Endorsement Funnies

So Zizek’s Living in the End Time arrived, I know, I know, but I was reading Zizek way before he was cool, so, like an old fan of some hair-metal band, I keep buying his ‘records’ hoping that the next one will surely be a ‘comeback record’ – on the front cover is the endorsement “The most dangerous philosopher in the West” from Adam Kirsch’s hit piece in The New Republic. It was meant as a put down, of course, but here it is, taken as an endorsement. Can you do that? Did Kirsch have to give his permission? Or is it a citation from The New Republic so it’s all good?

This have to be a sign of the “end times” – what is this world coming to if one’s abusive remark can no longer be safe from being used as an endorsement?

9 thoughts on “Endorsement Funnies

  1. I don’t know. I’ve been reading Zizek since his Sublime Object of Ideology, and he was already pretty much definitively “cool” then. Not sure when Zizek-the-uncool or even Zizek-the-ignored period was supposed to be.

    • Zizek is our Katechont. As long as he writes books about the end of capitalism we can be sure nothing serious has happened.

      I’m perfectly sure the world is worth to be saved and the social relationships need to be overcome. But does it also deserve a great minds time, supporting such efforts?

  2. How Kirsch ever thought that his quote would not get slapped on the front cover of Z’s next book is beyond me. Who did they think they were going to convince besides the marketers at Z’s publishing house? But he was just strutting around to look cool. The New Republic seems like it can’t get enough of such bad-faith attacks. I hope Berman’s attempted takedown of Tariq Ramadan, which prompted one of my more disorganized and rantlike blog posts, gets on TR’s dust jackets too.

  3. Zizek himself writes endorsements like that:

    “Mladen Dolar acts as if he is not an idiot and looks as if he is not an idiot, but this should not deceive you—he is NOT an idiot!”
    —Slavoj Zizek

    [that’s to Dolar’s book Voice and Nothing More]

    • “Zizek himself writes endorsements like that:

      “Mladen Dolar acts as if he is not an idiot and looks as if he is not an idiot, but this should not deceive you—he is NOT an idiot!”
      —Slavoj Zizek

      [that’s to Dolar’s book Voice and Nothing More]”

      But this is thoroughly repellent. As a fan of Zizek, you may have made a mistake to repeat it. There’s not a thing about it that’s ‘cool’. It gives the impression that it would like to ratchet things up one revolution still further, so his followers can still not reach him, and that he’s barred only from not having yet found that sublime nirvanic sophistry. But if he cracks ‘us’ up (the quotes are because I find the joke form pretty tired and obvious, really just more TeeVee, as Arpege would say) by ‘proving’ that Mladen Dolar is NOT an idiot by making a thoroughly idiotic and (by now, not perhaps in 1992, but this sort of thing is so without slyness by now) clumsy bottom-heavy ‘witticism’. This again is very much like the guru who relieves the tedium and obvious boredom of his meditation class by telling them to take pills instead of doing the yoga. What a swingin’ rock ‘n’ rollin’ 80s type of guy! OF COURSE he didn’t like Sex and the City 2 after he read Jodi’s review! and blah and blah and blah…

      I rather felt like coupling that with this that you wrote at Dominic’s, where I don’t care to post much.

      “I think the true Harman Manoeuver is taking criticism personally and lashing out at graduate students (see Fabio’s sad fate as the last example in the long series of Harman’s psychotic overreactions) – seriously, the man is mad, and not in a cute eccentric kind of way”

      I agree with you about the symptoms, but I think this is because of your Russian-ness, isn’t it possibly? You like in a more or less small American partly-suburban, partly provincial city, but whatever one can say about European provincialism of all kinds, it’s not the same as American provincialism of certain types and hybrids (I’m in no mood to use any of their terms.) It could be ‘psychotic’ only because he’s not really emotionally and psychologically equipped to have become this great ‘seer’ or whatever he is that attracts you all to him (he seems much less ‘psychotic’ than just penny-ante to me.) Harman is TOTALLY provincial, he has no urbanity at all; not that that is a requirement for a great mind in many fields, of course, but hick philosophers are a thing some of us find not even ‘resistibly attractive’. So that I might disagree, I don’t think he is ‘mad, but that he really IS something or other in a ‘cute eccentric kind of way’. It’s just that within the field, he’s captivated literally all of you, and this is bewildering to me, but much less disturbing than being captivated by him myself would be. That he wants to ‘lash out at graduate students’ like ‘Fabio’ (I had to go to Harman’s bleug to find out he wasn’t talking about the model-as-chic-object from Italy and the object that is ‘I kent beleef ees naught buttah…’, and this was disagreeable, because I was forced to read many entries of the Iowans progress at managing to watch the World Cup–a bit like going to Home Depot, you know.)

      Doesn’t he seem ‘mad’ and ‘psychotic’ because you can’t figure out why you take him so seriously despite yourselves? I do find it an extreme oddity–I mean, even I went through a brief ‘Zizek period’, in the early 00’s, although it’s long since passed, once I saw his tendency to self-one-upsmanship continue to burgeon and bloom, and discovered that his attention span for sustained narrative even when called for as a reasonable consistency within his own works was remarkably brief, shallow. I also knew a bunch of Slovenians who knew him personally, and they always talked about how ‘he has a lot of heart’. Well, I certainly hope so. but I simply never suffered an attack of Harmanism. Therefore, until he is enshrined a bit more thoroughly still or scapegoated and stoned, I will simply have to say ‘more power to him’ since he clearly does know how to get attention by doing things like talking about not only Fabio but also other grad students, whose short fuses don’t really need to be lit. It may be possible that, as a teacher, you are more concerned with the thin-skinned ones and how they may take his ‘lashings-out’ more seriously than is merited. The toughies are the ones I look for, not being in academia, and I’ve found a few on the bleugs, but not mainly on them.

      Now, while I don’t think his ‘lashings out’ do anything but prove his American provincialism is every more deeply rooted, I do agree that his taking of criticism very personally is very pronounced, and most repugnant, although I still think it’s more provincialism. One of the good things about these petty bleug rivalries is that you can be tested for toughness by them, and if you survive the criticism and stoning (of which I’ve garnered enormous quantities, but they haven’t bothered me much in the long run, although temporarily some did now and then), then it was a fairly safe way of doing it for those of us of a certain age, and who weren’t born into the world of computers everywhere just yet. You probably do have a point that these ‘lashings-out’ do hurt the younger ones in a way that I haven’t experienced, because they were born into the world of Microsoft and Apple, and Arpege did tell me a couple of years ago about someone who committed suicide as a result of some remarks made on bleugs. I was shocked to hear it, did not know who she was referring to, and can’t remember it now.

      Not that Harman’s provincialism makes him the less clever, he’s clearly very clever, and has made a big success of himself. I can see this as very obvious, even if it has no interest to me personally. I’m much more fascinated by the controversy that he’s caused among the rest of you philosopher-thinkers than anything he’s come up with (although some of it may be really good, I wouldn’t know.)

      • There’s a kind of fatal attraction, isn’t there? I agree. I mostly learn of these sorts of controversies later on, but you’re right as far as fascination is concerned – what are we to do about it? The man is hard to ignore. Today he has one theory, tomorrow a slightly different one, it is fascinating.

        As for Zizek, I wouldn’t say I’m a “fan” partly because unlike his early philosophical works his latest works are mostly very short bursts of observations about unrelated topics (he doesn’t have much of an attention span, you’re right) – it’s fun to flip through and read here and there, not everything has to be some heady deep-thought sort of a read, I think.

        As for provincialism, I don’t know – I lived in a big city and I lived in a small town – I like both kinds, although I’d prefer to live in a place that has a decent opera house, other than that, province suits me just fine.

  4. Y’know that’s how ALL movie endorsements work right?

    I say, “Some may say that Mikhail Emelianov is a handsome leading man, but those people are blind and stupid.”

    You make a trailer touting “Niki Hawthorne, Rolling Stone says “Mikhail Emeilianov is a handsome leading man.”

    And you’re technically quoting me and there’s nothing I can do about it.

  5. As for provincialism, I don’t know – I lived in a big city and I lived in a small town – I like both kinds, although I’d prefer to live in a place that has a decent opera house, other than that, province suits me just fine.

    I should clarify slightly on this. Yes, in fact I grew up in the rural South OUTSIDE a small town. I moved to New York, but that past is all very important to me, as my family there still is as well. I was referring to a specific American provincialism which, even if you live in a mid-size American city (I think that’s were you live, but that’s neither here nor there), you might not, as a European (I shouldn’t really have emphasized the Russian, it’s the same whether Russia or Britain as compared to the U.S.), pick up precise American provincialisms, which are very ingrained and do stem from American puritanism and long-held religious beliefs taken very literally (Ireland might be the one exception in Europe, where religion is often still taken very literally, or at least I think that may be true–even Dublin has been described as ‘essentially rural’, and that’s the biggest city).

    ‘Province’, as you call it (nice use of the word, never heard it), is definitely cool in some forms. But ‘provincialism’ in certain uses of the word does refer to certain narrow-minded practices, and it’s appropriate there. The refusal to countenance personal criticism and all this talk that Harman used to do about ‘civility’ is indeed almost Vacation Bible School at some Baptist or Methodist church in the South or Midwest–and THAT means that a little urbanity wouldn’t hurt in making its intrusion. I mean, after all, neither Cairo nor Alex are ‘hick towns’, although some might have hierarchies in which they are ‘provincial’ by comparison to Rome or even Athens, chosen so as not to be too obvious. So this ‘living in province’, as you call it, is not the same as certain ‘provincial attitudes’ which really do refuse a more comprehensive, liberal and inclusive attitude. I do find him guilty of this in the extreme, and he may not find it as easy as it seems to adjust to this new international stardom–a household word literally everywhere, as we know–so, rather than just ignore some of the snark, he stays closer to what he’s comfortable by taking it very seriously. This is actually fairly normal, and he probably wants to be a kind of ‘rustic philosopher’ in the way that Heidegger was (in that case, maybe European and American provincialisms cross, although I doubt Heidegger was constantly ‘reading his reviews’. This was a subject that comes up about artists, some don’t ever read their reviews–I tend to think of those as the most confident. And there are others who are concerned about every word that is said or written about them.

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