Tag Archives | Slavoj Zizek

Slavoj Zizek: The Media’s Problem With Philosophy

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Increasingly, intelligence is only tolerated in pre-approved and reassuringly non-challenging forms – deprecatory humor (Stephen Fry), decaffeinated reasoning (Alain de Botton), or suspiciously grand narratives (Simon Schama). Žižek himself is constantly pigeonholed by such media clichés as ‘the Elvis of cultural theory’ and ‘the Marx Brother’. This event sets out to question ‘what can be done?’ by serious thought in a culture of sound bites. Is the best that media philosophers can hope for to ‘Try again, fail again, fail better’?

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Slavoj Žižek: The Courage of Hopelessness

Andrew McCoubrey (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Andrew McCoubrey (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Slavoj Žižek writes at the New Statesman:

The Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben said in an interview that “thought is the courage of hopelessness” – an insight which is especially pertinent for our historical moment when even the most pessimist diagnostics as a rule finishes with an uplifting hint at some version of the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. The true courage is not to imagine an alternative, but to accept the consequences of the fact that there is no clearly discernible alternative: the dream of an alternative is a sign of theoretical cowardice, it functions as a fetish which prevents us thinking to the end the deadlock of our predicament. In short, the true courage is to admit that the light at the end of the tunnel is most likely the headlight of another train approaching us from the opposite direction. There is no better example of the need for such courage than Greece today.

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“People often ask me, ‘How can you be so stupid and still proclaim yourself a communist?’” — Slavoj Žižek

Philosopher Slavoj Žižek argues that our current brand of global capitalism is quickly outgrowing democracy and that a divorce between the two is inevitable. This leads to an array of social and geopolitical concerns regarding the public commons. These problems include but are not limited to ecology, biogenetics, finance, neo-apartheid, crisis management, intellectual property rights, and personal freedom. Žižek touches on all these topics and more in this epic delivery of political and social theory.

h/t Biblioklept

Transcript:

Well people often ask me how can you be so stupid and still proclaim yourself a communist. What do you mean by this? Well, I have always to emphasize that first I am well aware that let’s call it like this – the twentieth century’s over. Which means all not only communists solution but all the big leftist projects of the twentieth century failed. Not only did Stalinist communism although there its failure is much more paradoxical.… Read the rest

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Noam Chomsky on Žižek and Lacan: Empty ‘Posturing’

via Open Culture:

In this brief excerpt from a December, 2012 interview with Veterans Unplugged, Chomsky is asked about the ideas of Slavoj ŽižekJacques Lacan and Jacques Derrida. The M.I.T. scholar, who elsewhere has described some of those figures and their followers as “cults,” doesn’t mince words:

What you’re referring to is what’s called “theory.” And when I said I’m not interested in theory, what I meant is, I’m not interested in posturing–using fancy terms like polysyllables and pretending you have a theory when you have no theory whatsoever. So there’s no theory in any of this stuff, not in the sense of theory that anyone is familiar with in the sciences or any other serious field. Try to find in all of the work you mentioned some principles from which you can deduce conclusions, empirically testable propositions where it all goes beyond the level of something you can explain in five minutes to a twelve-year-old.

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Rethinking Democracy

rubio_jeffersonA pretty compelling read introducing the radical idea that maybe Democracy needs to be reconsidered. Old hat to postmodernism, of course, but maybe it’s time for some mainstream exposure for these notions.

via Salon:

This is what democracy looks like: grotesque inequality, delusional Tea Party obstructionism, a vast secret national-security state, overseas wars we’re never even told about and a total inability to address the global climate crisis, a failure for which our descendants will never forgive us, and never should. Maybe I’ll take the turtle costumes after all. The aura of democratic legitimacy is fading fast in an era when financial and political capital are increasingly consolidated in a few thousand people, a fact we already knew but whose implications French insta-celebrity Thomas Piketty and the political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page (of the “oligarchy study”) have forcefully driven home. Libertarian thinker Bryan Caplan sees the same pattern, as Michael Lind recently wrote in Salon, but thinks it’s a good thing.

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Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot’s Prison Letters to Slavoj Žižek

nadezhda-tolokonnikova-profileDissident musician Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek exchange letters:

Via the Guardian:

2 January 2013

Dear Nadezhda,

I hope you have been able to organise your life in prison around small rituals that make it tolerable, and that you have time to read. Here are my thoughts on your predicament.

John Jay Chapman, an American political essayist, wrote this about radicals in 1900: “They are really always saying the same thing. They don’t change; everybody else changes. They are accused of the most incompatible crimes, of egoism and a mania for power, indifference to the fate of their cause, fanaticism, triviality, lack of humour, buffoonery and irreverence. But they sound a certain note. Hence the great practical power of persistent radicals. To all appearance, nobody follows them, yet everyone believes them. They hold a tuning-fork and sound A, and everybody knows it really is A, though the time-honoured pitch is G flat.” Isn’t this a good description of the effect of Pussy Riot performances?

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Slavoj Zizek Speaks At Occupy Wall Street

DSC_0384 A transcript of an inspiring speech by the Slovenian philosopher at Occupy Wall Street yesterday, via Impose Magazine:

In mid-April 2011, the Chinese government prohibited on TV, films, and novels all stories that contain alternate reality or time travel. This is a good sign for China. These people still dream about alternatives, so you have to prohibit this dreaming. Here, we don’t need a prohibition because the ruling system has even oppressed our capacity to dream. Look at the movies that we see all the time. It’s easy to imagine the end of the world. An asteroid destroying all life and so on. But you cannot imagine the end of capitalism.

They are saying we are all losers, but the true losers are down there on Wall Street. They were bailed out by billions of our money. We are called socialists, but here there is always socialism for the rich.

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Julian Assange And Slavoj Zizek In Conversation

What good is freedom of speech if you're on the moon? Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman moderates an entertaining two-hour conversation in London between Julian Assange and Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek, discussing the broader meaning of Wikileaks, the media, and "the attack on the public use of reason". Thanks to Zizek, the discussion also veers between everything from dirty jokes to Stalinist propaganda to Psycho to the rumors linking him romantically to Lady Gaga. Things get going about ten minutes in.
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