Chapter 6 – Dance as a Metaphor for Thought

Keywords: dance, spirit, thought, Nietzsche, vulgarity, lightness, breath, verticality, gymnastics, event, nominal, fixation, fulgurant, nakedness, gaze, anonymity, space, subtraction, omnipresence, gravity, slowness, music, encounter, entanglement, separation, choreography, vertigo.

In this chapter Badiou turns his attention to dance and to the connection this particular art form has with thought.

For Badiou dance is not an art form in the typical sense; dance is, as Nietzsche says, “the image of a though subtracted from every spirit of heaviness”. Dance is innocence in forgetfulness of the body’s weight; it is a continuously new beginning; it is in itself the source of movement, the affirmation that is found in the absence of the shameful body…

After having read all about Agamben I feel that dance is the state of exception where the earth and the air merge and become indiscernible…

Dance has nothing to do with gymnastics, perfect technique and military bodies… It is the body that goes against all odds, is aerial, light, “devoted to its zenith”. Dance fits in with Nietzsche’s idea of thought as an active power, as becoming. It is an affirmation of all the restraints hidden behind the body’s capacity, it is the slowness inside the quickness of the movement.

If dance “finds its essence in what has not taken place” dance is the state of potentiality it is the state where the unconstrained body manifests itself through its disobedience of any impulse, through its self-restraint through its refusal to give in to the vulgarity of performing the act it is “supposed to do .

Going back to the Nietzsche – Badiou train of thought, dance can be seen as a metaphor for thought if we take into consideration that every genuine  thought depends upon an event, where “event” is that which remains undecided between taking place and non-place… If an event is defined the moment we give the thought a name, then dance is what points to the thought one step earlier, before it is given a name, before it is manifested as an event. Dance is therefore a metaphor for that which is not fixed, that which remains undecided, it shows the event before the event is named (bringing us back to dance as a state of potentiality).

Considering this, improvisation or even better authentic movement) is for me very close to being the true (if we accept the existence of such a truth) metaphor for thought. It is the movement that depicts the thought before it gains a conscious form, before we think the thought of naming the thought and turning it into an event. It si the twilight zone where movement and thought fall so much into each other that they tend to become one.

Badiou then proceeds to speak of the role of music in all of this, presenting it as the medium to bring out the silence where dance takes place, and continues to present to us his six principles of dance:

  1. 1.      The obligation of space
  2. 2.      The anonymity of the body
  3. 3.      The effaced omnipresence of the sexes
  4. 4.      The subtraction from self
  5. 5.      Nakedness
  6. 6.      The absolute gaze

Dance is the only art form that is constrained to space, it symbolizes the spacing of thought…

The dancing body is a “thought body”, it depicts nothing and no one, it is an emblem…

Dance manifests the two sexual positions but never names them as man – woman.  It represents simply the “encounter, entanglement, separation” it its purest form of desire (and by representing the restraint it makes everything allowed because they happen in their NOT happening).

“The dancer does not dance” – Mallarme. The true dancer does not appear to know the dance she dances (interesting that dancer = she… however that brings me back to my thoughts on improvisation… Is it the true dance???)

Dance is in the nakedness prior to any “dressing up” and not in the nakedness deriving from the undressing, it is in the innocence and the purity.

In order for these principles to be met, the gaze of the spectator must not seek

Finaly the gaze directed to dance must be fulgurant and absolute just like dance itself, disappearing the moment it appears and thus kept pure and eternal in its ephemerality.

As for the statement that “dance is not an art”??? I’m sorry but thought I really do understand his follow-up and all his supporting statements, I just cannot bring myself to support it… So I will leave it at that and allow each the option to read and decide for themselves…


Upon reflection, there is another point upon which I disagree and at the risk of sounding disrespectful I believe I owe it to myself as dance researcher to point it out: “The dancing body does not express any kind of interiority…neither imitation nor expression…”… I believe dance IS an expression. An expression of the thought before the thought can be put into words; a facilitator at times for exposing thoughts/emotions that are beyond or before the point of verbalization. And I believe this precisely because humans are not “digital” beings. We do not go from one state to the other instantly but we are “analogue” we make transitions, however brief they may be and the states we pass through can become indiscernible.  So if dance IS a metaphor for thought we can never say for sure at which point it makes the transition to being a medium of expression…


Another interesting point comes from a reiki approach. Our throat chakra is considered the energy point that has to do with expression of our true feelings and THOUGHTS. Reiki practitioners say that the trues form of communicating those needs is dance! It is I guess in a way the medium to express the thought before it actually becomes a conscious thought…


Vishuddhi, Throat, Fifth Chakra Dance




An Explosive Genealogy: 
Theatre, Philosophy and the Art of Presentation



How does all this potentially apply to my work?!??!?!?! Right now I HAVE NO IDEA!!!

Θα τα παρατήσω όλα και θα γίνω πριγκίπισσα…

fucking princess





            Reading Badiou I have come to the conclusion that he is way to concise and well written to enable any sort of summary without leaving out crucial details. Every word he writes is necessary! I found myself however making interesting associations with previous readings but also with some of my own beliefs… It is those that I intend to focus on mostly even if in a “short and sweet” manner, as I believe that anyone can get hold of the text and read it but the products of each individual’s post reading reflections are unique and have perhaps something to offer…

Chapter 1 – Art and Philosophy

Keywords: art, philosophy, oscillation, didactic, romantic, classic, likelihood – “verisimilitude”, Brecht, hermeneutics, psychoanalysis, singularity, immanence, configuration, truth, education, idolatry, censure, mimesis, desire, object of desire, Deleuze.


Badiou begins my reminding us that the relationship of art and philosophy has always been that of an oscillation, a back and forth, a never-ending loop… He describes art as the key to education and speaks of Lacan’s theory of the Master and the Hysteric as a relation parallel to that of philosophy and art. Just as the Hysteric challenges the Master in asking him to define her and always remaining disappointed by his responses and asking for more and more, so does art always challenge philosophy, constantly questions its answers as to her identity…

He then continues to analyze the three possible schemata linking art and philosophy, the didactic, the romantic and the classical, and the relationship each attributes to art and the truth…




            These two rules of “liking” state that art must be liked. However that has nothing to do with opinion but simply with art’s cathartic effect. Furthermore, it has nothing to do with truth either, it only needs to resemble truth within the imaginary, to touch upon the spectator’s desire. It is what Badiou calls likelihood or verisimilitude, proposing that the truth is not always that which is likely and giving philosophy the “role” of the unlikely truth. Quoting: “Art is not a form of thought, it completes its existence simply by its act.”

Coming to the 20th century, the author speaks of the saturation of all three aforementioned tendencies and their characteristic examples:

  • Brecht and the didactic schema, where art is the peoples’ service producing no truth but only guidance against cowardice in the face of truth.
  • Hermeneutics and the romantic schema where art is an element of pure promise, and one and the same truth circulates between art and philosophy.
  • Psycthoanalysis and the classical, with Freud and Lacan and the Aristotelian approach to self-consciousness conveyed by a theory of desire. Here a work of art depicts the blockage of the symbolic by the Real, the effect of art is imaginary and makes the object of desire emerge. I this schema only is it that we find a link of art to all the realms, symbolic, imaginary, real…

He describes the avant-garde’s failure to link art and philosophy in a persuasive fashion due to their tendency towards representation rather than thought. By condemning art as inauthentic and at the same time insisting that in must be reborn as absolute they were both didactic and romantic and they were neither… They were simply anti-classical…

The need arises now for a 4th schema, to bring us out of the saturated depths of the other three…It demands:

  • To be rid of previous concepts on the relation of art and truth
  • To find a way to make the relationship between art and truth at once singular and immanent, to show that art is both unique in its approach of truth  but also takes place only within the mind of the subject, only within the truth it generates and has no place out of it.


  • Art itself = a truth procedure.
  • The philosophical identification of art can be categorized as truth
  • Art is a thought in which artworks are the Real.
  • Art cannot be reduced to philosophy.
  • All art makes clear is its own existence.
  • Philosophy guides us in our encounters with the truth. (can we say it lives in the in between state? Where what is and what is not truth merge and need clarification?)
  • Art produces truth and education is the arrangement of knowledge so that some truth may come to pierce a hole in it and make us go further; therefore art is pedagodical.
  • A work of art is finite, it is complete in its existence and anything done to it afterwards is potentially catastrophic.

In order to give a work of art the ability to be a truth we have to demote the infinite nature of truth to meet the finite nature of art. With this in mind Badiou proceeds to speak of the event and its relation to truth.

First of all, he notes that every truth originates in an event. A work of art cannot be both a truth AND the event in which said truth originates. And from here Badiou continues with a list of statements supporting this notion and the need for artistic configuration. In order to see art as truth we have to consider the artistic configuration initiated by an event, anything before that does not matter. Even then we must not have expectations of uncovering something fully defined but only something imperfectly described.

I see it as a never ending cycle. Artistic truth – art as truth??? That brings us to a truth of truth and there is no such thing… And so it starts all over again, each time discovering a new, temporary, version of the truth… Art for me is a tool, a way to any answers but not the answer itself. Art can be truth so long as it is neither question nor answer. The minute those to come into play then the cycle begins…

Finishing up, Badiou poses three questions to be answered:

1)      What are the contemporary configurations of art?

2)      What becomes of philosophy as conditioned by art?

3)      What happens to the theme of education?

Summing up his answers: (Any) philosophy simply elaborates on an aspect of the truth, it does not give singular definitions or it nor does it actually produce it. Philosophy exposes truths. On the other hand as far as education is concerned the only real education is that BY truths and the necessity arises to distinguish truth from opinion (and that is what philosophy aims at). SO, artistic configurations are there to serve this purpose; the art works constitute the thinking subjects of these configurations and philosophy’s role is to show us the difference of these generated ever-changing truths from opinions…











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Bertolt Brecht and epic theater.


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