Kant and gambling, 2

I’m back from viewing wilderness and… well, from the deep reaches of love. About which you will hear not hear me make a sound, since love has a bower bird’s instinct for building the most elaborate nests to hide its secrets in. …

Instead, I’m going back to where I left off – that is, with boredom’s fit into the system of wants and ‘needs’. A fit that that comes, in Kant, with a scenario that seems to haunt not just the grand seigneurs, but all of art as well. To repeat the last graf of my last post:

“The division between the game as a whole – which is played for the sake of being played – and the different moments of the game, the hands – which are played to be won – gives us, then, an activity that isn’t ‘serious’ – and yet one that fools boredom, playing its own game in the margins.”

Recognize, here, purposiveness without a purpose - wrenched from its place in aesthetics - and taking on another form in the world formed when the chief motivation is not need, but the lack of need – that is, escaping boredom’s mysterious pain. Thus, the gambler plays each hand to win, and plays ultimately to play. Kant was never such an example of cosmopolitanism as in the fact that he never traveled anywhere – like Deleuze’s nomad, he achieved a perfectly stationary position in which everywhere threw itself on the floor before him. Surely, then, he knew of the casinos of Venice and the mad English mania for betting on anything, and knew that many would disagree – many would claim that the whole point was to win a fortune.

But perhaps Kant caught the dry cough in the shuffle of the cards that announces the death instinct at its perpetual repetitions.


Bruce said…
Did Kant read Pascal?
roger said…
good question. In the Anthropologie, Kant, warns about following too consciously the 'inner history of the involuntary course of one's thoughts and feelings' - because this is "the straight way, to fall into the mental confusion of the notably highly gifted and, without our wanting to, in regard to who knows from what source's influencing forces, into illuminationism or terrorism. Then all unawares we make here supposed discoveries about what we carry around inside us, like a Bourignon with his flattering, or a Pascal with his terrifying and fearful ideas, in which case even a otherwise fine mind, Albrecht Haller, got to the point, with his long undertaken but also often interrupted Diary of his mental state, of finally asking a famous theologian, his colleague Dr. Less, whether he could not in his broad reserve of divine learning be able to find comfort for his fearful soul." 444.