Distortions in “The Impasses of Today’s Radical Politics” by Slavoj Žižek

[footnote 5, page 13: revolutionary worldstorn <– ~ ~ ~~n]
"im revolutionären Weltsturm unterzugehen« (to perish/founder in the revolutionary worldstorn)

[page 13: Hegelian-sounding reflexdive twist <– reflex+dive+twist + Engles]
(Engels further embellishes this line of thought with a Hegelian-sounding reflexdive twist: how could these nations not be reactionary when their existence itself is a reaction, a remainder of the past?) Engles stuck to this position to the end, convinced that, with the exception of Poles, small Slavic nations are all looking toward Russia, the bullwark of reaction, for their liberation.

Continue reading “Distortions in “The Impasses of Today’s Radical Politics” by Slavoj Žižek”


Love is evil – Slavoj Žižek

There is nothing, basically. I mean it quite literally. But then how to things emerge? Here I feel a kind of spontaneous affinity with quantum physics where, you know, the idea there is that the universe is a void, but a kind of a positively charged void. And then particular things appear when the balance of the void is disturbed and I like this idea spontaneously very much, that, the fact that it’s not just nothing, things are out there, it means, something went terribly wrong, that, what we call creation is a kind of a cosmic imbalance, cosmic catastrophe that things exist by mistake, and I’m even ready to go to the end and to claim that the only way to counteract it is to assume the mistake and to go to the end, and we have a name for this, it’s called love. Isn’t love precisely this kind of a cosmic imbalance? I was always disgusted with this notion of “I love the world, universal love”. I don’t like the world, I don’t know, how I- I basically, I’m somewhere in between “I hate the world” or “I’m indifferent towards it”. But the whole of reality, it’s just it, it’s stupid, it is out there, I don’t care about it. Love for me is an extremely violent act, love is not “I love you all”. Love means I pick out something, and you know it’s again this structure of imbalance, even if this something is just a small detail, a fragile individual person, I say I love you more than anything else. In this quite formal sense, love is evil.

On Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – Slavoj Žižek

To add another note: why don’t I like the term post-traumatic subject? Because, I hope you will agree with me, I think that it’s too much a term which fits developed western societies. There, when we have a trauma, it’s usually something that happens quickly, and you are in a post-traumatic situation, how to deal with it: you are raped, there is a terrorist attack, there is an earthquake, you survive it, and then how to deal with it. But isn’t it that in less developed third world countries there is no post-traumatic situation, the trauma simply goes on. In the west, you are raped, then if you survive, you are traumatized, how to do with it. In third world countries, you are raped, and then you are raped again, and then you know that you will be raped again. You know it’s a much more desperate situation, like, it’s irony to speak for an ordinary woman in Congo, for example, Republic of Congo may be the site of the greatest catastrophe humanitar- That she lives in a post-traumatic, no, she lives in a permanent trauma. So there is lot of things to do here, and I think, again, we need more than ever, not only social analysis, but social analysis linked with psycho-analysis and, against the background of this, to think about philosophy. If I may add just another thing that I just- Why philosophy?

Balkan, Mitteleuropa: Don’t forget it – Slavoj Žižek

We can begin? Okay. Now, what you see here is, at least in summer or in the pole, one of the nicest views of Ljubljana, it looks like Paris, green leaves et cetera, on both sides nice old houses, nothing special, eh? But you’re wrong. This river here is the official geographical limit between Balkan and Mitteleuropa. So beware. On the other side, horror, oriental despotism, women get beaten, get raped and like it.. On this side, Europe, civilization, women get beaten and raped, but don’t like it. So: Balkan, Mitteleuropa. Don’t forget it.

We Are The Awakening – Slavoj Žižek

We are called losers. But the true losers are down there on Wall Street. They were bailed out by billions of our money. We are called socialists. But here there already is socialism for the rich. They say we don’t respect private property. But in the 2008 financial breakdown, more hard-earned private property was destroyed then if all of us here were to be destroying it night and day for weeks. They tell you we are dreamers. The true dreamers are those who think things can go on indefinitely the way they are. We are not dreamers, we are the awakening from the dream which is turning into a nightmare. We are not destroying anything. We are only witnessing how the system is destroying itself.

On Stalin – Slavoj Žižek

(But why are you fascinated by Stalin?)

It’s a very sad story. Far from me being in any way a critic of Stalinism, I think that the Stalinist phenomenon in the twentieth century was something so terrifying, things went so monstrously wrong that we don’t yet really have a theory, a real understanding of what went wrong. I don’t buy all these standard explanations, you know, fanatics ready to sacrifice living people for the idea or whatever. All this is way too simple for me. Things went so terribly wrong, in a totally different way from fascism.

(And they hated everybody. They- There was a process, there wasn’t any specific group, it was everybody, including each other.)

Absolutely. This is, for example, already one thing that people don’t get it, it was a suicidal regime. I mean, are we aware of the monstrosity at the climactic point of the Stalinist terror? Mid-thirties. You know what was absolutely the most dangerous place to be? A member of Central Committee. Look at the names in the Central Commitee from ’34 to ’37. 80% boom-boom-boom. So, you know it’s not- This is already the wrong perception, some elite group of fanatical communists killing ordinary people. No, killing each other..

(In fact the man who would do the killing .. they would boom-boom to him.)

Ah this is why, yeah, at the end- This is why Beria probably, if not organized the death of Stalin, prevented doctor’s help, because Beria know what Stalin was doing, when Stalin nominated a new secret police boss, he immediately nominated someone who was formerly just a second in command, but whose task was to prepare a dossier to get rid, at a later stage, and, of him. So, Beria knew, he’s next. He’s next, in the line.

On The Law Of The Transformation Of Quantity Into Quality And Vice Versa

The sphere, however, in which the law of nature discovered by Hegel celebrates its most important triumphs is that of chemistry. Chemistry can be termed the science of the qualitative changes of bodies as a result of changed quantitative composition. That was already known to Hegel himself (Logic, Collected Works, III, p. 488). As in the case of oxygen: if three atoms unite into a molecule, instead of the usual two, we get ozone, a body which is very considerably different from ordinary oxygen in its odour and reactions. Again, one can take the various proportions in which oxygen combines with nitrogen or sulphur, each of which produces a substance qualitatively different from any of the others! How different laughing gas (nitrogen monoxide N2O) is from nitric anhydride (nitrogen pentoxide, N2O5) ! The first is a gas, the second at ordinary temperatures a solid crystalline substance. And yet the whole difference in composition is that the second contains five times as much oxygen as the first, and between the two of them are three more oxides of nitrogen (NO, N2O3, NO2), each of which is qualitatively different from the first two and from each other.

This is seen still more strikingly in the homologous series of carbon compounds, especially in the simpler hydrocarbons. Of the normal paraffins, the lowest is methane, CH4; here the four linkages of the carbon atom are saturated by four atoms of hydrogen. The second, ethane, C2H6, has two atoms of carbon joined together and the six free linkages are saturated by six atoms of hydrogen. And so it goes on, with C3H8, C4H10, etc., according to the algebraic formula CnH2n+2, so that by each addition of CH2 a body is formed that is qualitatively distinct from the preceding one. The three lowest members of the series are gases, the highest known, hexadecane, C16H34, is a solid body with a boiling point of 270ºC. Exactly the same holds good for the series of primary alcohols with formula CnH2n+2O, derived (theoretically) from the paraffins, and the series of monobasic fatty acids (formula CnH2nO2). What qualitative difference can be caused by the quantitative addition of C3H6 is taught by experience if we consume ethyl alcohol, C2H12O, in any drinkable form without addition of other alcohols, and on another occasion take the same ethyl alcohol but with a slight addition of amyl alcohol, C5H12O, which forms the main constituent of the notorious fusel oil. One’s head will certainly be aware of it the next morning, much to its detriment; so that one could even say that the intoxication, and subsequent “morning after” feeling, is also quantity transformed into quality, on the one hand of ethyl alcohol and on the other hand of this added C3H6.

In these series we encounter the Hegelian law in yet another form. The lower members permit only of a single mutual arrangement of the atoms. If, however, the number of atoms united into a molecule attains a size definitely fixed for each series, the grouping of the atoms in the molecule can take place in more than one way; so that two or more isomeric substances can be formed, having equal numbers of C, H, and O atoms in the molecule but nevertheless qualitatively distinct from one another. We can even calculate how many such isomers are possible for each member of the series. Thus, in the paraffin series, for C4H10 there are two, for C6H12 there are three; among the higher members the number of possible isomers mounts very rapidly. Hence once again it is the quantitative number of atoms in the molecule that determines the possibility and, in so far as it has been proved, also the actual existence of such qualitatively distinct isomers.

Friedrich Engels 1883 Dialectics of Nature

II. Dialectics (The general nature of dialectics to be developed as the science of interconnections, in contrast to metaphysics.)



Love Beyond Law

The Lacanian Subject not only provides an excellent introduction into the fundamental coordinates of Jacques Lacan’s conceptual network; it also proposes original solutions to (or at least clarifications of) some of the crucial dilemmas left open by Lacan’s work. The principal two among them are the notion of “love beyond Law” mentioned by Lacan in the very last page of his Seminar XI, [1] and the no less enigmatic thesis of the late Lacan according to which, at the end of psychoanalytic treatment, the subject becomes its own cause. Since these two points run against the predominant doxa on Lacan (love as a narcissistic misrecognition which obscures the truth of desire; the irreducibly decentred status of the subject), it is well worth the while to elaborate them.

“Love beyond Law” involves a “feminine” sublimation of drives into love. As Bruce Fink emphasizes again and again, love is here no longer merely a narcissistic (mis)recognition to be opposed to desire as the subject’s ‘truth’ but a unique case of direct asexual sublimation (integration into the order of the signifier) of drives, of their jouissance, in the guise of the asexual Thing (music, religion, etc.) experienced in the ecstatic surrender. [2] What one should bear in mind apropos of this love beyond Law, this direct asexual sublimation of drive, is that it is inherently nonsensical, beyond meaning: meaning can only take place within the (symbolic) Law; the moment we trespass the domain of Law, meaning changes into enjoy-meant, jouis-sense. [3]

Insofar as, according to Lacan, at the conclusion of psychoanalytic treatment, the subject assumes the drive beyond fantasy and beyond (the Law of) desire, this problematic also compels us to confront the question of the conclusion of treatment in all its urgency. If we discard the discredited standard formulas (“reintegration into the symbolic space”, etc.), only two options remain open: desire or drive. That is to say, either we conceive the conclusion of treatment as the assertion of the subject’s radical openness to the enigma of the Other’s desire no longer veiled by fantasmatic formations, or we risk the step beyond desire itself and adopt the position of the saint who is no longer bothered by the Other’s desire as its decentred cause.

[1] See Jacques Lacan, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, 1964, ed. Jacques-Alain Miller, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: W.W. Norton, 1977), 263-76.

[2] See Jacques Lacan, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan XX: On Feminine Sexuality, the Limits of Love and Knowledge, 1972-73 (Encore), ed. Jacques-Alain Miller, trans. Bruce Fink (New York: W.W. Norton, 1998), 64-89.

[3] It is at this point that Peter Dews’ attempt to enlist the Lacanian problematic of ‘love beyond Law’ into his project of the ‘return to meaning’ (see his The Limits of Disenchantment, London and New York: Verso, 1996) falls short: it has to overlook the radical incompatibility of ‘love beyond Law’ and the field of meaning – i.e., the fact that within the Lacanian conceptual edifice, ‘love beyond Law’ entails the eclipse of meaning in jouis-sense.

Slavoj Žižek, Love Beyond Law


Hegel On This Now And The Here Pointed Out

The Now is pointed to, this Now. ‘Now’; it has already ceased to be in the act of pointing to it. The Now that is, is another Now than the one pointed to, and we see that the Now is just this: to be no more just when it is. The Now, as it is pointed out to us, is Now that has been, and this is its truth; it has not the truth of being. Yet this much is true, that it has been. But what essentially has been [gewesen ist] is, in fact, not an essence that is [kein Wesen]; it is not, and it was with being that we were concerned…

The Here pointed out, to which I hold fast, is similarly a this Here which, in fact, is not this Here, but a Before and Behind, an Above and Below, a Right and Left. The Above is itself similarly this manifold otherness of above, below, etc. The Here, which was supposed to have been pointed out, vanishes in other Heres, but these likewise vanish. What is pointed out, held fast, and abides, is a negative This, which is negative only when the Heres are taken as they should be, but, in being so taken, they supersede themselves; what abides is a simple complex of many Heres. The Here that is meant would be the point; but it is not: on the contrary, when it is pointed out as something that is, the pointing-out shows itself to be not an immediate knowing [of the point], but a movement from the Here that is meant through many Heres into the universal Here which is a simple plurality of Heres, just as the day is a simple plurality of Nows.

It is clear that the dialectic of sense-certainty is nothing else but the simple history of its movement or of its experience, and sense-certainty itself is nothing else but just this history. That is why the natural consciousness, too, is always reaching this result, learning from experience what is true in it; but equally it is always forgetting it and starting the movement all over again. It is therefore astonishing when, in face of this experience, it is asserted as universal experience and put forward, too, as a philosophical proposition, even as the outcome of Scepticism, that the reality or being of external things taken as Thises or sense-objects has absolute truth for consciousness.

G.W.F. Hegel 1807 The Phenomenology of Spirit, page 63


zizek on cyberspace

What, then, is the Matrix? Simply the Lacanian “big Other,” the virtual symbolic order, the network that structures reality for us. This dimension of fhe “big Other” is that of the constitutive alienation of the subject in the symbolic order: the big Other pulls the strings, the subject does not speak, he “is spoken” by the symbolic structure. In short, this “big Other” is the name fr the social Substance, for the agency thanks to which the subject never fully dominates the effects of his acts, thanks to which the final outcome of his activity is always something other than what he aimed at or anticipated. However, it is crucial to note that, in the key chapters of his Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis, Lacan struggles to delineate the operation that follows alienation and is in a sense its counterpoint, that of separation: alienation in the big Other is followed by the separation jom the big Other. Separation takes place when the subject takes note of how the big Other is in itself inconsistent, purely virtual, “barred,” deprived of the Thing – and fantasy is an attempt to fill out this lack of the Other, not of the subject, that is, to (re)constitute the consistency of the big Other.

Continue reading “zizek on cyberspace”