October 11, 2005

Guardian article on Zizek In case anyone missed it: Guardian Unlimited | Guardian daily comment | Saturday interview: Slavoj Zizek. Also linked to and commented on at Charlotte Street and Infinite Thought. While he is not a believer himself, he sees it as his mission to rage against the demise of our Judaeo-Christian heritage and its replacement by a burgeoning palette of destructive, new-age attempts at spirituality. Typically, his soft spot for both Leninism and Christianity is a deliberate kick against the tide of the times. Whereas it is now de rigueur for intellectuals to profess a certain grudging respect for Marx and his analysis, Lenin's reputation - even among leftists - remains that of a brutal authoritarian pragmatist. Zizek begs to differ. For him, Lenin was the St Paul of communism, the organisational genius who, just as St Paul invented the Christian church, turned communism from an idea into a global movement. We should miss both Lenin and St Paul, he argues, because these days we are retreating into a new-age spirituality that turns up its nose at any engagements in the real world. I don't put much stock in interviews or journalistic summaries. It's too easy for interviewer and interviewee to yield to the temptation to provide a soundbite or say something outrageous. It's also easy to get misquoted. Journalists may well screw up various contexts. For example, James Harkin, the author of this little piece, opposes the idea that Lenin was a brutual authoritarian pragmatist with the suggestion that leftists don't...
Bare Life, Unaccompanied In Day of Cine-Musique, Patrick Mullins performs a set of variations on Agamben's notion of bare life. Using a film from Almodovar, Mullins moves from coma to dance and between the banal and the magical. Particularly compelling in these movements is the concentrated everydayness of bare life. From the figures of two comatose girls in Almodovar's film Hable Con Ella (which I haven't seen), Mullins moves to the sorts of relations, and their ethics, that changes in modalities of life and death engender. He suggests, in other words, the possibility of thinking bare life in a different register. Or tone. Or hue. One less connected to sovereignty than to brutality and, perhaps, versions of physical, ethical, and psychological confinement that accompany bare life. Thus, rather than the distant, included as an exclusion, counterpoint to sovereignty, Mullins' bare life seeps through in the interactions between those who might not have encountered each other at all. But a strange kind of encounter it is. Mullins writes: These variations on 'bare life' bring into close communication people who would not have chosen each other as friends for any other reason except common distress and proximities to each other's involvements in these distresses . . . New connections are made between the bare life figures and the sentient ones. Mullins mentions two characters in the film particularly entranced by two girls in comas. These characters find themselves more attached to them in bare life than in other life, idealizing somehow the bareness, the rawness,...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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