Art and Poetry
If truth is a subjective composition, then of all the generic procedures, the notion of an artistic truth may for many readers be the most intuitively plausible or recognizable. Modernity has long been comfortable with versions of aesthetic defamiliarization. However, what is at issue in Badiou's own broadly modernist conception of art is not some kind of aesthetic process or faculty, but the particular consequences of certain concrete artistic events or truths. “As opposed to aesthetic speculation, ” what Badiou calls “inaesthetics describes the strictly intraphilosophical effects produced by the independent existence of some works of art” (PM, 7).
From the start, this sharply distinguishes Badiou's position from the more familiar orientations of his major rivals in the field of aesthetics, however radical their understanding of artistic defamiliarization might be. Where Adorno and Lyotard, for example, look to the general characteristics of an aesthetic conception of things—as a means, precisely, of “representing” the objectively unrepresentable reality of things 1—Badiou looks for the quite exceptional consequences resulting from a fidelity to a couple of privileged artistic sequences or “configurations.” In ultimately antiphilosophical style, Lyotard and Adorno pick out and celebrate instances where conceptual thought breaks down in favor of an aesthetically accessible reality beyond the concept. Since “to think is to identify, ” Adorno's goal is to dissolve conceptual thought in favor of the object's nonidentity, thereby gaining “insight