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Everywhere, the twentieth century has been judged and condemned: the century of totalitarian terror, of utopian and criminal ideologies, of empty illusions, of genocides, of false avant-gardes, of democratic realism everywhere replaced by abstraction.
It is not Badiou's wish to plead for an accused that is perfectly capable of defending itself without the authors aid. Nor does he seek to proclaim, like Frantz, the hero of Sartre's Prisoners of Altona, 'I have taken the century on my shoulders and I have said: I will answer for it!' The Century simply aims to examine what this accursed century, from within its own unfolding, said that it was. Badiou's proposal is to reopen the dossier on the century - not from the angle of those wise and sated judges we too often claim to be, but from the standpoint of the century itself.
obvious comparison would be to Nabokov's aristocratic delight in the infi nitely layered fashioning and manipulation of linguistic worlds, with its labyrinthine complexity and ludic attention to detail - an aesthetic demeanour mostly untrammelled by the tortures of the Beckettian voice). One doesn't have to (though one certainly should) frequent The Unnamable or the Texts for Nothing in order to get a taste of Beckett's intimate hatred of language (a hatred entirely propor tionate to, and
planet ary order. Unlike the war of ' 1 4, this war is not a simple operation of the State; it is a subjective entailment. This war is an absolute cause that generates a new type of subject; a war that is also the cre ation of its combatant. In the end, war becomes a subjective paradigm. The century has borne a combative conception of existence, meaning that the totality itself - in each of its real fragments - must be represented as conflict. Whatever its scale, private or planetary, every
the ideal of an T, a 'we' that does not pretend to be a subject? The problem is not to conclude from this that every living collective is over, that the 'we' has purely and simply dis appeared. We refuse to join the agents of the Restoration in saying that all there is are individuals in competition for happiness, and that all active fraternity is suspect. Celan, for his part, holds onto the notion of togetherness. 'Together', let us note, was the main, strange slogan of the demon strations of
the dialectic of, on the one hand, a material of sensation that is both time and movement, and, on the other, the interval as prin ciple of artifice. The kino-eye is a fracture in the fabric of the habits of representation giving onto the life of sensation, but this 1 86 1 87 'European nihilism' and beyond: commentary 'European nihilism' and beyond: commentary life is in turn constructed through and through, contracted and dilated, connected and disconnected by 'the strategic brain of man
summed up in a small and essential book, entitled L'Ecrivain pensif (The Pensive Writer) (Verdier, 1998) . Two articles by Jacques-Alain Miller remain canonical in terms of what happens to the concept of the subject when the latter is deter mined by a logic of which it is not the centre but rather the lateral effect. The first is called 'La suture' (Suture), the second 'Matrice' (Matrix) . On names and their avatars in the century's thought, see 1. C. Milner's indispensable essay, the title of