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Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Badiou (the end, temporarily)

LI is going to pick up the thread of the Badiou posts next week. Since we are taking a vacation, our friend, T., has agreed to put together a few LI posts. This should shake up this site, which suffers a bit from the arteriosclerosis of our egotism.

Okay, a few more notes.

The sensible is transformed into the Event of the Idea in Art. So it stands written. One wants to know:

1. What is the function of the sensible, here? Here, surely, we have wandered into the very traditional categories of aesthetics, in which one way of working with the sensible – say, measuring the sensation of sound – is taken to be science, while another way of working with it – say, creating an opera with those sounds – is taken to be art. The difference is not, however, in the measuring, surely – in the techniques. Mozart has to measure sound to achieve his goal as surely as an audiologist has to measure his sound to achieve his goal. And then there is the problem of those forms of art – poetry, for instance – in which the model of the sensible doesn’t work too well. A poem could consiste of writing la la la muchly – or a poem can be the Iliad. In order to fit the poem into the sensible model, the sensible is quietly rearranged – where the sensible is the medium for listening to Mozart, the sensible is “appealed to” by the poem – not just by the sound of it, but by the images and the narrative – the mythos – that appeals to the passions. The double place of the sensible in aesthetics, both as what gives us the object and as what the object appeals to, is certainly preserved in Badiou.

2. What does the transforming? The artist? Remember, Badiou’s theses are about contemporary art, in which the artist has a primary function – the death of the artist notwithstanding. Badiou seems uncomfortable with the artist’s survival of that philosophically mandated death – as is LI. But the place where the transformation of the sensible takes place seems to demand some kind of artist. And some kind of audience. The transformation of sandstone into rock formations of astonishing beauty took place millions of years ago in the Southwest U.S., but this was not quite the transformation of the sensible – since the wind, rain, and earth were, presumably, not sensitive, in the philosopher’s sense, to what was happening. However, Badiou makes it clear that the sensitivity of the artist must be just right – the artist must not be a fetishist, must not be too personal, must not be too ethnic, etc. So, there is a gradient here in the artist’s sensibility.

3. finally – Why not just transform the sensible into an Idea? why throw in the event? What does it add, or clarify, to talk about an Idea-event?

LI has to leave it there.

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