Archive for the 'Žižek' Category

The Falsehood of Multiple Modernities

"On White" by Wassily Kandinsky

Critiquing the concept of alternate modernities and its consequences toward understanding universalist theories, Žižek explains:

The significance of this critique reaches far beyond the case of modernity–it concerns the fundamental limitation of nominalist historicizing.  The recourse to multiplication (“there is not one modernity with a fixed essence, there are multiple modernities, each of them irreducible to others…”) is false not because it does not recognize a unique fixed “essence” of modernity, but because multiplication functions as the disavowal of the antagonism that inheres to the notion of modernity as such: the falsity of multiplication resides in the fact that it frees the universal notion of modernity of its antagonism, of the way it is embedded in the capitalist system, by relegating this aspect to just one of the historical subspecieis…

Jameson’s critique of the notion of alternate modernities thus provides a model of the properly dialectic relationship between the Universal and the Particular: the difference is not on the side of particular content (as the traditional differentia specifica), but on the side of the Universal.  The Universal is not the encompassing container of the particular content, the peaceful medium-background of the conflict of particularities…In other words, the Universal names the site of a Problem-Deadlock, of a burning Question, and the Particulars are the attempted but failed Answers to this Problem (34-35).

Reference

Žižek, Slavoj.  2009.  The Parallax View.  Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Badiou on the Master-Signifier

Žižek (left) converses with Badiou.

Žižek (left) converses with Badiou.

Slavoj Žižek, in his book Violence, writes about Badiou’s views of the Master-Signifier and postmodernism:

Alain Badiou develops the notion of “atonal” worlds-monde atone-which lack the intervention of a Master-Signifier to impose meaningful order onto the confused multiplicity of reality…

A basic feature of our postmodern world is that it tries to dispense with this agency of the ordering Master-Signifier: the complexity of the world needs to be asserted unconditionally.  Every Master-Signifier meant to impose some order on it must be deconstructed, dispersed: “the modern apology for the ‘complexity’ of the world…is really nothing but a generalized desire for atony.”  Badiou’s excellent example of such an “atonal” world is the politically correct vision of sexuality as promoted by gender studies with its obsessive rejection of binary logic: the world is a nuanced world of multiple sexual practices which tolerates no decision, no instance of the Two, no evaluation, in the strong Nietzschean sense of the term. (Žižek, 34-35)

Source

Žižek, Slavoj.  Violence.  New York: Picador, 2008.

Žižek and Liberal Democracy

Slavoj Zizek

Fabio Vighi and Heiko Feldner write:

[Slavoj] Žižek believes that, today, any genuine and legitimate anticapitalist stance must be complemented by an attack on liberal democracy, on the grounds that holding on to the latter functions as a blackmail against the implementations of radical political projects.  (Vighi and Feldner, 291)

Žižek’s point here is worth pondering, as it disturbs the fundamental boundaries of the standard leftist position today.  If the Left continues to adhere to the current democratic parameters (liberal democracy alied with global capitalism), it will face the same political deadlock ad infinitum-which means the Left will keep advocating a distributive justice that systematically fails to engender political passion whereas the Right will keep mobilizing various forms of obscene enjoyment (racism, proto-Fascist nationalisms, etc.).  (292)

Source

Vighi, Fabio and Heiko Feldner.  “Pathological Attachments: Slavoj Žižek on Anticapitalism and Liberal Democracy.”  Rethinking Marxism 21, no. 2 (April 2009): 290-97.


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