‘Is it Still Possible to be a Hegelian Today?’ by Slavoj Žižek

Published November 25th 2013 by Walter de Gruyter.


The main feature of the historical thought proper is not “mobilism” (the motif of the fluidification or historical relativization of all forms of life), but the full endorsement of a certain impossibility: after a true historical break, one simply cannot return to the past, one cannot go on as if nothing happened – if one does it, the same practice acquires a radically changed meaning.

Adorno provided a nice example of Schoenberg’s atonal revolution: after it took place, one can (and one does), of course, go on composing in the traditional tonal way, but the new tonal music has lost its innocence, since it is already “mediated” by the atonal break and thus functions as its negation. This is why there is an irreducible element of kitsch in the twentieth century tonal composers like Rachmaninov – something of a nostalgic clinging to the past, of an artificial fake, like the adult who tries to keep the naïve child in him alive.

And the same applies to all domains: after the emergence of philosophical analysis of notions with Plato, mythical thought lost its immediacy, all revival of it is a fake; and after the emergence of Christianity, all revivals of paganism are always nostalgic fakes. . .

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