Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Slavoj Žižek is a clown

Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek is one of the odder figures who counts as a "public intellectual" these days. He is regarded as an important contemporary philosopher. And philosophy is an academic field where important accomplishments are made by people who may have eccentricities.

But this guy is also considered a major contemporary practicitioner of political theory and a leftwing, even Marxist political philosopher. Does this sound like any kind of left-leaning person to you?

In this video, Zizek On Racism YouTube 02/12/2011 he argues that that racist and nationalistic dirty jokes are good things and can be used in "progressive racism." He sneers at "political correctness" in Santa Cruz, in terms that Rush Limbaugh could pretty much use with minor changes. He uses as an example of the virtue of such "jokes"

In this clip, he explains that, well, that The Sound of Music is racist against Germans because it portrays Germans as Jews modeled on anti-Semitic stereotypes. Yes, he seriously argues that. Slavoj Žižek explains why the Sound of Music is racist YouTube date 11/25/2007:

Whatever the quality of his philosophical work, in his role as a public intellectual, he strikes me more and more as a clown. A rightwing clown.

Johann Hari came to a similar conclusion in his article, Pseud's corner New Statesman 04/30/2007.

In the opening scenes of Zizek!, a new feature-length documentary, it is not hard to see why they fall for him. Zizek looks like an immense human Droopy Dawg. He talks with such babbling, neurotic force about everything from quantum physics and Hegel to Meg Ryan that, for a moment, he is hypnotic. Leading the film-makers through his chaotic transcontinental life, he jabbers to them from his bed and even takes them to a long staircase where he fantasises about killing himself - before posing as a splattered corpse on the concrete floor beneath.

As the film progresses, however, Zizek does more than symbolically enact his own death; he commits intellectual suicide, all but admitting that his "philosophy" is a slew of nonsense. If the director, Astra Taylor, intended to make a fawning fan letter - as her cameos in the film suggest - she has failed. If she intended to shred Zizek's credibility, she has succeeded stunningly.
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