Posts Tagged ‘Zizek’
From ‘Zizek’s Reality’, an essay (pdf) by Stathis Gourgouris accompanying Zizek’s lecture ‘The Reality of the Virtual’:
Dialectical thinking has nothing to do with unification, even when it pursues
objects as singular, even when it evokes totalities. Rather, it seeks the self-
contradictory condition of the unity of the non-unified, perhaps even the non-
unifiable. But thought, in itself, cannot possibly theorize the non-unifiable. (This is
the elementary radicalism of dialectics.) If thought can be considered this way, by
the strictest standards of theory, it could only as a symptom of a worldly prattein
which establishes itself as ground for thought (Zugrund). In other words, thought
does not occur as a reflection on an outcome (as an instrumental result), but as an
event, a practico-poetic event of the dispersal of the real.
This radical performative (real-virtual) atheism would leave Christianity and all its
social-imaginary mechanisms far behind. It would mean to live not as if God does
not exist but to live as if God does not matter. Such a decision renders belief or
disbelief in God immaterial, much as it renders the question of God’s existence or
nonexistence irrelevant. Even more significantly, it thereby exposes that both
discourses (belief and disbelief) consist in producing an authority materialized out
of the immaterial, which occludes the encounter with worldly things that really
matter. There is no way that the issue can be resolved by taking cover behind some
sort of non-committed agnosticism: “I don’t really know if God exists or not, so I
withdraw judgment in the matter.” As Ludwig Wittgenstein has shown, the strictly
agnostic position is impossible. I cannot presume not to know with the certainty of
knowledge. In Wittgenstein’s (sense of) language, I cannot say “I know that I
don’t know,” Socrates notwithstanding, without compromising the radical power
of non-knowledge (which obviously has nothing to do with ignorance). I cannot
presume not to know because I would have to imagine (therefore, know) what it is
I don’t or cannot know. Living your life by performing the fact that God does not
exist – solely, in the sense that God does not matter, not because you have a stake
on the ontological status of the question “God is or is not” – is to destabilize any
guarantee of providence or destiny.
Not that one should never be mean. But there is no reason to be unnecessarily mean. In fact, there is only reason not to.
Just one example from many. The last paragraph of Deleuze La clameur de l’Etre. Even the ostensibly respectful tone Badiou adopts here has a nasty flavour to it:
There is in Deleuze, as in every physicist of this kind, a great power of speculative dreaming and something akin to a quivering tonality that is prophetic, although without promise. He said of Spinoza that he was the Christ of philosophy. To do Deleuze full justice, let us say that, of this Christ and his inflexible announcement of salvation by the All – a salvation that promises nothing, a salvation that is always already there – he was truly a most eminent apostle.
Why this use of words that insinuates that Deleuze is just like ‘every physicist of this kind’?
Why this confusion of his own rhetoric with his reference to Deleuze’s speculative philosophy? Making it seem as if all Deleuze did to come up with his ideas was sit under some Newtonian apple tree (anyway, dreaming is conducive to creative thinking. Remember, as one of many examples, the story, apocryphal or not, of how Einstein came up with relativity while daydreaming).
Why a ‘tonality…without promise’? Nonsense (bolderdash). Just because it apparently doesn’t resonate with Badiou’s idea of how a militantly Truthful tonality should quiver? Pff.
Why this invocation of Deleuze’s nickname for Spinoza ‘Christ of philosophy’ and the Christian term ‘apostle’, as a way of underscoring his (Badiou’s) view of Deleuze as an ultimately ‘religious’ thinker?
Why a mere ‘eminent apostle’, and not a thinker in his own right? Where did Badiou get his ideas from? ..
Just saying, it is so easy to slag someone off. And sadly such common practice amongst academic writers. Badiou and his talk of Ethics. (All this not to say I don’t thoroughly enjoy reading Badiou when he is not writing about something he doesn’t agree with).
Personally, I am much more charmed by Deleuze’s attitude, when he writes (don’t know where, got this from back cover of Desert Islands): ‘If you don’t admire something, if you don’t love it, you have no reason to write a word about it. Spinoza and Nietzsche are philosophers whose critical adn destructive powers are without equal, but this power always springs from affirmation, from joy, from a cult of affirmation and joy…’
Sometimes I wonder where Badiou left his bag of joy and affirmation