User:Jahsonic/Slavoj Žižek's 1st July speech as part of the 'Great Minds' series  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Slavoj Žižek's 1st July speech as part of the 'Great Minds' series[1]

Modern radical thinker Slavoj Žižek spoke on the 1st July as part of the 'Great Minds' series, and affirmed his status as a great mind of modern philosophy and social, cultural and political theory. Starbucks, social solidarity and self-commodification were among the varied and enlightening topics touched upon by Žižek, all grounded by his interpretation of ideology and its continuing importance.
One of Europe's foremost Marxist theorists, Žižek criticised modern leftist groups who, he argued, didn't really know how to cope with the upheaval of the 'sublime' moment (revelation that an assumed state of total happiness is actually nonexistent). The question of 'what happens next' has been asked since the dwindling exhaustion of modernism into postmodernism. Žižek asks us to put ideological pressure on modern life, confirming the presence of ideological symbolism even in blatant popular culture (such as two Oscar-winning films, The King's Speech and Black Swan [2010]).
His manner was sometimes serious, sometimes comic and vaguely apocalyptic (he is a self confessed pessimist), which all together made for an engaging talk, dense in historical, anecdotal and political references. The combination of issues allowed the modern audience member to examine their own behaviour alongside Hegelian optimism, Freudian self-commodification and Marxist ideas of social roles, in a non 'academic' sense, referring to the purchasing of Starbucks coffee as a subconscious purchasing of social solidarity built into the price. An audience member asks 'isn't it the case that people know that what they're doing is buying a coffee that will then, in some sort of self-serving way, make them feel better about themselves?', thus showing that ideology is no longer a 'smokescreen' of sorts. Žižek answers by claiming that we follow things, knowing that they are ideologies, and this does not necessarily make them 'right' or true. This is where the notion of ideology seems to be headed; to a total self consciousness -- as with a Hegelian resolution of the 'Zeitgeist' (Žižek is actually close to the publishing of an 800 page book on Hegel).
In his relatively brief talk, Slavoj Žižek managed to expose our susceptibility to certain ideologies, thus proving their ever present role in modern society - not bad for a Friday night in West London, perhaps the capital of the British bourgeoisie.[2]


Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): "Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"
Holmes: "To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
Gregory: "The dog did nothing in the night-time."
Holmes: "That was the curious incident."
Leon: [trying to make Ninotchka laugh] Maybe the trouble isn't with the joke, maybe it's with you. I'll give you one more chance. When I first heard this joke, I laughed myself sick! Here goes. A man comes into a restaurant. He sits down at the table and he says, 'Waiter, bring me a cup of coffee without cream.' Five minutes later, the waiter comes back and says, 'I'm sorry, sir, we have no cream. Can it be without milk?'
Gloria: Do you want to come up for a coffee?
Andy: I don't drink coffee.
Gloria: I haven't got any.
It is their business to watch the beginnings of this conspiracy, not merely in a criminal but in a controversial sense.… The work of the philosophical policeman … is at once bolder and more subtle than that of the ordinary detective. The ordinary detective goes to pot-houses to arrest thieves; we go to artistic tea-parties to detect pessimists. The ordinary detective discovers from a ledger or a diary that a crime has been committed. We discover from a book of sonnets that a crime will be committed. We have to trace the origin of those dreadful thoughts that drive men on at last to intellectual fanaticism and intellectual crime. --The Man Who Was Thursday
  • Of course not ... but I am told it works even if you don't believe in it[3] (Niels Bohr)
    • Reply to a visitor to his home in Tisvilde who asked him if he really believed a horseshoe above his door brought him luck, as quoted in Inward Bound : Of Matter and Forces in the Physical World (1986) by Abraham Pais, p. 210
    • In most published accounts of this anecdote such was Bohr's reply to his friend, but in the earliest account thus far located, in The Interaction Between Science and Philosophy (1974) by Samuel Sambursky, p. 357, Bohr was at a friend's house and asked "Do you really believe in this?" to which his friend replied "Oh, I don't believe in it. But I am told it works even if you don't believe in it."
    • Variant: No, but I'm told it works even if you don't believe in it.

See also

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