what just happened?

So, in the past 30 hours or so, everyone has collectively decided that they hate Badiou. What a burst of originality.

I’m glad at least some people are getting the ridiculous and sad irony in all of this. I’m not going to bother linking to all the ‘lets kill the father’ posts out there, I’m sure you’ve seen them or can find them, but almost all of them share one troubling thing, an odd absence of any philosophical or textual engagement with his work. And, if I can make a guess, at least a few seem to be written by people critiquing a book (LoW) which they have not read, or, understood.

As I said in a comment on one of the previously mentioned blogs, this reminds me of being 14 years old and turning violently against one of my favorite punk bands when they would sign with a major label or put a video on mtv.

Dark and obscure doesn’t always equal rigorous or interesting.


14 thoughts on “what just happened?

  1. The same thing happened with Derrida and Deleuze amongst fan boys. I have always had issues with Badiou, but I find a lot of him interesting. Not sure why it is an all or nothing thing with thinkers.

  2. michaeloneillburns says:

    Yes, the all or nothing attitude just doesn’t make sense. I assumed a backlash would happen, but not in such a condensed period.

  3. ZSDP says:

    Badiou strikes me as being one of the current superstars of philosophy, so I wonder if one person’s confession (which I assume was Alex’s, over at splintering bone ashes) just made it safe for others to admit what they have long felt was dangerous to feel?

    But, honestly, it does seem odd.

  4. Alex says:

    It needs to be understood- on my part at least, in the context of this series of posts not about theory, but music, begun by Simon Reynolds, on Jonny Rotten’s infamous “I hate Pink Floyd” T-shirt (where he was later revealed to have said “I actually always quite liked them”). A series of posts on other blogs happened along the theme, and I thought it was a great idea, capturing an interesting dynamic (going too far , for obvious effect). Precisely the fanboy dynamic of this amused me deeply, at once pathetic, yet pretending to an investment which was never fully made… In a sense its in bad faith all the way through! As I say, I certainly don’t really hate philosophers unless they are outright abysmal writers. The response has been interesting however, what’s intriguing is not that people have doubts about Badiou, but the forms they take (each different, but not entirely unreasonable). And indeed, the trigger was being referred to myself on a message board as being a “Badiouian”. I wouldn’t call this a backlash though, as Graham thinks, as unlike with Deleuze the Church of Badiou has yet to reach proper maturity, and most so-called Badiouians (even Peter Hallward) have severe reservations- Badiou doesn’t yet have the equivalent of what my friend once termed “Deleuzomonks” …

  5. reidkane says:

    I don’t agree with it, but I understand it. For the record, I still think highly of Badiou, and I think LoW is great, very useful. I’m gonna post about it tomorrow I think.

  6. Michael says:

    I also really don’t get the all or nothing bit. As I tried to point out in my post on it, while I’m basically in no way a Badiouian (for a number of reasons I’ve written on before), I can still appreciate his work. Also, I think some of the best philosophy comes from people “misreading” or omitting those parts of thinkers they disagree with, which is exactly how philosophy moves and changes historically. So you can still USE Badiou, and not be a strictly orthodox Badiouian. People don’t seem to get that though.

  7. michaeloneillburns says:

    Thanks for clearing that up a bit, and for the record, I did find your post less confusing then the throngs who followed you within hours. And you are very much right in pointing out that there still aren’t real ‘Badiouians’, whatever that would mean. So when people keep using the term, I wonder who/what they are referring too, because as far as I know people who are the closest to being Badiou ‘experts’ are also some of the people most critical of his thought, using it as a starting point for their own philosophical endeavors and not merely endlessly explicating and defending in a manner similar to some of the ‘deleuzomonks’.

    And Michael, you make a good point as well. I think that is the main thing I’d be willing to defend Badiou on, his work makes wonderful philosophical material when put to proper use.

  8. Beckett says:

    “this reminds me of being 14 years old and turning violently against one of my favorite punk bands when they would sign with a major label or put a video on mtv.”

    More like a twenty-something whose favourite punk band is, many years later, still a punk band.

    Perhaps Alex should have titled his post “I hate Philosophy” (as opposed to philosophy) rather than seeking a convenient scapegoat. [Alex: your ‘trigger’ wasn’t THAT message-board? The one over-run by the same gloating mob whose political insights coincide with those of such think tanks as the Cato Institute etc ad infinitum?.]

    I can’t help but admire Nina’s reaction (on her blog) to all of this (another ‘trigger’ perhaps). I’m not an ‘academic/career philosopher’ but I’m reminded by Nina’s remarks of an event some 32 years ago when I first began studying it, when Britain’s BBC2 broadcast a 15-part series of interviews with ‘famous philosophers’ (the kind of programme-series neither seen before nor since anywhere on television, as with so many programmes from that era) called ‘Men of Ideas’, whose Anglo-American biased producers at the last moment tagged on at the very end a token female to join the 14 males, moral philosopher Iris Murdoch.

    Yes: “conservatism masquerading as ‘serious’ intellectual research”?

  9. kvond says:

    M. Burns: “So, in the past 30 hours or so, everyone has collectively decided that they hate Badiou. What a burst of originality.”

    Kvond: One wonders at the claim that others are not being “original”. At the very least when there is a such a wave of, and variety of, responses, it is not that everyone wants to get on the bandwagon, so much as there is a trigger point, that sets off a long unstated dissatisfaction. It is a bit like “The Emperor Has No Clothes”. One person says it, and others chime with very little regard to originality or not. They have not suddenly “decided” that they hate Badiou. They simply are agreeing that he strikes them much less interesting and problem solving than he seems assumed to be.

    But perhaps instead of talking about the “throngs” (were there really throngs of anti-Badiou hatred out there?), perhaps take up the five or six posts that really were the most offensive in tone to you, and do as you say, speak in specifics. What exactly do you have a problem with? From your protest I honestly don’t have an idea.

    As for comparing Deleuzians with Badiouists, just imagine what would have been if Deleuze came of age within a blogosphere environment.

    • Ben Woodard says:

      I think this is right on (of course I am one of the accused 14 year old fan boys). For many of us in the blogosphere I think our less than positive attitude towards Badiou had become something of an elephant in the room. What happened following Alex’s post was between a sigh of relief and a collective head nod in reaction to something more like a confession than an angsty battle cry.

      • kvond says:

        Yes, elephant in the room, methinks. Perhaps this comes from a decided and articulate force of pro-Badiou expositors on the web, the ever-hovering threat the Set-Theory could descend upon you, like some kind of (n+1) dimensional philosophical object if you dared abstain from the enthusiasm, and the ever-present, softly Maoist reproach that you were merely reactionary (called Neo-liberal these days), not truly radical or nor thoughfully caring enough, not loyal the the “name”/event of revolution, now “Badiou”, if chills did not run at the sound of its name…all of this pushing the not-so-inspired-ones into the relative corners of the handful of blogs we seem to imagine compose the “blogosphere” (more like a blogo-cul-de-sac). Someone finally mentioned, “Hey, he really isn’t that interesting or profound” and all those in the corners looked up and said “the others see the elephant in the room”. This is not, was not a wave or a throng of hatred. It is merely a kind of shrugging off, with a sigh of a kind of relief.

  10. Nick Srnicek says:

    “As for comparing Deleuzians with Badiouists, just imagine what would have been if Deleuze came of age within a blogosphere environment.”

    Ha! It probably would have been terrible – little desiring machines running around trolling everyone.

    • kvond says:

      I know, schizo-desiring-machine-trolling instead of calling for the pre-existing Revolution and identifying the Neo-Liberals (sneeky bastards hiding everywhere!). Can you imagine (!)

  11. […] that needs to be looked for, isn’t much of a firestorm.) To sew the button in full suture I posted a comment  over at “Daily Humiliation,” attempting to second Ben’s affirmation of my […]

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