DAY 151: The Event

November 10th, 2015 § 0 comments

Let’s, however briefly, leave the disasters all around us and focus on the more immediately personal. Consider the linked questions:

1. Are you making the world a better place?

2. Are you having a good time?

This naturally leads us to Alain Badiou and his theory of the ‘event’. I freely admit that I don’t really understand this, although I suspect that imgresProf. Badiou is a bit unsound in his approach to transfinite cardinal numbers. But it seems to assert that from time an exceptional irruption of the Real into politics leads to the possibility of revolutionary liberation. Examples being, St Paul’s evangelism, falling in love, Galileo, Haydn’s invention of sonata form, the French revolution, the Bolshevik ditto, Cantor’s invention of the infinite, May 1968. You see the general idea – particularly falling in love.

Only connect (as they say on the TV); and ever since I discovered this fascinating theory I’ve been trying to find out what it means without going so far as to read any of the books involved. But now I don’t need to, since in a road-to-Damascus-like

imgres-1moment (bad associations there), I have come to realize that I and my comrades are actually involved in an Event! Consider the early Christians, or the early Bolsheviks. Read the Epistle to the Galatians or What is to be Done? (if you have the time) and what do you see? A small group of intense people, bound by love and comradeship, committed, having a great time – well, perhaps I made that up – and constantly quarrelling. I’d like to imagine St Paul writing a subsequent letter to St Peter, as we do, going ‘OMG don’t leave u r a star! U work so hard!! We ♥ u!!! XX’ And (to answer my initial questions) both making the world a better place and having a good time - as far as is possible given the obvious constraints.

So here we are a small group of close friends, with our common purpose driven by the desire – more often the desperation – of the refugees; and a sort of sacrament defined by the periodic drive over to the jungle to deliver much needed supplies and solidarity. Here it seems appropriate – and fills up space – to quote a recent article from Jacobin mag which gives Žižek a well-deserved rap on the knuckles.

‘Above all there is the refugees’ sheer determination, and the social movement behind them. At certain points they effected a remarkable transition from what Sartre called a “serial group” (navigating their way to Europe, individually and as families) refugeefamsinto a “fused group” (forming themselves into a social movement to collectively negotiate the hurdles of the journey).

For Slavoj Žižek, the movement exhibits an “enigmatically utopian” pathology. The refugees have asserted “their dreams as their unconditional right,” demanding that the authorities provide them not only with “proper food and medical care but also transportation to the destination of their choice . . . as if it were the duty of Europe to realise their dreams — dreams which, incidentally, are out of reach of most Europeans.”

But if the refugees are driven by utopian longing, so what? As a critical review of Žižek’s piece has asked, “What kind of Lacanian tells someone that they should effectively abandon their desire for something just because it’s not attainable?”’

The utopianism is, indeed, the promised irruption of the Real. As we used to say in ’68: ‘Prenez vos desirs pour des réalités’. Here come de EVENT!

And yet, the story goes on. Here’s an extract from the latest instalment by Merel Graeve in Lesvos:

‘Every night we go outside of the compound to try and find the vulnerable families to bring inside. But the heartbreaking thing is that there isn’t enough space inside for every single family. And the sad truth is also that it isn’t just the families who are vulnerable cases, every person there is vulnerable, even the young men. So many people are sleeping outside in the cold, with one dirty blanket for their whole family, or sometimes no blanket at all. We never have enough bales from UNHCR to distribute enough blankets out, on Thursday we had about 250. That’s right: 250 for a camp that is bursting with five or six thousand people. We made a queue for the blankets in which thousands of people lined up: we

imgres-2[Monet's waterlilies, obviously nothing to do with the story. But I can't go on giving you pictures of Lesvos misery.]

had an angry mob as soon as we ran out, we had to call on the megaphone for people to please go back as the police was starting to get aggressive and getting out their battons to try and chase he desperate crowds away from the gate afterwards. Last night I opened a tent after a distressed father came to get me. Inside were three little ones, the oldest about 3, the youngest still a little baby. They had no blanket and not even socks. The eldest had a fever, we took them in to see the doctor and gave them a place in the barracks which sadly is nothing more than a dirty floor with a roof and 4 walls in front of a smelly toilet. The NGOs mostly go home early and leave the volunteers and small organisations to deal with the mess, it is madness and it makes us so angry.’

Remember how the UNHCR representative said, a month ago, that the calais jungle was worse than any camp he had seen? What does this make Moria in Lesvos?

Merel also posted a poem by Abderazzak Hamdi ‘and her, and six others’, whatever that means; with obvious reference to her situation.

O’ my insanity’s sweetest spell, enhance my love
O’ dagger traveling inside my waist, O’ penetrating knife
Drown me more, my lady, by the sea I am summoned
Kill me more, perhaps being killed I’ll be revived
Your body is my map
I am concerned with world maps no more
I am sorrow’s oldest capital
And my wound is a pharonic engraving
My agony extends like an oil spill
From Syria to Denmark


I’m happy to hear that Dr John, who sprang onto my consciousness around 1970, is still alive. Here he is, with ‘Walk on Gilded Splinters‘. Which must, in some way, connect with the Event.

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