“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Computer melt downs, sex manuals

My computer did the old Microsoft Dive last night, so I was up to four putting it back together again. Thus, the excruciating thought of gluing together my “thoughts” on any topic has the allure, for me, that getting engaged had for Bertie Wooster.

Luckily, I’ve had some letters about my Adorno and Horkheimer posts. My friend H. wrote me to say that he liked the posts; however, he did ask why, in that the link I gave to the post on Philosophy.com, my comments on said post were so ‘mean to that old fellow you linked to.’ Mean? The cause is in that graphomania, that intoxication with words, that has carried me to many a nadir. What can I say? Some are alcoholics out of a bottle, and some get drunk on their own verbosity. I try to combine the two vices. Mr. H. also wrote: “you can't close these set of posts without also treating us to K.Korsh's critique of the Frankfurt school. Especially since yours truly has been dreaming of reading it one more time.” We’ve found a surprising amount of Korsch on the web, especially in French, and we will someday please all you Marxists and ex-Marxists – actually, hasn’t Marxism merged with ex-Marxism? – by linking and commenting. There is one scoriating essay by Korsch about the Lenin’s rather miserable attempt, in his criticism of Mach, to create a philosophy of dialectical materialism. Lenin was many things, in Korsch’s opinion, but not a philosopher – that’s when the Russian hayseed came out in him, the eager beaver student.

Then my friend, T., well known to this site as our foreign correspondant (he lives in NYC) came back at me with a few lapsed lascivious thoughts re Zizek’s essay on Lacan’s Kant avec Sade. I believe his first quote is from the Lacan essay.

‘For LI readers (if there are any left in the room) this might be interesting:

"Today, when Kant's antinomies of pure reason enjoy the status of a philosophical commonplace which long ago ceased to be perceived as a threat to the entire philosophical edifice, it requires a considerable effort to imagine them 'in their becoming,' as Kierkegaard would put it, and to resuscitate their original scandalous impact. One way to achieve this goal is to concentrate on how the antinomies differ from the logic of big cosmic oppositions: yin/yang, masculine/feminine, light/darkness, repulsion/attraction, etc. There is nothing subversive about such a notion of the universe as an organism whose life force hinges on the tension of two polar principles; what Kant had in mind, however, was something quite different and incomparably more unsettling: there is no way for us to imagine in a consistent way the universe as a Whole; that is, as soon as we do it, we obtain tow antinimocal, mutually exclusive versions of the universe as a Whole. And...it is here, in this antinomy, that sexual difference is at work: the antagonistic tension which defines sexuality is not the polar opposition of two cosmic forces (yin/yang, etc.), but a certain crack which prevents us from even consistently imagining the universe as a Whole. Sexuality points towards the supreme ontological scandal of teh nonexistence of the universe."

An amazing footnote to a statement on Radical Evil as an ethical attitude: "This notion of the Sublime provides a new approach to Lacan's 'Kant avec Sade,' i.e., his thesis on Sade as the truth in Kant. Let us begin with an everyday question: what accounts for the (alleged) charm of sexual manuals? That is to say, it is clear that we don not really browse them to learn things; what attracts us is that the activity which epitomizes the transgression of every rule (when we are engaged in 'it,' we are not supposed to think, but just to yield to passions...) assumes the form of its opposite and becomes an object of school-like drill. (A common piece of advice actually concerns acheiving sexual excitement by imitating - during the foreplay, at least - the procedure of cold, asexual instrumental activity: I discuss with my partner in detail the steps of what we will do, we ponder the pros and cons of different possibilities - shall we begin with cunnilingus or not? - assessing every point as if we are dealing with an elaborate technical operation. Sometimes, this 'turns us on.') What we encounter here is a kind of paradoxically inverted sublime: in the Kantanian Sublime, the boundless chaos of sensible experience (raging storm, breathtaking abysses) renders forth the presentiment of the pure Idea of Reason whose Measure is so large that no object of experience, not even nature in the wildest and mightiest display of its forces, can come close to it (i.e., here, the Measure, the ideal Order, is on the side of the side of the unattainable Idea, and the formless chaos on the side of sensible experience); whereas in the case of 'bureaucratized sexuality,' the relationship is reversed: sexual arousal, as the exemplary case of the state which eludes instrumental regimentation, is evoked by way of its opposite, by way of being treated as bureaucratic duty. Perhaps, it is (also) in this sense that Sade is the truth of Kant: the sadist who enjoys performing sex as an instrumentalized bureaucratic duty reverses and therby brings its truth to the Kantian Sublime in which we become aware of the suprasensible Measure through the chaotic, boundless character of our experience."

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