I’ve been reading Being and Event. That book is really fucking hard. I suspect it’d be hard even if I had more of the background for it, and I don’t think I do. Ugh. On the plus side, Badiou has made me interested in formal notation for the first time, and I got really excited at his presentation of Russell’s paradox.

I’m operating on a principle which I used the first times I read Marx and Hegel. Basically, I don’t let my ignorance and incomprehension get in my way. At a minimum, I will look at all the words. I may not get any of them, but I will look at them all. Then when I refer back, I don’t have to do the work of reading them for the first time. Not that the second time is any easier. But subsequent readings, at least of some passages, do get easier.

When a book is this hard, it’s hard to tell when I don’t understand from when I don’t agree. The following is I think an expression of the latter but may be (also) an expression of the former.

Badiou discusses what he terms events, aleatory interruptions in a given – that is to say, produced – order. Events can only happen in spaces and times which Badiou names with the neologism “evental.” Events can happen only at evental sites. Event sites, however, are only identifiable via the occurrence of an event at a site. Events, in turn, are only identifiable retroactively via subjects who act in response to the event, subjects Badiou calls those who have “fidelity” to the event. Only the subject in fidelity to an event can say whether or not an event has occurred. This would seem to suggest that a claim that there has been an event can not be disputed, since events are phenomena to which subjects in fidelity to events have privileged access. It appears to be a contradiction then, that Badiou insists that events are rare. I prefer to see events as formal positions akin to Althusser’s three generalities. Badiou, being a thinker who revels in formalization – making extensive use of formal notation and appeal to mathematics and set theory – is opposed to such a view. His historical claim that events are rare is in tension with his formal argument which suggests that there is no ground for asserting either the frequency or rarity of events.

(Also, the wikipedia entry on Badiou has a passel [passle?] of articles in the links section.)