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Slavoj Zizek
March 12, 2006 10:45 AM   Subscribe

Slavoj Zizek in Spiked, and Op-Ed in NYT.
posted by semmi (32 comments total)

 
Sadly, Z's point here has become better and better, even though he's been just saying the same thing for the past few years.
posted by washburn at 10:54 AM on March 12, 2006


I love this paragraph from the NYT link:

During the Seventh Crusade, led by St. Louis, Yves le Breton reported how he once encountered an old woman who wandered down the street with a dish full of fire in her right hand and a bowl full of water in her left hand. Asked why she carried the two bowls, she answered that with the fire she would burn up Paradise until nothing remained of it, and with the water she would put out the fires of Hell until nothing remained of them: "Because I want no one to do good in order to receive the reward of Paradise, or from fear of Hell; but solely out of love for God." Today, this properly Christian ethical stance survives mostly in atheism.
posted by brundlefly at 11:27 AM on March 12, 2006


“Whenever I hear the word cultureLacan, I reach for my revolver.”
posted by Falconetti at 11:27 AM on March 12, 2006


These weird alliances confront Europe's Muslims with a difficult choice: the only political force that does not reduce them to second-class citizens and allows them the space to express their religious identity are the "godless" atheist liberals, while those closest to their religious social practice, their Christian mirror-image, are their greatest political enemies.

Well, secular liberals are overwhelmingly dominant in Europe and Christianity is pretty much gone, so, per Zizek, European Muslims basically don't have any enemies and there isn't a Muslim problem. Next issue.
posted by jfuller at 11:40 AM on March 12, 2006


A Plea For Leninist Intolerance. via
posted by By The Grace of God at 11:55 AM on March 12, 2006


When I'm in the mood for an ironic chuckle, I click on links like By The Grace's and get a kick out of Zizek's bad-boy "radical pet of the hip intelligentsia" act: look, I'm going to stick "Lenin at his worst" right in your face and wave it around while you reel in horror! But then I notice the long, long scrollbar on the right, and I think "That can't possibly be all Slavoj verbiage, right? There's a comment thread, or blank space, or something?" and I scroll down, and down, and yes, it is all Slavoj, and I wonder once again who can possibly wade through all that rhetoric and sarcasm and undigested German (Denkverbot, Berufsverbot, neue Undurchsichtlichkeit), and I retreat back into the Blue, where the asshats are at least reasonably concise.
posted by languagehat at 12:52 PM on March 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


So why do people want to declare a new epoch every five minutes?

Slavoj Žižek: It is precisely a desperate attempt to avoid the trauma of the new. It is a deeply conservative gesture.


Brilliant.
posted by dhartung at 1:47 PM on March 12, 2006


languagehat (so called): If you'd only enjoy language. Listening, instead of trying to conform the material to your understanding, would reveal to you the writer's intention, which is the point here.
posted by semmi at 2:25 PM on March 12, 2006


Previously, on Zizek.
posted by gsb at 2:32 PM on March 12, 2006


I'm not super-fond of Zizek, I have to admit. He seems to recycle a great deal of other thinkers without adding much more than "Here's how they apply to the modern day!" He reminds of one of those intellectuals Kojeve talks about in his papers about Strauss who exist merely to mediate between the philosopher and the tyrant.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 4:36 PM on March 12, 2006


From the NYT op-ed: the lesson of today's terrorism is that if God exists, then everything, including blowing up thousands of innocent bystanders, is permitted — at least to those who claim to act directly on behalf of God, since, clearly, a direct link to God justifies the violation of any merely human constraints and considerations.

I haven't read much Zizek since grad school. This makes me want to read some of his recent books.

Good on the Times for publishing him--dare I say it's rather European of them.
posted by bardic at 5:48 PM on March 12, 2006


So, Fritz Lang (the Fritz Lang of Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler , or Metropolis) was a conservative film maker whose fear of the introduction of sound led him to develop a certain suggestive articulation of the speaker's body and their voice? I would suggest that Lang is better understood as a brilliant innovator who once again found technical means at hand to create something that had not yet been seen and heard at that time in that precise form.

Zizek is discussing nothing so much as an instantiation of one of Lacan's partial objects (the gaze, the voice, excrement, etc.), assuming the status of the objet petit a here (in its simplest form, the ambulant phallus), and the fact that Lang produced a stylistic figure which is an anticipation of the voice of The Great Oz seems to take on a precarious weight. That is, the truth of the theory is confirmed, for I have seen it in a film!

The idea is, incidentally, taken whole cloth from Michel Chion's La Voix au cinéma, which dates from 1980, and which I am sure Zizek would be the first to point out.
posted by Wolof at 6:10 PM on March 12, 2006


This argument couldn't have been more wrong: the lesson of today's terrorism is that if God exists, then everything, including blowing up thousands of innocent bystanders, is permitted — at least to those who claim to act directly on behalf of God, since, clearly, a direct link to God justifies the violation of any merely human constraints and considerations. In short, fundamentalists have become no different than the "godless" Stalinist Communists, to whom everything was permitted since they perceived themselves as direct instruments of their divinity, the Historical Necessity of Progress Toward Communism.

The answer is clear then: Everything is permitted. God or no god.

Thats how I feel. People will do whatever they want, and come up with excuses that fit into their moral framework after the fact. Just look at all these 'Christian' gay haters. It hardly says anything in the bible about gayness (just in Leviticus) and yet these people act like it is horrible, horrible, horrible. They instinctively don't like it, and justify that belief with what's in the bible.
posted by delmoi at 6:11 PM on March 12, 2006


languagehat (so called): If you'd only enjoy language.

I certainly hope you're joking. Here's some language for you:

Zizek is discussing nothing so much as an instantiation of one of Lacan's partial objects (the gaze, the voice, excrement, etc.), assuming the status of the objet petit a here (in its simplest form, the ambulant phallus), and the fact that Lang produced a stylistic figure which is an anticipation of the voice of The Great Oz seems to take on a precarious weight.

I have absolutely no idea whether that's intended as a parody or not. It doesn't really make any difference. Here's the Great Man himself:

Habermas designated the present era as that of a neue Undurchsichtlichkeit, the new opacity.' More than ever, our daily experience is mistifying. Modernization generates new obscurantisms; the reduction of freedom is presented to us as the arrival of new freedoms. In these circumstances, one should be especially careful not to confuse the ruling ideology with ideology that seems to dominate. More than ever, one should bear in mind Walter Benjamin's claim that it is not enough to ask how a certain theory (or art) declares itself to stay with regard to social struggles. One should also ask how it effectively functions in these very struggles. In sex, the effectively hegemonic attitude is not patriarchal repression but free promiscuity; in art, provocations in the style of the notorious "Sensation" exhibitions are the norm, an example of art fully integrated into the establishment.

If you consider that an enjoyable use of language, we speak different languages.
posted by languagehat at 6:14 PM on March 12, 2006


Metafilter: the gaze, the voice, excrement, etc.
posted by fleetmouse at 7:52 PM on March 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


He's Strunk and White compared with drivel like Judith Butler.
posted by Falconetti at 8:06 PM on March 12, 2006


Whenever I think of lacan, I think of NSFW!!

See also: a and b

Look I dissapeared up my own fundament. It's because of the oppresive dream figurines in my pseudo-dominant web genderqueer neo-platonic yet subtle analyses.
posted by lalochezia at 10:33 PM on March 12, 2006


This is why I’m not interested in Zizek: Give Iranian nukes a chance.
posted by Termite at 10:44 PM on March 12, 2006


I have absolutely no idea whether that's intended as a parody or not.

Nor do I! What are people's thoughts on the use of jargon as shorthand for those already in the game? Should every technical discussion be directly accessible to the non-initiated? Is everything explained in terms coming from outside one's own area of competence automatically poo-faced? Need we post textbooks to explain every reference to those who have not been where we have?

Or is this the "every intelligent person should understand commentary on everyday business" argument? Clarification, please!
posted by Wolof at 3:37 AM on March 13, 2006


I once leaned against a wall in a bookstore on TCR and read a copy of The Fragile Absolute that I had chosen from a huge display of Žižek books. I found him to be an entertaining nutter!
posted by shoepal at 7:18 AM on March 13, 2006


What are people's thoughts on the use of jargon as shorthand for those already in the game? Should every technical discussion be directly accessible to the non-initiated?

No, not necessarily, but that's not what your post was. It's the fact that you (and those like you, in a trend that seems to predominate in philosophy) write as if you are explaining for the layman when it's all unintelligble.

You wrote:
Zizek is discussing nothing so much as an instantiation of one of Lacan's partial objects (the gaze, the voice, excrement, etc.)

Either a) the reader already knows what Lacan's partial objects are, and therefore doesn't need "the gaze, the voice, excrement" or b) they don't know what they are, and saying "the gaze, the voice, excrement" isn't going to help one little bit. Same for "the ambulant phallus", which phrase means v. little as way of explanation for "objet petit a here".

(Additionally, you're posting on a general-purpose blog. Did you expect it to be full of Philosophy post-grads? Your tone suggests so)
posted by bonaldi at 1:59 PM on March 14, 2006


Just to clarify, no philosophers read Lacan. Only frustrated English majors attempting to squeeze every ounce of joy out of reading cite Lacan.
posted by Falconetti at 3:32 PM on March 14, 2006


Oh Christ yes, EngLit is the other criminal abuser of language. Ironic, really.

/shudders at memory of pointless Eng lectures discussing the spatialization-spatializer of the Gaze. Jesus
posted by bonaldi at 12:57 AM on March 15, 2006


Additionally, you're posting on a general-purpose blog.

I refer you to countless posts which require specialist knowledge to decipher, eg OS wars, DRM, US constitutional law, etcetry, ad infinitum.

Just to clarify, no philosophers read Lacan.

Zizek reads Lacan. Do the little syllogism thingy yourself, lover of wisdom.
posted by Wolof at 1:35 PM on March 15, 2006


And by "countless", I mean I'm too lazy to count 'em.
posted by Wolof at 1:49 PM on March 15, 2006


Why only answer the "additionally" part? The point I'm making is that in the other sorts of those posts you either get people talking entirely in jargon, or you don't. What you won't see is:

"I hate Mac OS X. You have to use NetInfo (n.sys, 0x91c3f000 - 0x91c42fff, excrement, /etc) to get what you want"

because that's almost wilfully alienating. You'll see something like:

"I hate Mac OS X. You have to use NetInfo (their replacement for the /etc config files) to get what you want"

which allows the average Joe to hazard a guess at what they mean.
posted by bonaldi at 4:09 PM on March 15, 2006


I take your point, but what I was attempting to point out was the assumptions going on under the hood, as it were, of Zizek's "average Joe" version. So my explanation was of necessity somewhat technical.

Um, if I could outline the whole schemata in a couple of paragraphs I'd cheerfully do so, but I don't know anyone else who could do it either.
posted by Wolof at 10:47 PM on March 15, 2006


Under Zizek's hood is a smaller car driven by Lacan. Under Lacan's hood is an even smaller call driven by Freud. Under Freud's hood is a clear view to the pavement.
posted by Falconetti at 11:59 PM on March 15, 2006 [4 favorites]


call = car, doye!
posted by Falconetti at 12:00 AM on March 16, 2006


And under Falconetti's hood is a midget with a grudge.
posted by Wolof at 12:27 AM on March 16, 2006


hehe, it's hoods all the way down.
posted by Falconetti at 6:39 PM on March 16, 2006


Gracious, Falconetti, thanks.
posted by Wolof at 4:08 AM on March 20, 2006


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