The overall remit of this article concerns a philosophical contextualization of Badiou’s antipathy toward the capitalist status quo, as it is played out in the denigration of the “encyclopaedia.” The article argues that this object marks an extension of the phonocentric idealism of Western philosophy and its consequent abasement of material, technological, and institutional forms of memory. This abasement of mnemotechnics, consistently associated with endlessness and consistently articulated in patriarchal terms, produces a specific complex of terms: the femininity of the archival ad infinitum. To this phobic object are contrasted the masculine virtues of totality, universality, and the absolute. On the other hand, then, in its immateriality or its accumulative finitude, philosophy also imagines a positive knowledge. Yet the archive needs be recognized as a site at, through, or around which the logical clarity of such philosophical polarizations maintains a tendency toward collapse. Introducing its key concerns through Badiou, the article provides a schematic outline of the history of philosophy’s gendered relation to the state legal archive through Plato, Kant, and Hegel and ends by returning to Badiou – in order to raise questions concerning the possibility of an unacknowledged and problematic contiguity between Badiou’s thought and the very philosophies it claims to surpass.
CONSIGNING BADIOU TO THE Past: THE ENCYCLOPAEDIA AND Philosophy’s GENDERED THOUGHT OF THE ENDLESS ARCHIVE
SAS MAYS IS LECTURER IN AESTHETICS AND CRITICAL THEORY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WESTMINSTER DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH AND LINGUISTICS. PREVIOUS PUBLICATIONS INCLUDE “ANSEL ADAMS: THE GENDER POLITICS OF LITERARY-PHILOSOPHICAL AND PHOTOGRAPHIC ARCHIVES,” IN CUNNINGHAM, FISHER, AND MAYS (EDS.), PHOTOGRAPHY AND LITERATURE IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY (CAMBRIDGE SCHOLARS PRESS, 2005). HIS RESEARCH INTERESTS CONCERN THE GENDER POLITICS OF THE ARCHIVE IN HISTORICAL AND CONTEMPORARY CULTURE.
Sas Mays; CONSIGNING BADIOU TO THE Past: THE ENCYCLOPAEDIA AND Philosophy’s GENDERED THOUGHT OF THE ENDLESS ARCHIVE. Cultural Politics 1 March 2009; 5 (1): 73–96. doi: https://doi.org/10.2752/175174309X388482
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