Nothing indeed has been more common for Žižek than to attack Badiou precisely on the grounds that he completely fails to understand the first thing about love, desire, enjoyment and the death drive. Such an attack can take the typically antiphilosophical form of a disparagement, as when Žižek accuses Badiou of falling to the level of sheer non-thought: “When Badiou adamantly opposes the ‘morbid obsession with death,’ when he opposes the Truth-Event to the death drive, and so on, he is at his weakest, succumbing to the temptation of the non-thought.” Or else, especially in Žižek’s more recent works, the accusation can mask itself behind more respectable philosophical labels, such that Badiou turns out to have been blind to the role of pure negativity, or radical finitude, as a prior condition—the tabula rasa of all fantasies that alone clears the ground for a genuine ethical or political act. Thus, except for the sobered-up tone, in Less Than Nothing we are still within the same problematic as the one in The Ticklish Subject: “Negativity (whose Freudian name is the ‘death drive’) is the primordial ontological fact: for a human being, there is no ‘animal life’ prior to it, for a human being is constitutively ‘out-of-joint.’ Every ‘normality’ is a secondary normalization of the primordial dislocation that is the ‘death drive,’ and it is only through the terrorizing experience of the utter vacuity of every positive order of ‘normality’ that a space is opened up for an Event.” Finally, what emerges as the fundamental stake in the ongoing disputes between Badiou and Žižek on the subject of Lacan is the problematic of the different relationships between truth, knowledge, and the real of enjoyment.

Enjoy Your Truth:
Lacan as Vanishing Mediator between Badiou and Žižek

Bruno Bosteels

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