Welcome to the “Spiritual Kingdom of Animals”

The documentary The Act of Killing (Final Cut Film Production, Copenhagen) premiered in 2012 at the Telluride film festival and was also shown at Toronto International Film Festival. The Act of Killing, directed by Joshua Oppenheimer, provides a unique and deeply disturbing insight into the ethical deadlock of global capitalism. The film – shot in Medan, Indonesia, in 2007 – reports on a case of obscenity which reaches the extreme: a film, made by Anwar Congo[ …]

The Buddhist Ethic and the Spirit of Global Capitalism

[Lecture given at EGS on August 10th 2012. You can find the transcript of the video below.] WOLFGANG: Nietzsche pointed out the most dangerous person in the world is a philosopher because it comes in everything it was agreed on is no longer clear, it confuses everyone and tonight we have a founding professor of EGS, he was here on the first year and he is coming back every time he can. On his book one can read[ …]

A modest plea for enlightened catastrophism

How, out of the interaction of individuals, can the appearance of an “objective order” arise which cannot be reduced to that interaction, but is experienced by the individuals involved as something which determines their lives? This is the ultimate mystery of the so-called human or social sciences. The great theoretical breakthrough of Jean-Pierre Dupuy’s recent book The Mark of the Sacred is to link this emergence of what Lacan called this “big Other” to the[ …]

‘Humanity is OK, but 99% of people are boring idiots’, Interview with Decca Aitkenhead

Slavoj Žižek doesn’t know the door number of his own apartment in Ljubljana. “Doesn’t matter,” he tells the photographer, who wants to pop outside. “Come back in through the main door, and then just think in terms of politically radical right; you turn from left to right, then at the end, right again.” But what’s the number, in case he gets lost? “I think it’s 20,” Žižek suggests. “But who knows? Let’s double check.” So[ …]

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[ …]

Notes on a Poetic‐Military Complex

[Abstract:] The predominance of religiously (or ethnically) justified violence can be accounted for by the very fact that we live in an era that perceives itself as post‐ideological. Since great public causes can no longer be used to incite mass violence, that is, since our hegemonic ideology calls on us to enjoy life and to realise our Selves, it is difficult for the majority to overcome their revulsion at torturing and killing another human being.[ …]

Against Happiness, Q&A with Wolfgang Schirmacher

[following Zizek’s reading of “Happiness After September Eleventh”, from Welcome to the Desert of the Real] Zizek: ….After September eleventh, there was among critical academia a kind of a silent prohibition, a kind of resistance to simply identifying with patriotism. The result after September eleventh was a kind of innocentization of American patriotism. Now that we’ve suffered this we can be innocently, fully, American patriots again. That’s the path to happiness. Schirmacher: But you have[ …]

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[ …]

Reflections of Media and Politics and Cinema, Interview with Geert Lovink

Geert Lovink: You have been to Japan. What’s your opinion on the technological culture in this country? Slavoj Zizek: First I must say that I don’t have my own positive theory about Japan. What I do have, as every Western intellectual, are the myths of reference. There is the old, right wing image of the Samurai code, fighting to death, the absolute, ethical Japan. Then there is the leftist image, from Eisenschtein already: the semiotic[ …]