The Scandal of Self-ContradictionPasolini’s Multistable Subjectivities, Geographies, TraditionsVienna: Turia + Kant, 2012
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Cite as: Bruno Besana, ‘Alain Badiou’s Pasolini: The Problem of Subtractive Universalism’, in The Scandal of Self-Contradiction: Pasolini’s Multistable Subjectivities, Geographies, Traditions, ed. by Luca Di Blasi, Manuele Gragnolati, and Christoph F. E. Holzhey, Cultural Inquiry, 6 (Vienna: Turia + Kant, 2012), pp. 209–36 <>
Earlier citation: Identical except for DOI prefix 10.25620

Alain Badiou’s PasoliniThe Problem of Subtractive UniversalismBruno Besana


In the following analysis, I wish to show how Alain Badiou’s work is crucial to understanding the exact sense of change as ‘inactuality’ or paradoxical actuality, and I wish to do so by scrutinizing his references to Pasolini. Badiou in fact investigates the concept of change through Pasolini’s depiction of the figure of Paul, arguing that it exposes a specific tension between universality and singularity, and between eternity and novelty, which constitutes the very dialectic of change.

Keywords: Pasolini, Pier Paolo – San Paolo; Paul, Saint; Badiou, Alain; universalism; logic; event; change


  1. Badiou, Alain, Being and Event (London: Continuum, 2006)
  2. Logics of Worlds: Being and Event 2 (London: Continuum, 2009)
  3. ‘On a Finally Objectless Subject’, trans. by Bruce Fink, in Who Comes after the Subject?, ed. by Eduardo Cadava, Peter Connor, and Jean-Luc Nancy (London: Routledge, 1991), pp. 24–32
  4. Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism, trans. by Ray Brassier (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003)
  5. Badiou, Alain, and François Balmès, De l’idéologie (Paris: Maspéro, 1976)
  6. Besana, Bruno, ‘Subject’, in Alain Badiou: Key Concepts, ed. by A. J. Bartlett and Justin Clemens (Durham, NC: Acumen, 2010), pp. 38–47
  7. Pasolini, Pier Paolo, Per il cinema, ed. by Walter Siti and Franco Zabagli, 2 vols (Milan: Mondadori, 2001)
  8. Tutte le poesie, ed. by Walter Siti, 2 vols (Milan: Mondadori, 2003)