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Slavoj Žižek: The Pervert’s Guide to Abercrombie & Fitch Catalogs
07:07 am

Pop Culture

Slavoj Žižek

From bed or from the tub, he will pontificate!
I’m not up to snuff on Žižek’s entire canon, but my favorite of his contributions (besides the time he told Occupy Wall Street not to fall in love with ourselves) is his insight into cultural capitalism—here’s an awesome little animated video where he lays it all out. I highly recommend it. The long and short of the talk is a sort of natural extension of Oscar Wilde’s socialist critique of charity. As Wilde points out that charity is used to atone for the fundamentally unjust system of capitalism, Žižek points out that we now try to atone for our consumerism by “voting with our dollar”—he uses Starbuck’s fair trade coffee and Tom’s shoes as two examples.

Basically, I’ve never been much on trying to evade the horrors of capitalism with “ethical consumerism.” For one, there’s just a dearth of “ethical” products left in this world, and two, you can’t dismantle a system simply by avoiding it. I usually say that telling a socialist to fight capitalism by not buying things is like telling an environmentalist to fight pollution by not breathing smog—both impossible and impotent. And I’m sure Žižek would agree. So this 2003 Abercrombie & Fitch catalog, featuring copy written by the Slovenian Marxist philosopher himself, comes as no surprise.

The work is a snide little reflection on lust and desire, and it’s a fucking riot—totally befitting the “Karl Marx meets Groucho Marx” style they requested, and certainly an idiom in Žižek’s wheelhouse. If you’re considering the possibility that he’s not totally fucking with you, rest assured, Žižek is a fan of absurdist humor. And in case you don’t believe me, I’ve included a video where he makes the “Lynchian” case for tulips as vagina dentata. Remember folks, there are no clean hands in a dirty world, and there are no clean minds in Marxism!









Via DIS Magazine

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Slavoj Žižek: Ayn Rand’s ‘John Galts’ are the idiots who crashed the economy & they’ll do it again

I had to laugh at the way Slavoj Žižek so masterfully ended his Guardian op ed piece, “Who is responsible for the US shutdown? The same idiots responsible for the 2008 meltdown.”

Žižek’s subtitle is “In opposing Obamacare, the radical-populist right exposes its own twisted ideology” and in the essay, he poses a provocative question that I’ve been wondering about a lot myself recently: “Barack Obama is accused of dividing the American people instead of bringing them together. But what if this, precisely, is what is good about Obama?”

I’d like to read Žižek—or Jonathan Chait, Brian Beutler, Alex Pareene, Michael Tomasky, Charles Hugh Smith, Frank Rich or the great Charles P. Pierce—taking on this topic in further detail once the dust has cleared.

The conclusion Žižek draws at the close, though, is simply sublime:

One of the weird consequences of the 2008 financial meltdown and the measures taken to counteract it (enormous sums of money to help banks) was the revival of the work of Ayn Rand, the closest one can get to an ideologist of the “greed is good” radical capitalism. The sales of her opus Atlas Shrugged exploded. According to some reports, there are already signs that the scenario described in Atlas Shrugged – the creative capitalists themselves going on strike – is coming to pass in the form of a populist right. However, this misreads the situation: what is effectively taking place today is almost the exact opposite. Most of the bailout money is going precisely to the Randian “titans”, the bankers who failed in their “creative” schemes and thereby brought about the financial meltdown. It is not the “creative geniuses” who are now helping ordinary people, it is the ordinary people who are helping the failed “creative geniuses.”

John Galt, the central character in Atlas Shrugged, is not named until near the end of the novel. Before his identity is revealed, the question is repeatedly asked, “Who is John Galt?” Now we know precisely who he is: John Galt is the idiot responsible for the 2008 financial meltdown, and for the ongoing federal government shutdown in the US.

Standing ovation!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Noam Chomsky thinks Slavoj Žižek is full of shit
10:44 am


Noam Chomsky
Slavoj Žižek

Noam Chomsky, the father of modern linguistics, doesn’t have much respect for the sesquipedalian bad boy of postmodernist philosophers, Slavoj Žižek, and he doesn’t mince words expressing his disdain, either.

In an excerpt from an interview with Veterans Unplugged in December of 2012, Chomsky was asked about Žižek, Jacques Lacan and Jacques Derrida. Here’s what he said:

What you’re referring to is what’s called “theory.” And when I said I’m not interested in theory, what I meant is, I’m not interested in posturing–using fancy terms like polysyllables and pretending you have a theory when you have no theory whatsoever. So there’s no theory in any of this stuff, not in the sense of theory that anyone is familiar with in the sciences or any other serious field. Try to find in all of the work you mentioned some principles from which you can deduce conclusions, empirically testable propositions where it all goes beyond the level of something you can explain in five minutes to a twelve-year-old. See if you can find that when the fancy words are decoded. I can’t. So I’m not interested in that kind of posturing. Žižek is an extreme example of it. I don’t see anything to what he’s saying. Jacques Lacan I actually knew. I kind of liked him. We had meetings every once in awhile. But quite frankly I thought he was a total charlatan. He was just posturing for the television cameras in the way many Paris intellectuals do. Why this is influential, I haven’t the slightest idea. I don’t see anything there that should be influential.

Elsewhere the famed MIT professor and tireless political activist has called followers of postmodernist philosophers like Žižek “cults.”

I got to shake Noam Chomsky’s hand at a lefty fund-raiser in Los Angeles in the early 90s and he had a very “saintly,” very kindly and patient sort of aura to him then. The older Chomsky gets, though, the crankier he gets. I kind of like that. I sincerely hope he writes a book for posthumous publication called Fuck You Assholes: You All Fuckin’ Suck or something like that.

You just know he’s got it in him.

Via Open Culture

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Slavoj Žižek on Gangnam Style & Justin Bieber: ‘It’s so disgusting you have to hear it’
12:52 pm

Pop Culture

Slavoj Žižek

Slavoj Žižek might just be the world’s foremost intellectual prostitute, but it still feels novel to hear him riff on these bulwarks of relatively recent mass culture, not to mention relate “Gangnam Style” (“your first reaction is maybe, ‘fuck them stupid Koreans’”) to his beloved Jacques Lacan.

And who’d have thought he’d seen Kung Fu Panda five times!

Posted by Thomas McGrath | Leave a comment
Slavoj Žižek on ‘The Avengers,’ Kim Kardashian, spiritualized hedonism
05:18 pm


Slavoj Žižek

Luca Del Baldo’s portrait of Zizek. It really captures the spittle, don’t you think?
I really like Slavoj Žižek. I get that a lot of Leftists think he’s more flash than philosopher, but maybe the left needs a little theater now and then. The Elvis of Cultural Theory? Okay. Maybe those three-hour Noam Chomsky lectures have just lost their luster for me.

No matter your opinion of Žižek’s public persona, First As Tragedy, Then As Farce and Living in the End Times are incredibly engaging, thought-provoking reads.

This interview came out in May, and I’m not sure how I missed it—the bit about never watching the movies he critiques is pretty classic. Most importantly though, he thinks Canada should invade the US and force us to do Hunger Games. I got yer ideology right here!

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
The True Blasphemy: Slavoj Žižek on Pussy Riot

A statement from Marxist intellectual Slavoj Žižek on the Pussy Riot trial

The True Blasphemy

Pussy Riot members accused of blasphemy and hatred of religion? The answer is easy: the true blasphemy is the state accusation itself, formulating as a crime of religious hatred something which was clearly a political act of protest against the ruling clique. Recall Brecht’s old quip from his Beggars’ Opera: “What is the robbing of a bank compared to the founding of a new bank?” In 2008, Wall Street gave us the new version: what is the stealing of a couple of thousand of dollars, for which one goes to prison, compared to financial speculations that deprive tens of millions of their homes and savings, and are then rewarded by state help of sublime grandeur? Now, we got another version from Russia, from the power of the state: What is a modest Pussy Riot obscene provocation in a church compared to the accusation against Pussy Riot, this gigantic obscene provocation of the state apparatus which mocks any notion of decent law and order?

Was the act of Pussy Riot cynical? There are two kinds of cynicism: the bitter cynicism of the oppressed which unmasks the hypocrisy of those in power, and the cynicism of the oppressors themselves who openly violate their own proclaimed principles. The cynicism of Pussy Riot is of the first kind, while the cynicism of those in power — why not call their authoritarian brutality a Prick Riot — is of the much more ominous second kind.

Back in 1905, Leon Trotsky characterized tsarist Russia as “a vicious combination of the Asian knout and the European stock market.” Does this designation not hold more and more also for the Russia of today? Does it not announce the rise of the new phase of capitalism, capitalism with Asian values (which, of course, has nothing to do with Asia and everything to do with the anti-democratic tendencies in today’s global capitalism). If we understand cynicism as ruthless pragmatism of power which secretly laughs at its own principles, then Pussy Riot are anti-cynicism embodied. Their message is: IDEAS MATTER. They are conceptual artists in the noblest sense of the word: artists who embody an Idea. This is why they wear balaclavas: masks of de-individualization, of liberating anonymity. The message of their balaclavas is that it doesn’t matter which of them got arrested — they’re not individuals, they’re an Idea. And this is why they are such a threat: it is easy to imprison individuals, but try to imprison an Idea!

The panic of those in power — displayed by their ridiculously excessive brutal reaction — is thus fully justified. The more brutally they act, the more important symbol Pussy Riot will become. Already now the result of the oppressive measures is that Pussy Riot are a household name literally all around the world.

It is the sacred duty of all of us to prevent that the courageous individuals who compose Pussy Riot will not pay in their flesh the price for their becoming a global symbol.

—Slavoj Žižek

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The logic of Capitalism unravels: Are we living in the end times?

Al Jazeera’s Riz Khan asks Slavoj Žižek, “the Elvis of Philosophy” about climate change, Obama’s handling of the BP oil spill, if a classless society can exist, the need for a social safety net and if we’re about to see the end of the liberal capitalist system.

Žižek is really on fire here. It’s one of the best interviews I’ve seen with him and Khan is a sympathetic, intelligent interviewer (one of the best in the business, I think)

Slavoj Žižek’s latest book is Less Than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism. You can see more of Riz Khan’s interviews on Al Jazeera English and YouTube (which has a live Al Jazeera English feed, check it out).


Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Slavoj Žižek hates tulips
08:14 am


Slavoj Žižek

First there was Werner Herzog hating on chickens making the rounds on the Internet, now we have Slavoj Žižek hating on tulips. Hey Mr. Žižek, what did tulips ever do to you?

My relationship towards tulips is inherently Lynchian. I think they are disgusting. Just imagine. Aren’t these some kind of, how do you call it, vagina dentata, dental vaginas threatening to swallow you? I think that flowers are something inherently disgusting. I mean, are people aware what a horrible thing these flowers are? I mean, basically it’s an open invitation to all insects and bees, “Come and screw me,” you know? I think that flowers should be forbidden to children.


Via Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment