The emphasis on the ‘live’ nature of football coverage on SkySports has become something of a joke lately in football circles. Before each kick-off, official ‘commentator of the decade’ Martin Tyler, now with an emphasis so great it’s as if he’s trying to outdo last week’s performance in a kind of parody, shouts, ‘and its LIVE!!!!’ to the delight of everyone watching.
The appeal of ‘live’ coverage is of course not only relevant to the football world; there is a cultural appeal to the idea of experiencing the event ‘in the moment,’ as if the event and its representation are one. Indeed, football coverage plays on the relationship between this and everyday life, making it possible to experience your own weekend ‘live’:
What it demonstrates, we hope to show here, is not an instantaneous ‘live for the moment’ attitude of experience outside the boredom of linearity and chronology, a pure moment of instant enjoyment which has no (reality-principle) relationship to the narrative of our lives, but the absolute opposite: the insistence on ‘live’ and ‘in the moment’ experience reflects our desperation to impose chronology and linearity on our lives.
Badiou’s concept of ‘the event’ sheds new light on the ‘events’ that we are experiencing ‘live.’ The idea probably originates in Freud’s concept of Nachträglichkeit, often translated as ‘afterwardsness.’ Nachträglichkeit is not just a later reaction to an earlier event but a recognition that the first event is invested with a new significance which turns it into that which it will then always-already have been. So the moment is constituted by what happens after, challenging the idea of chronological time.
Badiou develops the concept, arguing similarly that ‘the event’ is not the culmination or result of something but rather that ‘a site is only evental insofar as it is retroactively qualified as such by the occurrence of an event.’ All events exist only in relation to other events. Further, all representation (which is itself an event) has a relationship to the event; we are not talking just about major world events but about the relationship between occurrences and their representation in a broader sense. Badiou’s interest is in the way the event itself depends on its representation for its meaning, the representation invests the event with a significance which then appears to have been always-already there waiting to be represented. Joining this idea with the modern consumption of ‘live events’ shows us our desire to avoid reading Badiou: we want to believe in the pure experience of the event as instantaneous. Yet even our consumption of these events is inscribed within linearity, for instance the idea of ‘being there’ at a site-specific time to be later reflected on.
Under this illusion, event A for example, seems to contain within it the possibility of events B, C and D, etc. This means that whatever the event that occurs it must contain within it all the possible ‘future’ events which may or may not occur subsequently. Perhaps it can be connected to the ‘big bang theory’, another linear narrative in which infinite possibility comes from one moment. Experiencing the event in this way then, ‘live,’ is the dream of being in chronology, we are able to trick ourselves into the feeling of possibility, of the event containing within it all future possibilities (‘anything can happen’) when in fact the possibility of the event comes after, with its representation and with its constitution in relation to what we call its ‘effects.’