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Žižek’s Hypocrisy

By Timothy Bewes and Thangam Ravindranathan
October 19, 2015

slavoj-zizek-tshirt-zoomMany of us here at Brown have read and admired philosopher Slavoj Žižek’s work through the years. Žižek’s critique of ideology — notably his elucidation of the paradoxes through which ideology may do its work (in “The Sublime Object of Ideology,” “Welcome to the Desert of the Real” and other works) — has a clarity and a much-needed political force. We have learned from it and have introduced our students to it; it is more necessary now than ever. For these reasons, we rejoiced at the opportunity to hear Žižek deliver this year’s Roger Henkle memorial lecture at Brown last Tuesday, Oct. 13.There were elements that were thought-provoking in Žižek’s lecture. As always he warned against self-congratulatory, bad-faith celebrations of “difference” and the assumption that we know how to tell ideological violence from its subversion. The opening section of his talk offered a usefully counterintuitive theorization of ideological repression as produced precisely through its encouragement of instances of apparent transgression. Far from being a site of “resistance,” the violation of the rules, Žižek cautioned, may be immanent to the operation of repressive authority.How dismaying, then, to see Žižek illustrate in his talk the very logic he alerted us to. The asides, jokes and illustrations that punctuated his lecture and finally overwhelmed it traded repeatedly in the trivialization of political projects and the objectification of women’s bodies. Has the rollicking archive entirely forgotten the heuristic and critical mission that once underpinned it?

Without the careful work of analysis and argumentation, the performance could no longer be distinguished from mere ribaldry and schoolboy violence.Another interesting stray proposition in Žižek’s lecture was that the real point of psychoanalysis (standing here as an exemplary form of critique of late capitalism) is to teach us that there are things in the world that are more important than our own pleasures and sufferings, than knowing ourselves. How could one not agree with the insight and value of this? But one had reason to wonder what unseemly and asymmetrical liberties this....more here

"Most of the idiots I know are academics": Slavoj Žižek

Luke Massey talks to the cultural theorist and ideas machine about Obama, stupidity and his favourite quasi-fascist industrial metal outfit - Rammstein. (Published in The New Statesman on October 8, 2013)

36778fed172d9c8502d2d42dc025835b_lSlavoj Žižek is brimming with thought. Each idea sprays out of the controversial Slovenian philosopher and cultural theorist in a jet of words. He is like a water balloon, perforated in so many areas that its content gushes out in all directions.

The result is that, as an interviewer, trying to give direction to the tide is a joyfully hopeless enterprise. Perhaps more significantly, the same seems to be true for Žižek himself.

We meet in a room with one glass wall - an apt setting for a discussion of freedom, ideology, surveillance and ‘80s dystopias on film. Picturehouse HQ is playing host to our discussion, on the launch of Žižek’s new film The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology.

Before I even ask my first question, Slavoj is off: he tells me that I’m better than some interviewers he’s met. The fact that I’ve barely spoken yet doesn’t seem a barrier to that.

"You know, I hate it so much, when I was in Korea, I gave a couple of interviews, and they ask me 'What do you think we should do in Korea? What’s our situation here?' F*ck you! What do I know?! You know? This crazy idea…"

An open letter to Slavoj Žižek


Published on The New Statesman, February 17, 2012.

On his recent visit to Turkey, the philosopher Slavoj Žižek praised the country and suggested that it could taken as a model by the Arab world. Here, one of Turkey's leading commentators responds. (NB: We have linked to Turkish-language sources where none are available in English).

Dear Mr Žižek,

As an attentive follower of your work, I feel obliged to write to you after hearing your comments on Turkey. I share your admiration for my country, which I think made you say "if the Arab world really needs a model, Turkey can be taken as a model". Yet I can not help but repeat the sentence with which I concluded my contribution to The Doha Debates on 12 January: "Turkey can not be a model for the Arab World because it has enough problems already."One of the distasteful things about authoritarian regimes -- as you might already know very well -- is that they turn writers into imbeciles by forcing us to repeat the obvious over and over again. Such as: "Journalists should not be jailed"; "It is cruel to put Kurdish minors in jail"; "Teargas shouldn't be used excessively, especially to a degree that causes death"; "Students holding a banner for free education shouldn't be put in jail for years "; "There should be no punishment without law"; etc etc.I have experienced an intimidating decrease in my own IQ lately, due to repeating the fact that Turkey is turning into a state of fear. Turkey's good people are already exhausted from running from one courtroom to another following political cases that could even inspire Kafka to revise his oeuvre.That is why my dear friend, the journalist Ahmet Şık, when defending himself against a ridiculous indictment, quoted Roland Barthes saying: "Fascism does not only silence people but also forces them to speak." With another 103 journalists Ahmet has been jailed for about a year without any verdict. I invite you to admire the latest judiciary fashion of the season in Turkey: blurry accusations, no solid evidence but months or even years of detention. With more than 9,000 applications filed against it at the European Court for Human Rights (ECHR) in 2011, Turkey is the worst offender when it comes to freedom of speech.If those figures are not enough, you should know that a few days ago Ahmet's lawyer, during his defense statement, told the judges that prosecutors have been threatening him, arguing that his defense statement could result in prosecution under anti-terror laws. I think you would agree with me on his right to be alarmed, given that there are 40 lawyers in detention under that very anti-terror -- thus anti-democratic -- law......More