Infinite Thought interviews Badiou, posts uncut text here:
NP: Perhaps one response to this would be to say, well isn’t this what literature does, what plays do.
AB: Exactly. Maybe it’s not a philosophical question, maybe it’s part of the truth procedure of art. We can say that, for example, mathematics is ontology, but we have to philosophically elaborate upon this idea, it’s not completely reducible to mathematics itself. And you can say also that the relation between individual and truth procedure is a question in literature, in poetry and theatre. But I’m not completely convinced that we can say only that. And finally, it’s not a philosophical question so we can say only that this possible answers to these questions are in literature. If I in the end don’t write this book, the title of which would be The Immanence of Truth or something like that, I have only two projects. First a small book concerning negation, because there is really a complete logical transformation of the question of negation today, so there is something which must be incorporated into the philosophical framework, because we have new forms of negation, new relationships between different forms of negation. On the other side, Plato, there are two works in progress. First the translation of The Republic, a very new translation. And the other is a movie, ‘The Life of Plato’. With Brad Pitt.
NP: You could be Socrates.
AB: My idea would be that Plato and Socrates are played by the same person. The movie will be the idea that Socrates is a retrospective creation of Plato, so inside the movie Socrates would be something like the old-young Plato. During the movie Plato finally becomes Socrates, something like that. But the script is not finished, so there are many possibilities!
I’m pretty sure I am going to skip this movie.
I noted, over here http://transversalinflections.wordpress.com/2009/05/30/badiou-interview/#comment-122
that Badiou’s humor here is a bit deeper than it might initially appear: “for the author of BEING AND EVENT, being is only approachable in a kind of backward inference” (citing Bruno Bosteels “Badiou without Zizek” in 2005 POLYGRAPH #17)
Something tells me that “The Life of Plato” with Brad Pitt would be much more accurate than the new translation of The Republic.
This will be a “very new” translation, Kevin, as opposed to all those “relatively new” translations or “somewhat new but not really” translations…
It will be a translation, no doubt, that will make you realize that Plato was very nearly a Badiouist, and didn’t ever know it, no doubt.
It will be a translation in the Heidegger tradition (as Levi favorably calls it), where you get to make up what someone in the past said just to show how seamless it is with what you are trying to say.
I think it’s also Harman’s tradition where you write an introductory book on Heidegger where you present your very idiosyncratic reading as the true meaning of Heidegger and then declare it to be the best introduction to Heidegger, period. I mean there’s certain chutzpah to that kind of position, isn’t there?
Amusingly, not only does Graham view his interpretation of Heidegger as the correct meaning of what Heidegger was trying to say, when Heidegger himself seems to be trying to say something else that doesn’t seem to quite fit in, Heidegger is seen as somewhat off topic of, or even confused over, what he is really trying to say. That is, Heidegger would have done better to have read Harm-degger.
I actually like Graham’s interpretation of Heidegger quite a bit, but he has this weird way of over-inflating his own work as if he is selling some kind of brand new toothpaste and has to in loud print claim its superiority over every thing that had ever come before it. It may very well be that he suffered quite a bit at the hands of the Mason-like Heideggerians, and bravado was the only thing that saw him through, but for those not in the fight…my goodness.
As Marx said “History repeats itself, first as tragedy then as farce”. Suggest Leonardo Di Caprio plays him
So, a philosopher reads another philosopher, finds some concepts they like, others that they don’t, and suggests improvements? Shocking! I guess there’s only one way to translate ancient Greek to a modern language, but I wouldn’t know – it’s all Greek to me… Mark
No mark, it is a question of effacing the act of translation itself, the act of interpretation. For instance I find quite a bit of obscurance in Heidegger’s translation of the Greek “alethia” as “uncoveredness” (or something of the sort), but at the very least we can see that it is translated, and that judgments are made. But when translating an entire text, and embedding those judgments within a context, the judgments fade as judgments (you see this will Biblical translation), and the “text” comes to be cited as evidence of the interpretation itself. A Badiouist (in particular if the translation becomes popular), then makes Badiou arguments of justification, saying things like, “just as Plato says ‘…the event, blah, blah, blah”
At least this is the risk.
One can always of course go back and criticize the translation at the vital word choice, but there has come a rhetorical move, an attempt to efface and ground argumentation. You got this very same thing when Levi recently decided to “translate” Jesus’s words “love thy neighbor” as “love the stranger” only latter confessing that he was imposing a non-native meaning upon the text.
I really have no problem with new translations of the Greek. I find Plato to be one of worst translated authors of all time, and I do experimental translations all the time. But what happens quite often in translation (sometimes unconsciously, sometimes intentionally) is the projection of interpretation, retroactively into the source. It is this that I warn against.
If people started reading a Heidegger “translation” of Plato’s Parmenides, for instance, and came to forget that it was a translation and imposition, one would, I suspect, no longer be reading Plato.
I picture something of the same for Badiou, but who knows. We can only wait for it and compare.
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