Tarrying with the Negative: Kant, Hegel, and the Critique of Ideology (Post-Contemporary Interventions)

Tarrying with the Negative: Kant, Hegel, and the Critique of Ideology (Post-Contemporary Interventions)

Language: English

Pages: 304

ISBN: 0822313952

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In the space of barely more than five years, with the publication of four pathbreaking books, Slavoj Žižek has earned the reputation of being one of the most arresting, insightful, and scandalous thinkers in recent memory. Perhaps more than any other single author, his writings have constituted the most compelling evidence available for recognizing Jacques Lacan as the preemient philosopher of our time.

In Tarrying with the Negative, Žižek challenges the contemporary critique of ideology, and in doing so opens the way for a new understanding of social conflict, particularly the recent outbursts of nationalism and ethnic struggle. Are we, Žižek asks, confined to a postmodern universe in which truth is reduced to the contingent effect of various discursive practices and where our subjectivity is dispersed through a multitude of ideological positions? No is his answer, and the way out is a return to philosophy. This revisit to German Idealism allows Žižek to recast the critique of ideology as a tool for disclosing the dynamic of our society, a crucial aspect of which is the debate over nationalism, particularly as it has developed in the Balkans—Žižek's home. He brings the debate over nationalism into the sphere of contemporary cultural politics, breaking the impasse centered on nationalisms simultaneously fascistic and anticolonial aspirations. Provocatively, Žižek argues that what drives nationalistic and ethnic antagonism is a collectively driven refusal of our own enjoyment.

Using examples from popular culture and high theory to illuminate each other—opera, film noir, capitalist universalism, religious and ethnic fundamentalism—this work testifies to the fact that, far more radically than the postmodern sophists, Kant and Hegel are our contemporaries.


















subjects, but directly between affects. "I" recognize myself as an autonomous, self-sufficient Subject precisely insofar as I overlook -- misrecognize -- this network of partial objectal identifications-imitations which determine me and traverse the boundaries of my self-identity. 23 All this may appear very "subversive," if measured by the standard of the classical ideological notion of "autonomous subject" -- but isn't this very Spinozist mechanism at work in what we call the

chapter 16 of Jacques Lacan, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis ( New York: Norton, 1977). 17. See The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959- 1960, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, book 7, ed. Jacques-Alain Miller ( London: Routledge / Tavistock, 1992). 18. See Jacques Lacan, "Kant avec Sade," in Ecrits ( Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1966). 19. This ethics of desire, for example, would compel us to reject Lars von Trier Europa ( Zentropa), a film which seems to realize fully Hans-Jürgen

Kapuscinski, The Shah of Shahs ( London: Picador, 1986), pp. 109-10. 39. As to the utter unpredictability of this moment, suffice it to recall -- apart from the obvious fact that anybody who five years ago were to have predicted the imminent collapse of Communism, would generally have been dismissed as a dreamer -- how General Ian Hackett in his 1978 bestseller World War III, that is to say, just a year prior to the Iranian Revolution, conferred in his imagined scenario on Iran the role of

passive expression-effect behind which one has to look for some hidden "true essence," and becomes instead the agency which individuates the otherwise passive-formless matter, conferring on it some particular determination. In other words, the moment we become aware of how the entire determinatedness of the essence resides in its form, then essence, conceived abstractedly from its form, changes into a formless substratum of the form, in short: into matter. As Hegel put it concisely, the

answer to all this? Hegel in no way returns to traditional metaphysics: he refutes Kant within the horizon opened up by Kant himself. He so to speak approaches the problem from the opposite end: how does the "coming-to-notion" ( zum-Begriff-kommen) affect the existence of the object in question? When a thing "reaches its notion," what impact does this have on its existence? To clarify this question, let us recall an example which confirms Lacan's thesis that Marxism is not a "worldview," 28

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