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Zizek @ Google

December 8th, 2009 · 12 Comments

What can I say, despite myself, I’ve got a soft spot for the old Marxist.

Tags: General Philosophy



12 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Steve M. // Dec 8, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    I think I can beat that. Google once hosted John Searle for one of its internal Google authors talks.

  • 2 DivisionByZero // Dec 9, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    How does Searle top Zizek? I wouldn’t be surprised in the least to see Searle at Google.

  • 3 Seth Goldin // Dec 9, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    See this takedown in The New Republic. Hat tip to Michael C. Moynihan.


  • 4 Julian Sanchez // Dec 10, 2009 at 1:14 am

    So, two things. First, that really is one of the most stunningly dishonest hatchet jobs I’ve ever read—which in this business is saying a lot. Part of Zizek’s whole provocateur shtick is, of course, to frame his arguments in some deliberately—and misleadingly—outrageous way. Kirsch plucks a bunch of the most eye-popping. But it’s not just that somehow readers have some blind faith that Zizek can’t really mean it; it’s that almost invariably, these are immediately followed by an argument that lays out the real meaning of this apparently insane stunt-line. If you know the context of most of those lines, the whole piece reads as just a protracted and appalling insult to the reader’s intelligence.

    Now, that said, even if we stop playing stupid gotcha-games, treat the deliberate provocations for what they are, and look for Zizek’s serious meaning, he clearly *does* remain attached to an ultimately morally repulsive political vision. But, well, so what? Kirsch is right when he observes that liberal readers feel free to delight in Zizek’s outrageousness and cleverness because, as he says, there’s no army with him—the ideas are sufficiently discredited that we don’t feel threatened, as though it’s dangerous for a communist intellectual to be popular. Well… true enough. But he never really gets around to explaining what’s wrong with that. Why *can’t* I find a series of specific observations and arguments about film or culture entertaining and insightful, and be indifferent to the repugnance of his larger worldview precisely because it’s ultimately irrelevant?

  • 5 Seth Goldin // Dec 10, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    OK, my sense is that modern progressives enjoy what he has to say because he gently plays to their moral intuitions about collective responsibility. and they can enjoy these ideas while disregarding their nightmarish implications. He’s certainly entertaining, and we wouldn’t be discussing him if he weren’t.

    Still, come on, it’s a bit frustrating that the intellectuals never apologized for their advocacy of Marxism. I hate to invoke Godwin here, but it is a shame that Marxism doesn’t carry a stigma on par with that of other totalitarian ideologies.

  • 6 DivisionByZero // Dec 11, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Meh, most “intellectuals” who embraced Marxism did so as a form of resistance to the totalizing of humanity for production by capitalism. If you don’t think capitalism is a totalizing ideology you’re being naive. That being said, they should have preferred nihilism to Marxism. Sometimes it’s better to prefer nothing than something that is obviously wrong.

  • 7 thing // Dec 15, 2009 at 1:57 am

    I know lots of things can cause the sniffles, but really, doesn’t Zizek look like a guy who has just snorted some really good blow?

  • 8 finzent // Dec 15, 2009 at 8:34 am

    He’s got some weird ideas about german toilet habits. Kind of discredits the rest of the lecture for me…

  • 9 Contemplationist // Dec 16, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    Yes time to break Godwin, how many old Nazis do you have soft spots for? I can assure you some can argue real well and employ all the games these repulsive commies do.

  • 10 Julian Sanchez // Dec 23, 2009 at 4:28 am

    I never did get around to Heidegger, but I’ll give him a shot one of these days. Leni Riefenstahl was pretty brilliant. But it’s admittedly a less interesting and fecund ideology.

  • 11 slothrop // Dec 23, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    What is your “soft spot” for Slavoj? And why is his critique of ideology “immoral”?

  • 12 m65 // Feb 16, 2010 at 6:50 am

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