On Divine Self-Limitation and Revolutionary Love, with Joshua Delpech-Ramey

Joshua Delpech-Ramey: Of late, the writings of St. Paul have become for you, as well as for Alain Badiou and Giorgio Agamben, a touchstone for radical thought. You seem to see in Paul’s works something of a revolutionary manual, and in the founding of the community of believers a supreme example of the structure and effect of an authentic revolutionary act. For Badiou, Paul articulates a general structure of universality. But how separable is Paul’s[ …]

The Parallax View

[Extract. Appeared in New Left Review 25, January-February 2004] Abstract: The philosophical basis for social action, as recast in Kojin Karatani’s striking Transcritique. On Kant and Marx. Slavoj Žižek investigates the irreducible antinomies of production and circulation—or economics and politics—as envisioned from the gap in between. In today’s English, ‘pig’ refers to the animals with which farmers deal, while ‘pork’ is the meat we consume. The class dimension is clear here: ‘pig’ is the old Saxon[ …]

Love Without Mercy

[Appeared in Pli, Vol. 11 (2001), pp. 177-199 (pdf)] 1 Against the Digital Heresy In the Larry King debate between a rabbi, a Catholic priest and a Southern Baptist, broadcast in March 2000, both the rabbi and the priest expressed their hope that the unification of religions is feasible, since, irrespective of his or her official creed, a thoroughly good person can count on divine grace and redemption. Only the Baptist – a young, well-tanned[ …]

Why We All Love to Hate Haider

[New Left Review 2, March-April 2000 – pdf] Abstract: What is the significance of the EU’s boycott of the new Austrian government? Beyond the Tartuffery of official reactions to Haider in the West, Slavoj Zizek dissects the political function of the new rectitudes of the Third Way. The entry of Jörg Haider’s Freedom Party into a coalition government in Austria has been greeted with expressions of horror from the entire spectrum of the ‘legitimate’ democratic political bloc[ …]

The Thing from Inner Space, on Tarkovsky

Jacques Lacan defines art itself with regard to the Thing: in his seminar on the ethics of psychoanalysis, he claims that art as such is always organized around the central void of the impossible/real Thing – a statement which, perhaps, should be read as a variation on Rilke’s old thesis that beauty is the last veil that covers the horrible. Lacan gives some hints about how this surrounding of the void functions in the visual arts[ …]

Against the Double Blackmail

[Extract. Appeared in New Left Review I/234, March-April 1999] The prize-winner in the contest for the greatest blunder of 1998 was a Latin American patriotic terrorist who sent a letter-bomb to a US consulate in order to protest against the Americans interfering in local politics. As a conscientious citizen, he wrote on the envelope his return address; however, he did not put enough stamps on it, so that the post office returned the letter to[ …]

Multiculturalism, or, the Cultural Logic of Multinational Capitalism

[Extract. Appeared in New Left Review I/225, September-October 1997] Those who still remember the good old days of Socialist Realism, are well aware of the key role played by the notion of the ‘typical’: truly progressive literature should depict ‘typical heroes in typical situations.’ Writers who presented a bleak picture of Soviet reality were not simply accused of lying; the accusation was rather that they provided a distorted reflection of social reality by depicting the remainders[ …]

From Courtly Love to the Crying Game

[Extract. Appeared in New Left Review I/202, November-December 1993] Why speak about courtly love (amour courtois) today, in the age of permissiveness, when sexual encounter is often nothing more than a ‘quickie’ in some dark corner of an office? The impression that courtly love is something out of date, long superseded by modern manners, is a lure which blinds us to the fact that the logic of courtly love still defines the parameters within which the[ …]

Eastern Europe’s Republics of Gilead

[Extract. Appeared in New Left Review I/183, September-October 1990] Why is the West so fascinated by the recent events in Eastern Europe? The answer seems obvious: what fascinates the Western gaze is the re-invention of democracy.It is as if democracy, which in the West shows increasing signs of decay and crisis, lost in bureaucratic routine and publicity-style election campaigns, is being rediscovered in Eastern Europe in all its freshness and novelty. The function of this[ …]