Zizek

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Joseph Kay's picture
Joseph Kay
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Aug 17 2006 09:41
Zizek

Right, i know revol's a fan, and there's a couple of films/tv shows knocking about with him in (C4's Pervert's 'Guide to Cinema', the film 'Zizek!'), so wht not a thread.

I've just started reading his self-described magnum opus 'the parallax view', and one thing has leapt out at me already (apart from the leninism and expectation you're well versed in the history of western thought), is his approving quoting of Karatani's thesis that workers can only really challenge capitalism as consumers because that's 'where capital must court them'.

What a load of wank, consumption is classless, separation is by degree along a continuum of purchasing power, whereas in production class antagonism is concrete and an immediate point of struggle - separation is of kind not degree. Its like Debord never warned "the spectacle is not an image, it is arelation between people mediated by images".

Anyway, boss coming ...

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jef costello
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Aug 17 2006 09:49

I've actually got an article by him that needs reading "there is no sexual relationship" as it's a lacanian aphorism I'm sure that'll give us something to talk about.
My own views on Zizek are well known.
I agree with Joseph K., although I've only read a bit of Societe du Spectacle (it all seemed fairly obvious to me but I'm not too aware of context.)

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the button
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Aug 17 2006 09:52

I love Zizek, but only for his entertainment value. Anyone who wishes to see him get seriously fucked over by a superior intellect should read Contingency, hegemony & solidarity, which is a book-length spat he had with Judith Butler & Ernesto Laclau.

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Aug 17 2006 14:23
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whereas in production class antagonism is concrete and an immediate point of struggle - separation is of kind not degree.

Where do you see small capitalists like self employed tradies, farmers who work their own land, and, say, salaried doctors who invest in shares fitting in? To me this group offers a degree of a continuum in production. Don't know if that changes anything though.

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Joseph Kay
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Aug 17 2006 14:39
jason wrote:
Where do you see small capitalists like self employed tradies, farmers who work their own land, and, say, salaried doctors who invest in shares fitting in? To me this group offers a degree of a continuum in production.

I was oversimplifying. Consumption at its most complex does not resolve to classes, whereas production does, even where those classes overlap. the rich worker with small shareholdings or the small capitalist who needs to work for their own enterprise to a certain extent occupy positions of both worker and capitalist in varying proportions, but this is a differing composition of sources of income which differ in kind, whereas consumption knows only purchasing power, whatever it's immediate source.

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Lone Wolf
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Aug 21 2006 04:35

Just to inform/remind that the cinematic/Zizek season starts tonight (Mon) at 2305 on More4 and continues tomorrow and ends on Wed -same timings.

Love

LW X

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bolschewiks
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Aug 23 2006 13:47

Karatani is a shameless ideologue.angry

theaustralian
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Aug 24 2006 11:11

[trolling removed]

redtwister
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Aug 29 2006 20:14
Joseph K. wrote:
Right, i know revol's a fan, and there's a couple of films/tv shows knocking about with him in (C4's Pervert's 'Guide to Cinema', the film 'Zizek!'), so wht not a thread.

I've just started reading his self-described magnum opus 'the parallax view', and one thing has leapt out at me already (apart from the leninism and expectation you're well versed in the history of western thought), is his approving quoting of Karatani's thesis that workers can only really challenge capitalism as consumers because that's 'where capital must court them'.

What a load of wank, consumption is classless, separation is by degree along a continuum of purchasing power, whereas in production class antagonism is concrete and an immediate point of struggle - separation is of kind not degree. Its like Debord never warned "the spectacle is not an image, it is arelation between people mediated by images".

Anyway, boss coming ...

Wow, that's all you got? Whatever his various faults, if you read him through carefully, you will see he has more going on than you give him credit for.

For example, to imagine that consumption is classless and the point of production is concrete and immediate is quite a lot of nonsense. It is romantic productivism and Zizek appreciates the fact that Karatani, whatever else he is, is no producitivist. He has his own critique of Karatani, but that is another matter.

As for Zizek's Leninism, it is a funny Leninism. After all, how many Leninists take Bartleby the scrivener as their central political motif? Rather, Lenin is like spitting in the faces of liberal democrats (a la the insipid Butler and the even less interesting Mouffe) and Beautiful Souls. It is a challenge and as much his adherence to the idea that the point is revolution, not fidelity to a thinker (Marx), or some set of abstract principles (choose your -ism). It is not as if Zizek is asking us to create a Leninist party (he does not think tht Lenin's notion of the party worked out so well.)

Then again, I am biased. I think Zizek is one of the few academic Marxists worth reading (the Open Marxism folks comprising most of the others.) I have serious questions about his work, but he rarely fails to stimulate real thought about the world we live in and his, despite his cultural critic flirtiness, serious treatment of philosophical ideas.

If you want to complain that Zizek assumes that you have done and/or are willing to do some serious intellectual labor to get the most out of his work, the problem would not seem to be with Zizek.

Chris

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Joseph Kay
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Aug 29 2006 22:23

i did say "I've just started reading ..." grin

I'm much further in now and theres a lot to mull over (which i've been liberally spraying about on other threads). I don't think production and consumption delineate as neatly as perhaps my hastily written post suggested, but i still think any attempt to say capital can only be challenged in the sphere of circulation because 'the customer is king' is likely to amount to liberal boycott politics - and zizek's obviously no fan of liberalism wink (i know nothing of karatani outside of this reference btw)

redtwister wrote:
he rarely fails to stimulate real thought

damn right, thats why i'm reading him 8)

redtwister wrote:
If you want to complain that Zizek assumes that you have done and/or are willing to do some serious intellectual labor to get the most out of his work, the problem would not seem to be with Zizek.

well yes and no. there's always a balance to be struck between assuming too much prior knowledge and patronising your readers, and the advent of wikipedia etc certainly justifies a shift towards the former. but at the same time it is difficult if you're not familiar with the canons of western thought from plato to heidegger and derrida. i mean i'm university educated (in an unrelated subject) and i've been reading philosophy/marxist stuff for 2-3 years and i find it hard. Thats not a problem, in fact i enjoy the effort, and i appreciate i haven't been reading this stuff for that long and can't expect to just know stuff without putting the work in. but then again the point is always to change the world, not just theorise it, so the ideas have to be communicable too (which to be fair his pop-culture analogies are a laudable attempt at).

johno
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Aug 29 2006 22:49
joseph K wrote:
....but at the same time it is difficult if you're not familiar with the canons of western thought from plato to heidegger and derrida.

...and as a Lacanian Zizek's work can be extremely hard to comprehend unless you are at least somewhat familiar with psychoanalysis and lacian psychoanalysis in particular, which, lets face it, not a lot of people are. I mean it is VERY dense and theoretical, presupposing a lot of previous knowledge. Still isn't that one of the joys of reading Zizek (not that you are saying it isn't)? The fact that different people can take different things from the text, given their theoretical background, or personal orientation towards it. Anyhows, erm, thats a bit of a tangent...

redtwister
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Sep 11 2006 19:52
revol68 wrote:
hey Red are we going to have another argument over the grand canon of western thought?

Quil's eggs i believe was the spark for that one.

Yeah that cunt Zizek assumes alot in his writings, but the great thing about him is that he actually makes Hegel and Lacan approachable, I've found it much easier to grasp them through his writings, his pop culture references and snappy analogies. He seems to have a gift for articulating the spirit of a theory (or geist to be a prick), even if you lose track of his references for a page or two, he normally brings it back.

No no. None of that. Not that it is irrelevant to be familiar with it, but its not the point. My point is sort of like yours: Zizek makes it seem relevant to familiarize onesself with that material because he makes it seem like it has a point that has meaning for us. He has not made me want to read Ocham or Duns Scotus of even Augustine and Aquinas. Nor does he keep me from reading Lao Tzu, Confucious, 16th century Chinese materialism or other work I enjoy in my spare time.

My point is only that if one selects material carefully and follows Zizek's line of thought and does the homework, Zizek is not what he immediately appears to be. Of course, there is something of the charlatan to Zizek, but that too I think is a pose designed to mock academia, but with a charlatan, who can tell? Rarely the charlatan!

So let's not fight, sweety, we have been doing so well since we stopped hitting each other grin

Chris