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Thu, Mar. 9th, 2006 10:07 am
Blogbabes, the New York Times, and Alain Badiou

Yesterday was as close to "routine" as this weird job of mine is likely to get. I ate lunch (alone) at the bar at Republic on Union Square, some slurpy spicy coconut chicken noodles (actually, the chicken without the extreme spice would have been totally bland and tasteless, which put me in mind of my rant last year about the poor textures of American life). I got to the Whitney a couple of hours "late", but an unreliable tour guide has to be reliably unreliable, otherwise he'd be... well, reliable.



At the Whitney two total babes with the splendid names of Thessaly La Force and Eremi Amabebe (Columbia University students) were waiting to interview me for their blog. We repaired to the cafe with a Chilean boy who'd started chatting to them and quite understandably didn't want to let them go. Talk was of "the good difference" and suchlike, with Thessaly playing the role of the nice cop and Eremi the nasty cop, full of questions about my support for Huntington's "clash of civilisations" thesis.

The rest of the afternoon a writer called Jeff Macintyre followed me around then interviewed me for the New York Times. He intends to write a piece for them called "Tales from the unreliable tour guide". I tried to do all my "hard-hitting" and "controversial" lines, only to discover that the public were all finding me "charming" today. It must be the neat new gold-buttoned blazer I bought the other day, which makes me look like the captain on "Gilligan's Island" and neutralizes at least 35% of my menace.



In the evening I headed down to SoHo, bought a bento supper at the Sunrise Mart on Broome (I can see that place becoming my second home) then attended a talk given by Alain Badiou at the Drawing Center. I went there because Badiou is one of the outstanding French intellectuals of our time, perhaps the last of a dying breed. And I went there on behalf of my brother Dr Mark, who's been influenced by some of Badiou's ideas (for instance, his inaugural lecture at Anglia Polytechnic University drew on Badiou's schema of "the particular that gets to represent the universal"). Badiou makes a lot of sense in, for instance, this Cabinet interview about evil. But last night he seemed waffly, both too abstract and too simple. His theme was art's imperative to speak the unspeakable, and he got tangled up in vapid semi-paradoxes, delineating a water-tight system (complete with spidery diagram on a handout) which seemed more assertive than explanatory.

And so we learned that "being" is "a multiplicity without degree, of purely mathematical determination", whereas "existence" is "the quality, degree or intensity of being". We also learned that "there is always one element in a multiplicity with a minimum degree of existence". No authority cited or examples given. Oh, wait, he did give the example of the proletariat in Marxism, whose political existence has a "minimum degree", hence the line in the Internationale about "we are nought". We were also told, with puckish humour, that "there is a formal demonstration of the necessity of the inexistent", quite a simple one, but that Badiou was not going to demonstrate it for us. Did he mean death?



And so -- pay attention at the back, there! -- a work of art is the construction of an artificial thing in such a way that it inscribes the inexistent, and "this inscription is impossible". This failure, in art, is an honourable one, but in politics leads to monstrosity. The examples of art Badiou used (Monet's lily pad paintings, Beckett's "can't go on, will go on", Rimbaud) were hoary old academic cliches. His manner was amusing but suspect; he played to the gallery, hamming up his french accent and exaggerating certain doddery academic gestures; reaching the end of a particularly abstruse and circular sentence he would stretch his eyes, suck in his cheeks, waggle his tongue as if licking a lemon, looking for all the world like an old doctor describing his favourite disease.

I felt a bit sorry that I'd recommended the talk to my Chilean acquaintance, who was bored and perplexed. And the hot blog babes, also invited, didn't even come. Or perhaps they were there "with a minimum degree of existence".

22CommentReplyFlag


(Anonymous)
Thu, Mar. 9th, 2006 04:07 pm (UTC)
the best thing at republic

the best thing at republic is the curried duck noodles


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avatorrotava
AvatorotavA
Thu, Mar. 9th, 2006 04:42 pm (UTC)

Are you going to post a video of your performance at the Whitney?
that would be fantastic...


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rroland
rroland
rroland
Thu, Mar. 9th, 2006 04:52 pm (UTC)
old guys

two old scots seek blog babes for noodles and introspection


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Mar. 9th, 2006 07:10 pm (UTC)

Pictures of me and the blog babes are here. Notice my best "Helloooooooooooooooo girls!" expression.


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cap_scaleman
cap_scaleman
cap_scaleman
Thu, Mar. 9th, 2006 08:04 pm (UTC)

You don't look very art-ninja at those photos though, "Curry".


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eptified
eptified
H. Duck
Thu, Mar. 9th, 2006 07:38 pm (UTC)

At the Sunrise Mart last halloween one of the checkout girls was dressed in a full-body frog costume. I crinkle even now at the thought of it.

It really sounds as if you're wandering around in Wonderland. These characters are all too charming for life...


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butterflyrobert
RND
Thu, Mar. 9th, 2006 07:50 pm (UTC)

You look more like "Mr. Howell" than "the Skipper" (in a good way, of course).


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arwyn
arwyn
Arwyn
Thu, Mar. 9th, 2006 11:04 pm (UTC)

The girl on the right is such a babe you don't think she could EVER look bad in any photo! I wish I was like that!


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uberdionysus
uberdionysus
Troy Swain: Black Box Miasma
Fri, Mar. 10th, 2006 01:21 am (UTC)
Random points:

I really wanted to go to that Alain Badiou talk, even if it sounds a bit overly speculative and obtuse.

It was nice to see you. I hope to go back and follow you around for a bit.

The blog babes were indeed babes.

I love Cabinet magazine.

Republic is fast food for tourists and workers in the neighborhood. No one considers it good food.


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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
loverboy82
loverboy82
( ... )
Fri, Mar. 10th, 2006 05:39 am (UTC)
Re: Random points:

food never tastes as good eaten alone.


ReplyThread Parent

(no subject) - (Anonymous)
loverboy82
loverboy82
( ... )
Fri, Mar. 10th, 2006 07:19 am (UTC)
Re: Random points:

interesting. reminds me of Baloot (Phillipines)

" Baloot (Phillipines) (Half-hatched chicken egg. A baluge is a fifteen- or sixteen-day fertilized chicken egg. Open an egg and pop a sixteen-day-old incomplete chicken fetus into your mouth, complete with partially formed feathers, feet, eyeballs, and blood vessels showing through the translucent skin of the chick. "

from weird food: bird


ReplyThread Parent
amiame
amiame
amiame
Fri, Mar. 10th, 2006 08:04 am (UTC)
Re: Random points:

randomity x 2 - i have a very vague memory of someone telling me about Baloot (although they didn't know the correct term for it) about five years ago. i didn't believe them at the time, and now i know it's all true.


ReplyThread Parent
loverboy82
loverboy82
( ... )
Fri, Mar. 10th, 2006 08:15 am (UTC)
Re: Random points:

i was told that this is eaten in parts of China but this was all i could find on the internet about it.


ReplyThread Parent
ex_ruhue
. . .
Fri, Mar. 10th, 2006 05:35 am (UTC)


wow thanks for the Badiou link, his ideas are intriguing (i love being shoved into new little constructs within large ones)... i'm disappointed it went all catty wompus. so... he tried to speak the unspeakable and dance about architecture and well, assertively waffle about the unwafflable? is that what i hear you saying? and no one died?

that language, like his, how do you live around this? take comfort in spicey noodles? there are so many more art world people like him. whenever i hear people talking about inscribing the inexistent and other related bluster, i feel like i'm being surrounded by this giant construction of paper scraps and toothpicks, all complex but ultimately weak. i guess that's why i'm just a lowly gardener, i don't believe in or i guess understand the explanations.

p.s. - sorry about the missing babes.


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w_e_quimby
w_e_quimby
hobbes
Fri, Mar. 10th, 2006 09:11 am (UTC)

That lecture sounds like utter bullshit.

I wish I was in New York so that I could visit you at the Whitney!


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Mar. 10th, 2006 01:42 pm (UTC)

I would urge you to read the interview with him in Cabinet. It's full of wonderful ideas like "Evil is the moment when I lack the strength to be true to the Good that compels me."


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tassellrealm
tassellrealm
XWSF Tassell
Fri, Mar. 10th, 2006 02:46 pm (UTC)

Good is not in a position to compel anyone to do anything.

This guy is an arse-hole.


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tassellrealm
tassellrealm
XWSF Tassell
Fri, Mar. 10th, 2006 02:57 pm (UTC)

And so we learned that "being" is "a multiplicity without degree, of purely mathematical determination", whereas "existence" is "the quality, degree or intensity of being".

That's completely arse about face.



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tassellrealm
tassellrealm
XWSF Tassell
Fri, Mar. 10th, 2006 02:58 pm (UTC)

Life doesn't give a rat's arse who lives it.


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ex_mimic736
THE MMCSIS
Fri, Mar. 10th, 2006 05:17 pm (UTC)

You have a shitty arsenal.


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bonsai_human
Bonsai Human
Sat, Mar. 11th, 2006 09:02 am (UTC)

Hot you say? But... but... neither of them are asian. Time for a visit to the optometrist.


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(Anonymous)
Tue, Apr. 11th, 2006 03:18 pm (UTC)
Questioning silence

Thanks for your help, my chef just gave me an audio cd with the speach, and I was wadering about that cloud of doubt, that seemed to be rising in the audience...Maybe now, that he Badiou is almost the only remaining of his species, he feels no shame to to show off his philosophical-parisien attributes.


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