The Heart Of The People Of Europe Beats In Greece

[Transcript below video.] I am honoured to be here, but ashamed that I don’t speak your language. So, let me begin: Late in his life, Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, asked the famous question; ‘What does a woman want?’ Admitting the perplexity, when faced with the enigma of feminine sexuality. And a similar perplexity arises today; ‘What does Europe want?’ This is the question you, the Greek people are addressing Europe. Because you know[ …]

Too Much Democracy

“Democracy” is not merely the “power of, by, and for the people,” it is not enough just to claim that, in democracy, the will and the interests (the two in no way automatically coincide) of the large majority determine the state decisions. Democracy – in the way this term is used today – concerns, above all, formal legalism: its minimal definition is the unconditional adherence to a certain set of formal rules which guarantee that[ …]

Laugh Yourself to Death: the new wave of Holocaust comedies!

[Delivered at Lunds University on 15th 1999.] The success of Benigni’s Life Is Beautiful seems to mark the beginning of a new sub-genre or at least a new trend: the holocaust comedies. It was followed by Jacob the Liar with Robin Williams, the remake of the old GDR classic about the owner of a small shop in the ghetto who pretends to have a hidden radio-receiver and regularly tells his terrified fellows uplifting news about[ …]

Human Rights and Its Discontents

[Delivered at Bard College on November 15th 1999.] Thank you for the kind invitation. Let me go directly to the point: It is a well-known fact that the close-the-door button in most elevators is a totally dysfunctional placebo which is placed there just to give individuals the impression that they are somehow participating, contributing to the speed of the elevator journey. When we push this button the door closes in exactly the same time as when we just[ …]

The Superego and the Act

I want to begin with Coca-cola. It’s no surprise that Coca-cola was first introduced as a medicine. Its strange taste seems to provide no particular satisfaction. It is not directly pleasing, however, it is as such, as transcending any use-value, like water, beer or wine, which definitely do quench our thirst, that Coke functions as the direct embodiment of “IT”, the pure surplus of enjoyment over standard satisfactions. It is the mysterious and elusive X[ …]

The Interpassive Subject

[Delivered at Centre Georges Pampidou, Traverses, 1998. Minor editing, headings, etc.] Fetish Between Structure and Humanism According to the classic Althusserian criticism, the Marxist problematic of commodity fetishism relies on the humanist ideological opposition of “human persons” versus “things.” Is it not one of Marx’s standard determinations of fetishism that it deals with “relations between things (commodities)” instead of direct “relations between people”? In other words, that in the fetishist universe, people (mis)perceive their social relations[ …]