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ALAIN BADIOU, with Fabien Tarby, PHILOSOPHY AND THE EVENT Polity Press !

"# Translate$ by Lo%ise B%r&hill

T'ANSLATO'(S P'EFA)E* Fra+in, Philoso-hi&al Trans+ission
The interviews that make up this book include a moment of interlocutory selfreferentiality in which Alain Badiou points out to Fabien Tarby that the very project of transmitting his philosophical ideas by the transcription of orally-conducted interviews, which is to say by means other than systematic writing, conforms to the founding principle of the entire Platonic edifice namely, !the architecture of a philosophical idea e"ists in itself!, # such that this has a full autonomy from the te"tual apparatus that serves habitually as its means of transmission$ %n difference, then, to works of drama or fiction, philosophy is a protocol of transmission that would pertain to something not constituted by the writing process itself$ %t!s for this reason, Badiou insists, that philosophical writing&regardless of its effects of style or literary 'ualities&is always didactic writing its rationale consists in conveying the %dea and, conse'uently, in convincing and changing intellectual subjectivities$ (et, it is also the real reason, Badiou adds, for Plato!s judging writing to be secondary to speech$ )peech!s superiority is not&pace *errida&premised upon a metaphysical privileging of a full presence that the voice would supposedly instantiate in an im-mediacy to soul, or consciousness, but follows from its being a more comprehensive, as well as a more comple", means of transmission$ +onsisting in a !relation of subjectivity to the %dea! that cannot be reduced to a form of knowledge alone, philosophy re'uires for its complete, and not e"clusively intellectual or discursive, transmission a transference onto the person of the philosopher&in other words, an amorous receptivity or, as Badiou puts it slightly differently elsewhere, !the encounter with a master! ,&which is precisely what the scene of speech sets the frame for the corporeal presence of the philosopher, the resonance of his or her voice are the essential !props!, so to speak, for the full staging of the %dea and, accordingly, the latter!s orchestration of subjectivity$ +ertainly, there is still a value given to !presence! within this philosophical scene yet, in view of the latter!s functioning as a veritable !machine of subjectivi-ation!, this value is in no way simple, immediate or transparent !the body of the other .the philosopher/ has to be there, his or her voice has to resound!, 0 but these are both variables within a shifting set of relations that act to ensure the circulation, crafting and capture of affects and forces no less than elements of knowledge or thought$ 1hatever Badiou!s insistence on the transference effects that accompany spoken discourse, however, his comparison of speech and writing aims, above all, at showing that the rationalist imperative of transmission transcends each and every mode it may take$ !The transmission of thought is indifferent to language! is a formulation, found elsewhere in his work,2 that makes the same point, all while more boldly situating ideas! autonomy in respect not simply to language!s written or spoken forms but to its substantive individuations as such$ 3o national language, such as 4nglish or French, would impress, in other words, a singularity on the concepts it conveys5 with Badiou not hesitating in this way to resurrect something of the order of transcendent signifieds&again, as it were, pace *errida$ (et, while his dismissal of any linguistic condition bearing upon the transmission of thought is, indeed, undoubtedly directed primarily to !sophistic! thinkers who would accredit language with !carving out! everything that has been envisaged as !being!,6 it comports no less emphatically a great number of conse'uences for those e'ually, if otherwise, concerned with language!s crafting of concepts namely, translators$ Pre-eminent amongst these is that no term of a national


nonetheless. authors. disposal$ (et. amongst other. therefore. !1hat is a dispositifE!. dispositif is either translated into 4nglish as !apparatus! or not. with these renderings having increasingly become. as used by these. generated what are by now standard ways of translating the term as used by these authors. !void!. traffic flow management to the analysis of funeral rites. translated at all5 the French term being erected in the latter case into a :!true!. source dealing with the term!s broad diffusion over the last 2? years puts it.C or/ in some cases even a conceptual or strategic framework making it possible for a given type of phenomenon to occur$!#? %n short. Baudry. that. !multiple! or !truth!. the general contour of its conceptual deployment by Baudry and Foucault&would seem to be that of !a multiform something set up in a certain way for a certain end$! 3ow. *eleu-e and Agamben. as established in the French language since the mid to late #=>?s. in turn. as another. a word of the French language at his :thought!s. Foucault!s use. in fact. while dispositif is not a concept in Badiou!s system of thought. let!s simply note that. !forcing or !compatibility!. say. neither defined nor in any sense !remarked! by Badiou on the occasions he employs it$ %t would seem. it must be stated from the start. as such. one of Badiou!s philosophical concepts$ 9nlike !event!. intrinsic role in the articulation of Badiou!s system of thought and is. their translation can never be considered as !assured!$7 4ntailing a diagnosis of contrasting linguistic and cultural realities at a given moment in time. simply. the translation of such !untranslatables! is not only never a matter of !superimposition! but an act invariably calling for constantly reiterated probation$ 8ne such word of the French language posed particular problems in translating these interviews into 4nglish$ The term involved&dispositif&is not. dispositif!s broad sense&which also furnishes. at least. dispositif plays no crucial. more recent. *eleu-e and Agamben give to the term. as any reader of contemporary French theory is well aware. or again. the precise definitions Foucault. Baudry. despite the cinema . set on e"plicating its meaning$ %ts emergence as a concept predates. moreover.language can legitimately be considered !untranslatable!&other than in the sense. though. dispositif is far from being !just! a le"ical item in Badiou!s national language$ %t has the status of an important concept in the work of <ichel Foucault from the mid #=>?s on. the fact that it is in the work of Foucault. has. to te"ts by both @illes *eleu-e and @iorgio Agamben :amongst others. education to C translation studies$ D %n most of these cases&to cite from the #=== issue of a French social science journal entirely dedicated to e"ploring the use and propagation of the concept&dispositif refers to !a configuration of heterogeneous elements! that is !arranged in such a way that it affords the optimal conditions for the implementation of certain actions or certain events!$= 8r again. indeed seem !apparatus! is brought out more even more elo'uently by Baudry!s use of the term e'ually being rendered this way. on this basis. in fact. . in the first instance. and has given rise. !untranslatable! that can only function as a form of !referential marker! in the 4nglish te"ts within which it circulates$ The 4nglish titles of *eleu-e!s and Agamben!s respective te"ts e"ploring the concept as fashioned by Foucault are in this respect paradigmatic namely. in the second&even if Agamben was himself to propose the far less standard !1hat is a *ispositorE! ## That the only alternative to non-translation would. being seemingly first endowed with a precise theoretical sense in two seminal te"ts written on cinema by Aean-Bouis Baudry in #=>? and #=>6 respectively$ > )ince the late #=>?s. the norm for occurrences of dispositif in basically any theoretical te"t at all$ Beaving aside. and !1hat is an ApparatusE!. !a dispositif is taken to be a material . insofar as certain words or certain semantic constellations highlight particularly acutely the differences between one language and another. dispositif proliferates as both an analytical concept and a technical term in just about every theoretical or operational field in France one can think of from media and communications to psychoanalysis. of course.

what!s interesting in the case of dispositif is that the 4nglish words that could be proposed for the French term as used generically&such as !apparatus! or !arrangement!. !walk!. !to range!$ The underlying problem here is. which. the more concrete !appliance!. Thought Prose and +oncept!&the translator!s choice is to retain the French$#. on the level of their general linguistic and semantic construction. French is a language that functions at a higher level of abstraction than does 4nglish. however. the unsuitability of !apparatus! as a strict e'uivalent of dispositif is obvious the word!s mechanical connotations remain too accentuated while it fails to convey the overarching meaning of !arrangement! that is found in all of the French term!s different definitions in conformity with dispositif!s derivation from the verb disposer. the basis for judging there to be !no suitable 4nglish e'uivalent! for dispositif has to do with the e"tension or polysemy of the French term. for a whole series of synonyms in 4nglish that are unable to be grouped under a generic or !umbrella! term in the latter language itself$ 8ne very !down-to-earth! e"ample is the concept of promenade. !stroll! or !hike! for promenade à pied. such as !arrangement!. !mechanism! or !device!$ )ince both Foucault!s and Baudry!s use of dispositif in no way refers to a mechanical device but&put broadly&a network or structure comprised of heterogeneous elements that gives rise to certain effects of subjectivi-ation. and so on$#6 That said. 0 . for reasons of tradition as much as those of semantics. which is usually accorded four definitions in a strictly juridical sense. has itself to be rendered as C !apparatus!$ 1hile a conceptual distinction between !apparatus! and !apparatus! would hardly seem enlightening for readers of Baudry in 4nglish. on at least one occasion in his work when Badiou does. is standardly translated as !apparatus!&even if this synonym is absent from bilingual French4nglish dictionaries! definition for dispositif!s technical sense. the reasons adduced for not translating dispositif are of more immediate interest here insofar as. the sense that is 'ualified as !technical! or !technological! is. !defence system!5 its third sense is the technical one of !apparatus! or !device! noted above. dispositif d'attaque. !drive! or !ride! for promenade en voiture. that of appareil. as it were. for which 4nglish can but offer a profusion of designations for its particular instances thus. 4"istence. not one peculiar to dispositif alone5 it being a matter. it refers to the part of a judgement that contains the decision separate from the opinion. !apparatus of the prison!. of course. physiological. use dispositif in a systematic manner&in his te"t !Being. or to the enacting clause of a law5 in a military conte"t. it!s easy to understand the translators! choice of !apparatus!. Foucault!s various apparatuses&!apparatus of power!. as just seen. !to arrange!. such that it is completely commonplace for a French word to serve as a common denominator.theorist e"pressly distinguishing dispositif from appareil&a French word that. !apparatus of se"uality!&do work well overall in 4nglish$ As for !the set of perceptual. !set-up! or !structure! #7&would seem either. instead. !sail! for promenade en bateau. 8n the whole. referred to earlier. but also the !arrangement of the pieces making up such a mechanical device!5 while the fourth. !to lay out!. other than its technical definition of !appliance!. which. of an intrinsic difference between French and 4nglish that has been described in terms of an opposition between these languages! !level of abstraction! and !level of the real!$#2 Put succinctly. :bike-. this calls for retranslation$ That admitted. having known an all-pervasive proliferation over the last forty years$ #0 %n this light. as in !police apparatus!. indeed. psychological.!ride! for promenade en vélo. and so on$ And indeed. also has a meaning close to !system!. it refers to the manner in which forces and e'uipment are arranged and deployed in conformity with a plan&e$g$. where one finds. !plan of attack! or dispositif de défense. reasons for choosing to render dispositif in such a way$ 8f the definitions given for dispositif in French language dictionaries. noted as !figurative!. 'uite to the contrary. !method! or !procedure! this being the sense. !party apparatus!. social as well as technical mechanisms involved in a film!s screeningFviewing situation! that is Baudry!s dispositif. is glossed by a series of synonyms. there are. in fact.

or even transcendent. !structure!. whose object. despite Badiou!s use of dispositif in these interviews being !obviously! indebted to the latter!s discursive proliferation since the late #=>?s. more simply. but when it e"tends to !commonplace! words. terms that are simply commonly used by the author& déploiement is. indeed. being fuelled as it is by the apprehension of obscuring within the folds of another language the traces of something that might prove essential to the archaeology of a philosopher!s work or thought$ )o it is that. as in any transference. however conceptually reworked by others. le"ical&singularity of the French. *eleu-e and Agamben. to endowing it with an unwarranted conceptual signification$ )uch a !conceptual reification! is. even after having decided not to retain the French. shouldn!t its passage into 4nglish be at the very least uniformly marked and manifestly flaggedE There is. in other words. !transcendent! :in reference to a particular philosophical position. hesitate to translate it in different ways in accordance with conte"t and the constellation of 4nglish synonyms covered by the French term$ After all. would be a certain figure. above all.indeed too concrete or too much on the !level of the real! :!apparatus!. a 'uasi-sacrosanct. if not simply the !master!s word!. again. after all. unlike that of Baudry. Foucault. something akin perhaps&in thinking back to Badiou!s remarks concerning the philosophical scene of speech&to a transference effect. in fact. as !untranslatable!. to be kept intact so as to avoid fragmenting. given its conceptual status in Foucault. or. not specific enough :!arrangement!. that said. that which might reveal itself to have an unsuspected potency$ 8f course. or. one would. or disguising by dissemination. strategic or functional aspect$ %n short. not translate at all$ This brings us back to the dispositif of Badiou!s and Tarby!s interviews&in the sense here both of the word!s occurrences in Badiou!s remarks and the discursive !format! or !scene of speech! that served as the framework in which these were made$ %t will be remembered that 2 . in fact. not to translate the occurrences of dispositif in these interviews would have amounted not only to according the term. in the case of a thinker!s concepts. might have put it&is. almost parado"ically. such as !implementation! or !application!&this apprehension of losing something of the French original!s uni'ue semantic network should surely be tempered$ The semantic network of just about every word in any language shares. 'ualified the dispositifs of which he speaks are !mathematical! or !physical!. !rational! or !formal!. this type of concern for the signifier!s integrity and terminological consistency is absolutely essential. of !the concept!&be this. without these being understood as variations of a precisely defined type of formation$ %t makes no sense. one such word in Badiou!s vocabulary that is often rendered by its 4nglish cognate !deployment! in preference to more normative e'uivalents. by dint of their lacking something of the term!s !constructivist!. or. as such.. to ask in Badiou!s case. what 4nglish seems to lack as a suitable e'uivalent for dispositif is a word capable of conveying the concept of a generic structure or arrangement which would at the same time be characteri-ed by a specific kind of !constructivism! of its relations and elements$ 3ow. this characteristic of being absolutely singular and impossible to superimpose with regard to other languages$ 1ere one to aim at an absolute fidelity to the letter of the te"t. given that its translation is so often purported impossible in virtue of a conceptual&or even purely. but. in this sort of apprehension. an assured figure or not$ 1hence the pre-eminent concern. with the integrity of the object the signifier!s presence&as *errida. for e"ample. an ever-present risk or danger in translating philosophy. status. nor is it generic$ The occasions on which he uses the term are all conte"tually specific and.. !set-up!. just as Badiou!s use of dispositif in his interviews with Tarby is in no way a systematic conceptual deployment. say. one can still. e'ually. might there not be a subterranean irrigation of its occurrences in Badiou!s remarks that needs to be respectedE 8r. at least. *eleu-e or Agamben !what is a dispositifE! This being the case.

by using the verb !to frame!. that !framework! corresponds to Ge-stell in all circumstances C anymore than it does to all occurrences of dispositif$ And inversely. of course. disponere. this could be an !e"perimental set-up! or. or. for that matter. as with the 4nglish !set-up! :!to set!. the translator is not only summoned to use a variety of 4nglish e'uivalents but reassured that these can suffice in other circumstances&including systematic te"ts&where déploiement is used alone$ +onte"t is. though. that translating Badiou!s speech rather than his systematic writing proved to 'ualify or put into perspective the apprehension of foregoing something of a word!s singular semantic constellation$ The reason for this has to do. of paramount importance in a broader sense as well$ Badiou!s use of dispositif in a discussion with Tarby on 'uantum physics is hardly likely to harbour a reference to Foucault!s. as one between a mathematical and a physical !framework!$#> As indicated. to 'uantum physics! conceptual framework. something of this autonomy seemed e'ually confirmed in the act of these interviews! translation. however. along with !enframing! :and. that Badiou!s reference in these interviews is. again. *eleu-e!s or Agamben!s conceptual definition. while meaning in ordinary usage an apparatus :Gerät. accordingly. both more abstract and more !enshrined!. corresponds to the Batin ponere. at least. is employed by Heidegger to designate a key concept in his reflection on technology$ 1hile an etymological similarity e"ists between the French and @erman terms&as well. Badiou is often led. that this preface has so far outlined in terms of the necessity of capturing. and as !framework! :or.. indeed. by the synta"$ %n translating speech. an !e"perimental apparatus!. that is. on one occasion. !setting-upG. principally. for e"ample. or !situation! as in !interview situation!5 with all the 4nglish phrases just cited being translations of. in instances where Badiou is referring to more abstract structures$ There are. say. subject to revision and re-structuration. generic e"tension$ 1ere he to be speaking about a dispositif expérimental. such a cluster of synonyms or alternative e"pressions would undoubtedly be replaced by a more punctual designation. the lack of a strict e'uivalent in 4nglish for dispositif in its generic sense entails neither that one should cease probing 4nglish for a suitable conceptual synonym. like the @erman stellen. so to speak. to have an undetermined. with speech!s far greater informality and linearity over the course of these interviews.Badiou refers to the interview situation as confirming Plato!s principle of philosophy!s autonomy from the te"tual apparatus that serves as its means of transmission$ %nterestingly. thus. !apparatus! as in !te"tual apparatus!. in 4nglish&but most definitely not an !e"perimental dispositif$! @iven. both dispositif!s constructivist sense and the term!s overarching definition of !an arrangement enabling the implementation of certain actions or certain events!$ !Framework! in particular. as far as possible and according to conte"t. his opposition of a dispositif mathématique and a dispositif physique would seem best rendered. for the @erman word Ge-stell. to the e"tent. nor forgoing the use of words capable of capturing the term!s meaning in other circumstances$ )ome such words are !scene! when used in 4nglish phrases such as !scene of speech!. the apprehension of losing something essential to a word!s semantic network is often counteracted by the very conte"t a slew of French synonyms being presented. of course.. or 6 . to proffer a rapid succession of different ways of formulating or designating the same basic !signified! or semantic notion that he is concerned with conveying5 had his thoughts been systematically written down. as a result. specific reasons % could adduce for these choices&other than those. on the other hand. such that !set-up! and Ge-stell intersect with dis-positio.#D&the choice of !framework! as a rendering of Heidegger!s concept rests largely on a pro"imity of register and semantic e"tension$ This is not to say. for déploiement. in fact. and. for that matter. which. %!ve chosen to translate the eight occurrences of dispositif in these interviews as !set-up! when the sense is relatively concrete or technical. intersects with dispositif in the translation of philosophy in that both terms have been proposed. !machine! as in !machine of subjectivi-ation!.

1e return in this way. for Badiou. the means by which this is framed&speech. of !logoi! that my final thanks are due$ 7 . writing or. respectively steered and finely-tuned the translation process as a whole$ <y profound gratitude goes. e'ually. indeed. language per se&are subservient to its transmission$ Bouise Burchill A&. to the principle that. and +atherine Perrel and <arie-+Icile Fauvin for offering guidance with particularly intricate. would find a confirmation in these very interviews thought being primary. at Befkes village.translatable by. who meticulously inspected drafts of sections of this translation. syntactic constructions in Badiou!s French$ Alain Badiou. alas.e+ents* % would like to thank. Aennifer <c+amley. while )arah Bambert and )usan Beer. Fabien Tarby. as concerns philosophical translation at least. to the 4uropean Translation +entre for Biterature and Human )ciences. French locutions with dispositif. Austin +lemens and 4on (orck provided much appreciated assistance with points of persistent interrogation.nowle$. 4K4<4B&now. or craft. in order to work on this book$ %t is to the inhabitants of Paros who have fought to ensure that the Spiti o!otechnias remains a centre for the art. Paros. %sabelle Jodo-. at Polity Press. a victim of the calamitous policies applied to @reece&and the <unicipality of Paros for granting me a translator!s residency at the Spiti o!otechnias :House of Biterature. above all.

#ilm $heory and %riticism& 'ntroductory (eadin!s. )ummer #=D>. *andboo2 of 'naesthetics. p$ #?=$ .. . . Barbara :ed$. with )mith furnishing a list of dispositif!s diverse definitions as argumentation$ #0 %!ve consulted here the #=>D edition of e (obert. Frank.$ #6 %bid$ p$ 6=$ #7 That said. . (evue de )étaphysique et de <orale. in <arianne Alphant :ed$.'. p$ =>$ Badiou. !1hat is a dispositifE!. Florence. Albert with <itcham.hat 's an -pparatus. pp$ . 1hilosopher.??2. op$cit$. and *eleu-e. #===$ #? Kessler. Stylistique compare du fran3ais et de l'an!lais. "ocabulaire européen des philosophies. p$ 277$ 6 +f$ infra. op$ cit$ ## Agamben proposed this translation in a lecture given in . p$ #?=$ #D )ee Agamben. lecture transcript by Aason <ichael Adams. .??6$ )ee !1hat is a *ispositorE!.2$ 7 )ee +assin.. . Alain..?7-. !9n cadre plus 'ue normative Bes prati'ues funIraires!. p$ #2=$ 0 +f$ infra. !B!Aveu du philosophe!.F2.??2.??7. p$ 6D$ 2 Badiou. @iorgio. in B$ Braudy and <$ +ohen :eds.DD2print$html$ )ee also Agamben. '. @illes. nQ . !structure! is inappropriate as a translation for dispositif since it is precisely the attempt to circumvent the wholistic. 3ew (ork 8"ford 9niversity Press. !FranLais *e la langue franLaise comme Ividement!. which is. p$#. pp$ 6D-7.' and /ther 0ssays. vol$ 0#. 3ew (ork and Bondon Moutledge.. 1hilosophy $oday. @iorgio. !3otes on dispositif!! :<ay . pp$ NJ%%-NJ%%%$ > A$B$ Baudry. )tanford )tandford 9niversity Press.??2.5 and Borgman. Barbara. in )ichel #oucault. Paris *idier. in a sense. nQ . Paris 4ditions du )euilF*ictionnaires Be Mobert. )tanford )tanford 9$P$. trans$ Timothy A$ Armstrong. #==. static and.??2.#=>?/ G%deological 4ffects of the Basic +inematographic ApparatusG and . pp$ #6=-7D$ #. !Pour une philosophie de la traduction!.# . . therefore..#=>6/ GThe Apparatus <etapsychological Approaches to the %mpression of Meality in the +inemaG.??=. +f$ infra. a "ocation philosophique. #=D=.??6$ The translator of this te"t. trans$ *avid Kishik and )tefan Pedatella. in a note to his translation of *eleu-e!s !*esire and Pleasure!. in +assin. . )ee Badiou. nQ #.hat 's an -pparatus. '. p$ #. !The Ruestion of Heidegger and Technology A +ritical Meview of the Biterature!. he does use the term there in the sense that he attributes to it as a key concept five years later$ D )ee Kessler. transcendent connotations attributed to structure that motivated the emergence of dispositif within a !poststructuralist! paradigm in the seventies$ #> )ee infra$. Alain.0 O 066-76$ 1hile Baudry doesn!t define the concept of dispositif in the first of these two articles. Alberto Toscano.$ = Jandendorp.. !PrIsentation! in "ocabulaire européen des philosophies. for leaving dispositif in the French$ These come down to the lack of !a suitable 4nglish e'uivalent!. #=>>. http FFwww$#7beavergroup$orgFmtarchiveFarchivesF??. roughly contemporary with the 4nglish translations &all first published between #=>2 and #=>D&of the te"ts by Foucault and Baudry in which dispositif was to emerge as a concept$ #2 A$-P$ Jinay and A$ *arbelnet.. Paris 4ditions du )euilF*ictionnaires Be Mobert. pp$ 6-. refers to the reasons given by *aniel 1$ )mith. http FFwww$let$uu$nlFPFrank$KesslerFpersonalFnotes on dispositif$P*F5 and Aean-MenI Badmiral. +arl. Paris Bayard. Alain. *erm+s.6.