Thursday, April 8, 2010

Pseudo events and Truth Events

We have our department group online where discussions regarding our subjects are often done.Recently a discussion started on what are pseudo events and those events which are not  pseudo events, what should  they be termed? We all know that pseudo events are those events that are created with the exclusive intention of getting media coverage, or rather that events are staged in such a way that lends itself to media coverage; this is as explained by Boorstin (1961).

So what are the events which are not pseudo events? An explanation on the same is given by Alain Badiou. He calls them truth events.He says "Truth is first of all something new. What transmits, what repeats, we shall call knowledge. Distinguishing truth from knowledge is essential… For the process of truth to begin, something must happen. Knowledge as such only gives us repetition, it is concerned only with what already is. For truth to affirm its newness, there must be a supplement. This supplement is committed to chance—it is unpredictable, incalculable, it is beyond what it is. I call it an event. A truth appears in its newness because an eventful supplement interrupts repetition. Examples: The appearance, with Aeschylus, of theatrical tragedy. The eruption, with Galileo, of mathematical physics. An amorous encounter which changes a whole life. Or the French revolution of 1792. An event is linked to the notion of the undecidable. Take the sentence 'This event belongs to the situation.' If you can, using the rules of established knowledge, decide that this sentence is true or false, the event will not be an event. It will be calculable within the situation. Nothing permits us to say 'Here begins the truth.' A wager will have to be made."

"What the Truth-Event renders visible is the one excessive element which is a part of the situation being submitted to the Truth-Process, but not counted within the positive structure of Being. By rendering this excessive element visible (whatever it may be), the preceding positive ontological order must radically change. And it is this formal relation between the Event and the Truth of the situation it articulates/renders visible, which allows us to distinguish between a genuine Event and its mere semblance. To elaborate by example, Zizek explains: “Nazism was a pseudo-Event and the October Revolution was an authentic Event, because only the latter related to the very foundations of the Situation of capitalist order, effectively undermining those foundations, in contrast to Nazism, which staged a pseudo-Event precisely in order to save the capitalist order.” This is as explained by Slavoj Zizek.

This could be an insight to all public relations practitioners, students and teachers.Any further insight?

Alain Badiou, “On The Truth-Process”, Open Lecture at the European Graduate School, August 2002.
Slavoj Zizek, The Ticklish Subject, Verso, London and New York, 1999, p. 138.