Can Cinema Be Thought: Alain Badiou and the Artistic Condition


  • Alex Ling


Badiou, Inaesthetics, Cinema, Idea, Letter, Matheme, Gilles Deleuze, Appearance, Movement


Alain Badioursquo;s philosophy is generally understood to be a fundamentally mathematical enterprise, his principle categories of being, appearing, and truth being themselves thought only though specific scientific events. However the event itselfmdash;which constitutes the nexal point of his so-called lsquo;materialist dialecticrsquo;mdash;is contrarily thought not through mathematics but through art. And yet despite the fundamental role art plays in his philosophy Badioursquo;s lsquo;inaestheticrsquo; writings seem unduly proscriptive, allowing room principally for the expressly lsquo;literalrsquo; arts while eschewing for the most part those manifold arts which have little recourse to the letter. Badioursquo;s polemical writings on cinema are both symptomatic and serve as the most extreme example of this position, his cinema being one which wavers precariously on the border of art and non-art. This paper accordingly questions whether cinema can truly occupy a place in Badioursquo;s inaesthetics. I argue the hegemony of the letter in Badioursquo;s inaesthetics to be ultimately one of convenience and suggest that if cinematic truths are to be registered Badioursquo;s understanding of cinema as (what I interpret to be) an art of dis-appearance must be rejected. I conclude by contending the oppressive literality of Badioursquo;s philosophy to be symptomatic of its mathematical basismdash;a paradoxical position insofar as the very non-mathematical nature of art allows for evental thoughtmdash;the consequence of which being that Badiou regrettably neglects by and large those manifold illiterate arts that might otherwise serve to augment his /

Author Biography

Alex Ling

PhD candidate, School of Art History, Cinema, Classics amp; Archaeology, the University of Melbourne




How to Cite

Ling, A. (2006). Can Cinema Be Thought: Alain Badiou and the Artistic Condition. Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, 2(1-2), 263–276. Retrieved from