Forever Under Construction

On Culture

Posted in Culture by homeyra on February 12, 2009

If you like to be challenged on your perceptions of culture, listen – just listen, DON’T WATCH! – to cultural critic, sociologist and philosopher Slavoj Žižek, preferably a few time.

An excerpt at 1.13.57:

[…] What worries me is precisely the simple fact that we talk publicly about [torture]. I mean I know very well, I am the first to admit when pro-American friends tell me […] “let’s be frank In the United States we at least debate torture. In China, in Russia they are probably doing it much more, they don’t even talk about it.” Ok we debate it. This worries me. Why? Let me draw a parallel. […]

Would you like to live in a society where you will have to debate and argue all the time that women shouldn’t be raped?

No I want to live in a dogmatic society where when somebody starts to advocate the right of men to rape women you simply disqualify your self, I mean people don’t even attack you, you are just a jerk, […] “haha, what’s wrong with this guy” or whatever.

Fortunately I want to live in a society where the same goes for torture.

I think the sign is that we debate about, they are many signs that this unwritten between the lines rules are changing. That’s why I think we effectively are in a middle of change. Its not maybe the change that Obama wants, it is a much more ominous change. It’s a change of this very ideological background.

This is why, If you want to get what the message is […] you should all the time apply this mechanism that “OK they are saying this, but what is the implicit message? They say I believe this. What is that they really want us to believe?

I think things are really clear, when Republicans are saying “not Obama, we are for change, we are the true candidate for change”. It’s a little bit I am afraid too short to claim “Oh but they don’t really mean change.”

Of course They don’t. […] The real message is “we promise you to change something, to change that what is necessary to change so things remain the same“. I mean this is the message between the line, it is all too naïve but its too clear.

When you ask about the economy, they say what? The same old mantra: “less state, less state spending, less tax, strong foreign policy”, absolutely nothing new, so its change so that nothing really changes.

Another thing, when people claim about all this populist rhetoric, of you know “we mavericks, simple people” of course Republicans are now playing the populist game, but what are the true contours of these games?

Again, I don’t think the real message which is well understood by their voters is “things are really that simple, we will just put in practice in Washington your populist fury […]”

No, the message is: “we and you know very well that we need boys in the back room, experts to do the job. Let’s play the game here we will keep a boy in the back room who will do the dirty job for you, and it’s better for you not to know it.”

I think that effectively between the lines they are offering you what is the opposite.[…]

(h/t to P U L S E)


10 Responses

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  1. 99 said, on February 12, 2009 at 8:19 am

    Really, don’t watch! But listen up good. He’s great! If he wasn’t married, I’d be running after him with a bottle of antihistamines.

    Or at least a hankie! 😛

  2. Sophia said, on February 12, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    Good to have you back. I am a big fan of Zizek.

    here is a link to a post I wrote for bloggers against torture that take the same stance: Speaking about torture and debating it is banalising torture.

  3. homeyra said, on February 13, 2009 at 8:14 am

    I can’t look at him for one minute 99, your description is perfect!
    Hello Sophia, thanks. I remember your post.
    I didn’t know Zizek, and he would be a great lecturer if he wasn’t looking that filthy:) Otherwise it is really refreshing to hear someone talk as he does.

  4. Sophia said, on February 15, 2009 at 5:00 am

    Hello Ann,
    Congratulations for the new group website. yes Zizek is very filthy. At one moment at the end of the video he was moking Palin’s daughter licking and applying her saliva to her baby brother’s hair. I thought this was funny snce he was doing exactly the same with his hand running constantly from his nose to his face and his hair in a circular way.
    Although I am a fan I would dispute some of his assumptions in the video that relate to Radovic and Milosevic where he explains that they became great leaders because they promised their followers anarchy, mayhem, and laissez-aller.
    I think Zizek is mostly an entertainer (despite his awful look). However, the most prominent critic of our modern democracies, and more efficient than Zizek, is the French Aalin Badiou. Homeyra, if you have time, you can find some of his talks on the web, both in French and English.

  5. Sophia said, on February 15, 2009 at 5:03 am


    Sorry. I don’t know how I confused you with Ann. Actually, the explanation may lie in the fact that:
    1- I had just visited her new website;
    2-She is a regular visitor of yours;
    3- It is past midnight february 14th here in Montreal

    I need to go to bed…

  6. 99 said, on February 15, 2009 at 7:52 am

    Sophia, I have to thank you for suggesting Alain Badiou. It drove me to look for a video of him speaking. In the course of that I came across a YouTube playlist page that is a veritable jackpot of Žižek lectures, as well as one with Badiou.

    I’m listening to him now, and am beginning to think you find his cadence more attractive… or maybe I have to listen harder but the sublimity of insight just doesn’t seem to be there. I think it might be easy for people to be put off or turned off by Žižek’s outrageous pressure of speech, and verbal ticks, that come in addition to his physical ones, but if you can relax that and just hear the directions he’s trying to take us, I think you will end up agreeing.

    For instance, his point about Radovic and Milosevic and their ilk was not that they were outward proponents of that stuff, but that it was implicit in their ideology… the unspoken beneath the excuses used as rhetoric. The guy is not bound by the classic intellectual constraints that keep most intellectuals down.

    He does naturally what Doug Hoffstadter called “jumping out of the system” to communicate from another level and I find it riveting. I think the man realizes that language itself prevents real communication and does a great job of conveying more than almost any speakers one ever hears.

    I hope you’ll give him another chance.

  7. homeyra said, on February 15, 2009 at 11:01 am

    No worries Sophia! My nickname is confusion 🙂
    Thanks for introducing this new figure. I have never really looked into Badiou. Great to have another contemporary and motivating thinker to look up.
    In all other videos Zizek looks ok, but the one this post is linked to, he looks filthy! I guess 99 was right, he must have a bad cold or something like that.
    So far, in what I have read or listen to, it seems to me that Zizek pin points pertinently at all that is omitted from the usual discourse.

  8. Sophia said, on February 16, 2009 at 12:47 am

    Badiou is definitely more profound and less mediatic than Zizek. He has a fresh view on everything, but most notably on democracy in the age of media Politics. I read his book ‘De quoi Sarkozy est-il le nom ?’ which became an instant library success. You won’t be disappointed by it…

  9. homeyra said, on February 16, 2009 at 11:06 am

    I should definitely find his books. I am very glad that you directed me toward him.
    It seems to me that the mediatic side of Zizek is a plus, it is great to have someone who challenges publicly so many taboos. Have you seen his debate with BHL?

  10. Change « Forever Under Construction said, on March 16, 2009 at 9:12 am

    […] can’t but think of Žižek: “we promise you to change something …  to change that what is necessary to change, so […]

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