In the rather obnoxious town of Ljubljana in Slovenia – from where Žižek hails – one finds eventually finds the university. This is the institution where he has spent most of his working life. Before the main building you may notice a circle of old men, or rather their busts:

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I presume they are the university’s former luminaries. Along with their buddies, they are gazing intently at something in the middle:

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Yes, they are simply leching away at  a naked young woman, probably sharing a smutty joke or two:

2013 June 202a (Slovenia)a

Is this perhaps the secret to Žižek’s modes of thought?

 

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As a philosopher Zizek is the very last whimper of that bang called “the West” …

From Mr Alan Jazeera’s news service, although it does make you wonder what Mr Dabashi is doing at Columbia.

Update: I thought I’d reprise a couple of images from the ever-popular post, Why don’t they sell beano in Australia?

Back in the 1980s, Žižek was a member of the liberal opposition in the Slovenian part of Yugoslavia, pushing hard for the break-up of the country and even running for the presidency. Every now and then those old political colours show themselves once again, as in this recent interview with Al Jazeera:

I claim if we do nothing we will gradually approach a kind of a new type of authoritarian society. Here I see the world historical importance of what is happening today in China. Until now there was one good argument for capitalism: sooner or later it brought a demand for democracy…

What I’m afraid of is with this capitalism with Asian values, we get a capitalism much more efficient and dynamic than our western capitalism. But I don’t share the hope of my liberal friends – give them ten years, [and there will be] another Tiananmen Square demonstration – no, the marriage between capitalism and democracy is over.

This little piece of bluster is interesting on at least two counts. First, it gives voice to a rather unsubtle Eurocentric nostalgia and arrogance over against Asia. At least, ‘we’ knew how to shape a capitalism that had democracy, but those unsophisticated Asians simply don’t know how to be so clever. Second, it reminds one of a statement from Richard Dawkins a little while back:

Given that Islam is an unmitigated evil … should we be supporting Christian missions in Africa? … Could our enemy’s enemy be our friend?

Translated into Žižekese:

Given that capitalism with Asian values is an unmitigated evil … should we be supporting anglo-saxon neoliberalism? … Could our enemy’s enemy be our friend?

A return of the old liberal? To be fair, Žižek  also said:

I think today the world is asking for a real alternative. Would you like to live in a world where the only alternative is either anglo-saxon neoliberalism or Chinese-Singaporean capitalism with Asian values?

The problem, my dear Slavoj, is that your belated effort to promote a communism with Žižekian values is a bit rich, especially in light of your earlier political efforts.

Is it not vaguely obscene to be asked to cough up $20 to go and listen to Žižek at the Sydney Opera House trying to ‘renovate communism’? And this from a liberal opponent, back in the 80s, of the socialist government in Yugoslovia.

Reminds me of a backhanded compliment from Badiou:

Let me begin by refuting, as I usually do, your reputation as a showman and a conceptual poseur – a very French misrepresentation (but let’s not worry that they said the same thing about our master Lacan).

Last night I met Žižek in a dream (fully-clothed, thankfully).

‘Why haven’t you published much lately?’ I asked.

‘I’ve been studying for a degree in theology’, he said.

‘A degree in theology?’ I said. ‘Why?’

‘I’m sick of relying on idiots like Chesterton and Milbank to develop my theological arguments’.

This one has always bugged me, ever since I studied classical Greek, Latin and philosophy. How come Greece is the source of Western thought? It is a narrative assumed and reiterated in a way that suggests a trauma: Greece is not of the West and the path from one to the other is decidedly rocky, if there is a path at all. Even people who should know better, such as Badiou and Butler, assume this narrative, and only Negri has questioned it by mentioning the history-defying immediacy of philosophical debates (Plato vs Aristotle could be happening side by side with Zizek vs Butler). But, last time I looked Greece is Eastern Europe, the language of the Eastern Roman Empire was Greek, and if you bother to attend a church that owes its origins to Greece, it will be Eastern Orthodox.