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September 15, 2006

I’m a reluctant reader of Slavoj Zizek.  Perhaps you haven’t heard of him yet.  He’s a philosopher who delves heavily into psychoanalysis and popular culture, and he’s written quite a few highly critical pieces on The War on Terror as well as the liberal response to it.  He refuses to position himself in a way that is ever agreeable with one faction or political group, which pisses a lot of people off.  I rather enjoy the way he pokes and prods at my own assumptions about the world.  And I wish I were smart enough to understand even half of what he’s talking about.

ZizekOne critic claims that “there is no “Žižekian” system of philosophy because Žižek, with all his inconsistencies, is trying to make us think much harder about what we are willing to believe and accept from a single writer.”  If you want to learn more about him, Wikipedia has a great entry about him with plenty of good links.

There is also a film entitled “Zizek!” that I hear is very amusing to watch.  My advisor at Marylhurst University, David Denny, is trying to get the film for a screening this fall. 

A taste of Zizek, from an article in response to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal:

 “To anyone acquainted with the reality of the American way of life, the photos brought to mind the obscene underside of U.S. popular culture—say, the initiatory rituals of torture and humiliation one has to undergo to be accepted into a closed community. Similar photos appear at regular intervals in the U.S. press after some scandal explodes at an Army base or high school campus, when such rituals went overboard. Far too often we are treated to images of soldiers and students forced to assume humiliating poses, perform debasing gestures and suffer sadistic punishments.

The torture at Abu Ghraib was thus not simply a case of American arrogance toward a Third World people. In being submitted to the humiliating tortures, the Iraqi prisoners were effectively initiated into American culture: They got a taste of the culture’s obscene underside that forms the necessary supplement to the public values of personal dignity, democracy and freedom.”

The obscene underside.  Poke, poke.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Bird permalink
    September 15, 2006 3:25 pm

    His comments about initiation rituals in the U.S. are good food for thought. I hadn’t made that connection. I shall have to contemplate it. Somehow I don’t think those torture victims got to join the club. I think there’s a line between bullying and hazing. The strong torment the weak because it’s fun or in some way satisfying, whereas hazing is fun, but has the element of bonding through a shared traumatic experience. Hazing is hardly unique to America, nor is bullying, regardless of what they call it elsewhere.

  2. foucaultisdead permalink
    December 22, 2006 3:32 pm

    Most people I know are enthusiastic readers of Zizek and yet they don’t understand half of what he writes either. So you are wise to be reluctant. I think his most accessible moments are to be found at the start of his “Plague of Fantasies” and at the end of his “Metastases of Enjoyment”.

    Just don’t end up like me – surfing Zizek tags!

  3. February 13, 2007 12:49 am

    Bush goes ballistic about other countries being evil and dangerous, because they have weapons of mass destruction. But, he insists on building up even a more deadly supply of nuclear arms right here in the US. What do you think? Is killing thousands of innocent civilians okay when you are doing a little government makeover?
    Are we safer today than we were before?
    The more people that the government puts in jails, the safer we are told to think we are. The real terrorists are wherever they are, but they aren’t living in a country with bars on the windows. We are.

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