What is an authentic political event?

December 2013 I visited Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy located just behind the Harrods store in London. It was a rather depressing experience, in spite of the kindness of the embassy personnel. The embassy is a six-room apartment with no garden attached, so that Assange cannot even take a daily walk in fresh air. He also cannot step out of the apartment into the house’s main corridor – policemen are waiting for him there.[ …]

Ágota Kristóf’s The Notebook awoke in me a cold and cruel passion

There is a book through which I discovered what kind of a person I really want to be: The Notebook, the first volume of Ágota Kristóf’s trilogy, which was followed by The Proof and The Third Lie. When I first heard someone talk about Ágota Kristóf, I thought it was an east European mispronunciation of Agatha Christie; but I soon discovered not only that Ágota is not Agatha, but that Ágota’s horror is much more[ …]

Slavoj Žižek on The Act of Killing and the modern trend of “privatising public space”

The documentary The Act of Killing, which premiered in 2012, provides a unique and deeply disturbing insight into the ethical deadlock of global capitalism. The film – directed by Joshua Oppenheimer and shot in Medan, Indonesia – reports on a case of obscenity that reaches the extreme: Anwar Congo and his friends are now respected politicians but they used to be gangsters and death squad leaders who in 1966 played a leading role in the[ …]

If there is a God, then anything is permitted

Although the statement “If there is no God, everything is permitted” is widely attributed to Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov (Sartre was the first to do so in his Being and Nothingness), he simply never said it. The closest one gets to this infamous aphorism are a hand-full of apoproximations, like Dmitri’s claim from his debate with Rakitin (as he reports it to Alyosha): “‘But what will become of men then?’ I asked him, ‘without God and[ …]

Hegel on Marriage

Far from providing the natural foundation of human lives, sexuality is the very terrain where humans detach themselves from nature: the idea of sexual perversion or of a deadly sexual passion is totally foreign to the animal universe. Here, Hegel fails with regard to his own standards. He only considers how, in the process of culture, the natural substance of sexuality is cultivated, sublated, mediated—we humans no longer just make love for procreation, we get[ …]

Mercy and its Transformations

[Appeared in Muzikološki zbornik, 2009, Vol. 45, No. 2, pp. 7-16. pdf] [Abstract:] Far from radiating the dignity of the severe but merciful rulers of Mozart’s early operas, Tito’s acts display features of hysterical self-staging. The falsity of his position is rendered by the music itself, which, in a supreme display of Mozartean irony, undermines the opera’s explicit ideological project. It is a very rare case that a (relatively) unpopular work like Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito[ …]

…’I will move the underground’ Slavoj Zizek On Udi Aloni’s Forgiveness

A hybrid of realism and fantasy, “Forgiveness” is a psychological examination of the tragedies of the Middle East. David, a young American-Israeli, returns to Israel to join the army, only to find himself in a catatonic state after accidentally shooting a Palestinian girl while on patrol. He is committed to a mental institution which sits on the ruins of a Palestinian village that had been attacked by Israeli forces in 1948. The head psychiatrist offers[ …]

Jack Bauer and the Ethics of Urgency

The fifth season of “24,” the phenomenally successful Fox television series, premiered on January 15. Composed of 24 one-hour episodes, the show chronicles the workday of the fictitious L.A.-based Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) as it desperately attempts to thwart a catastrophic terrorist attack. (In season four, they stopped a stolen nuclear weapon from exploding above a major U.S. city.) The “real-time” nature of the series confers a strong sense of urgency, emphasized by the ticking[ …]

The depraved heroes of 24 are the Himmlers of Hollywood

n Sunday, the fifth season of the phenomenally successful television drama 24 will start in the US. Each season is composed of 24 one-hour episodes and the whole season covers the events of a single day. The story of the latest series is the desperate attempt of the LA-based Counter Terrorist Unit to prevent an act of catastrophic magnitude and the action focuses on the unit’s agents, the White House and the terrorist suspects. The[ …]

The Popes Failures

Pope John Paul II’s reaction to Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ is well known. Immediately after seeing it, he murmured, “It is as it was!”—a statement that was then quickly withdrawn by Vatican officials. A glimpse into the Pope’s spontaneous reaction was thus replaced by the “official,” neutral stance, corrected so as not to hurt anyone. This withdrawal, and its nod toward liberal sensibility, betrayed what was best in the late pope, his[ …]