Academic journal article The Journal of Social Theory in Art Education (Online)

The Unprecedented Event: Acknowledging Badiou's Challenge to Art and Its Education

Academic journal article The Journal of Social Theory in Art Education (Online)

The Unprecedented Event: Acknowledging Badiou's Challenge to Art and Its Education

Article excerpt

In terms of this year's journal theme, "unprecedented," there is no other contemporary philosopher who has a more radical notion than Alain Badiou when it comes to theorizing the new; that is, the emergence of an unprecedented Event ex nihilio-not novel or innovative, but free of the authority of any prior example-to make a truth claim. For art educators, especially for the Social Caucus, Badiou offers a challenge to what has largely captured the theoretical writing in this journal - namely aesthetics and representation. As well intentioned as these theorizations have been concerning identity politics and critical theory stemming from Paulo Freire, who seems to be everpresent in the Caucus' fundamental imaginary, both aspects, if Badiou is taken seriously, are challenged if the "social" in "social theory" is to be rethought for future transformative directions.

The burden of this essay is to introduce Badiou's philosophy concerning art and "inaesthetics" to the Social Caucus readership since his importance to art and its education, I predict, will only continue to increase. A leftist thinker, with Maoist roots, who studied with Louis Althusser, but rejected his theories, Badiou remains a leading contemporary philosopher, slightly younger than that famous cadre of French philosophers who were politicized in the '60s and have now passed away. He has deep psychoanalytic roots, drawing on Lacan's register of the unconscious Real. This is what interests me most for art and its future education.

The State of an Educational Emergency

Before I introduce Badiou's theory of the Event (capitalized throughout) as he developed it in Being and Event (2005b, designated as BE), and why such an Event can only be theorized from an "unprecedented" position, it is necessary to begin with a detour to talk about the state of the contemporary educational Imagination. I think this is necessary because creativity as art educators have theorized it has been hijacked by designer capital to produce a never-ending innovative array of fantasies for consumption. It will be necessary to grasp the nature of unprecedented creativity from Badiou's perspective so as to grasp the importance of creativity proper for art and its education. So, let me begin with a brief sketch of the current hegemonic position of the educational Imagination within what Deleuze (1995) called a "society of control;" that is, an information society where global capitalism and the 'democratic state' are intimately intertwined with one another, engaged in what Foucault (1990), along with Agamben's (1998) revisionism, has called biopower. The distinction between life as zoë (bare life (nuda vita), which is the energy that is attached to the survival of every form of life) and bios (life lived under the protection of the sovereign state) retains its separation in control societies through what I call choreographed modulation, (or choreographed padules-patterns and schedules together constitute a 'padule'). Such seemingly random bio-flows of movement are managed as information through complexity theory in designer neoliberal capitalist societies, making it appear that choice and movement within a society of the 'pass' (or signifier) is a free act. The open access to designed environments is possible if one has the institutional right to pass through its barriers- such as a passport, a PIN number, a credit card and credit rating, an educational degree, a driver's license, and so on. The panopticon of disciplinary societies has now inverted itself into what I call a synopticon; the many watch the few in a screen society, while surveillance is used to keep people out rather than in. Identity is liquid in such a neoliberal democratic capitalist state, which can assert itself as a 'universal all' by reducing all possible individual differences to a fundamental meritocratic system based on achievement alone. The demand by the superego in consumer capitalism is that you be 'counted' in the triple sense of that word-confirmed as an identity, included in society and evaluated by that society-so that you may enjoy the privileges and entitlements that this form of representational 'counting' in democracy brings: besides the obvious consumerism, certain rights and freedoms. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.