I was thinking about forms of defense, particularly self defense. Irony, sarcasm, and citationality first came to mind.These seem to be mechanisms to establish distance. Zizek mentions something like this, "I love you," as they say in the movies, or something like that. I defend myself by diffusing my feeling, making it less mine than ours. Everyone feels this way or, it's hardly surprising that one would feel this way. I can always add--oh, I was joking or that was meant sarcastically.
What about humor, parody, cynicism? Do these require a lack of commitment, a distance and amorphousness, a denial, refusal, or foreclosure of ownership? I'm thinking of the Daily Show, a blog, and Peruvian presidents. Are the utterances, performances, predicated on a refusal of an underlying belief or conviction? Or, are they premised on its constitutive absence? On a smooth ability to drift and flow, catching on nothing and open to anything? Are these about distance or perhaps more properly about defense? If the latter, perhaps it is defense of nothing or of nothingness, defense against an underlying lack or foreclosure?
It could be, though, that humor and parody work best when there is some kind of core, or at least underlying ethical sense, even one stated negatively? Perhaps humor works best when it highlights something shared, a common frustration, or when it allows for a sharing or linking together by calling upon us to see things in a new way together?
And cynicism? Without looking back at Zizek (or Sloterdjik, for that matter) cynicism seems to indicate not simply a false promise (we are fighting for freedom) but the open sense that we all know that the promise is false (why are you saying we aren't really fighting for freedom when we aren't really fighting for freedom)? And there is a difference between the cynicism and fetishism (I know, but nevertheless I believe) insofar as the level of belief is missing: our practices do not affirm a belief contrary to the cynical claim (our actions are not those of freedom fighters). Instead, they conform to the open sense of falseness persisting underneath the false promise; we go through the motions, aware that we don't believe them, aware of the lie.
So, this going through the motions is not the same as the practice of belief persisting in fetishism. It's different, it is cynical, persistence without belief, a persistence in the face of claims to the contrary (again, we are not fighting for freedom). What accounts for the persistence? It isn't belief (at the level of the enunciation or at the level of practice). Is it fear? Apathy? A lack of anything else? A general sense of, that's just the way it is, change is impossible? Is it an acceptance of our own castration? Is it the manipulation, capitalization, and commodification of this sense of castration?
And, if it is something like this, then can people persist in such a state, a state of shallow cynicism, of flow underpinned by statis, or does something give or give way? Do we rot from within and go crazy?