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Black: The Brilliance of a Non-Color

ISBN: 978-1-5095-1208-9
80 pages
November 2016, Polity
Black: The Brilliance of a Non-Color (150951208X) cover image


Who hasn't had the frightening experience of stumbling around in the pitch dark? Alain Badiou experienced that primitive terror when he, with his young friends, made up a game called "The Stroke of Midnight." The furtive discovery of the dark continent of sex in banned magazines, the beauty of black ink on paper, but also the mysteries of space and the grief of mourning: these are some of the things we encounter as the philosopher takes us on a trip through the private theater of his mind, at the whim of his memories. Music, painting, politics, sex, and metaphysics: all contribute to making black more luminous than it has ever been.

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Table of Contents

Translator's note

Childhood and youth

Military black

The Stroke of Midnight

The black dog in the dark

The inkwell

Chalk and markers


Early sexuality

The dialectics of black

Dialectical ambiguities

Black souls

Soulages' ultrablack


Red and black. And white. And violet.

Stendhal: the red and the black

The dark desire of/for darkness


The black sign

Black humor, or black vs. black

Outward appearance

Physics, biology, and anthropology

The metaphorical black of the Cosmos

The secret blackness of plants

Animal black

An invention of white people

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Author Information

Alain Badiou is a writer, philosopher, and an Emeritus Professor at the École n Normale Supérieure, Paris.
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Badiou s Black is a singular and remarkable book. This is not the Badiou of ontology, set theory and the theorization of subjectivity, nor the Badiou of incisive political intervention or philosophical-historical summation. Working through a series of ficto-critical vignettes, Black is composed of subtle and diverse meditations on black as a darkness that obscures at the same time as it discloses. Black at once hearkens back to a style of personal philosophy that seemed lost with Blanchot, while also looking forward to a new mode of singular meditation that is perhaps necessary for twenty-first-century thought.
Claire Colebrook, Penn State University

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