Foucault describes an event as something that has a beginning and an end. Every human experience, activity, idea and cultural form is an event.
By considering everything with a beginning and an end an event, we mere mortals are then but an event, overlapping with each other, spanning across the stretch of time (which, in turn, is also an event, depending on who you ask). Ideas, practices, transformations, historical moments have a beginning and an end, however, they change in time. They remain part of history. So by this definition, is a telephone conversation an event? Is cooking a meal an event?
Foucault goes on to say that “events must be seen as occurring on multiple levels…a network of practices, institutions, exercises of power.” Here is where I struggle to understand. So can an event be an event simply because it has a beginning and an end or does it need to have/be part of a network?
In his “Supplement on Foucault,” AJ Drake points to what an event is not, in deducing what an event is. One event doesn’t simply cause another, rather we must speak of events as complex, inter-involved networks of practices. This is rather complex.
Countering Foucault’s ‘event’, Badiou says an event is something that disrupts the current situation. Moreover, Badiou and Arendt go on to say that if an event is singular, only certain events count – those that are a crisis, a revolution, an exception, while other occurrences simply exist in the shadows of those events.
In relation to media and similar to Badiou and Arendt’s notion of events, Ken Wark describes an event as a singular irruption into the regular flow of media. These events can become “weird global events” when they cross global spaces and radically different cultures and disrupt how the event occurs and how it is represented in the media. From my understanding, these “weird global events”are events that seem to affect people from different corners of the globe and people from completely different cultures. For example, media coverage of Austrian daredevil, Felix Baumgartner, skydiving from space, breaking the sound barrier, caused a massive disruption all around the world. Footage of him free-falling 39 km above the ground was an event that captured the world’s attention.
An ‘event’ talking about its disruptive, exceptional nature, forcing people to take notice while the more sensible ‘process’ talks about the journey people take after an event, where change happens. An event may have a beginning and an end but in between is the process.
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