Students at the University of Pennsylvania join renowned philosophy professors Alain Badiou and Simon Critchley in a discussion about the politics of resistance. Literature, visual culture, technology, poetics, geo-politics, and other relevant disciplines are considered in this expansive discussion held at the Slought Foundation in Philadelphia.
Democracy and Disappointment features a conversation between Alain Badiou and Simon Critchley addressing the politics of resistance in DVD video format, with a brochure featuring their recent philosophical writings about politics, heroism, and poetics. During the 2007-2008 academic year, students in the RBSL Bergman Foundation Curatorial Seminar at the University of Pennsylvania collaboratively engaged in research spanning disciplines such as literature, visual culture, urbanism, geo-politics, and technology. One residue of these endeavors was this publication that attempts to construct an archive of the temporal?in particular, this site-specific conversation on November 15, 2007 at Slought Foundation in Philadelphia.
Alain Badiou (1937) taught philosophy at the University of Paris VIII from 1969 until 1999, and then at the École Normale Supérieure (ENS). Much of Badiou's life has been shaped by his dedication to the consequences of events of May 1968. Long a leading member of Union des jeunesses communistes de France (marxistes-léninistes), he remains with Sylvain Lazarus and Natacha Michel at the center of L'Organisation Politique, a post-party organization concerned with direct popular intervention in a wide range of issues (including immigration, labor, and housing). He is the author of several successful novels and plays as well as more than a dozen philosophical works. In the 1980s, Badiou published a series of technical and abstract philosophical works such as Théorie du sujet (1982), and his magnum opus, Being and Event (1988). In the last decade, an increasing number of Badiou's works have been translated into English, such as Ethics, Deleuze, Manifesto for Philosophy, and Metapolitics.
Simon Critchley (1960) is Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research, New York, since 2004. Like many of his generation, defined by punk, generalized nihilism, and the disappointments that followed 1968, he was politicized by the Miners' Strike in 1984-85 and worked as a local activist throughout the 1980s and early 1990s before becoming disaffected with mainstream party politics. He is the author of many books, including Very Little... Almost Nothing (Routledge, 1997), Ethics-Politics-Subjectivity (Verso, 1999), On Humour (Routledge, 2002), and Things Merely Are (Routledge, 2005). Infinitely Demanding (Verso, 2007), the topic of the conversation featured in this publication, extends into political theory and political analysis by way of an extended engagement with Marx and an argument for an ethically committed political anarchism.