“They reject the concept of fruit, but they want apples, plums and strawberries.”

Not everything that comes from Žižek’s pen is worth reading but this is an interesting piece considering the quote above which is, I hope, an allusion to Hegel’s famous dictum:

“That delusive mode of reasoning which regards diversity alone, and from doubt of or aversion to the particular form in which a Universal finds its actuality, will not grasp or even allow this universal nature, I have elsewhere likened to an invalid recommended by the doctor to eat fruit, and who has cherries, plums or grapes, before him, but who pedantically refuses to take anything because no part of what is offered him is fruit, some of it being cherries, and the rest plums or grapes.” (Lectures on the History of Philosophy, Volume 1)

[Jenes Ausreden und Räsonnement, das sich an die bloße Verschiedenheit festhält und aus Ekel oder Bangigkeit vor der Besonderheit, in der ein Allgemeines wirklich ist, nicht diese Allgemeinheit ergreifen oder anerkennen will, habe ich anderswo mit einem Kranken verglichen, dem der Arzt Obst zu essen anrät und dem man Kirschen oder Pflaumen oder Trauben vorsetzt, der aber in einer Pedanterie des Verstandes nicht zugreift, weil keine dieser Früchte Obst sei, sondern die eine Kirschen, die andere Pflaumen oder Trauben. Werke, 18:37]

The unbearable lightness of Slavoj Žižek’s communism…

While you were sleeping, Žižek wrote about a book. Here it is reviewed in New Statesman by Benjamin Kunkel:

Imagine, in any case, a society whose productive assets are, in one way or another, the property, as Marx said, of “the associated producers”. Such a society might also entail, let’s say, strict depletion quotas for both renewable and non-renewable natural resources; welfare guarantees not only for workers but for people too young, old or ill to work; and democratic bodies, from the level of the enterprise and locality up to that of the state, wherever it hadn’t withered away. These institutions might or might not be complemented by the market. For now, however, to rule markets out of any desirable future while saying next to nothing else about its institutional complexion is to reproduce the intellectual blockage that Žižek and others ascribe to a capitalism that simply can’t imagine how another kind of society might “function”.

The Radical Retroactivity of the Dialectical Process

Romney gets grief for his “retroactive retirement” comment (well, not his, but his adviser’s) but that only shows that the masses are not dialectically inclined. His campaign is just trying to follow most recent musings by Žižek – behold: 

Is not the dialectical process the temporal deployment of an eternal set of potentialities, which is why the Hegelian System is a self-enclosed set of necessary passages? This mirage of overwhelming evidence dissipates, however, the moment we fully take into account the radical retroactivity of the dialectical process: the process of becoming is not in itself necessary, but is the becoming (the gradual contingent emergence) of necessity itself. This is also (among other things) what “to conceive substance as subject” means: the subject as the Void, the Nothingness of self-relating negativity, is the very nihil out of which every new figure emerges; in other words, every dialectical passage or reversal is a passage in which the new figure emerges ex nihilo and retroactively posits or creates its necessity. [Less Than Nothing, 231]

Romney’s constant double mind about issues (“flip-flopping”) is clearly a sign of his dialectical sensibilities. And now with retroactivity entering the discussion, it is clear that his is in fact the best dialectician of our time!

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?

What does it mean to be a revolutionary today?

Here’s another excellent conversation between Alex Callinicos and everyone’s favorite bad boy Slavoj Zizek (whose talk is, of course, twice as long) – in related news, Reid Kant of Planomenology has a post related to the idea of revolution –  I have posted these before, but now you can watch them with High-Definition quality, I hope you enjoy these videos: Continue reading

More Zizek

Looks like it’s Zizek all the way these days: Apocalyptic Times.

There’s a variety of reactions to Zizek’s appearance on HardTalk. Some are interesting, some are silly. I was particularly disappointed by comments like this:

It is sometimes too easy for us to think that Zizek was misunderstood or stitched up but we are still presented with a very real problem: if Zizek cannot get across his views in an interview like this what chance do his views have in their potential to make change? Precisely who is Zizek for? And by feeding into increasingly obtuse readings do we not simply make ourselves obsolete from the political scene? This is where I see a kind of reverse disavowal: we too are opting out creating a ‘faux-communism’ whose definition has become, and I’m being honest here, pretty damn obscure.

Sorry, Paul, but this is very likely the most ridiculous comment in the history of commenting – one might not agree with Zizek, but to say that he is in any way obtuse or cannot get his views across in the form of sound bites is to reveal an amazing ignorance of all things Zizek. Plus, the idea that only simple and presentable views can “make change” is just odd – there go Hegel and Marx, apparently their utter inability to be presentable doomed them to obscurity…