Thursday, 15 November 2007

A stubborn attachment

From a comment I left elsewhere:

Zizek is now little more than a jaded professional contrarian. It’s clear from his article that he knows next to nothing about Chavez, or rather, nothing that you couldn’t glean from Fox news; that he’s made no effort to actually investigate and ponder the details, because be has no interest in the labour of detail, no interest in accuracy or the merely empirical. Chavez, Bill Gates, Shakespeare et al are used only illustratively in the service of by now endlessly reiterated Theoretical points. This is the salient feature, surely, of Zizek’s writing - a willfully instumental and careless use of ‘examples’, made to perform the same ersatz-dialectical tricks for a stubbornly admiring audience.

Moreover, it is striking how many of Zizek's political points repose on assumptions that reveal another politics entirely:

Is it necessary to explain, for example, the political stupidity of the following two remarks:

"Even Mao’s attempt, in the Cultural Revolution, to wipe out the traces of capitalism, ended up in its triumphant return.

"Those in power calmly accepted it, even profited from it: not only did the protests in no way prevent the already-made decision to attack Iraq; they also served to legitimise it. Thus George Bush’s reaction to mass demonstrations protesting his visit to London, in effect: ‘You see, this is what we are fighting for, so that what people are doing here – protesting against their government policy – will be possible also in Iraq!’"

If it is, I'll do so at the weekend.

But anyway, Zizek's citation of Bush's remark has led, among the Zizek shareholders, suddenly to all kinds of discussion about the political efficacy of protest. The striking thing of course is that this sudden animation comes about only in defending Zizek. What's at stake is not the nature of political protest - a subject which otherwise never arises among these people - but only the continued viablity of Zizek. This attachment to Zizek is so radically stubborn that it requires analasis in its own right.


dave said...

a comment I left elsewhere (re:300):

Zizek is in the business of neutering the politics of the everyday. Explicating the ways in which a work contradicts itself on multiple levels of abstraction, he makes eveything ambivalently political, which is to say meaningless.

I'm of the opinion that he thinks all language and meaning are a big joke, and he exploits the fact that others will generally 'buy' - in both senses of the word - his schtick without applying to him the same contrarian logic he utilizes to destroy in other works the possibility of meaning [he can even get away with making statements supporting Stalin(!)]. This is why I think his work is harmful to the leftist "cause" - because it intentionally disavows the possibility for meaning and instead gets off on negation for its own sake.

Of course, all this does is entrench the status quo as the only possible system of meaning, because it already contains all meanings - meanings that need only be spun into the specific meaning that becomes historically necessary in order for the rulers to continue to rule.

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