In his formidable Transcritique: On Kant and Marx, Kojin Karatani endeavors to assert the critical potential of an in-between stance which he calls the “parallaxview”: when confronted with an antinomic stance, in the precise Kantian sense of the term, one should renounce all attempts to reduce one aspect to the other. One should, on the contrary, assert antinomy as irreducible, and conceive the point of radical critique not as a certain determinate position as opposed to another position, but as the (...) irreducible gap between the positions themselves, the purely structural interstice between them. Kant’s stance is thus “to see things neither from his own viewpoint, nor from the viewpoint of others, but to face the reality that is exposed through difference (parallax).” What Kant does is to change the very terms of the debate; his solution—the transcendental turn—is unique in that it first rejects any ontological closure: it recognizes a certain fundamental and irreducible limitation (“finitude”) of the human condition, which is why the two poles, rational and sensual, active and passive, cannot ever be fully mediated—reconciled. And, according to Karatani, Marx, in his “critique of political economy,” when faced with the opposition of the “classical” political economy and the neo-classic reduction of value to a purely relational entity without substance, accomplished exactly the same breakthrough toward the “parallax” view: he treatedthis opposition as a Kantian antinomy, i.e., value has to originate outside circulation, in production, and in circulation. (shrink)
In Less Than Nothing, the pinnacle publication of a distinguished career, Slavoj i ek argues that it is imperative that we not simply return to Hegel but that we repeat and exceed his triumphs, overcoming his limitations by being even more ...
Book synopsis: There should no longer be any doubt: global capitalism is fast approaching its terminal crisis. Slavoj Žižek has identified the four horsemen of this coming apocalypse: the worldwide ecological crisis; imbalances within the economic system; the biogenetic revolution; and exploding social divisions and ruptures. But, he asks, if the end of capitalism seems to many like the end of the world, how is it possible for Western society to face up to the end times? In a major new (...) analysis of our global situation, Žižek argues that our collective responses to economic Armageddon correspond to the stages of grief: ideological denial, explosions of anger and attempts at bargaining, followed by depression and withdrawal. For this edition, Žižek has written a long afterword that leaves almost no subject untouched, from WikiLeaks to the nature of the Chinese Communist Party. (shrink)
Book synopsis: Philosopher, cultural critic, and agent provocateur Slavoj Žižek constructs a fascinating new framework to look at the forces of violence in our world. Using history, philosophy, books, movies, Lacanian psychiatry, and jokes, Slavoj Žižek examines the ways we perceive and misperceive violence. Drawing from his unique cultural vision, Žižek brings new light to the Paris riots of 2005; he questions the permissiveness of violence in philanthropy; in daring terms, he reflects on the powerful image and determination of contemporary (...) terrorists. Violence, Žižek states, takes three forms--subjective, objective, and systemic --and often one form of violence blunts our ability to see the others, raising complicated questions. Does the advent of capitalism and, indeed, civilization cause more violence than it prevents? Is there violence in the simple idea of "the neighbour"? And could the appropriate form of action against violence today simply be to contemplate, to think? Beginning with these and other equally contemplative questions, Žižek discusses the inherent violence of globalization, capitalism, fundamentalism, and language, in a work that will confirm his standing as one of our most erudite and incendiary modern thinkers. (shrink)
The latest book by the Slovenian critic Slavoj Zizek takes the work of French philosopher Gilles Deleuze as the beginning of a dazzling inquiry into the realms of radical politics, philosophy, film (Hitchcock, Fight Club ), and psychoanalysis. Of Organs without Bodies Joan Copjec ( Imagine There's No Woman ) has written: "With all his ususal humor and invention, Zizek -- the acknowledged master of the 180 degree turn -- here takes a trip into "enemy" territory to deliver Deleuze of (...) a marvelously rebellious child, one that seriously challenges Deleuze's other progeny with a surprising but convincing bid for succession. Those who thought Deleuze's forward march into the future would follow a straight path are forced to rethink their stance. From now on all readings of Deleuze will have to take a detour through this important -- even necessary -- book." Eric Santner ( On the Psychopathology of Everyday Life ) describes Organs without Bodies as offering "an entirely new degree of conceptual clarity and political urgency. Through his deep engagement with the logic of Deleuze's project, Zizek opens up new possibilities of thought beyond the terms of the current political debates on globalization, democratization, war on terror. Once again, Zizek has produced an utterly timely and radically untimely meditation." Recently profiled in The New Yorker , and hailed by the Village Voice as "the giant of Ljubljana," Zizek is one of the most provocative and entertaining thinkers at work today. (shrink)
What is the basis of belief in an era when globalization, multiculturalism and big business are the new religion? Slavoj Zizek, renowned philosopher and irrepressible cultural critic takes on all comers in this compelling and breathless new book. From 'cyberspace reason' to the paradox that is 'Western Buddhism', _On Belief_ gets behind the contours of the way we normally think about belief, in particular Judaism and Christianity. Holding up the so-called authenticity of religious belief to critical light, Zizek draws on (...) psychoanalysis, film and philosophy to reveal in startling fashion that nothing could be worse for believers than their beliefs turning out to be true. (shrink)
Fredric Jameson is best known for applying to social and cultural life the motto: historicize every phenomenon, locate it in its concrete historical totality. What I want to do in this brief reflection is to elaborate a properly dialectical reading of this motto, a reading which recognizes abstraction itself as a concrete historical power. What Marxism calls.
Book synopsis: In this combative major new work, philosophical sharpshooter Slavoj Zizek looks for the kernel of truth in the totalitarian politics of the past. Examining Heidegger's seduction by fascism and Foucault's flirtation with the Iranian Revolution, he suggests that these were the 'right steps in the wrong direction.' On the revolutionary terror of Robespierre, Mao and the bolsheviks, Zizek argues that while these struggles ended in historic failure and horror, there was a valuable core of idealism lost beneath the (...) bloodshed. A redemptive vision has been obscured by the soft, decentralized politics of the liberal-democratic consensus. Faced with the coming ecological crisis, Zizekk argues the case for revolutionary terror and the dictatorship of the proletariat. A return to past ideals is needed despite the risks. In the words of Samuel Beckett: 'Try again. Fail again. Fail better.'. (shrink)
Presents collected writings of Slavoj Zizek - one of the world's leading contemporary cultural commentators. Drawing upon a range of his prolific output, the articles here cover psychoanalysis, philosophy and popular culture.
Capitalist socialism? -- Crisis as shock therapy -- The structure of enemy propaganda -- Human, all too human-- -- The "new spirit" of capitalism -- Between the two fetishisms -- Communism, again! -- The new enclosure of the commons -- Socialism or communism? -- The "public use of reason" -- --in Haiti -- The capitalist exception -- Capitalism with Asian values-- in Europe -- From profit to rent -- "We are the ones we have been waiting for.".
Whenever the membranes of the egg in which the foetus emerges on its way to becoming a new-born are broken, imagine for a moment that something flies off, and that one can do it with an egg as easily as with a man, namely the hommelette, or the lamella. The lamella is something extra-flat, which moves like the amoeba. It is just a little more complicated. But it goes everywhere. And as it is something - I will tell you shortly (...) why - that is related to what the sexed being loses in sexuality, it is, like the amoeba in relation to sexed beings, immortal - because it survives any division, and scissiparous intervention. And it can turn around. Well! This is not very reassuring. But suppose it comes and envelopes your face while you are quietly asleep... I can't see how we would not join battle with a being capable of these properties. But it would not be a very convenient battle. This lamella, this organ, whose characteristic is not to exist, but which is nevertheless an organ - I can give you more details as to its zoological place - is the libido. It is the libido, qua pure life instinct, that is to say, immortal life, irrepressible life, life that has need of no organ, simplified, indestructible life. It is precisely what is subtracted from the living being by virtue of the fact that it is subject to the cycle of sexed reproduction. And it is of this that all the forms of the objet a that can be enumerated are the representatives, the equivalents. Every word has a weight here, in this deceivingly poetic description of the mythic creature called by Lacan "lamella". Lacan imagines lamella as a version of what Freud called "partial object": a weird organ which is magically autonomized, surviving without a body whose organ it should have been, like a hand that wonders around alone in early Surrealist films, or like the smile in Alice in Wonderland that persists alone, even when the Cheshire cat's body is no longer present: "'All right', said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone. 'Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin', thought Alice; 'but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!'" The lamella is an entity of pure surface, without the density of a substance, an infinitely plastic object that can not only incessantly change its form, but can even transpose itself from one to another medium: imagine a "something" that is first heard as a shrilling sound, and then pops up as a monstrously distorted body. A lamella is indivisible, indestructible, and immortal - more precisely, undead in the sense this term has in horror fiction: not the sublime spiritual immortality, but the obscene immortality of the "living dead" which, after every annihilation, re-composes themselves and clumsily goes on. As Lacan puts it in his terms, lamella does not exist, it insists: it is unreal, an entity of pure semblance, a multiplicity of appearances which seem to envelop a central void - its status is purely fantasmatic. This blind indestructible insistence of the libido is what Freud called "death drive," and one should bear in mind that "death drive" is, paradoxically, the Freudian name for its very opposite, for the way immortality appears within psychoanalysis: for an uncanny excess of life, for an "undead" urge which persist beyond the cycle of life and death, of generation and corruption. This is why Freud equates death drive with the so-called "compulsion-to-repeat," an uncanny urge to repeat painful past experiences which seems to outgrow the natural limitations of the organism affected by it and to insist even beyond the organism's death - again, like the living dead in a horror film who just go on. This excess inscribes itself into the human body in the guise of a wound which makes the subject "undead," depriving him of the capacity to die : when this wound is healed, the hero can die in peace. (shrink)
In _Civilization and Its Discontents_, Freud made abundantly clear what he thought about the biblical injunction, first articulated in Leviticus 19:18 and then elaborated in Christian teachings, to love one's neighbor as oneself. "Let us adopt a naive attitude towards it," he proposed, "as though we were hearing it for the first time; we shall be unable then to suppress a feeling of surprise and bewilderment." After the horrors of World War II, the Holocaust, Stalinism, and Yugoslavia, Leviticus 19:18 seems (...) even less conceivable—but all the more urgent now—than Freud imagined. In _The Neighbor_, three of the most significant intellectuals working in psychoanalysis and critical theory collaborate to show how this problem of neighbor-love opens questions that are fundamental to ethical inquiry and that suggest a new theological configuration of political theory. Their three extended essays explore today's central historical problem: the persistence of the theological in the political. In "Towards a Political Theology of the Neighbor," Kenneth Reinhard supplements Carl Schmitt's political theology of the enemy and friend with a political theology of the neighbor based in psychoanalysis. In "Miracles Happen," Eric L. Santner extends the book's exploration of neighbor-love through a bracing reassessment of Benjamin and Rosenzweig. And in an impassioned plea for ethical violence, Slavoj Žižek's "Neighbors and Other Monsters" reconsiders the idea of excess to rehabilitate a positive sense of the inhuman and challenge the influence of Levinas on contemporary ethical thought. A rich and suggestive account of the interplay between love and hate, self and other, personal and political, _The Neighbor_ will prove to be a touchstone across the humanities and a crucial text for understanding the persistence of political theology in secular modernity. (shrink)
In the space of barely more than five years, with the publication of four pathbreaking books, Slavoj Žižek has earned the reputation of being one of the most arresting, insightful, and scandalous thinkers in recent memory. Perhaps more than any other single author, his writings have constituted the most compelling evidence available for recognizing Jacques Lacan as the preemient philosopher of our time. In _Tarrying with the Negative_, Žižek challenges the contemporary critique of ideology, and in doing so opens the (...) way for a new understanding of social conflict, particularly the recent outbursts of nationalism and ethnic struggle. Are we, Žižek asks, confined to a postmodern universe in which truth is reduced to the contingent effect of various discursive practices and where our subjectivity is dispersed through a multitude of ideological positions? _No_ is his answer, and the way out is a return to philosophy. This revisit to German Idealism allows Žižek to recast the critique of ideology as a tool for disclosing the dynamic of our society, a crucial aspect of which is the debate over nationalism, particularly as it has developed in the Balkans—Žižek's home. He brings the debate over nationalism into the sphere of contemporary cultural politics, breaking the impasse centered on nationalisms simultaneously fascistic and anticolonial aspirations. Provocatively, Žižek argues that what drives nationalistic and ethnic antagonism is a collectively driven refusal of our own enjoyment. Using examples from popular culture and high theory to illuminate each other—opera, film noir, capitalist universalism, religious and ethnic fundamentalism—this work testifies to the fact that, far more radically than the postmodern sophists, Kant and Hegel are our contemporaries. (shrink)
Responding to Alain Badiou’s ‘communist hypothesis’, the leading political philosophers of the Left convened in London in 2009 to take part in a landmark conference to discuss the perpetual, persistent notion that, in a truly emancipated society, all things should be owned in common. This volume brings together their discussions on the philosophical and political import of the communist idea, highlighting both its continuing significance and the need to reconfigure the concept within a world marked by havoc and crisis.
There are not only true or false solutions, there are also false questions. The task of philosophy is not to provide answers or solutions, but to submit to critical analysis the questions themselves, to make us see how the very way we perceive a problem is an obstacle to its solution. This holds especially for today’s public debates on ecological threats, on lack of faith, on democracy and the “war on terror”, in which the “unknown knowns”, the silent presuppositions we (...) are not aware of, determine our acts. (shrink)
Marco Cicala, a Leftist Italian journalist, told me about his recent weird experience: when, in an article, he once used the word "capitalism," the editor asked him if the use of this term is really necessary - could he not replace it by a synonymous one, like "economy"? What better proof of the total triumph of capitalism than the virtual disappearance of the very term in the last 2 or 3 decades? No one, with the exception of a few allegedly (...) archaic Marxists, refers to capitalism any longer. The term was simply struck from the vocabulary of politicians, trade unionists, writers and journalists - even of social scientists... But what about the upsurge of the anti-globalization movement in the last years? Does it not clearly contradict this diagnostic? No: a close look quickly shows how this movement also succumbs to "the temptation to transform a critique of capitalism itself into a critique of 'imperialism'." In this way, when one talks about "globalization and its agents," the enemy is externalized. From this perspective, where the main task today is to fight "the American empire," any ally is good if it is anti-American, and so the unbridled Chinese "Communist" capitalism, violent Islamic anti-modernists, as well as the obscene Lukashenko regime in Belarus may appear as progressive anti-globalist comrades-in-arms... What we have here is thus another version of the ill-famed notion of "alternate modernity": instead of the critique of capitalism as such, of confronting its basic mechanism, we get the critique of the imperialist "excess," with the notion of mobilizing capitalist mechanisms within another, more "progressive," frame. (shrink)
Slavoj Žižek argues that Rand's fascination for male figures displaying absolute, unswayable determination of their Will, seems to offer the best imaginable confirmation of Sylvia Plath's famous line, "every woman adores a Fascist." But the properly subversive dimension of Rand's ideological procedure is not to be underestimated: Rand fits into the line of c overconformist' authors who undermine the ruling ideological edifice by their very excessive identification with it. Her over-orthodoxy was directed at capitalism itself; for Rand, the truly heretic (...) thing today is to embrace the basic premise of capitalism without its sugar-coating. (shrink)
The conclusion drawn was that this failure was due to underestimating the depth of Western Christian spiritual foundations, so the accent of subversive activity shifted from politico-economic struggle to "cultural revolution," to the patient intellectual-cultural work of undermining national pride, family, religion, and spiritual commitments, and the spirit of sacrifice for one's country was dismissed as involving the "authoritarian personality"; marital fidelity was supposed to express pathological sexual repression; following Benjamin's motto on how every document of culture is a document (...) of barbarism, the highest achievements of Western culture were denounced for concealing the practices of racism and genocide, and so on. MacDonald devotes many pages to The Authoritarian Personality, a collective project coordinated by Adorno, the purpose of which was, for MacDonald, to make every group affiliation sound as if it were a sign of mental disorder; everything, from patriotism to religion to family-and race-loyally, is disqualified as a sign of a dangerous and defective "authoritarian personality." In addition to ridiculing patriotism and racial identity, the Frankfurt school glorified promiscuity and bohemian poverty: "Certainly many of the central attitudes of the largely successful 1960s countercultural revolution find expression in The Authoritarian Personality, including idealizing rebellion against parents, low-investment sexual relationships, and scorn for upward social mobility, social status, family pride, the Christian religion, and patriotism". (shrink)
"Is it meaningful to call oneself a democrat? And if so, how do you interpret the word?" -/- In responding to this question, eight iconoclastic thinkers prove the rich potential of democracy, along with its critical weaknesses, and reconceive the practice to accommodate new political and cultural realities. Giorgio Agamben traces the tense history of constitutions and their coexistence with various governments. Alain Badiou contrasts current democratic practice with democratic communism. Daniel Bensaid ponders the institutionalization of democracy, while Wendy Brown (...) discusses the democratization of society under neoliberalism. Jean-Luc Nancy measures the difference between democracy as a form of rule and as a human end, and Jacques Rancière highlights its egalitarian nature. Kristin Ross identifies hierarchical relationships within democratic practice, and Slavoj Zizek complicates the distinction between those who desire to own the state and those who wish to do without it. -/- Concentrating on the classical roots of democracy and its changing meaning over time and within different contexts, these essays uniquely defend what is left of the left-wing tradition after the fall of Soviet communism. They confront disincentives to active democratic participation that have caused voter turnout to decline in western countries, and they address electoral indifference by invoking and reviving the tradition of citizen involvement. Passionately written and theoretically rich, this collection speaks to all facets of modern political and democratic debate. (shrink)
My knowledge of architecture is constrained to a coupler of idiosyncratic data: my love for Ayn Rand and her architecture-novel The Fountainhead; my admiration of the Stalinist “wedding-cake” baroque kitsch; my dream of a house composed only of secondary spaces and places of passage – stairs, corridors, toilets, store-rooms, kitchen – with no living room or bedroom. The danger that I am courting is thus that what I will say will oscillate between the two extremes of unfounded speculations and what (...) most is already known for a long time. I would like to begin with the notion of parallax which I took from Kojin Karatani. The common definition of parallax is: the apparent displacement of an object, caused by a change in observational position that provides a new line of sight. The philosophical twist to be added, of course, is that the observed difference is not simply “subjective,” due to the fact that the same object which exists “out there” is seen from two different stations, or points of view. It is rather that, as Hegel would have put it, subject and object are inherently “mediated,” so that an “epistemological” shift in the subject’s point of view always reflects an “ontological” shift in the object itself. When confronted with such a parallax gap, one should renounce all attempts to reduce one aspect to the other ; the task is, on the contrary, to conceive all possible positions as responses to a certain underlying deadlock or antagonism, as so many attempts to resolve this deadlock… and this already brings us to so-called postmodern architecture which, sometimes, seems to enact the notion of parallax in a directly-palpable way. Think about Liebeskind or Gehry: their work often appears as a desperate attempt to combine two incompatible structuring principles within the same building, as if two principles are locked in a struggle for hegemony. (shrink)