Alain Badiou

VISUAL ARTS FACILITY,
PERFORMANCE SPACE
May 25, 2010 6:30 P.m.
Admission: FREE

As the intellectual anchor and celebrity headliner of the visual arts department’s “Public Culture in the Visual Sphere” lecture series, Alain Badiou is kind of a big deal.

Aside from the fact that he’s the former philosophy chair at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, whose faculty has included minds such as Althusser, Derrida and Lacan — his scholarly squabbles with postmodernist schools of thought have made him quite the academic adversary.

Trained as a mathematician, Badiou’s philosophical career has largely been a protest against the postmodern craze infatuating wide-eyed students the world over. Refusing to label the current era distinctly “postmodern” like most contemporaries, he’s made more enemies than any intellectual could hope for.

Badiou’s ideas, some might say, can be a bit dense — blending the anti-modernism of Slavoj Zizek (who’s easily more colorful) with contemporary politics while meting out math (and conceptual diagrams) throughout; it’s easy to see how dry seems a fitting adjective — but at least it’s illustrated.

Though his lectures are usually delivered in a wooden, three-word rhythm — punctuated with nodding glances and pages under his palm — it does help us keep up with the momentum of his ideas.

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