'Yes, the century is an ashen sun': poem and subject in the philosophy of Alain Badiou

Betteridge, Tom (2016) 'Yes, the century is an ashen sun': poem and subject in the philosophy of Alain Badiou. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Due to Embargo and/or Third Party Copyright restrictions, this thesis is not available in this service.
Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b3155334


This thesis examines the relation between philosophy, the poem and the subject in the mature philosophy of Alain Badiou. It investigates Badiou’s decisive contribution to these questions primarily by means of comparison, especially to Martin Heidegger, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Theodor Adorno, as well as by analysing Badiou’s readings of poems and prose by Paul Celan and Samuel Beckett respectively as sites of potential dialogue with his immediate predecessors. The thesis stresses the importance of French philosophy’s German heritage, emphasising not only Badiou’s radical departure from Heidegger and his legacy, but also the former’s wholesale rejection of philosophies that would, in the wake of twentieth-century violence and beyond, proclaim their own end or completion. The thesis argues Badiou’s innovative readings of Celan and Beckett to be crucial to understanding this endeavour: for Badiou, both writers use the poem to affirm novel conceptions of subjectivity capable of transcending the historical conditions of their presentation. The title quotation from Badiou’s The Century, ‘Yes, the century is an ashen sun’, anticipates both the affirmative nature of these subjective figures, and their presience, beyond the bounds of a twentieth-century ‘ashen sun’ pervaded by melancholy, for the ‘new suns’ of the twenty-first.

The thesis is in four chapters. The first chapter unfolds the central concepts of Badiou’s departure from Heidegger using Paul Celan’s poems to focus the enquiry. It is guided by two of Badiou’s most condensed declarations about the poem, that, firstly, ‘the modern poem harbours a central silence’, and secondly, that ‘Celan completes Heidegger’. The second chapter exposes the political implications of Heidegger’s writings on Friedrich Hölderlin and the role of the subject therein, offering at its close some thoughts about what Badiou calls, following Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, the poem’s ‘becoming-prose’. It concludes by drawing the poem and politics into relation by way of the philosophical category of the subject. The third chapter reads Badiou’s concept of ‘anabasis’ against Heidegger’s ‘homecoming’ in order to think the possibility of a collective political subject’s formation in the wake of Auschwitz. The final chapter examines the imbrication of the Two of love and the ‘latent poem’ in Badiou’s reading of Samuel Beckett’s late prose, contrasting this ‘affirmative’ reading of Beckett to Theodor Adorno’s earlier emphases on negation. Following its investigations of subjectivity, poem and prose throughout, the thesis concludes by returning to the title quotation in order to unfold the particular relations between subject, affirmation and negation Badiou’s philosophy enacts, and to offer further routes forward for research regarding Badiou’s philosophy and aesthetic figuration.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Badiou, Heidegger, Adorno, Celan, Beckett, poetry, philosophy, subject.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BH Aesthetics
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
P Language and Literature > PT Germanic literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies
Supervisor's Name: Kolocotroni, Dr. Vassiliki and Lyons, Mr. Paddy
Date of Award: 2016
Embargo Date: 14 September 2020
Depositing User: Tom Betteridge
Unique ID: glathesis:2016-7108
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2016 12:59
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2018 12:31
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/7108
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