Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Zizek at Powell's in Oregon

part 1 of 10, the rest of this is available adjacent to the clip that's here.


minute 6: we live in a post-ideological era - no. Ideology matters more than ever. This would be like being in a relationship and someone says "now that we love each other, we don't have to discuss our feelings any more."
min. 8: Culture Wars emphasize tolerance, and we have to move beyond a discussion of tolerance. Agreed. Wouldn't it be great if all we had to debate was whether you could wear a pro-abortion pin to work? But we can't, and that's why ideology matters.
Min 10: Catastrophe is natural in nature - no it isn't, not even from our (human)point of view. The type of catastrophe one is subjected to depends on where one is living. Ecological crisis on a global scale is real.
min 15: We are a part of nature and therefore can't step back and critique our own behavior within it. First part yes. But weren't native American cultures critical of our treatment of nature from the beginning? This bit about legitimizing fetishes is disturbing. Can't a corporate interest say that their shareholders have a fetish for profit and so thereby legitimize what they do? "Fetish" is just an excuse.
min 19: but Hegel is wrong.
min 22: Ideology =Brutality? No, brutality does not need ideology to operate, only opportunity. Ideology can be used later as an excuse to hide the true mechanism of power in operation, which I think was a point Foucault made somewhere.? Or was it Chomsky? Actually they both agreed on that did they not?
min 25: That's not the message of the film as I see it. See below
min 30: Does the chicken know? This is interesting. Kind of reminds me of Ginsberg's later poem: "Birdbrain" *birdbrain rules the world!* Ginsberg wrote.
min 38: I wish he would talk more of this, the Yugoslav situation. But I wonder with his preoccupation with fetishes if he is trying to tell Western listeners that Yugoslavia was made a fetish of the West after communism's collapse? As in there was some powerful interest that agreed to let the country destroy itself while it/we/US stood by and watched with a reluctant but guilty pleasure. Is that what he thinks?
min 47: I'm a leftist fascist, privately. Gee are you sure? You kind of just told everyone. Does ideology matter now then?
min 56: back to porno. Why is he requiring civility and manners out of something that never delivered it in the first place? Moving along..
min 1:01: Nothing is forbidden: Karadzic. I'm glad he mentions this because that's a good motto for the power-hungry. Now I don't see a necessary connection between socialism and the rise of nationalism as Metternich suggested, instead I see a connection between the collapse of the social contract and the rise of nihilistic ideas, aggressive nationalism among them. But when the punk rockers of the UK said "nothing is forbidden" in 1978, full-scale war didn't break out because the UK does not define the nation-hood through ethnicity, but through belief in the abstract values of what it is to be British, and there are many of those values. Oh and the social contract held together, -ideas such as, if you got beef, form a band instead of smashing your neighbor's face- which the Balkan region of the world did/does not endorse to a similar extent. In that part of the world nationality was/is defined by ethnicity and or religion more so than the artificial, put-upon distinction of "being Yugoslav." This has been mentioned many times by journalists just doing their job and I don't know how Z. managed to miss it. Actually, maybe it can be imagined, because he has a personal stake in what he's discussing. But his efforts to use that personal stake as persuasive leverage undermine his overall arguments that appear elsewhere about transcending personal stake for the sake of a collective benefit.

min 1:06: They Live. Well the glasses to be put on are the ideology. Or you can choose to not put on glasses/take the blue pill etc. and that is an ideology also.
min 1:15: Torture. Yes it's disturbing that this even has to be discussed. Here is where Agamben matters.
min 1:42: The enemy! Don't forget who the enemy is! Wow that's real constructive.

Am I taking this guy too seriously? I think what's needed is an american continental philosophy. Why let all these Europeans continue to narrate our psychic existence? Its like he wants to float an abstraction that allows us to "be American" while at the same time declare that America is guilty of aggression and militarism, but yknow it's kind of a joke because we're fetishy, and the Zeez is fetishy with us. So maybe he wants to make fetish into an addendum to our own social contract. This way he won't scream at the West like much of Yugoslavia did when the country fell apart and NATO stood by for too long while atrocities occurred. Does the West have an excuse? Perhaps we're just a culture of sexually experimenting teenage girls and the Zeez instead of barking at that in a Poundian manner wants to supplement it philosophically.

My admiration for Zizek has come to an end.


Skepoet said...

Much better critique than I expected and I largely agree with you on Zizek more vapid points. I respect Zizek as I respect a medieval clown because he's audacity makes one respond and either defend or re-group one's ideas. Many of his own ideas are vapid, but that's not really the point.

cielo fontanero said...

D, I'm not sure what you find medieval about him but I for one am confused by his approach. I don't know if he wants to craft a third-way politics that is somehow non-authoritarian or if he just wants to be more of an apologist for unusual personal behavior, which would give him some non-intellectual allies just for starters.

More than this though I'm becoming skeptical of euro-philosophical approaches that insist they can speak for American experience. It seems to me that as soon as Hegelian idealism is added to the discussion you get the same bifurcation appear that destroyed Europe originally, and why should we want to bring that to our own country? Yet with such reasoning now I have slippery slope versus American exceptionalism - so then I think why not let's ditch both of those and just take American philosophy for what it is?

And here I want to invoke such thinkers as James Madison or Thoreau, or maybe Santayana or Helen Keller or the suffragists. There's plenty there, plenty I haven't read.

Skepoet said...

I think he forces us to deal with Hegelian and Lacanian concepts, but, honestly, consistent he is not.

cielo fontanero said...

I would just love to see some surfer professor go over to an orthodox culture and go: yknow you Russians just need to read Hegel and look within!

cielo fontanero said...

although perhaps Z has thought of this, and the Serb culture doesn't want him, but American college students do, so that makes him happy

Skepoet said...

There's probably something to that, although I think he is VERY popular in France and England, where snubbing Americans is a national past time. Zizek is actually sort of gentle compared with say Baudrillard (whose stuff is most dribble to boot).

cielo fontanero said...

Who's gonna pay for daddy's crashed car???

cielo fontanero said...