comedy hour at the sweatin’ slavoj zizek lecture

May 3rd, 2006

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may 1 jack tilton hosted slavoj zizek, who, for anyone who doesnt know,
is a large, furry, fussy, fidgety, sweating, snorty, slovenian theorist and
smartest fellow on the planet. i had planned bringing him to deitch tonight
like six months ago, and it fell through due to a certain garden-themed show
breaking a buncha fire codes. in case you dont know to what i am referring,
please click on this to read what ken johnson saw in it:

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A07EEDF153FF932A15757C0A9609
C8B63

anyway. not that im totally furious or anything.

zizek essentially makes german idealist philosophy exciting by approaching
it like a Lacanian and illustrating it with dirty jokes and contemporary
cinema and all kinds of insane examples and contemporary political
applications. he makes theory seem like the most vital thing on the planet.

here is a zizek joke:

ok so there is this guy who goes to a shrink and says hes scared he can’t
live life, he is convinced he is a seed of some sort. So the shrink cures
him, convinces him he is a man, and he goes home. Next day he comes back and
the shrink is like, so you think again that you are a seed of some sort? And
the guy goes no I know Im not a seed, but does the chicken know that?

now to see what this joke reveals about the structure of belief and the REAL
threat of fundamentalism, you must read my pathetic notes i furiously
scribbled as he talked:::

5.1.06
SLAVOJ ZIZEK LECTURE AT JACK TILTON UPTOWN TITLED:

DANISH PASTRY OR THE EUTHENASIA OF TOLERANT REASON

Josefina Ayerza introduces
Goal is to lose the name of the father and find the true name of jouissance
(mine, by the way, is EINZ)
then Zizek- looking very spring-like starts:

renaming Danish pastries roses of Mohammad
freedom fries renamed Tuscany fries to avoid conflict
these are examples of mystification- mystifying respect for others vs. freedom of expression
blasphemy- strictly religious attitude, exists only in a religious space
liberal tolerance- cant hang in that space
Yeats- the blood-dimmed tide is loosed
Footnote: Turning and turning in the widening gyre ?The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;?The best lack all convictions, while the worst ?Are full of passionate intensity.

Fundamentalism- lots of forms. Amish people, Tibetan monks, thats some peaceful fundamentalist shit. Absence of envy, want to be left alone dudes.
While other kinds of fundamentalists like to FIGHT THE SINFUL OTHER, fight the representation of their own temptation
TV preacher guy- not fundamentalist, the way they deliver their message undermines the message

OK joke time:
Seed joke: ok so there is this guy who goes to a shrink and says hes scared he cant live life, he is convinced he is a seed of some sort. So the shrink cures him, convinces him he is a man, and he goes home. Next day he comes back and the shrink is like, so you think again that you are a seed of some sort? And the guy goes no I know Im not a seed, but does the chicken know that?

something got lost in the translation from Slovenian, I am positive

Externalized belief- must be some institution that does it for me, believes for me
Its what Marx hits on when he describes commodity fetishism:
But note this nuance- its not oh go grab commodities and demystify them, he says instead its a matter of us becoming AWARE of a mystification that ALREADY EXISTS and is determining our acts.
Its: the way things appear to you VS not the way they ARE but rather
The way things appear to you vs. the way things REALLY appear to you.
See how that is subtly different?
Like if you want to get clued in you would see that by the way you treat it/ use it you see that the way commodity REALLY appears to you is as this magical fetishized thing

And then back to the chicken joke: I know its not magic, but the commodity seems not to know it!

Or

I know god doesnt exist, but does god know he doesnt exist?

So enough jokes
This is what happens in Christianity.
The father why have you forsaken me? Its the one moment in the bible where god is doubting that he himself exists. Only in Christianity does god himself go through this test of faith
Atheism- being and time, Heidegger is a protestant atheism, all the atheisms actually seem somehow Christian flavoured
But so there is a catholic atheism
Are their Muslim flavoured atheisms?
Now our time is even less atheist than other atheist eras why?
Because the big other is ignorant and SOMETHING to believe for us. What? I am lost.

So Neils Bohr, he used to hang a horseshoe over his door for good luck people say this is ridiculous he says I have it there because I was told that it works even if you dont believe in it!
Post-ideological era? No! in practical knowledge more ideological than ever now
Pascals advice to Christian nonbelievers- act as if you believe and it will come by itself
[alcoholics anonymous: fake it till you make it]
ok well but today use it in the sense now: act as if you believe and you will be RELIEVED of your belief.

Fuh what?
That is to say: Cant handle being in love? You are neurotic, love is terrifying whatever, then you should get married and you will be RELIEVED of your love.
Symbolic ritual allows you not to have to subjectively hold any beliefs!
William Bennett saying reduce crime rate by aborting all black babies or whatever, blurting out this racism, and then saying he whatever was using that as an example of what would be absurd or whatever, him wanting it both ways
Priest pedophilia- is it oh just that there arent enough priests to join up so they take whomever? No its the Obscene underside unconscious of the institution itself.
Polyvalent prohibitions- no doesnt mean no it can mean a million things, you must know both the rules and the meta-rules

So yeah you say Slavoj, there are some people who really really really do believe things!!
And I say no!
There are all these fundamentalist cult things with the word science in the title
They reduce belief to little scientific facts science=religion to them is never a problem
It gets really crazy when fundamentalists try to act all sciency- example of the thing when a blood red calf is born, Armageddon begins, and then people saying oh well we will genetically engineer this cow or something
Anne frank- says still believe in the divine spark in every human being- impossible.
Ok direct quote: One is stupid, one is ugly, the other is not and so on —what?
Creo qua absurdum
is what authentic belief is, you dont deduce explain you believe almost because it is incredulously absurd. (Kierkegaard)
or like with John Brown is Zizek’s hero, you know, this Jacobinian thing that he likes, not blacks should be equal lets create the economic situation in which they can be a little more equal but BLACK S SHOULD BE EQUAL RIGHT NOW and he then starts.
This immediate, absurd belief is what is lost in fundamentalism. This real belief, no its not able to exist in fundamentalist shit today

Conclusion: Fundamentalists really arent a threat to rational knowledge, these fundamentalists, because they love science and rational knowledge
BELIEF is what is threatened by these fundamentalists.

So
Atheists are the strongest believes they believe with no carrot to lead them. No carrot
VIOLENCE ok:
Just human phenomenon, animals you know they eat each other and all but its not violence
global informational village ha :
maybe we should reject this global happy everyone together shit
maybe we should get out of each others way instead
maybe we should try a little ALIENATION in what should begin,
a NEW CODE OF DISCRETION
so
in this Israel/Palestine café he is at he observes this:
people who hate hate each other get along there because they just get out of each others way. [here Zizek calls himself a monster of culture and recounts how this guy after one of his lectures this awkward student is telling him help me with my sex problem or whatever and he replies I'm obviously too nervous, a mad man, why are you asking me these things?!!]
He hates:
Schindlers list- presenting his conversion to nice humanitarian so grotesquely oversimplifiedly
Pollock- ultimate vulgarity in depicting him thinking up action painting by drunk spills paint oh I will paint with drips or whatever
Couldnt these filmmakers whatever have some RESTRAINT?
The mystery is in reality itself. Respect the limit. Dont always keep going deeper and more graphically portraying and more to see inside inside inside forever
He disagrees that language is a means of symmetrical recognition and that it becomes bad only when it pathologically gets altered abused whatever
He says NO inherent in language is this divisive, blurred, violent thing
Language means we are here + we live on different worlds to him
The zero level of meaningits in the GAP between I know it means something but I dont know what it is and I know this thing!

So
Subjective violence
Well there is symbolic violence (language as great divider)
And then there is the real kicker:
Objective violence (violence inscribed into the very neutral functioning of society) gap between the moment of capital and its violent consequences
Problem is NOT: remember behind all your products is this real human worker sweating miserable
But rather::
Remember that these real people working sweating could at any moment be killed literally by a vague virtual nothing thing coughed up by the capitalist global economic demon
Physics he says he doesnt know much about, but he has read that there exists some systems where :
To maintain a system at its zero level of functioning, you have to put more energy into it that it would produce!
He says this is our system now
If we can coordinate the visual subjective violence to its respective invisible objective violence, then we are somewhere!

But it is even more complicated

He read paper by new German thinker [de pooey? I didnt catch] where he shows:
If we only try to imagine john rawls it would be catastrophic violent society not happy utopia shit
It wont work to interpret oh its all meritocracy, we see someone succeed we dont resent them we think they deserved it they have skills or whatever
We interpret success or failure here by ascribing to it these anonymous huge unknown market forces or shifts or whatever it could never work any other way for us. This is how capitalism RUNS our narcissism would never tolerate it any other way
Then he goes:

Now theengs get even more treeky!!

easy to laugh at the things where like now women have to wear burka but also is prohibited any shoes that make clicking sounds because even that gives Arab man boner
so like men cannot control lust so much that you must place even the heels of the women under your restrictions
or this person who did a paper on how to solve problem of necrophilia where you have people sign something like when I die, I will donate my body to a necrophiliac or something (he says that is the ultimate PC sex, fucking corpses)
but instead of clarifying the problem it mystifies it!
Hardt and negri, so ideological happy they blur the crucial distinction:
So like harassment, its an issue of the PROBLEM OF THE DISTANCE OF THE OTHER
So all this tolerance ends up meaning precisely INTOLERANCE to the others proximity.
[He used the word semblant. Love thy neighbor, love thy semblant (gross!)]
But we dont want to! We want the decaffeinated other, the sugar free other:
we want the holistic, dancing neighbor NOT the neighbor drinking beating his wife
then the story about some obscene interviewer asking Gore Vidal whether his first lover was man or woman he says I was too polite to ask
Zizek likes this I think, the polite ignorance
he says we need: a practical anti-humanism
moment of horror when someone confesses love for you, like terrifying horror, claustrophobic, like NIGHTMARISH to realize you are the subject of someones dreams
idea is:
recent book trying to justify torture the end of faith or something
direct torture vs. push button a million people far from you die thing
he claims that this disjuncture is the same epistemological mistake of like how big the moon is problem. Oh it looks small you know it is big whatever
he even suggests that repulsion from torture means we have neurological defect? Ackola
but this is like diet coke torture: book hypothesizes a drug that would make person transitory paralysis, transitory misery, and then recovers and it would be something no one would be subjected to twice
well!
The KGB already had this, you turdman, looked like you were sleeping but really were under the worst torture ever
Zizek calls this an ethical catastrophe
neighbor is a complex word origin. Its not physical proximity its an ABYSS THAT IS THREATENING TO ONE
bush delivered Iraq essentially into the hands of pro-Iranian forces
[side note I guess]
ok back to torture- if it must be done, must be done as an ACT OF DESPAIR and APPEARANCES MATTER.
like cheating spouses who tacitly agree not to tell, then if one told, despair! Because there are some situations where telling is anything but neutral
so
if his talk we all think is boring, we will tell him afterwards oh it was interesting which means it was boring but if someone came up and really said well it was boring he would be saying so much more, he would be personal assault level shit
so if they must must must use torture, why are they TELLING US, right?
No longer being ashamed of talking about a terrible thing is bad.
Hypocrisy has its uses! he says
Ok
Photo of bill gates in India feeding poor or whatever:
Terrible! Most ruthless abstract capitalism crossed with this warmfuzzy liberal humanitarianism
Also this false sense of urgency like WHILE YOU WERE SITTING HERE LISTENING TO ME JABBER ON AT JACK TILTON GALLERY TEN PEOPLE IN SOMALIA WERE STARVED
this manipulation, regardless of its veracity, is false
Should NOT let self be terrorized by this shit, should NOT let people say no theory just action! things are terrible! act act act!!
Only through theory we have a chance to learn what to do
And
if there is something I am not willing to renounce in advance, its VIOLENCE

some turd asks:
why is he calling himself a Lacanian?
Uses Lacan like any other thing, like his dirty jokes etc all the everything is TO REVITALIZE GERMAN IDEALIST PHILOSOPHY (some Kant Hegel shit!)
Thats awesome

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