Monday, September 20, 2010

a few further notes on Zizek

Here I am extending my ideas on Zizek, a commentator on philosophy. I have read many of his books, I might read them all, yet I find the man and his views repulsive. His style and wit I enjoy.

                Zizek is clever and charismatic, and indeed has to be, since his nihilistic views demand cleverness and charisma. The central insights of Zizek are that

1.       Man is shit

2.       The deepest reality of the Psyche is the void at the center.

3.       Love is an illusion.

4.       Sexual relationships are always failures.

5.       The world is a great big mess, and communism alone can save it.

6.       Truth is fragmented into incompatible bits

7.       Suicide in some form or gesture is the best solution to life.

8.       All of life is a disease, and the way to get ahead is to accurately read the symptoms.

                These views are the axis of his graph, and once one learns to ignore them, he can admire the cleverness of his argument. Like almost all stand-up comedians, he is a depressed and anxious wreck. But the suffering of life is more than paid for through the art of continual interpretation: movies, books, historical events, all become illustrations for the ideas of Hegel, Lacan, and Marx (strictly speaking, Zizek has no original ideas, nor would want them).

                Thus his books are collages. The overall structure seems to be based on a simple gross outline, but the flow of the pages sound stream of conscious. If anything he wants to introduce a sort of logic for the reader to emulate: but the structure of the books – and this is an indictment against all writers of my period – shows no capacity for wide thinking.

                The sections of his chapter contain a few illustrations: all his philosophical ideas are shaped like jokes. He gives us some lead-up, with a political situation, or a movie plot, and then say, “We should avoid the temptation of the obvious interpretation, or this second more clever interpretation, or the third, but combine them all into the fourth.”

                He is handy with illustrations, but though he constantly illustrates Lacan’s difficult ideas, his respect of Lacan is never justified, the stories prove more interesting then the absurd Lacanian circumlocution.  He is akin to the journalist Hitchens, who does not think in abstract ideas, but in historical events. Hitchens writes only in examples, and beneath these you can hear a bent of thought. In the same way Zizek is really no philosopher: his philosophical formulas and definitions are always quotations of others. He is a synthesizer, a populizer, a circus barker.

                “No profundity but the paradoxical” is the motto of such a man.


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