Zizek’s anecdotes in The Universal Exception

While fully justified at its own level, the notion of censorship at work in this criticism, with its Foucauldian background of Power, which, in the very act of censorship and other forms of exclusion, generates the excess it endeavours to contain and dominate, nonetheless seems to fall short at a crucial point: what it misses is the way in which censorship not only affects the status of the marginal or subversive force that the Power[ …]

Basic instincts: The rioters’ impotent envy

Repetition, according to Hegel, plays a crucial role in history: when something happens just once, it may be dismissed as an accident, something that might have been avoided if the situation had been handled differently. But when the same event repeats itself, it is a sign that a deeper historical process is unfolding. When Napoleon lost at Leipzig in 1813, it looked like bad luck; when he lost again at Waterloo, it was clear that[ …]

Can you give my son a job?

Khrushchev’s speech in 1956 denouncing Stalin’s crimes was a political act from which, as his biographer William Taubman put it, ‘the Soviet regime never fully recovered, and neither did he.’ Although it was plainly opportunistic, there was just as plainly more to it than that, a kind of reckless excess that cannot be accounted for in terms of political strategy. The speech so undermined the dogma of infallible leadership that the entire nomenklatura sank into[ …]

A Soft Focus on War

When Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker won all the big Oscars over James Cameron’s Avatar, the victory was perceived as a good sign of the state of things in Hollywood: A modest production meant for independent festivals clearly overran a superproduction whose technical brilliance cannot cover up the flat simplicity of its story. Did this mean that Hollywood is not just a blockbuster machine, but still knows how to appreciate marginal creative efforts? Maybe–but that’s a[ …]