Books and co-authored books
|2017. Slavoj Žižek. Incontinence of the Void: Economico-Philosophical Spandrels. The MIT Press.|
If the most interesting theoretical interventions emerge today from the interspaces between fields, then the foremost interspaceman is Slavoj Žižek. In Incontinence of the Void (the title is inspired by a sentence in Samuel Beckett’s late masterpiece Ill Seen Ill Said), Žižek explores the empty spaces between philosophy, psychoanalysis, and the critique of political economy. He proceeds from the universal dimension of philosophy to the particular dimension of sexuality to the singular dimension of the critique of political economy. The passage from one dimension to another is immanent: the ontological void is accessible only through the impasses of sexuation and the ongoing prospect of the abolition of sexuality, which is itself opened up by the technoscientific progress of global capitalism, in turn leading to the critique of political economy.Responding to his colleague and fellow Short Circuits author Alenka Zupančič’s What Is Sex?, Žižek examines the notion of an excessive element in ontology that gives body to radical negativity, which becomes the antagonism of sexual difference. From the economico-philosophical perspective, Žižek extrapolates from ontological excess to Marxian surplus value to Lacan’s surplus enjoyment. In true Žižekian fashion, Incontinence of the Void focuses on eternal topics while detouring freely into contemporary issues from the Internet of Things to Danish TV series.
|2017. Slavoj Žižek. Lenin 2017. Verso.|
Lenin’s originality and importance as a revolutionary leader is most often associated with the seizure of power in 1917. But, Zizek argues in his new study and collection of original texts, Lenin’s true greatness can be better grasped in the very last couple of years of his political life. Russia had survived foreign invasion, embargo and a terrifying civil war, as well as internal revolts such as at Kronstadt in 1921. But the new state was exhausted, isolated and disorientated in the face of the world revolution that seemed to be receding. New paths had to be sought, almost from scratch, for the Soviet state to survive and imagine some alternative route to the future. With his characteristic brio and provocative insight, Zizek suggests that Lenin’s courage as a thinker can be found in his willingness to face this reality of retreat lucidly and frontally.
|2017. Slavoj Žižek. The Courage of Hopelessness. Allen Lane.|
In these troubled times, even the most pessimistic diagnosis of our future ends with an uplifting hint that things might not be as bad as all that, that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Yet, argues Slavoj Žižek, it is only when we have admit to ourselves that our situation is completely hopeless – that the light at the end of the tunnel is in fact the headlight of a train approaching us from the opposite direction – that fundamental change can be brought about. Surveying the various challenges in the world today, from mass migration and geopolitical tensions to terrorism, the explosion of rightist populism and the emergence of new radical politics – all of which, in their own way, express the impasses of global capitalism – Žižek explores whether there still remains the possibility for genuine change. Today, he proposes, the only true question is, or should be, this: do we endorse the predominant acceptance of capitalism as a fact of human nature, or does today’s capitalism contain strong enough antagonisms to prevent its infinite reproduction? Can we, he asks, move beyond the failure of socialism, and beyond the current wave of populist rage, and initiate radical change before the train hits?
|2016. Slavoj Žižek. Antigone. Bloomsbury Academic.|
While it is common practice in contemporary theatre to re-contextualize a piece of work, the riskier – and Slavoj Zizek would argue more faithful – approach might be to change the actual story itself. Zizek’s Antigone not only re-positions Antigone as a revolutionary political figure, it alters the narrative of the play itself. As Zizek puts it himself in the introduction to the play, ‘Only one thing is sure: sticking to the traditional letter is the safest way to betray the spirit of the classic’. Philosophers have long been preoccupied with Antigone – Kierkegaard, Hegel, Plato and Judith Butler to name but a few – but never before has a philosopher had the audacity to throw fidelity to the wind and re-write one of the most classic plays in the history of theatre. This lack of fidelity is, of course, precisely the point: not only is this a fascinating new play in its own right, it is a political work calling into question our ideas of reverence to the canon, fidelity to the text and the notion of what ‘faithfulness’ might really mean. A brilliantly funny, moving and political play for those who are interested in reading and watching Antigone in a new way.
|2016. Slavoj Žižek. Against the Double Blackmail . Allen Lane.|
Today, hundreds of thousands of people, desperate to escape war, violence and poverty, are crossing the Mediterranean to seek refuge in Europe. Our response from our protected European standpoint, argues Slavoj Zizek, offers two versions of ideological blackmail: either we open our doors as widely as possible; or we try to pull up the drawbridge. Both solutions are bad, states Zizek. They merely prolong the problem, rather than tackling it.
The refugee crisis also presents an opportunity, a unique chance for Europe to redefine itself: but, if we are to do so, we have to start raising unpleasant and difficult questions. We must also acknowledge that large migrations are our future: only then can we commit to a carefully prepared process of change, one founded not on a community that see the excluded as a threat, but one that takes as its basis the shared substance of our social being.
The only way, in other words, to get to the heart of one of the greatest issues confronting Europe today is to insist on the global solidarity of the exploited and oppressed. Maybe such solidarity is a utopia. But, warns Zizek, if we don’t engage in it, then we are really lost. And we will deserve to be lost.
|2016. Slavoj Žižek. Disparities. Bloomsbury Academic.|
The concept of disparity has long been a topic of obsession and argument for philosophers but Slavoj Žižek would argue that what disparity and negativity could mean, might mean and should mean for us and our lives has never been more hotly debated.Disparities explores contemporary ‘negative’ philosophies from Catherine Malabou’s plasticity, Julia Kristeva’s abjection and Robert Pippin’s self-consciousness to the God of negative theology, new realisms and post-humanism and draws a radical line under them. Instead of establishing a dialogue with these other ideas of disparity, Slavoj Žižek wants to establish a definite departure, a totally different idea of disparity based on an imaginative dialectical materialism. This notion of rupturing what has gone before is based on a provocative reading of how philosophers can, if they’re honest, engage with each other. Slavoj Žižek borrows Alain Badiou’s notion that a true idea is the one that divides. Radically departing from previous formulations of negativity and disparity, Žižek employs a new kind of negativity: namely positing that when a philosopher deals with another philosopher, his or her stance is never one of dialogue, but one of division, of drawing a line that separates truth from falsity.
|2016. Slavoj Žižek. The Wagnerian Sublime: Four Lacanian Readings of Classic Operas. Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther Konig.|
In four compelling essays on classic opera, Slavoj Žižek examines how certain structural motifs repeatedly dominate the narratives by putting desire, as pure and captivating as possible, into music and on stage. Wagner’s heroes, for instance, suffer from unbearable longing (Parsifal), an excessive yearning for the absolute (The Flying Dutchman), a deadly surplus of pure love (Tristan and Isolde). But why is desire’s satisfaction fenced off through pain and failure? Why is the unification with the loved one indefinitely postponed? While the impossibility of the sexual relation and postponed fulfillment are crucial moments in Wagner’s dramatic art, Žižek detects similar motifs, along with structures of libidinal antagonism, in the operas of Léo Janacek, Peter Tchaikovsky, and Arnold Schoenberg.