Friday, April 8, 2011

Badiou and the Mysteries of Poetry

In the reading from Inaesthetics (both Chs. 1 and 2), Badiou seems to make the bold claim that art creates truths that are both unique and announced by the work of art itself. On his reading, this is a theory of art that has not yet been advanced.

The second chapter focuses on poetry and the kinds of truth(s) it announces. To this end, Badiou states: "We could therefore equally assert that for philosophy, poetry is a thought that is not a thought, a thought that is not even thinkable. But the sole stakes of philosophy are precisely to think thought, to identify thought as the thinking of thought itself."

First and foremost, what does he mean by this? Secondly, how does this align with what he has been saying in Chapter 2 and, even further, in Ch. 1?

I have other questions regarding this, but I'll save them for now...


Rai316 said...

It appears to me that Badiou is influenced by an idea we originally discussed in class. The idea that everything has it's own truths in it's own sphere. In a similar way, he argues that poetry and mathematics are distinctively different types of thought. Though I must say his ideas about the unnameable are a bit confusing. But overall it appears that to him poetry is not useless or dangerous as Plato thought but important as mathematics except it should be thought about differently.

-Bryan Hutchinson

Shane said...

I am not really sure why he was comparing mathematics and poetry. The only thing I really understood about this reading was his concept of poetry's "power of language" and mathematics "power of consistency." What did he mean by "a thought that is not a thought?" I know he stated that if poetry is a thought that is not a thought than it would be useless in philosophy.

-Shane Hagan

Daniel said...

I feel like the connection for poetry to mathematics has to do with what they communicate. Math is pretty much straight thought: this number does this and that does this. Poetry does basically the same but for emotion. When I read a poem I can put my own ideas into it and animate it in my mind where as a math problem is hard to do the same.

Language art in general has this ability--that is to take the reader somewhere. Math on the other hand is often fairly straight forward. 2+2=4 does not awaken any deep emotion for me but "roses are red..." can.

I personally think Plato was just really bad at writing poetry.

Zach Simpson said...

I think if we take Bryan and Daniel's comments together, we can help solve some of Shane's quandaries.

While I'm not entirely *sure* what Badiou is talking about, I think that Bryan's understanding is close to mine: mathematics expresses truths for that which is regular and knowable. In short, mathematics is the discipline best equipped to understand "Being." It gives us a good language to understand that which we see all the time. It is a thought about the stuff we always think about: a "thought" thought.

On the other hand, poetry expresses that which we cannot say ("roses are red...") or did not even previously know. It's the language of the Event. To put it in previously language, it is a "thought" of that which is unthought, about what we haven't really thought about until the poem announced it.

This is why poetry has the function that Daniel accords to it. Math is pretty boring. And that's because it talks about what we already know. Poetry talks about the stuff that we don't already know, but feel only fleetingly or rarely. It gives us a language to express the unexpressible.

Does this sound right? Do you think this makes poetry the language of mystery, something that poets may not be too comfortable with?

I forgot to bring my book home, but will post some more thoughts when I get to the office tomorrow morning.