- The Century (book)
name = The Century
publisher = Éditions du Seuil
release_date = 2005
media_type = Print
pages = 233
isbn = ISBN 0745636322
"The Century" is a book about
politics, philosophy and literatureby Alain Badiou, first published in French by Éditions du Seuil in 2005; the English translation by Alberto Toscanowas published by Polity Press in 2007. The thirteen chapters of the book are presented as lessons derived from a seminar Badiou gave at the College International de Philosophiebetween 1998-2001. Badiou's analysis of the 20th century is drawn from his unique encounter with 20th century poetry and theater, literary theory, totalitarianism, and the search for meaningful narrativesthat are neither logicalnor dialectical. He warns against "animal humanism" and advocates "formalized inhumanism". [Badiou (2007, 178).]
The search for a method
Badiou conceives of the century as a duration and concentrates upon the "short century" of 75 years, beginning with the wars of 1914-18 (including the Russian Revolution of 1917) and closing with the
collapse of the USSRand the end of the Cold War.
Badiou agrees with
Andre Malraux's observation that politicshas turned into tragedyin the 20th century and adds that "the century was haunted by the idea of creating a new man." [Badiou (2007, 8).] He suggests the political project enacting that tragedy is automatedby profitmotives, as well as "criminals as anonymous as joint-stock companies." [Badiou (2007, 10).]
Badiou considers the century as conceived in
Osip Mandelstam's poem "The Age" (1923) which depicts the wounded body of a beast. The degree to which the century can be considered as living recalls the vitalismof Henri Bergson, and Badiou contrasts it to Friedrich Nietzsche's concept of The Will to Powerand the Übermensch. Badiou also compares 19th century's submission to the movement of Hegelian history with the 20th century's effort to confront history face to face. This kind of voluntarismhas been marred by horrendous experiences of war. Badiou suggests that such butchery has instilled doubt and nostalgiafor historical moments of the past and states that the 20th century sought to fulfill the promises of the 19th century, including Marx's concept of revolution. In Lacanianterms, Badiou indicates that the experience of The Realis always in part the experience of horror.
Our Dumb Century", a 1999 satirical humor book written by the staff of The Onion.
*"Badiou, Alain, 2007. The Century: Polity Press. ISBN 0745636322.
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-gjz2yORJk Video of Badiou discussing The Century]
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