December 01, 2008

Quick and dirty: Zizek and NR Larval Subjects has some interesting posts on the New Republic attack piece on Zizek (he also has some links to other pieces in a similar vein that I haven't looked at yet). My two cents: the NR piece relies on tactics standard in any attack on Zizek--emphasize singular points taken out of context. The primary orientation of the piece is liberal outrage such that anything critical of liberalism is by definition totalitarian and wrong (as clear an indication of the liberal-democratic denkverbot as I've ever seen, all the way to the endorsement of Arendt's notion of totalitarianism). Is there anything, then, worth taking seriously? Perhaps. First, I don't think the best way to read Zizek is as an ironist (contra Sinthome).I think it's important to read him as literally as possible, recognizing the breadth of his examples and illustrations. Another way to put it: when Zizek uses an obscene illustration, he means the obscenity as an obscenity. Part of the challenge of current conditions is the difficulty in finding something really obscene and having it be recognized as such. Nor do I think that he somehow fails in not doing providing a detailed empirical critique of real existing liberal democracy. I don't think every author has to reinvent the wheel. Zizek is speaking within a set of discursive contexts marked by the decline and defeat of a certain Marxist experiment. Most of his readers don't need to be persuaded that there's a problem with liberalism or with capitalism (democracy, that's...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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