Der junge Hegel in Stuttgart, Aufsätze und Tagebuchaufzeichnungen 1785-1788

Marbach, Deutsches Literaturarchiv 1970.

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Hegels geistige Wirkung auf seine Mit- und Nachwelt hat ihren Ausgang von Berlin genommen. Sein Name ist mit den ersten Jahr zehnten der 1810 gegründeten Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität genau so verknüpft wie die Namen der Humboldt, Fichte, Schleiermacher, Savigny, Bopp, Hufeland und anderer. Zudem haben Zeitgenossen und Spätere – teils in apologetischer, teils in kritischer Absicht – Hegels Philosophie und preußisches Staatsdenken so eng und nachhaltig auf einander bezogen, daß sich die Formel vom »preußischen Staatsphilosophen« allenthalben in rascher Assoziation einstellt, wo von Hegel die Rede ist.

So kann es nicht verwundern, daß Hegels Stuttgarter Herkunft dem allgemeinen Bewußtsein so gut wie gar nicht mehr präsent ist. Es be darf der Erinnerung. Die 200.Wiederkehr seines Geburtstags bietet willkommenen Anlaß, die Kindheits- und Jugendjalire, die Hegel in seiner Vaterstadt verlebte, erneut ins Gedächtnis zu rufen.

Freilich, diese Jahre von seiner Geburt am 27. August 1770 bis zumAbgang vom Gymnasium im Herbst 1788 – sie haben nichts Spektakuläres, nichts Erregendes an sich. Noch ist von der evolutionierenden Kraft und der konstruktiven Kühnheit, die Hegels Denken einmal eignen wird, nichts zu spüren. Es sind Jahre eines stillen, gediegenen Sich-Bildens, eines ruhig fortschreitenden Hineinlebens in das Allge meine und Gültige der vorhandenen Welt…

The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Published by Warner Books in 2001.

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With knowledge, spirit, good humor, and passion, The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. brings to life a remarkable man whose thoughts and actions speak to our most burning contemporary issues and still inspire the desires, hopes, and dreams of us all.

Written in his own words, this history-making autobiography is Martin Luther King: the mild-mannered, inquisitive child and student who chafed under and eventually rebelled against segregation; the dedicated young minister who continually questioned the depths of his faith and the limits of his wisdom; the loving husband and father who sought to balance his family’s needs with those of a growing, nationwide movement; and the reflective, world-famous leader who was fired by a vision of equality for people everywhere.

Relevant and insightful, The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. offers King’s seldom disclosed views on some of the world’s greatest and most controversial figures: John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Lyndon B. Johnson, Mahatma Gandhi, and Richard Nixon. It also paints a rich and moving portrait of a people, a time, and a nation in the face of powerful change. Finally, it shows how everyday Americans from all walks of life confronted themselves, each other, and the burden of the past-and how their fears and courage helped shape our future.


A professor of history and the noted author and editor of several books on the civil rights struggle, Dr. Clayborne Carson was selected by the estate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to edit and publish Dr. King’s papers. Drawing upon an unprecedented archive of King’s own words—including unpublished letters and diaries, as well as video footage and recordings—Dr. Carson creates an unforgettable self-portrait of Dr. King. In his own vivid, compassionate voice, here is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as student, minister, husband, father, and world leader . . . as well as a rich, moving chronicle of a people and a nation in the face of powerful—and still resonating—change.

‘The Owl of Minerva from Dusk till Dawn, or, Two Shades of Gray’ by Mladen Dolar


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The paper takes as its starting point the figure of the owl as the emblem of philosophy, it looks at its history and takes up its most significant philosophical use, the notorious passage where Hegel uses the owl as the indication of philosophy’s necessary belatedness. This is the passage which is usually taken as the point of indictment of Hegel’s position and the role he ascribed to philosophy. Hegel’s adage ‘What is rational is actual, and what is actual is rational’ is scrutinized in its various aspects, particularly in view of its other version, ‘what is rational must happen’. The tension between the ‘is’ and the ‘ought’ is perhaps the clue to understanding this adage, where Hegel doesn’t opt for the one or the other, but aims at the paradoxical intersection of the two. Hegel’s adage is put in contrast with Marx’s Thesis Eleven. The paper considers the concepts of the rational, the actual, the belatedness/retroaction, the grayness and finally the owl (and the part that bestiary plays in philosophy), thus trying to circumscribe the task that should be assigned to philosophy.


Mladen Dolar is Professor and Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana since 1982 and has served as the Advising Researcher in Theory at the Jan Van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, Netherlands. He is also Professor of Philosophy at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. His principal areas of research are Psychoanalysis, Modern French Philosophy (Lacan, Foucault, Derrida, Badiou, et. al.), German Idealism, and Art Theory, especially Musicology. With Žižek and others, Dolar was the co-founder of the Ljubljana Society of Theoretical Psychoanalysis, whose main aim is to read late 18th cent. and early 19th cent. German Classical Philosophy through the frame of Lacanian psychoanalytic theory. His main field of expertise is the philosophy of Georg W. F. Hegel, on whom he has written several papers, including a two-volume interpretation of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit first published in Slovene between 1990 and 1991. Dolar has lectured extensively across many different Universities in Europe and the United States and is author of hundreds of papers in different scholarly journals and in various collected volumes. Apart from over twelve monograph publications in Slovene, his books published in English most notably include A Voice and Nothing More and Opera’s Second Death, both of which were translated into several languages. His new book The Riskiest Moment is forthcoming with Duke University Press.

‘How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read’ by Pierre Bayard | AudioBook


I never read a book I must review; it prejudices you so. —OSCAR WILDE


If civilized people are expected to have read all important works of literature, and thousands more books are published every year, what are we supposed to do in those awkward social situations in which we’re forced to talk about books we haven’t read? In this delightfully witty, provocative book, a huge hit in France that has drawn huge attention from critics around the world, literature professor and psychoanalyst Bayard argues that it’s actually more important to know a book’s role in our collective library than its details.

Using examples from such writers as Graham Greene, Oscar Wilde, Montaigne, and Umberto Eco, and even the movie Groundhog Day, he describes the many varieties of “non-reading” and the horribly sticky social situations that might confront us, and then offers his advice on what to do. Practical, funny, and thought-provoking, How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read is in the end a love letter to books, offering a whole new perspective on how we read and absorb them. It’s the book that readers everywhere will be talking about-and despite themselves, reading-this holiday season.

‘Pandemic!: Covid 19 Shakes the World’ & ‘Pandemic! 2: Chronicles of a Time Lost’ by Slavoj Žižek | AudioBook


In the first part Žižek analyses how we live in a moment during the pandemic where the greatest act of love is to stay distant from the object of your affection. When governments renowned for ruthless cuts in public spending can suddenly conjure up trillions, when toilet paper becomes a commodity as precious as diamonds, and when a new form of communism may be the only way of averting a descent into global barbarism. With his customary brio and love of analogies in popular culture (Quentin Tarantino and H.G. Wells sit next to Hegel and Marx in these pages), he provides a concise and provocative snapshot of the crisis as it widens, engulfing us all.

In the second part Žižek delves into some of the more surprising dimensions of lockdowns, quarantines, and social distancing—and the increasingly unruly opposition to them by “response fatigued” publics around the planet. Here, Žižek examines the ripple effects on the food supply of harvest failures caused by labor shortages and the hyper-exploitation of the global class of care workers, without whose labor daily life would be impossible. Through such examples he pinpoints the inability of contemporary capitalism to effectively safeguard the public in times of crisis.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

Slavoj Žižek at the Toronto Inter­na­tional Film Fest­ival 2016

This event was co-presented with York University’s Department of Cinema & Media Arts through its Norman Jewison Series as part of York’s conference COMING TO TERMS WITH FILM-PHILOSOPHY.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

‘Rage, Rebel­lion, Organ­iz­ing New Power: A Hegel­ian Triad’ by Slavoj Žižek

Video of a paper delivered by Slavoj Žižek with Amy Goodman titled Rage, Rebel­lion, Organ­iz­ing New Power: A Hegel­ian Triad on 23rd May 2016 at the Left Forum, John Jay College, The City University of New York.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

‘Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941’ by Stephen Kotkin

Published by Penguin in 2017.

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Pulitzer Prize-finalist Stephen Kotkin has written a biography of Joseph Stalin, from collectivization and the Great Terror to the conflict with Hitler’s Germany that is the signal event of modern world history.

In 1929, Joseph Stalin, having already achieved dictatorial power over the vast Soviet Empire, formally ordered the systematic conversion of the world’s largest peasant economy into “socialist modernity,” otherwise known as collectivization, regardless of the cost.

What it cost, and what Stalin ruthlessly enacted, transformed the country and its ruler in profound and enduring ways. Building and running a dictatorship, with life and death power over hundreds of millions, made Stalin into the uncanny figure he became. Stephen Kotkin’s Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929–1941 is the story of how a political system forged an unparalleled personality and vice versa.

The wholesale collectivization of some 120 million peasants necessitated levels of coercion that were extreme even for Russia, and the resulting mass starvation elicited criticism inside the party even from those Communists committed to the eradication of capitalism. But Stalin did not flinch. By 1934, when the Soviet Union had stabilized and socialism had been implanted in the countryside, praise for his stunning anti-capitalist success came from all quarters. Stalin, however, never forgave and never forgot, with shocking consequences as he strove to consolidate the state with a brand new elite of young strivers like himself. Stalin’s obsessions drove him to execute nearly a million people, including the military leadership, diplomatic and intelligence officials, and innumerable leading lights in culture.

While Stalin revived a great power, building a formidable industrialized military, the Soviet Union was effectively alone and surrounded by perceived enemies. The quest for security would bring Soviet Communism to a shocking and improbable pact with Nazi Germany. But that bargain would not unfold as envisioned. The lives of Stalin and Hitler, and the fates of their respective dictatorships, drew ever closer to collision, as the world hung in the balance.

Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929–1941 is a history of the world during the build-up to its most fateful hour, from the vantage point of Stalin’s seat of power. It is a landmark achievement in the annals of historical scholarship, and in the art of biography.


Stephen Kotkin is the John P. Birkelund ’52 Professor in History and International Affairs at Princeton University. He is currently the acting director of Princeton’s Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies department. His previous books include Magnetic Mountain: Stalinism as a CivilizationArmageddon Averted: The Soviet Collapse, 1970-2000, and Uncivil Society: 1989 and the Implosion of the Communist Establishment. He was a fellow at the Cullman Center in 2004-2005.

‘Stalin, Volume 1: Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928’ by Stephen Kotkin

Published by Penguin in 2014.

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A magnificent biography that revolutionizes our understanding of Stalin and his world. It has the quality of myth: a poor cobbler’s son, a seminarian from an oppressed outer province of the Russian empire, reinvents himself as a top leader in a band of revolutionary zealots. When the band seizes control of the country in the aftermath of total world war, the former seminarian ruthlessly dominates the new regime until he stands as absolute ruler of a vast and terrible state apparatus, with dominion over Eurasia. While still building his power base within the Bolshevik dictatorship, he embarks upon the greatest gamble of his political life and the largest program of social reengineering ever attempted: the collectivization of all agriculture and industry across one sixth of the earth. Millions will die, and many more millions will suffer, but the man will push through to the end against all resistance and doubts.

Where did such power come from? In Stalin, Stephen Kotkin offers a biography that, at long last, is equal to this shrewd, sociopathic, charismatic dictator in all his dimensions. The character of Stalin emerges as both astute and blinkered, cynical and true believing, people oriented and vicious, canny enough to see through people but prone to nonsensical beliefs. We see a man inclined to despotism who could be utterly charming, a pragmatic ideologue, a leader who obsessed over slights yet was a precocious geostrategic thinker—unique among Bolsheviks—and yet who made egregious strategic blunders. Through it all, we see Stalin’s unflinching persistence, his sheer force of will—perhaps the ultimate key to understanding his indelible mark on history.

Stalin gives an intimate view of the Bolshevik regime’s inner geography of power, bringing to the fore fresh materials from Soviet military intelligence and the secret police. Kotkin rejects the inherited wisdom about Stalin’s psychological makeup, showing us instead how Stalin’s near paranoia was fundamentally political, and closely tracks the Bolshevik revolution’s structural paranoia, the predicament of a Communist regime in an overwhelmingly capitalist world, surrounded and penetrated by enemies. At the same time, Kotkin demonstrates the impossibility of understanding Stalin’s momentous decisions outside of the context of the tragic history of imperial Russia.

The product of a decade of intrepid research, Stalin is a landmark achievement, a work that recasts the way we think about the Soviet Union, revolution, dictatorship, the twentieth century, and indeed the art of history itself.


Stephen Kotkin is the John P. Birkelund ’52 Professor in History and International Affairs at Princeton University. He is currently the acting director of Princeton’s Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies department. His previous books include Magnetic Mountain: Stalinism as a Civilization, Armageddon Averted: The Soviet Collapse, 1970-2000, and Uncivil Society: 1989 and the Implosion of the Communist Establishment. He was a fellow at the Cullman Center in 2004-2005.

‘Joseph Stalin: Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928’ by Stephen Kotkin and Slavoj Žižek

Slavoj Žižek and Stephen Kotkin discuss Kotkin’s monumental biography of Joseph Stalin at New York Public Library – Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. Stalin: Volume I: Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928 covers the Soviet dictator’s youth, from his humble origins in Georgia as the son of a shoemaker to his days as a revolutionary organizer in Lenin’s inner circle.

Stephen Kotkin is the John P. Birkelund ’52 Professor in History and International Affairs at Princeton University. He is currently the acting director of Princeton’s Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies department. His previous books include Magnetic Mountain: Stalinism as a Civilization, Armageddon Averted: The Soviet Collapse, 1970-2000, and Uncivil Society: 1989 and the Implosion of the Communist Establishment. He was a fellow at the Cullman Center in 2004-2005.

Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

‘Is Hegel Dead—Or Are We Dead in the Eyes of Hegel? A View of the Present Age’ by Slavoj Žižek

Video of a paper delivered by Žižek titled Is Hegel Dead—Or Are We Dead in the Eyes of Hegel? by Deutsches Haus and the Department of German at New York University at Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Film Center, New York on Wednesday, 14th October 2015 recorded by Laia Cabrera & Co. and sponsored by DAAD—the German academic student exchange service.

The question we should ask is not: “is Hegel still alive”, is his thought of any use for us today? The true question is: what are we—our global capitalist world—in the eyes of Hegel? What if, from the Hegelian standpoint, we are all dead—in what sense? Wolf Bierman once wrote that, while the spiritualist question is “Is there life after death?” the materialist question is: “Is there life before death?” Are we really alive today, alive in the sense of ecstatic opening which makes life worth living?


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

Avital Ronell is University Professor in the Humanities and in the Departments of German and Comparative Literature at New York University. Her research spans the fields of literary studies, psychoanalysis, feminist philosophy, political philosophy, and ethics. As Jacques Derrida Professor of Philosophy, she also teaches regularly at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. Among her recent books are Loser Sons: Politics and Authority; The Test Drive and Stupidity.

»Problemi International«: Hegel250–Too Late?

Goethe-Institut Ljubljana v sodelovanju z založbo Analecta, Mednarodnim heglovskim združenjem Aufhebung, Filozofsko fakulteto v Ljubljani in Moderno galerijo, September 2020.

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Modernity begins with Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. He is the defining philosopher of the transition to the modern world. Today, with the globalization of hyper digital capitalism, we are entering a new massive transition, so on the occasion of Hegel’s 250th birthday in 2020 serious attempts were made to rethink Hegel’s relevance and to reimagine modern society’s debt to Hegel for our contemporary age.

Goethe-Institut Ljubljana präsentiert in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Verlag Analecta, der Internationalen Hegel-Vereinigung Aufhebung, der Philosophischen Fakultät Ljubljana und der Modernen Galerie die Sonderausgabe der philosophischen Zeitschrift »Problemi International«: Hegel250–Too Late?.

‘Architectural Parallax: Spandrels and Other Phenomena of Class Struggle’ by Slavoj Žižek

Paper as published in 2009 as part of a masterclass at Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities in Bloomsbury, London.

My knowledge of architecture is constrained to a coupler of idiosyncratic data: my love for Ayn Rand and her architecture- novel The Fountainhead; my admiration of the Stalinist “wedding-cake” baroque kitsch; my dream of a house composed only of secondary spaces and places of passage – stairs, corridors, toilets, store-rooms, kitchen – with no living room or bedroom. The danger that I am courting is thus that what I will say will oscillate between the two extremes of unfounded speculations and what most is already known for a long time.

I would like to begin with the notion of parallax which I took from Kojin Karatani. The common definition of parallax is: the apparent displacement of an object (the shift of its position against a background), caused by a change in observational position that provides a new line of sight. The philosophical twist to be added, of course, is that the observed difference is not simply “subjective,” due to the fact that the same object which exists “out there” is seen from two different stations, or points of view. It is rather that, as Hegel would have put it, subject and object are inherently “mediated,” so that an “epistemological” shift in the subject’s point of view always reflects an “ontological” shift in the object itself. When confronted with such a parallax gap, one should renounce all attempts to reduce one aspect to the other (or, even more, to enact a kind of “dialectical synthesis” of the opposites); the task is, on the contrary, to conceive all possible positions as responses to a certain underlying deadlock or antagonism, as so many attempts to resolve this deadlock… and this already brings us to so-called postmodern architecture which, sometimes, seems to enact the notion of parallax in a directly-palpable way. Think about Liebeskind or Gehry: their work often appears as a desperate (or joyous) attempt to combine two incompatible structuring principles within the same building (in the case of Liebeskind, horizontal/vertical and oblique cubes; in the case of Gehry, traditional house with modern – concrete, corrugated iron, glass – supplements), as if two principles are locked in a struggle for hegemony.

In his essay on Gehry, Fredric Jameson reads his plans for individual houses as an attempt to mediate tradition (old ornamented wooden structures) and alienated modernity (corrugated iron, concrete and glass). The result is an amphibious building, a freakish combination, an old house to which, like a cancerous outgrowth, a modern concrete-iron part is annexed. In his first landmark, the renovation of his own home in Santa Monica (1977-78), Gehry ”took a modest bungalow on a corner lot, wrapped it in layers of corrugated metal and chain-link, and poked glass structures through its exterior. The result was a simple house extruded into surprising shapes and surfaces, spaces and views.” Fredric Jameson discerns a quasi-utopian impulse in this “dialectic between the remains of the traditional (rooms from the old house, preserved like archaic dream traces in a museum of the modern), and the ‘new’ wrappings, themselves constituted in the base materials of the American wasteland.” This interaction between the preserved old house space and the interstitial space created by the wrapping generates a new space, a space which “poses a question fundamental to thinking about contemporary American capitalism: that between advanced technological and scientific achievement and poverty and waste.” A clear indication, for my Marxist mind, that architectural projects are answers to a problem which is ultimately socio-political.

In this sense, one can even read Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece, as the staging of an architectural antagonism: is Norman not split between the two houses, the modern horizontal motel and the vertical Gothic mother’s house, forever running between the two, never finding a proper place of his own? In this sense, the unheimlich character of the film’s end means that, in his full identification with the mother, he finally found his heim, his home. In modernist works like Psycho, this split is still visible, while the main goal of today’s postmodern architecture is to obfuscate it. Suffice it to recall the “New Urbanism” with its return to small family houses in small towns, with front porches, recreating the cozy atmosphere of the local community – clearly, this is the case of architecture as ideology at its purest, providing an imaginary (although “real,” materialized in the actual disposition of houses) solution to a real social deadlock which has nothing to do with architecture and all with late capitalist dynamics. A more ambiguous case of the same antagonism is the work of Gehry: he takes as the basis one of the two poles of the antagonism, either the old-fashioned family house or a modernist concrete-and-glass building, and then either submits it to a kind of cubist anamorphic distortion (curved angles of walls and windows, etc.) or combines the old family home with a modernist supplement. So here is my final hypothesis: if the Bates Motel were to be built by Gehry, directly combining the old mother’s house and the flat modern motel into a new hybrid entity, there would have been no need for Norman to kill his victims, since he would have been relieved of the unbearable tension that compels him to run between the two places – he would have a third place of mediation between the two extremes.

But are we justified to use the (now already half-obsolete) term “postmodernism”? Insofar as the post-68 capitalism forms a specific economic, social and cultural unity, this very unity justifies the name “postmodernism.” Although many justified criticisms were made of postmodernism as a new form of ideology, one should nonetheless admit that, when Jean-Francois Lyotard, in The Postmodern Condition, elevated this term from the name of certain new artistic tendencies (especially in writing and architecture) to the designation of a new historical epoch, there was an element of authentic nomination in his act: “postmodernism” effectively functioned as a new Master-Signifier which introduced a new order of intelligibility into the confused multiplicity of historical experience.

In what did, more closely, the postmodern shift consist? Boltanski and Chiapello’s The New Spirit of Capitalism examines it in detail, and especially apropos France. In a Weberian mode, the book distinguishes three successive “spirits” of capitalism: the first, entrepreneurial, lasted until the Great Depression of the 1930s; the second one took as its ideal not the entrepreneur but the salaried director of the large firm (it is easy to note the close parallel with the well-known notion of the passage from individualist-protestant-ethic capitalism to the corporate- managerial capitalism of the “organization man”). From the 1970s onwards, the third stage, a new figure of the “spirit of capitalism” is emerging: capitalism abandoned the hierarchical Fordist structure of the production process and developed a network-based form of organization founded on employee initiative and autonomy in the workplace. Instead of hierarchical- centralized chain of command, we get networks with a multitude of participants, organizing work in the form of teams or projects, intent on customer satisfaction, and a general mobilization of workers thanks to their leaders’ vision. In this way, capitalism is transformed and legitimized as an egalitarian project: by way of accentuating auto-poetic interaction and spontaneous self- organization, it even usurped the far Left’s rhetoric of workers’ self-management and turned it from an anti-capitalist to a capitalist slogan.

At the level of consumption, this new spirit is the one of the so- called “cultural capitalism”: we primarily buy commodities neither on account of their utility nor as status-symbols; we buy them to get the experience provided by them, we consume them in order to make our life pleasurable and meaningful. This triad cannot but evoke the Lacanian triad of the Real, the Symbolic, and the Imaginary: the Real of direct utility (good healthy food, the quality of a car, etc.), the Symbolic of the status (I buy a certain car to signal my status – the Torstein Veblen theory), the Imaginary of pleasurable and meaningful experience. Consumption should sustain the quality of life, its time should be “quality time” – not the time of alienation, of imitating models imposed by society, of the fear of not being able to “keep up with Joneses,” but the time of the authentic fulfilment of my true Self, of the sensuous play of experience, of caring for others, from ecology to charity. Here is an exemplary case of “cultural capitalism”: Starbucks’s self-description of their “Ethos water” program:

Ethos Water is a brand with a social mission—helping children around the world get clean water and raising awareness of the World Water Crisis. Every time you purchase a bottle of Ethos Water, Ethos Water will contribute US $0.05 (C$0.10 in Canada) toward our goal of raising at least US $10 million by 2010. Through The Starbucks Foundation, Ethos Water supports humanitarian water programs in Africa, Asia and Latin America. To date, Ethos Water grant commitments exceed $6.2 million. These programs will help an estimated 420,000 people gain access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene education.

This is how capitalism, at the level of consumption, integrated the legacy of ’68, the critique of alienated consumption: authentic experience matters. Is this not why we buy organic food? Who really believes that the half-rotten and expensive “organic” apples are really healthier? The reason is that, by way of buying them, we do not just buy and consume a product – we simultaneously do something meaningful, show our care and global awareness, participate in a large collective project…

If, in great classic modernism, a building was supposed to obey one all-encompassing great Code, in postmodernism we get a multiplicity of codes. This multiplicity can be either the multiplicity (ambiguity) of meanings – what Charles Jencks called “alluded metaphor” (is the Sydney opera the growth of a blossom or a series of turtles copulating?) – or the multiplicity of functions, from performances to shopping and cafeterias (the National Opera House in Oslo, designed to appeal to a younger generation, tries to appear “cool” by imitating sleek stealth- bomber lines; furthermore, the roof inclines into the fjord and doubles as a swimming platform).

As it was often remarked, postmodernism can be said to stand for the deregulation of architecture – for radical historicism where, in a globalized pastiche, everything possible, anything goes. Pastiche works like “empty parody”: a radical historicism where all the past is equalized in synchronicity of eternal present. The exact functioning of pastiche should be specified by a concrete analysis-work – let me take an extreme example: in today’s Moscow, there are a couple of new exclusive apartment blocks for the new rich which perfectly imitate the outside form of the Stalinist neo-Gothic Baroque (Lomonosov university, the House of Culture in Warsaw, etc.). What does this imitation mean? These buildings obviously integrate Russia’s Soviet hangover with its hyper-capitalist present – it is however crucial to analyze the precise modality of this integration. The self- perception of the engaged public is that of playful indifference: the Russia’s Soviet hangover is acted out, reduced to an impotent pastiche. Postmodern ironic Stalinism should thus be considered the last stage of Socialist Realism, in which the formula is reflectively redoubled, turning into its own pastiche. We should read this use of “totalitarian” motifs as a case of postmodern irony, as a comic repetition of the “totalitarian” tragedy.

The “class basis” of the neo-Stalinist postmodernism is thus the new wild-capitalist elite which perceives itself as ideologically indifferent, “apolitical,” caring only about money and success, despising all big Causes. The “spontaneous ideology” of this new bourgeoisie is paradoxically what appears as the opposite of their vulgar “passion of the real” (pleasures, money, power), a (no less vulgar) pan-aestheticism: all ideologies are equal, equally ridiculous, they are useful only to provide the spice of aesthetic excitement, so the more problematic they are, the more excitement they generate. The neo-Stalinist architecture pretends to pretend – it (and its public) think they just play a game, and what they are unaware of is that, independently of their playful attitude, the game has the potential to get serious. Their “playful indifference” conceals the reality of the ruthless exercise of power: what they stage as aesthetic spectacle is reality for the masses of ordinary people. Their indifference towards ideology is the very form of their complicity with the ruling ideology.

This indifference bears witness to how, in postmodernism, parallax is openly admitted, displayed – and, in this way, neutralized: the antagonistic tension between different standpoints is flattened into indifferent plurality of standpoints. “Contradiction” thus loses its subversive edge: in a space of globalized permissiveness, inconsistent standpoints cynically co- exist – cynicism is the reaction of “So what?” to inconsistency. You ruthlessly exploit natural resources and contribute to green causes – so what… Sometimes, the thing itself can serve as its own mask – the most efficient way to obfuscate social antagonisms is to openly display them.

But perhaps I went too fast and too far ahead – let me step back and address the basic issue: how does an ideological edifice (real architectural edifices included) deal with social antagonisms? In his old classic The Political Unconscious, Fredric Jameson proposes a perspicuous ideologico-critical reading of Claude-Levi Strauss’ interpretation of the unique facial decorations of the Caduveo Indians from Brasil: they use “a design which is symmetrical but yet lies across an oblique axis /…/ a complicated situation based upon two contradictory forms of duality, and resulting in a compromise brought about by a secondary opposition between the ideal axis of the object itself /the human face/ and the ideal axis of the figure which it represents.” Jameson’s comment: “Already on the purely formal level, then, this visual text has been grasped as a contradiction by way of the curiously provisional and asymmetrical resolution it proposes for that contradiction.” (Incidentally, does this not sound like a map of Manhattan, where the symmetrical design of streets and avenues is cut across by the oblique axis of Broadway? Or, at the architectural level, like a typical Liebeskind building with its tension between vertical and crooked lines?) In the next, crucial, move, Lévi-Strauss, in Tristes Tropiques, interprets this imagined formal resolution of an antagonism as (not a “reflection,” but a) symbolic act, a transposition-displacement of the basic social imbalance-asymmetry-antagonism of Caduveo society: the Caduveo are a hierarchical society, and their nascent hierarchy is already the place of the emergence, if not of political power in the strict sense, then at least of relations of domination: the inferior status of women, the subordination of youth to elders, and the development of a hereditary aristocracy. Yet whereas this latent power structure is, among the neighboring Guana and Bororo, masked by a division into moieties which cuts across the three castes, and whose exogamous exchange appears to function in a nonhierarchical, essentially egalitarian way, it is openly present in Caduveo life, as surface inequality and conflict. The social institutions of the Guana and Bororo, on the other hand, provide a realm of appearance, in which real hierarchy and inequality are dissimulated by the reciprocity of the moieties, and in which, therefore, ‘asymmetry of class is balanced … by symmetry of ‘moieties’.

Is this also not our predicament? In bourgeois societies, we are split between formal-legal equality sustained by the institutions of the democratic state, and class distinctions enforced by the economic system. We live the tension between Politically Correct respect for human rights, etc., and the growing inequalities, gated communities, exclusions, etc. This, however, does not mean that the relationship is simply the one between deceiving appearance and reality: apropos liberal egalitarianism, it is not enough to make the old Marxist point about the gap between the ideological appearance of the universal legal form and the particular interests that effectively sustain it – as is so common amongst politically-correct critics on the Left. The counter- argument that the form is never a “mere” form, but involves a dynamic of its own which leaves traces in the materiality of social life, is fully valid. After all the “formal freedom” of the bourgeois sets in motion the process of altogether “material” political demands and practices, from trade unions to feminism.

And exactly the same goes for architecture: when a building embodies democratic openness, this appearance is never a mere appearance – it has a reality of its own, it structures the way individuals interact in their real lives. The problem with the Caduveo was that (like today’s non-democratic states) they lacked this appearance – they were not “lucky enough to resolve their contradictions, or to disguise them with the help of institutions artfully devised for that purpose. /…/ since they were unable to conceptualize or to love this solution directly, they began to dream it, to project it into the imaginary.” Levi-Strauss deserves here a precise and close reading: it is not that, simply and directly, the Caduveo facial decorations formulate an imaginary resolution of real contradictions; it is rather that they supplement the lack of a properly functioning “appearance” which would have been inscribed into their very social- institutional organization. In other words, we are not dealing with a longing for real equality, but with the longing for a proper appearance. (Does the same not hold for Niemeyer’s plan of Brasilia, this imaginary dream of the resolution of social antagonisms which supplements not the reality of social antagonisms but the lack of ideologico-egalitarian mechanism which would cover them up with a properly-functioning appearance.)

This is why Jameson is fully justified to talk about the “political unconscious”: there is a coded message in an architectural formal play, and the message delivered by a building often functions as the “return of the repressed” of the official ideology. Recall Wittgenstein motto: what we cannot directly talk about, it can be shown by the form of our activity. What the official ideology cannot openly talk about can be shown by the mute signs of a building. The two opposed architectural designs of Casa del Fascio (the local headquarters of the Fascist party), Adolfo Coppede’s neo-Imperial pastiche from 1928 and Giuseppe Teragni’s highly modernist transparent glass-house from 1934- 36, do they not, in their simple juxtaposition, reveal the inherent contradiction of the Fascist ideological project which simultaneously advocates a return to pre-modern organicist corporatism and the unheard-of mobilization of all social forces in the service of rapid modernization?

This brings us to an unexpected result: it is not only that the fantasy embodied in the mute language of buildings can articulate the utopia of justice, freedom and equality betrayed by actual social relations; this fantasy can also articulate a LONGING FOR INEQUALITY, for clear hierarchy and class distinctions. Does the Stalinist neo-Gothic architecture not enact the “return of the repressed” of the official egalitarian- emancipatory Socialist ideology, the weird desire for hierarchy and social distinctions? The utopia enacted in architecture can also be a conservative utopia of regained hierarchical order. And does the same not hold for the monumental public buildings from the Roosevelt era, like the central post office in New York? No wonder the NYU central building in downtown Manhattan looks like Lomonosov university in Moscow…

Our application of the Levi-Straussian analysis of Caduveo facial decorations to architecture can be further justified by the fact that Lévi-Strauss himself applies the same type of analysis to urbanism and architecture in his wonderful short essay “Do Dual Organizations Exist?”, where he deals the spatial disposition of buildings in the Winnebago, one of the Great Lake tribes. He makes here a further crucial point: since the two sub-groups form one and the same tribe, living in the same village, this identity somehow has to be symbolically inscribed – how, if the entire symbolic articulation, all social institutions, of the tribe are not neutral, but are overdetermined by the fundamental and constitutive antagonistic split? By what Lévi-Strauss ingeniously calls the “zero-institution,” a kind of institutional counterpart to the famous mana, the empty signifier with no determinate meaning, since it signifies only the presence of meaning as such, in opposition to its absence: a specific institution which has no positive, determinate function – its only function is the purely negative one of signaling the presence and actuality of social institution as such, in opposition to its absence, to pre-social chaos. It is the reference to such a zero-institution that enables all members of the tribe to experience themselves as such, as members of the same tribe. Is, then, this zero-institution not ideology at its purest, i.e. the direct embodiment of the ideological function of providing a neutral all-encompassing space in which social antagonism is obliterated, in which all members of society can recognize themselves?

And my hypothesis is that big performance-arts complexes, arguably the paragon of today’s architecture, try to impose themselves as a kind of architectural zero-institutions. Their very conflictual meanings (amusement and high art, profane and sacred, exclusive and popular) cancel themselves mutually, so that the outcome is the presence of meaning as such as opposed to non-meaning: their meaning is to have meaning, to be islands of meaning in the flow of our meaningless daily existence. In order to provide a brief insight into the “parallactic” nature of their structure, let me begin with Rem Koolhaas’s Librairie de France, where the expressive correspondence between the inside (the division of a building into rooms and spaces for different activities) and the outside of a building shifts to radical incommensurability: “the functions, the rooms, the interior, the inner spaces, hang within their enormous container like so many floating organs.” These formal shifts in the relation between outside and inside “reincorporate the paradoxes of private property after the end of civil society (in the /Librairie de France in Paris/, by way of the dialectic of the property of information, in the /in Trade Center in Zeebrugge/, by way of the more classic antinomy of a public space that is privately owned.)”

However, one should not misunderstand this emphasis on the incommensurability between outside and inside as a critique (relying on the demand for the continuity between the two). The incommensurability between outside and inside is a transcendental a priori – in our most elementary phenomenological experience, the reality we see through a window is always minimally spectral, not as fully real as the closed space where we are. This is why, when driving a car or looking through a window of a house, one perceives the reality outside in a weirdly de-realized state, as if one is watching a performance on a screen; when one opens the window, the direct impact of the external reality always causes a minimal shock, we are overwhelmed by its proximity. This is also why, when we enter the closed space of a house, we are often surprised: it seems the inside volume is larger than the outside frame, as if the house is larger from the inside than from the outside.

On the southern side of the demilitarized zone that divides North from South Korea, the South Koreans built a unique visitor’s site: a theater building with a large screen-like window in front, opening up onto the North. The spectacle people observe when they take seats and look through the window is reality itself (or, rather, a kind of “desert of the real”): the barren demilitarized zone with walls etc., and, beyond, a glimpse of North Korea. As if to comply with the fiction, North Korea has built in front of this theater a pure fake, a model village with beautiful houses; in the evening, the lights in all the houses are turned on at the same time, people area given good dresses and are obliged to take a stroll every evening… a barren zone is given a fantasmatic status, elevated into a spectacle, solely by being enframed.

One should recall here a minor but crucial feature of Kant’s definition of the sublime: the sublime is the overwhelming majesty of nature, the violent explosion of its forces, perceived from a safe position, so that the subject is not immediately threatened by it (there is nothing sublime about being on a ship caught in a storm which threatens to drown it – one is here simply terrified by the prospect of one’s painful death…). One can put this into architectural terms: the sublime is the majesty of nature seen from the inside, through a (real or imagined) window frame – it is the distance provided by the frame which makes the scene sublime. (There can also be a false inside. In the ZKM house in Karlsruhe, there is a TV screen in front of the entrance to the main toilet area, showing continuously on its black and white screen the inside of a small toilet cube with the empty toilet bowl. After the first moment of release (thanks god the toilet is free, I cannot wait…), I become aware that it will no longer be empty when I will enter it, so that I will be seen defecating… it is only then that the obvious truth strikes me: it is, of course, a pre-recorded tape we see, not the actual inside of the restroom!)

What this mutual encroaching indicates is that Inside and Outside never cover the entire space: there is always an excess of a third space which gets lost in the division into Outside and Inside. In human dwellings, there is an intermediate space which is disavowed: we all know it exists, but we do not really accept its existence – it remains ignored and (mostly) unsayable. The main content of this invisible space is excrement (canalization), but also the complex network of electricity, digital links, etc. – all this is contained in narrow spaces between walls or floors. We of course know well how excrements leave the house, but our immediate phenomenological relation to it is a more radical one: it is as if shit disappears into some netherworld, out of our sight and out of our world. (This is why one of the most unpleasant experiences is to observe the shit coming back from the hole in the toilet bowl – it is something like the return of the living dead…) What I am talking about here is similar to how we relate to another person’s body: we know very well that he or she sweats, defecates and urinates, etc., but we abstract from it in our daily relations – these features are not part of the image of our fellow-man. We rely on this space, but ignore it – no wonder that, in science-fiction, horror films and techno-thrillers, this dark space between walls is the space where horrible threats lurk (from spying machines to monsters or contagious animals like cockroaches and rats). Recall also, in science-fiction architecture, the mysterious topic of an additional floor or room which is not in the building’s plan (and where, of course, terrifying things dwell…).

What can architecture do here? One of the possible things is to re-include this excluded space in a domesticated form. With its 509 meters above ground, the Taipei 101 Tower of Taiwan is the tallest building on Earth; since Taiwan is often hit by typhoons, the problem was how to control the swinging when the building is exposed to strong winds. The solution was an original one: to reduce lateral vibrations, a gigantic steel ball weighing 606 tonnes is suspended from the 92nd floor, reaching down to 87th floor; the ball is connected to pistons which drive oil through

small holes, thus damping vibrations. What makes this solution especially interesting is that it is not treated as a hidden construction secret: it is publicly displayed as the building’s main attraction. That is to say, while the ball occupies the central open space between 92nd and 87th floors, the outside space close to the windows was used as the site of a magnificent restaurant: on one side of the table, one can look through the glass at the panorama of the city, while on the other side, one can see the gigantic ball gently swinging… This transparency is, of course, a pseudo-transparency, like the stalls in big food supermarkets where food is prepared in front of our eyes (fruit is squeezed into juice, meat and vegetables are fried…).

So, back to postmodern architecture, the ambiguously “meaningful” form into which the building is wrapped – often a primitive mimetic symbolism, like the entire building resembling an animal (turtle, bird, bug…) – is not an expression of its inside, but just imposed on the stuff. The link between form and function is cut, there is no causal relationship between the two, i.e., form no longer follows function, function no longer determines form, and the result is a generalized aestheticization. This aestheticization reaches its climax in today’s performance- arts venues whose basic feature is the gap between skin and structure. Which are the basic architectural versions of this gap? The non-expressive zero-level is presented in some of Koolhaas’s buildings, like the above-mentioned Library of France: the envelope is simply a neutral enormous box that, in its interior, houses the multiple functional spaces which “hang within their enormous container like so many floating organs.” (It is the same with many shopping malls contained within grey rectangular boxes.)

Some of Liebeskind’s projects reflect the gap between the protective skin and the inner structure into the “skin” itself: the same external form (enormous box) is multiplied, relying on the contrast between the straight vertical/horizontal lines and the diagonal lines of external walls. The result is a hybrid effect, as if the same building is a condensation of two (or more) asymmetrical cubes – as if the same formal principle (a cube box) was applied on different axes. A weird tension and imbalance, a conflict of principles, is thus directly inscribed into the form, as if the actual building lacks a single anchoring point and perspective.

The next step is the aestheticization of the external container: it is no longer just a neutral box, but a round shell protecting the jewel inside. Formally, the contrast between outside and inside is usually the contrast between the roundness of the skin and the straight lines of inner structures – a round envelope (an egg-like cupola) envelops the box-like vertical-horizontal buildings inside, like the “giant teacups” of the Oriental Art Centre in Shanghai, or, by the same architect (Paul Andreu), the National Grand Theatre of China in Beijing with its giant metal-glass cover, an egg-shell protecting the performance buildings. Kinder Surprise, one of the most popular chocolate products on sale all around Central Europe, are empty egg shells made of chocolate and wrapped up in lively-colored paper; after one unwraps the egg and cracks the chocolate shell open, one finds in it a small plastic toy (or small parts from which a toy is to be set together) – one can effectively claim that the National Grand Theatre of China is a gigantic Kinder Surprise egg. This logic of protecting the jewel reaches its climax in the project for the new Marinski Theatre in St Petersburg: the functional box-like theatre building in black marble (an 18th century spreaded palace) is cocooned by a freestanding irregular glaced structure, a “lamella”. The aestheticization of the “skin” culminates in the so-called “sculptural Gehry buildings” where the outside shell enveloping the functional inside is no longer just a shell, but a meaningful sculpture of its own – like the Performing Arts Center in Bard College whose skin is a curved aluminum bug-cockroach form.

The central semiotic mystery of performance-arts venues is the mystery of this redoubling: why a house within a house, why does a container itself have to be contained? Does not this (sometimes freakish) display of inconsistency and excess not cry out loudly, functioning as a symptom – a message encoded in this mess? What if this redoubling renders the “contradiction” of public space which is privately controlled, of a sacred space of art which should be open to profane amusement? This brings us to the social antagonism these buildings try to resolve. On the one hand, to build a performing-arts venue rates “as a holy grail for architects”: “Unlike the more conventional types of buildings, such as offices, housing and even civic architecture, which have to conform to the streetscape, a performing-arts venue can afford to be bold and unusual, to stand out.” However, this space for creative freedom is counteracted by the demand for the building’s multi-functionality – venue managers cannot “simply rely on performances themselves to provide a sufficient attraction; the building must create an ‘experience’ and a ‘sense of place’ for its increasingly demanding audience. It is with such intangibles that events can really win against home entertainment. Thought must be given to all aspects of a visit, from the foyers and bars to the facilities and ease of access.” This demand, however, is not merely financial but profoundly ideological – it reflects a “cultural tension”:

The perception that public funds are being spent on ‘elitist’ buildings has always been an Achilles heel for these projects, leaving them open to attacks from all quarters, and in today’s more transparent and politically correct society it is the issue of inclusion more than any other that has influenced the design of contemporary performing spaces. As a result, the performing-arts venue has had to be redefined for the twenty-first century. The new generation of buildings must be part of the public realm, with access to only the core areas being restricted by the requirement for a ticket. These venues include public activities within and around the complex, attracting a wider range of visitors.

This constant effort to counteract the threat of “elitism” signals a series of oppositions with which performance-arts buildings deal: public/private, open/restrained, elite/popular… – all variations on the basic motif of class struggle (which, we are told, no longer exists in our societies). The space of these oppositions delineates the problem to which performance-arts buildings are solutions.

So how does the anti-elitist architecture of performance-arts venues fit these coordinates? Its attempt to overcome elitist exclusivity fails, since it reproduces the paradoxes of the upper- class liberal openness – its falsity, the failure to achieve its goal, is the falsity and limitation of our tolerant liberal capitalism. The effective message of the “political unconscious” of these buildings is democratic exclusivity: they create a multi-functional egalitarian open space, but the very access to this space is invisibly filtered and privately controlled. In more political terms, performance-arts venues try to enact civic normality in a state of emergency (exception): they construct an “open” space which is cocooned, protected and filtered. (This logic is brought to extreme in shopping malls in some Latino-American countries, well protected by security personnel armed with machine guns.) Their “openness” is as fake as the “production process” artificially staged in some food stalls in shopping malls where food or fruit juice is prepared right in front of the customer’s eyes.

As such, performance-arts venues are utopian spaces which exclude junkspace: all the foul-smelling “leftovers” of the city space. To use a term coined by Deleuze, a contemporary big city is a space of “disjunctive inclusion”: it has to include places whose existence are not part of its “ideal-ego,” i.e., which are disjoined from its idealized image of itself. The paradigmatic (but by far not the only) such place are slums (favelas in Latin

America), places of spatial deregulation and chaotic mixture, of architectural “tinkering” /bricolage/ with found materials. (It would have been really interesting to study in detail big suburban slums as an architectural phenomenon with a wild aesthetic of its own.)

This brings us to what is false about the anti-elitism of performance-arts venues: it is not that they are secretly elitist, it is their very anti-elitism, its implicit ideological equation of great art with elitism. Difficult as it may sometimes be for the broad public to “get into” Schoenberg or Webern, there is nothing “elitist” about great art – great art is by definition universal- emancipatory, potentially addressing us all. When, in “elite” places like the old Met in New York, upper classes were meeting for an opera performance, their social posturing was in blatant contradiction with the works shown on the stage – to see Mozart and the rich crowd as belonging to the same space is an obscenity. There is a well-known story from the early years of the Met when a high society lady, one of the opera’s great patrons, arrived late, half an hour into the first act; she demanded that the performance be interrupted for a couple of minutes and the light turned so that she could inspect the dresses of other ladies with her binoculars (and, of course, her demand was granted). If anything, Mozart belonged to the poor in the upper stalls who spent their last dollars to see the opera. Far from making the exclusive temple of high art more accessible, it is the very surrounding of expensive cafeterias etc. which is effectively exclusive and “elitist.” Recall what Walter Benjamin wrote about the Garnier opera palace in Paris: the true focus of the opera is not the performance hall but the wide oval staircase on which high society ladies display their fashion and gentlemen meet for a casual smoke – this social life was the true focus of opera life, “what it really was about.” In the terms of Lacan’s theory, if the play on stage was the enjoyment which made the public come, the social game which went on on the staircase before the performance and during the intermissions was the fore-play which provided the plus-de-jouir, the surplus-enjoyment making it worthwhile to come there. (Bringing this logic to its absurd extreme, one can imagine a building which would consist only of a gigantic circular staircase, with elevators taking us to the top, so that what is usually just a means, a path to the true goal, would become the main purpose – one goes to such a building to take a slow walk down the stairs… Does the Guggenheim Museum in New York not come pretty close to it, with the art exhibits reduced to de facto decorations destined to make the long walk more pleasant? – Incidentally, for the same reason, I

find skiing stupid: why climb to the top of a hill just in order to slide down to the starting point? Is it not better to stay down and, say, read a good book?) And the same also holds for today’s performance-arts venues – the truth of their democratic anti- elitism is the cocooning protective wall of the “skin.”

Is there a way out of this deadlock? There is an interesting new phenomenon which emerges with this assertion of the gap between skin and structure – an unexpected interstitial space. Let me take the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia: its two halls are like “two jewels in a glass case,” covered by a gigantic roof: arching over all the structures is “the vast vaulted roof of folded steel and glass creating a spectacular indoor-outdoor experience.” Beneath the vault, on the top of the boxes, there are terraces with greenery, located in this space between inside and outside. There are furthermore open entries on both sides, “creating a sheltered extension of the sidewalk outside, and blurring the distinct between the city and the outside.” This “open space inside,” this outside which is inside, open to access, is full of cafes, free puppet shows, etc. The same holds for the Esplanade National Performing Arts Centre in Singapore: above the buildings there is a giant metal-class round half-ball, fish-like “skin”, a “buffer zone, or bio-climactic environment, that would moderate the climate between the fully conditioned and sealed environments of the two major black-box performance spaces and the ever-changing external environment.” This “interstitial space” opened up by the “disconnection between skin and structure” plays a crucial role: “For many, the real magic of this building is the dramatic sense of place in the ‘leftover’ spaces between the theatres and the enclosure. The curvaceous shapes of these public areas are the by-products of two separate design processes – those of the acoustic- and logistic-driven performing zones, and the climactic- and structure-driven envelope.” Is this space which offers not only exciting viewing areas of inside and outside, but also hidden corners to stroll or rest, not a potential utopian space?

The notion I propose here is ex-aptation, introduced by Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin: it refers to features that did not arise as adaptations through natural selection but rather as side effects of adaptive processes and that have been co-opted for a biological function. What should draw our attention here is that Gould and Lewontin borrowed the architectural term “spandrel” (using the pendentives of San Marco in Venice as an example) to designate the class of forms and spaces that arise as necessary byproducts of another decision in design, and not as adaptations

for direct utility in themselves. In architecture, the prototypical spandrel is the triangular space “left over” on top, when a rectangular wall is pierced by a passageway capped with a rounded arch. By extension, a spandrel is any geometric configuration of space inevitably left over as a consequence of other architectural decisions. Say, the spaces between the pillars of a bridge can subsequently be used by homeless persons for sleeping, even though such spaces were not designed for providing such shelter. And as the church spandrels may then incidentally become the locus for decorations such as portraits of the four evangelists, so anatomical spandrels may be co-opted for uses that they were not selected for in the first place.

Are, then, – back to my main line – the “interstitial spaces” opened up by the “disconnection between skin and structure” in performance-arts venues not such spandrels, functionally empty spaces open for exaptation? The struggle is open here – the struggle for who will appropriate them. These “interstitial spaces” are thus the proper place for utopian dreaming – they remind us of architecture’s great politico-ethical responsibility: much more is at stake in design than it may appear. Recall William Butler Yeats’ well-known lines: “I have spread my dreams under your feet, / Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.” They refer also to architecture, so my warning to architecture is: when you are making your plans, tread softly because you tread on the dreams of the people who will live in and look at your buildings.

‘The Rise of Obscene Masters: Taking Donald Trump Seriously’ by Slavoj Žižek

Audio from an event that took place at Birkbeck, University of London between 20th and 21st November 2019. Audio file updated on 23rd August 2021.


Not such a long time ago, in a galaxy that now appears far, far away, the public space was clearly distinguished from the obscenities of private exchanges. Today, however, not only we can read in the mass media about the intimate details of public personalities, populist politicians themselves often regress to shameless obscenity. It is the very public domain in which “fake news” circulates, in which rumors and conspiracy theories abound.

One should not lose sight of what is so surprising about this rise of shameless obscenity. Traditionally (or in our retroactive view of tradition, at least), shameless obscenity worked as subversive, as an undermining of traditional domination, as depriving the Master of his false dignity.

In the 1960s protesting students liked to use obscene words or make obscene gestures to embarrass figures of power and, so they claimed, denounce their hypocrisy. However, what we are getting today, with the exploding public obscenity, is not the disappearance of authority, of Master figures, but its forceful reappearance – we are getting something unimaginable decades ago, obscene Masters.

Group Experiment and Other Writings: The Frankfurt School on Public Opinion in Postwar Germany’ by Friedrich Pollock & Theodor W. Adorno

Published by Harvard University Press in 2011.

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Beginning in 1949, Theodor W. Adorno and other members of the reconstituted Frankfurt Institute for Social Research undertook a massive empirical study of German opinion about the legacies of the Nazi past, applying and modifying techniques they had learned during their U.S. exile.

They published their results in 1955 as a research monograph, Group Experiment, edited by Friedrich Pollock. The study’s substantive results are published here for the first time in English as Guilt and Defense, a psychoanalytically informed analysis of the rhetorical and conceptual mechanisms with which post-war Germans most often denied responsibility for the Nazi past. In their editorial introduction, Jeffrey Olick and Andrew Perrin show how Adorno’’s famous 1959 essay The Meaning of Working Through the Past is comprehensible only as a conclusion to his long-standing research and as a reaction to the debate it spurred; their volume also includes a critique by the psychologist Peter R. Hoffstäter as well as Adorno’’s rejoinder.

This previously little-known debate provides important new perspectives on post-war German political culture, on the dynamics of collective memory, and on Adorno’s intellectual legacies, which have contributed more to empirical social research than has been acknowledged.

A companion volume, Group Experiment, will present the first book-length English translation of the Frankfurt Group’s conceptual, methodological, and theoretical innovations in public opinion research.

‘Power, Appearance and Obscenity in the Viral Desert’ by Slavoj Žižek

A view of Birkbeck, University of London. Video from the June 2020 Summer School of Critical Theory added on 23rd August 2021.

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The spread of the coronavirus epidemics has also triggered a vast epidemic of ideological viruses which were lying dormant in our societies: fake news, paranoiac conspiracy theories, explosions of racism, etc. Underlying these viruses is the rise of obscenity in public discourse which is linked to new Right populism. However, the ongoing epidemics at the same time clearly demonstrated the limit of populism.

Critical theoretical thought, at the most advanced level, includes a sense of the political urgency of the times, an urgency that has so dramatically increased in these past years with the advent of Brexit and Trump, the massive global inequality to which they both attest and exacerbate, the increasingly licensed ethno-nationalism, racism and misogyny which they sanction, the forms of historical forgetting which they appear to demand.

Theory is engaged theory, it pursues, elucidates and complicates its own genealogy and intellectual elaboration at the same time as attempting to show how theory, and the necessity of sustained reflection which it demands and enacts, can contribute to progressive, dissident thought and being in the modern world.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

‘Of the Social Contract and Other Political Writings’ by Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Published by Penguin Classics in 2012.

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“Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains” are the famous opening words of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Social Contract, a work of political philosophy that has stirred vigorous debate ever since its publication in 1762. Rejecting the view that anyone has a natural right to sovereignty, Rousseau argues instead for a pact—a “social contract”—that should exist among all the citizens of a state and that should be the source of governing power. From this premise, he goes on to consider issues of liberty and justice, arriving at a view of society that has seemed to some a blueprint for totalitarianism, to others a declaration of democratic principles.

‘Hegel Confronting Humanity & The Post-Modern’ by Slavoj Žižek

Video and audio recordings of a paper delivered on an additional unspecified day of the Masterclass on Hegel course by Slavoj Žižek titled Hegel Confronting Humanity & The Post-Modern at the European Graduate School, Saas-Fee, Switzerland in 2009.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

‘Happiness Capitalism vs. Marxism’ by Slavoj Žižek and Jordan Peterson

A debate at the Sony Centre, Toronto in Canada.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

‘The Destruction of Reason’ by Georg Lukács

First published by Merlin Press in 1952. Download link updated on 23th August 2021.

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Lukács shows how irrationalism was born in German feudal absolutism’s reaction to the French revolution of 1789. He studies the “irrationalist tradition” within philosophy stemming up to Hitler in the recent history of ideas.

A major study of Friedrich Schelling, Søren Kierkegaard, Arthur Schopenhauer and, in particular, Friedrich Nietzsche. A brilliant intellectual history of the philosophical positions and movements that in a way fermented to produce National Socialism.

As a Marxist work, it doesn’t make the mistake of arguing that earlier intellectual trends inevitably culminated in Nazism but instead only claims that no philosophy is “innocent.” As he writes:

“Thus the subject-matter which now presents itself to us is Germany’s path to Hitler in the sphere of philosophy. That is to say, we mean to show how this concrete path is reflected in philosophy, and how philosophical formulations, as an intellectual mirroring of Germany’s concrete development towards Hitler, helped to speed up the process. That we are therefore confining ourselves to portraying the most abstract part of this development by no means implies an over-estimation of philosophy’s importance in the turbulent totality of concrete developments. But we believe it is not superfluous to add that to underestimate the philosophical driving forces would be at least as dangerous and as little in accordance with reality.”

‘Looking Awry: An Introduction to Jacques Lacan through Popular Culture’ by Slavoj Žižek

First published by MIT Press (October Books) in 1992. Download link updated on 13th August 2021.

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Slavoj Žižek, a leading intellectual in the new social movements that are sweeping the world, provides a virtuoso reading of Jacques Lacan. Here he inverts current pedagogical strategies to explain the difficult philosophical underpinnings of the French theoretician and practician who revolutionized our view of psychoanalysis. He approaches Lacan through the motifs and works of contemporary popular culture, from Hitchcock’s Vertigo to Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, from McCullough’s An Indecent Obsession to Romero’s Return of the Living Dead—a strategy of “looking awry” that recalls the exhilarating and vital experience of Lacan.

Žižek discovers fundamental Lacanian categories—the triad Imaginary/Symbolic/Real, the object small a, the opposition of drive and desire, the split subject—at work in horror fiction, detective thrillers, romances, in the mass media’s perception of ecological crisis, and, above all, in Alfred Hitchcock’s films. The playfulness of Žižek’s text, however, is entirely different from that associated with the deconstructive approach made famous by Derrida. By clarifying what Lacan is saying as well as what he is not saying, Žižek is uniquely able to distinguish Lacan from the post-structuralists who so often claim him.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

‘Jacques Lacan: A Lateral Introduction’ Masterclass by Slavoj Žižek

A four week course delivered in 2006 at Birkbeck, University of London. Updated on 12th August 2021.


In 2000, the 100th anniversary of the publication of Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams was accompanied by a new wave of triumphalist acclamations of how psychoanalysis is dead: with the new advances in brain sciences, it is finally put where it belonged all the time, to the lumber-room of pre-scientific obscurantist search for hidden meanings, alongside religious confessors and dream-readers.

There is something to these accusations. The story of three successive humiliations of man, the three “narcissistic illnesses”, (“Copernicus-Darwin-Freud”) was given a new turn in the last decades: the latest scientific breakthroughs seem to add to it a whole series of further “humiliations” which radicalize the first three, so that, with regard to today’s “brain sciences”, psychoanalysis rather seems to belong to the traditional “humanist” field threatened by the latest humiliations. Is, then, psychoanalysis today outdated? It seems that it is, on three interconnected levels: (1) that of scientific knowledge, where the cognitivist-neurolobiologist model of human mind appears to supersede the Freudian model; (2) that of psychiatric clinic, where psychoanalytic treatment is rapidly losing ground against chemotherapy and behavioral therapy; (3) that of the social context, where the image of society, of social norms, which “repress” individual’s sexual drives, no longer appears valid with regard to today’s predominant hedonistic permissiveness.

It contrast to these “evident” truths, the aim of the course is to demonstrate the exact opposite: not only is psychoanalysis not veraltet – it is only today that its time has arrived, that Freud’s key insights gain their full value – on condition that one reads Freud through Lacan, through his “return to Freud” which is not the return to Freud as he was, but to what was “in Freud more than himself”, the traumatic core of the Freudian discovery of which he himself was not fully aware.

The course followed the fundamental rule of excluding all clinical stuff. Lacan was first and foremost a clinician, and clinic permeates everything he wrote and did: even when Lacan reads Plato, Aquinas, Hegel, or Kierkegaard, it is always in order to deal with a precise clinical problem (Plato for transference, Aquinas for symptom, Hegel for the dialectic of the progress of treatment, Kierkegaard for repetition). Our wager is that this very all-pervasiveness of clinic allows us to exclude it: precisely because clinic is everywhere, one can erase it and limit oneself to its effects, to the way it colors everything that appears non-clinical – this is the true test of its central place.

The four weeks course thus provided a Lacanian reading of four domains of humanities and social sciences: first week, philosophy and theology (Hegel, Kierkegaard, Heidegger); second week, science (contemporary cognitivists and evolutionists, from Daniel Dennett, Steven Pinker); third week, theories of ideology (from Marx to analyzing today’s “fundamentalism”); last week, theories of art (cinema and literature : Henry James, Samuel Beckett, David Lynch, Lars von Trier). The overall aim is to demonstrate the strength of the Lacanian approach, through polemical confrontations with other predominant trends, from cognitivism to deconstructionism.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.


DISCLAIMER: Because the original titles of these nine courses have been lost since they have been delivered, I have decided to make up my own titles for each individual lecture. The titles of these talks are thus my own work and copyright. – Simon Gros, 2021

‘Marx Reloaded’ by Jason Barker

Download available in English, French and German.

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(3x .mkv)


Marx Reloaded is a cultural documentary published in 2011 that examines the relevance of German philosopher Karl Marx’s ideas for understanding the global economic and financial crisis of 2008-09. The crisis triggered the deepest global recession in 70 years and prompted the US government to spend more than 1 trillion dollars in order to rescue its banking system from collapse. The full implications of the crisis in Europe and around the world still remain unclear. Nevertheless, should we accept the crisis as an unfortunate side-effect of the free market? Or is there another explanation as to why it happened and its likely effects on our society, our economy and our whole way of life?

Written and directed by Jason Barker–himself an experienced writer, lecturer, translator and doctor of philosophy–Marx Reloaded comprises interviews with the world’s leading philosophers of Marxism, including those at the forefront of a popular revival in Marxist and communist ideas. The film also includes interviews with skeptics of this revival as well as light-hearted animation sequences which follow Marx’s adventures through the matrix of his own ideas.


Jason Barker (born 1971) is a theorist, director, screenwriter, producer and author of Marx Returns published by Zero Books in 2018.

‘Language and Violence’ by Slavoj Žižek

Audio recording from a paper presentation delivered on the ninth and final day of Jacques Lacan: A Lateral Introduction four-week masterclass course by Slavoj Žižek titled Language and Violence delivered at the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, University of London on 21st June 2006.

The course focused on the singular question: Is psychoanalysis outdated? It appears that it is, on three interconnected levels: (1) that of scientific knowledge, where the cognitivist-neurobiologist model of human mind seems to supersede the Freudian model; (2) that of psychiatric clinic, where psychoanalytic treatment is rapidly losing ground against chemotherapy and behavioural therapy; (3) that of the social context, where the image of society, of social norms, which “repress” individual’s sexual drives, no longer appears valid with regard to today’s predominant hedonistic permissiveness.

It contrast to these “evident” truths, the aim of the course was to demonstrate the exact opposite: not only is psychoanalysis not veraltet – it is only today that its time has arrived, that Freud’s key insights gain their full value – on condition that one reads Freud through Lacan, through his “return to Freud” which is not the return to Freud as he was, but to what was “in Freud more than himself”, the traumatic core of the Freudian discovery of which he himself was not fully aware.

The course followed the fundamental rule of excluding the clinic. Lacan was first and foremost a clinician, and clinical details permeate everything he wrote and did: even when Lacan reads Plato, Aquinas, Hegel, or Kierkegaard, it is always in order to deal with a precise clinical problem (Plato for transference, Aquinas for symptom, Hegel for the dialectic of the progress of treatment, Kierkegaard for repetition). Our wager is that this very all-pervasiveness of clinic allows us to exclude it: precisely because clinic is everywhere, one can erase it and limit oneself to its effects, to the way it colours everything that appears non-clinical—this is the true test of its central place.

The four weeks course thus provided a Lacanian reading of four domains of humanities and social sciences: philosophy and theology (Hegel, Kierkegaard, Heidegger); science (contemporary cognitivists and evolutionists, from Daniel Dennet to Steven Pinker); theories of ideology (from Marx to analysing today’s “fundamentalism”); theories of art (cinema and literature: Henry James, Samuel Beckett, David Lynch and Lars von Trier). The overall aim of the course was to demonstrate the strength of the Lacanian approach, through polemical confrontations with other predominant trends, from cognitivism to deconstructionism.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.


DISCLAIMER: Because the original titles of these nine courses have been lost since they have been delivered, I have decided to make up my own titles for each individual lecture. The titles of these talks are thus my own work and copyright. – Simon Gros, 2021

‘The Euthanasia of Pure Reason’ by Slavoj Žižek

Audio recording from a paper presentation delivered on the eight day of Jacques Lacan: A Lateral Introduction four-week masterclass course by Slavoj Žižek titled The Euthanasia of Pure Reason delivered at the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, University of London on 20th June 2006.

The course focused on the singular question: Is psychoanalysis outdated? It appears that it is, on three interconnected levels: (1) that of scientific knowledge, where the cognitivist-neurobiologist model of human mind seems to supersede the Freudian model; (2) that of psychiatric clinic, where psychoanalytic treatment is rapidly losing ground against chemotherapy and behavioural therapy; (3) that of the social context, where the image of society, of social norms, which “repress” individual’s sexual drives, no longer appears valid with regard to today’s predominant hedonistic permissiveness.

It contrast to these “evident” truths, the aim of the course was to demonstrate the exact opposite: not only is psychoanalysis not veraltet – it is only today that its time has arrived, that Freud’s key insights gain their full value – on condition that one reads Freud through Lacan, through his “return to Freud” which is not the return to Freud as he was, but to what was “in Freud more than himself”, the traumatic core of the Freudian discovery of which he himself was not fully aware.

The course followed the fundamental rule of excluding the clinic. Lacan was first and foremost a clinician, and clinical details permeate everything he wrote and did: even when Lacan reads Plato, Aquinas, Hegel, or Kierkegaard, it is always in order to deal with a precise clinical problem (Plato for transference, Aquinas for symptom, Hegel for the dialectic of the progress of treatment, Kierkegaard for repetition). Our wager is that this very all-pervasiveness of clinic allows us to exclude it: precisely because clinic is everywhere, one can erase it and limit oneself to its effects, to the way it colours everything that appears non-clinical—this is the true test of its central place.

The four weeks course thus provided a Lacanian reading of four domains of humanities and social sciences: philosophy and theology (Hegel, Kierkegaard, Heidegger); science (contemporary cognitivists and evolutionists, from Daniel Dennet to Steven Pinker); theories of ideology (from Marx to analysing today’s “fundamentalism”); theories of art (cinema and literature: Henry James, Samuel Beckett, David Lynch and Lars von Trier). The overall aim of the course was to demonstrate the strength of the Lacanian approach, through polemical confrontations with other predominant trends, from cognitivism to deconstructionism.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.


DISCLAIMER: Because the original titles of these nine courses have been lost since they have been delivered, I have decided to make up my own titles for each individual lecture. The titles of these talks are thus my own work and copyright. – Simon Gros, 2021

‘Apocalyptic Times’ by Slavoj Žižek

Audio recording from a paper presentation delivered by Slavoj Žižek titled Apocalyptic Times at the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, London University on 24th November 2009.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

‘The Fragile Absolute: Or, Why Is the Christian Legacy Worth Fighting For?’ by Slavoj Žižek

First published by Verso in 2000. Download link and description updated on 26th July 2021.

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From now on, even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way; everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

Saint Paul’s militant declaration from Corinthians asserts for the first time in human history the revolutionary logic of a radical break with the past—with it, the age of Cosmic Balance and similar pagan babble is over. What does it mean to return to this stance today?

One of the signal features of our era is the re-emergence of the ‘sacred’ in all its different guises, from New Age paganism to the emerging religious sensitivity within cultural and political theory. How is a Marxist to counter this massive onslaught of obscurantism?

The wager of Žižek’s The Fragile Absolute is that Christianity and Marxism can fight together against the contemporary onslaught of vapid spiritualism. The revolutionary core of the Christian legacy is too precious to be left to the fundamentalists.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

‘Concept and Form / Cahiers pour l’Analyse’ by Hallward and Peden | Two Volumes

Published by Verso in 2012. Download link updated on 20. June 2021.

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Concept and Form is a two-volume monument to the work of the philosophy journal the Cahiers pour l’Analyse (1966–69), the most ambitious and radical collective project to emerge from French structuralism. Inspired by their mentors Louis Althusser and Jacques Lacan, the editors of the Cahiers sought to sever philosophy from the interpretation of given meanings or experiences, focusing instead on the mechanisms that structure specific configurations of discourse, from the psychological and ideological to the literary, scientific, and political. Adequate analysis of the operations at work in these configurations, they argue, helps prepare the way for their revolutionary transformation.

The first volume comprises English translations of a selection from the most important theoretical texts published in the journal, written by thinkers who would soon be counted among the most inventive and influential of their generation: Alain Badiou, Yves Duroux, Alain Grosrichard, Serge Leclaire, Jacques-Alain Miller, Jean-Claude Milner and François Regnault.

The second volume collects newly commissioned essays on the journal, together with recent interviews with people who were either members of its editorial board or associated with its broader theoretical project. It aims to help reconstruct the intellectual context of the Cahiers, and to assess its contemporary theoretical legacy. It considers the journal’s distinctive effort to link the apparently incommensurable categories of structure and subject so as to rethink Marxism and Psychoanalysis.

Contributors include Alain Badiou, Étienne Balibar, Edward Baring, Jacques Bouveresse, Yves Duroux, Alain Grosrichard, Peter Hallward, Adrian Johnston, Serge Leclaire, Patrice Maniglier, Tracy McNulty, Jacques-Alain Miller, Jean-Claude Milner, Knox Peden, Jacques Rancière, François Regnault and Slavoj Žižek.

‘Think Again: Alain Badiou and the Future of Philosophy’ by Peter Hallward

Published by Continuum in 2004. Download link updated on 10th August 2021.

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Slavoj Žižek is not alone in thinking that Alain Badiou’s recent work is “the event of contemporary philosophy.” Think Again, the first publication of its kind, goes a long way towards justifying his assessment. Badiou is nothing if not polemical and the most suitable way to approach his philosophy is precisely through the controversies it creates. This book, which opens with an introduction aimed at readers new to Badiou’s work, presents a range of essays which explore Badiou’s most contentious claims in the fields of ontology, politics, ethics and aesthetics.

Alain Badiou has devised perhaps the only truly inventive philosophy of the subject since Sartre. Almost alone among his peers, Badiou’s work promises a genuine renewal of philosophy, a subject he sees as conditioned by innovation in spheres ranging from radical politics to artistic experimentation to mathematical formalization.

With contributions by Peter Hallward, Étienne Balibar, Jean-Luc Nancy, Ray Brassier, Jean-Toussaint Desanti, Todd May, Daniel W. Smith, Daniel Bensaïd, Peter Dews, Ernesto Laclau, Alberto Toscano, Bruno Bosteels, Ed Pluth, Dominiek Hoens, Alenka Zupančič, Aexander García Düttmann, Jean-Jacques Lecercle, Jacques Rancière, Alain Badiou and Slavoj Žižek.


Peter Hallward teaches Philosophy at Kingston University and has written books on Alain Badiou, Gilles Deleuze, postcolonial literature, and contemporary Haitian politics. His books The Will of the People and Blanqui and Political Will are forthcoming.

Alain Badiou is a French Marxist philosopher, novelist and playwright. Born in Rabat, Morocco, Badiou completed high school in Toulouse before moving to Paris for undergraduate studies at the prestigious École Normale Supérieure (ENS), where he worked closely with Louis Althusser, but was never one of the select group of disciples who came to be known as Althusserians. After completing his obligatory military service, Badiou taught in Reims, first at a lycée, then at the university. In 1968 he was invited by Michel Foucault to join the department of philosophy at Vincennes (University of Paris VIII), where his colleagues included Hélène Cixous, Gilles Deleuze, and Jean-François Lyotard. After spending 30 years at Vincennes, Badiou left in 1998 to return to his alma mater ENS. The primary philosophical system developed by Alain Badiou is constructed in Being and Event, Logics of Worlds: Being and Event II, and the forthcoming Immanence of Truths: Being and Event III. Badiou’s model of praxis is usually described as subtractive because it operates on the premise that political action can only work if it subtracts itself from the power and processes of the state. Throughout his career, Badiou has been actively involved in politics. During the events of May ’68 he was a member of highly vocal Maoist groups. In more recent times he has been involved with L’Organisation Politique, a politicized group he helped found. Because of its powerfully political texture, Badiou’s philosophy is increasingly widely read today, a measure both of the volatility of the times and the lucidity of his thought.

‘Damming the Flood: Haiti and the Politics of Containment’ by Peter Hallward

First published by Verso Books in 2007.

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Long before a devastating earthquake hit in January 2010, Haiti was one of the most impoverished and oppressed countries in the world. However, in the late 1980s a remarkable popular mobilization known as Lavalas (“the flood”) sought to liberate the island from decades of US-backed dictatorial rule. Damming the Flood analyzes how and why the Lavalas governments led by President Jean-Bertrand Aristide were overthrown, in 1991 and again in 2004, by the enemies of democracy in Haiti and abroad.

The elaborate campaign to suppress Lavalas was perhaps the most successful act of imperial sabotage since the end of the Cold War. It has left the people of Haiti at the mercy of some of the most rapacious political and economic forces on the planet.

Updated with a substantial new afterword that addresses the international response to the earthquake, Damming the Flood is both an invaluable account of recent Haitian history and an illuminating analysis of twenty-first-century imperialism.


Peter Hallward teaches Philosophy at Kingston University and has written books on Alain Badiou, Gilles Deleuze, postcolonial literature, and contemporary Haitian politics. His books The Will of the People and Blanqui and Political Will are forthcoming.

‘Die Idee des Kommunismus II’ von Alain Badiou und Slavoj Žižek

Laika Verlag, October 2012

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(.epub)


Die zweite internationale Konferenz über Sinn und Verwendung des Wortes Kommunismus, organisiert auf Initiative von Alain Badiou und Slavoj Žižek, fand vom 25.–27. Juni 2010 in der Berliner Volksbühne statt.

Nach dem Erfolg der Eröffnungskonferenz in London ein Jahr zuvor ging es dieses Mal darum, die Diskussionen für die Erfahrung und die Reflexion der Philosophen aus anderen Weltregionen und besonders aus den La¨ndern des fr ü heren Sowjetblocks zu öffnen.

Ihr Beitrag zur Definition einer erneuerten Idee des Kommunismus wird entscheidend dafür sein, dass dieses Wort seinen Platz in den philosophischen Debatten, die das Problem der Emanzipation behandeln, wiederfindet.


Der vorliegende Band versammelt alle Referate, die während der Berliner Konferenz gehalten wurden. Mit Texten von: Alain Badiou, Glyn Daly, Saroj Giri, Gernot Kamecke, Janne Kurki, Artemy Magun, Kuba Majmurek, Kuba Mikurda, Antonio Negri, Frank Ruda, Bülent Somay, Janek Sowa, Gáspár Miklós Tamás, Henning Teschke, Jan Völker, Cécile Winter und Slavoj Žižek.

Übersetzung der Originaltexte aus dem Französischen und Englischen von Roland Holst. Übersetzung des Originaltextes von Toni Negri aus dem Italienischen von Adriana Enslin. Die Texte von Kamecke/Teschke und Ruda/Völker wurden im deutschen Original übernommen.

‘Die Idee des Kommunismus I’ von Slavoj Žižek und Costas Douzinas

Laika Verlag, October 2012

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(.epub)


Die Versprechen des Kommunismus von den Katastrophen des 20. Jahrhunderts zu trennen, ist keine leichte Aufgabe. Aber sie ist nötig. Denn wir brauchen eine andere Vorstellung von Gesellschaft, damit die Menschheit aus den Katastrophen herauskommt, in die sie mit dem Kapitalismus bereits hineingesteuert ist. Wir müssen anfangen. Dazu will das Buch einen Beitrag leisten.

Die gleichnamige Londoner Konferenz war eine Antwort auf Alain Badious Die Kommunistische Hypothese Unter der Losung ‘Die lange Nacht der Linken geht jetzt zu Ende’ versammelte Slavoj Žižek mehr als zwanzig linke und linksradikale Theoretiker, darunter Antonio Negri, Bruno Bosteels, Terry Eagleton und Alberto Toscano, und diskutierte mit ihnen die Möglichkeiten eines kommunistischen Neubeginns ebenso wie die Notwendigkeit des Kommunismus als gesellschaftliches Zukunftsprojekt.

Die Konferenz verstand sich dabei nicht als akademische Lehrveranstaltung, sondern vielmehr als praktisch-theoretische Anleitung zu politischem Handeln. Die beiden Konferenz-Bände versammeln alle Beiträge dieses richtungsweisenden Austauschs.


Mit Texten von: Costas Douzinas, Alain Badiou, Judith Balso, Bruno Bosteels, Susan Buck-Morss, Terry Eagleton, Peter Hallward, Michael Hardt, Jean-Luc Nancy, Antonio Negri, Jacques Rancière, Alessandro Russo, Alberto Toscano, Gianni Vattimo und Slavoj Žižek.

Aus dem Englischen von Harald Etzbach.

‘Violence: Six Sideways Reflections’ by Slavoj Žižek

First published by Picador in 2007. Download link updated on 20. June 2021.

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In this passionate plea for awareness, Žižek turns his unflinching gaze on the capitalist democracies we live in. The book discusses the inherent violence of globalization, capitalism, fundamentalism, and language: it brings new light to the Paris riots of 2005, questions the permissiveness of violence in philanthropy, explores the bloody totalitarian regimes of the last century, analyses that violence which is named ‘divine’ and reflects on the powerful image and determination of contemporary terrorism.

Violence takes three forms: subjective (crime, terror), objective (racism, hate-speech, discrimination), and systemic (the catastrophic effects of economic and political systems)—and often one form of violence blunts our ability to see the others, raising complicated questions.

Does the advent of capitalism and, indeed, civilization cause more violence than it prevents? Is there violence in the simple idea of “the neighbor”? And could the appropriate form of action against violence today simply be to contemplate, to think?


The missing footnote 36

After this book was published in 2007/2008, Žižek was later seen mentioning in public appearances about the censorship the book itself underwent in the English edition, never specifying where it was located. Although I’ve noticed that the fourth term in the matrix of the violence outlined in the book, structural violence, was missing from the publisher’s abstract, there is yet another strange occurrence within the structure of the book itself.

In the Index at the very end, the term structural violence does appear in the English variation, albeit just once, yet it points towards a footnote labelled 36—while the Slovene edition of the book does not even contain an Index.

Now the problem is that in reality the English variation of the book doesn’t even contain a footnote 36 in that specific chapter itself, since the way footnotes are done in the English editions (as opposed to the original Slovene monograph) is that they begin from the beginning in each individual chapter and are not consecutive.

So although the Index does contain a footnote 36 pointing towards the term systemic violence, in reality there is no footnote 36 in the chapter titled SOS Violence, since the last footnote in that chapter ends with footnote 26 while the next chapter titled Allegro moderato-Adagio begins from footnote 1 all over again.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

‘Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime’ by Bruno Latour

Published by Polity in 2018. Download link updated on 10th August 2021.

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The present ecological mutation has organized the whole political landscape for the last thirty years. This could explain the deadly cocktail of exploding inequalities, massive deregulation, and conversion of the dream of globalization into a nightmare for most people. 

What holds these three phenomena together is the conviction, shared by some powerful people, that the ecological threat is real and that the only way for them to survive is to abandon any pretense at sharing a common future with the rest of the world. Hence their flight offshore and their massive investment in climate change denial.

The Left has been slow to turn its attention to this new situation. It is still organized along an axis that goes from investment in local values to the hope of globalization and just at the time when, everywhere, people dissatisfied with the ideal of modernity are turning back to the protection of national or even ethnic borders.

This is why it is urgent to shift sideways and to define politics as what leads toward the Earth and not toward the global or the national. Belonging to a territory is the phenomenon most in need of rethinking and careful redescription; learning new ways to inhabit the Earth is our biggest challenge. Bringing us down to earth is the task of politics today.

‘States of Injury’ by Wendy Brown

Published by Princeton University Press in July 1995.

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Whether in characterizing Catharine MacKinnon’s theory of gender as itself pornographic or in identifying liberalism as unable to make good on its promises, Wendy Brown pursues a central question: how does a sense of woundedness become the basis for a sense of identity? Brown argues that efforts to outlaw hate speech and pornography powerfully legitimize the state: such apparently well-intentioned attempts harm victims further by portraying them as so helpless as to be in continuing need of governmental protection. “Whether one is dealing with the state, the Mafia, parents, pimps, police, or husbands,” writes Brown, “the heavy price of institutionalized protection is always a measure of dependence and agreement to abide by the protector’s rules.” True democracy, she insists, requires sharing power, not regulation by it; freedom, not protection.

Refusing any facile identification with one political position or another, Brown applies her argument to a panoply of topics, from the basis of litigiousness in political life to the appearance on the academic Left of themes of revenge and a thwarted will to power. These and other provocations in contemporary political thought and political life provide an occasion for rethinking the value of several of the last two centuries’ most compelling theoretical critiques of modern political life, including the positions of Nietzsche, Marx, Weber, and Foucault.


Wendy Brown is Professor of Women’s Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the author of Manhood and Politics: A Feminist Reading in Political Theory.

‘Politics Out of History’ by Wendy Brown

Published by Princeton University Press in August 2001.

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What happens to left and liberal political orientations when faith in progress is broken, when both the sovereign individual and sovereign states seem tenuous, when desire seems as likely to seek punishment as freedom, when all political conviction is revealed as contingent and subjective? Politics Out of History is animated by the question of how we navigate the contemporary political landscape when the traditional compass points of modernity have all but disappeared. Wendy Brown diagnoses a range of contemporary political tendencies — from moralistic high-handedness to low-lying political despair in politics, from the difficulty of formulating political alternatives to reproaches against theory in intellectual life — as the consequence of this disorientation.

Politics Out of History also presents a provocative argument for a new approach to thinking about history — one that forsakes the idea that history has a purpose and treats it instead as a way of illuminating openings in the present by, for example, identifying the haunting and constraining effects of past injustices unresolved. Brown also argues for a revitalized relationship between intellectual and political life, one that cultivates the autonomy of each while promoting their interlocutory potential. This book will be essential reading for all who find the trajectories of contemporary liberal democracies bewildering and are willing to engage readings of a range of thinkers — Freud, Marx, Nietzsche, Spinoza, Benjamin, Derrida — to rethink democratic possibility in our time.


Wendy Brown is Professor of Political Science and Women’s Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Her books include States of Injury: Power and Freedom in Late Modernity, Manhood and Politics: A Feminist Reading in Political Theory, and Left Legalism/Left Critique, coedited with Janet Halley.

‘Buddhism and Violence’ by Michael Zimmermann

Published by Reichert Verlag in 2006.

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This volume studies the evidence that, at particular moments in their history and in certain aspects of their doctrines, the traditions of Buddhism, like other religious traditions, have actively or passively promoted – and may continue to promote – violent modes of behavior or structural violence. The articles in this volume cover a broad spectrum of the Buddhist world in term of regions and periods. They deal with aspects of violence starting in India before the Common Era and ranging to the support of Japanese militarism by Buddhist leaders far into the 20th century.

This volume is the outgrowth of a panel on Buddhism and violence at the XIIIth Conference of the international Association of Buddhist studies, held in Bangkok, December 2002. There is as yet no definitive work on the general topic of Buddhism and violence. There are, however, a growing number of studies of specific cases of violence in Buddhism, drawn from particular periods and places. It is hoped that the contributions to this volume, largely following the textual approaches that have dominated Buddhist studies since its origins, will be supplemented by research based on other methodologies and materials to provide rich resources for more comprehensive, multi-layered approaches to the relationship between Buddhism and violence.

The content of this volume reflects only indirectly the panel from which it grew. Not all of the panelists present in Bankok were in apposition to submit their paper. Some of the articles retain traces of their oral presentation; others have been completely rewritten. Carmen Meinert and Martin Delhey, though originally part of the panel, were unable to attend and submitted their work at a later date. Brain Victoria, who in Bankok read a paper on “Zen as a religion of death in Japanese Militarism,” shifted the focus of his article here to D. T. Suzuki. The piece by Jens Schlieter, not originally a panelist in Bangkok, was included because of its excellent fit with the other case studies presented here and, in particular, the further light it sheds on the studies presented here and, in particular, the further light it sheds on the murder of the Tibetan king Langdaram dealt with by Carmen Meinert. One of the aims of this volume is to provide material, based on critical, unbiased research, illustrating the fact that, at particular moments in their history and in certain aspects of their doctrines, the traditions of Buddhism, like other religious, have actively or passively promoted – and may continue to promote violent modes of behavior or structural violence.

The more comprehensive and systematic inquiry hoped for above can only proceed once this fact is fully acknowledge and has challenged the dominated and obstinate perception of Buddhism as a religion that in its conception and history is categorically divorced from violence. Only then will we begin to see the specific character of the relation of the Buddhist traditions to forms of violence, and only then will we be in a position to draw more general conclusions on the shape this relation took over the centuries.


Edited by Michael Zimmerman of the Lumbini International Research Institute.

‘Buddhist Warfare’ by Michael Jerryson & Mark Juergensmeyer

Published by Oxford University Press in 2010.

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Though traditionally regarded as a peaceful religion, Buddhism has a dark side. On multiple occasions over the past fifteen centuries, Buddhist leaders have sanctioned violence, and even war. The eight essays in this book focus on a variety of Buddhist traditions, from antiquity to the present, and show that Buddhist organizations have used religious images and rhetoric to support military conquest throughout history.

Buddhist soldiers in sixth century China were given the illustrious status of Bodhisattva after killing their adversaries. In seventeenth century Tibet, the Fifth Dalai Lama endorsed a Mongol ruler’s killing of his rivals. And in modern-day Thailand, Buddhist soldiers carry out their duties undercover, as fully ordained monks armed with guns.

Buddhist Warfare demonstrates that the discourse on religion and violence, usually applied to Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, can no longer exclude Buddhist traditions. The book examines Buddhist military action in Tibet, China, Korea, Japan, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, and shows that even the most unlikely and allegedly pacifist religious traditions are susceptible to the violent tendencies of man.


Michael Jerryson is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Youngstown State University.

Mark Juergensmeyer is Professor of Sociology and Global Studies, and Director of the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.


‘Zen At War’ by Brian Victoria


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A history of the contradictory, often militaristic, role of Zen Buddhism, this book documents the close and previously unknown support of a supposedly peaceful religion for Japanese militarism throughout World War II.

Drawing on the writings and speeches of leading Zen masters and scholars, Brian Victoria shows that Zen served as a powerful foundation for the fanatical and suicidal spirit displayed by the imperial Japanese military. At the same time, the author recounts the dramatic and tragic stories of the handful of Buddhist organizations and individuals that dared to oppose Japan’s march to war. He follows this history up through recent apologies by several Zen sects for their support of the war and the way support for militarism was transformed into ‘corporate Zen’ in postwar Japan.

The second edition includes a substantive new chapter on the roots of Zen militarism and an epilogue that explores the potentially volatile mix of religion and war. With the increasing interest in Buddhism in the West, this book is as timely as it is certain to be controversial.


Brian Andre Victoria or Brian Daizen Victoria (b. 1939) is director of the Buddhist Studies Program in Japan at Antioch College and Buddhist priest in the Sōtō Zen school. He has published widely in both Japanese and English, including Zen Master Dogen and Zen War Stories.

‘Violence at Google’ by Slavoj Žižek

Video and audio recordings from a paper presentation delivered at the Authors@Google program in Google’s New York office on 12th September 2008 to discuss his book Violence: Six Sideways Reflections.

In this passionate plea for awareness, Žižek turns his unflinching gaze on the capitalist democracies we live in. The book discusses the inherent violence of globalization, capitalism, fundamentalism, and language: it brings new light to the Paris riots of 2005, questions the permissiveness of violence in philanthropy, explores the bloody totalitarian regimes of the last century, analyses that violence which is named ‘divine’ and reflects on the powerful image and determination of contemporary terrorism.

Violence takes three forms: subjective (crime, terror), objective (racism, hate-speech, discrimination), and systemic (the catastrophic effects of economic and political systems)—and often one form of violence blunts our ability to see the others, raising complicated questions.

Does the advent of capitalism and, indeed, civilization cause more violence than it prevents? Is there violence in the simple idea of “the neighbor”? And could the appropriate form of action against violence today simply be to contemplate, to think?


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

‘Nominalism and Ontology’ by Slavoj Žižek

Audio recording from a paper presentation delivered on the seventh day of Jacques Lacan: A Lateral Introduction four-week masterclass course by Slavoj Žižek titled Nominalism and Ontology delivered at the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, University of London on 15th June 2006.

The course focused on the singular question: Is psychoanalysis outdated? It appears that it is, on three interconnected levels: (1) that of scientific knowledge, where the cognitivist-neurobiologist model of human mind seems to supersede the Freudian model; (2) that of psychiatric clinic, where psychoanalytic treatment is rapidly losing ground against chemotherapy and behavioural therapy; (3) that of the social context, where the image of society, of social norms, which “repress” individual’s sexual drives, no longer appears valid with regard to today’s predominant hedonistic permissiveness.

It contrast to these “evident” truths, the aim of the course was to demonstrate the exact opposite: not only is psychoanalysis not veraltet – it is only today that its time has arrived, that Freud’s key insights gain their full value – on condition that one reads Freud through Lacan, through his “return to Freud” which is not the return to Freud as he was, but to what was “in Freud more than himself”, the traumatic core of the Freudian discovery of which he himself was not fully aware.

The course followed the fundamental rule of excluding the clinic. Lacan was first and foremost a clinician, and clinical details permeate everything he wrote and did: even when Lacan reads Plato, Aquinas, Hegel, or Kierkegaard, it is always in order to deal with a precise clinical problem (Plato for transference, Aquinas for symptom, Hegel for the dialectic of the progress of treatment, Kierkegaard for repetition). Our wager is that this very all-pervasiveness of clinic allows us to exclude it: precisely because clinic is everywhere, one can erase it and limit oneself to its effects, to the way it colours everything that appears non-clinical—this is the true test of its central place.

The four weeks course thus provided a Lacanian reading of four domains of humanities and social sciences: philosophy and theology (Hegel, Kierkegaard, Heidegger); science (contemporary cognitivists and evolutionists, from Daniel Dennet to Steven Pinker); theories of ideology (from Marx to analysing today’s “fundamentalism”); theories of art (cinema and literature: Henry James, Samuel Beckett, David Lynch and Lars von Trier). The overall aim of the course was to demonstrate the strength of the Lacanian approach, through polemical confrontations with other predominant trends, from cognitivism to deconstructionism.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.


DISCLAIMER: Because the original titles of these nine courses have been lost since they have been delivered, I have decided to make up my own titles for each individual lecture. The titles of these talks are thus my own work and copyright. – Simon Gros, 2021

‘The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of Political Ontology’ by Slavoj Žižek

First published by Verso in 1999. Download link updated on 10th August 2021.

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A spectre is haunting Western academia, the spectre of the Cartesian subject—Deconstructionists and Habermasians, cognitive scientists and Heideggerians, feminists and New Age obscurantists—all are united in their hostility to it. The Ticklish Subject seeks to undermine the common presupposition of all these critiques by posing a provocative question: what if there is a subversive core of the Cartesian subject to be unearthed, a core which provides the indispensable philosophical point of reference of any genuinely emancipatory politics?

In this new, long-awaited systematic exposition of the foundations of his theory, Slavoj Žižek explores this question through a detailed and rigorous confrontation with predominant contemporary notions of the subject: Heidegger’s attempt to overcome subjectivity; the post-Althusserian elaborations of political subjectivity (Ernesto Laclau, Étienne Balibar, Jacques Rancière and Alain Badiou); deconstructionist feminism (Judith Butler); and the theories of second modernity and risk society (Anthony Giddens, Ulrich Beck).

While philosophical in tenor, The Ticklish Subject is first and foremost an engaged political intervention, addressing the burning question of how to reformulate a Leftist project in an era of global capitalism and its ideological supplement, liberal-democratic multiculturalism.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

‘The Panopticon Writings’ by Jeremy Bentham

This edition published by Verso in 2011.

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A definitive collection of Bentham’s work on the model prison, key to Foucault’s theory of power. A comprehensive introduction by Miran Božović explores the place of Panopticon in contemporary theoretical debate.

The Panopticon project for a model prison obsessed the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham for almost 20 years. In the end, the project came to nothing; the Panopticon was never built. But it is precisely this that makes the Panopticon project the best exemplification of Bentham’s own theory of fictions, according to which non-existent fictitious entities can have all too real effects. There is probably no building that has stirred more philosophical controversy than Bentham’s Panopticon. The Panopticon is not merely, as Foucault thought, “a cruel, ingenious cage”, in which subjects collaborate in their own subjection, but much more—constructing the Panopticon produces not only a prison, but also a god within it. The Panopticon is a machine which on assembly is already inhabited by a ghost. It is through the Panopticon and the closely related theory of fictions that Bentham has made his greatest impact on modern thought; above all, on the theory of power.

The Panopticon writings are frequently cited, rarely read. This edition contains the complete “Panopticon Letters”, together with selections from “Panopticon Postscript I” and “Fragment on Ontology”, Bentham’s fullest account of fictions. A comprehensive introduction by Miran Božović explores the place of Panopticon in contemporary theoretical debate.


Miran Božovič (b. 1957 in Ljubljana, Slovenia) is Professor of Early Modern Philosophy at the Department of Philosophy at the University of Ljubljana. Closely related to the so-called Ljubljana School of Psychoanalysis, his research focuses primarily on 17th- and 18th cent. Philosophy. Božovič received a BA in Comparative Literature (1980), a BA in Philosophy (1981), an MA in Philosophy (1984) as well as a PhD in Philosophy (1991)all from the University of Ljubljana. He has published numerous books, book chapters, and articles. His recent publications include An Utterly Dark Spot: Gaze and Body in Early Modern Philosophy, Der große Andere: Gotteskonzepte in der Philosophie der Neuzeit, Utilitarismus and Filozofija na Luni.

‘Platonic Diaresis: Gorgias as a Stalinist’ by Slavoj Žižek

Audio recording from a paper presentation delivered on the sixth day of Jacques Lacan: A Lateral Introduction four-week masterclass course by Slavoj Žižek titled Platonic Diaresis, or, Gorgias as a Stalinist at the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, London University on 13th June 2006.

The course focused on the singular question: Is psychoanalysis outdated? It appears that it is, on three interconnected levels: (1) that of scientific knowledge, where the cognitivist-neurobiologist model of human mind seems to supersede the Freudian model; (2) that of psychiatric clinic, where psychoanalytic treatment is rapidly losing ground against chemotherapy and behavioural therapy; (3) that of the social context, where the image of society, of social norms, which “repress” individual’s sexual drives, no longer appears valid with regard to today’s predominant hedonistic permissiveness.

It contrast to these “evident” truths, the aim of the course was to demonstrate the exact opposite: not only is psychoanalysis not veraltet – it is only today that its time has arrived, that Freud’s key insights gain their full value – on condition that one reads Freud through Lacan, through his “return to Freud” which is not the return to Freud as he was, but to what was “in Freud more than himself”, the traumatic core of the Freudian discovery of which he himself was not fully aware.

The course followed the fundamental rule of excluding the clinic. Lacan was first and foremost a clinician, and clinical details permeate everything he wrote and did: even when Lacan reads Plato, Aquinas, Hegel, or Kierkegaard, it is always in order to deal with a precise clinical problem (Plato for transference, Aquinas for symptom, Hegel for the dialectic of the progress of treatment, Kierkegaard for repetition). Our wager is that this very all-pervasiveness of clinic allows us to exclude it: precisely because clinic is everywhere, one can erase it and limit oneself to its effects, to the way it colours everything that appears non-clinical—this is the true test of its central place.

The four weeks course thus provided a Lacanian reading of four domains of humanities and social sciences: philosophy and theology (Hegel, Kierkegaard, Heidegger); science (contemporary cognitivists and evolutionists, from Daniel Dennet to Steven Pinker); theories of ideology (from Marx to analysing today’s “fundamentalism”); theories of art (cinema and literature: Henry James, Samuel Beckett, David Lynch and Lars von Trier). The overall aim of the course was to demonstrate the strength of the Lacanian approach, through polemical confrontations with other predominant trends, from cognitivism to deconstructionism.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.


DISCLAIMER: Because the original titles of these nine courses have been lost since they have been delivered, I have decided to make up my own titles for each individual lecture. The titles of these talks are thus my own work and copyright. – Simon Gros, 2021

‘Difference and Repetition’ by Gilles Deleuze

First published in France in 1968, translated into English by Paul Patton in 1994, this edition published in The Cromwell Press in 2001.

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This brilliant exposition of the critique of identity is a classic in contemporary philosophy and one of Deleuze’s most important works. Of fundamental importance to literary critics and philosophers, Difference and Repetition develops two central concepts—pure difference and complex repetition—and shows how the two concepts are related. While difference implies divergence and decentering, repetition is associated with displacement and disguising. Central in initiating the shift in French thought away from Hegel and Marx toward Nietzsche and Freud, Difference and Repetition moves deftly to establish a fundamental critique of Western metaphysics.

Difference and Repetition was Deleuze’s principal thesis for the Doctorat D’Etat alongside his secondary, historical thesis, Expressionism in Philosophy: Spinoza.


Gilles Deleuze was one of France’s leading philosophers and Profesor of Philosophy at the University de Paris VIII until his retirement in 1987. His other works include What is Philosophy? and The Logic of Sense, both published by Columbia University Press.

‘Out of This World: Deleuze and the Philosophy of Creation’ by Peter Hallward

Published by Verso in 2006. Download link updated on 10. August 2021.

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A controversial critique of Deleuze as a spiritual and extra-worldly philosopher.

Gilles Deleuze was one of the most influential French philosophers of the last century. This book aims to make sense of his fundamental project in the clearest possible terms, by engaging with the central idea that informs virtually all of his work: the equation of being and creativity. It explores the various ways in which, in order to affirm an unlimited creative power, Deleuze proceeds to dissolve whatever might restrict or mediate its expression, including the organisms, objects, representations, identities, and relations that this power generates along the way.

Rather than a theorist of material complexity or relational difference, Out of this World argues that Deleuze is better read as a spiritual and extra-worldly philosopher. His philosophy leaves little room for processes of social or historical transformation, and still less for political relations of conflict or solidarity.

Michel Foucault famously suggested that ‘the 20th century would be known as Deleuzian’; this sympathetic but uncompromising new critique suggests that our Deleuzian century may soon be coming to a close.


Peter Hallward teaches Philosophy at Kingston University and has written books on Alain Badiou, Gilles Deleuze, postcolonial literature, and contemporary Haitian politics. His books The Will of the People and Blanqui and Political Will are forthcoming.

‘Materialism and Theology’ by Slavoj Žižek

Video and audio recordings of a paper presentation delivered by Slavoj Žižek titled Materialism and Theology at the European Graduate School, Saas-Fee, Switzerland in 2007.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and Psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

‘The Great Regression’ edited by Heinrich Geiselberger

Published by Polity in 2017. Download link updated on 9th October 2021.

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Suddenly we find ourselves in a world that few would have imagined possible just a few years ago, a world that seems to many to be a move backwards. How can we make sense of these dramatic developments and how should we respond to them? Are we witnessing a worldwide rejection of liberal democracy and its replacement by some kind of populist authoritarianism?

We are living through a period of dramatic political change – Brexit, the election of Trump, the rise of extreme right movements in Europe and elsewhere, the resurgence of nationalism and xenophobia and a concerted assault on the liberal values and ideals associated with cosmopolitanism and globalization. Suddenly we find ourselves in a world that few would have imagined possible just a few years ago, a world that seems to many to be a move backwards. How can we make sense of these dramatic developments and how should we respond to them? Are we witnessing a worldwide rejection of liberal democracy and its replacement by some kind of populist authoritarianism?

This timely volume brings together some of the world’s greatest minds to analyse and seek to understand the forces behind this ‘great regression’. Writers from across disciplines and countries, including Paul Mason, Pankaj Mishra, Slavoj Žižek, Zygmunt Bauman, Arjun Appadurai, Wolfgang Streeck and Eva Illouz, grapple with our current predicament, framing it in a broader historical context, discussing possible future trajectories and considering ways that we might combat this reactionary turn.

The Great Regression is a key intervention that will be of great value to all those concerned about recent developments and wondering how best to respond to this unprecedented challenge to the very core of liberal democracy and internationalism across the world today.

‘The Animal Doesn’t Exist’ by Slavoj Žižek


Video and audio recordings of a paper presentation delivered by Slavoj Žižek titled The Animal Doesn’t Exist as part of The Human Animal in Politics, Science, and Psychoanalysis conference, which took place from 16 — 17 December 2011 at KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin. Organised by Lorenzo Chiesa (Reader in Modern European Thought, University of Kent) and Mladen Dolar (Professor of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Advising Researcher, Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht).


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

‘Introducing Slavoj Žižek: A Graphic Guide’ by Christopher Kul-Want & Piero

Published by 2011 by Icon Books. Download link updated in 9th August 2021.

DOWNLOAD
(.pdf & .epub)


Charting his meteoric rise in popularity, Christopher Kul-Want and Piero explore Slavoj Žižek’s timely analyses of today’s global crises concerning ecology, mounting poverty, war, civil unrest and revolution.

Covering topics from philosophy and ethics, politics and ideology, religion and art, to literature, cinema, corporate marketing, quantum physics and virtual reality, the book deftly explains Žižek’s virtuoso ability to transform apparently outworn ideologies – Communism, Marxism and psychoanalysis – into a new theory of freedom and enjoyment.

‘Less than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism’ Slavoj Žižek & Jonathan Derbyshire in Dialogue

Video and audio recordings of a dialogue between Slavoj Žižek and Jonathan Derbyshire held for the occasion of the publication of Less than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism at the Platform Theatre in Central Saint Martins Granary Square, King’s Cross for the University of the Arts in London, United Kingdom on 12th June 2012.

In Less Than Nothing, the pinnacle publication of a distinguished career, Žižek argues that it is imperative that we not simply return to Hegel but that we repeat and exceed his triumphs, overcoming his limitations by being even more Hegelian than the master himself. Such an approach not only enables him to diagnose our present condition, but also to engage in a critical dialogue with the key strands of contemporary thought—Heidegger, Badiou, speculative realism, quantum physics and cognitive sciences. Modernity will begin and end with Hegel.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and Psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

‘Politics Between Fear and Terror’ by Slavoj Žižek

Video and audio recordings of a paper delivered by Slavoj Žižek titled Politics Between Fear and Terror at Calit2 Auditorium of the Atkinson Hall hosted by the Visual Arts Department of University of California in San Diego, United States on 15th November 2006.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and Psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

‘Danish Pastry: The Euthanasia of Tolerant Reason’ by Slavoj Žižek

Video and audio recordings of a paper delivered by Slavoj Žižek titled Danish Pastry: The Euthanasia of Tolerant Reason at Tilton Gallery in New York City, United States on 1st May 2006 in conjunction with the publication of Lacanian Ink 27. Lacanian Ink is a cultural magazine which focuses on the teachings of French psychoanalyst published biannually in New York and edited by Josefina Ayerza.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and Psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

‘Why Only an Atheist Can Believe: Politics Between Fear and Trembling’ by Slavoj Žižek

Video and audio recordings of a paper delivered by Slavoj Žižek titled Why Only an Atheist Can Believe: Politics Between Fear and Trembling at Calvin College (now known as Calvin University), in Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States on 10th November 2006, about the complex relationship between belief and desire, arguing for the counter-intuitive notion of Christian Atheism.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and Psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

‘Can One Really Tolerate a Neighbor?’ by Slavoj Žižek

Audio recording of a paper delivered by Slavoj Žižek titled Can One Really Tolerate a Neighbor? at Tilton Gallery in New York City, United States on 20th November 2006 at a Lacanian Ink event. Lacanian Ink is a cultural magazine which focuses on the teachings of French psychoanalyst published biannually in New York and edited by Josefina Ayerza.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and Psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

‘Love without Mercy’ by Slavoj Žižek

Video and audio recordings of a paper delivered by Slavoj Žižek titled Love without Mercy at Deitch Projects in New York City, United States on 10th March 2003 in conjunction with the publication of Lacanian Ink 21. Lacanian Ink is a cultural magazine which focuses on the teachings of French psychoanalyst published biannually in New York and edited by Josefina Ayerza.

“Perhaps, there is no greater love than that of a revolutionary couple,” wrote Žižek at the time, “where each of the two lovers is ready to abandon the other at any moment if revolution demands it. It is along these lines that one should look for the non-perverse reading of Christ’s sacrifice, of his message to Judas: ‘Prove to me that I am everything to you, SO BETRAY ME on behalf of the revolutionary mission of both of us!’”.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and Psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.


‘The Ignorance of Chicken: Who Believes What Today?’ by Slavoj Žižek

Audio recording of a paper delivered by Slavoj Žižek and accompanied by Cornel West, titled The Ignorance of the Chicken: Who Believes What Today? at Swayduck Auditorium for the New School for Social Research in conjunction with Theory Downtown in New York City, United States on 18th November, 2005.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and Psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

Cornel West is an American philosopher, political activist, social critic, author, and public intellectual and is author of over 20 books, including the classic bestseller Race Matters, The American Evasion of Philosophy: A Genealogy of Pragmatism, Democracy Matters, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud, Black Prophetic Fire, and editor of more than a dozen others. He is Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard University He has also taught at Union Theological Seminary, Princeton, Yale, and the University of Paris. West frequently makes headlines for his political action, including his participation in protests against police violence following the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson at which West was twice arrested. He is well known for his staunch critique of Barack Obama’s economic and foreign policy in public media during Obama’s administration from 2009 to 2017, and last year was a prominent endorser of Sen. Bernie Sanders, and later Green Party candidate Jill Stein, during the presidential election. He is also a familiar figure in popular culture, with cameo appearances in The Matrix films, Examined Life documentary by Astra Taylor and as a frequent guest on The Bill Maher Show, The Tavis Smiley Show, CNN, and C-Span.

‘What’s Coming Next?’ by Slavoj Žižek & Julian Assange

Video and audio recordings of Julian Assange and Slavoj Žižek titled What’s Coming Next? from the Meltdown Festival which took place at Weston Roof Pavilion of the Royal Festival Hall in the Southbank Centre in London, England on 11th June 2017. At the moment I’m unable to retrieve or find a copy of the complete recording of the entire discussion.

Back in 2017, the world-known hip-hop artist M.I.A. curated the Meltdown Festival and sat down with the Slovene philosopher Slavoj Žižek, the young Croatian philosopher Srećko Horvat, and her controversial friend Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks—who joined the conversation via live satellite link-up from his hideout at the Ecuadorian embassy in London (at the time, at least).

Ostensibly about art and activism, the conversation ranged broadly. M.I.A. spoke about how weird it is that tech leaders adopt the practices of yoga and zen buddhism to enhance their brand of modern capitalism (the ‘misuse’ didn’t surprise Žižek, who noted Japanese writer Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki’s related feeling that, “buddhist meditation is the best way to train killing machine soldiers”). They also discussed the remarkable calm of Jeremy Corbyn during the recent election, before moving on to a discussion of Wikileaks founder and fellow panellist Julian Assange.

M.I.A. acknowledged the “pushback on social media” following the announcement that Assange would be on the panel, but asked the speakers and audience to consider, “Why do they want him so bad?”. ‘They‘ being the authorities—Assange was them still living in a political asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, avoiding extradition to Sweden, where he was accused of rape in a legal case that has been since discontinued. His supporters predicted at the time that he would eventually be extradited from Sweden to America, where he is wanted for publishing secret war logs and other documents provided by whistleblower Chelsea Manning that presented evidence of US complicity in torture, and involvement in the killing of civilians.

“For me, it’s really important to have something like Wikileaks,” M.I.A. says. “Because you know that they’ve already proved that they don’t do stuff for money, and they can’t be bought,” she explains, concluding, “I think more figures like that in society are important”.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

‘Masterclass on Hegel’ by Slavoj Žižek

Video and audio recordings from a course by Slavoj Žižek delivered at the European Graduate School, Saas-Fee, Switzerland in 2009. The specific dates of individual lectures and the title of the entire course of these four classes are currently unknown to me, so I’ve just labelled them under the generic title of Masterclass on Hegel.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

‘Hegel and the Ambiguity of Obscenity’ by Slavoj Žižek

Video and audio recordings of a paper delivered on the fourth day of the Masterclass on Hegel course by Slavoj Žižek titled Hegel and the Ambiguity of Obscenity at the European Graduate School in 2009.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

‘The Hollywood Sinthome’ by Slavoj Žižek

Audio recording from the fifth day of Jacques Lacan: A Lateral Introduction four-week masterclass course by Slavoj Žižek titled The Hollywood Sinthome delivered at the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, University of London on 8th June 2006.

The course focused on the singular question: Is psychoanalysis outdated? It appears that it is, on three interconnected levels: (1) that of scientific knowledge, where the cognitivist-neurobiologist model of human mind seems to supersede the Freudian model; (2) that of psychiatric clinic, where psychoanalytic treatment is rapidly losing ground against chemotherapy and behavioural therapy; (3) that of the social context, where the image of society, of social norms, which “repress” individual’s sexual drives, no longer appears valid with regard to today’s predominant hedonistic permissiveness.

It contrast to these “evident” truths, the aim of the course was to demonstrate the exact opposite: not only is psychoanalysis not veraltet – it is only today that its time has arrived, that Freud’s key insights gain their full value – on condition that one reads Freud through Lacan, through his “return to Freud” which is not the return to Freud as he was, but to what was “in Freud more than himself”, the traumatic core of the Freudian discovery of which he himself was not fully aware.

The course followed the fundamental rule of excluding the clinic. Lacan was first and foremost a clinician, and clinical details permeate everything he wrote and did: even when Lacan reads Plato, Aquinas, Hegel, or Kierkegaard, it is always in order to deal with a precise clinical problem (Plato for transference, Aquinas for symptom, Hegel for the dialectic of the progress of treatment, Kierkegaard for repetition). Our wager is that this very all-pervasiveness of clinic allows us to exclude it: precisely because clinic is everywhere, one can erase it and limit oneself to its effects, to the way it colours everything that appears non-clinical—this is the true test of its central place.

The four weeks course thus provided a Lacanian reading of four domains of humanities and social sciences: philosophy and theology (Hegel, Kierkegaard, Heidegger); science (contemporary cognitivists and evolutionists, from Daniel Dennet to Steven Pinker); theories of ideology (from Marx to analysing today’s “fundamentalism”); theories of art (cinema and literature: Henry James, Samuel Beckett, David Lynch and Lars von Trier). The overall aim of the course was to demonstrate the strength of the Lacanian approach, through polemical confrontations with other predominant trends, from cognitivism to deconstructionism.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

DISCLAIMER: Because the original titles of these nine courses have been lost since they have been delivered, I have decided to make up my own titles for each individual lecture. The titles of these talks are thus my own work and copyright. – Simon Gros, 2021

‘Enjoy Your Symptom! Jacques Lacan in Hollywood and Out’ by Slavoj Žižek

First published by Routledge in 1991. Download link and description updated on 8th August 2021.

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(.pdf)


In Enjoy Your Symptom!, Žižek introduces the ideas of Jacques Lacan through the medium of Hollywood film, taking his examples from over 100 years of American cinema, from Charlie Chaplin and Alfred Hitchcock to The Matrix. He argues for the accessibility and ultimate simplicity of Lacan’s theory through a reference to popular culture which forms the background of our common experience.

The book is divided into six chapters, each elucidating some fundamental Lacanian notion or theoretical complex – letter, fantasy, woman, repetition, phallus, father and reality. Each chapter is then divided into two parts. In the first part, Lacan is in Hollywood, i.e. the notion or complex in question is explained through the medium of American film or popular culture in general. In the second division, we are outside cinema, i.e. the same notion is elaborated as it is in its inherent Lacanian context.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

‘Cinema, Ideology and Philosophy’ by Slavoj Žižek

Audio recording from the fourth day of Jacques Lacan: A Lateral Introduction four-week masterclass course by Slavoj Žižek titled Cinema, Ideology and Philosophy delivered at the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, University of London on 6th June 2006.

The course focused on the singular question: Is psychoanalysis outdated? It appears that it is, on three interconnected levels: (1) that of scientific knowledge, where the cognitivist-neurobiologist model of human mind seems to supersede the Freudian model; (2) that of psychiatric clinic, where psychoanalytic treatment is rapidly losing ground against chemotherapy and behavioural therapy; (3) that of the social context, where the image of society, of social norms, which “repress” individual’s sexual drives, no longer appears valid with regard to today’s predominant hedonistic permissiveness.

It contrast to these “evident” truths, the aim of the course was to demonstrate the exact opposite: not only is psychoanalysis not veraltet – it is only today that its time has arrived, that Freud’s key insights gain their full value – on condition that one reads Freud through Lacan, through his “return to Freud” which is not the return to Freud as he was, but to what was “in Freud more than himself”, the traumatic core of the Freudian discovery of which he himself was not fully aware.

The course followed the fundamental rule of excluding the clinic. Lacan was first and foremost a clinician, and clinical details permeate everything he wrote and did: even when Lacan reads Plato, Aquinas, Hegel, or Kierkegaard, it is always in order to deal with a precise clinical problem (Plato for transference, Aquinas for symptom, Hegel for the dialectic of the progress of treatment, Kierkegaard for repetition). Our wager is that this very all-pervasiveness of clinic allows us to exclude it: precisely because clinic is everywhere, one can erase it and limit oneself to its effects, to the way it colours everything that appears non-clinical—this is the true test of its central place.

The four weeks course thus provided a Lacanian reading of four domains of humanities and social sciences: philosophy and theology (Hegel, Kierkegaard, Heidegger); science (contemporary cognitivists and evolutionists, from Daniel Dennet to Steven Pinker); theories of ideology (from Marx to analysing today’s “fundamentalism”); theories of art (cinema and literature: Henry James, Samuel Beckett, David Lynch and Lars von Trier). The overall aim of the course was to demonstrate the strength of the Lacanian approach, through polemical confrontations with other predominant trends, from cognitivism to deconstructionism.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.


DISCLAIMER: Because the original titles of these nine courses have been lost since they have been delivered, I have decided to make up my own titles for each individual lecture. The titles of these talks are thus my own work and copyright. – Simon Gros, 2021

‘“On Your Marx”: The Fate of the Commons: A Trotskyite View’ by Slavoj Žižek


Video recording of a paper delivered by Žižek titled “On Your Marx”: The Fate of the Commons: A Trotskyite View by Deutsches Haus and the Department of German at New York University as part of NYU Skirball’s “On Your Marx” festival in celebration of Karl Marx’s 200th birthday at Skirball Center for Performing Arts on 22nd October 2018, supported by DAAD—German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst). Video by laiacabreraco.com

From the Marxist standpoint, “Communism” refers to the multiple versions of our commons (the commons of nature, the commons of our biogenetic inheritance, the commons of our intellectual substance) which are all threatened by today’s global capitalism. Perhaps the most important version of our commons is the world-wide digital grid which more and more controls and regulates our lives. How can a new emancipatory movement fight for the public control of the digital commons? In preparing and executing the October Revolution, Trotsky showed us the way when he focused on the seizure of power over the technical and material base of a state (electricity, railways, phone, etc.). How can we apply this Trotsky’s insight to our contemporary predicament?


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

Marx-Engels-Gesamtausgabe


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(70x .pdf)


Work began on the MEGA, i.e. the publication of the complete writings of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, in Moscow and (East-)Berlin during the 1960s. In the wake of the dramatic changes in East Germany in 1989, scholars throughout the world pressed for the continued publication of the MEGA, which also received top marks from an international panel of experts.

‘How to Read Lacan’ by Slavoj Žižek

Published by W. W. Norton Company in 2006. Download link updated on 7th August 2021.

DOWNLOAD
(.pdf)


Lacan’s motto of the ethics of psychoanalysis involves a profound paradox. Traditionally, psychoanalysis was expected to allow the patient to overcome the obstacles which prevented access to “normal” sexual enjoyment; today, however, we are bombarded by different versions of the injunction “Enjoy!” Psychoanalysis is the only discourse in which you are allowed not to enjoy. Slavoj Žižek’s passionate defense of Lacan reasserts Lacan’s ethical urgency. For Lacan, psychoanalysis is a procedure of reading and each chapter reads a passage from Lacan as a tool to interpret another text from philosophy, art or popular ideology.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

‘Hitchcock as a Hegelian Agent’ by Slavoj Žižek

Audio recording from the third day of Jacques Lacan: A Lateral Introduction four-week masterclass course by Slavoj Žižek titled Hitchcock as a Hegelian Agent delivered at the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, University of London on 1st June 2006.

The course focused on the singular question: Is psychoanalysis outdated? It appears that it is, on three interconnected levels: (1) that of scientific knowledge, where the cognitivist-neurobiologist model of human mind seems to supersede the Freudian model; (2) that of psychiatric clinic, where psychoanalytic treatment is rapidly losing ground against chemotherapy and behavioural therapy; (3) that of the social context, where the image of society, of social norms, which “repress” individual’s sexual drives, no longer appears valid with regard to today’s predominant hedonistic permissiveness.

It contrast to these “evident” truths, the aim of the course was to demonstrate the exact opposite: not only is psychoanalysis not veraltet – it is only today that its time has arrived, that Freud’s key insights gain their full value – on condition that one reads Freud through Lacan, through his “return to Freud” which is not the return to Freud as he was, but to what was “in Freud more than himself”, the traumatic core of the Freudian discovery of which he himself was not fully aware.

The course followed the fundamental rule of excluding the clinic. Lacan was first and foremost a clinician, and clinical details permeate everything he wrote and did: even when Lacan reads Plato, Aquinas, Hegel, or Kierkegaard, it is always in order to deal with a precise clinical problem (Plato for transference, Aquinas for symptom, Hegel for the dialectic of the progress of treatment, Kierkegaard for repetition). Our wager is that this very all-pervasiveness of clinic allows us to exclude it: precisely because clinic is everywhere, one can erase it and limit oneself to its effects, to the way it colours everything that appears non-clinical—this is the true test of its central place.

The four weeks course thus provided a Lacanian reading of four domains of humanities and social sciences: philosophy and theology (Hegel, Kierkegaard, Heidegger); science (contemporary cognitivists and evolutionists, from Daniel Dennet to Steven Pinker); theories of ideology (from Marx to analysing today’s “fundamentalism”); theories of art (cinema and literature: Henry James, Samuel Beckett, David Lynch and Lars von Trier). The overall aim of the course was to demonstrate the strength of the Lacanian approach, through polemical confrontations with other predominant trends, from cognitivism to deconstructionism.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.


DISCLAIMER: Because the original titles of these nine courses have been lost since they have been delivered, I have decided to make up my own titles for each individual lecture. The titles of these talks are thus my own work and copyright. – Simon Gros, 2021

‘Ethics of the Other’ by Slavoj Žižek

Audio recording from the second day of Jacques Lacan: A Lateral Introduction four-week masterclass course by Slavoj Žižek titled Ethics of the Other delivered at the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, University of London on 30th May 2006.

The course focused on the singular question: Is psychoanalysis outdated? It appears that it is, on three interconnected levels: (1) that of scientific knowledge, where the cognitivist-neurobiologist model of human mind seems to supersede the Freudian model; (2) that of psychiatric clinic, where psychoanalytic treatment is rapidly losing ground against chemotherapy and behavioural therapy; (3) that of the social context, where the image of society, of social norms, which “repress” individual’s sexual drives, no longer appears valid with regard to today’s predominant hedonistic permissiveness.

It contrast to these “evident” truths, the aim of the course was to demonstrate the exact opposite: not only is psychoanalysis not veraltet – it is only today that its time has arrived, that Freud’s key insights gain their full value – on condition that one reads Freud through Lacan, through his “return to Freud” which is not the return to Freud as he was, but to what was “in Freud more than himself”, the traumatic core of the Freudian discovery of which he himself was not fully aware.

The course followed the fundamental rule of excluding the clinic. Lacan was first and foremost a clinician, and clinical details permeate everything he wrote and did: even when Lacan reads Plato, Aquinas, Hegel, or Kierkegaard, it is always in order to deal with a precise clinical problem (Plato for transference, Aquinas for symptom, Hegel for the dialectic of the progress of treatment, Kierkegaard for repetition). Our wager is that this very all-pervasiveness of clinic allows us to exclude it: precisely because clinic is everywhere, one can erase it and limit oneself to its effects, to the way it colours everything that appears non-clinical—this is the true test of its central place.

The four weeks course thus provided a Lacanian reading of four domains of humanities and social sciences: philosophy and theology (Hegel, Kierkegaard, Heidegger); science (contemporary cognitivists and evolutionists, from Daniel Dennet to Steven Pinker); theories of ideology (from Marx to analysing today’s “fundamentalism”); theories of art (cinema and literature: Henry James, Samuel Beckett, David Lynch and Lars von Trier). The overall aim of the course was to demonstrate the strength of the Lacanian approach, through polemical confrontations with other predominant trends, from cognitivism to deconstructionism.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.


DISCLAIMER: Because the original titles of these nine courses have been lost since they have been delivered, I have decided to make up my own titles for each individual lecture. The titles of these talks are thus my own work and copyright. – Simon Gros, 2021

‘The Real as a Virtual Prosopopeia’ by Slavoj Žižek

Audio recording from the first day of Jacques Lacan: A Lateral Introduction four-week masterclass course by Slavoj Žižek titled The Real as a Virtual Prosopopeia delivered at the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, University of London on 25th May 2006.

The course focused on the singular question: Is psychoanalysis outdated? It appears that it is, on three interconnected levels: (1) that of scientific knowledge, where the cognitivist-neurobiologist model of human mind seems to supersede the Freudian model; (2) that of psychiatric clinic, where psychoanalytic treatment is rapidly losing ground against chemotherapy and behavioural therapy; (3) that of the social context, where the image of society, of social norms, which “repress” individual’s sexual drives, no longer appears valid with regard to today’s predominant hedonistic permissiveness.

It contrast to these “evident” truths, the aim of the course was to demonstrate the exact opposite: not only is psychoanalysis not veraltet – it is only today that its time has arrived, that Freud’s key insights gain their full value – on condition that one reads Freud through Lacan, through his “return to Freud” which is not the return to Freud as he was, but to what was “in Freud more than himself”, the traumatic core of the Freudian discovery of which he himself was not fully aware.

The course followed the fundamental rule of excluding the clinic. Lacan was first and foremost a clinician, and clinical details permeate everything he wrote and did: even when Lacan reads Plato, Aquinas, Hegel, or Kierkegaard, it is always in order to deal with a precise clinical problem (Plato for transference, Aquinas for symptom, Hegel for the dialectic of the progress of treatment, Kierkegaard for repetition). Our wager is that this very all-pervasiveness of clinic allows us to exclude it: precisely because clinic is everywhere, one can erase it and limit oneself to its effects, to the way it colours everything that appears non-clinical—this is the true test of its central place.

The four weeks course thus provided a Lacanian reading of four domains of humanities and social sciences: philosophy and theology (Hegel, Kierkegaard, Heidegger); science (contemporary cognitivists and evolutionists, from Daniel Dennet to Steven Pinker); theories of ideology (from Marx to analysing today’s “fundamentalism”); theories of art (cinema and literature: Henry James, Samuel Beckett, David Lynch and Lars von Trier). The overall aim of the course was to demonstrate the strength of the Lacanian approach, through polemical confrontations with other predominant trends, from cognitivism to deconstructionism.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.


DISCLAIMER: Because the original titles of these nine courses have been lost since they have been delivered, I have decided to make up my own titles for each individual lecture. The titles of these talks are thus my own work and copyright. – Simon Gros, 2021

‘Who is Afraid of the Middle East?’ by Slavoj Žižek & Mina Nagy

Video recording of an interview with Slavoj Žižek held over the online Zoom platform by Mina Nagy of Boring Books in collaboration with Sushi Book Reviews in 24th April 2021 titled Who is Afraid of the Middle East? See more information on their official website at Boring Books.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

‘Spiritual Crisis: Iranian Philosophy’ by Slavoj Žižek & Nadia Maftouni

Video recording of a discussion held over the online Zoom platform between Slavoj Žižek at Ljubljana, Slovenia and Nadia Maftouni at University of Tehran, Iran on 17th June 2021 on topics from Shakepeare’s Hamlet to Akira Kurosawa’s The Idiot.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and Psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

Nadia Maftouni, Ph.D. is aprominent Iranian academic, philosophical author, artist, associate professor at Philosophy and Islamic Wisdom department at University of Tehran, Iran and Senior Research Scholar at Yale Law School. Her latest publications include Philosophy on Stage: Dramosophy of Hossein Nuri’s Plays, Images of Illumination and Philosophy of Science according to Philosophers of the Islamic Era.

‘LAIBACH: A Film From Slovenia’ by Chris Bohn, Daniel Landin & Peter Vezjak

The .mkv file download includes English subtitles.

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LAIBACH: A Film From Slovenia provides a glimpse into the enigma of the industrial punk band Laibach formed in 1980’s Yugoslavia more than four decades ago. Here Laibach describe their work in their own words; giving a sense of their music and drama, as well as a glimpse of the post-Yugoslav and Slovene influences that created the band. Directed by Daniel Landin and Peter Vezjak, with a minor appearance and commentary by a young philosopher Slavoj Žižek, LAIBACH: A Film From Slovenia music documentary film was written by Chris Bohn and originally made for Slovene National television RTV in 1993. The band offer a new sound to several classics from The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Among the 17 renditions included in the film are Across the Universe, Sympathy for the Devil, Kinderreich, Fiat and The Great Seal. The “Occupied Europe NATO Tour” (Tracks 1 to 13) were recorded live on 26th October 1995 at The Dakota DC 3 venue in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Used to be sold as a VHS cassette in the Occupied Europe NATO Tour 1994-95 limited edition box set.

‘The Meaning of Hegel in 21st Century’ by Slavoj Žižek & Robert Eikmeyeron

Video recording of discussion held over the online Zoom platform between Slavoj Žižek in Ljubljana, Slovenia and Dr. Robert Eikmeyer from the School of Design, Pforzheim University taken on 27th August 2020 about the meaning of Georg W. F. Hegel’s work in the 21st century. The conversation was part of the re-opening program of the new Museum Hegel-Haus in Stuttgart, Germany which you’re invited to visit. For more information see their official website at hegel-haus.de.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and Psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

‘Interview with Slavoj Žižek: Pandemic! 2: Chronicles of a Time Lost’ by Chris Hedges

In the second of a two-part interview, this time held on 15th July 2021 for the On Contact show broadcast on RT America, Chris Hedges continues his discussion with philosopher Slavoj Žižek about the social, political and psychological consequences of the prolonged lockdown, social distancing, and mass illness and death caused by the pandemic.

In his new book Pandemic 2: Chronicles of a Time Lost, Žižek argues the failure of global capitalism to cope with the pandemic presages, he fears, systems collapse, a dress rehearsal for a frightening form of authoritarianism where the world is starkly divided between the elites and the rest of us. He writes “The return to normality thus becomes the supreme psychotic gesture, the sign of collective madness.”


Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning NewsThe Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show On Contact.

Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and Psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

‘Interview with Slavoj Žižek: Pandemic!’ by Chris Hedges

In the first of a two-part interview held on 14th July 2021 for the On Contact show broadcast on RT America, Chris Hedges discusses the social, political, cultural economic ramifications of the pandemic with the philosopher Slavoj Žižek.

“Driven by the demand to persevere and not to fail, as well as by the ambition of efficiency, we become committers and sacrificers at the same time and enter a swirl of demarcation, self-exploitation and collapse. When production is immaterial, everyone already owns the means of production him- or herself. The neoliberal system is no longer a class system in the proper sense. It does not consist of classes that display mutual antagonism.” This is what accounts for the system’s stability, Byung-Chul Han, argues in The Burnout Society, that subjects become self-exploiters. “Today, everyone is an auto-exploiting labourer in his or her own enterprise. People are now master and slave in one. Even class struggle has transformed into an inner struggle against oneself.”

Excerpt from Slavoj Žižek’s book Pandemic!: Covid 19 Shakes the World.


Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning NewsThe Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show On Contact.

Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and Psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

‘Freedom in the Clouds’ by Slavoj Žižek

Selected video recordings of Žižek from Communism, A New Beginning?, a conference that took place on 14-16th October 2011 at Cooper Union in New York City to discuss the continued relevance of the Communist Idea. The main talk delivered by Žižek as the conclusion to the conference went under the title of Freedom in the Clouds. Along with him, the speakers included Frank Ruda, Bruno Bosteels, Adrian Johnston and Jodi Dean. Essays from the event were later published in The Idea of Communism vol. 2: The New York Conference compendium by the British Verso Books.

The long night of the Left is coming to a close” wrote Žižek and Douzinas in the introduction to the first The Idea of Communism compendium in 2010. “The continuing economic crisis, the shift away from a unipolar world defined by American hegemony, and the ecological crisis mean that growing numbers of people are keen to explore an alternative, and to rediscover the idea of communism. With the advent of the Arab Revolts, millions have sought new ways to overcome corruption and dictatorship—and they’ve now been joined by the wave of occupations in the US, challenging runaway inequality and the power of corporations and the super-rich.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and Psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

Lacanian Theory of Discourse: Subject, Structure and Society

Published by New York University Press in 1997.

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This collection introduces and develops Lacanian thought concerning the relations among language, subjectivity, and society and provides an account of how language both interacts with and constitutes structures of subjectivity, producing specific attitudes and behaviors as well as significant social effects.


Table of Contents

Introduction by Mark Braeher

Part I. The Real and the Subject of Discourse
1. The Subject of Discourse: Reading Lacan through (and beyond) Post-structuralist Contexts by Marshall W. Alcorn, Jr.
2. A Hair of the Dog That Bit You by Slavoj Žižek
3. Extimite by Jacques-Alain Miller
4. Otherness of the Body by Serge Andre

Part II. Discourse Structures and Subject Structures
5. On the Psychological and Social Functions of Language: Lacan’s Theory of the Four Discourses by Mark Bracher
6. Hysterical Discourse: Between the Belief in Man and the Cult of Woman by Julien Quackelbeen et al.
7. Discourse Structure and Subject Structure in Neurosis by Alexandre Stevens and Christian Vereeeken et al.
8. The Other in Hysteria and Obsession by Alicia Arenas et at.
9. Con-jugating and Playing-with the Fantasy: The Utterances of the Analyst by Nestor A. Braunstein

Part III. Discourse and Society
10. Deference to the Great Other: The Discourse of Education by Renata Salecl
11. “I Don’t Know What Happened”: Political Oppression and Psychological Structure by Luz Casenave et al.
12. On Blasphemy: Religion and Psychological Structure by Miguel Bassols and German L. Garcia et al.
13. The Discourse of Gangs in the Stake of Male Repression and Narcissism by Willy Apollon

‘Where is Balkan?’ by Slavoj Žižek


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A video compilation of 14 very short appearances by Slavoj Žižek in the Balkan Spirit film by Hermann Vaske from 2012.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and Psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

‘Is Communism the Answer to the Crisis?’ by Alain Badiou


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Video and audio recordings of an interview Alain Badiou had with Stephen Sackur titled Is Communism the Answer to the Crisis? for the British BBC show called HARDtalk on 24th March 2009 in London.


Alain Badiou is a French Marxist philosopher, novelist and playwright. Born in Rabat, Morocco, Badiou completed high school in Toulouse before moving to Paris for undergraduate studies at the prestigious École Normale Supérieure (ENS), where he worked closely with Louis Althusser, but was never one of the select group of disciples who came to be known as Althusserians. After completing his obligatory military service, Badiou taught in Reims, first at a lycée, then at the university. In 1968 he was invited by Michel Foucault to join the department of philosophy at Vincennes (University of Paris VIII), where his colleagues included Hélène Cixous, Gilles Deleuze, and Jean-François Lyotard. After spending 30 years at Vincennes, Badiou left in 1998 to return to his alma mater ENS. The primary philosophical system developed by Alain Badiou is constructed in Being and Event, Logics of Worlds: Being and Event II, and the forthcoming Immanence of Truths: Being and Event III. Badiou’s model of praxis is usually described as subtractive because it operates on the premise that political action can only work if it subtracts itself from the power and processes of the state. Throughout his career, Badiou has been actively involved in politics. During the events of May ’68 he was a member of highly vocal Maoist groups. In more recent times he has been involved with L’Organisation Politique, a politicized group he helped found. Because of its powerfully political texture, Badiou’s philosophy is increasingly widely read today, a measure both of the volatility of the times and the lucidity of his thought.

‘20th Century Communism’ by Slavoj Žižek


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Video and audio recordings of an interview Slavoj Žižek had with Stephen Sackur titled 20th Century Communism for the British BBC show called HARDtalk on 4th November 2009.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and Psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

‘Samuel Beckett as the Writer of Political Abstraction’ by Slavoj Žižek

Video and audio recordings of a paper delivered by Slavoj Žižek and introduced by Russell Sbriglia titled Samuel Beckett as the Writer of Political Abstraction: What Can Beckett Tell Us about Political Correctness and the Alt-Right? on 24th October 2018 at Seton Hall University, United States on the Irish novelist Samuel Beckett (1906-1989) and his art of political abstraction.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and Psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

Russell Sbriglia is Assistant Professor and Director of Undergraduate Literature Studies, Department of English at Seton Hall University, United States. His teaching and research focus is on American literature of the long 19th century (1776-1914) as well as literary and critical theory. He is editor of Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Literature but Were Afraid to Ask Žižek, Subject Lessons: Hegel, Lacan, and the Future of Materialism, and is currently completing a monograph titled A Gainful Loss: Melville avec Lacan.

‘Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Literature but Were Afraid to Ask Žižek’ by Russell Sbriglia

Published by Duke University Press in 2017. Download link updated on 6th August 2021.

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Challenging the widely-held assumption that Slavoj Žižek’s work is far more germane to film and cultural studies than to literary studies, this volume demonstrates the importance of Žižek to literary criticism and theory. The contributors show how Žižek’s practice of reading theory and literature through one another allows him to critique, complicate, and advance the understanding of Lacanian psychoanalysis and German Idealism, thereby urging a rethinking of historicity and universality. His methodology has implications for analyzing literature across historical periods, nationalities, and genres and can enrich theoretical frameworks ranging from aesthetics, semiotics, and psychoanalysis to feminism, historicism, postcolonialism, and ecocriticism.

The contributors also offer Žižekian interpretations of a wide variety of texts, including Geoffrey Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde, Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, Samuel Beckett’s Not I, and William Burroughs’s Nova Trilogy. The collection includes an essay by Žižek on subjectivity in Shakespeare and Beckett. Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Literature but Were Afraid to Ask Žižek affirms Žižek’s value to literary studies while offering a rigorous model of Žižekian criticism.

Contributors: Shawn Alfrey, Daniel Beaumont, Geoff Boucher, Andrew Hageman, Jamil Khader, Anna Kornbluh, Todd McGowan, Paul Megna, Russell Sbriglia, Louis-Paul Willis & Slavoj Žižek.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and Psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

Russell Sbriglia is Assistant Professor and Director of Undergraduate Literature Studies, Department of English at Seton Hall University, United States. His teaching and research focus is on American literature of the long 19th century (1776-1914) as well as literary and critical theory. He is editor of Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Literature but Were Afraid to Ask Žižek, Subject Lessons: Hegel, Lacan, and the Future of Materialism, and is currently completing a monograph titled A Gainful Loss: Melville avec Lacan.

‘Reflections on Gewalt’ by Étienne Balibar

Paper as published in Historical MAterialism in January 2009.

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The paradox of Marxism’s relationship to violence is that, although Marxism has made a decisive contribution to understanding ‘the role of violence in history’ – more precisely, to understanding the link between forms of domination and exploitation (primarily capitalism) and the structural modalities of social violence, and the necessity of class struggles and revolutionary processes – and has thereby contributed to defining the conditions and stakes of modern politics, it has nonetheless been fundamentally incapable of thinking (and thus confronting) the tragic connection that associates politics with violence from the inside, in a unity of opposites that is itself supremely ‘violent’. This connection has come to light in different periods in, for example, the work of historians and theorists like Thucydides, Machiavelli or Max Weber, in a way that it has not in Marxism. There are several reasons for this . . .

‘My European Manifesto’ by Slavoj Žižek

As attacks against Europe multiply, the Slovene philosopher Slavoj Žižek emphasizes, in an opinion piece titled « Mon manifeste européen » published in the Paris daily newspaper Le Monde on 13th May 2021, that Europe’s heritage, particularly that of the Enlightenment and its secular Modernity, provides the best tools for analysis of what is wrong with it today.


Some of us still remember the famous opening lines from the Communist Manifesto: “A Spectre is haunting Europe—the Spectre of Communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a Holy Alliance to exorcise this Spectre: the Pope and the Tsar, Metternich and Guizot, the radicals of France and the policemen of Germany.”

[this piece is a draft and still being translated…]

Acting in a way that is not centered on Europe – to help India and other countries in obtaining vaccines, taking worldwide action against climate change, organising global public health service, etc. – this is the only way to be a true European today.

Translated (without authorisation) by Simon Gros
on 5. August 2021 for theoryreader.org


Textual reference for the translation

Slavoj Zizek : « Mon manifeste européen »

Alors que se multiplient les attaques contre l’Europe, le philosophe slovène souligne, dans une tribune au « Monde », que son héritage, notamment celui des Lumières et de la modernité laïque, fournit les meilleurs outils pour analyser ce qui, aujourd’hui, n’y tourne pas rond.

Certains d’entre nous ont encore en tête l’incipit fameux du ­Manifeste du Parti communiste : « Un spectre hante l’Europe : le spectre du communisme. Toutes les puissances de la vieille Europe se sont unies en une Sainte-Alliance pour traquer ce spectre : le pape et le tsar, Metternich et Guizot, les radicaux de France et les policiers d’Allemagne. » Les mots de Marx ne permettent-ils pas, aujourd’hui encore, de dire ce qu’est l’« Europe » dans l’opinion ? « Un spectre hante l’Europe : le spectre de l’eurocentrisme. Toutes les puissances de la vieille Europe et du nouvel ordre mondial se sont unies en une Sainte-Alliance pour traquer ce spectre : Boris ­Johnson et Poutine, Salvini et Orban, antiracistes pro-immigration et chantres des valeurs traditionnelles européennes, progressistes latino-américains et conservateurs arabes, sionistes de Cisjordanie et “patriotes” communistes chinois. »

Chaque opposant à l’Europe a sa vision de l’Europe. Le premier ministre britannique, Boris Johnson, a mis en ½uvre le Brexit car la bureaucratie bruxelloise est, à ses yeux, un super-Etat qui entrave la souveraineté et la libre circulation des ­capitaux britanniques, quand certaines franges du Parti travailliste ont, elles aussi, soutenu la sortie de l’Union européenne (UE), convaincues que la bureaucratie bruxelloise est au service du capital international pour empêcher l’adoption de lois et la conduite d’une politique ­financière qui défendent les droits des travailleurs. La gauche latino-américaine assimile l’eurocentrisme à un colonialisme blanc, et Vladimir Poutine s’efforce de saboter l’UE pour mieux permettre à la Russie d’étendre son influence au-delà des ex-pays soviétiques. Les sionistes radicaux voient d’un mauvais ½il une Europe qu’ils jugent trop bienveillante envers les Palestiniens, quand certains Arabes considèrent l’obsession européenne de l’antisémitisme comme une concession faite au sionisme. Le dirigeant italien de la Ligue (extrême droite), Matteo Salvini, et le premier ministre hongrois, Viktor Orban, voient dans l’UE une communion multiculturelle qui menace les valeurs traditionnelles européennes authentiques et ouvre grandes ses portes aux immigrés issus de cultures étrangères, alors que les immigrés voient l’Europe comme une forteresse du racisme blanc qui leur interdit de s’intégrer de façon pleine et entière. Et la liste n’est pas exhaustive.

Car la pandémie est venue donner de nouvelles déclinaisons à ces critiques ­protéiformes. L’individualisme européen serait la cause du nombre élevé de cas en Europe, à mettre en regard des chiffres relativement plus modestes enregistrés par les pays d’Asie, où le sens de l’intérêt général est plus fort. L’UE a été jugée inefficace, incapable d’organiser une campagne de vaccination rapidement, au point que l’Europe a progressivement cédé au nationalisme vaccinal. Parallèlement, le continent est aussi accusé de privilégier ses ­populations au mépris des pays pauvres du tiers-monde… En la matière, il faut reconnaître à l’Europe que les délais de vaccination sont le prix à payer pour son attachement à ses principes : l’UE tenait à l’équitable répartition des vaccins disponibles entre ses Etats membres. Les défenseurs de l’Europe se divisent, eux aussi, autour de contradictions ­semblables : il y a la vision « technocra­tique » de l’Europe, considérée comme une des entités efficaces du capitalisme mondial, la vision libérale de l’Europe, ­espace de ­libertés et de défense des droits de l’homme, la vision conservatrice de ­l’Europe, union d’identités nationales farouches… Puissance émancipatrice

Comment s’y retrouver dans une pagaille pareille ? Il serait un peu trop commode de faire un tri simpliste entre le bon et le mauvais, de rejeter l’Europe qui fut le berceau du colonialisme moderne, du racisme et de l’esclavage pour ne soutenir que celle des droits de l’homme et de l’ouverture aux autres. Cela rappelle les propos de cet homme politique américain interrogé, du temps de la Prohibition, sur sa position à l’égard du vin : « Si, par vin, vous parlez de cette boisson qui égaie les soirées entre amis, j’y suis tout à fait favorable. Mais si, par vin, vous parlez de ce poison qui induit des violences familiales, qui abâtardit les individus et les met au chômage, j’y suis farouchement opposé ! » Oui, l’Europe est un concept complexe, traversé d’une foule de tensions, mais il nous faut faire un choix clair et simple : l’« Europe » peut-elle encore être ce que Jacques Lacan appelait un « signifiant-maître », un de ces mots capables de dire la lutte pour l’émancipation ?

C’est précisément aujourd’hui que l’Europe est en déclin et que se multiplient les attaques contre ce qu’elle a bâti que nous devons prendre son parti. Car la cible principale de ces attaques n’est pas l’héritage raciste, contestable, etc., de l’Europe, mais cette puissance émancipatrice à nulle autre pareille qu’est l’Europe de la modernité laïque, des Lumières, des droits de l’homme et des libertés, de la solidarité et de la justice sociale, du féminisme. Nous devons défendre le mot « Europe », non seulement parce qu’il renferme plus de bien que de mal, mais surtout parce que l’héritage européen fournit les meilleurs outils pour analyser ce qui ne tourne pas rond en Europe. Les détracteurs de l’« eurocentrisme » se rendent-ils compte que les termes de leur critique découlent précisément de cet héritage européen ? Nous déplacer vers la gauche

Il ne fait aucun doute que c’est de l’intérieur que vient la menace la plus visible contre cette puissance émancipatrice, de ce nouveau populisme de droite qui entend détruire cet héritage émancipateur, et pour qui ne doit exister qu’une Europe d’Etats-nations voués à préserver leur identité particulière. Lors de son passage en France, il y a quelques années, Steve Bannon [ancien conseiller stratégique de Donald Trump] avait ainsi conclu son discours : « America first, vive la France ! » « Vive la France », « Viva Italia », « Longue vie à l’Allemagne »… mais pas à l’Europe. Attention, car cette vision s’accompagne d’une redéfinition totale de notre cartographie politique. Dans l’une de ses rares apparitions durant la campagne de son mari, Melania Trump avait dénoncé le « programme socialiste » de Joe Biden – que dire alors de Kamala Harris, généralement jugée plus à gauche que Biden le modéré ? Donald Trump n’y est pas allé par quatre chemins : « C’est une communiste. Elle n’est pas socialiste, elle est bien au-delà. Elle veut ouvrir les frontières pour laisser entrer les tueurs, les assassins, les violeurs dans notre pays » – depuis quand l’ouverture des frontières est-elle une caractéristique du communisme ?, me demanderez-vous, mais passons.

Discréditer Joe Biden et Kamala Harris au motif qu’ils sont socialistes/communistes ne relève pas simplement d’une exagération rhétorique. Donald Trump n’a pas tenu au hasard ces propos qu’il sait faux. Ses « exagérations » sont la parfaite illustration de ce que j’appellerais le « réalisme des notions » : les notions ne sont pas que des mots, elles structurent l’espace politique et ont, en ce sens, un effet performatif. Dans l’esprit de l’ex-président des Etats-Unis, le centre progressiste est en voie de disparition. Comme le dit son ami Viktor Orban, les progressistes ne sont rien de plus que des communistes ­diplômés. En d’autres termes, il n’y a plus que deux vrais pôles politiques : d’un côté les nationalistes populistes, de l’autre, les communistes.

Devons-nous, pour autant, jeter toutes nos forces dans la résurrection de la démocratie libérale ? Non, car, à certains égards, Trump et Orban ont raison : la montée du nouveau populisme est un symptôme des failles du capitalisme libéral et démocratique tels que Francis Fukuyama les avait théorisés avec sa Fin de l’histoire,en 1989. Avec Trump et ses acolytes, l’histoire a fait son grand retour et, pour sauver ce qui mérite de l’être dans la démocratie libérale, nous devons nous déplacer vers la gauche et vers ce qu’Orban, Trump et les autres décrivent sous le nom de « communisme ». Dans Notes Towards the Definition Of Culture (1948), le poète et dramaturge T. S. Eliot, éminent conservateur, faisait remarquer qu’à certains moments il n’y a plus le choix qu’entre hérésie et non-croyance, et le seul moyen de maintenir une religion en vie est alors de faire schisme. C’est aujourd’hui notre seule chance : ce n’est que par un schisme contre la version classique de la démocratie libérale défendue par l’héritage européen, ce n’est qu’en rompant ce qui nous attache au corps en décomposition de la vieille Europe, que nous pourrons maintenir l’héritage européen en vie. Joe Biden lui-même, pourtant centriste, prend ce chemin : sa secrétaire au Trésor, Janet Yellen, a proposé une taxation minimale des multinationales à l’échelle mondiale, mesure défendue aussi par l’économiste Thomas Piketty. Avoir une action mondiale qui ne soit pas centrée sur l’Europe − aider l’Inde et les autres pays dans la vaccination, nous mobiliser mondialement contre le réchauffement climatique, organiser une santé publique mondiale, etc. −, voilà bien la seule façon, aujourd’hui, d’agir en vrai Européen.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and Psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

‘Über Mandela hinaus ohne Mugabe zu werden. Einige postapokalyptische Überlegungen.’ von Slavoj Žižek


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Eine Aufzeichnung von Žižeks Key-Lecture in englischer Sprache mit dem Titel Über Mandela hinaus ohne Mugabe zu werden. Einige postapokalyptische Überlegungen. im Hamburg, Deutschen SchauSpielHaus, am 19. November 2015.

Die jüngsten Ereignisse in Griechenland – die erzwungene Kapitulation Syrizas – haben wieder einmal klar gemacht, wo die Schlüsselprobleme der heutigen Linken liegen: Wie können wir uns überhaupt eine Perspektive vorstellen, die tatsächlich die Macht des globalen Kapitals schwächt? Genauer: Was passiert, wenn eine „radikal linke“ Regierung gewählt wird? Was kann sie wirklich tun? Wie kann sie den sozialdemokratischen Kompromiss vermeiden ohne in die staatssozialistische Falle zu tappen?


Slavoj Žižek, geboren 1949 in Ljubljana, ist Professor für Philosophie an der Universität Ljubljana in Slowenien und lehrt am Birkbeck College for the Humanities in London. Seine brillanten Publikationen und gleichermaßen inspirierenden wie unterhaltsamen Auftritte haben euphorische Zustimmung wie wilde Verdammung ausgelöst. Unbestreitbar ist er aber einer der einflussreichsten Intellektuellen und Analytiker des 21. Jahrhunderts und wichtigster Denker einer neuen Linken. Žižek ist zur Zeit mit acht Büchern als Autor und/oder Herausgeber im LAIKA-Verlag vertreten ist.

‘Trouble in Paradise: From the End of History to the End of Capitalism’ by Slavoj Žižek

Published by Penguin (Allen Lane) in 2014 and Melville House in 2017.

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There is obviously trouble in the global capitalist paradise. But why do we find it so difficult to imagine a way out of the crisis we’re in? It is as if the trouble feeds on itself: the march of Capitalism has become inexorable, presenting itself as the only game in town.

Setting out to diagnose the condition of global capitalism, the ideological constraints we are faced with in our daily lives, and the bleak future promised by this system, Slavoj Žižek explores the possibilities—and the traps—of new emancipatory struggles.

Can Žižek really be serious when he claims that “the worst of Stalinism (is better) than the best of the liberal-capitalist welfare state?”. Read the book to find out!

The lesson of Trouble in Paradise is clear: “a new Dark Age is looming, with ethnic and religious passions exploding, and Enlightenment values receding”.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and Psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

‘An Introductory Dictionary of Lacanian Psychoanalysis’ by Dylan Evans


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Jacques Lacan was arguably the most original and influential psychoanalytic thinker since Sigmund Freud. His ideas have revolutionised the clinical practice of psychoanalysis and continue to have a major impact in fields as diverse as film studies, literary criticism, feminist theory and philosophy. Lacan’s writings are notorious for their complexity and idiosyncratic style, so this Dictionary of Lacanian Psychoanalysis will be invaluable for reading in every discipline where his influence is felt.

Detailed definitions are provided for over two hundred Lacanian terms. Attention is given both to Lacan’s use of common psychoanalytic terms and how his own terminology developed through the various stages of his teaching. Taking full account of the clinical basis of Lacan’s work, the dictionary details the historical and institutional background to Lacanian ideas. Each major concept is traced back to its origins in the work of Freud, Saussure, Hegel and others.

Placing Lacan’s ideas in their context, An Introductory Dictionary of Lacanian Psychoanalysis provides a unique source of reference for both psychoanalysts as is also an ideal companion for readers in other disciplines.


Dylan Evans trained as a Lacanian psychoanalyst in Buenos Aires, London and Paris.

‘Avatars of Avarice‘ by Mladen Dolar

Video recording of a paper delivered by Mladen Dolar on 16th December 2016 in Mumbai, India as part of “Fantasies of Capital: Alienation, Enjoyment, Psychoanalysis” Conference.

Inspired by Karl Marx’s critique of political economy and Jacques Lacan’s late theory linking surplus enjoyment to surplus value, the conference aimed to introduce a Lacanian interpretation of Marx’s analysis of capital and to propose ways of traversing the fantasies of capitalist society.

The specter of avarice has always haunted capitalism. Traditionally seen as one of the seven deadly sins it was forcefully rejected by religion and morals in all pre-modern societies, particularly when linked with the figure of usury. Capitalism paradoxically instituted this anti-social sin par excellence as the very lever of sociality and the motor force of its development. The paper briefly scrutinizes Marx’s and Freud’s take on avarice, with Marx providing a genealogy of contemporary capitalism from the pre-modern miser accumulating his treasure to the forms of consumerism as the developed and universalized forms of avarice, where avarice itself has become invisible; and with Freud’s take on the ‘anal character’ as the libidinal basis of accumulation and its modern ramifications and forms of subjectivity. However, the recent development of capitalism, its neoliberal turn, its ‘debt-drive’ etc., requires a different and reflexively more complicated model which will have to consider the figure of mercy, traditionally the very opposite of avarice, as a key to these developments, the forms of subjectivity and the injunctions of the superego that form the libidinal basis of the present state.


Mladen Dolar is Professor and Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana since 1982 and has served as the Advising Researcher in Theory at the Jan Van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, Netherlands. He is also Professor of Philosophy at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. His principal areas of research are Psychoanalysis, Modern French Philosophy (Lacan, Foucault, Derrida, Badiou, et. al.), German Idealism, and Art Theory, especially Musicology. With Žižek and others, Dolar was the co-founder of the Ljubljana Society of Theoretical Psychoanalysis, whose main aim is to read late 18th cent. and early 19th cent. German Classical Philosophy through the frame of Lacanian psychoanalytic theory. His main field of expertise is the philosophy of Georg W. F. Hegel, on whom he has written several papers, including a two-volume interpretation of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit first published in Slovene between 1990 and 1991. Dolar has lectured extensively across many different Universities in Europe and the United States and is author of hundreds of papers in different scholarly journals and in various collected volumes. Apart from over twelve monograph publications in Slovene, his books published in English most notably include A Voice and Nothing More and Opera’s Second Death, both of which were translated into several languages. His new book The Riskiest Moment is forthcoming with Duke University Press.

‘Markets Without Substance’ by Slavoj Žižek

A recording of a paper by Žižek titled Markets Without Substance delivered at the European Graduate School in 2003.

Žižek gives a systematic account of Jacques Lacan’s Schema of Four Discourses from his 1969-70 seminar L’envers de la psychanalyse (The Other Side of Psychoanalysis, W.W. Norton & Co.: New York, 2006), more specifically the passage in the forms of domination as practiced in modern Capitalist societies from the Discourse of Master to the Discourse of University as exemplified in Lacan’s response to the events of May 1968 in Paris with his reversal of the well-known anti-structuralist grafitti on the walls of saying “Structures do not walk on the streets!” (“Les structures ne défilent pas dans la rue !“).


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and Psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

‘The Odd One In: On Comedy’ by Alenka Zupančič

Published by MIT Press in 2008.

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Why philosophize about comedy? What is the use of investigating the comical from philosophical and psychoanalytic perspectives? In The Odd One In, Alenka Zupančič considers how philosophy and psychoanalysis can help us understand the movement and the logic involved in the practice of comedy, and how comedy can help philosophy and psychoanalysis recognize some of the crucial mechanisms and vicissitudes of what is called humanity.

Comedy by its nature is difficult to pin down with concepts and definitions, but as artistic form and social practice comedy is a mode of tarrying with a foreign object—of including the exception. Philosophy’s relationship to comedy, Zupančič writes, is not exactly a simple story (and indeed includes some elements of comedy). It could begin with the lost book of Aristotle’s Poetics, which discussed comedy and laughter (and was made famous by Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose). But Zupančič draws on a whole range of philosophers and exemplars of comedy, from Aristophanes, Molière, Hegel, Freud, and Lacan to George W. Bush and Borat. She distinguishes incisively between comedy and ideologically imposed, “naturalized” cheerfulness. Real, subversive comedy thrives on the short circuits that establish an immediate connection between heterogeneous orders. Zupančič examines the mechanisms and processes by which comedy lets the odd one in.


Alenka Zupančič is a Slovene philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. She works as Senior Researcher at the Graduate School of Philosophy, Scientific Research Center for the Slovene Academy of Arts and Sciences (ZRC SAZU) in Ljubljana, Slovenia. She is also Professor of Philosophy at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. She is the author of numerous articles and books on psychoanalysis and philosophy, including What is Sex?Why Psychoanalysis?The Shortest Shadow: Nietzsche’s Philosophy of the Two and Ethics of the Real: Kant and Lacan. Her books have been translated into many languages.

‘The Fantasy of the End’ by Alenka Zupančič

Video recording of a paper delivered on 17th December 2016 in Mumbai, India as part of “Fantasies of Capital: Alienation, Enjoyment, Psychoanalysis” Conference.

Inspired by Karl Marx’s critique of political economy and Jacques Lacan’s late theory linking surplus enjoyment to surplus value, the conference aimed to introduce a Lacanian interpretation of Marx’s analysis of capital and to propose ways of traversing the fantasies of capitalist society.

Wealth disparity, dismantling the welfare state, privatization, precarization, corruption, environmental degradation, growing nationalism, racism, xenophobia – these are some of the accomplishments of neoliberal capitalism and its political forms. If Sigmund Freud wondered about the “future of an illusion,” the continued existence of religion after its rational critique, today we are confronted by “the illusion of a future,” the crumbling of the future once promised by neoliberalism, our contemporary religion.

What sustains the current (dis)order? Fantasy is a primary medium of enjoyment in capitalism: for the system to function and renew itself, we must enjoy wanting new commodities, work, children, and lifestyles by imagining ourselves in relation to these desirable objects. What is the relationship between lack and fantasy, desire and enjoyment, and what images of fulfillment does society propose? How does capitalism rely on fantasy and to what social, political, and economic ends? What does the Marxian critique of political economy and the continental tradition of psychoanalysis have to say about the strange coupling of alienation and enjoyment, as well as the possibility of its overcoming?

If in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis we have witnessed a certain return to Marx, we are equally in need of a return to psychoanalysis, a discourse uniquely suited to analyzing the conflictual desires and unconscious fantasies that bind subjects to the social-political order. How does capital fantasize its subjects – to vary another phrase of Freud, “Was will das Geld?” (“What does money want?”) – and what dreams support and undo the contemporary capitalist subject?


Alenka Zupančič is a Slovene philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. She works as Senior Researcher at the Graduate School of Philosophy, Scientific Research Center for the Slovene Academy of Arts and Sciences (ZRC SAZU) in Ljubljana, Slovenia. She is also Professor of Philosophy at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. She is the author of numerous articles and books on psychoanalysis and philosophy, including What is Sex?Why Psychoanalysis?, The Odd One In: On ComedyThe Shortest Shadow: Nietzsche’s Philosophy of the Two and Ethics of the Real: Kant and Lacan. Her books have been translated into many languages.

‘The Real of the Capitalist Illusion‘ by Slavoj Žižek


Video recording of a paper delivered on 17th December 2016 in Mumbai, India as part of Fantasies of Capital: Alienation, Enjoyment, Psychoanalysis Conference.

Inspired by Karl Marx’s critique of political economy and Jacques Lacan’s late theory linking surplus enjoyment to surplus value, the conference aimed to introduce a Lacanian interpretation of Marx’s analysis of capital and to propose ways of traversing the fantasies of capitalist society.

Lacan began the eleventh week of his seminar Les non-dupes errent (1973-4) with a straight question directed back at himself: “what was it that Lacan, who is here present, invented?” He answered the question with “like that, to get things going: objet a.

Objet a has a long history in Lacan’s teaching, it precedes for decades Lacan’s systematic references to the analysis of commodities in Marx’s Capital. But it is undoubtedly this reference to Marx, especially to Marx’s notion of surplus-value/Mehrwert/, that enabled Lacan to deploy his »mature« notion of objet a as surplus-enjoyment (plus-de-jouir, Mehrlust): the predominant motif which permeates all Lacan’s references to Marx’s analysis of commodities is the structural homology between Marx’s surplus-value and what Lacan’s baptized surplus-enjoyment, the phenomenon called by Freud Lustgewinn, a “gain of pleasure,” which does not designate a simple stepping up of pleasure but the additional pleasure provided by the very formal detours in the subject’s effort to attain pleasure.

The point of this homology is not to search in Marx for the origins of Lacan’s theory, but to explore how reading Marx’s critique of political economy through Lacan enables us to reactualize Marx, to conceive the structure of the self-propelling circulation of capital (“money which begets more money”) as the fundamental fantasy of capitalism, fantasy not in the sense of subjective illusion but in a much more radical sense of a fiction which structures our social reality itself.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and Psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

‘Of Drives and Cultures’, by Mladen Dolar

The event was held at American University of Beirut on October 13, 2016

Paper
(Problemi International)


Drives and culture seem to stand at opposite ends. The common assumption has it that drives are indomitable instinctual forces and that culture is called upon to mold them, restrict them and channel them, and since this conflict can never be happily resolved, we seem to be doomed to a perpetual discontent in civilization. This is the point that seems to be implied in the very title of Freud’s Civilization and its discontents (1930). The aim of the present paper is to dismantle this common understanding, for in psychoanalysis everything depends on doing away with its presuppositions. The paper will follow Freud’s argument and scrutinize six distinguishing traits of culture that he spells out, and then try to show that each of them is closely entangled with the nature of the drives such as pinpointed by Freud. The paradoxical outcome would be that drives and culture share the same basic structures, and that if there is conflict it would have to be conceived in very different terms. Freud himself proposed a conflict between two kinds of drives, libido and death drive, rather than a conflict between drives and culture, but his solutions entails many problems. The paper will in conclusion consider the placement of psychoanalysis in the rift between sciences of nature and humanities/social sciences, hence the very divide between nature and culture and the paradoxical ways in which psychoanalysis envisages that divide.


Mladen Dolar is Professor and Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana since 1982 and has served as the Advising Researcher in Theory at the Jan Van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, Netherlands. He is also Professor of Philosophy at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. His principal areas of research are Psychoanalysis, Modern French Philosophy (Lacan, Foucault, Derrida, Badiou, et. al.), German Idealism, and Art Theory, especially Musicology. With Žižek and others, Dolar was the co-founder of the Ljubljana Society of Theoretical Psychoanalysis, whose main aim is to read late 18th cent. and early 19th cent. German Classical Philosophy through the frame of Lacanian psychoanalytic theory. His main field of expertise is the philosophy of Georg W. F. Hegel, on whom he has written several papers, including a two-volume interpretation of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit first published in Slovene between 1990 and 1991. Dolar has lectured extensively across many different Universities in Europe and the United States and is author of hundreds of papers in different scholarly journals and in various collected volumes. Apart from over twelve monograph publications in Slovene, his books published in English most notably include A Voice and Nothing More and Opera’s Second Death, both of which were translated into several languages. His new book The Riskiest Moment is forthcoming with Duke University Press.


A public lecture by Professor Mladen Dolar
The Center for Arts and Humanities
October 13, 2016 at 4:00 pm, CAH seminar room
Bldg. 37, American University of Beirut (AUB)

‘Analysing the Cultural Unconscious: Science of the Signifier’

Published by Bloomsbury Academic in 2020. Download link updated on 4th August 2021.

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What are we doing when taking psychoanalysis from the couch to the analysis of society, culture, and arts? How is it possible to do so? How is it possible to move from singular experiences to universal structures detected in culture and society? Could psychoanalysis applied to art works become more sensitive to their aesthetics form?

Psychoanalysis is often disclaimed as non-scientific, since its main object – the unconscious – has no positive existence. This book, however, proposes psychoanalysis to be a “science of the signifier”. It takes as its object the signifier – the signifying part of the sign – insisting that it always says more (or less) than intended, because its very materiality carries unintended messages. By defining the object of psychoanalysis as the signifier, this volume argues that we can speak of psychoanalysis as a science, even if it is closer to semiotics than biology.

Analysing the Cultural Unconscious’ builds on this idea by arguing that the analysis of the signifier is the way to understand not only the individual unconscious, but also the cultural one. Replacing a person’s monologue on the couch with ideology criticism or a piece of art, applied psychoanalysis allows us to analyse culture and the arts in a new way, uncovering the cultural unconscious.


Table of Contents:

Part I: Science and the Signifier
1. The Cunning of the Signifier by Henrik Jøker Bjerre
2. The Echo of the Signifier in the Body: On Drives Today by Juliet Flower MacCannell
3. Secret in the Body – the Fantasy Structure of Genes and Brains by Renata Salecl


Part II: From Couch to Culture
4. Drives and Culture by Mladen Dolar
5. Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac and the Four Discourses by Kirsten Hyldgaard
6. Courtly Capitalism by Center for Wild Analysis
7. Is there a Way out of the Capitalist Discourse? by René Rasmussen


Part III: Application
8. Examples and Surplus-Meaning by Brian Benjamin Hansen
9. Literature as Philosophy of the Real: Ethics and Sexual Difference in Coetzee’s Disgrace by Kari Jegerstedt
10. When I am Beside Myself by Linus Nicolai Carlsen
11. Analysis Sounds Boring – Is there an Analytical Potential in Modern Electronic Music? by Anders Ruby


Part IV: Materiality and the Signifier
12. Lol V. Stein to the Letter by Ida Nissen Bjerre
13. Lacan and the Archeology of the Subject by Carin Franzén
14. The Signifiers of Cherry Ripe – On the Trauma and Repetition of an Art-historical Motif by Jakob Rosendal
15. Colour of Flesh, Flesh of Colour by Lilian Munk Rösing