File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0110, message 125

Subject: Re: ethics: Badiou
Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2001 17:04:37 +0800


> The rejection of the ethics of difference is simply the classic
> materialist rejection - the refusal of difference as a meaningful
> additional tool, this is based on the use of the term difference as ' a
> tourists fasciantion for the diversity of morals, customs and
> beliefs...' (Badiou is on risky ground here as he does not address
> Irigaray 'Ethics of Sexual Difference...' However his attack on
> 'cultural difference' is well taken because after all the ideal is '....
> the peaceful coexistence of cultural, religious and national
> communities... the refusal of exclusion...' This is derived from the
> tourists desire for the continuation of the 'safe savage', the colonial
> encounter... Such an ethics of difference is a normative encounter it is
> an attempt to be inclusive of difference - (which is why it fails to
> work with Irigaray ). 'Become like me and I will respect your
> difference...' As previously referenced 'no light is shed by the
> recognition of the other' it simply doesn't help.

Identity politics and debates around multiculturalism highlight the above.
There is a difference (haha) between difference and diversity. In Aussie
speak our Policy of Multiculturalism has set in stone 'unity through
diversity'. So the othering that Badiou rejects is the 'nice happy other' of
diversity that is trying to get into the local country club, or have equal
welfare rights. Not the radical difference, the
'unspeakable-unsayable-unknowable' we encounter when terror-able things
happen. Yeah yeah, that is what that feminist said, "There is only radical
In the appendix of Laclou's New Revolutions on The Revolution of Our Time,
Zizek has an essay entitled "Beyond Discourse-Analysis".
I think Zizek's essay could be read as an extension to Badiou (weirdly,
because Zizek wrote this before Badiou!!).
"The main thrust of its argumentation is directed against the classical
notion of the subject as a substantial, essential entity, given in advance,
dominating the social process and not being produced by the contingency of
the discursive process itself: against this notion, they [Laclou&Mouffe]
affirm that what we have is a series of particular subject-positions
(feminist, ecologist, democratic...) the signification of which is not fixed
in advance: it changes according to the way they are articulated in a series
of equivalences through the metaphoric surplus which defines the identity of
every one of them." (250)
"Where here is the ideological illusion proper to the subject-position? It
lies in the fact that it is the 'capitalist,' this external enemy, who is
preventing me from achieving an identity with myself: the illusion is that
after the eventual annihilation of the antagonistic enemy, I will finally
abolish the antagonism and arrive at an identity with myself.
"However to grasp the notion of antagonismin its most radical dimension, we
should invert the relationship between the two terms: it is not the external
enemy who is preventing me from achieving identity with myself, but every
identity is already in itself blocked, marked by an impossibility, and the
external enemy is simply the small piece, the rest of reality upon which we
'project' or 'externalize' this intrinsic, immanent impossibility."
And getting to the point of this:
"We must then distinguish the experience of antagonism in its radical form,
as a limit of the social, as the impossibility around whcih the social field
is structured, from antagonism as the relation between antagonistic
subject-positions: in Lacanian terms, we must, distinguish between
antagonistic *real* from the social *reality* of the antagonistic fight. And
the Lacanian notion of the subject aims precisely at the experience of
'pure' antagonism as self-hindering, self-blockage, this internal limit
preventing the symbolic field from realizing its full identity: the stake of
the entire process of subjectivation, of assuming different
subject-positions, is ultimately to avoid this traumatic experience... the
'subject' in the Lacanian sense is the name for this internal limit, this
internal impossibility of the Other, of the 'substance'... subjectivation
designs movement through which the subject integrates what is given him/her
in the universe of meaning - this integration ultimately fails, there is a
certain left-over which cannot be integrated into the symbolic universe, an
object that resists subjectivation, and the subject is precisely correlative
to this object." (253-254)

Phew! So the reality of an encounter depends on the ability of an individual
to integrate into the symbolic universe the object of the encounter. Which
is impossible. Perhaps a reading of Levinas's triangular structure as a
theory of incorporating a method of integration?
An (us-them)-...  trifector.
Like the cartesian axis one of the symbolic (good/bad, ideological subject
positions), say the x-axis, and one that goes from
unspeakable-unsayable-unknowable to (ummm), say, boredom, on the y-axis.
Then 'truth' (for Badiou) is a function along the y-axis, not the x-axis,
and it depends on the pragmatic circumstances at play, but the "reality of
the antagonistic fight", the cicumstances at play, comes from the x-axis.
The point I make is that they are not necessarily correlative.
Perhaps, from this (dis)ability, or rather an awareness of it as an
impossibility, the posts of the ethical playing field shift?

Hmm, this reading feels far too simplistic in words, but I must go!



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