Žižuku seems simple, but in fact it is supremely complicated.
November 17, 2012 12:42 PM   Subscribe

Let’s play Žižuku! Vaguely similar in theory to the Postmodern Text Generator, but practiced individually, rather than Markov-chain-generated text. The creator, Julian Baggini, describes Žižuku thus: "The rules are simple: pick on any widely received idea and find the most clever-sounding way to invert it, so as to create a paradox, or at least the semblance of one."

We've had a lot of previous Žižek-related posts on MeFi, including a documentary on Žižek and this, erm, interesting interview, so throw in some references to Kung-Fu Panda or Mickey Mouse, get into the spirit of the kritik or consider this parody of Deconstruction, and turn ideas inside-out!

Perhaps you ought to simply follow Stammer's sage advice here.
posted by exlotuseater (20 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
The rules are simple: pick on any widely received idea and find the most clever-sounding way to invert it, so as to create a paradox, or at least the semblance of one.

This game is actually called Hegulu, or Dialektiku.
posted by RogerB at 12:54 PM on November 17, 2012 [11 favorites]

Damn, I thought this was going to be an actual game.

Of course, we could MAKE it an actual game... Who's in?
posted by anotherpanacea at 1:05 PM on November 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

find the most clever-sounding way to invert it
Step 0: Be really smart
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 1:07 PM on November 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Damn, I thought this was going to be an actual game.

It's a non-game that seems like a game. We just got Zizuk'd!
posted by painquale at 1:10 PM on November 17, 2012

Now let us consider this, what do you call it, "Metafilter". The premise can be derived, obviously, from its name. Meta, referring to all, and filter, meaning to pick out certain elements and exclude others. The "tagline", if you can accept the validity of such a minimizing form of taxonomy, of the site is 'the best of the web'.

*sniffles, rubs nose*

This techno-utopian paradise promises a near infinity of content. A never ending stream of everything that the Internet has to offer. But, if one considers it closely, obviously this is not true. The two parts of the site's name, Meta and Filter, are at opposites. On one hand you have the easy infinity offered by the fantasy of cyber-space, which offers a never ending, frictionless source of entertainment and possibility, a so-called metaverse, as we see so often in the make-believe stories of the American middle class such as comic books and television shows; and on the other hand you have the reality, which is the foreclosure of everything which slips through the filter.

*clears throat, pulls shirt, adjusts beard*

So here we see a contradiction! A site that promises infinite pleasure, but which arrives at this pleasure through exclusivity, exclusion, limitation. It is the classic Lacanian example of false-Jouissance promised, and then denied, and the true Jouissance of the experience coming, and of course here we use both the pornographic and the mundane use of the word, in the denial!

*raises glass of water to lips, considers it, throws it behind shoulder*

And it is obvious that we may extend this framework beyond the confines of the site to the entire community of useful idiots which are the western intellectual middle class. They do their work in the name of progress, often adopting the ideas of their respective soft-liberal parties, and perhaps even draping themselves in whatever meaningless hard-left ideologies that they find fitting, as if they were picking clothing off the shelf. However the work that they do necessarily forecloses on the progress that they would identify that they are working towards. The work of the computer programmer who votes for whatever savior figure is running the leftist party of his country will be the very thing that runs the bombs and the factories that allow for the hegemony he proposes to hate (and in fact garners so much of his comfortable lifestyle from) to continue to run in this false-frictionless style.

*gets up on desk, sits cross-legged, belches*

This reminds me of a joke, which I have heard these computer scientists make at parties: "Don't worry if it doesn't work right. If everything did, you'd be out of a job." This encapsulates the idea that I am making here very simply: the techno-utopian dream is to move towards an easy lifestyle where equality is guaranteed by the machines that these people make, but the very structure of the lifestyle depends on an endless friction. To actually solve any of these problems through technology negates the existence of this class of people and their position within the society. This MetaFilter prompts that it is the best of the web, but by necessity it must exclude elements of the content created for the web to maintain its self-imagined elite position. It destroys itself in the very process of creating itself!
posted by codacorolla at 1:22 PM on November 17, 2012 [52 favorites]

codacorolla wins.
posted by gwint at 1:29 PM on November 17, 2012

It's a non-game that seems like a game. We just got Zizuk'd!

Of course this is the most obvious move to any mere liberal! Liberals would have you believe that the important games are played on the world-stage, with bullets and bombs. But actually it's the opposite: the games we play when we think we're having fun are the games that actually shape the rules of discourse and exploitation that determine the victors and losers in those violent sports of drone versus insurgent.

And the drone, of course, brings us full circle. Xbox skills become real-life assassinations. It's like Ender's Game: he thinks he's playing a game that is too hard for any child to manage, but really the adults in his world have realized that only a child can manage the difficult decisions that warfare requires.

All of this reminds me of the Wile E Coyote's efforts to catch the Roadrunner with false-flag operations using painted backdrops. The audience appreciates that the cartoonishly-painted backdrop is no more real than the cartoonishly painted Looney Tunes world it inhabits. And yet the Roadrunner is able to treat both the Coyote's backdrop and the cartoonist's backdrop as equally real. The Coyote cannot see this; he crashes into the backdrop or plummets into the trap.

The Roadrunner is like the Marxist revolutionary, who recognizes that both the caricature of a class struggle that plays out in certain popular philosophy and the real class struggle that is going on in the world is one and the same. Meanwhile, the liberal gets trapped in the caricaturized class struggle of pseudo-Marxism that he thinks he set up to catch the pseudo-Marxist revolutionary, while never realizing that the pseudo-Marxist was more authentically revolutionary than he will ever be.

I'm a little rusty; I stopped reading Zizek after his 1993 book Tarrying With the Negative, where (if I recall correctly) he admits that he's just fucking around to distract liberals while the revolution happens or whatever.
posted by anotherpanacea at 1:34 PM on November 17, 2012 [5 favorites]

Ah, fuck. I forgot the oddly specific pop-culture references. Epic fail.
posted by codacorolla at 1:37 PM on November 17, 2012 [6 favorites]

Step 0: Be really smart

Not necessary.

This game should be called "Charlatan!"
posted by Fists O'Fury at 2:06 PM on November 17, 2012

Balkan politics Kung Fu Panda Lacan More Lacan A Serbian Film 9/11 Communards Kung Fu Panda but Lacan amirite CLEAR THROAT The Wire CLEAR THROAT

String of ironic relationships
posted by tigrefacile at 2:14 PM on November 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

I read this and imagined a young Rush Limbaugh writing his first article on Bill Clinton.
posted by tripping daisy at 2:25 PM on November 17, 2012

Each one of these should end "so clearly I cannot choose the wine in front of (you|me)."
posted by condour75 at 2:33 PM on November 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

RogerB got it already -- this isn't unique to Zizek and not even really part of psychoanalysis, it's from Hegel, who called it "speculative identity". But since we're playing:

American football: the teams are often have names that imply that they are wild, savage, untamed, natural forces like animals or violent weather events like storms, hurricanes, etc. But the game itself, more so than almost any other sport, is just a series of totally unspontaneous, co-ordinated maneuvers that the team has drilled over and over again. Far from being wild, the players are completely domesticated and even unnatural. The truth of a "savage" football team is its opposite, a domesticated working animal totally submitted to its master; or, a machine.

Libertarianism: although they constantly talk about liberty, small government and opposition to police violence, their policies would create extreme inequality leading to widespread social unrest and crimes against the property of the wealthy. So the libertarian utopia would require an enormous militarized police and prison system run by the government and dedicated to brutal, violent oppression of the impoverished underclass. The truth of libertarianism is its opposite, the police state.

The Philosophers Magazine: it presents itself as a magazine for educating the public about philosophy in an "accessible and entertaining format", but is itself totally ignorant of the philosophical basis of what it tries to comment on. Far from promoting philosophy among the public, it condescends to philosophers and belittles their work because it is popular among the public. The truth of The Philosophers' Magazine is its opposite, it is really a magazine hostile to philosophy, and dedicated to ensuring that it remains obscure, irrelevant and out of reach for most people.
posted by AlsoMike at 4:10 PM on November 17, 2012 [4 favorites]

And funnily enough given that Baggini seems to think it's a way of parodying Žižek: the man himself is on record laying out the rules of pretty much this exact "game," but in order to critique it as a form (or actually the form) of ideology. This is from Žižek's essay"The Spectre of Ideology," in Mapping Ideology:
Let us suppose that at some political meeting or academic conference, we are expected to pronounce some profound thoughts on the sad plight of the homeless in our big cities, yet we have absolutely no idea of their actual problems — the way to save face is to produce the effect of 'depth' by means of a purely formal inversion: 'Today, one hears and reads a lot about the plight of the homeless in our cities, about their hardship and distress. Perhaps, however, this distress, deplorable as it may be, is ultimately just a sign of some far deeper distress — of the fact that modern man no longer has a proper dwelling, that he is more and more a stranger in his own world. Even if we constructed enough new buildings to house all homeless people, the true distress would perhaps be even greater. The essence of homelessness is the homelessness of the essence itself; it resides in the fact that, in our world thrown out of joint by the frenetic search for empty pleasures, there is no home, no proper dwelling, for the truly essential dimension of man.'

This formal matrix can be applied to an infinite multitude of themes — say, distance and proximity: 'Today, modern media can bring events from the farthest part of our earth, even from nearby planets, close to us in a split second. Does not this very all-pervasive proximity, however, remove us from the authentic dimension of human existence? Is not the essence of man more distant from us than ever today?' Or the recurrent motif of danger: 'Today, one hears and reads a lot about how the very survival of the human race is threatened by the prospect of ecological catastrophe (the disappearing ozone layer, the greenhouse effect, etc.). The true danger, however, lies elsewhere: what is ultimately threatened is the very essence of man. As we endeavour to prevent the impending ecological catastrophe with newer and newer technological solutions ('environment-friendly' aerosols, unleaded petrol, etc.), we are in fact simply adding fuel to the flames, and thus aggravating the threat to the spiritual essence of man, which cannot be reduced to a technological animal.'

The purely formal operation which, in all these cases, brings about the effect of depth is perhaps ideology at its purest...
posted by RogerB at 4:40 PM on November 17, 2012 [7 favorites]

A social worker exists to assist the oppressed. Without oppression, social workers would cease to exist. Methinks I hear the sound of one hand clapping.
posted by grootless at 5:00 PM on November 17, 2012

See also: Ke$ha and Žižek
posted by neroli at 5:46 PM on November 17, 2012

RogerB, that quote is very interesting. I can see how one could develop a Hegelian theory of ideology based on an analysis of such inversions. I'm not very familiar with Zizek's work...does "The Spectre of Ideology" continue to explore this notion in more depth?
posted by jet_manifesto at 5:46 PM on November 17, 2012

Yes, that's pretty much what the essay is about. You might also be interested in his first (and, IMO, still his best) book, The Sublime Object of Ideology.
posted by RogerB at 5:55 PM on November 17, 2012

As with most instances of this sort of thing, my rock-headed, vertically-thinking, precise-language-loving reaction is "If you don't give me a rather detailed example of what the blistering hell you are babbling on about I'm afraid I am going to continue to not have a clue what the blistering hell you are babbling on about."
posted by Decani at 5:36 AM on November 18, 2012

This MetaFilter prompts that it is the best of the web, but by necessity it must exclude elements of the content created for the web to maintain its self-imagined elite position. It destroys itself in the very process of creating itself!

...all the while suggesting an impartiality of palate that belies the appeal of belonging to its taste-making membership - the fee-paying, self-selected 'web of the best'.

(just to take it full circle)
posted by Sparx at 7:18 PM on November 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

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