There are only embodiments and authorizations — Işık Barış Fidaner

For Alain Badiou, there are two basic orientations in thought. The dominant capitalist orientation is called “democratic materialism” whose axiom is “There are only bodies and languages.” The subversive orientation that Badiou adopts is called “materialist dialectics” whose axiom is “There are only bodies and languages, except that there are truths.” But this articulation leaves out a question: How do the exceptional truths relate to the bodies-languages of the dominant order?

In Badiou’s book title “Being and Event”, “Being” refers to the aforementioned bodies-languages, and “Event” refers to the exceptional place of truths. So the crucial question is about the missing link between Being and Event. Žižek points out “the open question of Badiou’s Being and Event, which is that of the link or intersection between being and Event. How do we avoid the reproach that an Event is a proto-religious miracle which intervenes from some transcendent Beyond into the order of being?” (Less Than Nothing) Due to the transcendent status given to the truths, Badiou’s axiom is more appropriate for an “idealist dialectics”. To uphold a materialist dialectics, we need to assert and demonstrate the immanence of the truths to the bodies and languages of the dominant order.

Let me approach this problem with my toolbox of signifiers. First of all, we must acknowledge that the main function of a language is to authorize an addressee. In symbolic authorization, language authorizes a supposed subject of knowing. In real authorization, a subject authorizes himself/herself via the language [1]. So we can modify the axiom by replacing “languages” with “authorities”. The new democratic materialist axiom is “There are only bodies and authorities.”

What should be the new axiom of materialist dialectics? If we would insert truths as an additional clause, this would make them transcendent, not immanent. To assert the immanence of truths, we should recognize the processual generation of the bodies and the authorities. Thus the new axiom of materialist dialectics should be “There are only embodiments and authorizations.” The next step is to focus on the respective grounds of these two processes.

In the premodern conception, the ground of an embodiment is Nature or Destiny as the big Other. The modern subversion of this assumption acknowledges that “There is no big Other”, which means that there are only particular (eco)systems, which do not make up a natural whole. So the modern materialist ground of embodiment is a “system” [2].

In the premodern conception, the ground of an authorization is God as the Other of the Other. The modern subversion of this assumption acknowledges that “There is no Other of the Other”, which means that there are only particular wills, which do not come from a transcendent God. So the modern materialist ground of authorization is a “will”.

Thus we reached the ground of “authorization-embodiment”, which is “will-system”. But this just gives the context of the processes, it’s not yet the locus of truth. To reach the truth dimension of a symptom, we must consider the disruption of “will-system”, which gives us “desire-malfunction”: What disrupts a conscious will is an unconscious desire, and what disrupts a system is a malfunction. These two aspects are related through the Freudian notion of parapraxis [3]. This is the immanent dimension of truths.

This is the dimension that authorizes Lacan to say “I, the truth, am speaking” or “I always speak the truth”. Truth does not have an exceptional (masculine) status as in Badiou, and on the other hand, “Everything is truthful” is false. Instead, “There is nothing which is not truthful” which makes truth not-All (feminine) i.e. truth can only be half-said:

I always speak the truth. Not the whole truth, because there’s no way, to say it all. Saying it all is literally impossible: words fail. Yet it’s through this very impossibility that the truth holds onto the real. (Television)

(Turkish)

Işık Barış Fidaner is a computer scientist with a PhD. Admin of Yersiz Şeyler (Placeless Things) blog, Admin/Editor/Curator of Žižekian Analysis, and one of the admins of “Žižek and the Slovenian School” group on Facebook. Twitter: @BarisFidaner

Notes:

[1] See “Symbolic Authorization of Fetishes and Real Authorization of Symptoms”

[2] See “Two inexistences and a separation: God-Nature to will-system”

[3] See “Desire and Malfunction”

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