La vie sexuelle d’Emmanuel Kant/The
Mille et une nuits
Number of pages
***Rights sold in Germany, Spain, Portugal, Norway, Brazil, Italy, Poland, Romania, the Netherlands, and South Korea***
Hats off for this invented-but-more-real-than-real Kant, whose portrait, whether signed Botul, Pagès, or John Smith, seems to be in harmony with my idea of a Kant who was tormented by demons that were less theoretical than it seemed.
A self-inflicted case of Botulism has claimed a prominent victim: the debonair, silver-coiffed French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy.
—Los Angeles Times
One of France’s leading intellectuals, Bernard-Henri Lévy, known as B.H.L., gave high praise to The Sex Life of Immanuel Kant by Jean-Baptiste Botul in his latest book. And then it was revealed, by most of the major international news media, that B.H.L. had been taken in by a hoax, that the book had been devised as a joke by journalist Frédéric Pagès.
In The Sex Life of Immanuel Kant, Botul (aka Pagès) has created a magnificent, accessible, and highly readable parody of Kant. The body of the book reveals the content of a series of conferences that Botul supposedly held with neo-Kantians meeting in Paraguay after World War II. Kant is described as a man with a masturbation obsession who argues for a “single race of people” with special interests—such as philosophers—who “refuse the doubtful joys of marriage in order to consecrate themselves to the transmission of knowledge, that is to say, to culture.”
The brilliant and biting humor of this parody follows the essence of Kant’s philosophy, but with only one question in mind: Did he or did he not have a sex life? Did his apparently tranquil and regulated life hide something else? Botul explains that Kant’s well-known concept of Das Ding an sich (what the thing, or object, in itself is, as opposed to how an observer experiences it) refers to Kant’s idea of sexuality. After providing a new interpretation of The Critique of Practical Reason, Botul explains that in order for Kant to satisfy his guilty desires, he needed to go to a strip club—but a club where one cannot touch but only watch.
Botul, said to have lived from 1896 to 1947, is a fictional French philosopher, father of a school of thinking called Botulism. He is supposed to have lived in Argentina, met Zapata and Pancho Villa in Mexico, seduced Princess Marie Bonaparte and dancer Lou Andreas-Salomé, and befriended literary figures such as Stephan Zweig, André Malraux, and Jean Cocteau.
Jean-Baptiste Botul : Frédéric Pagès, the inventor of the fictional twentieth-century philosopher Jean-Baptiste Botul, is a journalist with the satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaîné. Botul’s astonishing ideas, as reported by Pagès, have included the metaphysics of flab, the philosophical exploration of women’s breasts, and the utopia of the suitcase with wheels.
For more information on the “Botul Affair,” please visit Frédéric Pagès’s Web site: www.botul.free.fr.