Event 15 Representation and the Event
Pages 14

In Being Singular Plural, Jean-Luc Nancy states, “The surprise-the event-does not belong to the order of representation.”1 Although not unthinkable, the event shocks, exceeding everyday patterns of thinking and acting, opening up a space beyond itself. It breaks up the preceding constellation, enabling its elements to be seen not as already given components of an inevitable formation, but as figures that can be recombined, rejected, reimagined. If anything, September 11, 2001, marks the displacement effected by an event. Yet all too rapidly the “eventness” is becoming subsumed within various projects of hegemonization. William Bennett has drawn upon the event to support his critique of “theorists” in “our own institutions of higher learning” and his particular vision of superior moral clarity.2 Russia has exploited the event in support of its actions in Chechnya. Israel has invoked the event to justify its violence against Palestinians. Italy has used the event to defend its excessive mobilization against antiglobal capital protesters in Genoa. And the Bush administration is treating the event as foundational to a new order of meaning, identity, and permanent war.