[csaa-forum] Reminder: Alex Ling on 'Last Year in the Marienbad' as Amorous Event

Philosophy@UWS Philosophy at uws.edu.au
Tue Apr 3 09:26:46 CST 2012

The Writing & Society Research Centre and the Philosophy Research Initiative at UWS presents following seminar on Wednesday April 4:

SPEAKER: Alex Ling (Lecturer)
School of Humanities and Communication Arts
University of Western Sydney

TITLE: Parentheses in Time: Last Year in Marienbad as Amorous Event

TIME: April 4, 2-4pm

PLACE: UWS Bankstown Campus, 3.G.55

ABSTRACT: This paper argues that the 'timeless' nature of Alain Resnais and Alain Robbe-Grillet's Last Year in Marienbad (1961) results from the film's presentation of what Alain Badiou would call an 'amorous event'. In Badiou's philosophy an event is a cut that intervenes between heterogeneous times, cleaving the old (the decaying past) from the new (the 'eternal present' which is, properly speaking, the 'truth' of the past). In this paper I contend that Last Year in Marienbad situates itself entirely within such a temporal rupture - in the very 'cut' between two times - and is as such a wholly evental film. Indeed, what is Last Year in Marienbad if not the eternal (evental) encounter, amorous in nature, of X and A? The endlessness of this encounter lies moreover not so much in its being infinitely repeated (denied, forestalled, postponed...) as in its being undecided. Did X and A actually meet last year in Marienbad? Did A agree to leave M for X? Did X rape A? Did M kill A? I argue that all of these questions (which the film steadfastly refuses to answer) are ultimately subsidiary effects of Marienbad's central undecidable event: are X and A in love? Such undecidability is central to Badiou's characterisation of the event, insofar as there can be absolutely no knowledge of an event's occurrence, and as such there can be no criteria upon which to base a decision concerning its having taken place. Deciding an event's occurrence is thus strictly speaking an act of 'deciding the undecidable'. I contend it is precisely this evental undecidability that is presented in Resnais and Robbe-Grillet's film: like the event itself, Last Year in Marienbad is not something to be known, but rather something to be decided.
BIO: Alex Ling is Research Lecturer in Communication and Media Studies at the University of Western Sydney. He is the author of Badiou and Cinema (Edinburgh UP, 2011) and the co-editor and translator of Badiou's Mathematics of the Transcendental (Continuum, Forthcoming). His current research is on the role of artistic and scientific conditioning in contemporary continental philosophy.

For the entire 2012 program of the Philosophy seminar series at UWS see: http://www.uws.edu.au/philosophy/philosophy@uws/events/research_seminars_2012

Norma Lam-Saw
Admin Officer, Philosophy Research Initiative
School of Humanities and Communication Arts, University of Western Sydney
Contact: philosophy at uws.edu.au<mailto:philosophy at uws.edu.au>

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