Monday, November 16, 2009

Slavoj Žižek Evening Lecture

As part of our curriculum at the European Graduate School we must attend evening lectures from the faculty. This evening Slavoj Žižek spoke to us.

NOTE: As with all my notes from the European Graduate School, there will likely be mistakes because I did not record the lectures, I made notes as they spoke, so I am perhaps interpreting what they are saying as I am writing. This is certainly the case here with Žižek as once he starts talking, he will carry on for sometime. My notes, then are going to be problematic. To overcome my limitations I will embed the lecture here as well:

"Trauma and Israel"

Sometimes the world changes and not for positive reasons, for example √-1 which was discarded but now it is understood as i. Perhaps capitalism will be so treated. Capitalism is always in crisis, surviving only by borrowing from the future. Maybe what distinguishes Man from Animal is the rise of a new impossibility.

That which separates us from noumena are ethics, etc. There is no reality outside what appears. Noumenal real is overpowering and shocking. In the moments before certain death we can see reality not human reality.

Jews are both upper and lower class; too smart, too sexual; these are the classical stereotypes of the antisemitic tropes. In early Modernity the pressure was to force Jews to convert to Christianity, but in the late 19th century conversion is useless. For the Nazis the guilt of Jewry is in their very being. This began to be the case at the moment when Capitalism was developed and so the stereotypes of miserliness, etc. became qualities others sought. Thus deprived of what they were, Jews became the Absolute Jew and so condemned for some other more fundamental guilt.

Antisemitism in Europe began as Europe came out of the Dark Ages, when currency began to circulate as Capital.

Zionist antisemitism, the inheritors of Spinoza, those who still hold to the public use of Reason. Is the logic of antisemitism not that of global circulation and fluidification? It's hard to understand the critique that Western European democracy at its root is antisemitic when the greatest contributors to the development of democracy were radical, nomadic European Jews. It seems that Israel the State has become antisemitic.

Symptom is the exception which disturbs the surface; the fetish is not this. The fetish has a constructive quality that allows us to cope by clinging on when reality is too traumatic. Fetishes can operate in two ways: we are unaware of it, or we are aware of it.
  • But let's further distinguish between dismissive cynical fetishism as opposed to populist fetishism. 
  • False universality - where we advocate equality but privilege a secret group. 
  • Fetish mystification - where anti-capitalist struggle of the working class is transferred over to the struggle against Jews.
Jews are the fetish for fascism; the last thing that is seen before outright class struggle. It's very rare to get Nazis to become Communists, that is, it's hard to rationalize someone out of their fetish.

Mao's statement that everything is in chaos so everything is okay means something more than what is being said here.

The provocative conclusion

We are caught in an antagonism: the Liberal West vs. Radical Fundamentalism. What we need is a more radical Left. The true opposition, though.

Kierkegaardian repetition, Deleuze says there is no difference between repetition and the new.

[Does this mean the future of the world is Confucianism? He said we should repeat Lenin.]

"Perhaps the Left will resurrect good manners."



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