Friday, 14 March 2008

Slow down

“The singular and irreducible role of philosophy is to establish a fixed point within discourse, a point of interruption, a point of discontinuity, an unconditional point. Our world is marked by its speed: the speed of historical change; the speed of technical change; the speed of communications; of transmissions; and even the speed with which human beings establish connections with one another.... Philosophy must propose a retardation process. It must construct a time for thought, which, in the face of the injunction to speed, will constitute a time of its own. I consider this a singularity of philosophy; that its thinking is leisurely, because today revolt requires leisureliness and not speed. This thinking, slow and consequently rebellious, is alone capable of establishing the fixed point...”

—Alain Badiou, Infinite Thought: Truth and the Return to Philosophy (London: Continuum, 2005), p. 38.

6 Comments:

John Lyons said...

The fact that I find it impossible to imagine what such a fixed point would be, or look like, doesn't stop me wanting to applaud the general sentiment loudly. 'Leisureliness as revolt' - a motto many should adopt 'as fast as humanly possible while retaining a very leisurely posture'. :)

kim fabricius said...

There is an excellent chapter in Chris K. Huebner's outstanding A Precarious Peace (2006) entitled "Patience, Witness, and the Scattered Body of Christ: Yoder and Virilio on Knowledge, Politics and Speed", which nicely contrasts the French war theorist Paul Virilio's thesis of violence as a function of speed with the pacifist practice of patience, Yoder's "patience as method".

Of course the Badiou passage is also a great, highfalutin charter for lazy bastards.

Ben Myers said...

Yes, Kim: and it might be significant that Badiou is French! There's a nice line in Iain Pears' novel The Dream of Scipio, describing French bureaucrats under the the Vichy regime in the 1940s: "At that time, laziness became political."

Erin said...

makes me all Levinas-like:
if philosophy is leisure, then it must be preceded by justice, no?
It's tough to make time when you're trying to earn dinner.

It does present and interesting dilemma:
MLK: "Why we can't wait"
AB: "Why we must wait"

cheers :)

kim fabricius said...

Hi Erin,

Interestingly, Nigel Biggar has a book on Karl Barth's ethics entitled The Hastening That Waits. (I presume there is no intertextual allusion here to Tom, though it would add to the eschatological edge! What do you think, Ben?)

Cheers

kim fabricius said...

Hi Erin,

Interestingly, Nigel Biggar has a book on Karl Barth's ethics entitled The Hastening That Waits. (I presume there is no intertextual allusion here to Tom, though it would add to the eschatological edge! What do you think, Ben?)

Cheers

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