Presentation gives rise to an effect of unification, but is not itself unified because it is split between the consistency of multiple-entities (presented in terms of belonging) and its own inconsistent being, which is to say the non-being of the count insofar as it manifests a point of indiscernibility with the being-nothing of the void.
This indiscernibility is at once the guarantor of the being of presentation (since the void of presentation is its suture to being) and what threatens to subvert its law. The law of presentation requires that this indiscernibility and the threat of structure’s own latent inconsistency be forestalled through re-presentation insofar as it measures the gap between what belongs to presentation and what it includes.
Thus re-presentation reinstates the law whereby the non-being of structure is separated from being nothing. More precisely, it ensures that their point of convergence remains asymptotic by deferring it to the ‘future anterior’. The inconsistent being or void of presentation (configured by the non-being of the count) ‘will have been’ presented through the re-presentation of everything which the count included without presenting:
Consequently, since everything is counted, but since the one of the count, being merely a result, implies as its ghostly remainder the fact that multiplicity does not originally have the form of the one, it is necessary to acknowledge that, from within a situation, pure or inconsistent multiplicity is at once excluded from the whole, and hence excluded from presentation as such, but also included as what presentation itself or in itself ‘would be’, were that which the law forbids as inconceivable to be conceivable: that the one is not, and that the being of consistency is inconsistency.
(Badiou 1988: 66, 2006a: 53 tm)
Thus presentation is internally fissured by the split between the consistency it presents and the inconsistency of its own being (i.e. the inconsistency of what it presents consistently). Every consistently presented situation harbours a latent reserve of inconsistency. But this inconsistency is only ever a retroactive effect of the count; an insubstantial shadow cast by the structure of substantiation.
Consequently, the structuring operation whereby multiplicity is rendered consistent in presentation is also what prohibits the presentation of being or inconsistency as such. Being is foreclosed to presentation (Badiou 1988: 35, 2006a: 27); there is no conceivable ‘experience’ of presented being; it isontologically intelligible precisely insofar as it remains ‘inconceivable for every presence and every experience’ (Badiou 1988: 35, 2006a: 27 tm).
Moreover, since ‘presence is the exact contrary of presentation’ (Badiou 1988: 35, 2006a: 27), and since every phenomenon is definable in terms of presence to a subject of representation, or presence to consciousness, then presentation is not a phenomenon. But this is not, as mystics and negative theologians would have it, because being can only be presented as ‘absolutely Other’: ineffable, un-presentable, inaccessible via the structures of rational thought and therefore only approachable through some superior or initiatory form of non-conceptual experience.
This is the ‘Great Temptation’ (Badiou 1988: 34, 2006a: 26) to which philosophers invariably succumb if the denial of the being of unity and the affirmation of being’s inconsistency is not qualified by the proviso that there is no immediate, non-discursive access to being, and circumscribed by the insistence that ontology is a determinate situation; one in which the un-presentability of inconsistent multiplicity is rationally encoded in the compositional strictures of set-theoretical discourse. It is the axiomatic character of ontological presentation which guarantees that inconsistent multiplicity is inseparable from the operation of structuring.
Consequently, the metaontological concept of presentation is that of an anti-phenomenon; a split noumenon which vitiates every form of intellectual intuition insofar as it embodies the unobjectifiable dehiscence whereby, in exempting itself from the consistency which it renders possible, structure unleashes the very inconsistency it is obliged to foreclose.
The law of presentation conjoins the authorization of consistency and the prohibition of inconsistency in an unpresentable caesura wherein the deployment and subtraction of structure coincide. Thus the structure of presentation envelops a strictly ‘non-phenomenologizable’ scission which can only be inscribed in the formal ideography of set-theory.
Ultimately, only an insignificant letter, Ø, indexes the originary fissure whereby presentation deposes presence and binds itself to the mark of the unpresentable. Ø is the initial incision that marks the hinge between consistency and inconsistency, non-being and being-nothing.