chapter 5
Subject and Event

We arrive now at the dynamic core of Badiou's system, the dynamism that moves beyond the objective normality enforced by the state of a situation. “It is vain to suppose, ” Badiou writes, “that we can invent anything at all—and all truth is invention—if nothing happens, if 'nothing takes place but the place'” (PM, 24). A truth is something that happens, something both exceptional and universal, both punctual in its origin and for all in its implication.

With the concepts of subject and event Badiou has broken out of the merely “natural” confines of being as being. His ontology provides a negative but exact description of that which exceeds it: an event is precisely “that which is not being as being” (EE, 193). What a truth process composes is indeed the truth of a situation, but its composition requires something more than the situation itself can provide. For instance, in order to reveal the proletariat as the foundation of the capitalist situation, politics first requires a revolutionary intervention that is itself strictly outlawed from that situation. Likewise, it is an exceptional encounter, or recollection, or association, that can alone allow the subjects of psychoanalysis to penetrate the repression that conceals the truth of their situation. In each case, the event—the uprising, the encounter, the invention—breaks fundamentally with the prevailing routine: “Every radically transformative action has its origin in one point.” 1 Through the subject who proclaims it, a truth that is thus ephemeral in its occasion thereby comes to consist as generic in its substance. Badiou adopts

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