Jana Berankova: To develop this question of the void that is foreclosed from the double structuration, let me read a short passage from your introduction to Being and Event: “Now, to the seduction of poetic proximity – I admit, I barely escaped it – I will oppose the radically subtractive dimension of being, foreclosed not only from representation but from all presentation. I will say that being qua being does not in any manner let itself be approached, but solely allows itself to be sutured in its void to the brutality of a deductive consistency without aura. Being does not diffuse itself in rhythm and image, it does not reign over metaphor; it is the null sovereign of inference.” After this paragraph, you continue by discussing and criticizing Martin Heidegger’s poetic ontology of presence. Could you talk about this notion of suture? You say that being qua being “al l ows itself to be sutured in its void to the brutality of a deductive consistency without aura. ” What exactly do you mean by the notion of suture? Why is the double structuration so necessary?
Bruno Bosteels: If I may add a remark: in this passage, you have already used many poetic metaphors: sutu re, bruta lity, haunting, without aura …
Alain Badiou: My goal in this passage is to contest Martin Heidegger. I propose the idea that the rea lization of being as such is not in presence, and it is not what poetry does, which is to seize the presence of the real in a real figure of nature, such as in a tree, in the sea , or in some other metaphoric image. To think being as such, we must follow the way of axiomatization; that is, of structuration. And so, in this passage, I arrive at the conclusion that there are two fundamental orientations in ontology: poetic and mathematical. The poetic orientation tries to capture presence as such . My objection is that this is impossible because if we try to capture presence, we necessarily introduce the one because all presence, finally, is the presence of the one, the strength of the one. If we do not introduce the one, we have the complete dissemination of the multiple. The multiple is neutral, without any effect of presence – it is counting, and so on. So, to think this dissemination of the multiple, we must decide to accept structuration of the multiple as such . I think that poetry is, a lways, the attem pt to reach the presence without the mediation of structure, and it is magnificent: when I read poems, I am often on the side of poetry, without any possible resistance, because in poetry we encounter the idea of movement towards the present as such. Of course, this is partly a fiction because there is no presence as such. It is a construction, an invisible construction, because poеtry is neither axiomatic nor conceptual. Poetry is a third possibility of language. It can not be axiomatic since there is no explicit decision in poetry. Poetry is a constant decision, if you like, rather than an explicit decision in the form of a consensual axiomatic: we do not understand a poem from the point of view of the axiomatization of the poem. Poetry does not propose the idea of a structure, of a presence in the sense of a structure, but rather the idea of the encounter between language and being as such, a fusion of language and presence. That is why Heidegger was so fascinated by poets such as Friedrich Holderlin who spoke of something similar to being as such. But I am convinced that, in poetry, this being as such always takes the form of the one; hence the form of the obscurity in all great poems. Every great poem is necessarily obscure. The very obscurity of the poem, which is also the charm of poetry in general, is that it presupposes something like a hidden one that can be expressed by the poem. In some sense, every poet is a liar – but a magn ificent liar (as is every actor, and every novel a lso, in this context). The magnificent falsity of poetry is that it says something bordering on nothingness in the form of presence.
Sometimes, We Are Eternal
Alain Badiou , Nick Nesbitt , Kenneth Reinhard , Jana Ndiaye Berankova , Adam L. Klein , Gabriel Tupinambá , Gabriel Tupinamba , Reza Naderi , Cody Jones , Bruno Bosteels , Yuan Yao , Disha Karnad Jani , Gustav Kalm , Blake Shaw , Paresh Chandra , Daniel L. Hoffman-Schwartz
Suture Press ( 2019)