October 30, 2005

Baudelaire, Baudrillard,Bourdieu, Badiou

Baudelaire argued in favor of artificiality, stating that vice is natural in that it is selfish, while virtue is artificial because we must restrain our natural impulses in order to be good. The snobbish aesthete, the dandy, was for Baudelaire the ultimate hero and the best proof of an absolutely purposeless existence. He is a gentleman who never becomes vulgar and always preserves the cool smile of the stoic.
Baudrillard: What people are contemplating on their word-processor screens is the operation of their own brains. It is not entrails that we try to interpret these days, nor even hearts or facial expressions; it is, quite simply, the brain. We want to expose to view its billions of connections and watch it operating like a video-game. All this cerebral, electronic snobbery is hugely affected and this itself is a superstition. A M E R I C A
Bourdieu: The concept of habitus challenges the concept of free will, in that within a certain habitus at any one time, choices are not limitless—here are limited dispositions, or readinesses for action. There are limitless options for action that a person would never think of, and therefore those options don't really exist as possibilities. In normal social situations, a person relies upon a large store of scripts and a large store of knowledge, which present that person with a certain picture of the world and how she or he thinks to behave within it.
Badiou explains in detail in his major work to date L'Etre et l'événement (1988) that truths are militant processes which, beginning from a specific time and place within a situation, pursue the step-by-step transformation of that situation in line with new forms of broadly egalitarian principles. Only a pure commitment, one detached from any psychological, social or 'objective' mediation, can qualify as the adequate vehicle for a truth, but reciprocally, only a properly universal truth qualifies as worthy of such a commitment. Only a truth can 'induce' the subject of a genuine commitment.

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