A microbrewery for book-lovers

Zizek masterclass Day Four

So the final day came along. I had an interesting chat with a couple of students. One was complaining about how Zizek said nothing new and went on about irrelevent debates, and was totally inaccurate. Then he proceeded to get his recording equipment out. Why? So he can waste his time twice over? They both seemed very enamoured with the detail. I just remarked that I was there to ask stupid questions. And I got to ask another at the end, so I’m getting closer to what I’m after. Obviously the content of these recent posts has been the issues of the lectures that day and they give some idea of the territory he covers, much of which will be useful for books we are currently developing at the Press. But in my lecture I’ll be concentrating on his ideas about Buddhism, Judaism and Christianity, so there won’t be anything about Heidegger, Hegel, or Badiou. 

Today was a preemptive strike against Badiou and his idea, amongst other philosophers, that the time when groups should try to seize state power is over. Now people should subtract themselves from the state and define their own spaces for power in their own groups, such as political or aesthetic groups. Zizek is against this; where is the space you withdraw to? It will be in society, so how can it be done? Instead the ambition should still be for state power. His suggestion was to subtract yourself, ironically, not from the state but from the false polarisation of, say, Liberal Democracy (Capitalist) and Religious Fundamentalism. But not to subtract yourself to create a third way, but in such a way as the movement itself abolishes both the poles. This is like when “those who by definition cannot take power (proletariat) actually take power, they destroy power itself, they undermine it.”

We also talked more extensively on the topic of what makes true atheism, which is all material that will feed into the lecture to come. I know my last four posts have been very dense, I promise that the Universettee lecture will be more gentle on the intellect and not take so many ideas as given knowledge. I really enjoyed asking all these stupid questions of mine amongst all these expert philosophers. It was an experienced mirrored by my journey home on day three when I ate a pork pie on the tube. There is something really obscene about eating a pork pie, especially a big one, on the tube. I don’t know why; try it. Look at the faces around you. 

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