Voyou Désœuvré

I haven’t read Lacan’s article connecting Sade and Kant, but if I remember Žižek’s discussion of it, the connection is between Kant’s insistence that duty is more important than benevolence, and Sade’s dutiful pursuit of malevolence; as in this passage from the Critique of Practical Reason:

It is very beautiful to do good to human beings from love for them and from sympathetic benevolence, or to be just from love of order; but this is not yet the genuine moral maxim of our conduct, the maxim befitting our position among rational beings as human beings, when we presume with proud conceit, like volunteers, not to trouble ourselves about the thought of duty and, as independent of command, to want to do of our own pleasure what we think we need no command to do. (82)

I wonder, though, if the apparently shocking connection to Sade isn’t less illuminating than the more obvious connection to Masoch. This connection starts off absolutely straightforward, in Kant’s connection of duty to submission: Read more↴

Take my credit card
The key to my house
Take my car

— “Suga Mama”

Anything you cop I’ll split the bill…
I can do for you what Martin did for the people
Ran by the men but the women keep the tempo

— “Upgrade U”

The new Beyoncé album is lyrically disappointing. “Suga Mama” is surely the anti-Bills Bills Bills. Interesting that it kind of sounds like Kanye West’s “Golddigger”; perhaps it’s intended as a kind of response, a disappointingly desperate insistence that Beyoncé, at least, isn’t a gold digger. The tunes, though, are pretty great. The beats aren’t especially surprising, but it says something pretty good about R&B that this level of quality is just business as usual. It’s probably a better album than Beyoncé’s first one; only a couple of ballads, one of which, “Irreplaceable,” is absolutely gorgeous.

Jay-Z has some interesting bars on “Upgrade U,” mind. I assume the reference to Saturn is some kind of 5% numerology, but I’m not exactly sure what it means:

‘Cause that rock on ya finger is like a tumor
You can’t put ya hand in ya new purse…
Mafioso, oh baby you ever seen Saturn
No, not the car but everywhere we are

I wish I read Spanish. Paulo Virno has just edited a book on Argentina. And it features a discussion of the “polemic between N. Chomsky and M. Foucault.”

The Chinese space program involves babies, pandas, and rabbits. Communism is the future.

Where next for Russian space station promoters?

Moves to get official backing to send Madonna into space have been blocked.

My own answer is, I suspect, rather predictable (picture from the always-wonderful Chinese Propaganda Poster Pages, via Dwayne M.)

The internet has managed to replace some of my misplaced happy hardcore, including a couple of tracks that were favorites of John Peel (or “Fat Jack” as he used, implausibly, to claim people called him). This reminds me that my sister gave me a copy of Peel’s autobiography a little while ago. It’s pretty good; or, rather, the first half, written by Peel himself, is good, particularly if you read it to yourself while doing a bad John Peel impersonation. His description of his time at school is interesting, and his account of living in America suggests, without being overly confessional or falsely modest, that he may have been a bit of a dick, sometimes. The second half, written by his wife, is not so good; while I was surprised to discover just how involved in the counter-culture Peel was, it’s hard to get enthusiastic about a book written in the style of one of those family newsletters that people send in to Simon Hoggart.

Somebody once argued that Badiou should not be considered a Kantian; but perhaps this is to oversimplify. Badiou’s metaphysics is not Kant’s, certainly, but there is, perhaps, a more fundamental similarity. Kant’s system derives entirely from asking, “given that reason can give us knowledge, what must the world be like?” From this, Kant derives the mechanism of nature, and from that, he derives the identity of morality and freedom. Badiou begins by taking Kant’s question as his own, with the decision that being is what is knowable by reason. Hence the importance of maths for Badiou, because set theory is the most sophisticated system we have for making ontology rationally comprehensible. What I’m not sure about is how closely Badiou follows Kant at this point: is ontology, because it can be rationally understood by set theory, therefore a deterministic or mechanistic system which the Event, like the moral subject, stands outside of? Or is Badiou’s use of Cantor intended to remove this dualism, to show that the world need not be mechanistic to be knowable, and so to restore morality and freedom to the phenomenal world?