A useful graphic guide to all the art referenced in The Last Days of New Paris

Very interesting resource for Miéville’s THE LAST DAYS OF NEW PARIS.

Out There Books

1-nTYYIBfQEtBLS5qYsQ2XngI had to share this link. A China Miéville fan has put together a collection of all the Surrealist artwork referenced in the new novella, The Last Days of New Paris. It should definitely help with imagining the manifs roaming the streets of Paris.

The guide is arranged by page number, so you can use it alongside the appendix of artworks included in the book.

Check it out here!

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BADIOU ET LA JEUNESSE: installation vs transgression

Résumé d’une conférence d’Alain Badiou aux lycééns sur LA VRAIE VIE.

A l’intérieur de chaque jeune il y a deux ennemis de la vraie vie:

1) La vie consiste à consommer et à jouir, à avoir des satisfactions

La vraie vie ce sont des moments, des morceaux. C’est quand on se sent vraiment vivre. La vraie vie c’est avoir autant de ces moments intenses que possible. La vraie vie c’est la vie intense, la vie des plaisirs. Le problème avec cette conception c’est que ça éclate la vie, c’est la vie éclatée en moments bons et mauvais, la durée se perd. La vraie vie c’est une vie en morceaux, la collection des moments intenses. C’est l’idée de la transgression.

2) La vie c’est réussir, trouver une bonne place.

C’est l’idée de la durée, de la continuité, de la stabilité, la vraie vie c’est s’installer. Pour réussir son installation il faut une stratégie. Il faut un bon départ dans la vie, de bonnes conditions initiales, commencer très tôt. C’est l’idée du pouvoir et du calcul.

cf. ZAZIE DANS LE MÉTRO. “Je veux être institutrice… pour faire chier les mômes”. Ce qui compte dans la vie c’est le pouvoir, de prendre sa revanche. On calcule sa vie. La vraie vie c’est la collection des jouissances vs calculer sa réussite.

Le point commun de ces deux conceptions, c’est l’oubli de l’autre.

cf. Rimbaud, “le poète de la jeunesse”. Il a exploré les deux tentations: brûler la vie vs installer sa vie. Brûler vs s’installer, ou mage vs paysan:

“Moi ! moi qui me suis dit mage ou ange, dispensé de toute morale, je suis rendu au sol, avec un devoir à chercher, et la réalité rugueuse à étreindre ! Paysan !” (Rimbaud, Une Saison en Enfer, Adieu).

Rimbaud: le poète errant vs le commerçant sédentaire.

La jeunesse est contradictoire, parce qu’elle est travaillée par les deux tentations: brûler vs installer. Romantique vs ambitieux. La société a peur de ses jeunes, elle ne sait pas quel équilibre va s’établir entre la révolte et l’ambition. Comment s’installer sans perdre l’intensité de l’existence?

Est-ce que l’obligation de s’installer va m’empêcher de jouir de la vie? Il faut s’installer, sinon c’est le suicide lent, la vie intenable, la démolition. Donc il faut une installation qui admet des moments d’absence, de transgression, de départ et de retour. Il faut une installation critique, qui admet que le monde où on est installé n’est pas forcément bon.

La vraie vie implique la possibilité de sortir des contraintes de la vie installée. Non pas de les refuser, parce que ça c’est suicidaire. Mais d’en sortir.

cf. Platon, il faut toujours être prêt de sortir de la caverne, de modifier l’équilibre de la vie.

S’installer vs partir. Non pas une installation mais une navigation.

cf. ANABASE – mot qui veut dire monter et redescendre – par Saint-Jean Perse. Il n’y a pas de contradiction nécessaire entre l’intensité et l’installation, entre bâtir et naviguer. On peut s’installer dans un bateau mouvant au lieu d’une maison.

Le monde doit changer pour accueillir la jeunesse, les jeunes qui vont inventer le nouveau monde. Le monde doit être dès le départ doit être pensé selon la mobilité. C’est ça la vraie vie: à l’intérieur du vaste monde dans lequel je suis nécessairement installé, ma pensée garde l’idée de la navigation, de l’ailleurs, de la différence, de la possibilité des nouvelles intensités et de nouvelles expériences de vie.

Entre les deux tentations, la vie installée et la vie fragmentée, il faut ré-inventer la vie, inventer une vie nouvelle, une vie qui accepte d’être son propre mouvement, son propre désir.

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WEIRD ONTOLOGY AND NOETIC ESTRANGEMENT: China Miéville’s THE LAST DAYS OF NEW PARIS

Paper also available on academia.edu here.

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SELF-HOAXING: a postmodern replacement for argument

The interesting point for me in the “Badiou Hoax affair is the self-hoaxing.

H&B have no idea of Badiou’s analysis of “Maoism”, the word is just an empty rubric in a list of stereotypes. Yet they accuse Badiou of using words as tags rather than concepts.

H&B have no idea of Badiou’s lifelong struggle against postmodernism, of which his concept of Truths is a key aspect. Yet they assimilate his philosophy to what they call the “postmodern current”

H&B have no idea of the difference between Truth and knowledge, a quite basic conceptual distinction that can be found in Badiou’s influences (Derrida, Foucault, Lacan, Heidegger) and also in his contemporaries (Bernard Stiegler, Bruno Latour).They have no idea that concepts can bear other names and that the Truth/knowledge distinction is present not only in Deleuze and Lyotard but also in Thomas Kuhn, under the name of revolutionary science and normal science.

H&B have no idea that an important achievement of Badiou has been to work out a new ontological system in such detail that he can address people like Heidegger and Deleuze, with whom it is difficult to argue, and bring them back into the field of argumentation. Yet they claim that one can’t argue with Badiou.

H&B show no concern for the truth of Badiou’s claims, or even about the meaning of his key words. Their way of bringing Badiou back into the argumentative field is to hoax an online review that was in itself already a hoax.

Badiou’s way of bringing Heidegger back into the argumentative field was to devote a year long seminar to him, to extract determinate hypotheses from his texts (in itself a difficult task), to propose alternatives to Heidegger’s hypotheses on every level of abstraction up to the highest, and to try to evaluate which hypothesis is more likely to be right in view of our current knowledge.

This is why H&B’s actual procedure is much more postmodern than anything that Badiou has produced, and their hoax is a self-hoax.

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THE BADIOU DICTIONARY: against the postmodern self-hoax

PRESENTATION

THE BADIOU DICTIONARY is an impressive achievement. Composed of over 400 pages of explication and analysis of Badiou’s philosophy, it comprises 93 entries ranging from two to ten pages, with an approximate average length of four pages. This length is necessary to give an adequate treatment of a concept: definition, evolution, and evaluation. Particularly good instances of this plan are the entries “Dialectics” and “Woman, the Feminine, Sexual Difference”, but there are many others. Such in depth treatment is all the more necessary as Badiou’s philosophising extends over fifty years of published works and is still ongoing.

It is to be noted that two of the contributors, Steven Corcoran and Louise Burchill, make extensive use of Badiou’s untranslated seminars, including some of the most recent ones.

STEREOTYPES

Badiou is a Maoist postmodern philosopher whose incomprehensible writings contain no arguments but only grandiloquent posturing and empty verbiage, where words are used as intuitive “tags” rather than as names of rational concepts. Unfamiliar with, and hostile to, the sciences, Badiou follows in the footsteps of that of the nouveaux philosophes. Preferring mediatic self-promotion to real academic work. Badiou combines the obscurantism of the postmodern intellectual with the pontifications of the media guru, thus doing untold harm to the image and role of philosophy in these anti-intellectual times.

Every single one of these frequently proferred claims and objections concerning Badiou’s philosophy is radically misguided, as even the most cursory consultation of THE BADIOU DICTIONARY shows. Unfortunately, since the publication of the dictionary in 2015, these stereotypes have been reinforced by an intervention called rather inaccurately the “Badiou Hoax”. This pseudo-event does not concern Badiou himself or his philosophy, nor is it properly speaking a hoax, but rather constitutes something new and surprising: a (meta-) self-hoax.

These clichés that prevent us from understanding Badiou’s philosophy can be grouped under two headings: Badiou the Maoist, and Badiou the post-modern. It is one of the main assets of THE BADIOU DICTIONARY that it dispels these obstacles and permits us to get an idea of the real nature, scope, and complexity of that philosophy. We cannot meaningfully disagree with or condemn a philosophy that we are a million miles from understanding.

“MAOIST” POLITICS

Huneman and Barberousse (from now on H&B), the two self-hoaxers of the Badiou hoax, have provided us with a written explanation of the motives for their hoax and a video interview repeating their reasons in even simpler form:

La place du personnage conceptuel « Alain Badiou » en 2016 est assez paradoxale : sur le plan politique, se faisant l’avocat d’une théorie éculée (le maoïsme, recyclé sous le nom d’« hypothèse communiste »), il est régulièrement pris au sérieux et invité comme un emblème de la gauche radicale d’aujourd’hui (Harneman and Barberousse, op cit.).

The place of the conceptual persona “Alain Badiou” in 2016 is quite paradoxical: on the political plane, advocating an outdated theory (Maoism, recycled under the name of the “communist hypothesis”), he is regularly taken seriously and invited as an emblem of today’s radical left (my translation).

This passage contains a number of common misapprehensions that are quickly dispelled by consulting the relevant entries in THE BADIOU DICTIONARY. In “Maoist Politics” we learn that Badiou distinguished between Mao the state figure and Maoist thought as “truth procedure”, introducing a complexity beyond mindless slogans and simplistic judgements. The next entry “Marxist Politics” analyses in what sense Badiou is Marxist, and explains in what sense his politics is best characterised as “post-Maoism”. The entry “Communism” discusses Badiou’s communism in terms of communist invariants, periodisation, and the communist hypothesis. All this complexity and evolution is only to be expected given that Badiou treats politics as a truth procedure, so perhaps H&B should have read the entry on “Truth” first. H&B seem to acknowledge this as they declare that Badiou’s metaphysics is

assez absconse puisqu’elle stipule que la théorie mathématique des ensembles est l’ontologie véritable, clame que la vérité n’est pas du tout un accord entre discours et réalité mais un événement pour nous mystérieux

quite obscure since it stipulates that mathematical set theory is the veritable ontology and proclaims that truth is not at all an agreement between discourse and reality but an event that is mysterious for us

POSTMODERN

There is no entry on “postmodernism” in THE BADIOU DICTIONARY, and the term is not mentioned much, and rightly so as Badiou has consistently condemned the “postmodern current” with even more force than H&B.. Unlike H&B Badiou actually provides analyses of the phenomenon, and arguments against it (see the entries Truth, Sophistry, Conditions, the section on “Democratic Materialism” in Democracy, Linguistic Turn, etc.  So the idea that Badiou cannot be criticised by argument fails to come to grips with Badiou’s actual text.

H&B’s idea of promoting argument is to publish a parody in an experimental issue of a shady, fly-by-night online review, BADIOU STUDIES, whose website no longer exists any more. Aside from H&B’s demonstrable ignorance of even the most elementary concepts of Badiou’s philosophy, this self-contradictory attempt at restoring argument to its rightful place is enough to show that the “Badiou Hoax” is rather H&B’s self-hoax.

Badiou has devoted a lot of time to establishing the necessity of argument in philosophy and to analysing those thinkers who attempt to dispense with argument or to mimimise its importance (see the entry Antiphilosophy). Far from rejecting the traditional mission of philosophy and having a harmful influence on its pursuit, Badiou has indefatigably tracked down the presuppositions that tend to dissolve philosophy into something else, and has proposed a return to classicism (see Platonism/Anti-Platonism).

As part of their conflation of Badiou with the “postmodern current” (this expression is used repeatedly in the video) H&B declare that Badiou is anti-science. Here they should have read the entry on Conditions, which explains that one of Badiou’s key ideas is that philosophy always depends on four outside truth procedures that condition its existence: science, politics, art, and love.

In conclusion, THE BADIOU DICTIONARY does not proceed by simple verbal tokens used to signify membership in an esoteric group devoted to Maoist mysticism and to antiscientific obscurantism, but by rational concepts. If anyone wants to understand the attraction, the dangers, and the limits of postmodern relativism, and to examine a fully worked out alternative, then THE BADIOU DICTIONARY is a useful philosophical vade mecum.

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LYOTARD ON WRITING AS A (BEAST OF) BURDEN (2): childhood’s (not) end

SUPPLEMENT:  A Child

The text A l’écrit bâté was first published, in French in 1986. It was later published in Misère de la philosophie (Galilée, 2000), a posthumous collection of Lyotard’s texts, most of which were fragments for a projected book Supplement to The Differend.

Lyotard’s “book of philosophy”, THE DIFFEREND, seems to emprison us within a closed ontology of phrases, just as stultifying and as stifling as his previous ontology of forces and intensities. The ways out from this prison will be called the sublime, the inhuman, presence, anamnesis, and childhood.

INCIPIT: Eternal Return

The narrator contemplates his son playing in the sand at the seaside. This “scene” is at the same time an objective correlative of the narrator’s relation to writing:

L’écrit cet enfant va d’un pied à l’autre tant bien que mal

“The written this child steps from one foot to the other clumsily” (my translation)

The child carries an unknown burden, away from his parents, from somewhere forgotten to an undetermined destination, where he will put it down. He will grow up, and the waves will efface his footprints, but from that burden a child will come forth himself bearing a burden.

ANAMNESIS: the sea forgets, but Apollo remembers

The child’s footsteps are effaced by the sea, but not right away, only later when he has grown up. The forgetful sea, a maternal element, accompanies the child and the paternal Sun looks on memorising. The child and his shadow are present, the biological parents (“Géniteurs”) are absent from the scene:

The sea follows him she without memory I was forgetting Great sun photographer Apollo has done everything

We, children, writing, stumble between memory and forgetfulness.

CHILDHOOD, DEMOCRACY

Lyotard’s meditations on art and the sensible can often seem élitist, but his childhood turn is something that we can all relate to. Here we consider not the products of High Art available only to the few, but ordinary, universal elements – archetypes. Child, parents, burden, stepping, carrying, sand, desert, sea, sun, effacing, preserving.

JUNG

This text is much more Jungian than Freudian. Like many good French philosophers of his generation Lyotard grew up intellectually under the (paternal?) influence of Lacan’s return to Freud. Lyotard rejects Jung, condemned to lag behind him, and to repeat his progressive deconstruction of Freud.

COSMOS

“Post-modern is pre-world”, according to the poet Kenneth White. Deconstructing Freud, Lyotard tells us that psychoanalytic is no longer credible in its role of legitimation. Lyotard has gone through the post-modern crisis and emerged. He writes experimentally, without legitimation, about a child in relation with worldly elements.

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CARGO CULT OR TROJAN HORSE? Laruelle’s scientism and the religionists’ denial

PHILO-FICTION

Lyotard was uncompromising in his critique of philosophy and in his experimentation with new forms of thought and expression.  I began my commentary on Lyotard’s short text A l’écrit bâté to show what a real “philo-fiction” (Laruelle’s term) looks like.

Lyotard himself would never have used such a clumsy expression as philo-fiction, except as a playful gesture. Lyotard liked both science-fiction and wordplay, and treated philosophy as a form of writing. Lyotard’s “A l’écrit bâté” (“Of Burdened Writing”) is philo-fiction avant la lettre.

OBSCURANTISM

François Laruelle is known for his excessively long-winded critique of standard philosophy and an incredibly timid step outside its confines into “non-philsophy”, or”non-standard” philosophy, or “philo-fiction”. He is the most dogmatic and the most timid, i.e. the most philosophy-bound, of his intellectual generation, and also the worst stylist. Laruelle could only come into prominence once Deleuze, Derrida, Foucault, and Lyotard were no longer with us. He pales in comparison. Lyotard in particular says clearly in 50 lines what Laruelle says murkily in 50 pages.

TROJAN HORSE

There is a strong religionist lobby around Laruelle’s thought in English. Religionism is not religion, but rather the suture of religion and philosophy, subordinating philosophy to its religious condition. Far from decrying this tendency as a distortion of his thought, Laruelle cultivates ambiguity on this point. At the conceptual level, Laruelle’s naive, omnipresent  scientism is laughable, noone can possibly take it seriously. This may be why his disciples are content to simply deny that it is a problem. However, his scientism functions as Trojan Horse, allowing Laruelle (or his religionist disciples) to import religious dominance into a purported “democracy of thought”.

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