“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

Monday, February 19, 2007


This is from Ashton’s The History of Gambling in England. It is what Ivan Karamazov would call an allegory. Yes, for LI, there is something about this story of drunken hanging that reminds me of the paired destiny of the buffoon and the sage, this thread that I have been following – into my own asshole, certain cruel readers might say. No – into even drier gulches of history than that.

"The Annual Register about this time supplies us with several gambling anecdotes, the following being almost incredible: 15th April, 1812 – “On Wednesday evening an extraordinary investigation took place at Bow Street. Croker, the officer, was passing along the Haampstead road, when he observed, at a short distance before him, two men on a wall, and , directly after, saw the tallest of them, a stout man, about six feet high, hanging by his neck, from a lamp post attached to the wall, being that instant tied up and turned off by the short man. This unexpected and extraordinary sight astonished the officer; he made up to the spot with all speed; and, just after he arrived there the tall man, who had been hanged, fell to the ground, the handkechief, with which he had been suspended, having given way. Croker produced his staff, said he was an officer, and demanded to know of the other man the cause of such conduct. In the meantime, the man who had been hanged recovered, got up, and, on Croker’s interfering, gave him a violent blow on the nose, which nearly knocked him backwards. The short man was endeavouring to make offl however, the officer procured assistance, and both were brout to the office, when the account they gave was that they worked on the canals. They had been together on Wednesday afternoon, tossed up for money, and afterwards for clothes; the tall man who was hanged,won the other’s jacket, trousers and shoes; they then tossed up which should hang the other, and the short one won the toss. They got upon the wall, the one to submit, and the other to hang him on the lamp iron. They both agreed to this statement. The tall one, who would have been hanged, said, if he had won the toss, he would have hanged the other. He said he then felt the effects of his hanging in the neck, and his eyes were so much swelled he saw double. The magistrates expressed their horror and disgust, and ordered the man who had been hanged to find bail for the violent and unjustifiable assault on the officer, and the short one for hanging the other. Not having bail, they were committed to Bridewell for trial.”

If the short man and the tall man weren’t named Estragon and Vladimir, fate missed a trick.

Surely it is odd that LI is railing, in these posts, against the buffoon, when this is the same LI that claims to be lead, as if by supernatural light of the muse of ludicrousness, through the shadow of the valley of the moronic inferno I call my own country, my life and times. However, what I want to know is why, of the sage and the buffoon, the moi and the lui of Rameau’s nephew, only the buffoon made it into the present – and how it came about that the sage has been so utterly throttled by circumstances. What was the toss about? What were the stakes? How did they meet (illmet) and how did they part (one alone)? So, these are the questions, which I’m laying out like a deck of cards in this game of solitaire.

The key to the conversation of Rameau’s nephew is shamelessness – that most dialectical of attitudes. Shamelessness not only assumes shame, but it also assumes innocence – but only as a supreme lie. The lie of innocence is embodied in the peculiar way in which Rameau’s nephew not only speaks, but pantomimes – as if word and act were indivisible, which is indeed how a child has to learn to speak. It is later that we ignore the act of the tongue. Yet the charm of the pantomime is fully intended – Rameau’s nephew is nothing if not intentional in all things, even as he is described as being self-contradictory and a ball of contradictions. Shamelessness has become his strategy – just as it is the strategy of Sade’s fuckers. Shamelessness, vanity and flattery are the circuit of acts and attitudes in which Rameau has his existence, and they collectively have a political value. One that is fairly new. The ideology of the old right, the legitimist or the Tory, is about tradition and order – but the new right, that represented by Rameau, is about provocation. What takes shape here is a foretaste of the system that dominates us now, the mixture of shamelessness and outrage by which we drift over the hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis and howl at, say, the nasty language of bloggers. To use the U.S. for one example – but the same thing happens in Italy, in France, in the U.K.

A couple more posts on this and then I have done.


Amie said...

LI, don't be knocking the lux-um-berg gardens now! one of my fave haunts! oh i know i'm one of those endangered species best examined under a petri dish, who has a fondness for luxy and the palais, kant and diderot.
but not nearly as endangered as the 'subhuman', 'inhuman', whatever they are in Iraq and elsewhere. 'funny' enough diderot and rousseau have something to say about what is (im)properly human that is perhaps relevant to our 'theatre of the world', where as you say 'blog (s)tiffs' can become a bigger affair than murder on a 'large scale'. but hey as long one can 'theorize it', it's a job well done and you can switch on the tv...
(i do appreciate this thread/post of yours. thanks.)

roger said...

Thanks for the appreciative words, Amie. Hmm, I don't think I am being very successful at showing the connections I am making between the sage/buffoon pair, Diderot, Hegel and our present woe and circumstance. However, I follow the burlesque comics rule - I gotta million of em! - and just keep pitchin' my thesis until maybe, maybe it will become clear to God, man and mule. Or until somebody gets the hook...

Hey, myself, I am a big walker of parks. In Austin, when I am writing a review, I write a little bit, get antsy, and either run or walk around Town Lake. Ambulation is part of the job description of writing, if you ask me. However, I am not a Kantian walker - which may be why I am in perpetual danger of verigo. I can understand the charm of the luxy, but there's also the charm, for the urban philosophe, of

roger said...

Damn, I tried to be sophisticated and end that with a link! the charm of New York Songlines was what I was a-gonna say: http://home.nyc.rr.com/jkn/nysonglines/

Amie said...

LI, please don't take my above comment as an indication of your lack of clarity but of mine darn it!
and thanks for NYC songlines link!

Anonymous said...

Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu?

give 'em a glove!

roger said...

Ah, anonymous... and we'll have a real goood time!

Has any woman ever had ears as beautiful as Natalie Wood's? Lovely link.