while avoiding ‘real work’ i’ve been browsing the new issue of the international journal of zizek studies and think two pieces are of note to anyone reading this.
The first is Peter Gratton’s review essay of Adrian Johnstons The Cadence of Change. While being a good review of a worth reading book, Gratton brings up some very important/interesting issues regarding Johnston’s discussion of the pre-evental in Badiou’s thought, affect, and the role of philosophy in thinking through actual political engagement. I also think he rightly draws attention to the thin line between the recent obsession with notions of the ‘event’, and the competing obsession with the ‘new’ offered by capitalist culture.
To digress a bit, I found it reassuring to see Gratton taking seriously the question of the pre-evental in Badiou (and Johston’s work), as when I gave a paper on that topic at a conference in the states this spring, I was shocked by the hostile response I received. One fellow presenter in particular seemed to think that there is no need to talk about the ‘problem of the pre-evental’ in Badiou’s work, as in the chapter on forcing in Being and Event he already gives us a theory of the pre-evental. (Personally, I think that is equivalent to saying we shouldn’t have invented flying machines because Michelangelo already sketched out some great options) That said, I’m planning on talking about the issue of affectivity and the pre-evental in the paper I’ll be preparing for this year’s SPEP conference, so I’ll hopefully post some notes here in the autumn while I’m getting it ready.
The other piece I found of interest is the related ‘Open Letter to Slavoj Zizek’ written by Adrian Johnston. While the piece is mostly his response to In Defense of Lost Causes, he also brings up a lot of interesting thoughts on nature, particularly in the way he qualifies Zizek’s assertion that there is ‘no such thing’ as nature. He also mentions a book manuscript that he ‘wrote after finishing his dissertation’ but was never published. Only Adrian Johnston would casually write up a quick book post-phd and move on before publishing it…lengendary.
Regardless, if you have some free time check those pieces, and the other in the issue, out.