Other News


Žižek at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine: How to Reasonably Believe in God

Creative Time and The New York Public Library, as part of a new collaborative venture, In Situ, a site-specific series of conversations pairing leading artists and public intellectuals to address critical topics of our time, organized the event where the visual artist Janine Antoni and Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek explore the question of “How to Reasonably Believe in God.” The conversation was moderated by Sister Helen Prejean. The event was hosted at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, a nearly 130-year-old house of prayer and the largest Anglican cathedral in the world on March 16, 2017. Here is video of the discussion:

Slavoj Žižek & Will Self in Conversation on "Dangerous Ideas"

Slavoj Žižek & Will Self in Conversation on "Dangerous Ideas" on May 18th 2017 in London organized by How To Academy:

New Žižek Talk: Populism as a way to disavow social antagonism

Slavoj Žižek talks on "Populism as a way to disavow social antagonism" on May 24, 2017 at University of Ghent, Belgium organized by the Students and freethinkers collective as part of the TSG 's Antagonistic Festival. The lecture was introduced by Jan De Vos , a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Philosophy and moral sciences (Ghent University). After the lecture Gertrudis Van de Vijver, professor of philosophy at the University of Ghent talks with with Žižek.

How to deal with the multitude of conflicting interests in a society? What does it mean for a political movement to be recognized as the social antagonism? In times where (right) populism finds many supporters, we can ask ourselves whether progressive political movements should not begin to use the same strategies they want to be as successful. According to Žižek, populism undermines social antagonism.

More self-criticism, please! by Slavoj Žižek

(From German translated via Google) It is inappropriate to call Donald Trump a fascist. But his first official meetings as president show that Walter Benjamin's thesis that every rise of fascism is evidence of a failed revolution is not only still valid, but perhaps even more relevant than ever. The election victory was the price that Hillary Clinton had to pay for the elimination of Bernie Sanders. She did not lose the choice because she moved too far to the left, but because she was too centrist and could not catch the revolt against the establishment, which Trump was as profitable as Sanders.

Would You Share Your Wife and Your House with a Refugee?

I have never seen such an interesting refugee debate and interpretation in my life.

Fellow journalist Eyüp Can told me two weeks ago he was at a debate in London. Some 2,000 people paid 60 pounds each to watch the debate between two guests.

One of them was former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and the other was Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek.

The debate, at one point, landed on the refugee issue.

As the moderator was frequently interrupting them, Zizek and Varoufakis started talking to each other.
Zizek said, “[I have been] brutally interrupted. I feel like a refugee.”

Varoufakis laughed and said, “I will take you in.”

“You will take me in,” Zizek said, playing it up, “You’ll share your food with me? You’ll share your wife?”

Varoufakis, laughing, said, “I’m a socialist, but I don’t share my wife.”

“I’m different,” Zizek quipped, “I’ll share my wife, but I don’t share food.”

Well, what happened afterward?

Nothing, they laughed it off…

And 2,000 people also laughed and applauded this humorous talk.

Source: I will refer to this sentence in the future - ERTUĞRUL ÖZKÖK

With The Courage of Despair

by Lukas Wieselberg from

Terrorism, Trump and Daily Dead: The world is currently offering little hope. However, from hope, new hope can arise, the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek on Saturday at a lecture in Vienna - among other things with the help of a brutal TV crime.

John, the mentally disturbed serial killer, who considers himself a devil's son, has only one goal. He wants to take the faith from others. He also tries this with Carl Morck, the depressed commissioner, whom he chained together with two children in a boat house on the sea coast. The problem: Morck believes long ago nothing more. Nevertheless, he tries to sacrifice himself when John drowns one of the two children before his eyes.

"If there is an ethical position that corresponds with my idea of ​​the courage of despair, it is contained in this scene," says Slavoj Zizek , when the filmed film is finished. "It not only shows nicely that even a person who believes in nothing can be good. No, I'm even more crazy and say: Morck embodies a radical ethics of atheistic Christianity. In order to be truly radically good, one has to survive the fact that there is no God. "No one who can be blamed for his own deeds or misdeeds - other than himself.

Antidepressant for the left
Slavoj Zizek is in his element. He has already worked his audience with a very gloomy and brutal scene from the Danish thriller " redemption " , already building with his help the optimistic mainstay of the evening. "The Courage of Hopelessness" is the title of his lecture, which has been on display for weeks, during the Wiener Festwochen . As always, when the Slovenian star philosopher enters the city, the halls become too small. This was also the case on the Saturday evening at the Education Center of the Vienna Chamber of Labor, and via Livestream Zizek was therefore transferred to other areas of the building.

The Zizek, doubled in the media, makes the weight of his thoughts clearer. The bearded man is sweating, sniffing, and groping his way through his chains of associations, the physical presence underlining what has been said. Zizek also holds the unofficial intellectual records in the first-hand-noses and secondly in the Wuchtel print. Thanks to his humorous humor, his message is quite acceptable and the mood cheerful - perhaps Zizek has now taken over the role of an antidepressant for the radical left.

Today Macron, in five years Le Pen
Because the left has a lot of fun in Austria like almost everywhere else. Hope for a comprehensively liberated society, as it once dreamed, seems obsolete: fundamentalist terrorists and their struggle, geopolitical conflicts, a refugee crisis, climate warming and a US president who has made salons, which was recently regarded as a private obscenity, Are just some of the counter-arguments. And also the light at the end of the tunnel is not a sign of hope, but rather the next train that rolls into one, so the pessimistic starting point of Zizek.

Emmanuel Macron, the light of the day, has been put into practice on a daily basis. "To have voted for Macron now means to get Le Pen in five years," Zizek summed up his political position. Those who were really interested in a radical social change had to break away from the wrong alternatives: the danger of a new fascism or a right - wing populism can not be countered with the eternal choice of the status quo - global capitalism and its liberal ideology, such as Macron.

Against wrong alternatives
The main function of ideological censorship is now no longer to break resistance by repression, but to destroy the hope of change in the bud, Zizek agrees to his philosopher colleague Alain Badiou . Any emancipatory, left-wing project would inevitably lead to the Gulag, according to the liberal credo. That is why one must defend what one has - the global capitalism. Zizek does not want to get into this game. Together with his chief witness Carl Morck, the depressed policeman, he wants to encourage others - the courage of despair, as a recent book is called.

Contrary to many other European leftists, who have surrendered themselves from the universalistic values ​​of the Enlightenment and tangled themselves in the tangle of multiculturalism and identity politics, Zizek maintains its core. The Western left should cease to caste continually as part of imperialist capitalism and to tolerate any barbarism as a "different lifestyle" and instead work on a new project. The word "communism" does not take Zizek in the Viennese Chamber of Labor, but its positive reference to it is known.

What to do? Taxes without compass
The conviction to have the "story on the side" is, of course, snow from the previous day. The attempts of Marxism to write a kind of natural history of human history, which must inevitably culminate in communism, have obviously failed. Zizek considers these attempts to be an unavailable remnant of a Christian ethic. But what if God is dead and the greatest victory of Marxism-the realistic description of the present-coincides with his greatest defeat in a real-political way?

Zizek recalls the French revolutionary Saint Juste . "Revolutionaries are like steersmen on a ship on the high seas during heavy storms and without compass." Compass does not give Zizek a hand either. But at least a sea chart, which shows where we are at the moment. His final appeal: "We should always be ready for action in our struggle for freedom!"

[NEW] Slavoj Žižek's New Public Lecture: The Courage Of Hopelessness

Slavoj Žižek has just finished a lecture on "The Courage Of Hopelessness". It was organized by Arbeiterkammer. It took place on May 21, 2007. Here is the new video of his lecture:

Who Said It About Sexuality, Slavoj Žižek or Your Catholic Mom

(From Patheos): You might think your Catholic mother has nothing in common with the Marxist intellectual and legendary interpreter of Jacques Lacan’s psychoanalysis — Slavoj Žižek. But give the latter a microphone and the former a third glass of wine and the two start to sound fantastically similar on issues of human sexuality. So without further ado, and in the spirit of celebrating the developing illicit love-relation between postmodern philosophy and the Church, I give you the quiz: Who said it, Žižek or your Catholic mom?

1. This book [50 Shades of Grey], it starts on the Internet, no? People are reading more than ever before with this technology, it is disgusting, wholly degenerate.
2. What if, in our postmodern world of ordained transgression, in which the marital commitment is perceived as ridiculously out of time, those who cling to it are the true subversives? What if, today, straight marriage is the most dark and daring of all transgressions?
3. What if sexual difference is not simply a biological fact, but the Real of an antagonism that defines humanity, so that once sexual difference is abolished, a human being effectively becomes indistinguishable from a machine?
4. I despise Leftists who think, you know, violence is just an effect of social alienation, blah, blah, blah; once we will get communism, people will live in harmony. No, human nature is absolutely evil and maybe with a better organization of society we could control it a little bit.

5. But this book, the Fifty Shades of Grey book, it is embraced openly, the women read it on public transport…It is the Other without Otherness, utterly obscene. In the liberal society, everything is permitted, every kind of sexuality; not only permitted, it is mandatory. The command everywhere is this: you must Enjoy! The truly radical act, this I claim, is to not enjoy.
6. With this [virtual reality] you will be able to have almost any kind of experience with just about anyone, real or imagined, at any time.” The question to be asked here is: will this still be experienced as “reality”? Is not, for a human being, “reality” ONTOLOGICALLY defined through the minimum of RESISTANCE – real is that which resists, that which is not totally malleable to the caprices of our imagination?
7. I like to live in a society where you do whatever you want. Just please — don’t express yourself too much, you know.
8. I like people who know how to control themselves. I believe in proper manners.
9. The specific human vocation does not rely on the development of man’s inherent potentials (on the awakening of the dormant spiritual forces OR of some genetic program); it is triggered by an external traumatic encounter, by the encounter of the Other’s desire in its impenetrability.
10. In our postmodern “disenchanted” permissive world sexuality is reduced to an apathetic participation in collective orgies.
11. How are we to get out of it? The standard way would be to somehow try to resurrect the transgressive erotic passion following the well-known principle, first fully asserted in the tradition of the courtly love, that the only true love is the transgressive prohibited one – we need new Prohibitions, so that a new Tristan and Isolde or Romeo and Juliet will appear…The problem is that, in today’s permissive society, transgression itself is the norm.
12. The “sublime” moment of the love life occurs when the magic dimension transpires even in the common everyday acts like washing the dishes or cleaning the apartment.

10. The way – the only way – to have an intense and fulfilling personal (sexual) relationship is not for the couple to look into each other’s eyes, forgetting about the world around them, but, while holding hands, to look together outside, at a third point (the Cause for which both are fighting, in which both are engaged).
11. The use of the expression usually reserved for homosexuals (masturbation “brings self love out of the closet”) hints at a kind of implicit teleology of the gradual exclusion of all otherness: first, in homosexuality, the other sex is excluded (one does it with another person of the same sex) then…the very dimension of otherness is cancelled, one does it with oneself.
12. The basic injunction is ‘have a good time’ or to put it in more spiritualist terms ‘realize yourself. This is why I think Dalai Lama is such a big hit. He preaches enlightened egoism; be happy, realize your potentials and so on.
13. When you date online, you have to present yourself there in a certain way putting forward certain qualities. You present an image of yourself. You focus on your idea of how other people should perceive you. But I think that’s not how love functions, even at the very simple level. You cannot ever fall in love with the perfect person. There must be some tiny small disturbing element and it is only through noticing this element that you say, but in spite of that imperfection I love him or her.
14. In December 2006, the New York City authorities declared that the right to chose one’s gender (and so, if necessary, to have the sex-change operation performed) is one of the inalienable human rights – the ultimate Difference, the “transcendental” difference that grounds the very human identity, thus turns into something open to manipulation – the ultimate plasticity of being-human is thoroughly asserted. “Masturbathon” is the ideal form of the sex activity of this trans-gendered subject.
15. There are two topics which determine today’s liberal tolerant attitude towards Others: the respect of Otherness, openness towards it, and the obsessive fear of harassment – in short, the Other is OK insofar as its presence is not intrusive, insofar as the Other is not really Other… In the strict homology with the paradoxical structure of chocolate laxative, tolerance this coincides with its opposite: my duty to be tolerant towards the other effectively means that I should not get too close to him, not to intrude into his/her space – in short, that I should respect his/her intolerance towards my over-proximity. This is what is more and more emerging as the central “human right” in late-capitalist society: the right not to be “harassed,” i.e., to be kept at a safe distance from the others.
Okay, that was cheap: It’s all  Žižek. Žižek on Fifty Shades of GreyMasturbation or Sexuality in an Atonal World (I cannot recommend this essay highly enough), No Sex Please, We’re Post-HumanOnline Dating and Synthetic SexThe Pervert’s Guide to Ideology, Welcome to the Desert of the Real, and The Puppet and the Dwarf.
One of the tricks to understanding Žižek’s paradoxical and challenging critique of the apathy and banality of postmodern sexuality is to understand him in reference, not just to Lacan and Hegel, but to G.K. Chesterton. Žižek waxes Chestertonian all the time — many thanks to Cosmos in the Lost for first cluing me in on the fact — and this is especially true when it comes to sex and love. As a side note, there’s a lot of ways that Žižek ain’t even a smidgen like your Catholic mom, so if you plan on following some of these quotes down the Žižekian rabbit-hole, you, fair warning: Your sensibilities and ethical principles will probably be offended. 

Žižek on the movie - "Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter ... and Spring": Is the quest for good a road to evil?

Kim Ki-duk’s Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter ... and Spring begins with a wise Buddhist monk and a small, innocent boy, his pupil. A few years later, a young woman arrives to be healed, and chaos is unleashed: the woman and the boy – now an adolescent – copulate, and the boy follows her to the city, abandoning the monk’s lone dwelling on a raft that floats on a mountain lake. A few years later, the boy, now a man in his early 30s, returns, pursued by two detectives. He has killed the woman out of jealousy, thus realising the prophecy of the old monk, who had warned him that love for a woman leads to attachment, which ends in the murder of the object of attachment. The first thing to do here is to take the film’s cycle more literally than it takes itself: why does the young man kill his love when she abandons him for another man? Why is his love so possessive? An average man in secular life would have accepted it, however painful it would have been for him.

So: what if it is his very Buddhist-monk upbringing that made him do it? What if a woman only appears as an object of lust and possession, which ultimately provokes a man to kill her, from the Buddhist position of detachment? So that the whole natural cycle that the film deploys, murder included, is internal to the Buddhist universe?

In his Phenomenology of Spirit, Hegel wrote that evil resides in the very gaze that perceives evil all around itself. Does Kim Ki-duk’s film not provide a perfect case of this insight? Evil is not just man’s possessive lust; evil is also the very detached gaze of the monk, which perceives possessive lust as evil. This is what, in philosophy, we call reflexivity: the standpoint from which we condemn a state of things can be itself part of this state of things.

Courtesy: Guardian

Žižek at Birkbeck Masterclass 2017: Reality as Constricted Ideology

Slavoj Žižek delivered his second lecture on "Reality as Constricted Ideology" on May 17, 2017 at Birkbeck Institute:

Birkbeck Institute Slavoj Žižek Masterclass - "Lacan's Hypothesis: Between Philosophy and Psychoanalysis"

Slavoj Žižek delivered three lectures on Lacan’s Hypothesis: Psychoanalysis as the Ex-Timate Core of Philosophy at Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities from October 31, 2016 to November 2, 2016. Žižek is also International Director of Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities.

Žižek at The Birkbeck Masterclass: "You have to be stupid to see that" - Ideology in Daily Life

Slavoj Žižek delivered his lecture at Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities as part of the Masterclass on Monday 15 May, 2-4 pm. The session was on the topic: "Ideology as Augmented Reality". And Žižek's title of the lecture was on "You have to be stupid to see that" - Ideology in Daily Life. The lectures was recorded by the Backdoor Broadcasting Company:

Slavoj Zizek​ Explains What’s Wrong with Online Dating & What Unconventional Technology Can Actually Improve Your Love Life

By Colin Marshall. Based in Seoul, he writes and broadcasts on cities and culture.
I once read a book by Larry King called How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere. Slavoj Zizek might well consider writing a book of his own called How to Make Intellectual Pronouncements About Anything, Anytime, Anywhere. From Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” to political correctness to the Criterion Collection to Starbucks (and those just among the topics we’ve featured here on Open Culture) the Slovenian philosopher-provocateur has for decades demonstrated a willingness to expound on the widest possible variety of subjects, to the point where his career has begun to look like one continuous, free-associative analytical monologue, which in the Big Think video above reaches the inevitable subject: your love life.

Perhaps you’ve tried online dating — a practice that, given the increasingly thorough integration of the internet and daily life, we’ll probably soon just call “dating.” Perhaps you’ve had positive experiences with it, perhaps you’ve had negative ones, and most probably you’ve had a mixture of both, but how often can you take your mind off the awkward fact that you have to first “meet” the other person through an electronic medium, creating a version of yourself to suit that medium? Zizek calls this online dating’s problematic “aspect of self-commodification or self-manipulation.”

“When you date online,” he says, “you have to present yourself there in a certain way, putting forward certain qualities. You focus on your idea of how other people should perceive you. But I think that’s not how love functions, even at the very simple level. I think the English term is ‘endearing foibles’ — an elementary ingredient in love. You cannot ever fall in love with the perfect person. There must be some tiny small disturbing element, and it is only through noticing this element that you say, ‘But in spite of that imperfection, I love him or her.'”

Fair enough. But what to do about it? Zizek thinks that the way forward for romantic technologies lies not in a less technological approach, but a more technological approach — or at least a stranger technological approach. He imagines a world of “ideal sexual attraction” where “I meet a lady; we are attracted to each other; we say all the usual stuff — your place, my place, whatever, we meet there. What happens then? She comes with her plastic penis, electric dildo. I come with some horrible thing — I saw it, it’s called something like stimulating training unit — it’s basically a plastic vagina, a hole.”

Dare we examine where this scenario goes? The outcome may surprise you. They simply insert her electric dildo into his stimulating training unit, and voilà, “the machines are doing it for us, buzzing in the background, and I’m free to do whatever I want, and she.” With full tribute paid to the superego by their vulgar devices, “we have a nice talk; we have tea; we talk about movies. I talk with a lady because we really like each other. And, you know, when I’m pouring her tea, or she to me, quite by chance our hands touch. We go on touching. Maybe we even end up in bed. But it’s not the usual oppressive sex where you worry about performance. No, all that is taken care of by the stupid machines. That would be ideal sex for me today.”

Review of Žižek's Book "Less Than Nothing" by Robert Pippin: Back to Hegel?

This is a review of Slavoj Žižek's famous book "Less Than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism" by Robert Pippin. Žižek himself thinks this the best review on his book. The review published in Mediations : Journal of the Marxist Literary Group.   

It takes some courage to give a book this size the title “Less than Nothing.” Žižek must know that the first, powerfully tempting phrase that will occur to any reviewer, even before reading the book, will be “Aptly titled.” The book has already inspired dismissive reviews in widely read publications, reviews which seem to be reviews (and

The Day After: An Interview with Slavoj Žižek

In the conversation that follows, Robert Eikmeyer sits down with Slavoj Žižek to discuss biopolitics, democracy as fetish, globalization as fate, principled opportunism, efficiency of masks, liberal communism, multitude, Vladimir Lenin, and the legacy of Karl Marx. This interview is excerpted from a German translation to be published in Jonathan Meese/Slavoj Žižek: Ernteschach dem Dämon, edited by Robert Eikmeyer for Christoph Keller Editions & JRP|Ringier, Zurich, 2007. Jonathan Meese (*1971) belongs a new generation of German artists currently gaining international recognition. He describes himself as a "cultural exorcist" and has worked with various media, from painting to theater, performance, and books.

Robert Eikmeyer: In your essays on Lenin, you claim that between February and October of 1917 Russia was the most democratic country in Europe. Perhaps this is why Lenin insisted that revolution was necessary.

Slavoj Žižek: I think that Lenin was correct in thinking that it could not last. It was magical between February and October of that year. But it was clear that sooner or later it was going to come to an end. For me, this is what defines a truly revolutionary situation. In a reformist situation you have to be realist. You can’t have it all. You fight for what you can. But sometimes the situation is such that you have to aim at more even to save the little bit of what you have. And I think that was true for Russia in 1917. It was a truly revolutionary situation.

On Salon’s Interview of Slavoj Zizek and his Turn to Harsh Realism

BY MENACHEM FEUER/November 02, 2015/Queenmobs

Salon recently interviewed Slavoj Zizek. The most eye-opening aspect of the interview was the clash between optimism and pessimism from start to finish. Reading the interview it is apparent that the interviewer, Michael Schulson, believed Zizek would, in line with some of his thinking, give an optimistic forecast of the current political situation and the options for the left. But what he received was the opposite. I want to touch on – and parse – a few of these questions and answers because it shows us that Zizek’s hopes and dreams are not idealistic. They are contingent on this or that event which he sees as a possibility for change. Today, he sees little possibility for any. At this

The Poetic Torture-House of Language

Originally published in Poetry Magazine on March 3rd, 2014.

How poetry relates to ethnic cleansing.

Plato’s reputation suffers because of his claim that poets should be thrown out of the city — rather sensible advice, judging from this post-Yugoslav experience, where ethnic cleansing was prepared by poets’ dangerous dreams. True,

Žižek: "Only a New Universalism Can Save Us from the New World Order"

Australian ABC Religion and Ethics just (May 11, 2017) published a piece written by Slavoj  Žižek. The title is: Only a New Universalism Can Save Us from the New World Order. Here is the excerpt:

The lesson of the recent referendum in Turkey is a very sad one.

After Recep Tayyip Erdogan's dubious victory, Western liberal media were full of critical analyses: the century of the Kemalist endeavour to secularize Turkey is over; the Turkish voters were offered not so much a democratic choice as a referendum to limit democracy and voluntarily endorse an authoritarian regime.

However, more important and less noticed was the subtle ambiguity of many Western reactions - an ambiguity which recalls the ambiguity of Trump's politics towards Israel: even while he stated that the United States should recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, many of his supporters are openly anti-Semitic.

But is this really an inconsistent stance?

A cartoon published back in July 2008 in the Viennese daily Die Presse depicted two stocky Nazi-looking Austrians sit at a table, and one of them holding a newspaper and commenting to his friend: "Here you can see again how a totally justified anti-Semitism is being misused for a cheap critique of Israel!"

This caricature thereby inverts the standard argument against the critics of the policies of the State of Israel. But when today's Christian fundamentalist supporters of Israeli politics reject Leftist critiques of Israeli policies, is their implicit line of argumentation not uncannily close to its reasoning?

Remember Anders Breivik, the Norwegian anti-immigrant mass murderer: he was anti-Semitic, but pro-Israel, since he saw in the State of Israel the first line of defence against the Muslim expansion; he even wanted to see the Jerusalem Temple rebuilt, but he wrote in his "Manifesto":

"There is no Jewish problem in Western Europe (with the exception of the UK and France) as we only have 1 million in Western Europe, whereas 800,000 out of these 1 million live in France and the UK. The US on the other hand, with more than 6 million Jews (600% more than Europe) actually has a considerable Jewish problem."
His figures thus realize the ultimate paradox of the Zionist anti-Semite - and we find the traces of this strange stance more often than one would expect. Reinhard Heydrich himself, the mastermind of the Holocaust, wrote in 1935:

"We must separate the Jews into two categories, the Zionists and the partisans of assimilation. The Zionists profess a strictly racial concept and, through emigration to Palestine, they help to build their own Jewish State ... our good wishes and our official goodwill go with them."
As Frank Ruda has pointed out, today we are getting a new version of this Zionist anti-Semitism: Islamophobic respect for Islam. The same politicians who warn of the danger of the Islamisation of the Christian West - from Trump to Putin - respectfully congratulated Erdogan for his victory. The authoritarian reign of Islam is fine for Turkey, it would seem, but not for us.

We can thus easily imagine a new version of the cartoon from Die Presse, with two stocky Nazi-looking Austrians sitting at a table, one of them holding a newspaper and commenting: "Here you can see again how a totally justified Islamophobia is being misused for a cheap critique of Turkey!"

(Samuel) Huntington's Disease

How are we to understand this weird logic? It is a reaction, a false cure, to the great social disease of our time: Huntington's. Typically, the first symptoms of Huntington's disease are jerky, random and uncontrollable movements called chorea. Chorea may initially manifest as general restlessness, small unintentional or uncompleted motions, lack of coordination.

Does an explosion of brutal populism not look quite similar? It begins with what appear to be random acts of excessive violence against immigrants, full piece here

The Final Countdown: Europe, Refugees and the Left

The book "The Final Countdown: Europe, Refugees and the Left" has been published 28th April from NSK. The book has been Edited by Jela Krečič, Zizek's wife. The contributors are Boris Buden, Boris Groys, Mladen Dolar, Saroj Giri, Agon Hamza, Jamil Khader, Robert Pfaller, Frank Ruda, Alenka Zupančič, Slavoj Žižek.

The description of the book reported as follows: There is a commonly accepted notion that we live in a time of serious crisis that moves between the two extremes of fundamentalist terrorism and right wing populism. The latter draws its power from the supposed threat of immigrants: it proposes to resolve the immigrant crisis by placing the blame on the principal victims themselves, that is to say, on some form of otherness (immigrants, Islam, the LGBT community and similar). The predominant leftist position, which advocates multicultural tolerance and understanding, is no match for such aggressive populism.

The premise of The Final Countdown: Europe, Refugees and the Left is that our situation is indeed extremely dangerous, that near unimaginable catastrophes are lurking on the horizon, but that these new dangers also open up new spaces for radical emancipatory politics. Eleven distinguished thinkers take these perils as a challenge to provide sharp, specific analysis of our social and political predicament, combining a merciless critique of the prevailing leftist humanitarian approach with elements of a new vision for the Left.

The Final Countdown is therefore also a countdown to a new beginning; it is a practice of theory that is not here to lament but to re-think and reframe the very basic coordinates of how we understand and deal with today’s major political issues.

The book is available now for purchase at 10,00€ here.

The Double Life of Véronique: The Forced Choice of Freedom

This essay written by Slavoj ŽiŽek was originally published in the booklet accompanying the 2006 DVD release of The Double Life of Véronique. The essay was publish in The Current.

A new life experience is in the air today, a perception that explodes the form of the linear narrative and renders life as a multiform flow. Up to the domain of the “hard” sciences (quantum physics and its multiple-reality interpretation; neo-Darwinism), we seem to be haunted by the chanciness of life and the alternate versions of reality. To quote Stephen Jay Gould’s blunt formulation, which uses precisely the cinema metaphor: “Wind back the film of life and play it again. The history of evolution will be totally different.” Either life is experienced as a series of multiple parallel destinies that interact and are crucially affected by meaningless contingent encounters, the points at which one series intersects with and intervenes in another (see Robert Altman’s Short Cuts); or different outcomes of the same plot are repeatedly enacted (the “parallel universes” or “alternative possible worlds” scenarios). Even many “serious” historians have recently published on “virtual histories,” interpreting the crucial modern-age events, from Cromwell’s victory over the Stuarts and the American War of Independence to the disintegration of Communism, as hinging on unpredictable and sometimes even improbable chances. This perception of our reality as one of the possible, often even not the most probable, outcomes of an open situation, this notion that other possible outcomes are not simply canceled out but continue to haunt our reality as a specter of what might have happened, conferring on our reality the status of extreme fragility and contingency, implicitly clashes with the predominant linear narrative forms of our literature and cinema.

Krzysztof Kie?lowskis obsession with the role of chance and of parallel alternate histories can be perceived as an endeavor to articulate this new life experience in all its ambiguity, one that links him to the more clearly “postmodern” directors of the past decade or two. (Consider the fact that it was Tom Tykwer who filmed Heaven, the scenario finished by Kie?lowski just before his death. Is Tykwer’s Run, Lola, Run not a cyber-inflected remake of Kie?lowski’s Blind Chance?)
The lesson of this motif of chance and alternate histories seems to be that we live in a world in which, as in a cyberspace game, when one choice leads to a catastrophic ending, we can return to the starting point and make another, better choice—what was the first time a suicidal mistake can be the second time done in a correct way, so that the opportunity is not missed. In The Double Life of Véronique (1991), Véronique learns from Weronika, avoids the suicidal choice of singing, and survives; in Red (1994), Auguste avoids the mistake of the judge; even White (1993) ends with the prospect of Karol and his French bride getting a second chance and remarrying. The very title of Annette Insdorf’s book on Kie?lowski, Double Lives, Second Chances, points in this direction: the other life is here to give us a second chance—that is, as Insdorf states, “repetition becomes accumulation, with a prior mistake as a base for successful action.” However, while it sustains the prospect of repeating the passed choices and thus retrieving the missed opportunities, this universe can also be interpreted in the opposite, much darker way. There is a material feature of Kie?lowski’s films that supports this: his use of filters. As described in the director’s own words, in the book Kie?lowski on Kie?lowski, regarding A Short Film About Killing (1987): “The city and its surroundings are shown in a specific way. The lighting cameraman . . . used filters, which he’d made specially. Green filters so that the color in the film is specifically greenish. Green is supposed to be the color of spring, the color of hope, but if you put a green filter on the camera, the world becomes much crueler, duller, and emptier.”
Charles Eidsvik, in Lucid Dreams: The Films of Krzysztof Kie?lowski, writes that the director used filters in A Short Film About Killing “as a kind of mask, darkening parts of the image that Kie?lowski . . . did not wish to show.” This procedure isn’t used as part of the formulaic depiction of a dream or a vision but in shots rendering gray everyday reality, directly evoking the gnostic notion of the universe as created imperfect and, as such, not yet fully constituted. The closest one can get to this look in reality is, perhaps, the countryside in extreme places like Iceland, or in the Land of Fire, the southernmost tip of South America: patches of grass and wild hedges are intersected by barren raw earth or gravel with cracks out of which sulfuric steam and fire gush, as if the pre-ontological primordial Chaos is still able to penetrate the cracks of the imperfectly formed reality.
Kie?lowski’s universe is a gnostic universe, a not-yet-fully-constituted universe created by a perverse and confused, idiotic God who screwed up the work of Creation, producing an imperfect world, and then keeps trying to save whatever can be saved by repeated new attempts—we are all “Children of a Lesser God.” Although they may appear to belong to the premodern space, such gnostic speculations often serve as the theological foundation of the postmodern exploration of alternative realities and cybergames—as in the New Age “cybergnosticism.” In mainstream Hollywood, this uncanny in-between dimension is clearly discernible in what is arguably the most effective scene in Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Alien: Resurrection—the cloned Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) enters the laboratory room in which the previous seven aborted attempts to clone her are on display. Here she encounters the ontologically failed, defective versions of herself, up to the almost successful version, with her own face but with some of her limbs distorted so that they resemble the limbs of the Alien Thing. This creature asks Ripley to kill her, and, in an outburst of violent rage, Ripley effectively destroys the entire horror exhibition.

This unfinished character of reality grounds our freedom of choice: it depends on us which version will prevail. For Kie?lowski, this choice is ultimately the choice between “calm life” and “vocation.” In The Double Life of Véronique, the Polish Weronika chooses her vocation, that of a singer, ignoring her heart failure, and meets early death as the result of it (as in E.?T.?A. Hoffmann’s tale of Antonia, who also chooses singing and pays for her choice with death), while the French Véronique betrays her vocation and chooses a quiet, satisfied life. Véronique is thus melancholic and reflective, in contrast to Weronika’s direct enthusiasm for the Cause; to put it in Friedrich Schiller’s terms, she is sentimental, in contrast to Weronika’s naïveté. It is not simply that Véronique profits from her awareness of the suicidal character of Weronika’s choice but also that she accomplishes the act of ethical betrayal by abandoning singing, her true vocation. The presence of this tragic choice is what can prevent us from reducing Véronique to a New Age tale of spiritual self-discovery. As the title says, we have the double life of (one) Véronique. That is, the same person is allowed to redeem (or lose?) herself by being given another chance and repeating the fatal choice.
The idea of the time-space continuum (time as the fourth dimension of space) in modern physics means, among other things, that a certain event (the encounter of multiple particles) can be much more elegantly and convincingly explained if we posit that only one particle travels forward and backward in time. This logic involves the static space-time picture described by Einstein: events do not unfold with the flow of time but present themselves complete, and in this total picture, movements backward and forward in time are as usual as movements backward and forward in space. The illusion that there is a “flow” of time results from our narrow awareness, which allows us to perceive only a tiny strip of the total space-time continuum. Is not something similar going on in the alternative narratives? Beneath ordinary reality there is another, shadowy, pre-ontological realm of virtualities in which the same person travels forth and back, “testing” different scenarios: Véronique electron crashes (dies), then travels back in time and does it again, this time surviving.
So in The Double Life of Véronique, perhaps, we are not dealing with the “mystery” of the communication between two Véroniques but with one and the same Véronique who travels back and forth in time. In these terms, the key scene in the film is the near encounter of the two Véroniques in the large square in Kraków, where a Solidarity demonstration is taking place. This episode is rendered in a vertiginous circular shot reminiscent of the famous 360-degree shot from Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Afterward, when the French Véronique is introduced, we can understand Polish Weronika’s perplexity as arising from an obscure awareness that she was about to have an impossible encounter with her double (later, we see a photo of her taken at that moment by Véronique). The camera’s circular movement, then, can be read as signaling the danger of the “end of the world,” like the standard scene from science-fiction films about alternative realities, in which the passage from one to another universe takes the shape of a terrifying primordial vortex threatening to swallow all consistent reality. The camera’s movement thus signals that we are on the verge of the vortex in which different realities mix, that this vortex is already exerting its influence: if we take one step further—that is to say, if the two Véroniques were actually to confront and recognize each other—reality would disintegrate, because such an encounter, of a person with her double, with herself in another time-space dimension, is precluded by the very fundamental structure of the universe.
The topic of choice between alternate realities in Kie?lowski’s narratives is clearly allegorical: it contains a reference to Kie?lowski himself. Was not his choice that of the Polish Weronika—aware of his heart condition, he chose vocation and then effectively died of heart failure. Kie?lowski’s fate is prefigured already in his Camera Buff (1979), the portrait of a man who forsakes the happy family life in order to observe and register reality through the distance of the screen frame. In the final scene of the film, when his wife is leaving him for good, the hero turns the camera on himself and his wife, capturing on film her departure: even in this traumatic intimate moment, he does not get fully involved but persists in his observing attitude—the ultimate proof that he truly elevated filming into his ethical Cause . . . Camera Buff finds its counterpoint in The Calm (1976), about the destiny of Antek, who has just been released from prison. All he wants are the simple things in life: work, somewhere clean to sleep, something to eat, a wife, a television, and peace. Caught in criminal manipulations at his new workplace, he ends up being beaten by his colleagues and, at the film’s end, just mutters, “Calm . . . calm.” The hero of The Calm is not alone: even Valentine, the heroine of Red, claims that all she wants is to live in peace, without any excessive professional ambitions.
Kie?lowski advocates neither the moralistic dismissal of Life on behalf of Vocation nor the cheap wisdom of preferring simple Life over Vocation. Exemplary of this complexity is The Scar (1976), the story of an honest Communist cadre who comes to a small provincial town to construct a new chemical factory. He wants to make local people happier and bring progress to the town; however, the factory not only causes ecological problems and undermines traditional ways of life, it also conflicts with the short-term interests of the townspeople. Disillusioned, he gives up his post?.?.?. The problem here is that of the Good—who knows what is Good for others, who can impose his Good on others? Although the cadre succeeds socially (the factory is built), he is aware that he failed ethically. We see here why Freud was skeptical toward the ethical motto “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The problem with it is not that it is too idealistic, overestimating the ethical capacity of man; Freud’s point is rather that if one takes into account the basic perversion of human desire, then the very application of this motto leads to strange results—one certainly wouldn’t like a masochist to follow this precept.
The same complexity marked Kie?lowski’s personal choice: after finishing Red, the last part of his Three Colors trilogy, he retired to the countryside to spend his remaining days fishing and reading—in short, to realize the fantasy of a quiet life, redeemed of the burden of Vocation. However, in a tragic way, he lost on both counts: the choice “vocation or quiet life” proved false, it was already too late, so that, after choosing peace and retirement, he died. Or does his sudden death signal that the retirement into a quiet country life was a false issue, a fantasy screen effectively functioning as a metaphor for death—that, for Kie?lowski the only way to survive was to continue filming, even if this were to mean constantly courting death? Did Kie?lowski not, at least from our retroactive view, die at a proper moment? Although premature, his death—like those of Alexander the Great and Mozart—seemed to occur precisely when his opus was rounded up, the ultimate case of the miraculous coincidences around which his films turn. It’s as if his fatal heart attack were a free act, a staged death, striking at the right time—just after he announced that he would no longer be making films.
Should we, then, read Véronique’s second (unethical) choice as a new version of the traditional sublime reversal found, for instance, in Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations? When, at his birth, Pip is designated a “man of great expectations,” everybody perceives this as the forecast of his worldly success; however, at the novel’s end, when he abandons London’s false glamour and returns to his modest childhood community, we become aware that he did live up to the forecast that marked his life—it is only by way of finding strength to leave behind the vain thrill of London’s high society that he authenticates the notion of being a “man of great expectations.” And what if it’s the same with Véronique’s second choice—there are things more important than singing, like the simple human goodness radiated by Véronique.
There is, however, a price to be paid for this retreat. When and why, exactly, does Véronique return to her father in order to find a safe haven of calm? After her puppeteer lover stages for her the (unconscious) choice that structured her life, in the guise of the two marionettes. So what is Véronique retreating from when she abandons her lover? She perceives this staging as a domineering intrusion, while it is actually the very obverse: the staging of her ultimate, unbearable FREEDOM. In other words, what is so traumatic for her in the puppeteer’s performance is not that she sees herself reduced to a puppet whose strings are pulled by the hidden hand of Destiny but that she is confronted with the fundamental unconscious choice by means of which every one of us has to choose her or his existential project. Her escape from the puppeteer, back to the safe haven under the wings of her father, is her escape from freedom. 

Žižek After French Election: ‘A vote for Macron today, is a vote for Marine Le Pen four years in the future'

The French presidential election is over, and Marcon has been elected as the new president. After describing Macron as 'the chocolate-laxative candidate' a few days ago before election, Žižek is back again with frustration saying Marcon “stands for the worst of Europe” and “is the candidate of fear of Le Pen,” as reported by RT. He says the liberal outcry to vote for Marcon as 'liberal blackmail'. Žižek continues,
Isn’t this the very essence of what worldwide is becoming today? You have all the freedom you want if you make the right choice. This is the very formula of why our democracy is becoming more and more meaningless.
Žižek emphsizes that Le Pen was of fear – 'fear about immigrants, foreign threat, financial capitalism and so on'. However, the same applies to Marcon: he 'was also a candidate of fear – fear of Le Pen. Macron won not because of what he is, but because he was anti-Le Pen',

Finally, he quoted “I already quoted Didier Eribon, the French author and philosopher:
A vote for Macron today, is a vote for Marine Le Pen four years in the future.
He reiterated, "We’re just caught in this vicious circle. Macron means business as usual. But it’s precisely this business as usual that will give new strength to Marine Le Pen. It takes time. She can wait. One election, two elections, three. In the end, she may win”.

Žižek Events: Žižek Participating in Three events in May 2017

Slavoj Žižek is going to be engaged in three events this month. On May 11, he will be at University of Venice to deliver inaugural lecture on 'The Final Countdown: Europe in The Valley of Decision' organized by NSK. The organizers have announced a book titled T'he Final Countdown: Europe, Refugees and the Left', edited by Jela Krečič (Žižek's wife) to be published. The collected essays feature some of the most prominent theoretical thinkers of our time, including Boris Buden, Mladen Dolar, Saroj Giri, Boris Groys, Agon Hamza, Jamil Khader, Robert Pfaller, Frank Ruda, Slavoj Žižek and Alenka Zupančič.

The second event will take place in London where Žižek is going to be in conversation Will Self on May 17. The final event is the lecture SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK on 'Populism as a way to disavow social antagonism' on May 24 at University of Ghent, Belgium. For more information, please go here.

Slavoj Žižek: "Macron is the chocolate-laxative candidate"

Slavoj Žižek is back again. This time he is on French election. During the last U.S. Presidential election he was severely criticized by American Liberal left for his controversial comments in favor of Donald Trump. This time he is raising his voice against Marcon. In a recent piece on Independent, he says "Macron is the chocolate-laxative candidate". The liberal's assertion that “Le Pen is a far-right Holocaust revisionist. Macron isn’t. Hard choice?” is "the liberal blackmail at its worst: one should

Roger Scruton Identifes Žižek as "Clown Prince of the Revolution"

On September 29, 2016, Roger Scruton wrote a piece critiquing Slavoj Žižek on The City Journal. After discussion on his historical anecdotes, he sometimes brutally attacked Žižek. He even mention Žižek as the 'Clown Prince'. Here is the excerpts from the piece:

"Oi Zizek, stop saying there is no difference between the fascist Le Pen and Macron Listen up, Slavoj"

In a recent piece published in Huck Magazine, Eleanor Penny criticizes Žižek for his shortsightedness when he declares on The Independent that 'the choice between Le Pen and Macron in the upcoming French presidential election is no real choice at all'. Here is the excerpt from the piece:

Slavoj Žižek: "Liberal? God forbid!"

The following conversation took place on January 30, 2016 with René Scheu of a Swiss newspaper. You can read the conversation translated in English via google here:

What is Žižek's view on Soros Foundation and and his 'open society'?

In a CTheory interview of Slavoj Zizek by Geert Lovink published 1996, Žižek was asked "What is your view on the work of the Soros Foundation and the concept of an “open society”?" Žižek, in response said:
If you look into my heart, you’ll see I am an old fashioned left winger. In the short term I support it, but I don’t have Popper notions about it. Soros is doing good work in the field of education, refugees and keeping the theoretical and social sciences spirit alive. These countries are not only impoverished, but the sphere of social sciences is hegemonized by Heideggerian nationalists. But the Soros people have this ethic of the bad state vs. good civic, independent structures. But sorry, in Slovenia I am for the state and against civil society! In Slovenia, civil society is equal to the right wingers. In America, after the Oklahoma bombing, they suddenly discovered that madmen are everywhere. Civil society is not this nice, social movement, but a network of moral majority, conservatives and nationalist pressure groups, against abortion, [for] religious education in schools. A real pressure from below. 
For me the open society means something very practical: the unwritten rules of the political space. For example, if you oppose the present government or the hegemonic party, are you then still accepted or is there an unwritten, unspoken stigma that you are a half nationalist traitor and so on? Up to what extent can you make a career without making political compromises? I don’t have any fundamental hopes in a socialist revolution or whatever. We have several big crises coming: the ecological, the developed against the underdeveloped world and the loss of the sense of reality in the face of all the rapid changes. I don’t underestimate the social impact of the loss of stability. Is the frame of liberal capitalism able to solve this antagonism? Unfortunately my answer is no. Here I am the old fashioned left wing pessimist. I think that ghettoisation, like half of L.A., is far stronger than the Marxist class struggle. At least both workers and capitalists still participated in legality and the state, whereas liberal capitalism simply doesn’t integrate the new ghettoes. Liberal democracy has no answer to these problems.
A lot of times, this Soros approach of openness indulges in its own species of covered racism. Recently at a conference in Amsterdam, Press Now asked whether it was possible to find a universal language so that intellectuals from various parts of the former Yugoslavia could start a dialogue. I find this cliché extremely dangerous, because it comes from an idea of the Balkans as the phantasmatic space of nationalistic madness. This phantasy is very well manipulated and expressed in some popular works of art, like Kusturica’s film Underground. He said himself, in Cahiers du Cinema, that in the Balkans, war is a natural phenomenon, nobody knows when it will emerge, it just comes, it’s in our genes. This naturalisation of the Balkans into an apolitical, primordial theatre of passions is cliché and I find it very suspicious. I would like to quote Hegel here: “The true evil is an attitude which perceives evil everywhere.” I am very suspicious about this apparent multicultural, neutral, liberal attitude, which only sees nationalistic madness around itself. It posits itself in a witness role. The postYugoslav war is strictly the result of European cultural dynamics. We don’t need this simplistic liberal deploring of “why don’t people speak to each other?” Nobody is doing power analysis. 
A common Western cliché is the so-called complexity of the Balkans. This specifically allows the West to maintain its position as an excluded observer. What you should do is what I call a phenomenological reduction a l’envers. You should not try to understand it. Like TV, the funny effect when you disconnect the voice, you only have these stupid gestures. Cut off the meaning and then you’ll get the pure power battle. The Balkans are a symptom of Europe in the sense that it embodies all that is wrong in the light of the utopian notion of the European Community itself. What is the dream? A kind of neutral, purely technocratic Brussels bureaucracy. They project their mirror image on the Balkans. What they both have in common is the exclusion of the proper political antagonisms.