevertheless. the !arado* o( the su#lime is that the same e*!erience could lead either to the elevation o( the sel( over any !ur!oseless monstrosity Pature can throw at it. #oth o( these conse'uences o( the su!erego’s a#solute !ressure $ humiliation and acting against one’s <(undamental interests’ $ re'uire e*amination in turn% Alenka Ku!anLiL has linked the (eeling o( humiliation to the representation o( the (eeling o( res!ect already discussed% :1 Jere.t. whereu!on + die. may not #e so (or us. or it could lead to the radical evacuation o( the ego. which culminates in the autonomous act o( the su#ject’s crossing his (undamental (antasy. is the #asis o( the !sychoanalytic cure% Since the transcendental o#ject is designated #y Lacan as objet a $ i%e% the secret. it is !ossi#le to see again how humiliation /as a (orm o( res!ect7 is a reactionary a((ect which aims at (orever !rohi#itingQde(erring the act% Still. though an acce!ta#le loss (or Iant. /Žižek :2263 HG7% +t is hard to com!rehend how such an e*!erience could #e descri#ed as a -delight. (amously. humiliation and the su!erego a!!ear locked in what has #een called a Sadeian dialectic% Ku!anLiL keenly o#serves that Iant’s su!eregoi9ation o( the /moral7 Law involves its su!!lementation with a &oice and a ga+e.. o( course. de!ends on an inconsistency or lack in the Other 'ua sym#olic law. la tra&ers*e du fantasme. the agalma without which + would lose all consistency o( the (antasy o( mysel( as an individual <!erson’ $ the act o( the cure. the !sychic cost o( su#lime <elevation’ B"rhabeneD. -a manoeuvre which aims to (ill a hole in the Other /the Law7 #y means o( su!!lementing the Other #y the o#ject that it lacks. and the total withdrawal o( the su#ject (rom the world% )he latter !ossi#ility. this !icture is too sim!le8 what needs to #e taken into account is that the su!eregoic !rohi#ition o( the act necessitates that everything else is !ermitted. enjoys8 yet what the su#ject is <really’ e*!eriencing is the enjoyment o( the su!erego. or even a -negative !leasure%.sel(% +n other words. is not at all the !ath taken #y Iant and. innermost !art o( my sel( identity. involves the su#ject’s a((irmation o( the agalma as a sem#lance.
my actual. a spectator o( his own torment% Ku!anLiL identi(ies this <detachment’ as Iant’s -<(undamental (antasy’ $ the pathos of apathy. elevated even. argues Ku!anLiL. and it would not #e !ossi#le (or the su#ject or ego or individual as articulated in the Iantian su#lime to make the su#jectivating decision o( incor!oration% &e will have to look elsewhere. !rojecting my animality <down there’ while my ego remains sa(ely e*em!ted. their as!ect is all the more attractive (or its (ear(ulness8 and we readily call these o#jects su#lime. which is the reverse side o( the autonomous and active su#ject.7. to endure in(inite su((ering at the hands o( the su!eregoic /moral7 Law only i( the su#ject remains essentially <detached’. he can only a!!roach it ad infinitum in a series o( attem!ts that will out o( necessity always (all short% Such. argues Ku!anLiL /(ollowing Lacan’s thesis -Iant a&ec Sade. and this is #ecause. is (undamentally o!!osed to the one we e*!erience in the su#lime. where every o#ject is su#lime inso(ar as it reveals the su#ject’s im!otence in (ront o( an a#solute Other% )his. #egs the 'uestion o( how it is !ossi#le (or such a tormenting (antasy to #e sustained. the /ethical7 su#ject and the moral law intersect at the level o( affect. is the Sadeian !ers!ective o( the su#lime as a (antasy o( in(inite su((ering. and moreover sustained as relatively !leasing% Iant himsel( !rovides the answer% +n order (or the entire movement o( the su#lime to #e set in motion. in Ku!anLiL’s argument according to which the theory o( the su#lime merely rein(orces a shi(t already at work in Iant’s !hiloso!hy a!ro!os o( the (eeling o( res!ect%:: According to this line o( argument. which Iant calls <res!ect’. in his earlier !hiloso!hy. as + have already shown% "ut the a((ect o( res!ect that a!!ears in The Critique of -ractical #eason. and ultimately indifferent to the (ate o( my #ody% +t is !ossi#le. + o#serve mysel( as (undamentally a!art. and in which the su#ject is entirely !assive. !hysical #ody cannot #e in any real danger% +n the (ace o( dis!lays o( Pature’s (erocity. it is im!ossi#le to resist a Lacanian trans!osition o( Iant’s statement3 the humiliation + endure in the (ace o( a raging su!erego is a !leasure so long as + am not really <there’. in the place o( this o#scene jouissance whose other name is the Lacanian Neal% Nather. /Ku!anLiL 01113 :4F7% +t is easy to see how "adiou would harshly reject such a mode o( su#jectivity8 he everywhere maintains that we can call su#ject only that which is an acti&e com!osition o( a truth !rocess. there(ore. then. /Iant :25:3 ::1 :7% Jar!ing on the !un o( a <real danger’. that is.the su!erego as the !lace o( jouissance /Ku!anLiL 01113 :4G7% And since the su#ject has #een (or#idden the !ossi#ility o( a !ure ethical act. -!rovided our own !osition is secure. an inert matter given over to the enjoyment o( the Law. Iant endeavored to articulate a causality (or res!ect that would #e 8 .
or rather !ould have seen in his Analytic o( the Su#lime were it not (or his su#stantiali9ation o( the noumenal )hing. !recisely as an <agent’ o( re!resentation /desire7. /Ku!anLiL 01113 :H67% As such. <res!ect’ designates a non !athological (eeling $ or it is -the irreduci#le <'uantum o( a((ect’ that emerges on the !art o( the su#ject3 it is nothing #ut the (inal residue o( the !athological which. it is also the (eeling o( the lack or loss that is constituti&e of the subject of representation. Iantian respect and Lacanian anxiety are #oth <o#jective’. which (orces him into a necessary #lind s!ot% As a result. however. i%e% the su#ject who is conscious o( himsel( as a thinking #eing% )he (ormula o( respect. although an a((ect. which. /Ku!anLiL 01113 :H07% ?oreignness to re!resentation means that. it is also the mark o( how he e*!eriences a lack o( re!resentation% &e know (rom Iant’s criti'ue o( the cogito that the su#ject who !ossesses the ca!acity to re!resent reality as o#jectively valid is the !roduct o( a (undamental loss. which Lacan will later sei9e u!on with his notion o( the Neal. whose Lacanian name is objet petit a% )his is how one might read Lacan’s (amous ma*im ne pas c*der sur son d*sir3 <Do not give u! on your desire’ is at once an injunction to (ollow your desire through to its <real’ in the drive /i%e% jouissance7 and to not make the Other the e*clusive site o( your desire% )he (irst is what the ethicalQ!sychoanalytic act consists o(.-foreign to the mode of representation . in this case. i%e% the )hing in me that thinks% Oet the outcome o( Jegel’s <return to Iant’. we can argue the logic of the psychoanalytic act is a sublime logic that overcomes the reactionary se'uence $ i%e%. respect descri#es only the dri&e o( !ure !ractical reason. manquer/ &hat is not to #e missed is that the <lack that comes to lack’ is what Iant could have seen. my agalma. the <o#ject cause’ o( my desire. is no longer <!athological’ in the strict sense o( the word. o( /sym#olic7 re!resentation% )his means that res!ect is not <just’ a (eeling o( a lack o( re!resentation. which as Ku!anLiL !oints out ha!!ens to #e the !recise (ormula o( Lacanian anxiety3 le manque &ient . in (act. distorts the Law into an o#scene jouissance whose conse'uences (or the ego + have touched u!on a#ove% Arior to this shi(t. that is. the conversion o( the (orm o( the law into a drive% So i( res!ect is the mark o( how the su#ject e*!eriences the drive. desire (or the consistency o( the ego $ that com!oses the Iantian 9 . non !athological (eelings. affects that indicate + have <come to’ the e*timate !lace o( my jouissance in the (orm o( an o#ject drive. while the second ensures that such an act remains !ossi#le% )hus. the (ailure o( re!resentation in the su#lime !rovokes the dis!lacement o( the drive onto the su!erego. is thus the (eeling or a((ect o( a lack that comes to a lack. is the reali9ation that this )hing has no su#stance o( its own <outside o(’ the s!ace o( desire.
Lacan. and is there(ore a#le to articulate an ethical act that Iant ultimately (inds inaccessi#le% Let us say. argues Ku!anLiL. my italics7 +t is im!ossi#le not to notice how similar "adiouvian an*iety is to the reactionary (eeling o( <res!ect’ Ku!anLiL and Žižek identi(y as the mark o( a su!eregoi9ation o( the moral law in the Iantian su#lime% +s this su!eregoi9ation not the e*act conse'uence o( the su#ject’s desire (or continuity= "adiou’s own ethical theory testi(ies to the authenticity o( an ethics only inso(ar as it involves a decision /or act7 #ased on the un)%no!n /the negative (ormula (or truth7 and as such carries no <guarantee’ that it will succeed /in the com!osition o( a truth !rocess7%:6 )hus. !ro#lems !resent themselves immediately% Neturning to the (irst !assage (rom Logics of Worlds /cited a#ove7. then. in order to achieve a !ossi#le liaison #etween "adiou’s !hiloso!hy and Lacanian anti !hiloso!hy% $n evental ublime ob!e"t% +nevita#ly. this a((ect signals the desire for continuity. o( everything that im!oses a choice without guarantee #etween two hy!otheses% )o !ut it otherwise. it is !ossi#le to detect a convergence #etween Iant. (or a monotonous shelter% /"adiou 01123 F5. /Ku!anLiL 01113 :5H G7% "ut whereas anxiety is 10 . "adiou !rovides a de(inition o( an*iety that is rather (ar removed (rom Lacan’s% Jere is the com!lete de(inition3 )he second Ban*ietyD testi(ies to the (ear o( !oints.su#lime% )he logic o( this <!sychoanalytic su#lime’ involves the su#traction o( the individual /su#ject7 to the site o( his inscri!tion as !ure su#jectivity. + will attem!t to ground the !redicate e&ental in the (ormula o( the su#lime as agalma at the &oid. the retreat #e(ore the o#scurity o( the discontinuous. that it is now !ossi#le to !ro!ose a (ormula (or the evental su#lime that draws a shar! distinction (rom its su!eregoic Iantian !redecessor3 the e&ental sublime is a su#ject’s encounter with agalma at the &oid% )he !rinci!le affect that signals the evental su#lime is Lacanian anxiety at its !urest% +n what (ollows. a site whose ontological value is !recisely &oid%:0 +n other words. the !sychoanalytic su#lime is the logical inverse o( the Iantian su#lime. #ut is sim!ly the site where the 'uestion o( the su#ject’s desire emerges $ the ethical act involves the retroactive <creation’ o( what the Other will have wanted8 the su#ject will -write the destiny o( his desire. and "adiou around this (igure o( ethics% Since the moral law has the structure o( an enigma or o( an un%no!n $ the Other is not <a#solute’ and there(ore does not know !hat it wants.
/"adiou 01123 F5. and as such remains <?reudian’ in his conce!tion% +n the (irst division.3 it does not posit a -new harmony. (rom the unknowa#le dimension o( an act. the su#ject is tra!!ed in the Sadeian dialectic o( the su!erego. and that the ?reudian Lacanian death drive is sim!ly the name (or an o#scure desire (or catastro!he. #ut merely wi!es the slate clean (or it% /Žižek :22F3 0407 )he de#ate #etween Žižek and "adiou crystalli9es around the <end o( !sychoanalysis’ and the category o( anxiety is what strikes this de#ate’s dominant chord% "adiou has said in a num#er o( his writings that the !sychoanalytic act in which the su#ject <identi(ies’ with his jouissance as the o#ject cause o( desire is a <mor#id (ascination’. which is the !erverse <truth’ o( the Iantian moral Law. Lacan’s way is not that o( Aaul or "adiou3 !sychoanalysis is not -!sycho synthesis. the su#ject is the <s!lit’ #etween the entire su!erego dialectic o( the Law and the direct em#odiment o( the traumatic drive. my italics7% "ut the homology eva!orates as soon as one reads that this desire (or a <decisive discontinuity’ is also the desire to institute -the new world in a single #low. it is indeed tem!ting to risk a "adiouanQAauline reading o( the end o( !sychoanalysis $ which is to say. $ with the analysand’s su#jectivity radically restructured such that the vicious cycle o( the su!erego is sus!ended. le(t #ehind% Pevertheless. and which can #e witnessed at work in the Iantian su#lime% +n the second. a new )ruth Event. radical division /which Lacan attri#utes to the (act the we inha#it language7. insists on the constitutive necessity o( a traumatic encounter with the <immortality’ o( the drive as the #ackground (or any !ositive act o( su#jectivation /in "adiou’s sense o( the word73 +n Lacan. the ontological void o( an <undead’ lamella. (or nothingness% )he general content o( Žižek’s criti'ue o( "adiou’s !osition a!ro!os o( the death drive is that "adiou uncritically con(lates the t!o divisions o( the su#ject in Lacanian theory. prior to the filling in of this &oid/ C)he Lacanian death 11 . a decisi&e discontinuityC. which Lacan designates with the matheme 0 12 a% A true Lacanian. (or the re(erence to the >oid at its core. act is a !urely negati&e category. a -retreat. is the o!!osite% )he only other "adiouvian a((ect that resem#les Lacanian an*iety is terror. argues Žižek.integral to the !ossi#ility o( such an act (or Lacan. a Pew "eginning or sym#olic -re#irth. it is clear that "adiouvian anxiety. inso(ar as it -testi(ies to the desire (or a @reat Aoint. /"adiou 01123 F57% As Žižek e*!lains. which /in "adiou’s terms7 stands (or the gesture o( #reaking out o( the constraints o( "eing..
in a move to his own to!ology o( the su#ject s!ace. and hel!s to resolve some o( the inconsistencies in Žižek’s own argument3 namely. and on the other the "adiouvian su#ject as the conse'uence o( an individual incor!oration% &e are indeed dealing with two di((erent su#jects here. Žižek attem!ts to esta#lish a dialectical link #etween Lacanian su#jectivity and "adiou. and there(ore #rings us no closer to a conce!tuali9ation o( the e&ental su#lime whose underlying register is the Lacanian su#ject 'ua agalma at the &oid% Pevertheless. it #reaks down the moment one attem!ts to trans!ose it into a "adiouvian key. may #e convincing in its own right. the catastro!hes o( the twentieth century are not to #e attri#uted to a mor#id o#session with the death drive $ as "adiou has suggested :H $ #ut are rather the result o( a (ailure to con(ront it (ully% /Žižek :22F3 04F7 "adiou would argue.drive is thus a kind o( <vanishing mediator’ #etween "eing and Event% /Žižek :22F3 04G7 )he Jegelian re(erence to the death drive as a <vanishing mediator’ is key. that they are locked in the circularity o( a mR#ius stri! /the Jegelo Lacanian to!ology par excellence7% Jowever. Žižek !rovides a more su#stantial version o( the JegelianQLacanian argument he (orwarded in -Asychoanalysis and !ost 12 . #ut Žižek’s Jegelian counter argument is that one is the constitutive o#verse o( the other. (rom the !ers!ective o( the event trace% +n other words. Žižek’s to!ological circularity o( the su#ject leads him to make some strikingly anti "adiouvian claims% ?or one.. and inaugurates a !resent /truth event7 !rocess that interrogates the world !oint #y !oint. there can #e no <sem#lance’ o( an event. however. that the negative gesture o( the act is #oth what <wi!es the slate’ (or an event while #eing at the same time -sutured to its arrival. without the negative act o( su#jectivity there is no way to di((erentiate #etween an <authentic’ /!olitical7 event /e%g% the Aaris . only its reactive negation /a staunch conservatism a l3 contem!orary li#eral democracy7 or its o#scure occultation /(ascism7%:4 ?urthermore. "adiou admits the !redicate <su#ject’ even to those reactionary and o#scure #odies that would res!ectively deny or occult an event’s trace% So while Žižek’s argument in -Asychoanalysis and !ost . that an event !ill al!ays ha&e been <authentic’. it allows Žižek to make the distinction #etween on the one hand. and it would thus #e wise to e*amine his argument more care(ully #e(ore a#andoning it% +n the essay -?rom objet a to Su#traction. and what evacuates the su#ject while at the same time o!ening the !assage to /"adiouvian7 su#jectivation /Žižek :22F3 046 G7% +n other words.ar*ism.ommune7 and its sem#lance /e%g% Pa9ism78 (or another. inso(ar as the su#ject remains (aith(ul to its trace. the Lacanian su#ject o( the drive..
ultimately names a minimal -(etishi9ation. my italics7% ?rom here. Lacan. death drive= /Žižek 011G3 :6F7 +n this not so slight o( hand. Žižek moves too 'uickly with this Deleu9ian su!!lementation% Although the e'uation o( event with sense may seem to rein(orce the Lacanian element o( Žižek’s criti'ue. %%%and Deleu9e $ and Žižek does so merely with a clever e*tension o( the !arado*ical status o( objet a% And it is (urthermore no accident that. and objet a in its virtuality /organ without #ody7D dis!lay the same sel( !ro!elling twisted structure o( a loo!3 the more the su#ject o#eys the su!erego. the more he is guilty. and in the !rocess colla!ses the entire distinction he had !reviously made #etween the su!eregoic cycle o( the LawQtransgression and the domain o( the drive <#eyond’ that mor#id dialectic3 -"oth as!ects Bo( objet a in its rei(ied material reality /su!erego7. an Event is PO)J+P@ "U) a certain distortionQtwist in the order o( "eing% C . the re(erence to the <virtual< cannot #ut reveal the Deleu9ian trajectory Žižek is em#arking on% +n (act.ar*ism%. Žižek takes the logic o( the irreduci#le circularity o( the drive around objet a to its Deleu9ian e*treme. o( the immanent distortion o( the te*ture o( "eing into its virtual o#ject cause= And is the ?reudo Lacanian name o( this distortion not DN+>E. which means -to argue that the event #elongs to the register o( sense ti!s it over entirely onto the side o( language. &hat is !erha!s most im!ortant to recogni9e (rom the outset is that in this later article. Žižek stacks the deck against "adiou8 this is not just a re(erence to Lacan. it takes less than a !age (or the attack on "adiou to materiali9e% And does not the same shi(t determine also the status o( the "adiouian Event BsicD with regard to how it relates to the order o( "eing= An Event inscri#es itsel( into the order o( "eing. /"adiou 01123 6F57% +n my view. /Žižek 011G3 :6G. is nothing other than sense. inso(ar is it !laces the 13 . so that -Event. according to Deleu9e. Žižek su!!lements it with Deleu9e% ?or the event. leaving its traces in it. -or rather. having (ound his strictly Jegelo Lacanian o!!osition to "adiou lacking. the em!hasis shi(ts (rom <event’ and <su#ject’ to objet a% Jow so= Žižek #egins with a more radical a((irmation o( the !urely (ormal character o( objet a $ whose !redecessor is the Iantian transcendental o#ject $ as not sim!ly the element o( a logical consistency #ut as the &irtual #eal in the (ield o( the sym#olic itsel(% O( course.ay#e this re(erence to Lacan also ena#les us to (ormulate the moment that is missing in "adiou’s scheme3 is it not !ossi#le to think this distortion o( "eing inde!endently o( /or as !rior to7 the Event. it is a re(erence to the entire !antheon o( thinkers that stand as "adiou’s most (ormida#le o!!osition $ Jegel.. caught in the re!etitive movement !hich is formally the same as that of the dri&e circulating around its object.
in the in #etween o( those multi!les which are active multi!licities. the Lacanian Neal is certainly this <distortionQtwist’ in the Sym#olic /or order o( "eing7. it does not acknowledge the re(inements made #y the later Lacan a!ro!os o( the conce!t o( the matheme% )o wit. that o( Li(e. + #elieve. having a!!eared according to the ma*imal intensity. virtual One.em!hasis entirely on language. the Neal’s -only relationshi! to language is to make a hole in it. that is simultaneously sur!lus and lack7. a way around this deadlock8 the task is to esta#lish the o#jectal com!onent o( the evental su#lime% )he whole !oint will #e to argue the evental su#limity o( a trace% )he (irst ste! is to o#serve a common ground #etween "adiou and Žižek a&ec Jegel Deleu9e Lacan. to say that "adiou’s event is the <(etishi9ation’ o( Deleu9e’s event is theoretically 'uestiona#le. is e'ually ca!a#le o( a#soluti9ing in a!!earing what hitherto was its own !ro!er ine*istent% CBEventD is a !ure cut in #ecoming made #y an o#ject o( the world. the event is the (ate o( the One% /"adiou 01123 6FH7 "y com!letely invertingQnegating the Deleu9ian conce!tion o( the event. through that o#ject’s auto a!!earance8 #ut it is also the su!!lementing o( a!!earing through the u!surge o( a trace8 the old ine*istent which has #ecome an intense e*istence% /"adiou 01123 6FH7 As "adiou a!tly o#serves. #ut the Neal is also senseless. there is only one Event. o( which all other events are sim!ly various e*hi#itions3 B)he eventD is the immanent mark o( the One result o( all #ecomings% +n the multi!le that #ecomes. we o#tain "adiou’s3 %%%a site which. there is no greater di((erence #etween "adiou and Deleu9e than in their res!ective understandings o( the event%:G Deleu9e asserts the monadological. and does violence to #oth the so!histication o( Lacanian anti !hiloso!hy and to the rigorous distinction "adiou makes #etween his theory o( the event and Deleu9e’s% +ndeed. Deleu9e !rovided a #etter model when he develo!ed how the two series /o( the signi(ier and the signi(ied7 always contain a !arado*ical entity that is <dou#ly inscri#ed’ /i%e%. /"adiou 01123 6F57% Ultimately. #etween the two conce!ts is an authentic di((erend% )here is. (or which there is a concise (ormula3 the conjunction of a lac% and an excess% )his conjunction emerges at the !oint o( Žižek’s argument in -?rom objet a to Su#traction. when he makes an e*!licit re(erence to Deleu9e3 -+n his Logic of Sense. /Žižek 011G3 :657% Žižek immediately trans!oses this 14 . or more !recisely the ab)sense of sense%:5 As such. whose e*!ression is the vital continuity o( unlimited #ecoming% :F Jere.
this conjunction emerges in the (irst o( his negations o( Deleu9e3 &ith regard to the continuum in the #ecomings o( the world. Cthe !rior ine*istent which. where 0 is o( course the s!lit su#ject 'ua em!ty !lace is the signi(ying chain $ the lack $ while a is -an e*cessive o#ject. it is !ossi#le to make sense o( the site as <the testimony o( the intrusion o( #eing as such into a!!earing%’ +( in the (irst !art o( this essay + endeavored to con(igure the <su#ject element’ o( the evental su#lime as agalma at the &oid.. /"adiou 01143 :GH7% Since the void o( a situation is the suture to its #eing. + will call the evanescent se'uence o( intensi(ication that #egins with the o#ject site and culminates in an event that o#tains to a trace. and that -in a!!earing. $ is site. or -the testimony o( the intrusion o( #eing as such into a!!earing. <at /the edge o(7 the void’% )he elements are in !lace8 now to e((ect their !ossi#le relation% 15 . the elements o( "adiou’s system which corres!ond to auto a!!earance and to a ma*imal intensity o( e*istence are res!ectively the o#ject and the trace% ?urthermore. in the sense that -sites found the situation #ecause they are the !rimary terms therein8. 0 12 a. a site #ecomes an event. it -(alls under its own transcendental inde*ing. what + have attem!ted to do su#se'uently is develo! an evental o#jectivity that convenes in the same !lace. it -#elongs to itsel(. the !recise word (or an o#ject a((ected #y auto a!!earing $ which means that -in #eing. there is #oth a lack /im!ossi#ility o( auto a!!earance without interru!ting the authority o( the mathematical laws o( #eing and the logical laws o( a!!earing7 and an e*cess /im!ossi#ility o( the u!surge o( a ma*imal intensity o( e*istence7% <Event’ names the conjunction o( this lack and this e*cess% /"adiou 01123 6FH7 Signi(icantly. on the other hand. /"adiou 01123 4257% )aken together. under the e((ect o( the site. /"adiou 01143 :G6 G7% :2 And it is #ecause o( its value as <non !resented’ that "adiou situates the site . hence the (oundational cut o( the site. /Žižek 011G3 :657% )he Deleu9ian ri(( on the conjunction o( 0 and objet a is what leads Žižek to his critical !osition on the "adiouvian event% +n "adiou. or evental site. has taken the maximal value. e&ental objecti&ity% Another im!ortant element to mention here concerns the <situation’ $ in #oth senses o( the term $ o( the site itsel(% A site is a multi!le that is -(oundational. /"adiou 01123 42H7% ?inally. the multi!le o( the site is -made u! e*clusively o( non !resented multi!les. or e&ental trace.<dou#le inscri!tion’ into Lacan’s (ormula o( the (undamental (antasy. when it attains a trace3 -we call trace o( an event.on the edge of the &oid. its auto a!!earing and sel( #elonging3 (rom the !ers!ective o( the situation itsel(.
<mediated’ #y the transcendental imagination $ su#jective ca!acities which Iant calls <(aculties’% >ia "adiou. "adiou !oints out that Iant does not have a very remarka#le conce!tion o( the degree. "adiou means the -degree or intensity o( the di((erences o( what comes to a!!ear in the world8. which can !roceed ad infinitum $ to achieve a re!resentation o( the whole $ via imagination’s comprehension /Iant :25:3 2F :147%01 )hus (or Iant. the o#jective validity o( a given !henomenon de!ends on a schematic relationshi! #etween the intuition and understanding. its <elevation’ or individuation $ that is. setting this degree is the essential o!eration o( a transcendental /"adiou 01123 0647% Des!ite the correlations. or at least an o#ject that does not in the (irst !lace im!ly a su#ject or su#jective (aculty% + am returning to this terrain #ecause "adiou’s conce!t o( the evental site is a direct conse'uence o( his reca!itulation sans subject o( Iantian o#jectivity% +n Iant. and i( Iantian <magnitude’ /intensive or e*tensive7 is (or "adiou the degree or intensity o( what a!!ears.ore !recisely. intuition and understanding are recast into -the s!ace o( a!!earing as such. identi(ying Iant’s -mathematical childishness. +( this were true. a!ro!os the conce!t o( the o#ject% + have said that the reverse side o( "adiou’s o#jectless su#ject is a su#jectless o#ject. the su#lime is dissociated (rom the !lay o( the ego. (rom its Nomantic inter!retation% And the 16 . /"adiou 01123 06G7% &hy !ro#e this seemingly minuscule criticism= "ecause what Iant calls the <mathematical’ su#lime is !recisely a #reakdown in the a*ioms o( intuition% . Iant attri#utes an <a#solute magnitude’ to /mathematically su#lime7 o#jects that do not allow the re!resentation o( !arts $ via the imagination’s (aculty o( apprehension.+t is necessary to return to Iant. e*!lains "adiou. Oet there is more here than a sim!le correlation #etween the terms o( these two systems8 "adiou’s #reak with Iantian o#jectivity carries !ro(ound conse'uences (or the history o( the idea o( the su#lime% +n the (irst !lace. however. and a site o#ject’s -maximal degree o( a!!earing%. "adiou cites Iant’s <!roo(’ o( the a*ioms o( intuition $ which concern intensive and e*tensive magnitudes $ where Iant -assumes that an e*tensive magnitude is one <in which the re!resentation o( !arts makes !ossi#le the re!resentation o( the whole’%. which govern a!!earances through -the (ormal regulation o( identities.. res!ectively /"adiou 01123 06H 47% "y <identities’. as the cause /"adiou 01123 0657% As evidence o( this. then there is a necessary correlation #etween a mathematically su#lime o#ject’s -absolute magnitude. or rather "adiou’s de!arture (rom Iant. a#solute magnitude designates the greatest !ossi#le magnitude that can #e given in intuition% So i( <intuition’ is (or "adiou sim!ly the !lace o( a!!earing as such. -whole num#ers wouldn’t constitute an e*tensive (ield at allS. and into the -transcendental o!erations.
or .arch :2.ommunist +dea. and not. "adiou argues that the (ate o( the +dea lies in our a#ility to return to $ to make visi#le to !olitical thought $ the event o( . to organi9e a !olitics solely through the resources o( the !roletarian movement itsel( /"adiou 01:13 :2F7% O( course. the e&ental su#lime would designate the ontological !arado* "adiou calls <event’. something whose value o( e*istence was nil comes to e*ist in the situation a#solutely /the !olitical ca!acity o( the !roletariat7% )he e((ect o( this new and a#solute 17 .ommune%0: &hy there. and as a conse'uence o( this ma*imally intense e*istence. "adiou de(ines such a conse'uence as the coming to e*ist a#solutely o( that which was ine*istent in the situation !rior to the event /"adiou 01:13 00:7% . the worker insurrection that created the im!ossi#le3 the Aaris .su#lime is also divorced (rom its e!istemological enchainment to a technology o( reading re!resentations o( su#jectiveQindividual e*!erience against each other $ that is. the o!eration involves the demonstration that in its ontology $ that is...ommittee on . as a site $ . it is so through a -commemorative. it would mark the ma*imal intensity o( the intrusion o( #eing into a!!earing.entral . (or e*am!le.ommune3 its rejection o( the !arliamentary destiny o( !o!ular !olitical movements /"adiou 01:13 :257% &hat matters to us here is the o!eration where#y "adiou recovers this value (rom its le(tist. where i( it is mentioned at all. today= +n -)he Aaris . and a total su#traction (rom the state /"adiou 01:13 00G78 67 the declaration o( the .arch :F7 whose intensity o( e*istence is ma*imal /the worker insurrection in Aaris7. there is a site /.ommune3 A Aolitical Declaration on Aolitics.ore s!eci(ically. :FG:. hermeneutical o#(uscation% +n short. the .ommune and his assertion o( its !olitical signi(icance is itsel( a ru!ture with its le(tist a#sor!tion.a declaration to brea% !ith the left. and it is (rom this !oint that a reactivation o( the revolutionary emanci!atory ca!acity o( the su#lime can #e asserted% )he 'uestion to #e asked is thus3 Jow can the conce!t o( the evental su#lime hel! to illuminate the !ath o( an emanci!atory !olitics. Octo#er :2:G. :FG: is (or the (irst and only time .ultural Nevolution. has only ever meant the o!!ortunistic e*!loitation o( the ga! #etween !olitics and state /"adiou 01:13 :2F78 07 today.arch :F..ay ’5F= )he answer un(olds as a series o( three theses3 :7 )he le(t. that is the !ath o( the .arch :F. "adiou’s inter!retation o( the Aaris . (rom its de!loyment in deconstructive and Pew Jistoricist critical idioms% +nstead. :FG: creates a conse'uence in the logical domain o( a!!earing that will have con(erred on the site its status as an event% A#stractly. true !olitical ru!ture always means a ru!ture with the le(t. mode that deactivates the contem!orary value o( the . with the re!resentative (orm o( democracy. -the esta#lished order’s sole recourse during movements o( great magnitude.
o( the event itsel(. and the a#soluteness o( its conse'uent. there#y kee!ing the law intact and ultimately preser&ing the coherence of appearing /"adiou 01:13 00H. the intensi(ication o( the o#ject’s e*istence (rom nil to a#solute necessitates the destruction o( another element% "ut what is striking is the voca#ulary "adiou uses to descri#e this destruction3 Every situation has at least one !ro!er ine*istent as!ect.onse'uently. another element o( the site must cease to e*ist. my italics7% )his voca#ulary is striking #ecause o( its similarity to Lacan’s demonstration. in the world. the ma*imality o( its antecedent /the site7. as do Lacan and Žižek. what has to #e e*cluded. the evental su#limity o( a trace consists in the a#soluteness o( its e*istence% As an /evental su#lime7 o#ject. /"adiou 01:13 0007% )hus. the logical relationshi! #etween the ma*imally true im!lication o( an event.ore s!eci(ically. in The "thics of -sychoanalysis. the !ath or statement that inaugurates an eternal truth% A#ove. a wholly new transcendental evaluation o( the situation8 and yet. -a mutation o( its logic. /"adiou 01:13 0067% "adiou names this su#sisting mark -trace. and i( this as!ect ha!!ens to #e sublimated into a#solute e*istence. that the Iantian notion o( the su#lime is in line with the ?reudian notion o( su#limation% Jere. the evental multi!licity o( the site vanishes8 -all the event’s !ower is consumed in the e*istential trans(iguration. allows (or the assertion o( the su#limity o( the event as transitive $ it is a 'uality o( #oth the event site’s a!!earanceQdisa!!earance and the trace o( the event% . then the su#lime o#ject is objet a3 a !ure sem#lance 18 . /Žižek :2263 6F7% And indeed3 #oth o( these !assages descri#e a su#limation whose e((ect is to !reserve the consistency o( a!!earing $ #ut they do not overla!% +( one grants !recedence to the ontological &oid of the subject. -worldly order cannot #e su#verted to the !oint o( #eing a#le to re'uire the a#olition o( a logical law o( situations. that is -the su#sisting mark. <su#lime o#ject’ is -an em!irical o#ject C elevated to the dignity o( the )hing Bthe NealD3 %%%it holds the !lace o(. stands in (or.. (oreclosed. its ma*imal intensity in the logic o( a!!earing. it is the a#soluteness o( the new e*istence. i( <reality’ is to retain its consistency. + esta#lished the o#jectal com!onent o( the evental su#lime on the #asis o( "adiou’s classi(ication o( an event site as an o#ject whose auto a!!earance attains a ma*imal intensity% + then demonstrated this classi(ication’s conce!tual link to the Iantian classi(ication o( su#lime o#jects% ?urthermore. BtracTD. /"adiou 01:13 0067% . the a#soluteness o( the trace necessitates a violent torsion o( worldly a!!earing.e*istence is crucial% +n the (irst !lace.
a will% )he (irst !art o( this !a!er e*!lored in detail the conse'uences o( the decision directed toward objet a3 it a((irms objet a as a sem#lance. as does "adiou. on the one hand. -this theme Bo( the su#sum!tion o( #odies and languages #y the e*ce!tion o( truthsD re'uires a#ove all the recognition o( the !otential a#soluteness o( a trace. the su#lime o#ject is the trace whose su#limation does not (ill in some ga! in a!!earing $ in truth. the 19 . O( course. and the inter!retation o( this am#iguity is what ultimately se!arates him (rom Lacan% -Lacan treats what + #elieve to #e a se'uence or contingent #ecoming as a structure. "adiou identi(ies an am#iguity !ertaining to it. and there(ore makes !ossi#le the incor!oration o( a new enunciated content that will (orm the o#ject cause o( the su#ject’s desire% "adiou. can only ever make a hole in it% )he conse'uence o( the act o( such a decision could only #e destructive% Such is what + #elieve to #e the content o( "adiou’s criticism that the Lacanian real is -so e!hemeral. shatters the consistency o( the <+’. he will ultimately arrive at a notion o( the real that !roscri#es the <eternality’ o( its trace% A (ragment o( the Lacanian real. an a#soluteness which con(ers on it an in(initeQeternal e*istence% Asserting the a#soluteness o( the trace is "adiou’s de(ense against anti !hiloso!hy. #ut it is the e((ect o( the a#soluteness o( the trace. it !as this <em!ty’ !lace. however. that it is im!ossi#le to u!hold its conse'uences%. is critical o( the Lacanian theory o( incor!oration% Although he -unhesitatingly communicates. and in #oth Lacan and "adiou the !rimary or !rinci!al act o( su#jectivation consists in a decision. and as a structure it remains on the hori9on o( (initude $ its truths are restricted to the truths o( structure% 00 &hat !rom!ts this restriction is Lacan’s anti !hiloso!hy% Even though. !rojected through an imaginary su#jectivation into the sym#olic te*ture. as "adiou argues.. /"adiou 01123 HF17. and it ena#les him to situate -the singularity o( the human animal one notch (urther. /"adiou 01123 HF17 with Lacan’s construction. since Lacan -sees in the a#solute what he does not hesitate to call the <inaugural mistake o( !hiloso!hy’. there is also destruction in "adiou’s system. so #rutally !unctual. (or +t is only as a transhuman #ody that a su#ject takes hold o( the divisi#le #ody o( the human animal% C&e o#serve the ga! #etween.su#limated to the order o( the Neal )hing to stand in (or its lack% "ut i( one grants !recedence to the ontology of the e&ent)site. an as!ect o( the void o( the situation $ #ut instead results in a destructionQe*clusion that !reserves a logical law o( worldly coherence% &hat is at stake in this o#servation is the 'uestion o( a su#jective incor!oration% )he key is to understand the role o( the su#lime o#ject in su#jectivation. /"adiou 01123 HF1 :7..
the real. the imaginary. that with the assertion o( the a#soluteness o( the trace. and the sym#olic corres!ond to the a#stract totali9ation o( an +dea’s three #asic elements3 -a truth !rocedure BrealD. on the other. however. /"adiou 01:13 0647% ?ocusing on the element o( an individual su#jectivation in the conte*t o( the +dea o( . #y De#ord and -"io!ower.ommunards o( :FG:. re'uires a !olitical su#jugation installed at the level o( the individual. e*ists always% )hus "adiou !ro!oses the (ollowing task to thought3 to #ring a#out the !olitical visi#ility o( that declaration in such a way as to reactivate the ma*imal intensity o( its e*istence $ that is.ommune event the o#ject o( a su#jectivating decision (or individuals today% +t is im!ortant to notice. in the (orm o( 20 . a !resent that initiates an eternal truth% )his is also the ga! #etween the multi!le #ody o( the human animal and its su#jective incor!oration% /"adiou 01123 HF:7 Oet in -)he +dea o( . to make the trace o( the . can also #ecome an active !art o( a new Su#ject.ommunism.arch :2. ca!tured in the . to #reak with the le(t and to #uild a new world u!on the !rinci!le o( the a#solute !olitical ca!acity o( the !roletariat% )he trace o( this event. !rojecting the real o( an emanci!atory !olitics into the narrative o( universal history. "adiou’s theory o( incor!oration has included the idea that a !erson. "adiouvian su#jectivation does not include or re'uire the act o( the !sychoanalytic cure.transcendental laws o( a!!earing and. and an individual su#jectivation BimaginaryD. nothing has to change% Oet this #elie( seems to run counter to claims that the commodity domination sustaining Em!ire.ommunism. "adiou (ormali9es the o!eration o( the +dea in the register o( Lacan’s three orders o( the su#ject% 06 Jere.ommunism.. /"adiou 01:13 06H7% +n other words. la tra&ers*e du fantasme8 at the level o( my individuality. the conse'uence o( it is3 (rom as early as Th*orie du Sujet /:2F07.ommittee’s declaration on . "adiou can descri#e the o!eration o( the +dea through Lacan’s (ormalism o( the Su#ject without the inter(erence o( his criti'ue o( Lacan’s theory o( incor!oration% "ut how $ what has ha!!ened to his situating the singularity o( a human individual one notch (urther than that theory. to o#serving the ga! #etween human animal and su#jectivation= +n -)he +dea o( . my <+’. -while remaining the individual that he or she is. a #elonging to history Bsym#olicD. named -)he S!ectacle. we see that it involves an imaginary o!eration that !rojects a (ragment o( the !olitical real $ in this case. although that criti'ue may not #e !resent. this su#jectivation meant the decision. #y ?oucault. emanci!atory !olitics $ into the sym#olic narrative o( a Jistory /"adiou 01:13 0627% ?or the .. the !resent engendered #y a su#jectivi9a#le #ody.
via su#re!tion. !u#lished anonymously under the name Tiqqun. destructively $ they !uncture language. which have !ut (orward an e*treme radicali9ation o( what is already !ointed to within the two major strategies o( the work o( ?oucault. casts some dou#t onto the tena#ility o( "adiou’s assertion% Lacan’s ethics o( !sychoanalysis and "adiouvian ethics #oth culminate in the act o( a decision to incor!orate one’s individual #ody into an Other #ody. the Su#ject #ody o( a truth% &hat divides Lacan and "adiou concerns the Neal% One on side. the Lacanian real is the a# sense o( sense. is encountered as a dynamically su#lime o#ject% "adiou arrives at his conce!t o( the event trace through his #reak with Iantian o#jectivity. is !rojected into a sym#olic narrative in the a#solute !ositivity o( a trace $ its e*istence in the world is in(inite% "oth o( these !rojections /o( the real o( a truth into the sym#olic7 are made !ossi#le #y the act o( a decision. such that -a theory o( the su#ject is no longer !ossi#le e*ce!t as a theory o( a!!aratuses%. however. /UVnger7% Schi9oanalysis. and its truths can only ever #e !rojected into the sym#olic negatively. and the su#stitution o( a historical analysis o( su#jectivation and !ractices o( the sel( (or the history o( theories o( the su#ject%0H Oet whereas with ?oucault these two analyses remain correlative. a!!aratuses o( governance and !rocesses o( su#jectivation (ully coincide with one another. at least in the 21 . there e*ists a #ody o( te*ts. 04 "adiou’s a!!roach is com!letely di((erent% &hile Tiqqun acknowledges the colla!se o( the su#ject and attem!ts to rethink !olitical action without the anthro!ological re(erence to a su#ject. #ut it is a conce!t derived (rom the a#solute magnitude o( mathematically su#lime o#jects% )he evental su#lime thus suggests how. either objet a or a trace% &hat + have called the evental su#lime reveals how #oth o( these o#jects share a conce!tual link with the Iantian su#lime $ the Analytic o( the Su#lime is their !hiloso!hical heritage% Lacan derives his conce!t o( objet a (rom the Iantian transcendental o#ject which. #ut their real is too !unctual% On the other. #orn o( the void. in the Tiqqun te*ts they (ind a !oint o( junction% )oday. says "adiou. "adiou eschews the anthro!ological re(erence #y asserting a ga! #etween a human individual and her su#jective incor!oration% )he evental su#lime. the imaginary o!eration o( a su#jective incor!oration% And in #oth Lacan and "adiou. alienation.se!aration. i%e% the su#stitution o( a historical analysis o( the micro!hysics o( governmentality (or the history o( sovereignty. the "adiouvian real o( a truth !rocedure. the s!ace (or this decision is o!ened u! #y an encounter with an o#ject. argues that the sei9ure o( desire #y the ca!italist mode o( desiring !roduction (orms the real #asis o( the activity o( individuals as economic su#jects% Even more (orce(ully. (rom a di((erent angle. and -total mo#ili9ation.
and it is through this (rame that one recogni9es hersel( as a militant o( the +dea while also e*!osing -the se'uence Bo( its truthD in the sym#olic order o( Jistory. it is the sine 'ua non o( the o!eration o( the +dea% As the imaginary (oundation (or the !ossi#ility o( a !erson to consist as !art o( a su#ject.case o( the o!eration o( the +dea o( . o( the !ro(ound individual trans(iguration that is also a !art o( the #elonging to the Su#ject and historical movement o( emanci!atory !olitics% 22 .ommunism means the simultaneous acts o( (reeing onesel( (rom the constraints o( a !olitical su#jugation located at the level o( desire. and as no real can #e sym#oli9ed as such. it is !recisely this sel( that cannot #e the same as it was !rior to the decision% Su#jectivation is o( the order o( the imaginary. and o( determining the !lace o( the +dea’s truth in relation to one’s sel( and to the world in which that sel( thinks and acts% Oet to do so. the evental su#lime allows us to see the necessity o( this coincidence o( a decision and an act. the ga! #etween the individual and her incor!oration into an emanci!atory !olitical truth is colla!sed8 the decision concerns at once my individuality and my #ecoming !art o( the Su#ject o( an emanci!atory !olitics% )o decide to #e a militant o( the +dea o( . o( the (antasy that had sustained the sel( !rior to its incor!oration into the #ody o( a truth% "y e*!osing in Lacan’s and "adiou’s de!artures (rom the Iantian su#lime the common heritage o( the o!eration o( su#jectivation.ommunism. the (act that the decision o( a su#jectivation merges with an act o( la tra&ers*e du fantasme $ that is. + claim. o( a((irming objet a as a sem#lance devoid o( any real su!!ort. su#jectivation is an ideo logical commitment% As an ideology. the +dea !rovides a (antasy (rame. /"adiou 01:13 0627% &hat makes it !ossi#le to (ind one’s sel( within the +dea’s ideology is.
Logics of Worlds. and Barker. Ethics of the Real (2000) See especially Ch. For a detailed exposition. all along the way). 36-49. and Digressions” section of Logics of Worlds. an unknown Hegel.1 The quotation can be found in the “Notes. Book I “Formal Theory of the Subject (Meta-Physics)” pg. pg. See Žižek. is no accident. that notion.edu/jspui/bitstream/1957/12846/1/DruryAdamM2009.147-149. see Badiou’s “The Formulas of l’Étourdit. This. 595 and Book VI.” 2 It is inevitable that my desire to retain the radical negativity inherent in Lacan’s notion of the subject will betray my privileging. 5 See S. 45-78 for a comprehensive discussion of the topology of the subject space. Zupančič.” For a more technical exposition see Logics Of Worlds. In my MA thesis. and this is what Žižek does. I follow Zupančič’s argument throughout this whole paragraph. that is the duality of ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Badiou admits that his debate with Žižek “concerns the real. 13 See Alain Badiou. . since for Badiou such a move would amount to the ‘structuralization’ of the void. Badiou likewise dismisses Tragedy (in favor of Comedy) as the form of theatre that could support the subject-body of an artistic truth (see his “Theses on Theatre” in Handbook of Inaesthetics (2005)). where God is understood as a being for whom concept and intuition would coincide. the fact remains that the intrinsic pressure of the substantialization of the noumenal Thing necessitates a string of perverse consequences that commentators on Kant are still unraveling today. Frances Ferguson’s Solitude and the Sublime (1992). Theory of Points. for example. 27 (2006). By completely dismissing the negativity of the category of the death-drive from his theory of the subject. “Of an Obscure Disaster: On the End of the Truth of the State” Lacanian ink 22 (2003) 15 See Alain Badiou. “Between Moral Law and Superego”. the consistency of reality and thus an aesthetic regime of individuation. One the same page. Tarrying with the Negative (1993) and A. based on Lacan (who was a magnificent Hegelian . in The Communist Hypothesis (2010). “Slavoj Žižek is probably the only thinker today who can simultaneously hew as closely as possible to Lacan’s contributions and argue steadfastly and vigorously for the Idea of communism. in an immediate synthetic unity. Byron. 140-146.oregonstate. however slightly. 8 It is interesting to note apropos of the discussion of the Idea of Communism which opened this essay that Badiou writes. which argues that Kant sought to preserve at all costs.” in Lacanian ink no. I follow Zupančič’s argument over the next few sentences. with his “provincial religiosity” (to quote Badiou). to open the space for the existence of God. I posit the evental sublime in defense of the political aesthetics of Tragedy. This is because his real master is Hegel… There are two ways of rescuing the Idea of communism in philosophy today: either by abandoning Hegel […] or by putting forward a different Hegel. Asynthesis & Act can be found at http://ir. 4 See the chart of correlations between Badiou and Kant on page 233 of Logics of Worlds. 11 Ibid. however. pg. following Lacan.or so Žižek would claim . Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil (2001) 14 See Alain Badiou.” According to Badiou.at first explicitly and later secretly. Žižek. 12 This is also Žižek’s argument in “Psychoanalysis and post-Marxism: the case of Alain Badiou” (1998). which is of course impossible when the void is conceived as pure indifferent multiplicity.pdf 3 By ‘point’ Badiou means “a point in the transcendental of a world that is the appearance of the infinite totality of the world before the instance of the decision. Putting aside the truth of these fascinating studies. that it is impossible to uphold its consequences. as being-quabeing ‘devoid’ of any structure. but have given page citations for direct quotes. pg. a conception of the real “which is so ephemeral.library. 140-160 6 7 It may be useful to recall here that this ‘gap’ or ‘splitting’ is what allows Kant. where he critiques Badiou on the grounds that the latter is unable to think of the void also as subject. 7 of Ethics of the Real. pg. Commentaries. Ethics of the Real. Žižek has proposed.” 9 Several excellent historicist arguments have been made pointing to the various contemporary pressures that may have caused Kant to shirk from the radical consequences of his Analytic of the Sublime. against his philosophical rival David Hume. Tarrying with the Negative. 10 See Zupančič. titled Asynthesis & Act: the evental sublime in Badiou. so brutally punctual. See. 16 For a detailed discussion on this Lacanian innovation.
A% /01:17 The Communist 7ypothesis. 25 Quotation taken from “A Critical Metaphysics Could Be Born as a Science of Apparatuses. especially pg. 168-228 22 cf. Pew Oork3 . under the name of Unconscious. the infrastructure of the human animal and not the occurrence – as rare as it may be – of the presentprocess of a truth which a subjectivated body treats point by point. Various texts from the journal have been republished in French by La Fabrique in Paris and in English by MIT Press. Badiou.” in The Communist Hypothsis. &e#eren"e "adiou. 229-260.jottit. pg. Being and Event (2005). 24 Tiqqun is the name of a French journal of philosophy written and published anonymously in two volumes. Logics 480-481 “It follows from all this that the formal operations of incorporation into the place of the Other and of splitting of the subject constitute. Badiou.” in Tiqqun #2. available online at tiqqun. Logics “The Event According to Deleuze” 18 cf. A% /011:7 "thics4 n "ssay on the 5nderstanding of "&il. Lacanian in%. 0G3 F1 24% "adiou. 98-105 21 See Alain Badiou’s chapter on the Paris Commune in The Communist Hypothesis. The demonstration begins on p. Badiou: a subject to truth 174-180. “The Mathematical Sublime”. Hallward. Part IV “The Event: History and Ultra-one”. Lacanian in%. Pew Oork3 >erso% "adiou. An anonymous translator has produced a nearly comprehensive English edition of the two volumes. Pew Oork3 . available online at tiqqun.com.” in Tiqqun #1. A% /01147 6eing and "&ent.. Analytic of the Sublime.olom#ia University Aress . A% /01127 Logics of Worlds4 6eing and "&ent 8. @% /:2217 The Logic of Sense. “The Idea of Communism. the first in 1999 and the second in 2001. Pew Oork3 .jottit. Stan(ord.17 cf. pg. Deleuze Logic of Sense (1990) 19 See Badiou. .ontinuum% "adiou. A% /01167 -O( an O#scure Disaster3 On the End o( the )ruth o( State. 238. Critique of Judgment. 003 4F F2% "adiou. Pew Oork3 >erso% Deleu9e. A% /01157 -)he ?ormulas o( L’*tourdit.naesthetics. Section 26: “The estimation of the magnitude of natural things requisite for the idea of the sublime.ontinuum% "adiou.A3 Stan(ord University Aress% "adiou.. A% /01147 7andboo% of . See also “Bloom Theory. 173-177 20 See Immanuel Kant.com.” pg.” 23 See Alain Badiou. available at the same website.
Lacanian . A% /01117 "thics of the #eal. . S% /:2F27 The Sublime . 2G30. ed% U%A% . A% /01167 6adiou4 a subject to truth.Jallward.bject of .n%.% .deology.3 Duke University Aress% Žižek.. Pew Oork3 >erso% Žižek. trans% #y U%. 064 05 Žižek. South tlantic =uarterly. Pew Oork3 Porton% Žižek.larendon Aress% Lacan. Pew Oork3 >erso% . P.innesota University Aress Iant. . S% /011G7 -?rom objet a to Su#traction.ar*ism3 the . Durham.iller. +% /:25:Q:G217 The Critique of Judgement. S% /:22F7 -Asychoanalysis and !ost . U% /:2F:Q:2G67 The Seminar of Jacques Lacan 6oo% 9.4 The :our :undamental Concepts of -sychoanalysis.eredith. S% /:2267 Tarrying !ith the <egati&e. 613 :61 :H:% Ku!anLiL. trans% #y A% Sheridan.ase o( Alain "adiou.innea!olis..P3 . O*(ord3 .
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