Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Be Like Turtle: Constructing a time for thought

Badiou in Infinite Thought, p. 51 ('Philosophy and Desire'):

"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. This speed exposes us to the danger of a very great incoherency. It is because things, images and relations circulate to quickly that we do not even have the time to measure the extent of this incoherency. Speed is the mask of inconsistency. 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."

Aside from providing a stark contrast to the anti-philosophical injunctions of fascist sympathizers like the Italian Futurist artist Marinetti, who celebrate speed and modern commerce and advocate the burning of libraries (something to that effect, at least), this philosophical tasking gives meaning to my own lifestyle, or to my somewhat lengthy morning routine. Thanks Badiou, now I don't feel useless any more - cooking porridge, eating, shaving, and drinking a cup of freshly-ground Zapatista coffee for about two hours every morning. Aside from being excellent bike fuel, a massive bowl of porridge, consumed slowly, is certainly conducive to 'constructing a time for thought'. To re-/paraphrase Badiou, the task of philosophy is to solve one major philosophical problem every day by lunchtime.

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