Badiou and Deleuze Read Literature

Badiou and Deleuze Read Literature

Jean-Jacques Lecercle
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Badiou and Deleuze Read Literature
    Book Description:

    This book assesses and contrasts the reading styles of two major French philosophers, Alain Badiou and Gilles Deleuze.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-4163-5
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-5)

    Tell me which literary texts you read and how you read them and I shall tell you what kind of philosopher you are and how important your philosophical contribution is.

    Alain Badiou begins the introduction to his magnum opus Being and Event by positing three numbered theses, or ‘assumptions’, about the ‘current general state of philosophy’.¹ In a pastiche of the philosopher’s practice, I shall start by stating my own three assumptions, or theses.

    Thesis one. Badiou and Deleuze are two of the most important contemporary philosophers. This is the weak version of the thesis, which, I am afraid, is...

  4. Chapter 1 Disjunctive Synthesis
    (pp. 6-37)

    In 1976, one called the other a fascist. The other replied by talking of intellectual suicide. Those were the heady days of the aftermath of May ’68 at the University of Vincennes in Paris, when even the slightest political difference became a pretext for the exchange of what the French language poetically calls noms d’oiseaux, in other words insults. So in an article published in the theoretical journal of an obscure Maoist sect,¹ of which he was ‘a leading member’, Badiou called Deleuze a fascist, as he recalls, with a hint of nostalgic mischievousness, in the opening pages of his...

  5. Chapter 2 A Question of Style
    (pp. 38-67)

    My first chapter was concerned with the first two theses stated in the introduction (Badiou and Deleuze are major contemporary philosophers and they form a strange pair). Three areas of interest have emerged:

    1. Deleuze and Badiou are united by a paradoxical relation of disjunctive synthesis (this concept names not only Badiou’s guiding thread through the philosophy of Deleuze but a description of the field of philosophy on which each of them draws his plane of immanence: an ontological stance, the affirmation of the infinity of thought, a close relationship between philosophy and other fields, mathematics and art).

    2. The notion of...

  6. Chapter 3 Deleuze Reads Proust
    (pp. 68-91)

    The importance of Proust for Deleuze, throughout his work, cannot be overestimated. In the concordance of literary allusions in his works, the Proust entry is the longest, and allusions are present in practically all his books, from Proust and Signs to Essays Critical and Clinical.¹ To the end, Deleuze kept quoting the celebrated Proustian description of the writer writing as if his maternal language were a foreign tongue – for him, this was the best description of style as the stuttering of language.² What better entry, therefore, into the world of Deleuze as a reader of literary texts than a...

  7. Chapter 4 Badiou Reads Mallarmé
    (pp. 92-118)

    Mallarmé is an important figure for Badiou. In the very first pages of Logic of Worlds he calls him ‘his master’ and claims that the first proposition he states: ‘There are only bodies and languages, except that there are truths’, is formulated in Mallarmean style.¹ And he has been a consistent reader of Mallarmé: in Théorie du sujet, we find a close commentary of two sonnets;² in Being and Event, the nineteenth ‘meditation’ is devoted to a reading of Mallarmé’s famous spatial poem, ‘Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard’;³ the early collection of essays Conditions, contains an essay...

  8. Chapter 5 A Modernist Canon? Badiou and Deleuze Read Beckett
    (pp. 119-157)

    Badiou and Deleuze both indulge in a canon, which means two things: they defend a number of writers about whom they write extensively; and this personal choice they project onto a theory of literature based on a discrimination of great art and a rejection of false or doxic art, what Badiou calls the art of communication and commerce. There is no cultural relativism in either Badiou or Deleuze: there are great texts, faithful either to the event or to life, and the task of the philosopher-critic is to find them and extol their greatness.

    Being the result of personal taste...

  9. Chapter 6 Reading the Fantastic after Badiou and Deleuze
    (pp. 158-188)

    So far, in their reading of literature, Badiou and Deleuze have dictated the agenda. Reading Mallarmé with Badiou and a host of writers, modernist and otherwise, with Deleuze has confined us to the narrow, or not so narrow, ambit of their respective canons. The time has come to try to put their strong readings to work on texts which they themselves blissfully ignore. There is no mention of either Frankenstein or Dracula in Badiou, because when he is not reading poems for their latent prose, he is reading avant-garde prose for its latent poem: something which cannot easily be done...

  10. Conclusion: Aesthetics or Inaesthetics?
    (pp. 189-204)

    The question that remains is: what exactly have I described in attempting to account for my two philosophers’ mode of reading literature? Or, which is another way of asking the same question: what is the exact status of their ‘strong readings’ of literature? Or again, if we wish to generalise, what are the relationships between philosophy and literature that such a mode of reading involves?

    An immediate answer to my questions would be: I have described two philosophies of literature, conjoined and disjoined in disjunctive synthesis, as I suggested in theses two and three of my introduction: two similar and...

  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 205-210)
  12. Index
    (pp. 211-213)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 214-218)