This Guy Is So Smart, He’s Got His Own Academic Journal

Slavoj Žižek is part philosopher, part international phenomenon. And if that seems impossible in this day and age, consider: Žižek, a Slovenian cultural theorist, has published more than 40 books in English, has starred in four films, and even has an academic journal (International Journal of Žižek Studies) dedicated to his work. Renowned for his gymnastic thinking and mastery of counterintuition, Žižek has been called “the most dangerous philosopher in the West” by the New Republic[ …]

Beneath the Veil: On the Truth of Islam

What is Islam – this disturbing, radical excess that represents the East to the West, and the West to the East? Let me begin with the relationship of Islam to Judaism and Christianity, the two other religions of the book. As the religion of genealogy, of the succession of generations, Judaism is the patriarchal religion par excellence. In Christianity, when the Son dies on the cross, the Father also dies (as Hegel maintained) – which[ …]

We need to talk about Turkey

There is something weird about the solemn declarations that we are at war against the Islamic State – all the world’s superpowers against a religious gang controlling a small patch of mostly desert land… This doesn’t mean that we should not focus on destroying Isis, unconditionally, with no “but…”. The only “but” is that we should REALLY focus on destroying it, and for this much more is needed than the pathetic declarations and appeals to[ …]

Are the worst really full of passionate intensity?

Now, when we are all in a state of shock after the killing spree in the Charlie Hebdo offices, it is the right moment to gather the courage to think. We should, of course, unambiguously condemn the killings as an attack on the very substance our freedoms, and condemn them without any hidden caveats (in the style of “Charlie Hebdo was nonetheless provoking and humiliating the Muslims too much”). But such pathos of universal solidarity[ …]

Anger in Bosnia, but this time the people can read their leaders’ ethnic lies

Last week, cities were burning in Bosnia-Herzegovina. It all began in Tuzla, a city with a Muslim majority. The protests then spread to the capital, Sarajevo, and Zenica, but also Mostar, home to a large segment of the Croat population, and Banja Luka, capital of the Serb part of Bosnia. Thousands of enraged protesters occupied and set fire to government buildings. Although the situation then calmed down, an atmosphere of high tension still hangs in[ …]

Deaths on the Nile

Now that the Egyptian Army has decided to break the stalemate and cleanse the public space of Islamist protesters, and the result is hundreds of deaths, one should first just imagine what an uproar this would have caused if the same bloodbath were to happen, say, in Iran. However, it is more urgent to take a step back and focus on the absent third party in the ongoing conflict: Where are the protesters who took[ …]

The power of the woman and the truth of Islam

What is Islam – this disturbing, radical excess that represents the East to the West, and the West to the East? Let me begin with the relationship of Islam to Judaism and Christianity, the two other religions of the book. As the religion of genealogy, of the succession of generations, Judaism is the patriarchal religion par excellence. In Christianity, when the Son dies on the cross, the Father also dies (as Hegel maintained) – which[ …]

Choosing Our Fate

Item number PO 24.1999 in the Museum of Islamic Art is a simple 10th century earthenware circular dish from Nishapur or Samarqand; its diameter 43 cm, decorated with a (Farsi) proverb attributed to Yahya ibn Ziyad, written in black on white slip ground: “Foolish is the person who misses his chance and afterwards reproaches fate.” Such dishes were meant to solicit an appropriate conversation among the learned eaters during and after the meal; an old[ …]

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[ …]