onsdag 23 mars 2011

Den rena skillnaden

I ett tidigare inlägg skrev jag om Malevichs målning Black Square och hur han i den lyckades uttrycka den rena, icke-objektiva skillnaden, den skillnad som inte är en skillnad mellan bestämda objekt, en skillnad som därigenom inte heller blir abstrakt (Hegel), sexualiserad (Freud), ansiktliggjord (Deleuze), överbestämd... välj vilket ord du vill. I Milbanks/Žižeks bok, The monstrosity of Christ, beskriver Žižek hur denna skillnad kan beskrivas och hur Alan Badiou menar att det är just skillnaden som är den ontologiska grunden, den grunden varifrån subjektet och världen skapas:
That is Badiou’s ontological breakthrough: the primordial opposition is not that of One and Zero, but that of Zero and multiplicities, and the One emerges later. To put it even more radically: since only Ones fully “really exist,” multiplicities and Zero are the same thing (not one and the same thing): Zero “is” multiplicities without Ones which would guarantee their ontological consistency.

There is a detail which, perhaps, tells a lot about the difference between Europe and the USA: in Europe, the ground floor in a building is counted as 0, so that the floor above it is the “first floor,” while in the USA the “first floor” is at street level. In short, Americans start to count with 1, while Europeans know that 1 is already a stand- in for 0. Or, to put it in more historical terms:
Europeans are aware that, before we start counting, there has to be a “ground” of tradition, a ground which is always- already given and, as such, cannot be counted; while the USA, a land with no premodern historical tradition proper, lacks such a “ground”—things begin there directly with self- legislated freedom, the past is erased (transposed onto Europe).

So which of these two positions is closer to the truth? Neither—it is only in Poland that they seem to have found the proper solution to this alternative: in hotel elevators, they skip 1 altogether, i.e., they start to count fl oors with 0 and then pass over directly to 2. When, in a Warsaw hotel, I asked the porter how one can jump directly from 0 to 2, I was taken aback by the simple truth of his answer—after a moment of perplexity, he told me: “Well, I guess that the moment one starts to count the floors, the ground floor itself must be counted as one. . . .”

He got it right: “one” is originally not the number which follows zero, but zero itself counted as one—only in this way can the series of counted “ones” start (one One, then another One, etc., ad infinitum); the original multiplicity, the correlate of the void, is not to be confused with this series of Ones. This solution is thus based on the correct insight which Badiou developed in his ontology: reality is a multiplicity in which the void and the multiple coincide, i.e., the multiple is not composed of “ones,” but is primordial. - (Monstrosity of Christ, s. 90f.)

Vad jag finner intressant, förutom det sätt som Žižek lyckas kritisera Amerikas historielöshet genom en studie av våningsplansnumrering, är att den ontologiska grunden inte är en organisk enhet eller harmonisk helhet, utan en splittrad mångfald och att denna mångfald alltså inte är uppbyggd av "ettor", av de bestämda objekten som om man adderar dem får totalsumman av universum av. Nej, tvärtom, totalsumman av universum är mångfald, eller tomrum beroende på hur man ser det, och det är endast genom bestämmandet som ettorna framträder. Ettorna är alltså deriverade ur den stora mångfalden, inte byggstenarna för universum.

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