philosophy as not philosophy: para-ontology, hauntology, schizoanalysis

"Articulating the past historically does not mean recognizing it ‘the way it really was’. It means appropriating a memory as it flashes up in a moment of danger. Historical materialism wishes to hold fast that image of the past which unexpectedly appears to the historical subject in a moment of danger. The danger threatens both the content of the tradition and those who inherit it. For both, it is one and the same thing: the danger of becoming a tool of the ruling classes. Every age must strive anew to wrest tradition away from the conformism that is working to overpower it. The Messiah comes not only as the redeemer; he comes as the victor over the Antichrist. The only historian capable of fanning the spark of hope in the past is the one who is firmly convinced that even the dead will not be safe from the enemy if he is victorious. And this enemy has never ceased to be victorious."
- Walter Benjamin, Thesis VI

"The materialist doctrine concerning the changing of circumstances and upbringing forgets that circumstances are changed by men and that it is essential to educate the educator himself. This doctrine must, therefore, divide society into two parts, one of which is superior to society. The coincidence of the changing of circumstances and of human activity or self-changing can be conceived and rationally understood only as revolutionary practice."
- Karl Marx, Thesis III

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Zizek Responds to Kirsch

Zizek opens this recent lecture by discussing Kirsch's previously mentioned attack in the New Republic. It's a somewhat oblique response, segueing into a discussion of fascism/fundamentalism as a symptom of the liberal order's foreclosure of radical leftist politics. Nonetheless, it makes the point that Kirsch is not simply willfully misreading him, he is exemplifying a very clear ideological operation, one that seeks to confuse leftist and rightist radicalism as two species of the same 'totalitarian' tendency.

The lecture is quite good, the basic theme being a concrete engagement with Marx's critique of political economy, against the purely culture-critical use of Marx (a tendency of which Zizek admits being guilty). He seems to finally be working on some new material rather than just constantly rehashing and rearranging old themes, as he has been wont to do in lectures the past year or so at least.

As the superego says: Enjoy!

1 comment:

kvond said...

Planomenology: "He seems to finally be working on some new material rather than just constantly rehashing and rearranging old themes..."

Kvond: This of course might be like de Sade working on a new way for bodies to violate each other in his text, the very newness of such already being inscribed in his mandate, Enjoy! I have come to doubt Zizek's capacity for newness or originality, his having already entered into the very pleasing orbit around his petite object...but let us wait and see, perhaps Zizek is working on curing himself of his "sickness".