”Since the hidden model of all this is the market.”
‘People cling onto identities… it is a world opposed to the encounter’ -Alain Badiou
Alain Badiou is a French philosopher, formerly chair of Philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure and founder of the faculty of Philosophy of the Université de Paris VIII with Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault and Morend Jean-François Lyotard.
Speaking of the market, Mr. Badiou’s thesis on real encounters came home for me in experiences working inside a retail store. While I was in the Kid’s dept at Meijer 24 hours in Taylor, MI years ago, what mystified me were the sheer hundreds of people I would pass in the aisles. I always wondered what sort of interactions these were. What is the criteria for a real encounter? Were the contacts those I saw and those who saw me? Were they those who I shared small, animating gestures consisting of a mere polite nod? Or were the ‘real’ interactions only ones that exchanged a wholehearted hello-how-r-you? How far do you have to go to have a ‘real’ encounter? Since I was a help-er, were the help-ees the only ones I encountered ? And of course, there could be other minutiae of possible ways of acknowledgement.
It was maddening at times wondering what made these interactions so different, similar or practically nonexistent. While I would reorganize a rack or stock a shelf, I would catch myself thinking something like the following: Two persons are walking towards one another thinking of ways to greet another, but when they meet, for some reason they failed to do so-for reasons of distraction, “atomization,” disinterest, or maybe even shyness. Maybe one has a flashback of some kind. For whatever reason, even though they were physically present to each other and able to interact [there were no apparent physical disabilities or compromises], as they passed, at least one finally dismissed outright the opportunity to have another real encounter that day. In plain terms, they ignored each other. Maybe they were preoccupied with stuff.
But given that the two persons saw each other, the two did know or at least infer at the time, that each other existed. didn’t they?
Argh. Maybe I was bored with the repetitive, colored objects.