An epoch unmoved (II). by Gerardo Muñoz

 

The possibility to be ‘moved’ against the pitch of “malafede” solicits another symbolization. A “new founding” of the world for an opening of a destiny. In his beautiful The true life (2017), an essay for boys and girls, Alain Badiou writes that: “A thinking of departure, a true thinking of the ever-changing ocean of the world…an exact thinking because it is a nomadic one, a maritime thinking. May everyone be able to say: “I have seen the earth parceled out in vast spaces and my thought is not heedless of the navigator” (49).

Given the obvious maritime metaphor, it is evident that Badiou is suggesting that true life is only possible outside the party of cybernetics (kubernetics) and its half-sister ally, the party of hegemony. This plea for ‘exactitude’ is irreducible to what “I ought to do”; it is on the side of “how I do what I do” in a world disjointed from the whole. To exist outside the whole means that I cut through things. It also means that I have only one life.

The problem of what I am calling the epoch ‘unmoved’ raises the question of the genesis of the species. This is why the lives of boys and girls become crucial. The destruction of the time of youth (an unproductive time, not just a biological stage) announces the corruptio optimi of a world without experience. The world becomes only survival. I take this to be the vortex of the film The Killing of a sacred deer (Dir. Lanthimos, 2017). On the surface a rendition of the tragic legislation of Agamemnon, but more esoterically perhaps a commentary on the loss of inclination in world integrated into value and reproduction of life.

It is no coincidence that the two poles of contemporary life help frame the film: the correctional suburban life of order and civilized legibility (the end of community), on the one hand; and the practice of a surgeon (whose profession is to save “lives”), on the other. These two poles of world administration – the economic (oikonomia) pole and the medical pole (“human life”) – is the mechanism by which the world is reduced to a place, and experience to communication. Hence, when the tragic irrupts “normal time” of life, there is no more decision possible. Rather, there is only exchange, equilibrium, and ius talionis. The Killing of a sacred deer circumvents the nihilism of the epoch precisely in this way: there is no way out, so like Pacman we must go on.

Except for a sequence (into the 20:00-25:00 mins) where the fatherless Martin is sitting with the girls in the room, and they talk cigarettes, and looks, and armpit hair and music. Everything is purposely inconsequential, but this chatter is the only true void of every encounter. Then, they go out for a walk. A clear path meanders the two bodies with no purpose. Pasear is the activity that leads nowhere. Isn’t this what Badiou called a “thought that is not heedless of the navigator”? But how long could it last? In the film, not very much. As confirmed in the last sequence, ius talionis puts everything back in order and the child becomes future-time; an act of magic that has Reality as its theater.

 

 

 

*Imagen: “Lette versato” (2018), de Mónica Ferrando.

 

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