The Matrix, or, the two sides of perversion

[Delivered at the Inside the Matrix: International Symposium at the Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, on October 28th 1999.] When I saw The Matrix at a local theatre in Slovenia, I had the unique opportunity of sitting close to the ideal spectator of the film – namely, to an idiot. A man in the late 20ies at my right was so immersed in the film that he all the time disturbed other spectators with loud exclamations,[ …]

Ecology against Mother Nature: Slavoj Žižek on Molecular Red

On November 28, 2008, Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia, issued a public letter titled “Climate Change: Save the Planet from Capitalism”. Here are its opening statements: Sisters and brothers: Today, our Mother Earth is ill. … Everything began with the industrial revolution in 1750, which gave birth to the capitalist system. In two and a half centuries, the so called “developed” countries have consumed a large part of the fossil fuels created over five[ …]

Fat-free chocolate and absolutely no smoking: why our guilt about consumption is all-consuming

During a recent visit to California, I attended a party at a professor’s house with a Slovene friend, a heavy smoker. Late in the evening, my friend became desperate and politely asked the host if he could step out on the veranda for a smoke. When the host (no less politely) said no, my friend suggested that he step out on to the street, and even this was rejected by the host, who claimed such[ …]

Hegel versus Heidegger

One of the standard critiques of Hegel, first formulated already by the “young Hegelians,” concerns the apparent contradiction between Hegel’s dialectical method and his system. While Hegel’s method approaches reality in its dynamic development, discerning in every determinate form the seeds of its own destruction and self-overcoming, his system endeavors to render the totality of being as an achieved order in which no further development is in view. With the twentieth century interpreters of Hegel[ …]

Descartes and the Post-Traumatic Subject

[Appeared in Filozofski vestnik, 2008, Vol. 29, No. 2, pp. 9-29. pdf] If the radical moment of the inauguration of modern philosophy is the rise of the Cartesian cogito, where are we today with regard to cogito? Are we really entering a post-Cartesian era, or is it that only now our unique historical constellation enables us to discern all the consequences of the cogito? Walter Benjamin claimed that works of art often function like shots taken[ …]

What can psychoanalysis tell us about cyberspace?

THE INFORMATIONAL ANOREXIA Today, the media constantly bombard us with requests to choose, addressing us as subjects supposed to know what we really want (which book, clothes, TV program, place of holiday . . .)—“press A, if you want this, press B, if you want that,” or, to quote the motto of the recent “reflective” TV publicity campaign for advertisement itself, “Advertisement—the right to choose.” However, at a more fundamental level, the new media deprive[ …]

“The one measure of true love is: you can insult the other”, Interview with Sabine Reul and Thomas Deichmann

The Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek has gained something of a cult following for his many writings – including The Ticklish Subject, a playful critique of the intellectual assault upon human subjectivity. At the prestigious Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2001, he talked to Sabine Reul and Thomas Deichmann about subjectivity, multiculturalism, sex and unfreedom after 11 September. ————— Question: Has 11 September thrown new light on your diagnosis of what is happening to the world?[ …]

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[ …]

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[ …]