An Orientalist explanation from Zizek

Mark Jones jones118 at
Tue May 9 02:07:00 MDT 2000

Behalf Of David Welch  wrote:

>Mark Jones has been
> promising a devastating critique for sometime now. However this sort of
> undergraduate quote chopping is hardly worth the electricity it took to
> send.

I haven't forgotten. The problem with criticising Zizek is that he is like
the sewage outflow in Torquay Harbour: there is always more on the way, and
who really wants to dig down into the deepest sedimentary layers of his
'evolution' as a thinker when he's so busy covering them up with ever-new
deposits? But I can tell you this: these are the guys (starting with that
great fraud Lacan) who first gave Freud a REALLY bad name. Zizek is
scientism v. science, philosopher's wool v. philosophy, doggerel v. poetry.
His very first published works attempt to establish himself as a thinker by
means of a critique of idealist v. materialist thinkers from classical
antiquity. This is hardly original, but what is interesting is that what
Zizek effectively does is discard the whole lot of 'em, and he does so by
'deconstructing' them in a kind of banal undergrad-psychotherapy-put-down
mode where every rationally-meant statement is scrutinised not for its
rational coherence, axiomatic strength etc, but for the alleged ulterior
motives of the utterer. This may make interesting reading as an attempt at
the psychoanalysis of Xeno or Parmenides or Plato (not much, actually) but
it is not philosophy; yet that is how Zizek PRESENTS his critique to his
gullible young audience; and they love it of course. Putting down philosophy
is like putting down school and education as a whole, which is a great
release for kids struggling with term-papers etc. But it's historical
relevance is questionable.

Anyway, I may still get round to Zizek if I get time; he's on my list of
to-do-in's. I had a strong urge to laugh when I was reading his
pseudo-scholarly claptrap in the BL the other day; it's embarrassingly easy
to demolish. You either buy into the Lacanian world view in toto or not at
all. One of the reasons for not wasting too much time on Zizek is because he
really IS a charlatan; some things can be left to history to judge (which is
not to say I disagree with Lou P's view, either). As for me, I'm working on
stockmarkets and hwo they function and what they mean, and the purpose of
that is to try to pin down the real articulations between the end of the
Cold War, the fall of the USSR, and the sudden release of pent-up capital on
a world scale. Are we on a new long upwave, or is this a multi-stage world
deflation in which one or two metropoles benefit at the expense of the
rest - the locomotive crunching the carriages for firewood instead of
dragging them along? It's hard to read order from the chaos in the signals,
which reflects the chaos in reality caused by the overdetermining
multiplicity of cause-and effect processes at work in the conjuncture (this
is what makes history unpredictable after all). I'll let you know how I get
on. I'm also just reading a very good book called Transcending the Economy
by Michael Perelman, which is all about (summing up) communist v. capitalist
labour. It's subtitle is 'On the potential of passionate labor and the

Mark Jones

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