The Universal Exception (Preface)

The big Other between violence and civility Slavoj Zizek   The ‘universal exception’, according to Lacan, is the fundamental feature of the symbolic order (the ‘big Other’) as the order of universality: each universality is grounded in its constitutive exception. This feature is to be supplemented with its no less paradoxical obverse, the so-called ‘not-All [pas tout]’: an order (or rather, a field, a signifying space) with no exception that is eo ipso not-all, and[ …]

Who can control the post-superpower capitalist world order?

To know a society is not only to know its explicit rules. One must also know how to apply them: when to use them, when to violate them, when to turn down a choice that is offered, and when we are effectively obliged to do something but have to pretend we are doing it as a free choice. Consider the paradox, for instance, of offers-meant-to-be-refused. When I am invited to a restaurant by a rich[ …]

Dictatorship of the Proletariat in Gotham City

The Dark Knight Rises attests yet again to how Hollywood blockbusters are precise indicators of the ideological predicament of our societies. Here is a (simplified) storyline. Eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, the previous installment of the Batman saga, law and order prevail in Gotham City: under the extraordinary powers granted by the Dent Act, Commissioner Gordon has nearly eradicated violent and organized crime. He nonetheless feels guilty about the cover-up of[ …]

Liberalism as politics for a race of devils

For liberalism, at least in its radical form, the desire to subject people to an ethical ideal – which is regarded as universal and thus universally binding – is the mother of all crimes, “the crime which contains all crimes,” for it amounts to the brutal imposition of one’s own view onto others, and is thus the root cause of civil disorder. This is why, liberals claim, if one wants to establish civil peace and[ …]

Christ, Hegel, Wagner

[Appeared in 2008, International Journal of Zizek Studies, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 1-12 (pdf)] In pre-digital times, when I was in my teens, I remember seeing a bad copy of Vertigo – its last seconds were simply missing, so that the movie appeared to have a happy ending, Scottie reconciled with Judy, forgiving her and accepting her as a partner, the two of them passionately embracing… My point is that such an ending is[ …]

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[ …]

Biopolitics: Between Terri Schiavo and Guantanamo

Now we finally learned what we all suspected: the numerous reports and testimonies about the Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib prisons were a trap to distract the attention of the public from the true secret: in the last days, big media reported that the CIA operates secret detention facilities beyond the reach of the law and outside official oversight at bases in two eastern European countries and some other Asian countries. The CIA has not even[ …]

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[ …]

NATO, the Left Hand of God

On the Self Deception of the West, or Why the Conflict in the Balkans Will Not Come to an End Anytime Soon NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia is over. It is therefore time to ask what the meaning of this war was. What were its ideological and political consequences? Not long ago, Vaclev Havel maintained (in an essay titled “Kosovo and the End of the Nation State”) that the bombing of Yugoslavia, for which there was[ …]