An indefensible thesis, illustrated by the Sausage Queen, flipped for obvious reasons, among other more and less connected images

The thesis of my proposed dissertation is that Gilles Deleuze’s only extended writing on theatre is about Alain Badiou.

‘Un manifeste de moins,’ in a sense sums up Badiou’s entire philosophical ontological project: because the Deleuze text does not have as its referent the theatre of philosophy with which he is otherwise, in the majority of his books and writings, engaged, and despite the fact that the reference it names is Camelo Bene, the concept it creates, for which it is a manifesto, is subtractive; it is a manifesto of less, just as Badiou’s ontology is subtractive. Deleuze’s corpus, I would say, is the rhapsody for theatre; it captures a spirit (which might be called ‘theatrum philosophicum’) that for all Badiou’s rhapsodizing is out reach.

The thesis is theatrically satisfying, if impertinent, and, on the face of it, philosophically indefensible. For the former: Badiou and Deleuze meet over or meet in theatre. Theatre is an interest that manifests itself in Badiou’s philosophical writing in quite a different way from how it appears in Deleuze’s. You might say, in Deleuze it is immanent – given the conceptual-personae throughout his work and the statement that for him “There is a drama beneath every logos”* – except for ‘Un manifeste de moins,’ written directly about Carmelo Bene’s theatre work (Superpositions, written with Bene, I have not seen a translation of)… and then that Badiou comes closest to Deleuze when analysing theatre, as if Deleuze were already where Badiou is looking: in theatre.


For the latter, in Deleuze’s ‘theatrum philosophicum’ what can be said? What is on the one hand philosophically indefensible in this mirror realm to philosophy, theatre, may be theatrically necessary, may have the force of an encounter, having the necessity of a dramatic encounter. … And then there is the opposition: Badiou/Deleuze, a philosophy of (not genitively but encompassing) theatre/a theatre of philosophy, a writer who rhapsodizes (for) over the excess of theatre/a writer who produces a manifesto of subtraction (for theatre)… theatre here is like a veritable Möbius strip, follow Badiou on one side (theatre) and you end up with Deleuze on the other (philosophy)… And the extraordinary and unmistakable luck that Badiou’s ontological project could bear this title: A manifesto of less.

On the subject of difference, Badiou in ‘Rhapsody for theatre’ attributes the danger to the state, the political force, the power of theatre to the fact that the differences it presents are also represented and representative in that they have no object: they are differences without object and shown so to be, on stage. Theatre relies on this absence of object. It is intrinsic.

Deleuze articulates ontological difference in precisely the way Badiou describes it to exist theatrically: as internal, intrinsic and without object, non-identical (politically non-identitarian). This is the definition of difference in itself. Badiou finds it on stage.

Then, travelling back in the opposite direction: What does the thesis do to Deleuze? What is the meaning it gives to Badiou’s dispute with Deleuze, the epistolary argument that took place 1992-4 and resulted, after Deleuze’s death, in Badiou’s book on Deleuze, The Clamour of Being? What difference does it make to their differences? What difference does it make at all? (Which all ought at once to be construed both at the level of the state, nationally, and at the local and minoritarian, micropolitical level, since…

because THERE IS NO THEATRE THAT DOES NOT MAKE A DIFFERENCE, means that in New Zealand there is no theatre? OR I have no theatre?)

I believe that the thesis actualises a crack, theatre/philosophy, which is not so wide that I cannot stand astride it, as, I believe, Deleuze bestrode it.

SO: Between Manifesto & Rhapsody: The Fate of Theatre (in two French thinkers) would name the proposal for which the emboldened script heading this post provides its indefensible thesis?

*quoted in Gilles Deleuze and the Theatre of Philosophy, ed. Constantin Boundas and Dorothea Olkowski, Routledge, New York, 1994, p.2

A further note: the note as link
Theatre becomes metaphor at the speed of flight (which is a role of difference: deterritorialisation): for example in the introduction to Alain Badiou’s address in the link below, the importance of Rhapsody for theatre is not already directly because it about theatre; it is immediately noted that it about theatre as political, with enormous philosophical weight on that articulating ‘as.’ The moment theatre is introduced it metaphorises: there is no innocent theatre; it is theatre as politics, as philosophy, as therapy, as erotics … and then again, what’s the difference between this ‘as’ and the ‘of’? a theatre of science? or theatre as art?

Link to Alain Badiou: Théâtre et philosophie, listen