Zizek and Love by runout

VIEWS: 104 PAGES: 19

									D Hourigan                              AAP 2006                            2nd-7th of July, 2006
Griffith University                    ANU, Canberra


Žižek and Love: bureaucracy and technology – the anonymity of living with an

anal Father – love in the house bureaucracy built – fin.

“I lost my friend to the television!”—anon

“Love consists in giving something one is not free to give.”—Lacan

La petite dejeunier: In the work of Slavoj Žižek we can piece together a theory of

the subject that takes aim at the universality of perversion. For the purposes of this

paper perversion is here cast as the reification and concomitant transgression of the

symbolic limits of the human condition by the all-pervading challenge of technology.

Perversion appears at the level of the social relation because physical limitations are

compensated for by the substitution of the all too human repose with

technical/calculative rationality. Such substitution in turn inculcates a socio-symbolic

mode of relation. Thus we are between the fantasies of technological empowerment

and the fetishisation of this empowerment. This reification of the compensatory

project of technology appears to inevitably transgress the limit/horizon of the human

condition. A crisis for the human condition herein emerges as the transgression of

technology „writ large‟ in the Social overruns the ineffable territory of one‟s own

humanity. In response to this crisis Žižek asserts that love can intervene between the

perverse transgressive fantasies and illusive reification. Rather than being swept along

with a pathological will-to-power such love is without compromise, and this

distinguishes it from reification or transgression wherein the subject must always

compromise their position to try and get what they want. The loving subject of

Žižek‟s discourse is constituted by the Cartesian cogito, embodiment, the psychical

structures of Lacanian psychoanalysis, and the vortex of sexual drive. This paper will

examine these four aspects of love-without-compromise in the context of Žižek‟s

ongoing critique of the perverse social relation.
1 – Bureaucracy and technology

Technology offers us a means of emancipation and empowerment without aesthetic or

ethical guarantee. Herein there is the danger of technological advancement being too

advanced beyond the human capacity to critically engage with the aesthetic/ethical

norm („Why?‟) of such advancement. Such a norm sustains a questioning spirit that

breaks with headless progress, although this spirit can itself encounter difficulty if it

regresses to some sort of cynical apathy. This conceptualising of technology and its

relation to the human subject stems from the domain of Žižek‟s critical theory in

which technology pre-exists subjective and economico-political structures. The

political ideology of liberalism for example claims purchase over the variety of

technologies that sustain and promote values such as individualism, free expression, a

minimal state, and so forth. This discourse is itself co-extensive with the unfinished

Enlightenment project of emancipation and empowerment that finds its terminus more

and more in technological mediums. And herein lays the problem of technocracy‟s

naïve pragmatism: it constructs a binary opposition between „the Platonic romance of

intellectualisation‟ and „the lustful gadgetry of usefulness.‟ Žižek‟s task is thus to

reveal this dichotomy of technocratic liberal culture as false, and intervene in its

structure with a courtly undetermined love or what St Paul called agape. Such love is

separate from the emancipation and empowerment of technology, and signals the

appearance of the unknown quality in another person on the virtue of which I love

them—that certain je ne sais quoi. Žižek forms such a definition of love through a

four-fold theory of the subject that combines aspects of philosophy and

psychoanalysis to locate a subject attached to an amorous opacity rather than the

malaise of perpetual technological supplementation of human capacities for
empowerment and emancipation. This is a subject purportedly living within the

“alethosphere” of the Information Age, which Joan Copjec describes as

           “A kind of high-tech heaven, a laicised or „disenchanted‟ space filled none the

           less with every technoscientific marvel imaginable: space probes and orbiters,

           telecommunications and telebanking systems, and so on.”1

This space is built upon a rigorous, demonstrable, and mathematic theory of scientific

truth. The emergent love-without-compromise of the Žižekian subject cuts through

the fantasies of „one true love‟ and „mere infatuation‟ promoted by the presumption of

an objective shared universe. Such love is not what psychoanalysis calls

„transference.‟ However, it is an answer as to how the subject is to live among the

hierarchisation of values in culture—a la liberal cultures‟ emphasis on individuality

and tolerance.



Žižek observes that liberal cultures within this „alethosphere of the present‟ form

technocratic institutions and practices which mimic the formal designation of these

institutions and practices, i.e. politics becomes post-political as rational expert

administration comes to replace vying interests and the Realpolitik in the purportedly

„liberal‟ populist political framework.2 It is curious that in the absence of any

reference to the major figures of discourses of technology including Foucault, Kroker

& Kroker, Virilio, et al, Žižek uses the term “technocratic” to designate the material

culture of liberalism he has in his sights. The way in which Žižek engages this

construct of “technocratic liberals” reinforces the idea that he is occupied with some

form of critical theory. Technology herein emanates from a point of origin that is

bound up with the values of emancipation and empowerment in Žižek‟s

1
    Copjec in Žižek (ed), 2006: 96
2
    Žižek „Against the Populist Temptation‟ in Critical Inquiry 32 (3), 2006: 553
ideologiekritik. The critique of technology this paper engages with is therefore

grounded to some extent in the critique of political economy. In this way Žižek‟s

criticisms of liberal democracy will be developed as an allegory for the critique of

technology.3 The automation of political institutions and the subsequent enframing of

populism as the sine qua non of politics candidly asserts empowerment contrary to

love. Žižek‟s recent critique of liberal democracy in Critical Inquiry (2006) takes aim

at this assertion.



In the Critical Inquiry (2006) article Žižek observes the absence of a questioning

spirit breeds a culture of cynical apathy amongst technocratic liberal cultures.4 At

base the central figure of the liberal democratic nation-state is not a sovereign Master

whom „the people‟ adore but an empty place of bureaucracy which is constantly

emptied of the fantasised political representations filling it in. The situation herein

emerges that the big Other of bureaucracy to whom we address our demands, as free-

thinking individuals, appears as an inconsistent entity. In this sense the big Other of

bureaucratic government is reduced to the small other who competes with the

individual for what is in their best interest. The reverse of this competition is that we

may assume the role of the small other insofar as they must be an alter-ego for us to

compete with them as such, i.e. we can imagine ourselves „in their shoes.‟ Žižek

refers to this empathetic transition as a suspension of symbolic authority.5



This empathetic suspension within a technocratic liberal frame reduces us to the

cynic‟s constant suspicion of the big Other‟s motives, inferring the Other is our

imaginary rival rather than a sign of social order. Indeed, it is as if the symbolic
3
  Ibid.
4
  Ibid, 552
5
  Žižek, „You May!‟ in London Review Of Books 21 (6), 1999
ordering of the social dimension of everyday life disappears from view. For example,

the vast armada of advisers behind a political representative never appear before the

voters themselves yet these advisers are what make the political messages of

bureaucracy „thick‟ with the subjective meaning and interest we read in them.6 It is as

though in reducing symbolic authority to an impenetrable self-interested technocrat

we might take pity on we are attempting to elevate ourselves to the status of the big

Other, trying to be a Master of the politicians per the populist dream wherein „the

people‟ rule. Hegel, one of Žižek‟s several philosophical influences, understands this

process in the Phenomenology of Spirit (1977) as trying to have a „beautiful soul.‟7

The reverse of competing with bureaucracy is thus to be duped by it. Duped into

having a false cynical distance where we are in fact bound tightly with the formal

structure of bureaucracy—knowing the bureaucrats are „in the know,‟ in possession of

some minimum of undemocratic enjoyment.



2 – The anonymity of living with an anal Father

This leads us to Žižek‟s bemusement with the coincidence of democratic structure,

populism, and a technocratic liberal culture; and back to the heart of how we are to

reinvigorate the varied amorous relations when living within a Kojèvian post-political

nation-state system with each person and their desires pitted against the next.8 By

reducing the Other to our imaginary rival the subject is attempting to elevate

themselves to a level of sovereignty. Yet because we as individuals are assumed to be

autonomous by the post-political processes we are not transparent enough to fit the

role of the big Other in the empty core of democracy. Such being the case the subject

is put out of joint because they are self-conscious and simultaneously able to assume
6
  Zizek places such „meaningful political messages‟ in the class of a „Macguffin‟
7
  Hegel, 1977: 383-409
8
  Žižek, 2002: 140
the representative role of the Other in an extra-bureaucratic sense. We are rendered as

a radical Otherness that is not the same as the Other, neither homeostatic as an

idealised Self nor moving toward such homeostasis as a competitive alter-ego bent on

consuming all possible enjoyments and achieving some kind of totality.



The reference to the subject‟s capability to assume the role of an extra-bureaucratic

stand-in for the big Other provides some headway into the question of whether the

jealous permissiveness encountered at the level of the imagined relation between the

ego and its competitors (small others) is a loss of psycho-social structure. In his

various prognoses of the subject in post-modernity Žižek persistently returns to the

idea that a minimum of structure breeds conservativism.9 The critical dilemma for the

subject living in a liberal democratic nation-state is that the empty core of democracy

is buttressed by bureaucratic procedures that provide structures for government

action, what Althusserians refer to as Regulatory State Apparatuses (RSAs). The

mode of the post-political renders the democratic ideology an inverted shibboleth of

bureaucratic procedure. Being subjected to bureaucratic procedure hides the

ideological value of the RSAs, they are presented as mere technologies of governance

in which people are simply doing their job. When the subject takes up the role of

representing the big Other however, they enter into a difficult relation with symbolic

authority itself because they become part of the bureaucratic technocracy: they

become radically alienated from their subjective interest in the political debate and are

rendered as automata. Within the post-political frame once the subject stands-in for

the big Other they cannot return to a naïveté of the Other‟s motives because of their

subjective interest, the treasure that makes identity stick, stains the scene of


9
    2004: 70-71 & 113-115; 2000b: 171-174
bureaucratic technological procedures. In effect, embracing one‟s own humanity is an

affront to symbolic authority at the ontological level of meaning because we impute

some degree of self-interest to the anonymous rational expert administration

surrounding the empty core of democracy. Such a cynic knows the Other knows too,

imputing a stain of self-interest.



To the Žižekian reading this self-interested Other is the post-modern cynic‟s

imaginary rival. In Freudian terms such an imagining of symbolic authority relies on a

myth of the Father of the primal horde; the jouissieur.10 This Father is the anal Father,

the sensualist who must learn to let go of what they have. Such a lesson is taught on

their death bed, because that is the point with these Freudian myths—they are part of

an eternal mythic Past. If we take a moment to examine the anal Father we find

concourse with the radical alienation Žižek observes in technocratic liberal cultures

and the way the subject attempts to stand-in for the Other/Father.



Often in paranoid fantasy the anal Father is asserted as an agent pre-existing the

injunction of the Law of symbolic authority.11 An exposition of this is carried through

in the film The Recruit (2003) starring Al Pacino and Colin Farrell, wherein the

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) appears as the anal Father. Pacino‟s character

Walter Burke „recruits‟ James Clayton, played by Farrell, to find a mole within the

CIA. To this end Walter assumes a position similar to that of Creon in Sophocles‟

Antigone (2004); it would seem that Walter‟s symbolic mandate is to guide James in a

particular direction by denying him certain pleasures to the end of unearthing this

mole staining their identification with the CIA—the symbolic injunction/interpellation

10
     Žižek, 2000b: 315
11
     Ibid, 324
keeping their seemingly sordid activities legitimate within the confines of the Law.

The twist comes when James realises he is being manipulated by Walter, that in fact

James is the mole and was made thus by Walter‟s own design. This twist reveals

Walter possessing a secret enjoyment of seemingly unlimited access to meaningful

information, a „boot camp‟ devoted specifically to breaking James‟ psyche, and a

small army of black-clad mercenaries who pander to Walter‟s every whim. And

maybe something a little bit more, jouissance, an excessive enjoyment that rules

Walter like an external authority. Walter takes on the mantel of the anal Father, the

jouisseur of the primal horde, not because he possesses a horde but because he is

consumed by an unholy excess of pleasure, namely jouissance and Schadenfreude—

he enjoys everything.12 Anything James touches is already, in some way, tainted by

Walter‟s scheming.



Žižek is doubly concerned with the attempt to stand-in for the Other-qua-jouisseur.

On the one hand, he notes that the bureaucratic processes of post-political discourse

coax the unholy excesses of sadistic pleasure in the subject. In the previously

mentioned alethosphere—“a kind of high-tech heaven”13—the tipping point to and

from pleasure and pain, jouissance, is substantialised in technological objects. And

around these technological objects enlisting jouissance gather entire industries, a

contemporary example being the industry around the Media Immersion Pods in

Tokyo where one can spend an eternity consuming and losing yourself in a vast

mediatised landscape of literature, cinema, music, and the internet. 14 This concern

about standing in for the Other is heightened for Žižek by the attempt to negate the

jouisseur. To circumvent the anal Father we engage in a perverse disavowal in an
12
   Ibid, 315
13
   Copjec in Žižek (ed), 2006: 96
14
   Heffernan, „In Tokyo, the New Trend Is „Media Immersion Pods‟‟ in The New York Times, 2006
attempt to open up a space for our own activity that is not tainted by the enjoyment of

this jouisseur,15 i.e. we give money to charity in such an apathetic way “to enjoy life

without impunity;”16 our mores and tolerance coincide with their obverse, our

prejudice and will-to-power (Nietzsche).17 The initial concern is thus that we are

wooed by the romance of intellectualisation, that we can find a way to obtain the

enjoyment of the jouisseur without any of the vicissitudes—i.e. the post-political

emerges precisely at that point wherein rational expert administration replaces the

political act with regulation and demarcation, or in modern science where theories of

quantum dynamics go against common-sense observation. To Žižek‟s reasoning this

Platonic romance of intellectualisation coincides with its negation, wherein we are

infatuated with enjoying our apathy “to enjoy life without impunity.”18 Such apathy

moves along the path of what Plato calls „Eros‟ meaning there is the possibility to

gravitate towards contrary goals or destructive practices without the consideration of

what might be longer lasting.



3 – Love in the house bureaucracy built

Where then is love? One can extrapolate the contention from Žižek that today we

move too fast from Platonic romantic intellectualisation to the infatuations of Eros at

the expense of embracing the enigmatic limit of intersubjectivity. In our haste we miss

that our own position within the horizon of a technocratic liberal culture is that of an

automaton. Like the Lady of courtly love we too are radically alienated from the

amorous recognition of other people because more than merely being our rivals, we




15
   Žižek, 2002a: 135
16
   Žižek, 2003: 49
17
   Žižek, 2000b: 367
18
   Žižek, 2003: 49
are separated by the gulf of individuality.19 And it is this radical alienation that Žižek

wants to bring to the fore by intervening in the suture of romantic intellectualisation

and Eros with a theory of the subject that is “overcoming himself” by falling in love,

not knowing what it is in the other person that enlists affection from my ego and leads

me into a comedy of strange behaviours.20



Locating the subject and their cynicism in the work of Peter Sloterdijk, Žižek

understands the cynical subject of technocratic liberal culture as following a perverse

motto of “they know very well what they are doing, but still, they are doing it.”21

Žižek uses this backdrop of an advancement of cynical acephalous aesthetic/ethical

decision-making to ground the acceptance of technological developments in popular

culture.22 Moreover, this groundlessness of cynicism reveals the potential for a subject

to relate to others in a variety of ways, contrary to the over-determination of

enjoyment in the bad coincidence of opposites we find in the perverse case of the

jouisseur.



The Žižekian subject appears in four variations conditioned by philosophy and

psychoanalysis: the contingency of existence, the particularity of the psyche, the

general basis of driven need underlying our desire to enjoy life, and the universality of

consciousness which overcomes the stupor of contingent existence.23 This formulation

is a formal consistency from Zizek‟s early works like For They Know Not What They

Do (2002a) and Tarrying With The Negative (1993) to his more recent writings such

19
   Zizek, 1994: 90
20
   Janicaud, 2005: 41
21
   Žižek in Žižek (ed), 1994: 312
22
   2001: x & 126
23
   Incidentally, these four terms are co-extensive with Jacques Lacan‟s “schema L.” (1997: 14) This
semblance in Lacan is indicative of the diagnostic criteria applicable to the ontological position of the
subject apropos the Žižekian philosophico-psychoanalytic formulation.
as The Parallax View (2006) and the previously mentioned Critical Inquiry article

„Against The Populist Temptation.‟ Although the way this formulation of the subject

is unravelled varies across Zizek‟s many volumes of work, there are points of

consistency for each condition (contingency, particularity, generality, universality) of

the formulation. It is to these „hard kernels‟ that this discussion now turns.



The foremost condition of contingency addresses the human animal in their

impersonal „there-ness‟ or, to phrase it in a Levinasian way, the il y á. Here we find

the subject grounded in an impersonal biology. Instead of the limit of the body, this

condition sets the subject in their perpetually changing embodiment, i.e. appetites,

movements, and so on. Without this contingency of existence the subject cannot exist,

but at the same time this condition only hints at an origin of the subject.24 Žižek

effectively sets this condition in place through his reading of Schelling as a Freudian

in The Indivisible Remainder (1996). Existence is herein contingent insofar as the

vortex-like stupor of biological necessity persists in an abyss that draws embodiment

to it, destroys it.25 The flux experienced in the condition of embodiment does not

corrode all embodiment, but forces the sensations and dispositions that surround this

hard kernel of existence to shift. In this sense embodiment is at once a symptom of

existence, a tic that keeps bringing us back to biology, and an inversion of the

metaphysical relation of the actual and the possible underlying populism. Where

populism presupposes an actual existing state of „the people‟ and proposes the

development of possible courses of action in accordance with the conditioning post-

political framework, embodiment begins from the possibility inculcated in its flux and

moves toward an actual/necessary state of being. Embodiment as our symptom of

24
     Žižek, 2001: 136
25
     Žižek, 1996: 14
existence continually refers us to the contingent groundlessness of our own praxis as

human animals, our need for recognition and emancipation.



The contingency of embodiment finds itself doubled in the particularity of psyche.

Žižek allows for the reductive processes of the psyche by framing the psyche as the

purifying procedure of particularisation.26 Because the psyche inscribes itself on the

formlessness of embodiment it may seem akin to processes of socialisation. Yet what

the psyche singles out is the particularity of the subject, the hard kernel of

embodiment. The psyche thus extends along more phenomenological lines than

socialisation in which a supra-subjective agency imposes its constellations of meaning

on my person in order for me to understand myself in the context of a society.

Because of this phenomenological comportment, the psyche introduces the question

of „Why?‟ to the instrumentalist „How?‟ of embodiment‟s groundlessness in the abyss

of biological necessity. The inversion of the actual and the possible in embodiment

moves the subject towards a ground as such for justifying their existence, and the

psyche nuances this by revealing the interpretative links to this ground—i.e. the

hierarchisation of values, that one course of possible action is better than another even

though the result remains the same. (Ockham‟s problem returns.)



In these first two conditions of Žižek‟s notion of the subject we find the transition

from the formlessness of raw biology, what the ancient Greeks called Zoe, to an array

of objects, structures, and mechanisms that double this biology and provide it with

some sense of natural order. This relation is put out of joint with the sense of selfhood

a subject enunciates as „me.‟ The third term of the Žižekian subject is the ego, and it


26
     Žižek, 2003: 64
is here that love enters. Where the psyche appears as an abbreviation of embodiment,

bracketing the world through the corporeality of the subject, the ego serves as a reflex

to this abbreviation by maintaining itself and thus encapsulating the process of

abbreviation within the self-designation of the subject as a „me.‟ It is at this point that

embodiment seems generally pervasive as instinct. This pervasiveness comes as the

subject notices the way the possibility s/he begin from is conditioned by their

awareness of embodiment as an unshakeable element. In Lacanese we become aware

of the gravity of drive and herein the curve of the possibilities we can imagine for

ourselves.



As a brief critical aside, it is at this point of self-interest that we can begin to observe

the difference between philosophy and psychoanalysis in Žižek‟s largely

psychoanalytic construction of the subject. Philosophy appears as a process of

producing totalising explanations whereas psychoanalysis refuses to be such a world-

view and is instead an interpretative technique where philosophy seeks to change the

frame of interpretation itself. Embodiment is a philosophical condition because it

informs how we ought to proceed from given circumstances. The psyche is a

psychoanalytic condition insofar as it presents embodiment with an interpretation that

reinscribes its points of excitation—what pseudo-Freudian pop-psychology has picked

up and called „erogenous zones.‟ Rather than merely insisting that these zones are

points of excitation, Žižek uses this third condition of the subject to show how these

zones a constantly shifting, excessive, and disrupt the homeostasis of the purely

biological subject. One example of this shifting is the auto-eroticising of the gaze. The

idea that because another person looks at me it means they want something from me

hints at a desire for recognition at the level of biological need. The third condition of
the ego is interminable because seemingly non-biological concerns (i.e. symbolic

recognition) are drawn into a biological space. Against pop-psychology‟s reduction of

erogenous zones to mere sensitive areas of the biological body, Žižek points out that

the drive to enjoy these erogenous zones is more than mere biologism because the

psyche represents embodiment and therein the „ecology of neurology‟ intersects with

the fluctuating stupor of biological chemical processes. The ego in this sense is

enjoyment, is the point at which we engage in activities by assuming a false distance

to the first condition of embodiment. Yes, it is the body that is enjoying, but

enjoyment is registered by the interpretative mechanism of the psyche which has

represented embodiment to the ego as an organised series of organs. In Pauline

language we might render this as “if I enjoy, it is not I that enjoy, but the organ which

enjoys for me.”27 Thus our want for affectionate recognition in the auto-eroticising of

the gaze is done a certain violence by the transition from playful civility (social

capital as comedy) to the faceless organs without bodies in pornography because the

other person is reduced to a little piece of the natural order of things that seems

excessive and alien, returning us to the rawness of Zoe.



The overwriting of embodiment by the psyche and the excessive enjoyment that rules

the ego qua realm of the drive refer us to the fourth condition of the Žižekian subject:

“I think where enjoyment was evacuated.”28 Žižek reads the cogito as a

desubstantialised condition of the self-designation/subjectivisation of the subject.29

This moves this fourth condition quite close to the „I‟ of Kantian apperception.30 The

cogito serves a self-relating function, and herein cuts into the midst of the relation


27
   Zupančič in Žižek (ed), 2003: 76
28
   Žižek, 2001: 127
29
   1996: 124; 1993: 59
30
   Ibid.
between the structure of the psyche and the egoism of selfhood. From Tarrying With

The Negative to The Parallax View Žižek continually refers to two moments of the

cogito that serve to interrupt the unity of the subject imagined in the relation between

the possibility of the psyche to change and the presence imputed by the ego. The

second moment designates the “transparent self-model … the ego as an object.”31

The first moment suggests “the opaque component of the very thinker that thinks

[they enjoy].”32 Žižek states that the opacity of the first term suggests “that the

ignorance of one‟s own noumenal nature is a positive condition of thinking

subjectivity.”33 This opacity errs if it is left to the cogito alone because it indicates

something that is Other within the subject themselves. This enigmatic Other is the one

who enlists our affection. We see the beloved external to ourselves but do not

understand them as another technological object to aide us in empowering and

emancipating ourselves. In a strange way Žižek‟s fourth condition of the subject

suggests that love enters the frame only when enjoyment disappears, when we are

selfless. This Schopenhauerian twist of love appearing where joy abdicates also

suggests that the subject is out of joint because what they shelter as the hard kernel of

their selfhood is negative, opaque. When the beloved Other provides us with

recognition, for instance when in their gaze they gaze back, their je ne sais quoi is

revealed. We stumble over this opacity and literally, comically „fall in love.‟34



Love herein functions as an order of law, an Absolute that leaves us stumbling into

negative life—nothing else will measure up to the beloved. This is, to borrow a term

from the Pauline mafia including Žižek, Alain Badiou, Giorgio Agamben, and Alenka


31
   Žižek, 2006: 219
32
   Ibid.
33
   Ibid.
34
   Zupančič in Žižek (ed), 2003: 68
Zupančič, St Paul‟s „agape‟: a new law that “bears the name of love” and places the

subject in a negative infinity rather than the old law of narcissism where my self-

interest is demanded to be prohibited by the big Other.35 To phrase this another way,

where the relation of the psyche and the ego render a maddening irrational force to be

prohibited by the contingent law of biological necessity a la Fate, Žižek‟s turn to St

Paul‟s agape begins from the radically negative cogito in its universal exemption

from knowing its own predetermination as it intercedes the treasured imaginary

relation between the psyche and the ego on a path toward a raw existence for the

Other. Žižek‟s intercession into the hasty coincidence of romantic intellectualisation

and lustful technification thus arrives at a plea for ethical intolerance: „not all Others

are the same!‟ or inter-alia „I love you!‟36 This repositioning of the subject is a push

for critical consciousness to intervene in the automation of liberal cultures where

bureaucratic procedure pre-exists the subjectivisation of the subject as some kind of

perverse Deus ex machina (in the old language of ideologiekritik, where we are

„interpellated‟).



4 – Fin

This paper has attempted to show three things. First, the problematic situation Zizek

observes in contemporary culture is one where the subject's existential crisis about

who they are is bound up with the socio-political structure of the technological. This

critique takes aim primarily at the liberal cultures of the developed world, but to an

extent one may consider this a critique of the zealous spirit of secular rationalisation

in a similar vein to Adorno and Althusser. Second, this socio-political critique of

technology is examined in its interpretative/psychoanalytic dimension vis-á-vis the

35
     Ibid, 72
36
     Žižek, et al, 2005: 182-183
jouisseur. Such a discussion tries to show how the structure of experiencing oneself as

a living subject presents us with a choice to be overwhelmed by the excesses of

technology in its socio-political mode or to negate the vicissitudes of the jouisseur by

cracking the frame of ethical enjoyment and allowing the coincidence of morality and

enjoyment. The problem with such a negation being that even charity becomes

unethical, pathologised by the narcissistic enjoyment of giving. Finally, this paper

deals in the comportment of the subject in the work of Zizek to demonstrate that there

is a third alternative between the contemptuous acceptance of the jouisseur and his

cynical negation: agape. This Pauline law of love is part of the Zizekian subject

insomuch as we are able to locate the je ne sais quoi of the Other on virtue of which

we „fall in love‟ as the opacity of the definition of what resists intellectualisation but

exceeds mere infatuation. Zizek, and militant psychoanalysts more broadly such as

Copjec, wager that this opacity is universal and negative. The opacity of the cogito is

thus a type of universal exception. The subject of the jouisseur‟s discourse obscures

this exceptional universality by beginning from raw embodiment where biological

necessity construes life-qua-joy as a positive base and moving to the self-knowledge

or cogitation of the subject. The subject of Zizek‟s philosophico-psychoanalytic

discourse begins from the thinking of oneself as a self, and extrapolates a grounding

of the subject from this position that primarily takes account of speech. Herein it is

not enough to simply „fall in love‟, and revel in the enjoyment. Zizek is pushing for an

enunciation, an intervention into enjoyment where we can take up the task of

interpreting one‟s own humanity.
Bibliography

Heffernan, Virginia. „In Tokyo, the New Trend Is „Media Immersion Pods‟‟ in The

New York Times,

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/14/arts/14heff.html?ex=1150862400&en=665b80b

dca861600&ei=5070, accessed 14th of May, 2006

Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. Phenomenology Of Spirit. Oxford: Oxford

University Press, 1977

Janicaud, Dominique. On The Human Condition. New York: Routledge, 2005

Lacan, Jacques. Écrits. New York: W W Norton & Company, 2006

Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar Of Jacques Lacan Book III: The psychoses. New York:

W W Norton & Company, 1997

Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Gay Science. New York: Vintage Books, 1974

Žižek, Slavoj, Santner, Eric L., & Reinhard, Kenneth. The Neighbour: Three inquiries

in political theology. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2005

Žižek, Slavoj. „Against the Populist Temptation‟ in Critical Inquiry 32 (3), 2006

Žižek, Slavoj (ed). Lacan: The silent partners. London: Verso, 2006

Žižek, Slavoj. Iraq: The borrowed kettle. London: Verso, 2004

Žižek, Slavoj. The Puppet And The Dwarf: The perverse core of Christianity. London:

The MIT Press, 2003

Žižek, Slavoj (ed). Jacques Lacan: Critical evaluations in cultural theory IV. London:

Routledge, 2003

Žižek, Slavoj. Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism? Five interventions in the (mis)use

of a notion. London: Verso, 2002
Žižek, Slavoj. For They Know Not What They Do: Enjoyment as a political factor.

London: Verso, 2002a

Žižek, Slavoj. Enjoy Your Symptom! Jacques Lacan in Hollywood and out. London:

Routledge, 2001

Žižek, Slavoj. The Ticklish Subject: The absent centre of political ontology. London:

Verso, 2000b

Žižek, Slavoj. „You May!‟ in London Review Of Books 21 (6),

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v21/n06/zize01_.html, 1999, accessed 27th of June, 2006

Žižek, Slavoj (ed). Mapping Ideology. London: Verso, 1994

Žižek, Slavoj. The Metastases Of Enjoyment: Six essays on woman and causality.

London: Verso, 1994

Žižek, Slavoj. Tarrying With The Negative: Kant, Hegel, and the critique of ideology.

Durham: Duke University Press, 1993

								
To top