By Alain Badiou
All over, the 20 th century has been judged and condemned: the century of totalitarian terror, of utopian and felony ideologies, of empty illusions, of genocides, of fake avant-gardes, of democratic realism all over the place changed by way of abstraction.
It isn't Badiou's desire to plead for an accused that's completely able to protecting itself with out the authors reduction. Nor does he search to proclaim, like Frantz, the hero of Sartre's Prisoners of Altona, 'I have taken the century on my shoulders and i've acknowledged: i'm going to solution for it!' The Century easily goals to check what this accursed century, from inside its personal unfolding, acknowledged that it was once. Badiou's thought is to reopen the file at the century - no longer from the attitude of these clever and sated judges we too frequently declare to be, yet from the perspective of the century itself.
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Extra info for The Century
Eventually, one meets up once again with the nothing, the nothing-real, and in this sense one is still within nihilism. But since the element of terrorism, the desire to purify the real, has been suppressed, nihilism is deactivated. It has become passive, or reac tive, nihilism - that is, a nihilism hostile to every action as well as every thought. The other path that the century sketched out - the one that attempts to hold onto the passion for the real without falling for the paroxysmal charms of terror - is what I call the subtractive path: to exhibit as a real point, not the destruction of reality, but minimal difference.
Yet precisely what was most alive in these last hundred years placed itself, in the wake of Freud, under the sign of a devastating hysteria: What novelty have you to show us? Of what are you the creator? Which is why it's not a bad idea to also enter the century via psychoanalysis. 67 5 May 1 999 Sex in crisis 7 Sex in crisis Talk about psychoanalysis? Again? Everything's been said already - and besides, one always arrives too late, since psychoanalysts already exist and talk. What's more, my question is far more indis tinct than those philosophy customarily addresses to a psycho analysis which it always seems to find in a bad mood.
I believe I've already eluci dated what drives this process. What I would like to underscore today is that to purify the real is to extract it from the reality that envelops and conceals it. Whence the violent taste for surface and transparency. The century attempts to react against depth. It carries out a fierce cri tique of foundations and of the beyond; it promotes the immedi ate, as well as the surface of sensation. As an heir to Nietzsche, it proposes the abandonment of all 'otherworlds' and posits that the real is identical to appearance.