Zizek! (transcript/subtitles)

What would be my… how should I call it, spontaneous attitude towards the universe? It’s a very dark one. The first thesis would have been a kind of total vanity: there is nothing, basically. I mean it quite literally, like… ultimately…there are just some fragments, some vanishing things. If you look at the universe, it’s one big void. But then how do things emerge? Here, I feel a kind of spontaneous affinity with quantum physics,[ …]

Who needs charity from rich capitalists? The ethics of giving and the Communist vision

In his recent book Rage and Time, Peter Sloterdijk has attempt to assert – as the solution to what one might call the “antinomies of the Welfare State” – an “ethics of gift” over against mere egotistic market exchange. His proposal brings us unexpectedly close to what can only be called the Communist vision. What Sloterdijk proposes is a kind of new cultural revolution, a radical psycho-social shift based on the insight that, today, the[ …]

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[ …]

We don’t want the charity of rich capitalists

There is something profoundly strange about Peter Sloterdijk’s attempt to assert – as the solution to what one is tempted to call the “antinomies of the Welfare State” – an “ethics of gift” over against mere egotistic market exchange. His proposal brings us unexpectedly close to what can only be called the Communist vision. Sloterdijk is guided by the elementary lesson of dialectics: sometimes, the opposition between maintaining the old and changing things does not[ …]

The Violent Silence of a New Beginning

What to do after the Wall Street occupation, after the protests that started far away (Middle East, Greece, Spain, UK) reached the center, and now, reinforced, roll back around the world? One of the great dangers the protesters face is that they will fall in love with themselves, with the nice time they are having in the “occupied” places. In a San Francisco echo of the Wall Street occupation on October 16, a guy invited[ …]

Why is Wagner Worth Saving?

[Appared in Journal of Philosophy and Scripture, 2004, Vol. 2, No. 1. pdf.] With Romanticism, music changes its role: it is no longer a mere accompaniment of the message delivered in speech, it contains/renders a message of its own, “deeper” than the one delivered in words. It was Rousseau who first clearly articulated this expressive potential of music as such, when he claimed that, instead of merely imitating the affective features of verbal speech, music[ …]

Will You Laugh for Me, Please

On April 8, Charles R. Douglass, the inventor of “canned laughter” – the artificial laughter which accompanies comical moments in TV-series – died at 93 in Templeton, California. In the early 1950s, he developed the idea to enhance or substitute for live audience reaction on television; he then realized this idea in the guise of a keyboard machine – by pressing on different keys, it was possible to produce different kinds of laughter. First used[ …]