The Pathos of Intermittency
What I take to be the most significant recent French philosophy has been engaged in a sustained reformulation of modern aesthetics, modern politics, the form of modern experience itself. This reformulation has precisely involved the question of intermittency. I want to end by placing both Badiou and Beckett’s work in a broader contemporary philosophical context, in order to get the most ambitious and clearest possible view of the issues at stake in this book. I shall then go back to my general case as a whole, restate it, and reinterpret it in the light of the new context. Finally, I shall seek to place Beckett as exactly as possible in relation to a spectrum of ways of thinking and writing intermittency.
First, however, I want to come back to Lacan, and a certain way of thinking jouissance in Seminar VII (which is nothing if not about the paradoxes of jouissance). In this context, I am not concerned with the more familiar Lacanian senses of the term. I am not concerned with sexual jouissance. Nor am I exactly concerned with the impossible object of a blocked desire, with jouissance as the fulfilment from which the subject is (necessarily) debarred. I want rather to stress what Lacan says about the actual availability of the impossible object under certain conditions, psychic or historical. Lacan is very clear about the availability of jouissance. Wealth in particular has always made jouissance ‘perfectly accessible and accepted’. Wealth even enjoys a ‘security of jouissance’.¹ Here jouissance is the assumption of plenitude which Badiou rebuked in Beckett criticism. It is an apparently limitless satisfaction of need. Religious faith is one of Lacan’s figures for it. American psychoanalysis is another,
1 Jacques Lacan, Seminar VII: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis 1959–60, ed. Jacques-Alain Miller, tr. with notes Dennis Porter (London: Routledge, 1999), 200.