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May 27, 2009

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Alain

I have no reason to doubt Zizek but I wonder why he thought he needed to respond to this? I will definitely read Parker's original piece, but isn't he generally someone sympathetic to Zizek's work? The reason I ask is that the story certainly has the tone and irony of a good old Zizekian yarn, no?

I certainly do not want you to betray anyones trust but is this rumor part of some larger campaign to discredit Zizek? My intitial reaction is that botht the story and the denial seem odd.

Jodi

Zizek gave the response to the IJZS to publish. I don't know anything about a larger campaign. I had read the Parker thing before and not paid it much mind. I can imagine, though, being very unhappy myself if some sort of unappealing story about being an informant were circulating.

Tangentially, the reactions to Zizek are so often way off base. People write about him far differently from the way they write about Ranciere or Badiou or Agamben, some feeling free to attack him as a person.

Alain

Clearly he does evoke strong reactions, evidenced by the Kirsch piece that appeared in the New Republic a few months back. But don't you think his style and outragousness invite this type of response to a certain degree? While I certainly enjoy reading him, and believe him to offer insight, there are many things about his presentation that are simply annoying - his celebration of violence as a mark of authenticity, his willingness to cut and paste the same material over and over again, his bizarre examples of a true political act.

I know I have said this before but reading your interpretation of his work is a much different experience from reading his work. Your discussions are reasoned and perspicacious(I consider this a strength) - his are more rambling and conversational. And then of course, there is his bizarre political pronouncements on the various events of the day - many of which don't make much sense to me.

I think ultimately he gets attacked personally because he often writes in an informal, personal way. That is why the apocryphal story above sounded so plausible - that is the way he presents many stories. Much of his writing is anecdotal. Again and again he invites a strong reaction - and it appears to me to be intentional. And that may not be such a bad thing.

Malaika

thanks for the information, we don't want to celebrate the personal life to Zizek, but it's clear that his ideas are very important for subaltern studies in Latin America.

malaika

PS I really find your blog and work interesting

Slightlygaystonerdude

I've read it, and it does sound very much like a joke, it even has a punch line. After Zizek warns of the bad news of the commissars, he then goes on to say "I am the commissar". (Even Zizek was the commissar for his department, it doesn't mean he was good at his job!)

Mehmet Çagatay

If I were the editor of IJZS, I’d probably try to prevent Zizek from humiliating himself by delivering a serious answer to an obvious joke.

So, Ian Parker should not be criticized for spreading a shameless slander against Zizek. We should appreciate his exclusive talent in composing a joke without any sense of humor.

tim

It's all a simulacra.

aghast

Hi Jodi,

Isn't Ian Parker a practicing Lacanian psychoanalyst that has even had some kind of dialogue with Zizek in the past? I first wondered whether it would be reasonable to expect that Parker had sufficient contacts to question the veracity of this claim before putting it in print, but perhaps this is in fact a sign of a wider hostility in clinical circles towards Zizek's work and, it appears, the man himself.

I do understand the ambivalence amongst clinicians towards Zizek's work to an extent, but if this is slander (as it appears to be), it really is petty. Petty is not in fact an appropriate word for an allegation so serious. Parker has done himself a great disservice.

aghast

I've just read some of the article, and I'm sure this is not new. I distinctly remember reading some of this material on the NSK website many years ago. The question would then be, why is Zizek responding to this now?

Parker later goes on to say:

Perhaps Žižek was not the commissar in his department. Perhaps he was exaggerating the whole thing for effect. In a way, that is beside the point. And this is the first thing you need to grasp if you want to read Žižek. You need to grasp that if you want to avoid being totally exasperated and throwing the books across the room in rage and disappointment. Truth and fiction are arranged in his writing very differently from the way you would expect them to be, and this warning applies not only to his use of political theory, but also to philosophy and psychoanalysis.

Perhaps it is the misreadings of Parker's article that Zizek is responding to, rather than the article itself.

Jodi

thanks, Malaika

Mehmet--that's hilarious.

Aghast--I recall reading that NSK piece as well. My impression is that it must be a matter of the circulation of that story, of its repetition, that led Zizek to want to correct the record. Here's the rub, though, if this story is the basis for Parker's reading of Zizek, then the problem of truth it highlights is not Zizek's at all.

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