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?