I was reading yet another article about Slavoj Zizek this morning–a figure I’ve basically stopped paying attention to for various reasons–and almost vomited when I came across this:
He is very much a thinker for our turbulent, high speed, information-led lives,” says Sophie Fiennes, “precisely because he insists on the freedom to stop and think hard about who you are as an individual in this fragmented society. We need a radical hip priest and Slavoj is that in many ways.”
Good grief (somewhere a single tear is slowly making its way down Wavy Gravy’s cheek). I mean, really. Gag. Thankfully, the author of the article qualifies this idiotic statment, albeit with another nausea inducing gem:
The very thought, I suspect, would have him quaking in his proletarian boots – and free airline socks.
Quaking? Perhaps (isn’t Zizek always “quaking?”) The phrase “proletarian boots” –clearly an attempt at wit–is just a bit over the top. The author of the article, like most articles about him, wastes a bunch of space discussing Zizek’s appearence. Ooh…Proletarian boots, such a fashion statement! I must march down to the closest TJ Max and get some! Continue reading →
Here’s an interesting article about the Communism Conference in London this weekend from The Socialist Worker by Alex Callinicos, “Slavoj Zizek’s Ideas need to link with reality.” I’ve pasted the full text below. Callinicos raises some interesting questions about some contradictions revolving around the relationship between theory and practice and the 100 pound entrance fee, ahem.
Nearly a thousand people will be attending a conference this weekend on “The Idea of Communism” in central London. In itself, this isn’t a big deal. Left wing conferences take place regularly in central London. The Socialist Workers Party’s annual Marxism event attracts several thousand participants every summer.
There are two things that are different about this particular conference. The first is that it isn’t being organised by a political organisation or journal, but by Birkbeck College’s Institute for the Humanities. Secondly, the conference is attracting an unusual amount of media attention. The Financial Times devoted a full page of its weekend edition to an interview with the director of the Institute for the Humanities, Slavoj Zizek, headlined “The modest Marxist”.
It is presumably Zizek, one of the most dazzling figures on the intellectual left, who has succeeded in attracting as speakers at the conference some of the best known continental philosophers – notably Alain Badiou, Toni Negri and Giorgio Agamben, along with, among others, Terry Eagleton and Peter Hallward. The emphasis indeed seems to be on philosophy. “From Plato onwards, Communism is the only political Idea worthy of a philosopher,” the conference publicity declares. Continue reading →
LAST week, European Union leaders put an end to a decade of diplomatic wrangling and signed the Treaty of Lisbon, which outlined a complete overhaul of the organization, including the creation of a permanent post of European Union president to represent Europe on the world stage. During the ceremony at Lisbon’s grandiose Jerónimos Monastery, a choir performed Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” in the background. While the fourth movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, first performed in 1824, may seem an innocuous choice for the official anthem of the European Union (it was declared such in 1972), it actually tells much more than one would expect about Europe’s predicament today.
The “Ode to Joy” is more than just a universally popular piece of classical music that has become something of a cliché during the holiday season (especially, oddly, in Japan, where it has achieved cult status). It has also been, for more than a century, what literary theorists call an “empty signifier” — a symbol that can stand for anything.
A good friend of mine has been a working artist for many years and is now in the process of applying to MFA programs. Of course, such applications involve a portfolio of one’s work and the usual personal statements. Today, he sent me this question posed by the U of Berkeley (most egregious aspects are in bold):
In an essay, discuss how your personal background informs your decision to pursue a graduate degree. Please include any educational, familial, cultural, economic, or social experiences, challenges, or opportunities relevant to your academic journey; how you might contribute to social or cultural diversity within your chosen field; and/or how you might serve educationally underrepresented segments of society with your degree.
You may place a maximum of 8000 characters in the text box below.
Good grief! For some reason this question has sent me into a spiral of rage! Continue reading →
The great Slovenian Hero has chosen to appear in some local paper with an ambitious (and slightly preposterous) title – The New York Times. His majesty has graced us with his opinion on all things Chinese:
How China Got Religion
By SLAVOJ ZIZEK
THE Western liberal media had a laugh in August when China’s State Administration of Religious Affairs announced Order No. 5, a law covering “the management measures for the reincarnation of living Buddhas in Tibetan Buddhism.” This “important move to institutionalize management on reincarnation” basically prohibits Buddhist monks from returning from the dead without government permission: no one outside China can influence the reincarnation process; only monasteries in China can apply for permission.
Before we explode in rage that Chinese Communist totalitarianism now wants to control even the lives of its subjects after their deaths, we should remember that such measures are not unknown to European history. The Peace of Augsburg in 1555, the first step toward the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 that ended the Thirty Years’ War, declared the local prince’s religion to be the official faith of a region or country (“cuius regio, eius religio”). The goal was to end violence between German Catholics and Lutherans, but it also meant that when a new ruler of a different religion took power, large groups had to convert. Thus the first big institutional move toward religious tolerance in modern Europe involved a paradox of the same type as that of Order No. 5: your religious belief, a matter of your innermost spiritual experience, is regulated by the whims of your secular leader.