Slavoj Žižek answers a question on ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’
by Sam Kriss
SLAVOJ: Yes. My god. This question, I claim, it is inevitable, but I had hoped that it would be inevitable in the manner of Derrida’s messiah which is always coming but never comes, not in the manner of the inevitability of socialism. I should begin, I think, by saying that I have not read this book. In my house in Ljubljana, I have a hundred copies of each of my own books, there is no room for anyone else’s. It is a field of pure madness, pure narcissism, in the Lacanian sense, of course; it is the perfect image that constitutes the Subject. I may as well have made every wall a mirror. This book, it starts on the Internet, no? People are reading more than ever before with this technology, it is disgusting, wholly degenerate. I think the only true literary figure of our times is Katie Price, you know this? The woman who has written more books than she has read. She forms the highest critique of literature – and I do not mean this in the liberal nostalgic way of the culture is declining, everything is becoming commercialised, and so on, and so on. No! What she does is very important, I claim, she reveals the truth that was always there, that reading books is a worthless activity. There is an excellent line in Nietzsche, he says: at the dawn of one’s strength, to read a book – I call that viciousness! So I claim, the problem with this book is not that the author has not read enough, it is that she has read anything at all. My god. But this book, it is simulated sex, no? It is pure pornography. But that is not what is obscene about it; all literature is pornography, after all. No, what is obscene is the reaction. This is the difference between the modern and the postmodern: when that other pornographic book was published, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, it was banned at once. This is good, very healthy indeed. Pornography that is not banned at once, you know, it is like coffee without caffeine, beer without alcohol, a proletarian movement without the Absolute, and so on, and so on. But this book, the Fifty Shades of Grey book, it is embraced openly, the women read it on public transport, and so on, and so on. It is the Other without Otherness, utterly obscene. In the liberal society, everything is permitted, every kind of sexuality; not only permitted, it is mandatory. The command everywhere is this: you must Enjoy! The truly radical act, this I claim, is to not enjoy. The revolutionary is the real hedonist of the twenty-first century because he puts Communism over his own jouissance. It is this which is unacceptable. I am reminded of an old Soviet joke: Marx, Engels and Lenin take turns buggering a peasant woman in a field. When they are done, Marx kisses her cheek, Engels kisses her mouth, and Lenin has been stealing the wheelbarrows. I claim: if you do not get this joke, you are a fascist.
I’m convinced that it would be relatively easy to programme a computer algorithm which, given sufficient input in the form of pop culture and political events, would be able to churn out fully formed Žižek books at the rate of three hundred a second. The man himself already lies deep within the Uncanny Valley: like Marxism and eschatonic Christianity, he exists only to prefigure his own redundancy.
this gets better every time i read it
I have mixed feelings about the Zizek. I think there is actually some really clever stuff in there sometimes. He just has no ability to filter it out from the crap. Sometimes it takes a madman. Then again, that might come back to my feelings about Marxism, and the deeper cultural tradition of which it is a part.
I saw Marx’s main fault as him being too systematic; everything had to fit into a large picture, nothing could be out of place.
Zizek has precisely the opposite problem.
You took the words right out of my mouth. What’s more, I think the big majority of the activist population knows this by instinct. Intimidated by experts into staying quiet tho. How Dare You Pass Judgement On With Marx, Foucault and Zizek!
i think a lot of zizek’s work on philosophy and political theory is very important. on the other hand he should be forbidden from ever commenting on actual political events, because every time he does so it’s painfully embarrassing
Methinks you all protest too much.
Zizek is what he is. A professional philosopher and teacher.
His take on political issues is very interesting but not definitive (as he himself states).
You guys take him too seriously or not seriously enough!
We need more people like him. The reasons he shines like a supernova is because the other stars are so dim and far away.
This reminds me of the post-modern generator. http://www.elsewhere.org/pomo/
I’m putting my copy of “Less than Nothing: up for sale right now. This suffices, and I read only half of it.
This is of course a parody of Zizek, written presumably by Sam Kriss. However I found it very well written and great fun to read
Oh so NOW I know at least one of the reasons why he said the only thing he wanted to read about Sam Kriss was his obituary.
I’ve been enjoying reading Zizek for a few years now and just stumbled upon this … :D I Iaughed so hard I cried, thank you