‘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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(.epub)


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

‘From Marx to Hegel and Back: Capitalism, Critique, and Utopia’ edited by Victoria Fareld & Hannes Kuch

Published by Bloomsury Academic in 2020. Download link updated on 27. June 2021.

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The relation between Hegel and Marx is among the most interpreted in the history of philosophy. Given the contemporary renaissance of Marx and Marxist theories, how should we re-read the Hegel-Marx connection today? What place does Hegel have in contemporary critical thinking?

Most schools of Marxism regard Marx’s inversion of Hegel’s dialectics as a progressive development, leaving behind Hegel’s idealism by transforming it into a materialist critique of political economy. Other Marxist approaches argue that the mature Marx completely broke with Hegel. By contrast, this book offers a wide-ranging and innovative understanding of Hegel as an empirically informed theorist of the social, political, and economic world.


Table of Contents

From Marx to Hegel and Back: Toward a Helical Approach, by Victoria Fareld

Part I. Reassessing the Legacy of Hegel and Marx
1. Hegel and Marx: A Reassessment after One Century by Axel Honneth
2. Hegel, Marx, and Presentism by Emmanuel Renault
3. Property and Freedom in Kant, Hegel, and Marx by Jacob Blumenfeld
4. I, the Revolution, Speak: Lenin’s Speculative (Hegelian) Style by Frank Ruda

Part II. Capitalism and Critique
5. Critique in Hegel and Marx by Rocío Zambrana
6. Hegel and Marx on ‘Spiritual Life’ as a Criterion for Social Critique by Frederick Neuhouser
7. Abstract Labor and Recognition by Sven Ellmers
8. Love Will Tear Us Apart: Marx and Hegel on the Materiality of Erotic Bonds by Federica Gregoratto

Part III. Postcapitalism and Utopia
9. Marx’s ‘Hegelian’ Critique of Utopia by David Leopold
10. Where Are We Developing the Requirements for a New Society? The Dialectic of Today’s Capitalism from a Hegelian Marxist Perspective by Eva Bockenheimer
11. Social Freedom beyond Capitalism: Three Alternatives by Hannes Kuch
12. Honneth’s Democratic ‘Sittlichkeit’ and Market Socialism by Michael Nance

Contributors
Sources
Index


Victoria Fareld is Associate Professor of Intellectual History at the Department of Culture and Aesthetics at Stockholm University, Sweden.

Hannes Kuch is a Postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Philosophy, Goethe-University Frankfurt, Germany.

Slavoj Žižek: ‘Vznik resnice skozi zmoto’

Artist Condition I. (from) René Margritte 1934..’, umetniška slika iz leta 1981 avtorja Dejana Kneza, ustanovitelja Laibach Kunst, katera je v svojem izvirniku fotokopirana božična voščilnica, ki je upodabljala René Magrittovo La Condition Humaine  iz leta 1933. Knez je zamenjal pokrajino na sliki z vstavitvijo fotografije Nacističnega zbora med Reichsparteitagom v Nürnbergu leta 1934.

Besedilo pričujoče objave, tukaj objavljene kot ‘Vznik resnice skozi zmoto’, je nespremenjeno iz tretjega poglavja
Žižkove knjige Zgodovina in nezavedno, sicer objavljene v Cankarjevi založbi leta 1982.

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Začnimo z morda ne povsem pričakovanim izhodiščem: z znamenito »Junius-brošuro« Rose Luxemburg iz leta 1915 Kriza socialne demokracije (slov. prev. v Izbranih spisih, str. 551—687). Ta spis Rose je — kot je znano — njen odgovor na teoretski in praktični zlom II. internacionale: ob začetku I. svetovne vojne so skoraj vse evropske socialnodemokratske stranke (z nekaj častnimi izjemami: boljševiki, srbski socialni demokrati) zapadle nacionalistični evforiji, podprle vlade svojih držav pri »obrambni« vojni, razglasile v imenu nacionalne ogroženosti »razredni mir« itn. Najnižje je pri tem padla nemška socialna demokracija, ki je dotlej predstavljala avantgardo II. internacionale, idejni in organizacijski vzor vsem ostalim socialnodemokratskim strankam: nemški napad na Rusijo je utemeljevala kot »izvrševanje Marxove oporoke«, itj., napad na carizem kot »trdnjavo evropske reakcije«, kot spopad zahodne kulture z vzhodnjaškim barbarstvom ipd. Presenetljivo in simptomatsko je bilo ob tem dejstvo, da so se v tej situaciji desni revizionisti celo bolje izkazali kot pa »ortodoksni centrum«, steber in varuh »prave marksistične linije«: Bernstein je ostal zunaj nacionalistične evforije, Jaures je celo padel kot žrtev nacionalističnega atentata.

Najbolj presenetljiva pa je nenadnost tega preobrata, ki je deloval kot pravi »šok«, vdor nečesa povsem nepričakovanega, in presenetil celo tako ostrega kritika oportunizma II. internacionale kot je to bil Lenin (znano je, da je Lenin spočetka mislil, da je številka nemškega socialnodemokratskega glasila, v kateri je bilo razglašeno, da so tudi socialnodemokratski poslanci glasovali za vojne kredite, falsifikat pruske policije, ki naj zapelje delavce…); »patriotizem« posameznih socialnodemokratskih strank je presegel najbolj optimistična pričakovanja domačih buržoazij. Ob tem pa — to je ključno dejstvo — nikakor ne gre za nekakšno na novo nastalo situacijo, v kateri se pač socialna demokracija ne bi znašla; kot da ni prav socialna demokracija že ob koncu 19. stoletja najjasneje opozarjala na vihar svetovnega spopada, ki ga pripravljajo imperialistične sile, kot da niso vsi kongresi Internacionale pred I. svetovno vojno soglasno sprejemali resolucije o miru, ki so nalagale vsem strankam dolžnost, da se vsaka v svoji deželi odločno uprejo patrioti vojni evforiji in tako preprečijo, da bi buržoazija poravnavala medsebojne račune na plečih in s krvjo delavskega razreda . . . Nasprotnik je bil torej že zdavnaj prepoznan in pripoznan, bil je predmet obširnih političnih analiz ter programskih sklepov; zato toliko bolj preseneča popolna nenadnost preobrata, s katerim se je stališče diametralno spremenilo skoraj dobesedno »iz dneva v dan«: nemška socialnodemokratska stranka je celo še po atentatu na Ferdinanda v Sarajevu opozarjala na nevarnost, da bi avstrijski reakcionarni krogi potegnili Nemčijo v vojno!

Opraviti imamo torej z resničnim zgodovinskim »škandalom«, vdorom nečesa, kar se je do zadnjega trenutka zdelo »nemogoče«, kar enostavno ni bilo »razumljivo« v polju ideološkega samorazumevanja II. internacionale. Naravnost povedano: opraviti imamo z njenim »nezavednim«, »potlačenim«, ki je nenadoma vdrlo in presenetilo vse, celo nasprotnike. Kajti prav opisana konstelacija zelo lepo ponazarja temeljno lacanovsko postavko, da je »nezavedno zunaj«: »nezavedno«, »potlače­no« socialne demokracije ni bilo nekaj njej sami skritega, preddiskurzivnega, bilo je tisto, o čemer je socialna demokracija dolga leta na široko govorila, česar se je še kako zavedala — »ni se zave­dala« zgolj tega, da govori, ko govori o patriotsko- vojni zaslepljenosti ipd., (tudi) o sami sebi, o resničnem mestu, od koder govori. »Ni se zaveda­la« zgolj tega, da njena kritika patriotske zaslepljenosti ni delovala kot dejansko preseganje, marveč kot »zanikanje« v analitičnem pomenu, kot prazna forma distanciranja, kot beg pred lastno resnico: tam, v tolikokrat kritiziranem »zunanjem sovražniku«, tam je bilo resnično »nezavedno mesto« same socialne demokracije; njen zlom ob izbruhu l. svetovne vojne je potemtakem pomenil natančno »vrnitev potlačenega«.

Osnovna moč izvrstno pisane razprave Rose Luxemburg je v tem, da z vso silo prikaže to odpoved II. internacionale programskim načelom, ki jih je razglašala do zadnjega, da razglasi idejno ničnost njenih oportunističnih racionalizacij (»gre za obrambno vojno«, »boj proti ruskemu carizmu kot trdnjavi reakcije« ipd.), da pokaže, kako so vse te racionalizacije zgolj upravičevale in prikri­vale osnovno dejstvo: da se je socialna demokraci­ja odpovedala svoji razrednoborbeni, revolucionar­ni vlogi in pristala na meščanske okvire. Vsa njena knjiga je silovita in prepričljiva argumentacija proti tej odpovedi — toda težava nastopi prav s to prepričljivostjo: bolj kot so prepričljivi njeni argumenti zoper oportunizem II. internacionale, bolj postaja nerazumljiv in nerazložljiv njen zlom, saj imamo opraviti z novimi in novimi argumenti proti njemu … Zato nas nikakor ne sme presene­titi nujna druga plat te prepričljive argumentaci­je: padec v naivno-razsvetljensko opozicijo iracio­nalne norosti in pijanosti na eni strani ter prosvetljene racionalnosti na drugi strani; ko namreč Rosa Luxemburg skuša pozitivno opredeliti patriotsko-vojno evforijo, se naenkrat odpove strogi teoretski konceptualizaciji in govori o »topi duševni zmedenosti«, »šovinistični pijanosti in no­rosti množice« in podobnem; jasen upor socialne demokracije proti vojnemu klanju »bi bil obvaroval prosvetljene kroge ljudstva pred delirijem in bil otežil imperialistom njihov posel zastrupljevanja in poneumljanja ljudstva. Prav bojni pohod proti socialni demokraciji bi bil ljudstvo najhitreje streznil.« (vse str. 667) — vse to (»delirij«, »pija­nost in norost množice« ipd.) pač niso niti koncepti historičnega materializma niti koncepti kake domnevne znanstvene psihologije, marveč preprosto ideološke predstave meščanskega razsvetljenstva (ki se jih, mimogrede povedano, prav ta­ko da uporabiti — in so tudi bile uporabljene — za opredelitev ravnanja množic v revolucionarnem procesu: spomnimo se zgolj ideoloških floskul preplašenega meščanstva o grozodejstvih »pi­jane in poneumljene množice« za časa jakobinske diktature!).

Prav na tem — ključnem — mestu nastopi Freudova razprava Množična psihologija in analiza jaza, napisana leta 1920 (torej pet let po »Junius-brošuri«) pod vtisom iste »norosti množice« in vojnega klanja; v nji je namreč razvit natančno konceptualni aparat, ki nam omogoči teoretsko zapopasti prikazen »množičnega delirija« ipd.: konstitucija »množice« skoz identifikacijo »ideala jaza« pri njenih članih z likom Vodje, iz tega izvirajoča libidilnalna navezanost nanj in njegova »hipnotična« moč itn. Tu daje freudovska proble­matika odgovor na neko vprašanje, ki ostane brez odgovora v klasični podobi historičnega materializ­ma (oziroma, natančneje, šele omogoči, da se to vprašanje zastavi na teoretsko ustrezni ravni).

Pravkaršnjo trditev, da gre za vprašanje brez odgovora v klasični podobi historičnega materializ­ma, moramo vzeti cum grano salis: tudi Marx se je namreč soočil z nekim skoraj nič manj »škan­daloznim« zgodovinskim obratom, z iztekom re­volucije 1848 v — kajpada z »demokratičnim ple­biscitom« potrjeno — cesarstvo Napoleona III., kar se je sodobnikom prav tako zdelo »kakor stre­la z jasnega« (Marx). Vendar pa Marx v Osemnaj­stem brumairu Louisa Bonaparta, ko skuša »raz­ložiti nerazložljivo« z okoliščinami in razmerami razrednega boja, tematizira prav ideološko fantazmatiko, ki je omogočila vzpon takšne klovnov­ske figure, kot je bil Louis Bonaparte (»neča­kova fiksna ideja se je uresničila, ker se je skla­dala s fiksno idejo najštevilnejšega francoskega razreda« (MEID III, str. 563), tj. Louis Bonaparte je bil »kmečka iznajdba« (ibid., str. 128), in s tem tako rekoč v ,divji’ obliki proizvede celo vrsto teoretskih momentov, ki jih je kasneje konceptualizirala psihoanaliza.

***

Na tem mestu pa velja razpršiti neki nespora­zum, ki bi lahko nastopil: iz pravkar povedanega bi namreč kdo lahko sklepal, da je psihoanalitični pristop sicer potreben, da pa mora raziskava ne­zavednih libidinalnih investicij nastopiti predvsem tedaj, ko imamo opraviti z »regresivnimi« mo­menti (»šovinistična pijanost in norost množice« leta 1914, reakcionarna težnja k očetovsko-despotski firni francoskih parcelnih kmetov po revolu­ciji 1848) — ob vzponu naprednih sil pač tovrstna raziskava nima kaj početi, saj gre v njih prav za zavestno delovanje, osvobojeno domnevno »regre­sivnih« nezavednih investioij, tj., za delovanje, ki ga vodi vsaj v osnovi jasna zavest o svojih ciljih.

Da je tovrsten sklep napačen, tj., da analitična raziskava nezavednih označevalnih mehanizmov lahko še kako pripomore k dojetju logike samega revolucionarnega procesa, o tem najbolje priča sama Rosa Luxemburg s celo vrsto izredno pro­dornih zapažanj o tako imenovani »psihologiji revolucije«. Vzemimo na primer zgolj njeno argu­mentacijo proti znanemu »objektivističnemu« stra­hu, da ne bi proletariat oziroma njegova politična organizacija, socialna demokracija, »prezgodaj« (»še preden bi bile za to zrele objektivne okolišči­ne«) prevzela oblast, v njeni polemiki proti Bern­steinu (Izbrani spisi, str. 114—117). Njen temeljni protiargument je, da takšen »strah« »izhaja iz mehaničnega pojmovanja družbenega razvoja in predpostavlja za zmago v razrednem boju čas, ki je izven razrednega boja in neodvisen od njega« (str. 117). Drugače povedano, predpostavlja nekak »objektivni« zgodovinski razvoj »dozorevanja«, razvoj, ki naj mu razredni boj zgolj sledi kot naknadni »subjektivni odsev«, ne pa da je -raz­redni boj že v osrčju tega razvoja, njegovo skrito gonilo (kot da ni na primer v kapitalizmu gonilo nenehnega razvijanja produktivnih sil boj za po­večanje profitne stopnje, pri čemer je veličina te stopnje odvisna od razmerja sil v razrednem boju).

Rezultat, do katerega pride Rosa Luxemburg skoz to kritiko, je paradoks, da prevzem oblasti s strani delavskega razreda sploh ne more biti »pre­zgodnji« in je hkrati nujno vselej prezgodnji: »S stališča družbenih pogojev delavski razred torej sploh ne more ,prezgodaj’ osvojiti politione ob­lasti, pač pa mora po drugi strani s stališča poli­tičnega efekta — da bi oblast čvrsto držal — nuj­no ,prezgodaj’ nastopiti.« (str. 116) Linija argu­mentacije za prvi moment je dovolj jasna: pro­letariat ne more oblasti osvojiti »prezgodaj«, ker je že samo dejstvo, da proletariat — razrednozavestno organiziran delavski razred — osvoji oblast, tj., da je proletariat dosegel stopnjo, na kateri je zmožen takšnega dejanja, produkt zaostrene notranje krize kapitalizma in s tem pričeva­lec »zrelosti« družbe za to, da v nji prevzame ob­last proletariat. Linija argumentacije za drugi moment pa je mnogo bolj zanimiva:

»ni mogoče preprečiti »prezgodnjega« prevzema državne oblasti, ker so ti »prezgodnji« napadi pro­letariata samo eden od faktorjev, in sicer zelo pomemben, ki ustvarja politične pogoje za končno zmago, kajti proletariat lahko doseže potrebno stopnjo politične zrelosti šele med politično krizo, ki bo spremljala njegov prevzem oblasti, šele v ognju dolgotrajnih, trdovratnih bojev, ki ga bodo usposobili za dokončen veliki prevrat«. (ibid.)

Ta argumentacija namreč predpostavlja prav to, da je spreminjanje družbe s strani revolucio­narnega subjekta hkrati njegovo »samospreminjanje« (Marxova 3. teza o Feuerbachu), tj., da tudi v revolucionarnem procesu »ni metagovorice«, da revolucionarni subjekt ne nastopi nasproti svetu kot »izgotovljen«, z dokončnim »revolucionarnim načrtom«, ki ga mora nato zgolj spretno »realizi­rati«, marveč se on sam kot revolucionarni sub­jekt in sama temeljna razsežnost revolucionarnega procesa oblikujeta šele skoz sam ta proces. Zato je prvi prevzem oblasti nujno »prezgodnji«: edini način, da proletariat dozori za »pravočasen« pre­vzem oblasti, je, da oblikuje/vzgoji samega sebe za ta prevzem, edina pot za to pa je kajpada vrsta »prezgodnjih« revolucionarnih dejanj. Ali, če naj paradoks jasno zaostrimo: če bi čakali »pravi trenutek« za prevzem oblasti, ga preprosto nikoli ne bi dočakali, saj se ta »pravi trenutek« — prav zato, ker so zanj potrebni tudi subjektivni pogoji »zrelosti« revolucionarnega subjekta — oblikuje zgolj skoz vrsto »prezgodnjih« poskusov. Zato ima Rosa Luxemburg skozinskoz prav, ko sklene, da »opozicija proti »prezgodnjemu« prevzemu oblasti ni nič drugega kot opozicija proti stremljenju proletariata sploh, da se polasti državne oblasti« (str. 117). Drugače povedano, če naj ponovimo znameniti Robespierrov izrek, oportunisti in revizionisti hočejo »revolucijo brez revolucije«.

Od tod pa pade povsem nova luč na razvpiti očitek Marxu in ostalim revolucionarjem, da so se pri napovedih prihodnjih revolucionarnih do­godkov ušteli, ko so pričakovali revolucionarni prevrat v bližnji prihodnosti: ta njihova »iluzija« je nujna, je natančno indeks tega, da so sami bili vpeti v revolucionarni proces, da so govorili s pozicije revolucionarnega subjekta, ne pa z metagovorične pozicije »objektivnega opazovalca«, ki se spusti v revolucijo, ko dozorijo »objektivne razmere« … Tu čaka torej označevalno analizo izredno plodno raziskovanje dialektike »subjektiv­nega časa« revolucionarnega procesa, v katerem, kot pravi Lacan, »resnica vznikne iz sprevida (la vérité surgit de la méprise)«: sprevid je »notranji« resnici, edina pot do resnice pelje skoz vrsto sprevidov, tako kot pelje edina pot do »pravega trenutka« zmagovite revolucije skoz vrsto »napač­nih, prezgodnjih« poskusov.

Postavko, da »resnica vznikne iz sprevida«, je torej vzeti dobesedno: »sprevid«, narobe-razumevanje, je »vračunan« v samo resnico, ni narobe-razumevanje pravega dometa neke nasebne, vna­prej dane resnice, marveč se skozenj, skozi »spre­vid«, šele konstituira sama resnica. Strukturo, ki je tu na delu, lahko lepo ponazorimo z znano zgodbo o »zmenku v Samari«: Služabnik bogatega trgovca v Bagdadu je na trgu srečal smrt, ki se je naenkrat ozrla vanj; preplašen je pohitel domov h gospodarju in mu rekel: »Smrt me preganja; nocoj misli priti pome. Daj mi, prosim, konja; jahal bom vso noč in ves dan, tako bom jutri zvečer že v Samari. Tam me smrt gotovo ne bo našla.« Gospodar mu je ustregel, nato pa odšel na trg, poiskal smrt in jo jezno ogovoril: »Zakaj si tako grdo pogledala mojega služabnika?« Smrt mu je odgovorila: »Bil je nesporazum. Služabnik je narobe razumel moj pogled: ta pogled ni izra­žal grožnje, ampak začudenje, kaj išče tvoj slu­žabnik tukaj, ko pa imam jutri zvečer zmenek z njim v Samari!«

Preden se vprašamo, kakšno zvezo ima ta zgod­ba s psihoanalitičnim nezavednim, se spomnimo vsaj tega, da naletimo na isti ustroj pri »klasič­nem« toposu psihoanalize, mitu o Ojdipu (tu gre za moment, ki običajno ni v ospredju): Ojdipovemu očetu je napovedano, da ga bo sin ubil, se poročil z materjo…; prerokba se realizira prav skoz to, da oče to ve in se hoče temu izogniti (izpostavi sina v gozdu, zaradi česar sin odrase pri tujcih, za katere misli, da so njegovi pravi starši, in seveda nato ne prepozna očeta, ko se srečata na poti…). Drugače povedano, prerokba se izpolni skozi to, da je izrečena in narobe-dojeta; če se ji ne bi skušali izogniti, se tudi ne bi realizirala in pač ne bi bilo »Ojdipovega kompleksa«…

Časovnost, s katero imamo tu opraviti, je »sub­jektivno posredovana«, ni »objektivni potek«, ki bi ga subjektivnost bolj ali manj ustrezno izražala oziroma odražala: subjektova »zmota« je para­doksno »pred« tem, o čemer se moti, saj se res­nica, glede na katero govorimo o zmoti, konsti­tuira skoz zmoto. Kot v tisti šali o vojaškem ob­vezniku, ki se je hotel rešiti vojske tako, da se je delal norega: njegov »simptom« je bil, da je pre­gledal vsak list papirja, ki ga je zagledal, in ob tem stalno govoril »To ni tisto …«. Peljali so ga k psihiatru, tudi v ordinaciji je pregledal vse papirje tja do koša za smeti in ponavljal »To ni tisti«. Končno je bil zdravnik prepričan, da je obveznik nor, in mu dal potrdilo, ki ga osvobaja služenja vojaškega roka. Obveznik je pogledal to potrdilo in rekel: »To je tisto!« Kaj je sprevi­del zdravnik? Da bo »tisto« vzniknilo skoz samo njegovo dejanje, skoz njegovo narobe-razumevanje obveznikove sicer povsem resnične izjave, da »to (še) ni tisto« … To je logika nezavednega, ta­ko nas nezavedno s svojo zvijačo »okoli-prinese«: ne gre za nekakšno transcendentno danost, ki bi nam uhajala, tisto, kar nam uide, smo mi sami, sprevid je v tem, da pozabimo všteti v stvar, za katero gre, same sebe, naše lastno dejanje.

Tu bi morali razviti problematiko transferja, saj je prav v tej nakazani strukturi zmote-resnice od­govor na vprašanje, zakaj je transfer nujen pogoj uspešne analize: transfer je tista »zmota«, »ilu­zija«, skoz katero se ob koncu analize proizvede resnica … Toda raje se bomo držali naše teme, zgodovine, in razvili izjemen, četudi morda znova nepričakovan zgled tega, kako je zmota »notra­nja« resnici v samem zgodovinskem procesu: Heg­lovo teorijo zgodovinskega ponavljanja. (Ob tem se bomo kritično oprli na delo P. L. Assouna Marx et la repetition historique, Paris:PUF 1978.)

Heglova teorija zgodovinskega ponavljanja (raz­vita v Predavanjih k filozofiji zgodovine) je — na kratko — v tem: »Ponovitev udejanji in potrdi to, kar se je na začetku zdelo zgolj naključno in možno.« Hegel to razvije ob umoru Cezarja: Ko je Cezar utrjeval svojo osebno oblast, je »objek­tivno« (na sebi) deloval v skladu z zgodovinsko resnico, po kateri »Republika … ni več nudila oporne točke; ta točka je lahko bila zgolj v volji nekega individua«; vendar pa je formalno (za se­be, v »mnenju ljudi«) še vedno vladala Republika — Republika je »še živela zgolj zato, ker je po­zabila, da je že mrtva«, če naj parafraziramo zna­menite freudovske sanje o očetu, ki je pozabil, da je že mrtev. Temu »mnenju«, ki je še vedno verjelo v Republiko (četudi to verovanje ni imelo več substancialne-nasebne podlage), se je zato Cezarjevo delovanje prikazovalo kot osebna samo­volja, kot nekaj naključnega; dozdevalo se mu je, da »se bo, če odstranimo samega tega individua, spontano vrnila Republika«. Vendar pa so — v skladu z zvijačo uma — prav zarotniki proti Cezarju potrdili Cezarjevo zgodovinsko resnico oziroma nujnost: »Takoj po tem umoru je postalo očitno, da lahko en sam človek vodi rimsko drža­vo, in tako so bili Rimljani prisiljeni, da v to ver­jamejo«. Ali, kot pravi Assoun: »Tako je umor Cezarja, četudi je zgrešil svoj neposredni smoter, izpolnil funkcijo, ki mu jo je makiavelistično do­delila zgodovina: izpostaviti resnico zgodovine s tem, da objavi svojo lastno neresnico.« (str. 68) Splošni Heglov sklep: »mnenje ljudi nasploh odo­bri neko politično revolucijo tedaj, ko je obnov­ljena«. »Tako sta postala mogoča Avgust in Ce­sarstvo.« (Assoun, ibid.)

Assoun je lepo razvil dvojni zastavek ponovitve: ponovitev pomeni hkrati prehod od naključnosti k nujnosti in od samorasle stihijnosti k zavesti: od nasebnosti k zasebnosti. »Za dogodek, ki na­stopi zgolj enkrat, se po definiciji zdi, da bi lahko tudi ne nastopil« (str. 69—70). Vendar se zdi, da Assoun prav zato, ker zanemari označevalni za­stavek Heglove analize, interpretira ta sklop pre­več »mehanistično«: kot da gre preprosto za to, da imamo, ker se dogodek ponovi, opraviti z »dve­ma primerkoma splošnega zakona« (str. 70), kar naj bi pač tudi »mnenje ljudi« prepričalo o nje­govi nujnosti. Dlje od tega simplističnega tolma­čenja seže že Assounova lastna formulacija: »Zgodovinska zavest dejansko izkusi nujnost generativnega procesa, tako da prizna dogodek, ki ga je predhodno doživela (vécu)…« (str. 70),

— če jo vzamemo dobesedno: Med »originalom« in »ponovitvijo« se spremeni označevalna mreža, v katero je vpet »dogodek«: »prvič« je dogodek »doživet« kot naključnostna travma, vdor ne-simboliziranega, šele skoz ponovitev je »priznan«, kar tu lahko pomeni le: simbolno realiziran. Za to priznanje-skoz-ponovitev pa je (tako kot pri Moj­zesu v Freudovi analizi) nujen zločin, akt umora — poenostavljeno rečeno: Cezar je moral »empi­rično« umreti, če se je hotel realizirati v svoji simbolni »nujnosti«, kajti »nujnost«, za katero tu gre, je pač lahko zgolj simbolna. V simplistični interpretaciji se zgodi, da nujnost ponovitve ni preprosto »vbjektivna nujnost«, ki že itak vedno pritiska in — če jo ljudje zaradi »nepoznavanja objektivnih teženj« začasno zaustavijo — znova privre, uveljavi svojo pravico; ključnega pomena je, da se dogodek ponovi kot »nujen« prav zato, ker so ga ljudje v njegovi prvi pojavni obliki »zatrli« kot nekaj naključnostnega. Ne gre torej zgolj za to, da ljudje »rabijo čas, da bi razumeli«, da »zavest nujno zaostaja«, da je dogodek v svoji prvi pojavni obldki preveč »travmatičen« — sprevid (méconnaissance) njegovega prvega nastopa je neposredno »notranji« njegovi simbolni nujnosti, je direktni konstituens njegovega priznanja (reconnaissance). Tradicionalno rečeno: prvi umor (Cezarjev »očetomor«) odpre krivdo, in šele ta krivda »da energijo« ponavljanju. Stvar se ne ponavlja zaradi nekakšne »objektivne nujnosti«, »neodvisne od našega subjektivnega hotenja« in na ta način »nezaustavljive« — nasprotno je sama krivda tista, ki odpre simbolni dolg in s tem ute­melji prisilo ponavljanja. Ponovitev najavlja na­stop Zakona, tj., Imena-Očeta, na mestu umorje­nega očeta: dogodek, ki se ponovi, prejme skoz svojo ponovitev retroaktivno svoj zakon. Drugače povedano, heglovsko ponovitev bi lahko konceptualizirali prav kot prehod od lawless k lawlike, kot interpretativno gesto par excellence (Lacan pripominja nekje, da interpretacija vselej postopa v znamenju Imena-Očeta): simbolno »prisvojitev« travmatičnega dogodka. Heglu že uspe formulirati zamudo, ki je konstitutivna za interpretativno gesto: interpretacija nastopi zgolj skoz ponovitev, dogodek, ki zanj gre, ne more biti že prvič lawlike. To nujnost ponovitve bi morali navezati tudi na znameniti odlomek iz Heglovega predgovora k Pravni filozofiji o Minervini sovi, ki začenja svoj let šele naknadno, ko pade mrak: v nasprotju z običajno kritiko, ki vidi v tem znamenje nemoči zunanje-kontemplativne pozicije, tj., nemoči gole interpretacije, ki prihaja post festum, bi morali dojeti to zamudo kot samo znamenje naše vpeto­sti v »stvar«: »stvar sama« je že v sebi prelom­ljena, organizirana okoli luknje, je že — nekoli- kanj spekulativno rečeno — »svoja lastna zamu­da«, in zamuda interpretacije se zgolj prekrije s to »notranjo« zamudo. Konkretno: to, da je »jav­no mnenje« najprej vzelo Cezarjevo osebno ob­last kot nekaj naključnega, ni preprosto izraz zu­nanjega »zamujanja zavesti za bitjo«, marveč je to zamujanje »notranje« zgodovinski dejanskosti — paradoks je v tem, da se edino in prav skoz to zamujanje sama »izvirno zamujena« nujnost šele »realizira« oziroma »konstituira«; da je ta nujnost »obstajala že od vsega začetka«, pred zamudo, je zgolj fetišistična vzvratna projekcija.

***

Ista interpretativna kretnja naknadne »simbolne realizacija«, »osmislitve« nekega travmatičnega »realnega« je v samem osrčju konstitucije tradi­cionalne podobe krščanske religije, tj. konstitu­cije krščanstva, kakršno je »zagrabilo množice« in postalo »univerzalna religija«. Razvijmo to ob knjigi Johannesa Lehmanna Poročilo o Jezusu (CZ, 1979), katere tema je prav razlika med »iz­virno« zgodovinsko dejanskostjo Jezusa in tradicirano podobo krščanstva. Da so ta »nova dogna­nja o življenju Jezusa iz Nazareta« postala prva uspešnica žepne knjige, je že samo na sebi do­volj pomenljivo dejstvo; skušali bomo nakazati, kako je to dejstvo tesno povezano z neko speci­fično potezo »slovenske« nezavedne fantazmatike, tj., kako ne gre zgolj za odmev tega, da imamo pač opraviti s temo neštetih evropskih uspešnic, ki so jih sprožila odkritja t. i. »kumranskih roko­pisov«.

Na prvi pogled bi moralo Poročilo o Jezusu raz­veseli ti slehernega historičnega materialista, še posebej takega, ki hoče biti materialist tudi v »zadevah označevalca«: v Poročilu gre namreč na­tančno za svojski poskus »potujitve« običajne, podedovane podobe krščanstva, za poskus, pro­dreti za to podobo (ki jo je — kot je znano — ustoličil Pavel) do zgodovinske dejanskosti historičnega Jezusa (»rabina J.«, kot ga dosledno poimenuje Lehmann, da bi nas potujil tradiirani podobi »Jezusa Kristusa, našega odrešenika«). Povzemimo rezultat: historični Jezus je bil »me­sija«, tj., nastopal je kot božji poslanec (ne »sin«!), ki bo osvobodil Jude (ne univerzalno človeštvo!) izpod rimske tiranije; bil je pod močnim vplivom asketske ločine esenov, od katere je pobral večino svojih maksim — skratka, opraviti imamo s ti­pično podobo v asketizmu utemeljene enotnosti nacionalno-politične in teološke odrešitve, kakrš­na je kasneje živela skoz celoten srednji vek tja do Tomaža Münzerja, pri čemer je kajpada po­udarek prešel od nacionalno-politične na socialno osvoboditev (v historiografiji jim pravimo »revolucionarni milenarisli«, »mistični anarhisti« itn.). (Na historiografski ravni zadovoljiv, četudi idejno sporen pregled teh tokov najdemo v delu Nor­mana Cohna The Pursuit of the Millennium, Paladin Books, Granada, London, 1970) Lehmann se tu opira predvsem na znamenite »kumranske ro­kopise« esenov, ki so historično nastali pred naširrn štetjem in v katerih nahajamo številna vse­binska in celo tekstna ujemanja s ključnimi me­sti nove zaveze. Ta historična dejanskost »rabina J.« naj bi nato skoz dvojni »filter« postala tradicirana podoba »Jezusa Kristusa«: najprej naj bi njegovi neposredni učenci po križanju, tj., po porazu Jezusovega »tostranega« poslanstva (osvo­boditve Judov izpod rimske oblasti), zabrisali nacionalno-osvobodilni, »politični« moment njego­vega nauka, da bi tako nauk postal sprejemljiv za oblast, tj., da bi se izognili preganjanjem ozi­roma obtožbam, da so politično subverzivna sila; tej prvi premeni, pretvorbi enotnosti nacionalnopolitične in spiritualne odrešitve v čisto spiri­tualno, ki se sprijazni z obstoječo socialno dejan­skostjo in se dojame kot odrešitev v »onstranosti«, ne več kot spiritualna odrešitev skoz »tostrano« nacionalno-politično osvoboditev Judov, tej premeni sledi druga, Pavlova, ki ji ne gre več zgolj za to, da bi zabrisala socialno nesprejem­ljive momente nauka »rabina J.«, marveč radi­kalno spremeni smisel celotnega nauka, tj., iz »ra­bina J.«, odrešenika Judov, naredi »Jezusa Kristu­sa«, božjega sina, ki je s svojim trpljenjem na križu odrešil univerzalno človeštvo…

Zdi se torej, da smo tako končno prodrli skoz teološke meglenice do »dejanske podlage« krščanstva, zgubljene skoz kasnejše »filtriranje«. In ne le to: zgodovina tega »filtriranja« je, kot lepo pokaže Lehmann, vselej že hkrati zgodovina nekega teksta, tj., tisti »kratek stik«, ki je omogočil preskok med izvirno, kasneje izrinjeno »Drugo Sceno« historične dejanskosti »rabina J.« in med tradicirano podobo »Jezusa Kristusa«, se gib­lje prav na ravni »avtonomije označevalca«; isti sintagmatski fragment je skoz »filtriranje« iztrgan svojemu prvotnemu pomenu in prestavljen v povsem drug pomenski kontekst. Takšna je zadeva že ob samem dejstvu, da govorimo o »Jezusu iz Nazareta«: Prvotno beseda »nazirejec« (etimološko istovetna z besedo »nazorejec« ali »nazarejec«) označuje starojudovsko asketsko usmeritev; ko je ob Pavlovem času izbruhnil spor med asketsko in protiasketsko usmerjenimi kristjani, je asketska smer Jezusa pač imenovala »nazirejca« — protiasketska smer pa je skušala ta nazirejski moment v krščanstvu ohromiti tako, da je besedo tolmačila kot »Nazarejec«, tj., tisti, ki je iz Nazareta! (str. 173) še lepši je primer z znamenitimi besedami: »Glas vpije v puščavi: Pripravite pot Gospodu…«. Vsakomur je znana ideološka konotacija, ki se veže na to sintagmo, saj gre za be­sede, ki so prešle v vsakdanje reklo (»Glas vpijočega v puščavi«: osamljeni glasnik Resnice sredi vsesplošne opijanjenosti, sredi »moralne puščave« itd.). Vendar je takšno branje preprosto napačno punktirano branje izvirnika, ki je nastopilo z grškim prevodom svetega pisma;pravilno se izvirnik glasi: »Glas vpije: v puščavi pripravite pot Gospodu…«. Poleg tega ni »glas vpije« v izvirniku nič usodno-nabuhlega, marveč običajna sintagma, s katero se uvaja pomembne razglase, in pomeni toliko kot »razglašam«, »oglašam« ali kaj podobnega. Tako pridemo do pravega pomena izvirnika: »Glas klicarja: Napravite cesto Gospodu v puščavi.« Gre preprosto za poziv, naj se verujoči umaknejo iz mest, polnih pregreh, v samoto puščave in se tam pripravljajo na božje oznanilo — »puščava« je torej mišljena predvsem dobesedno. Najbolj poučen pa je bržkone primer odlomka: »Tretji dan je bila svatba v galilejski Kani in na nji je bila Jezusova mati. Na svatbo pa so bili povabljeni tudi Jezus in njegovi učenci.« Na kaj se nanaša ta »tretji dan« ? Ta vrinek je ali nepotreben ali nesmiseln. Teologi so zadevo reševali s »simboličnim pomenom«: skriven namig na vstajenje, ki se je tudi dogodilo tretji dan po križanju, simbolika »nebeškega ženina« ipd. Rešitev pa je povsem banalna: v hebrejščini dnevi razen sobote nimajo imena, so zgolj oštevilčeni; »tretji dan« je torej preprosto torek — torek pa je bil med preprostimi podeželani v Galileji dan za poroke!

Do tod vse lepo in prav. Vendar pa nam že vel, izbira, pred katero se znajdemo v zadnjih dveh primerih, nakazuje, da zadeva ni tako enostavna. Smo namreč pred izbiro: »bit ali smisel«. če se odločimo za »smisel« (: zgodovinsko tradicirano pomensko bogastvo, konotacija sintagem »glas vpijočega v puščavi« ali »tretji dan«), se res zamegli »bit« (:dejanska »izvirna« historična konstelacija); toda pozabiti ne smemo, da velja tudi obratno: če se odločimo za »bit«, tj., če iščemo zgolj »izvirno« dejansko konstelacijo, ki naj bi jo zameglile kasnejše pomenske konotacije, zgubimo »smisel«, spregledamo zgodovinsko posredovanost oziroma utemeljenost samih kasnejših tradiciranih konotacij. Ta vel je kajpada zgolj na videz »simetričen«, v resnici imamo opraviti s paradoksno izbiro, v kateri je en člen alternative že vnaprej zgubljen in, če ga izberemo, zgubimo tudi njega, ne zgolj alternativni člen. Ta člen je kajpada »bit«, ki nam — kot govorečim — nikoli ni dana zunaj »smisla«; tako je edino, kar nam preostane, »smisel«, ki pa — v tem se mu »maščuje« nemogoča »bit« — nikoli bil »cel«, tj., če izberemo »smisel«, nikoli ne dobimo »celega smisla« in zgubimo »zgolj bit«, marveč je ta »smisel« vselej že okrnjen, vselej ga je že načel moment »ne-smisla«, vselej mu je že notranja neka »slepa pega«, prazno mesto, okoli katerega se organizira, in je zato vselej »pluralen«, »zgodovinski«, nikoli »on/en sam«, »izviren«, vselej zajet v ponavljajoče se poskuse, da bi zapolnil svojo konstitutivno »slepo pego«. To ,pa pomeni, da »izvirni smisel« zgubi prednost pred »kasnejšimi tradiciranimi interpretacijami«, da je sam smisel vselej že naknadna »interpretacija«.

Zdi se, da smo s tem zapadli »hermenevtičnemu idealizmu«, ki je kar le mogoče daleč od historič­nega materializma — pa vendar: tudi dosledni historični materializem oziroma historičnomaterialistična »kritika ideologije« v naznačeni alter­nativi izbere »smisel« in ne — kot bi morda kdo mislil — »bit«. Konkretizirajmo: vzemimo na­tančno naš primer, tj., da imamo opraviti z zgo­dovinsko tradicirano podobo krščanstva, kot se je ustalila s Pavlom, z univerzalno svetovno religijo, osredinjeno na Kristusa kot tistega, ki odreši člo­veštvo s svojim trpljenjem na križu. Odpirata se dve poti iskanja »dejanske podlage« temu krščan­stvu: ena je Lehmannova, v osnovi meščansko-razsvetljenska, nezgodovinsko-evolucionistična — iskanje »izvirnega pomena«, začetne »dejanske« historične podlage, iz katere se je postopoma raz­vila tradiirana podoba krščanstva — druga pa historičnomaterialistična, kjer nas zanima pred­vsem, kakšno vlogo ima sama »razvita« oblika krščanstva v svoji lastni zgodovinski konkreciji, katera družbena razmerja jo »rabijo«, »pred-postavljajo«, kot moment za svojo reprodukcijo. Drugače povedano, Lehmannovo »iskanje izvirne podobe« oziroma »podlage« ostane redukcionistično: sicer išče »izvirno« historično konstelacijo krščanstva (dejanstvo »rabina J.« kot mesije, ki najavlja teološko-politično nacionalno osvoboditev Judov itn.), ne zastavi pa z vso ostrino vprašanja tistih nič manj »dejanskih« historičnih razmer, ki so pogojile samo »filtriranje«, samo »falsifikacijo« domnevnega »izvirnega pomena«; kot da se neka ideologija stika z »dejanskostjo« zgolj na (mitični) točki svojega historičnega »začetka« in se ,pač kas­neje čedalje bolj »odleplja« v meglenico miselnih tvorb, ki »lebdijo v zraku« — grobo povedano: kot da bi ne imela Pavlova »spiritualizacija« in »univerzalizacija« krščanstva prav tako določene­ga družbenega, socialnopolitičnega itn. pomena! Ob neki ideološki tvorbi je torej odločilna sin­hrona artikulacija družbene totalnosti, ki pogo­juje njen sedanji ,pomen’, ne pa geneza njenih elementov. Lehmannovo osnovno vodilo: »Ni od­ločilno tisto, kar sta naredili iz tega dve tisoč­letji, temveč tisto, kar je bilo pravzaprav mišlje­no.« (str. 90), se povsem ujema s Feuerbachovim vodilom, ki ga kritizira že Engels: »Ne to, kar pomeni beseda po zgodovinskem razvoju svoje dejanske rabe, temveč tisto, kar naj bi pomenila po izvoru, tisto naj velja.« (MEID V, str. 456)

Vzemimo spet primer »Glas vpijočega v pušča­vi«: Lahko da gre za preprosto narobe-razumevanje, za napačen prevod oziroma punktuacijo iz­virnika, toda kot da nima pomensko bogastvo, ki smo ga dobili s tem napačnim razumevanjem »izvirnika«, v sebi izredne sile, saj je prešlo kar v vsakdanje reklo, in kot da ni to pomensko boga­stvo eden precej pomembnih momentov krščan­ske ideologije, kakršna je bila — če naj nave­demo Marxove besede — »na določeni razvojni stopnji družbe za uporabo najprimernejša«. Zvedba na »narobe-razumevanje« ne le nič ne pojasni, marveč je samo narobe-razumevanje potrebno po­jasnila, tj., konkretna zgodovinska analiza mora razviti »intenco« takšnega (narobe-)razumevanja. Ali, še lepši primer, znamenite Jezusove besede, s katerimi odgovori na vprašanje učencev, zakaj jim govori v prispodobah: »Zato, ker je vam dano razumeti skrivnost nebeškega kraljestva, njim pa ne. Kdor namreč že ima, bo še dobil, da bo imel na pretek; kdor pa nič nima, mu bo še tisto vzeto, kar ima. Zato jim govorim v prispodobah, da gledajo, pa ne vidijo, in poslušajo, pa ne sli­šijo in ne razumejo …«. Lehmann zvede te besede na preprosto dejstvo, da je pač Kristus go­voril v posebni, šifrirani govorici, razumljivi le posvečenemu notranjemu krogu: »Očitno so pri­spodobe namenoma tako pripravljene, da jih sploh ni mogoče kar tako razumeti. Očitno imajo poleg dobesednega pomena še drug, skrit pomen, ki ga razumejo samo posvečeni.« (str. 15) Kaj vse gre v zgubo s takšno zvedbo na preprosto šif­rirano sporočilo, katerega pravi pomen je razum­ljiv le tistim, ki poznajo drugi »kod«, kaj vse pri­nese »kasnejše narobe-razumevanje«: tja do osnov­ne konstelacije »kroga razumevanja«, kjer »dobi le tisti, ki že ima«, tj. kjer, če naj uporabimo bolj znane besede, »me iščeš, ker si me že našel«! — Te zgodovinske dialektike »narobe-razumevanja« se je Marx povsem zavedal, o čemer priča na primer že tale odlomek iz njegovega pisma Lassallu z dne 22. junija 1861:

»Dokazal si, da temelji uporaba rimskega testa­menta originaliter — in še danes, kolikor gre za znanstveno pojmovanje pravnikov — na zmotnem naziranju. Iz tega pa nikakor ne izhaja, da je te­stament v svoji moderni obliki nerazumljeni rim­ski testament, pa naj so ga sedanji pravniki za­radi napačnega razumevanja rimskega prava kakor že izkonstruirali. Sicer bi mogli reči, da predstav­lja sleherna pridobitev starejšega obdobja, ki si jo je kasnejše obdobje prisvojilo, napak razum­ljeno starino. Gotovo je npr., da se zakon o treh enotnostih, kakor so si ga teoretično izkonstruirali francoski dramatiki za časa Ludvika XIV., opira na napak razumljeno grško dramo (in Aristotela, ki je bil njen glavni razlagalec). Po drugi strani je prav tako gotovo, da so ti dramatiki stare Grke tako razumeli, kot je ustrezalo njihovi lastni umet­nostni potrebi, in so vztrajali pri svoji teoriji o tako imenovani »klasični« drami še dolgo potem, ko so jim bili Dacier in drugi Aristotela pravilno razložili. Ali pa vzemimo dejstvo, da temeljijo sko­raj vse moderne ustanove večidel na napačno ra­zumljeni angleški ustavi in da imajo za bistveno vsebino prav tisto, kar kaže na propad angleške ustavnosti in kar na Angleškem formalno še vedno obstaja zgolj per abusum, na primer tako imeno­vani odgovorni kabinet. Napačno razumljena oblika je ravno splošno veljavna oblika, tista, ki je na do­ločeni razvojni stopnji družbe use (za uporabo) najprimernejša …« (nav. po Marx-Engels, O umet­nosti in književnosti, CZ, Ljubljana 1950, str. 27).

Vendar pa nas doslej povedano nikakor ne sme zapeljati v mnenje, da je izpostavljanje različnih faz »filtriranja« že kot tako evolucionistično-nezgodovinsko početje; prav nasprotno nam lahko odločilno pomaga pri dojetju libidinalne »ekonomije« oziroma preloma v libidinalni »eko­nomiji«, ki je pripeljala do zadnje, razvite, zgodo­vinsko tradiirane faze — če kajpada ob tem ne za­pademo nezgodovinski logiki iskanja »izvirnega pomena« oziroma »izvirne historične podobe«, glede na katero bi bili -kasnejši pomeni zgolj »dru­gotne interpretacije«, tj., če upoštevamo »praktič­ni«, produktivni pomen »naknadnih filtriranj«. Vzemimo primer, ki v sebi morda najlepše zgošča Pavlovo »filtriranje«, tj. radikalno spremembo smisla, ki je doletela krščanstvo s Pavlovo inter­pretacijo: tri različice zadnjih Kristusovih besed. časovno zaporedje evangelijev je, kot je znano, na-slednje: Marko, Matej, Luka, Janez. V prvih dveh so zadnje Kristusove besede na križu: »Moj bog, moj Bog, zakaj si me zapustil?«; pri Luku »Oče, v tvoje roke izročim svojo dušo«; in končno pri Janezu: »Dopolnjeno je.«. Linija je pač dovolj jasna: Pri Marku in Mateju imamo opraviti z brezupnim krikom odrešenika, božjega odposlan­ca, ki naj bi odrešil svoje ljudstvo, ki pa ga je bog zapustil na cedilu, skratka, z obupom nad porazom svojega poslanstva; pri Luku je zadeva že ‘nevtralizirana’ — ob izteku življenja se pač izroča dušo bogu…; pri Janezu pa popoln obrat glede na Marka in Mateja — namesto obupa nad porazom zmagoslavje, da se je zgodilo, kar se je moralo zgoditi, da se je dopolnila usoda, da smo rešeni… (str. 20).

Iz tega pa že lahko zaslutimo temeljni prelom v libidinalni »ekonomiji«, ki ga je izvršil Pavel (in s tem dal krščanstvu podobo, ki je obveljala kot zgodovinsko tradicirana): svojo interpretacijo Kris­tusa je osredinil natančno na tisto, kar se je dotlešnjim Kristusovim učencem zdelo najbolj grozljivo, »nemogoče«, nekaj, česar se ni dalo »simbolizirati« v polju njihovega razumevanja: Kristusov poraz, njegova sramotna smrt na križu med dvema razbojnikoma:

»Privrženci rabina J. so bili čisto na dnu. Upanje, da bo kateri od njih mesija, rešitelj ljudstva in izraelski kralj, se je razpršilo. Smrt njihovega uči­telja jim je ostala uganka … / V tej situaciji razo­čaranega upanja je prišel Pavel in formuliral na­tančno tisto, kar jim je spet dalo upanje. Razložil je natančno tisto, česar si pripadniki ločine niso mogli razložiti: govoril je o učiteljevi smrti. / … odvzem grehov po žrtvi in namestniku prenaša Pavel na rabina J., božje »daritveno jagnje«, ki nosi grehe sveta« (str. 133—134).

Skratka, Pavel je naredil odrešitveno dejanje natančno iz tistega, kar je bilo v »prvotni podobi« točka največjega poraza, točka zloma upanja, da jih bo Jezus odrešil (z osvoboditvijo izpod rim­skega gospostva). Ta gesta »interiorizacije zgu­be«, s katero se sama zguba, poraz odrešitve, sprevrže v zgubo, ki kot taka prinese odrešitev, je temeljna gesta krščanstva, po kateri se le-to v osnovi razlikuje od »poganskih« oblik žrtvovanja: grobo povedano, v »poganskih« religijah imamo pri žrtvovanju še vedno opraviti z videzom »ekvi­valentne menjave« z božanstvom, bogovom pač nekaj žrtvujemo ter za to dobimo oziroma priča­kujemo nekaj drugega (dobro letino ali ulov, vojno srečo itn.), krščanska žrtev pa je »čista« žrtev in je že kot taka, sama v sebi, odrešitev. (Zato, prav zaradi tega neposrednega ujemanja žrtvovanja in odrešitve, v krščanstvu ne gre več zgolj za »dvogovor« med človekom in bogom, mar­več se žrtvuje sam božji sin.) Tolmačenje Kristu­sove žrtve kot nekakšne imaginarne »menjave z bogom« (v zameno za njegovo žrtev bo bog odrešil človeštvo) popolnoma zgreši njeno libidinalno ekonomijo in jo zvede na okvire »poganstva«.

Takšna krščanska žrtev seveda predpostavlja radikalen razcep med »tostranostjo« in »onstranostjo«, ki ga ni najti v poganstvu; le tako lahko tostrani neuspeh, skrajna zguba, kot tak, sam v sebi, deluje kot odrešitev: to, kar izpade v registru »tostranosti« kot brezsmiselna zguba, trav­ma končnega poraza, je—uzrto iz perspektive registra »onstranosti«—triumf odrešitve. Najjas­neje lahko uzremo specifičnost te krščanske žrtve, če jo soočimo z na prvi pogled sorodno žrtvijo, ki je velika tema priljubljenih desnih zgodovin­skih mitov od Alama do Stalingrada (v Goebbelsovi inačici): »žrtvovali so se za nas, njihova žrtev je garant naše končne zmage« itn. Vzemimo Sta­lingrad: Znan je šok, ki ga je povzročila predaja obkoljene nemške armade, saj je vsa nacistična propaganda do zadnjega trenutka prepričevala ljudstvo, da je poraz »nemogoč«. Ob predaji je v nacističnem vodstvu prišlo do dveh nasprotu­jočih si mnenj glede tega, kako jo obravnavati v javnih medijih: večina je bila pač za to, da bi zadevo čimbolj zamolčali, naredili iz nje nepo­membno epizodo ipd.; zmagala pa je nasprotna, Goebbelsova linija: razglasiti poraz z v,so silo, narediti iz njega veliko, posvečeno žrtev ipd. Pokazalo se je, da je imel — s stališča učinkov — Goebbels seveda povsem prav: po porazu pri Stalingradu se je morala nemške vojske in pre­bivalstva precej dvignila itn. Goebbelsu je uspelo, da je s tem, ko je poraz predstavil kot posvečeno žrtev, na simbolni ravni »zadolžil« tiste, za katere naj bi se opravila žrtev, tako kot Kristusova žr­tev simbolno »zadolži« vernike — pa vendar je med njima ključna razlika: stalingrajska »žrtev«, kot jo je sfabriciral Goebbels, se v osnovi še ved­no giblje na ravni »tostranosti«, gre za žrtev, ki garantira prihodnjo »tostrano« zmago, in je po tem še vedno »poganska«.

Prav ob skustvu radikalne zgube pa se zadeve pri Slovencih nekoliko zapletejo. Vzemimo Pre­šernov Krst pri Savici, ki je osredinjen natančno na problem krščanske odpovedi: Črtomir zgubi vse »tostrano«, nacionalno svobodo, možnost oseb­ne sreče, in ob koncu pristane — na željo Bogo­mile — na krst ter postane celo oznanjevalec krščanstva; vendar pa lahko le najbolj bebava krščanska apologetika vidi v tem nekak »srečen konec«, saj je že slehernemu pozornemu bralcu jasno, da je črtomirov pristanek na krst dejanje čiste, popolne resignacije, ne pa znamenje nekak­šne »notranje sprevrnitve«—nekak »naj bo, če že hočeš, saj je itak vse zgubljeno …«. Skratka, ob koncu Krsta spodleti prav »pavlovska« kretnja sprevrnitve največjega poraza v triumf odrešitve, travma poraza ne zgubi svoje brezsmiselnosti, marveč se zgolj izteče v totalno resignacijo.—Od tod pa bi veljalo na novo postaviti vprašanje razmerja Prešeren–Cankar:

Prvo, kar nam pade v oči ob primerjavi med Prešernovim Krstom in—denimo—Cankarje­vimi Hlapci, je, da imamo opraviti z iste vrste dvoznačnostjo: z neko konstelacijo »zlomljene sub­jektivnosti«, ob kateri je možna »leva« interpre­tacija (pri Prešernu: težišče na Uvodu v Krst, na črtomiru kot nosilcu osvobodilnega boja zoper tuje zavojevalce ipd.; pri Cankarju: težišče na Jermanovi politični akciji in na Kalandru kot »roki, ki bo kovala svet«, ki bo prevzela in nada­ljevala revolucionarno, uporniško poslanstvo), a hkrati tudi — resda manj prepričljiva — »desna« (pri Prešernu: zlom Črtomira, ki sprejme krščan­stvo in se »spravi s svetom«; pri Cankarju: zlom Jermana, ki začuti svojo akcijo kot greh nad materjo). Vzporednic je kajpada še več: v obeh primerih je tista zunanja sila, ki jo skuša prema­gati subjekt s svojo akcijo, spoj krščanske religije s posvetno oblastjo, utelešen enkrat v Valjhunu kot nasilnem pokrščevalcu, drugič v župniku kot zastopniku družbene moči; v obeh primerih je ženska tista, ki—četudi subjektu neposredno ne prinese poraza, saj pride do poraza na bojnem polju oziroma na političnem zborovanju—ga prisili, da »zunanji« poraz naknadno še »ponotranji«. Še več: Črtomirovo pokristjanjenje ob kon­cu Krsta ni akt resnične notranje spreobrnitve, marveč zgolj akt skrajne resignacije, s katerim skuša—potem ko je vse zgubil—ustreči ljub­ljeni Bogomili; in mar se ne da prav na to na­vezati znamenite župnikove besede v Hlapcih, kako mu nikakor ne gre za »notranje« prepri­čanje ipd., marveč zgolj za »zunanjo« pokornost?

Vse to kajpada drži, Cankarjevi Hlapci so res nekakšna »ponovitev« Prešernovega Krsta, nje­gove osnovne konstelacije, vendar pa nas mora zato toliko bolj zanimati tisti razmik, ki to pono­vitev šele omogoči, tj., tisto »ozadje«, ki ni isto, kjer so pri Cankarju zadeve že premaknjene. Ključen je tu kajpada prav prosluli lik matere: medtem ko je Črtomir v Uvodu bojevit subjekt, medtem ko je v celotnem Krstu zmožen »normal­nega« spolnega razmerja, pa Jerman že na samem začetku Hlapcev nastopi kot »nezrel« sanjač, ne­zmožen »normalnega« spolnega razmerja—kaj­pada prav zato, ker stoji pod znamenjem matere. Za to Jerman nikakor ni enostavno »Črtomir v novih okoliščinah«: če si že hočemo privoščiti ne­koliko prisiljeno povezavo, potem je Črtomir, ki se je vrnil iz Akvileje, sam župnik.

Prešernova »resnica« (totalna resignacija, ne­uspeh sprevrnitve poraza v odrešitev) je pri Can­karju sicer predpostavljena, vendar že »potlače­na«, in prav kot njen »simptom« nastopi cankar­janska spaka »lika matere«. Pri Prešernu spopad »domačije«, poganske družbe, z univerzalnim »tu­jim« krščanstvom pripelje do poraza »domačije«, pri čemer je krščanstvo sprejeto zgolj zunanje, skoz totalno resignacijo; Cankar pa se skuša tej grozljivi »resnici« izogniti, in -sicer ne tako, da bi končno »ponotranjil« krščanstvo, se dokončno odpovedal poganski »domačiji«, še manj pa kaj­pada tako, da bi se v imenu »domačije« uprl krščanstvu, marveč s tipično simptomsko tvorbo, ki jo ponazarja sintagma »Mati–Domovina–Bog«: sama mati—utelešenje domačije—nastopi kot nosilka Božjega Imena. V analitičnih terminih bi lahko zadevo formulirali takole: kolikor Božje Ime deluje kot instanca univerzalnosti Zakona, ki nas iztrga zaprtosti incestuoznega razmerja z Materjo–Domovino, tj., kot instanca »simbolne kastracije«, tistega Tretjega, ki blokira skladnost dualnega razmerja mati–sin, grobo povedano: kot nadjaz, potem Cankar razreši zagato neponotranjenega nadjaza (klinično rečeno: »nerazrešenega Ojdipa«) tako, da mu kot nosilec Nadjaza nastopi sama Mati. Tako smo se kajpada izognili prešernovski resignaciji, a za ceno, da nam sam Zakon deluje kot varuh incestuozne zatohlosti »doma­čije«, namesto da bi nas nji iztrgal, in da nam »tuje« ni več glasnik novih horizontov univerzal­nosti, marveč nekaj grozljivega—nemogočega, ki nas hkrati vabi in odbija, in predaja kateremu pomeni dejanje nepojmljive »izdaje« Zakona-Matere-Domovine. In v senci tega sranja živimo še danes.

Slavoj Žižek: Zadnja postaja za Komunizem

Besedilo kot objavljeno v časniku Mladina, Zadnji odcep za komunizem, 30. Julij 2021. Foto Uroš Abram.


Z ekološkimi krizami se človeštvu obeta precej otipljiva možnost, da ga čaka zadnji odcep – kolektivni samomor. Ali vseeno obstaja odcep s ceste, ki vodi v pogubo? Ali pa je že prepozno?

Najnovejši podatki nedvoumno kažejo, da si celo po (sicer neenakomerni) distribuciji cepiva ne moremo privoščiti sprostitve in vrnitve v prejšnjo normalnost. Ne le da pandemije še ni konec (število okuženih se spet povečuje in čakajo nas vnovične omejitve javnega življenja), temveč na obzorju prežijo še druge katastrofe. Konec junija 2021 je vročinska kupola (vremenski pojav, pri katerem greben visokega zračnega tlaka ujame in stisne topel zrak, da se temperatura zviša in vročina cvre predel pod kupolo), ki je nastala nad severozahodnim delom Združenih držav Amerike in jugozahodnim delom Kanade, povzročila zvišanje temperature na skoraj 50 stopinj Celzija, tako da je bilo v Vancouvru bolj vroče kot na Bližnjem vzhodu. Ta vremenska patologija je le vrhunec veliko obsežnejšega procesa: v zadnjih letih v severni Skandinaviji in Sibiriji pogosto izmerijo temperaturo več kot 30 stopinj Celzija. Svetovna meteorološka organizacija skuša preveriti najvišjo temperaturo severno od severnega povratnika, odkar so tam uradno začeli meriti temperaturo, potem ko so na vremenski postaji v sibirskem Verhojansku 20. junija letos namerili kar 38 stopinj. V mestu Ojmjakon v Rusiji, ki naj bi bilo najhladnejši naseljeni kraj na svetu, je bil letošnji junij bolj vroč (31,6 stopinje) kot katerikoli doslej. Skratka, severna polobla se bo scvrla zaradi podnebnih sprememb. [1]

Drži, da je vročinska kupola lokalni pojav, vendar je učinek globalne motnje v vzorcih, ki so očitno posledica človekovega vmešavanja v naravne cikle. Katastrofalni vplivi tega vročinskega vala na življenje v oceanih so že opazni: zaradi vročinske kupole je na kanadski obali verjetno poginila milijarda morskih živali, ocenjujejo strokovnjaki. Znanstveniki v Britanski Kolumbiji pravijo, da so se školjke zaradi vročine tako rekoč skuhale: »Obala navadno ne škrta, ko hodiš po njej.« [2] Vreme je na splošno vse toplejše, vendar te spremembe dosegajo vrhunec v lokalnih skrajnostih, in te se bodo prej ali slej zlile v vrsto globalnih točk preloma. Katastrofalne poplave v Nemčiji in Belgiji ta mesec so ena od teh točk in kdo ve, kaj bo sledilo. Katastrofa se ne bo začela v bližnji prihodnosti, temveč jo že imamo, in ne dogaja se nekje v odmaknjeni afriški ali azijski državi, ampak tukaj, v osrčju »razvitega Zahoda«. Povedano preprosteje, navaditi se bomo morali živeti z več hkratnimi krizami.

Vročinski val ni le posledica nebrzdanega industrijskega izkoriščanja narave, temveč na njegove učinke vpliva tudi organiziranost družbe. Na začetku letošnjega julija se je na jugu Iraka temperatura povzpela nad 50 stopinj Celzija, hkrati pa se je povsem sesula preskrba z električno energijo (klimatske naprave, hladilniki, žarnice niso delovali), zato so tam živeli dobesedno v peklu. Takšne katastrofalne posledice je nedvomno povzročila korupcija, razbohotena v državi, zaradi katere v zasebne žepe poniknejo milijarde, zaslužene z nafto.

Katastrofa se ne bo začela v bližnji prihodnosti, temveč jo že imamo, in ne dogaja se nekje v odmaknjeni afriški ali azijski državi, ampak tukaj, v osrčju »razvitega Zahoda«. Če stvarno pogledamo na te (in številne druge) podatke, pridemo do preprostega sklepa. Za vsako živo entiteto, skupinsko ali posamično, je zadnji odcep smrt (zato je Derek Humphry svoj priročnik za samopomoč pri samomoru iz leta 1992 naslovil Final Exit, Zadnji izhod oziroma odcep). Z ekološkimi krizami, ki so eksplodirale v zadnjem času, se človeštvu kaže precej otipljiva možnost, da ga čaka zadnji odcep (kolektivni samomor). Ali obstaja odcep s ceste, ki vodi v pogubo, ali je že prepozno in nam preostane le še iskanje metode za neboleč samomor?

Kaj naj torej storimo v tej zagati? Predvsem bi morali pozabiti na razširjeno modrost, da ekološke krize dokazujejo, da smo del narave, ne njeno središče, zato moramo spremeniti življenjski slog – omejiti individualizem, postati zmernejši in se sprijazniti s svojim skromnim mestom v življenju planeta. Oziroma kot se je izrazila Judith Butler, »gostoljubnost sveta do ljudi je odvisna od brstenja planeta, katerega središče niso ljudje. Okoljskim strupom ne nasprotujemo samo zato, da bi mi ljudje lahko živeli in dihali brez strahu pred zastrupitvijo, temveč predvsem zato, ker morata tudi voda in zrak imeti življenje, katerega osrednji namen ni življenje ljudi.« Mar zaradi globalnega segrevanja in drugih ekoloških groženj ni potrebno skupno posredovanje v okolju, in to neverjetno korenito posredovanje, neposredno posredovanje v krhko ravnovesje različnih oblik življenja? Ko pravimo, da je treba zvišanje povprečne temperature omejiti tako, da bo manjše od dveh stopinj Celzija, govorimo (in skušamo ravnati) kot upravljavci življenja na Zemlji, ne pa kot skromna živa vrsta. Regeneracija planeta seveda ni odvisna od naše »skromnejše in zavestnejše vloge« – temveč je odvisna od naše zelo pomembne vloge. To je resnica za vsemi besedami o naši dokončnosti in umrljivosti. Če moramo misliti tudi na življenje vode in zraka, to pomeni točno to, da smo »univerzalna bitja«, kot nas je poimenoval Marx, da smo zmožni preseči ozkogledost, nadgraditi spoznanja predhodnikov in se občutiti kot manj pomemben del naravne celote.

Pobeg v udobno skromnost naše dokončnosti in umrljivosti ni ena od možnosti, to je napačen odcep, ki vodi v katastrofo. Kot univerzalna bitja bi se morali naučiti sprejeti svoje okolje v vsej njegovi kompleksni mešanici, ki vključuje to, kar dojemamo kot smeti in onesnaževanje, enako kot tisto, česar ne moremo neposredno dojemati, ker je ali preveliko ali premajhno (hiperobjekti Timothyja Mortona). Za Mortona ekološkost ni zahajanje v pristno naravo, temveč to, da opazimo, kako se plevelu uspe prebiti skozi razpoko v betonu, in nato občudujemo beton. Tudi to je del sveta in del nas. Resničnost je polna »tujih tujcev«, stvari, ki jih je mogoče spoznati, vendar so skrivnostne. Ta tuja tujost, je pisal Morton, je nepomanjšljiv del vsake skale, drevesa, terarija, plastičnega Kipa svobode, kvazarja, črne luknje in marmozetke, na katere lahko naletimo; ko jih priznamo, se nehamo truditi, da bi predmete obvladovali, in jih začnemo spoštovati v njihovi izmuzljivosti. Romantični pesniki so pisali rapsodije o lepoti in sublimaciji narave, Morton pa se odziva na njihovo vseprevevajoče čudaštvo; sodijo v kategorijo vsega naravnega, ki je strašljivo, grdo, umetno, škodljivo in moteče. [3]

Ni usoda, ki je med pandemijo doletela podgane na Manhattnu, popoln primer takšne mešanice? Manhattan je živ sistem ljudi, ščurkov … in milijonov podgan. Ustavitev javnega življenja na vrhuncu pandemije, ko so med drugim zaprli tudi vse restavracije, je povzročila, da so podgane, ki so se dotlej hranile s pomijami iz restavracij, ostale brez vira hrane in so množično stradale. Našli so veliko živali, ki so pojedle svoj zarod … Zaprtje restavracij, ki je vplivalo na prehranjevalne navade ljudi, ne da bi jih to življenjsko ogrozilo, je pomenilo katastrofo za podgane, podgane kot tovarišice. Drugo podobno nesrečo v nedavni zgodovini bi lahko poimenovali vrabec kot tovariš. Leta 1958, na začetku velikega skoka naprej, je kitajska vlada oznanila, da so ptice javne živali kapitalizma, in sprožila obsežno kampanjo za iztrebljenje vrabcev, za katere so domnevali, da pozobajo slaba dva kilograma zrnja na leto. Uničevali so njihova gnezda, razbijali jajca in pobijali mladiče. Milijoni ljudi so se organizirali v skupine in zganjali hrup, da vrabci ne bi mogli počivati v gnezdih in bi poginili od izčrpanosti. Ti množični napadi so res pripomogli k zdesetkanju vrabčje populacije, da je vrsti že grozilo izumrtje. A aprila 1960 so kitajski voditelji morali sprevideti, da vrabci pojedo tudi veliko žuželk na poljih, in tako se je donos riža po izginotju vrabcev občutno zmanjšal, namesto da bi se povečal: iztrebljenje vrabcev je uničilo ekološko ravnovesje in žuželke so, ko ni bilo več naravnih plenilcev, opustošile pridelek. A bilo je prepozno; brez vrabcev, ki bi jedli na primer kobilice, se je populacija teh močno razmnožila, prekrila državo in še povečala ekološke težave, ki so se nakopičile zaradi velikega skoka naprej, skupaj z neusmiljenim krčenjem gozdov ter zlorabo strupov in pesticidov. Zaradi ekološkega neravnovesja naj bi bila izbruhnila velika kitajska lakota, med katero je od sestradanosti umrlo od 15 do 45 milijonov ljudi. Kitajska vlada se je nazadnje odločila za uvoz četrt milijona vrabcev iz Sovjetske zveze, da bi obnovila populacijo. [4]

Kaj bi torej lahko storili in kaj bi morali storiti v teh neznosnih razmerah – neznosnih, ker se moramo sprijazniti, da smo ena od vrst na Zemlji in hkrati obremenjeni s prezahtevno nalogo, da bi ukrepali kot univerzalni upravitelji življenja na njej? Ker nam ni uspelo zapeljati na drug, morda lažji odcep (temperatura po svetu se zvišuje in oceani so vedno bolj umazani), se zdi vse verjetneje, da je predzadnji odcep (zadnji je množični samomor človeštva) nekakšna različica tega, kar so nekoč imenovali vojni komunizem. Pod tem izrazom si ne predstavljam nekakšne rehabilitacije ali nadaljevanja dejansko obstoječega socializma v 20. stoletju, še manj pa globalne razširitve kitajskega modela, temveč vrsto ukrepov, nujnih zaradi razmer samih. Če smo se vsi (ne le ena država) znašli pred življenjsko ogroženostjo, smo v vojni podobnem izrednem stanju, ki bo trajalo najmanj desetletje. Že za samo zagotavljanje osnovnih možnosti preživetja bo treba nujno mobilizirati vse naše vire in se spoprijeti z nezaslišanimi izzivi, med njimi s selitvijo na desetine, morda stotine milijonov ljudi. Odgovor na vročinsko kupolo v ZDA in Kanadi ne bi smel biti omejen na pomoč prizadetim območjem, temveč bi se morali ukvarjati z globalnimi razlogi zanjo. In kot je jasno zaradi katastrofe na jugu Iraka, bomo potrebovali državni aparat, zmožen ohranjanja minimalne blaginje ljudi v katastrofalnih razmerah, da bi preprečili socialne eksplozije.

Vse to bi lahko – upajmo – dosegli le s trdnim in obveznim mednarodnim sodelovanjem, družbenim nadzorom in regulacijo kmetijstva in industrije, spremembami prehranjevalnih navad – z manj govedine –, globalnim zdravstvom in tako dalje. Ob podrobnejšem pregledu postane jasno, da reprezentativna politična demokracija ne bo kos takšni nalogi. Veliko močnejšo izvršno moč, ki bo lahko uveljavila dolgoročne zaveze, bo treba nadgraditi z lokalno samoorganizacijo ljudi ter z močno mednarodno agencijo, ki bo sposobna prevladati nad odločitvami nacionalnih držav, v katerih bodo drugačnega mnenja.

Ne govorim o novi svetovni vladi – takšna entiteta bi omogočila surovo korupcijo. Ne govorim niti o komunizmu v smislu odprave trga – tržna konkurenca naj igra vlogo, vendar takšno, ki bi jo urejali in nadzorovali država ter družba. Zakaj potem uporabljam izraz komunizem? Ker to, kar bomo morali storiti, vključuje štiri vidike vsakega dejansko radikalnega režima. Prvi je prostovoljstvo: potrebne spremembe ne temeljijo na zgodovinski nujnosti in sprejete bodo v nasprotju s spontano težnjo zgodovine – kot pravi Walter Benjamin, moramo na vlaku zgodovine potegniti zasilno zavoro. Nato pride egalitarizem: globalna solidarnost, zdravstvo in zagotovljene minimalne možnosti za dostojno življenje vseh ljudi. Sledijo elementi, ki se trdovratnim liberalcem ne zdijo nič drugega kot teror, tega pa smo okusili z ukrepi za spoprijemanje s pandemijo: omejitev številnih osebnih svoboščin, nove metode nadzora in regulacije. In četrtič, zaupanje v ljudi: vse bo izgubljeno brez dejavnega sodelovanja navadnih ljudi.

Ne gre za morbidno distopično videnje, temveč za seštevek preproste realistične presoje zagate, v kateri smo. Če ne bomo šli po tej poti, si bomo nakopali popolnoma noro situacijo, kakršna se že izrisuje v ZDA in Rusiji: vplivna elita se pripravlja na preživetje v ogromnih podzemnih bunkerjih, v katerih bi tisoči lahko preživeli mesece, in sicer z izgovorom, da bi vlada morala delovati celo v takšnih razmerah … Skratka, vlada bi morala nadaljevati delo, četudi na Zemlji ne bi bilo več živih ljudi, nad katerimi bi izvajala oblast. Naša vlada in poslovne elite se že pripravljajo na takšen razplet, to pomeni, da vedo, da se je oglasil alarm. Čeprav obet, da bi megabogati živeli nekje v vesolju zunaj našega planeta, ni realističen, se ne moremo izogniti sklepu, da načrti nekaterih megabogatih posameznikov (Musk, Bezos, Branson) za zasebne polete v vesolje utelešajo tudi fantazijo o pobegu pred katastrofo, ki ogroža naše preživetje na Zemlji. Kaj torej čaka nas, ki ne moremo nikamor pobegniti?


Opombe

[1] Glej Climate change is frying the Northern Hemisphere with unprecedented heat, hundreds dead and a town destroyed. | CNN.

[2] ‘Heat dome’ probably killed 1bn marine animals on Canada coast, experts say | Canada | The Guardian.

[3] Citati iz Timothy Morton’s Hyper-Pandemic | The New Yorker.

[4] Glej https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Pests_campaign.

‘Balkan Spirit’ by Hermann Vaske

Published in 2012 and nominated for the Prix Europa award.

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German filmmaker Hermann Vaske explores the Balkan world in the hopes of understanding the meaning of “Balkan spirit”, by interviewing philosopher Slavoj Žižek and artists, such as Marina Abramović, Emir Kusturica and Angelina Jolie. However, the term’s complexity very quickly becomes apparent and it seems increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to define the Balkans’ geographical location, its people and its culture.


Hermann Vaske is director, author, and producer. As director he worked with actors such as Dennis Hopper, Harvey Keitel, Sir Peter Ustinov and John Cleese. As author he wrote Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants: Hermann Vaske’s Gespräche Mit Den Besten Der Werbung (Die Gestalten Verlag, 2001) and Why Are You Creative? (Harper Design, 2002). As producer, he worked with Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, and Marina Abramović. He is winner of the Grimme Award (Germany’s TV Oscar) and more than 100 creative awards including Cannes Lions and Clios. Vaske studied at the University of the Arts in Berlin and at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles and worked for some of the world’s best advertising agencies like Saatchi&Saatchi in London, GREY New York, and FCB.

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 Balkans in Flames’ by Klaus Kastenholz in Veronika Mendler

Produced in Germany for ZDF in 2019. Video download from the American PBS television variation.

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The collapse of Yugoslavia in the 20th century was the result of a multitude of wars and conflicts that plagued Southeast Europe for over a hundred years. The appalling cruelties of the past still linger in many hearts and minds in large parts of the region, resulting in ongoing violent confrontation, one of the reasons for the continued deployment of the UN blue helmet soldiers. For some people, it is impossible to forget the bloody past.

This documentary series gets to the bottom of the causes of the conflicts and wars. The statements of contemporary witnesses and international experts assist the investigation of the south eastern crisis. It is an examination of the genesis of the state, the era of dictator Tito, the Jugoslav wars of the 1990s, as well as the influence of the past on the present.


Table of Contents

  • Episode 1: Tinderbox Yugoslavia
  • Episode 2: A State Falls Apart
  • Episode 3: Yugoslavia in Ruins

See also: ‘Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation’ by Laura Silber and Allan Little

‘Intellectual Vocation and Political Struggle in the Trump Moment’ by Cornel West

Video recording of a paper delivered by Cornel West at at Dartmouth College, Filene Auditorium at Moore Hall, Hanover, New Hampshire, United States as part of Why the Humanities Matter in the 21st Century series on 27th April, 2017 sponsored by the Office of the President and the Office of the Associate Dean of the Faculty for the Arts and Humanities.


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.

‘Ku Klux Klan, an American Story’ by David Korn-Brzoza

Produced in France for Arte in 2020.

The Ku Klux Klan is the oldest terrorist group in the United States. This secret society, created in 1865, has survived throughout decades and has always managed to rise from its ashes. It has been in the news for over 150 years. 150 years of hatred, racism and horror. 150 years of exclusion, violence and fury. A cruel history whose demons still haunt America.

‘Sigmund Freud—Gruß an Ruhs—After you get what you want, you don’t want it—Wunscherfüllung, Begehren und Genießen’ Herausgegeben von Robert Pfaller & Beate Hofstadler

S. Fischer Verlage, 2016.

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Robert Pfaller, Autor des Bestsellers ›Wofür es sich zu leben lohnt‹, hat mit Beate Hofstadler einen Band zur Ehrung des bekannten Wiener Psychoanalytikers August Ruhs herausgegeben.

Das Werk Sigmund Freuds wird zu Unrecht für abgeschlossen gehalten. In Wahrheit entstehen immer noch neue Erkenntnisschübe, Fragmente, Korrespondenzen und Paralipomena – von prominenten Helfern und Helferinnen aus den Gebieten: Action Painting, Verkehrswesen, Heilkunde, Metzgerei, Dämonologie, konzeptuelle Photographie, Tauschhandel, Hospitalität, Prosopopoia, Wunschmaschinenbau, Ekklesiastik, Maskerade, Montage, Anmaßung, Phrenologie, Geheimniskrämerei, Graphomanie, Genealogie, Fabulatorik, Blendwerkkonstruktion, Hamsterkunde und Zauberei.

Mit Beiträgen von Robert Pfaller, Beate Hofstadler, Schorsch Affenzeller, Jean-Paul Avenue, Ecke Bonk, Raymond Borens, Dietmar Brehm, Isolde Charim, Valie Export, Gerhard Gutenberger, Georg Gröller, Conny Habbel, Sebastian Hackenschmidt, Robert F. Hammerstiel, Rudolf Heinz, Gabriele Jutz, Ulrike Kadi, Peter Kogler, Zenita Komad, Hans Kupelwieser, Sibylle Lewitscharoff, Li Libertas, Luisa Franz Kleopatra, Ulrike Lienbacher, André Michels, Peter Moeschl, Juan-David Nasio, Neffenkunst, Karl-Josef Pazzini, Lisl Ponger, Christoph Ransmayr, Bernhard Riff, Claudia Riff, Élisabeth Roudinesco, August Ruhs, Elisabeth von Samsonow, Hans Schabus, Romana Scheffknecht, Elisabeth Schlebrügge, Eva Schlegel, Michael Schmid, Edith Seifert, Walter Seitter, Karl Stockreiter, Ernst Strouhal, Paul Verhaeghe, Manfred Wakolbinger, Dietmar Werner, Slavoj Žižek & Heimo Zobernig.

‘Žižek and Law’ by Laurent de Sutter

Published by Routledge in 2015. Download link updated on 3rd October 2021.

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The very first book dedicated to Slavoj Žižek’s theoretical treatment of law, this book gathers widely recognized Žižek scholars as well as legal theorists to offer a sustained analysis of the place of law in Žižek’s work. Whether it is with reference to symbolic law, psychoanalytical law, religious law, positive law, human rights, to Lacan’s, Hegel’s, or Kant’s philosophies of law, or even to Jewish or Buddhist law, Žižek returns again and again to law.

And what his work offers, this volume demonstrates, is a radically new approach to law, and a rethinking of its role within the framework of radical politics. With the help of Žižek himself – who here, and for the first time, directly engages with the topic of law – this collection provides an authoritative account of ‘Žižek and law’. It will be invaluable resource for researchers and students in the fields of law, legal theory, legal philosophy, political theory, psychoanalysis, theology, and cultural studies.


Laurent de Sutter (born December 24, 1977 in Brussels), is a French-speaking Belgian philosopher. He is a professor of law theory at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). He also directs the Perspectives critiques collection at the Presses Universitaires de France (PUF) and the Theory Redux collection at Polity Press in London. He is also a member of the Scientific Council of the International College of Philosophy.

‘Après la tragédie, la farce ! : Comment l’histoire se répète’ par Slavoj Žižek

Editions Flammarion, 2011.

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Des milliards de dollars ont été déversés au coeur du système bancaire mondial, mais pourquoi n’avoir pas employé ces mêmes forces pour éradiquer la misère du monde et conjurer la crise environnementale ? “Nous faut-il une autre preuve, demande Žižek, que le Capital est devenu le Réel de nos vies, un Réel dont les impératifs l’emportent en despotisme sur les plus pressantes exigences de notre réalité ?”

Analysant l’implosion soudaine de la sphère financière, Žižek souligne, à la suite de Hegel, Marx et Marcuse, que la répétition de la tragédie sous forme de farce est parfois plus terrifiante que la tragédie initiale. “Le philosophe le plus dangereux d’Occident” passe au crible l’envahissante vision libérale du monde, cette idéologie qui nous fait croire en un lien naturel entre capitalisme et démocratie, se déguise sous les oripeaux libertaires du pseudo-esprit de 68 qu’elle a parfaitement intégré, et nous raconte des histoires semblables à la saga populiste, “humaine, trop humaine”, d’un Berlusconi.

A ceux qui se résignent à l’alternative entre un capitalisme “socialiste” à l’occidentale et un capitalisme “autoritaire” à l’asiatique, Žižek rappelle qu’il existe une autre voie : il évoque la leçon de Lénine “commencer à partir du commencement, encore et encore”, questionne les thèses de Négri sur les multitudes agissantes au sein de la sphère sociale globalisée et considère la position de Badiou pour qui le communisme reste un ultime, et peut-être indépassable, horizon. Après la tragédie, la farce ! est un appel tonique aux forces de gauche pour qu’elles se réinventent.


Slavoj Žižek est philosophe et docteur en psychanalyse. Parmi ses ouvrages aux éditions Flammarion : Le Sujet qui fâche. Le centre absent de l’ontologie politique (2007), Fragile Absolu. Pourquoi l’héritage chrétien vaut-il d’être défendu ? (2008) et Vivre la fin des temps (2011).

‘¡Goza tu síntoma!: Jacques Lacan dentro y fuera de Hollywood’ de Slavoj Žižek

Buenos AiresNueva Visión, 1994.

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Publicado por primera vez en 1992, ¡Goza tu síntoma! analiza conceptos del psicoanálisis a través de ejemplos del cine, desde Chaplin hasta Matrix, a través de figuras muy diversas: Lenin, Hegel, Foucault y Jesucristo. Es el primer mojón en la obra de Žižek donde se puede observar el interés por vincular ejemplos de la cultura popular con nociones más complejas de filosofía o psicoanálisis.


Slavoj Žižek: ‘Paralaksa’

Izdanja Antibarbarus, 2009

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“Paralaksa” iz naslova odnosi se na nepremostivi paralaktički jaz, sučeljavanje dviju blisko povezanih perspektiva među kojima nije moguće neutralno zajedničko tlo. No glavni ulog ove knjige je teza da to nije neotklonjiva prepreka za dijalektiku nego da nam upravo ona nudi ključ za pronicanje u subverzivnu jezgru dijalektike. Teza se pak varira na mnoštvu tema, od filozofije Kanta i Hegela, preko znanosti svijesti Damasia i Dennetta, do biopolitike, ljudskih prava i “staljinističkog mjuzikla”.

‘Absoluter Gegenstoß. Versuch einer Neubegründung des dialektischen Materialismus’ von Slavoj Žižek

S. Fischer Verlage, 2016.

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Der bekannte Philosoph und Kulturkritiker Slavoj Žižek schließt mit seinem neuen Buch ›Absoluter Gegenstoß. Versuch einer Neubegründung des dialektischen Materialismus‹ an seine umfangreiche Hegel-Neudeutung ›Weniger als Nichts‹ aus dem Jahr 2014 an. Ausgehend von Hegel unternimmt er nichts weniger als eine Neubestimmung des philosophischen Materialismus: In drei Teilen entfaltet er sein Vorhaben, Hegels Begriff des absoluten Gegenstoßes zu einem allgemeinen ontologischen Prinzip zu erheben. Ausgehend von einer kritischen Lektüre Badious und Althussers über eine Auseinandersetzung mit dem Hegel’schen Absoluten skizziert Žižek die Grundzüge einer Ontologie des »den«, des »Weniger-als-nichts«, um eine neue Grundlegung des dialektischen Materialismus zu formulieren. Ein so aufregender wie zentraler Beitrag zur zeitgenössischen Philosophie, mit Witz und Verve vorgetragen.


Slavoj Žižek, geboren 1949, ist Philosoph, Psychoanalytiker und Kulturkritiker. Er lehrt Philosophie an der Universität von Ljubljana in Slowenien und an der European Graduate School in Saas-Fee und ist derzeit International Director am Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities in London. Seine zahlreichen Bücher sind in über 20 Sprachen übersetzt. Im S. Fischer Verlag sind zuletzt erschienen »Wie ein Dieb im Tageslicht. Macht im Zeitalter des posthumanen Kapitalismus« (2019), »Mut zur Hoffnungslosigkeit« (2018), »Absoluter Gegenstoß. Versuch einer Neubegründung des dialektischen Materialismus« (2016), »Ärger im Paradies. Vom Ende der Geschichte zum Ende des Kapitalismus« (2015), »Was ist ein Ereignis?« (2014) und »Das Jahr der gefährlichen Träume« (2013).

‘A Vision for Europe’ by Yanis Varoufakis, David Adler & Rosemary Bechler

Published by Eris in 2019.

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The European Union was an exceptional achievement. It brought together and in peace peoples speaking different languages and submersed in different cultures, proving that it was possible to create a shared framework of human rights across a continent that was not long ago tormented by murderous chauvinism, racism, and barbarity. It could have been the proverbial Beacon on the Hill, showing the world how peace and solidarity may be snatched from the jaws of age-old conflict and bigotry. But things turned out differently.

Today, a common bureaucracy and a common currency divide Europeans who were beginning to unite despite their different languages and cultures. A confederacy of myopic politicians, economically naïve officials, and financially incompetent experts submit slavishly to the edicts of financial and industrial conglomerates, alienating people and stirring up a dangerous anti-European backlash. Proud peoples are being turned against each other. Nationalism, extremism and racism are being re-awakened.

With contributions from some of the world s foremost thinkers, artists and politicians covering the full spectrum of concerns for the future of the Union, this volume presents realistic and viable alternatives to the mainstream barrage of dreadful prospects – a true vision for Europe.


Contributors: David Adler (editor), Rosemary Bechler (editor), Marko Anđelić, Pamela Anderson, Renata Avila, Anthony Barnett, Franco Berardi, Noam Chomsky, John Christensen, Fabio de Masi, Brian Eno, Daniel Erlacher, James Galbraith, Ksenia Gerasimova, Bobby Gillespie, Alice-Mary Higgins, Olivier Hoedeman, Srećko Horvat, Sam Hufton, Tim Jackson, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Leila Jancovich, Naomi Klein, Paul Laverty, Ken Loach, Caroline Lucas, Miltos Manetas, Lorenzo Marsili, Raoul Martinez, David McWilliams, Aleksandar Mirčov, Vlassis Missos, Jakob Mohr, Preethi Nallu, Rasmus Nordqvist, Xristina Penna, Ann Pettifor, Gerardo Pisarello, Adam Ramsay, Jaromil Roio, Bertie Russell, Jeffrey Sachs, Saskia Sassen, Vladimir Šestović, Elif Shafak, Nicholas Shaxson, Jonas Staal, Lyndsey Stonebridge, Danae Stratou, Yanis Varoufakis, Eyal Weizman, Slavoj Žižek & Shoshana Zuboff.

Jacques Lacan: Télévision | La Psychanalyse 1 & 2

English subtitles included and can be toggled on with the ‘CC’ button in the YouTube video player.

In “psychanalyse” (better known as “Television” in English speaking countries), a two part documentary, the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan answers to questions submitted by his son-in-law Jacques-Alain Miller under the direction of Benoît Jacquot.

In 1973, the film maker Benoît Jacquot approached Jacques Lacan via Jacques-Alain Miller with the idea of making a film on Lacan and his teaching. Lacan soon agreed to the project, which ultimately took the form of Miller posing questions to which Lacan replied at some length in a semi-improvised manner. The final edited film, commissioned by the The Office de Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française (ORTF, the French public TV), was broadcast in two parts on prime-time television (8.30pm on two consecutive Saturday evenings) under the title “Psychanalyse”.

The text “Télévision” is a partially re-written transcription of the filmed dialogue between Miller and Lacan, with marginalia added by the former. It was published as a small book by Éditions du Seuil, and later included in the 2001 collection Autres écrits, confirming its status as one of Lacan’s “written” texts as opposed to a simple transcription of an oral delivery. Lacan added the epigraph “He who interrogates me / also knows how to read me”, in reference to Jacques-Alain Miller.

‘¿Alguien dijo crisis del marxismo?: Axel Honneth, Slavoj Žižek y las nuevas teorías críticas de la sociedad’ de Santiago Roggerone

Ariel Publisher, 2021.

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¿Alguien dijo crisis del marxismo? está dividido en dos partes. La primera trata en términos generales sobre la situación actual del marxismo. Y lo hace con una mirada que combina indignación ética, realismo epistemológico, cautela intelectual y radicalismo político. La segunda, más extensa y original, contiene un estudio pormenorizado de la labor intelectual de Axel Honneth y Slavoj Žižek.

¿Por qué Honneth y Žižek? Al margen de la contemporaneidad, no hay a simple vista demasiados vasos comunicantes entre ambos autores. Žižek es un inconformista esloveno nacido en un Estado comunista que ya no existe; un filósofo académicamente outsider que se dirige a un público internacional amplio pero no especializado; escritor compulsivo, lacaniano y hegeliano imperturbable, crítico radical del capitalismo y provocador por naturaleza. Honneth es todo lo contrario: nació en la muy capitalista Alemania Occidental, tuvo una cómoda carrera académica, ocupa actualmente el distinguido puesto de Director del Institut für Sozialforschung, escribió relativamente poco (y normalmente bajo la correcta forma del paper académico), y es un moderado crítico del orden vigente sin mayores expectativas utópicas.


Santiago M. Roggerone (1984, Buenos Aires) es Licenciado y Profesor en Sociología por la Universidad de Buenos Aires, y Doctor en Ciencias Sociales por la mismo casa de estudios. Actualmente es becario posdoctoral del Conicet.

‘Chocolate sin grasa’ de Slavoj Žižek

Ediciones Godot, 2021.

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Lo que estamos presenciando hoy es la mercantilización directa de nuestras experiencias: en el mercado compramos cada vez menos productos (objetos materiales) que queremos poseer, y adquirimos cada vez más experiencias de vida —experiencias de sexo, gastronomía, comunicación, consumo cultural, que forman parte de un estilo de vida—.

No compramos productos por su utilidad ni tampoco como símbolos de estatus; los compramos para obtener la experiencia que nos brindan, los consumimos para hacer que nuestra vida sea más placentera y significativa.


Slavoj Žižek nació en Ljubljana, Eslovenia, el 21 de marzo de 1949. Estudió filosofía en la Universidad de Ljubljana y psicoanálisis en la Universidad de París VIII Vincennes-Saint-Denis, donde se doctoró. En la actualidad es Director Internacional del Instituto Birkbeck para las Humanidades, en la Universidad de Londres. El hallazgo de Slavoj Žižek como pensador es indudablemente usar ejemplos extraídos de la cultura popular para explicar reflexiones en las que se vinculan la teoría psicoanalítica lacaniana con el marxismo. Hitchcock, Kafka, Shakespeare, e inclusive la física cuántica, funcionan por igual para describir muchas veces fenómenos muy intrincados. Actualmente, Slavoj Žižek tiene más de 30 libros publicados, entre ellos El sublime objeto de la ideología (1992), Las metástasis del goce (2003), El títere y el enano (2005) y Cómo leer a Lacan (2008). En Ediciones Godot, publicó El resto indivisible, en 2013, La permanencia en lo negativo, en 2016, Contra la tentación populista, en 2019 y ¡Goza tu síntoma!, en 2021.

‘Construcción de una nueva normalidad: Notas sobre un Chile pandémico’ de Nicol A. Barria-Asenjo

Editorial Psimática, 2021.

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Una reflexión marxista y lacaniana sobre la pandemia del Covid19 y los recientes acontecimientos mundiales, con particular énfasis en la escena chilena.

El presente libro, más allá de ser un libro como tal, responde a un recurso y herramienta reflexiva que emerge desde la incertidumbre de los tiempos que nos corrompen. El recién terminado 2020 ha estado fuertemente marcado por un paso desde lo viejo a lo nuevo, porque, literalmente, estamos viviendo el proceso de transición a una nueva forma de vida. En cierta medida, todo lo que conocíamos como nuestro cotidiano o vidas diarias, quedó abruptamente frenado y, mediante los procesos de confinamiento obligatorio que las sociedades debieron vivir, se produjo un avance del cual es difícil retornar. Este proceso que tuvo como gatillante la llegada del virus del coronavirus covid19, tiene sus raí¬ces en diferentes procesos sociales, políticos, económicos, cultura¬les, e históricos que venían desde temprana data.

Chile es el país en el cual se pone un acento en este libro, no es una elección forzada ni pretendiendo demostrar que como país hay elementos que deben ser puestos sobre la mesa, sino simple¬mente porque la autora es chilena.


Nicol A. Barria-Asenjo. Ensayista y columnista chilena. Autora de artículos y ensayos sobre diferentes disciplinas: Psicoanálisis, Filosofía, Política e Historia. Ha dirigido y coordinado convocatorias nacionales de psicología chilena. Actualmente lidera y coordina proyectos internacionales de carácter colaborativo en el terreno de las ciencias sociales y las humanidades. Columnista y colaboradora en Le Monde Diplomatique: Edición Chile y en el proyecto de la asociación francesa Nuestra República. Colaboradora de la Asociación Chilena de Revistas Científicas de Psicología.

Slavoj Žižek. Profesor titular e investigador principal, Departamento de Filosofía, Facultad de Artes, Universidad de Liubliana, Eslovenia. Codirector del Instituto Birkbeck de Humanidades, Birkbeck School of Law, Universidad de Londres.

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

Video recording of a paper delivered by Žižek at the National Center for Contemporary Arts, European University in St. Petersburg, Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences on 21th August 2012 within the framework of the Summer educational program of the group «Chto delat’?»What Is to Be Done?—a collective of Russian intellectuals and artists united by the task of alternative knowledge production.


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.

‘What, if Anything, is an Atom?’ by Mladen Dolar

Paper delivered by Mladen Dolar at the National Center for Contemporary Arts, European University in St. Petersburg, Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences on 22th August 2012 within the framework of the Summer educational program of the group «Chto delat’?»What Is to Be Done?—a collective of Russian intellectuals and artists united by the task of alternative knowledge production.


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.

‘The Spectator’s Malevol­ent Neut­ral­ity’ by Slavoj Žižek

Video recording of a paper delivered by Žižek titled The Spectator’s Malevol­ent Neut­ral­ity delivered at Theaterformen Festival, Brunswick, Germany on 8th June 2004.


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.

‘Racial Enjoyments—What the Liberal Left Doesn’t Want to Hear’ by Slavoj Žižek

Video recording of a paper delivered by Žižek titled Racial Enjoyments—What the Liberal Left Doesn’t Want to Hear by Deutsches Haus and the Department of German at New York University at Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Film Center, New York on 9th November, 2016.


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 Sublime Object of Ideology’ by Slavoj Žižek | Unabridged Audiobook

Narrated by Theory Audiobooks.

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Žižek’s first book is a provocative and original work looking at the question of human agency in a postmodern world. In a thrilling tour de force that made his name, he explores the ideological fantasies of wholeness and exclusion which make up human society.


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.

‘Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity’ by Judith Butler | Unabridged Audiobook

Narrated by Theory Audiobooks.

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One of the most talked-about scholarly works of the past fifty years, Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble is as celebrated as it is controversial.

Arguing that traditional feminism is wrong to look to a natural, ‘essential’ notion of the female, or indeed of sex or gender, Butler starts by questioning the category ‘woman’ and continues in this vein with examinations of ‘the masculine’ and ‘the feminine.’ Best known however, but also most often misinterpreted, is Butler’s concept of gender as a reiterated social performance rather than the expression of a prior reality.

Thrilling and provocative, few other academic works have roused passions to the same extent.


Judith Butler is an American post-structuralist and feminist philosopher who has contributed to the fields of feminism, political philosophy and ethics. She is currently a professor in the Rhetoric and Comparative Literature departments at the University of California, Berkeley. Butler received her Ph.D. in philosophy from Yale University in 1984, for a dissertation subsequently published as Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth-Century France. In the late-1980s she held several teaching and research appointments, and was involved in “post-structuralist” efforts within Western feminist theory to question the “presuppositional terms” of feminism. Her research ranges from literary theory, modern philosophical fiction, feminist and sexuality studies, to 19th- and 20th-century European literature and philosophy, Kafka and loss, and mourning and war. Her most recent work focuses on Jewish philosophy and exploring pre- and post-Zionist criticisms of state violence.

‘Home as Radical Evil’ by Slavoj Žižek


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Video recording of a paper delivered by Žižek as part of a conference for the Architectural Association, School of Architecture in London on 23rd February, 1994.

Žižek gave a talk that examines how modern evil through a multitude of variations on a single motive: Home is Radical Evil. The philosophical category of Home works as a point of political reference and mobilisation, and considers the dangers of overinvestment in this category, both at the level of the city and in terms of fuelling political conflict and Evil as a domestic space and as the articulation of fundamental fantasies of space, memory and identity that is not primarily a property of persons but has to be defined in topological terms. Evil is a certain place, that is, it is home.


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.

‘Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity’ by Judith Butler

First published by Routledge in 1989, this edi­tion pub­lished in the Taylor & Francis in 2002.

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Since its publication in 1990, Gender Trouble has become one of the key works of contemporary feminist theory, and an essential work for anyone interested in the study of gender, queer theory, or the politics of sexuality in culture. This is the text where Judith Butler began to advance the ideas that would go on to take life as “performativity theory,” as well as some of the first articulations of the possibility for subversive gender practices.


Judith Butler is an American post-structuralist and feminist philosopher who has contributed to the fields of feminism, political philosophy and ethics. She is currently a professor in the Rhetoric and Comparative Literature departments at the University of California, Berkeley. Butler received her Ph.D. in philosophy from Yale University in 1984, for a dissertation subsequently published as Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth-Century France. In the late-1980s she held several teaching and research appointments, and was involved in “post-structuralist” efforts within Western feminist theory to question the “presuppositional terms” of feminism. Her research ranges from literary theory, modern philosophical fiction, feminist and sexuality studies, to 19th- and 20th-century European literature and philosophy, Kafka and loss, and mourning and war. Her most recent work focuses on Jewish philosophy and exploring pre- and post-Zionist criticisms of state violence.

‘The Dash—The Other Side of Absolute Knowing’ a Discussion by Slavoj Žižek, Rebecca Comay, and Frank Ruda

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Video recording of a discussion between Slavoj Žižek, Rebecca Comay, and Frank Ruda by The Department of German, the Department of Comparative Literature, and Deutsches Haus at New York University, held on 23rd October, 2018, which revolved around Comay and Ruda’s book The Dash—The Other Side of Absolute Knowing .

In The Dash—The Other Side of Absolute Knowing, the authors present a reading of Hegel’s most reviled concept, absolute knowing. Their book sets out from a counterintuitive premise: the “mystical shell” of Hegel’s system proves to be its most “rational kernel.” Hegel’s radicalism is located precisely at the point where his thought seems to regress most. Most current readings try to update Hegel’s thought by pruning back his grandiose claims to “absolute knowing,” but Comay and Ruda invert this deflationary gesture by inflating what seems to be most trivial: the truth of the absolute is grasped only in the minutiae of its most mundane appearances. What if everything turns out to hinge on the most inconspicuous and trivial detail—a punctuation mark?


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.

Rebecca Comay is Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto, Canada. Her publications include Mourning Sickness: Hegel and the French Revolution and Hegel and Resistance, co-ed with Bart Zandtvoort.

Frank Ruda is Senior Lecturer for Philosophy at the University of Dundee, United Kingdom. His publications include: Reading Marx (with Žižek and Agon Hamza), Abolishing Freedom: A Plea for A Contemporary Use of Fatalism and For Badiou: Idealism without Idealism.

‘Slavoj Žižek: The Reality of the Virtual’ by Ben Wright

Published by Olive Films in 2004.

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In this tour de force filmed lecture, Žižek lucidly and compellingly reflects on belief – which takes him from Father Christmas to democracy – and on the various forms that belief takes, drawing on Lacanian categories of thought. In a radical dismissal of today’s so called post-political era, he mobilizes the paradox of universal truth urging us to dare to enact the impossible. It is a characteristic virtuoso performance, moving promiscuously from subject to subject but keeping the larger argument in view.


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 Interaction With the Other in Hegel’ by Slavoj Žižek



Video and audio recordings of a paper delivered on the third day of the Masterclass on Hegel course by Slavoj Žižek titled The Interaction With the Other in Hegel 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.

‘The Reflection of Life in Hegel’ by Slavoj Žižek



Video and audio recordings of a paper delivered on the second day of the Masterclass on Hegel course by Slavoj Žižek titled The Reflection of Life in Hegel 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.

‘Philosophy and Communism’ by Alain Badiou and Slavoj Žižek

Video recording of a paper delivered by Slavoj Žižek and accompanied by Alain Badiou titled Philosophy and Communism with an introduction by Josefina Ayerza on 15th October 2010 at a lacanian ink event, Jack Tilton Gallery in New York City, United States.


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, an ongoing project to collect his work is being conducted on this website.. 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.

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.

Hegel hoy: Una filosofía para los tiempos del Otro

Herder Editorial, 2020.

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El presente libro reúne, por primera vez, a grandes filósofos de diferentes latitudes anglosajones, latinoamericanos y europeos para hacer una lectura actual sobre Hegel. La obra se ha estructurado en cuatro partes.

En la primera, con los aportes de Robert Pippin, Catherine Malabou y Slavoj Žižek, se muestra el complejo tema histórico del Idealismo; en la segunda, a través de los textos de Frank Ruda, Edgardo Albizu, Miguel Giusti, Juan Ormeño y Birgit Sandkaulen, se reflexiona sobre el necesario asunto filosófico pero también político del sistema y del sujeto, conceptos pilares de la filosofía hegeliana; en la tercera parte, de la mano de Terry Pinkard, Alberto Damiani, Ricardo Espinoza, Jorge Eduardo Fernández, Klaus Vieweg y Gustavo Leyva, se aborda el totalmente pertinente asunto político y ético del reconocimiento, libertad y revolución; y en la cuarta y última parte, con los aportes de Félix Duque, Vincenzo Vitiello, Massimo Cacciari, Jose Maria Ripalda Crespo y Alberto Toscano, se reflexiona sobre cómo se dialoga con Hegel hoy desde otras miradas para resolver los problemas.

En esta obra, Hegel se transforma en el marco conceptual que nos permite entender, pensar y criticar lo que hoy se nos muestra como contradictorio en los distintos niveles de la realidad y de la actualidad social e intelectual: la verdad, la historia, la sociedad, entre otros. Asimismo, la singularidad de las distintas y potentes voces reunidas aquí en pos de Hegel abre la filosofía a múltiples lectores de distintas disciplinas y saberes que busquen en nuestro presente las claves que nos permitan ver cómo podemos construir un mundo más justo para todos.

‘The Return to Hegel’ by Slavoj Žižek


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Video and audio recordings of a paper delivered on the first day of the Masterclass on Hegel course by Slavoj Žižek titled The Return to Hegel at the European Graduate School, Saas-Fee, Switzerland in 2009 about the role of historical experience in Hegel’s thought, through references to Adorno, Marx, Lacan, etc.


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.

‘Being without Time: On Beckett’s Play Waiting for Godot’ by Günther Anders


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Günther Anders (1902–92) is undoubtedly one of the most interesting, ignored, oppositional, radical, and nearly forgotten philosophers of the twentieth century. Having grown up in Germany, Anders (whose real name was Stern) and his wife Hannah Arendt had to flee the country in 1933. Via Paris, now divorced, Anders came to the United States, where he never really found his place; red-baiting and propaganda against the left made it difficult for him to find a job. In 1950 he decided to return to Europe, where he lived for the rest of his life in Vienna.

‘Commandments in the Atomic Age’ by Günther Anders


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Günther Anders’s essay “Commandments in the Atomic Age” was first published as “Gebote des Atomzeitalters” in the July 14, 1957 edition of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The original German text can be found at Texte und Thesen.

In 1959, Günther Anders’s third wife Charlotte Zelka translated the “Gebote des Atomzeitalters” in English so Anders could send the text to U.S. Army Air Forces pilot Claude Eatherly with whom he had just started a correspondence. This correspondence (including the original German version of the essay “Gebote des Atomzeitalters”) was first published in German in 1961 as Off limits für das Gewissen. Der Briefwechsel zwischen dem Hiroshima-Piloten Claude Eatherly und Günther Anders with a preface by Bertrand Russell and a foreword by Robert Junkt (author of Brighter than a Thousand Suns: A Personal History of the Atomic Scientists in 1958). The American edition appeared the next year under the title Burning Conscience: The Case of the Hiroshima Pilot Claude Eatherly, told in his Letters to Günther Anders 1961 with an added postscript “to the American readers” by Günther Anders himself.

The entirety of Anders’s correspondence with Eatherly ―including preface and foreword―was later included in Hiroshima ist überall (C. H. Beck, München, 1982; see page 191 of the 1995 German edition). The collection was translated in French as Hiroshima est partout (Seuil, 2008): this is where French readers should look for a French version of Anders’s “Commandments in the Atomic Age”.


Günther Anders (1902–92) is undoubtedly one of the most interesting, ignored, oppositional, radical, and nearly forgotten philosophers of the twentieth century. Having grown up in Germany, Anders (whose real name was Stern) and his wife Hannah Arendt had to flee the country in 1933. Via Paris, now divorced, Anders came to the United States, where he never really found his place; red-baiting and propaganda against the left made it difficult for him to find a job. In 1950 he decided to return to Europe, where he lived for the rest of his life in Vienna.

‘Prometheanism: Technology, Digital Culture and Human Obsolescence’ by Christopher John Müller

Published by National Book Network International & Rowman & Littlefield International in 2016.

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Although Günther Anders (1902-1992) is considered one of the most important philosophers of technology and although he spent many years exiled in the US, he received scant attention within the English-speaking world itself. Christopher John Müller’s comprehensive and sophisticated presentation and his nuanced translation of Anders’ crucial writing “On Promethean Shame” should hopefully change this. It demonstrates vividly the significance of Anders as a shrewd and original thinker who was able to anticipate a number of recent societal and technological developments. Müller’s book is crucial reading for anyone wishing to gain a better understanding of the workings of our technology-driven world.

Günther Anders’s prolific philosophy of technology is undergoing a major revival. Prometheanism mobilises Anders’s pragmatic thought and current trends in critical theory to rethink the constellations of power that are configuring themselves around our increasingly “smart” machines.

The book offers a comprehensive introduction to Anders’s philosophy of technology with an annotated translation of his visionary essay ‘On Promethean Shame’, part of The Obsolescence of Human Beings 1 published in 1956. The essay analyses feelings of curtailment, obsolescence and solitude that become manifest whilst we interact with machines. When technological solutions begin to make humans look embarrassingly limited and flawed, new emotional vulnerabilities are exposed. These need to be thought, because our wavering confidence leaves us unprotected in an ever more (un)transparent, connected yet fractured world.


Christopher John Müller is an Honorary Research Associate of the School of English, Communication and Philosophy at Cardiff University and an Associate Teacher at the University of Bristol. His publications include Desert Ethics: Technology and the Question of Evil in Günther Anders and Jacques Derrida and Style and Arrogance: The Ethics of Heidegger’s Style, Style in Theory: Between Literature and Philosophy. His work draws on Literature, Philosophy and Critical Theory to address the manner in which technological and linguistic structures shape human perception, agency and interaction.

‘Thinking the Human’ by Slavoj Žižek

Video recordings of a paper delivered by Slavoj Žižek on 8th April 2019 as part of Thinking the Human, a two-week intensive course that took place from 6-17th May 2019 at Ridell Hall, Department of Religion and Culture Spring Institute (led by Dr. Jane Barter) at the University of Winnipeg as part of Spring Axworthy Distinguished Lecture Series on Social Justice and the Public Good that featured local scholars as guest lecturers, delivered to an audience of 750.


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.

Dr. Matthew Flisfeder is assistant professor of writing, rhetoric, and communications at UWinnipeg and author of The Symbolic, The Sublime, and Slavoj Žižek’s Theory of Film and is co-editor of Žižek and Media Studies: A Reader.

‘On Samuel Beckett’s Art of Abstraction’ by Slavoj Žižek

Video recording of a paper delivered by Slavoj Žižek titled On Samuel Beckett’s Art of Abstraction at The Scottish Centre for Continental Philosophy, University of Dundee, United Kingdom on 8th November 2018.


Abstract

The “empty” Cartesian subject is an abstraction: it emerges as the result of the process of abstraction, of self-withdrawal from its real-life context. This is why the “materialist” demands to localize a subject into the texture of its “concrete” historical situation misses the key point: what disappears if we do this is the subject itself. This does not mean that subject is a kind of user’s illusion which persists only insofar as it doesn’t know fully its concrete material conditions: the network of “concrete material conditions” is in itself incomplete, it contains cracks and inconsistencies which are the points of the rise of subjects.

The great writer of abstraction is Samuel Beckett. When he depicts the subjective experience of terror, loss, suffering and persecution, he does not endeavor to locate it into a concrete historical context (say, making it clear that it is a moment of Fascist terror in an occupied country, or of the Stalinist terror against dissident intellectuals). Beckett does (almost – not quite, of course) the exact contrary: he puts particular forms of terror and persecution which belong to different contexts and levels (Fascist terror, the “terror” of anti-Fascist revenge, administrative “terror” of regulating the repatriation of refugees and prisoners) into a series and blurs their distinctions, constructing an abstract form of de-contextualized terror, one can even say: a Platonic Idea of terror.


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.

‘On Agatha Christie and the Dawn of a Post-Capitalist Era’ by Slavoj Žižek

Excerpted from Like A Thief In Broad Daylight: Power in the Era of Post-Human Capitalism by Slavoj Žižek as published by Allen Lane (Penguin) in 2018..

Agatha Christie’s 80th book, Passenger to Frankfurt—published in 1970 with the subtitle “an extravaganza,” one of the few of her works with no movie or TV adaptation—is a novel that “slides from the unlikely to the inconceivable and finally lands up in incomprehensible muddle. Prizes should be offered to readers who can explain the ending. It concerns the youth uproar of the “sixties, drugs, a new Aryan superman and so on, subjects of which Christie’s grasp was, to say the least, uncertain.” However, this “incomprehensible muddle” is not due to Christie’s senility: its causes are clearly political.

Passenger to Frankfurt is Christie’s most personal, intimately felt and at the same time most political novel; it expresses her personal confusion, her feeling of being totally at a loss with what was going on in the world in the late 1960s—drugs, sexual revolution, student protests, murders, etc. It is crucial to note that this overwhelming feeling of confusion is formulated by an author whose specialty was detective novels, stories about crime, stories about the darkest side of human nature.

The deeper reason for her despair is the feeling that, in the chaotic world of 1970, it was no longer possible to write detective novels that still presupposed a stable society based on law and order, momentarily disturbed by crime but restored to order by the detective. In the society of 1970, chaos and crime were rife, so no wonder Passenger to Frankfurt is not a detective novel: there is no murder, no logic, no deduction. Christie’s sense of the collapse of the elementary cognitive mapping, her overwhelming fear of chaos, is rendered clearly in her Introduction to the novel:

It is what the Press brings to you every day, served up in your morning paper under the general heading of News. Collect it from the front page. What is going on in the world today? What is everyone saying, thinking, doing? Hold up a mirror to 1970 in England.

Look at that front page every day for a month, make notes, consider and classify.

Every day there is a killing. A girl strangled.

Elderly woman attacked and robbed of her meagre savings. Young men or boys—attacking or attacked.

Buildings and telephone kiosks smashed and gutted. Drug smuggling.

Robbery and assault.

Children missing and children’s murdered bodies found not  far from their homes.

Can this be England? Is England really like this? One feels—no—not yet, but it could be.

Fear is awakening—fear of what may be. Not so much because of actual happenings but because of the possible causes behind them. Some known, some unknown, but felt. And not only in our own country. There are smaller paragraphs on other pages—giving news from Europe—from Asia—from the Americas—Worldwide News.

Hi-jacking of planes. Kidnapping.

Violence. Riots.

Hate.

Anarchy—all growing stronger.

All seeming to lead to worship of destruction, pleasure in cruelty. What does it all mean?

So what does all this mean? In the novel, Christie provides an answer; here is the storyline. On a flight home from Malaya, Sir Stafford Nye, a bored diplomat, is approached in the passenger lounge at Frankfurt airport by a woman whose life is in danger; to help her, he agrees to lend her his passport and boarding ticket. In this way, he unwittingly gets caught up in an international intrigue from which the only escape is to outwit the power-crazed Countess von Waldsausen, who wants to achieve world domination by manipulating and arming the planet’s youth.

This terrible worldwide conspiracy has something to do with Richard Wagner and “The Young Siegfried.” We learn that, towards the end of the Second World War, Hitler went to a mental institution, met with a group of people who thought they were Hitler, and exchanged places with one of them, thus surviving the war. He then escaped to Argentina, where he married and had a son who was branded with a swastika on his heel: “The Young Siegfried.” Meanwhile, in the present, drugs, promiscuity and student protests are all secretly caused by Nazi agitators who want to bring about anarchy so that they can restore Nazi domination on a global scale.

This “terrible worldwide conspiracy” is, of course, ideological fantasy at its purest: a weird condensation of the fear of extreme Right and extreme Left. The least we can say in Christie’s favor is that she locates the heart of the conspiracy in the extreme Right (neo-Nazis), not any of the other usual suspects (Communists, Jews, Muslims). The idea that neo-Nazis were behind the ’68 student protests and the struggle for sexual liberation, with its obvious madness, nonetheless bears witness to the disintegration of a consistent cognitive mapping of our predicament; the fact that Christie is compelled to take refuge in such a crazy paranoiac construct indicates the utter confusion and panic in which she found herself.

The picture of our society she paints is simply confused, out of touch with reality (incidentally, although to a much lesser extent, the same goes for the strangest of John le Carré’s novels, A Small Town in Germany, which is set in a similar situation). But is her vision really too crazy to be taken seriously? Is our era, with “leaders” like Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, not as crazy as her vision? Are we today not all like a bunch of passengers to Frankfurt? Our situation is messy in a way that is very similar to the one described by Christie: we have a Rightist government enforcing workers’ rights (in Poland), a Leftist government pursuing the strictest austerity politics (in Greece). No wonder that, in order to regain a minimal cognitive mapping, Christie resorts to the Second World War, “the last good war,” retranslating our mess into its coordinates.

One should nonetheless note how the very form of Christie’s denouement (one big Nazi plot behind it all) strangely mirrors the fascist idea of the Jewish conspiracy. Today, the extreme populist Right proposes a similar explanation of the Muslim immigrant “threat.” In the anti-Semitic imagination, the “Jew” is the invisible Master who secretly pulls the strings—which is precisely why Muslim immigrants are today’s Jews: they are all too visible, not invisible, they are clearly not integrated into our society, and nobody claims they secretly pull any strings. If one sees in their “invasion of Europe” a secret plot, then Jews have to be behind it—as was suggested in an article that recently appeared in one of the main Slovene Rightist weekly journals, which read: “George Soros is one of the most depraved and dangerous people of our time,” responsible for “the invasion of the negroid and Semitic hordes and thereby for the twilight of the EU . . . as a typical talmudo-Zionist, he is a deadly enemy of Western civilization, nation state and white, European man.” His goal is to build a “rainbow coalition composed of social marginals like faggots, feminists, Muslims and work-hating cultural Marxists,” which would then perform “a deconstruction of the nation state, and transform the EU into a multicultural dystopia of the United States of Europe.” Furthermore, Soros is inconsistent in his promotion of multiculturalism:

He promotes it exclusively in Europe and the USA, while in the case of Israel, he, in a way which is for me totally justified, agrees with its monoculturalism, latent racism and building of a wall. In contrast to EU and USA, he also does not demand that Israel open its borders and accept “refugees.” A hypocrisy proper to Talmudo-Zionism.

Is this disgusting fantasy, which brings together anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, so different from that contrived by Christie? Are they both not a desperate attempt to orient oneself in confused times? The extreme oscillations in public perception of the Korean crisis are significant as such. One week we are told that we are on the brink of nuclear war, then there is seven days’ respite, then the war threat explodes again.

When I visited Seoul in August 2017, my friends there told me there was no serious threat of a war since the North Korean regime knows it could not survive it, now that the South Korean authorities are preparing the population for a nuclear war. Not long ago our media was reporting on the increasingly ridiculous exchange of insults between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump. The irony was that, in a situation where two apparently immature men are getting angry and hurling insults at each other, our only hope is for some anonymous and invisible institutional constraint to prevent their rage from exploding into full war. Usually we tend to complain that in today’s alienated and bureaucratized politics, institutional pressures and constraints prevent politicians from expressing their real point of view; now we hope that such constraints will prevent the expression of all-too-crazy personal visions. How did we reach this point?

Alain Badiou recently warned about the dangers of the growing post-patriarchal nihilist order that presents itself as the domain of new freedoms. The disintegration of the shared ethical basis of our lives is clearly signaled by the abolition of universal military conscription in many developed countries: the very notion of being ready to risk one’s life for a common-cause army appears more and more pointless, if not directly ridiculous, so that the armed forces, as the body in which all citizens equally participate, are gradually becoming a mercenary force. This disintegration affects the two sexes differently: men are slowly turning into perpetual adolescents, with no clear passage of initiation into maturity (military service, acquiring a profession, even education no longer play this role). No wonder, then, that, in order to supplant this lack, post-patriarchal youth gangs proliferate, providing ersatz-initiation and social identity.

In contrast to men, women today are more and more precociously mature, expected to control their lives, to plan their careers; in this new version of sexual difference, men are ludic adolescents, outlaws, while women appear hard, mature, serious, legal and punitive. A new feminine figure is thus emerging: a cold, competitive agent of power, seductive and manipulative, attesting to the paradox that “in the conditions of capitalism women can do better than men” (Badiou): contemporary capitalism has invented its own ideal image of woman.


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.

‘Personal Liberty and Collective Equality’ by Alain Badiou & Cornel West

Video recording of a paper delivered by Alain Badiou and accompanied by Cornel West titled Personal Liberty and Collective Equality at Princeton University, United States on 28th March 2006.


Synopsis

Badiou begins with a sketch of his concept of the “Event” which ruptures the existing “Situation” and results in a new situation wherein elements in the pre-evental “State” which were not experienced as related become involved in a relationship in the novel state following the event.

The theme of his talk is proposed as concerning the relationship of ethics and politics. He takes up what he says have been the three classical conceptions of ethics (theological, natural and formal ethics), and in the end states he is opposed to each. The theological posits a difference between good and evil determined transcendentally by God, characterized by submission to divine law. The natural determines what is good and evil from a sense of pity, for humanity, for victims. Formal ethics posits imperatives for subjective intentions that are followed (good) or not (bad).

Badiou agrees that some actions are better than others but that neither law, pity or intention can be foundational for ethics. Rather one must find in each singular situation a new rule of action. He contrasts attention to the concrete situation in determining ethical action to belief in something external to the situation for that determination. The example is the the September 11 event and the subsequent reaction – his point being the action of terrorists and the subsequent revenge for that action have emerged from ethical decisions that were not rooted in attention to the real concrete political situation.

Badiou then speaks to the situation of politics today as being characterized by the continued failure of what he calls “expressive dialectics” – to which he proposes attention instead to non-expressive dialects. The former refers to political struggle in the last century as expressive of social contradictions (he refers to Lenin on Marxism: classes are expressed by parties and parties are expressed by leaders – as Badiou says, the proper name of whom express the becoming of the political process).

Non-expressive political dialectics would need to be a new form of collective action, the conception of which is virtual and yet to be actualized; it would be a political dialectics not the result of social contradictions (which nonetheless are real and to which we must be attentive), and a dialectics not expressive of conflicts of opinion in our objective world. Such conception of the possibility of a novel truth, and its actual generation, rather than a struggle between opinions means in fact maintaining separation from the actual objective situation of the expressive dialectics of politics today.

The expressive dialectic of our current objective world – that which we must move beyond, is between conservative and progressive politics, oppressive preservation of power versus creative justice, between desire for law and order versus the collective desire for another world as possible. Both sides of this expressive dialectic are proponents of “prophetic democracy” – which Badiou (prior to stating he will disagree with) outlines as essentially oriented to the principles of human rights, of tolerance and of freedom for all: the individual subject has the right to satisfy desires, all cultures are equal, and subjects must be allowed maximal expressive capacity.

Badiou builds his disagreement with the three main orientations of prophetic democracy on aspects of its formal internal contradictions – on the fact of problematic relationships between human rights, cultural tolerance and freedom. He points out that though people must have the right to exercise their will to satisfy desire there is no parameters of what is “normal” desire eminent to the concept of human rights as such. Likewise there is no parameters for “normal” cultural practices. Finally, freedom in some cultures is only maximized not by how much individual creativity is allowable but by obedience and sacrifice. Again, returning to the example of the “war on terror”, Badiou states that on a philosophical level this is a war between enjoyment and sacrifice, between comfort and money on one side and death and obedience on the other. In either case there is not in either case an ethical framework in which we might wish to participate.

The argument continues against prophetic democracy with an explicit outline of what Badiou has coined “political dialectics” whereby there is participation in novel freedom rather than expressive freedom. We have to grasp in this the meaning of the poetry of saying freedom is like the experience of the possibility of something that is impossible. Badiou introduces the distinction between actual freedom being always a matter of production of novelty rather than the expression or realization of something already existing in the political situation.

In the productive scheme of political dialectics the struggle always involves making a choice against the expression of something intimate to oneself and for something that is social, that is inclusive of that beyond oneself. This would be a human rights orientation that is heroic in opposition to juridical rights because some existing and even allowable behaviors are unacceptable as are some practices in some cultures. What Badiou posits here is that there is “what is” – that is subjects and cultures (individuals and languages of social group expression); but there also exist universal “Truths”. What he means precisely needs careful enunciation.

Universal Truths (I employ capital T) are precisely that, not particular individual or particular cultural truths. They are as Badiou says, exceptions to the situation of individuals in their cultural milieu: “There are only bodies and languages except that there are truths”. To this he is careful to point out this does not mean there are Truths in addition to individuals and cultures. Truths are not transcendental either inasmuch as they operate in individuals and cultures while not being reducible to either.

Political dialectics today, unlike prophetic democracy, is a new democratic political activity engaging Truth rather than a repeating the failed political struggle of the last century. It is not an effort to produce an expressive harmony, a negotiation between multiple cultures. Subjects in the productive action of participation in a becoming of a novel “truth body” do so, according to Badiou, primarily through existing situational modalities of politics, art, science and/or love. What is more, he says, the individual in political dialectics is becoming more than herself in the existing situation, doing more incorporating truth than was possible with her proper ability.


The Princeton University Department of African American Studies is considered among the best academic units in the United States examining the crucial role that race plays in America.

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.

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.

‘Battle for the Soul: Inside the Democrats’ Campaigns to Defeat Trump’ by Edward-Isaac Dovere

Penguin Publishing Group, 2021

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An award-winning political journalist for The Atlantic tells the inside story of how the embattled Democratic party, seeking a direction for its future during the Trump years, successfully regained the White House.

The 2020 presidential campaign was a defining moment for America. As Donald Trump and his nativist populism cowed the Republican Party into submission, many Democrats—haunted by Hillary Clinton’s shocking loss in 2016, which led to a four-year-long identity crisis—were convinced he would be unbeatable. Their party and the country, it seemed, might never recover.

How, then, did Democrats manage to win the presidency, especially after the longest primary race and the biggest field ever? How did they keep themselves united through an internal struggle between newly empowered progressives and establishment forces—playing out against a pandemic, an economic crisis, and a new racial reckoning?

Edward-Isaac Dovere’s Battle for the Soul is the searing, fly-on-the-wall account of the Democrats’ journey through recalibration and rebirth. Dovere traces this process from the early days in the wilderness of the post-Obama era, though the jockeying of potential candidates, to the backroom battles and exhausting campaigns, to the unlikely triumph of the man few expected to win, and through the inauguration and insurrection at the Capitol.

Dovere draws on years of on-the-ground reporting and contemporaneous conversations with the key players—whether in Pete Buttigieg’s hotel suite in Des Moines an hour before he won the Iowa caucuses or Joe Biden’s first-ever interview in the Oval Office—as well as aides, advisors, and voters. With unparalleled access and an insider’s command of the campaign, Battle for the Soul offers a compelling look at the policies, politics, people and the often absurd process of running for president. This fresh and timely story brings you on the trail, into the private rooms and along to eavesdrop on critical conversations. You will never see campaigns or this turning point in our history the same way again.


Edward-Isaac Dovere is a staff writer for The Atlantic. He has covered Democratic politics for 15 years—beginning in his native New York, onto the Obama White House and then across 29 states during the 2020 election cycle.

In 2006, Dovere was the founding editor of City Hall, focused on New York City politics, which a year and a half later expanded into The Capitol, focused on state politics. He was twice recognized for best political coverage by the New York Press Association, and won the Society of Professional Journalists’ Daniel Pearl Award for investigative reporting for a series exposing the muddled finances of the Working Families Party.

Dovere has been covering national politics since 2011, first at Politico, where he was the senior White House reporter and later chief Washington correspondent, and at The Atlantic since 2018. He won the White House Correspondents’ Association’s Merriman Smith Award for excellence for reporting on Obama’s historic first trip to Cuba. He was the host of Politico’s Off Message podcast and The Atlantic’s The Ticket podcast.

Dovere attended Johns Hopkins University and the University of Chicago. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his family.

‘The Specter Is Still Roaming Around!’ by Slavoj Žižek

Text as published in The Spectre Is Still Roaming Around: An Introduction to the 150th Anniversary Edition of the Communist Manifesto, Zagreb: Bastard Books, Arkzin D.O.O.

The first, automatic reaction of today’s enlightened liberal reader to The Communist Manifesto is: Is the text not simply wrong on many empirical accounts, with regard to the picture it gives of the social situation, as well as with regard to the revolutionary perspective it sustains and propagates? Was there ever a political manifesto that was more clearly falsified by subsequent historical reality? Is The Communist Manifesto not, at best, an exaggerated extrapolation of certain tendencies discernible in the 19th century?

So, let us approach The Communist Manifesto from the opposite end: Where do we live today, in our global “post … ” (postmodern, postindustrial) society? The slogan that is imposing itself more and more is that of “globalization”: the brutal imposition of a unified world market that threatens all local ethnic traditions, including the very form of the nation-state. And, in this situation, is not the description in the Manifesto of the social impact of the bourgeoisie more topical than ever?

The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty, and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all newly formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.

The need for a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere.

The bourgeoisie has, through its exploitation of the world market, given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. To the great chagrin of reactionaries, it has drawn from under the feet of industry the national ground on which it stood. All long-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life-and-death question for all civilized nations, by industries that no longer work up indigenous raw materials, but raw materials drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed not only at home, but in every quarter of the globe. In place of the old wants, satisfied by the productions of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes. In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal interdependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature.

Is this not, more than ever, our reality today? Think about Ericsson phones, which are no longer Swedish, about Toyota cars, 60% of which are manufactured in the USA, about the Hollywood culture that pervades the remotest parts of the globe … Yes, this is our reality—on condition that we do not forget to supplement this image from the Manifesto with its inherent dialectical opposite, the “spiritualization” of the very material process of production. That is to say, on the one hand, capitalism entails the radical secularization of social life—it mercilessly tears apart any aura of authentic nobility, sacredness, honor, etc.

It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervor, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom—Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.

However, the fundamental lesson of the “critique of political economy” elaborated by the mature Marx in the years after the Manifesto is that this reduction of all heavenly chimeras to the brutal economic reality generates a spectrality of its own. When Marx describes the mad, self-enhancing circulation of capital, whose solipsistic path of self-fecundation reaches its apogee in today’s metareflexive speculations on futures, it is far too simplistic to claim that the specter of this self-engendering monster that pursues its path disregarding any human or environmental concern is an ideological abstraction, and that one should never forget that, behind this abstraction, there are real people and natural objects on whose productive capacities and resources the capital’s circulation is based, and on which it feeds like a gigantic parasite. The problem is that this “abstraction” is not only in our (financial speculator’s) misperception of social reality, but that it is “real” in the precise sense of determining the structure of the very material social processes: the fate of whole strata of the population and sometimes of whole countries can be decided by the “solipsistic” speculative dance of Capital, which pursues its goal of profitability in a blessed indifference to how its movement will affect social reality. Therein resides the fundamental systemic violence of capitalism, much uncannier than the direct precapitalist socioideological violence: this violence is no longer attributable to concrete individuals and their “evil” intentions, but is purely “objective,” systemic, anonymous. Here we should recall Étienne Balibar, who distinguishes two opposite but complementary modes of excessive violence in today’s world: the “ultraobjective” (“structural”) violence that is inherent in the social conditions of global capitalism (the “automatic” creation of excluded and dispensable individuals, from the homeless to the unemployed), and the “ultrasubjective” violence of newly emerging ethnic and/or religious (in short: racist) “fundamentalisms”—this second “excessive” and “groundless” violence is just a counterpart to the first violence.

The fact of this “anonymous” violence also allows us to make a more general point about anticommunism. The pleasure provided by anticommunist reasoning was that communism made it so easy to play the game of finding the culprit, blaming the Party, Stalin, Lenin, ultimately Marx himself, for the millions of dead, for terror, and for gulags, while in capitalism, there is nobody on whom one can pin guilt or responsibility, things just happened that way, through anonymous mechanisms, although capitalism has been no less destructive in terms of human and environmental costs, destroying aboriginal cultures … In short, the difference between capitalism and communism is that communism was perceived as an idea which then failed in its realization, while capitalism functioned “spontaneously.” There is no Capitalist Manifesto.

‘What Does it Mean to Be a Revolutionary Today?’ by Slavoj Žižek

Video and audio recordings of a paper delivered by Slavoj Žižek on the last day of the Marxism Festival, which took place from on 2-7th July 2009, located at Friends Meeting House, Euston Road, central London to an audience of over a thousand people gathered from all across the globe. The event happened at a time of one of the biggest economic and ideological crises that capitalism has ever seen.

Other speakers included Tony Benn, Gary Younge, David Harvey, Bernadette McAliskey, Alex Callinicos, Gareth Peirce, Tariq Ali, Mark Serwotka, Haifa Zangana, Luigi Fiori, Ghada Karmi, Eamonn McCann, Terry Eagleton, John Bellamy Foster, Sheila Rowbotham, Weyman Bennett, Michael Billington, Nick Broomfield, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Danny Dorling, Lindsey German, Liz Fekete and Paul Gilroy.


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.

Karl Marx in Friedrich Engels: ‘Komunistični manifest’


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Komunistični manifest izpod avtorstva Karla Marxa in Friedricha Engelsa je prvič izšel v Londonu 21. februarja 1848 (v nemščini), izdala pa ga je skupina nemških političnih beguncev. V istem času je izšel v nemškem časopisu Deutsche Londoner Zeitung, ki je izhajal v Londonu. V angleščino ga je leta 1850 prevedla Helen Macfarlane. Med letoma 1872 in 1890 je bil manifest izdan večkrat, Marx in Engels pa sta za nekatere izdaje napisala pomembna dodatna uvodna besedila. Angleška izdaja iz leta 1888 velja za najpogosteje uporabljeno. Prvi slovenski prevod Manifesta je iz leta 1902 (Karl Linhart v Rdečem praporju), leta 1908 pa je založba Naprej manifest prvič izdala v knjižni obliki (avtor prevoda je podpisan z inicialkami M. J. Č.).

Uvodne misli k najnovejši slovenski izdaji Komunističnega manifesta Založbe Sanje, ki je izšla leta 2009y so prispevaliMladen Dolar, Slavoj Žižek, Jože Mencinger, Rajko Muršič ter pesnik Janez Ramoveš.

V ljubljanskem Mik­lošičevem parku (bivši Marx-Engel­sov park) je 13. Septem­bra 2009 potekala javna pred­stavitev nove knjižne izda­je najbolj pre­va­janega, pub­li­cir­anega in kon­tro­verznega političnega besedila vseh časov, Komun­ističnega mani­festa. Na njej so sode­lovali Sla­voj Žižek, Mladen Dolar, Rajko Muršič in Božid­ar Deben­jak, pogo­v­or pa je mod­eri­r­ala Tjaša Koprivec.

Slavoj Žižek presents ‘On Practice and Contradiction’ by Mao Zedong

Published January 17th 2007 by Verso (first published 1937). Download link updated on 27th July 2021.

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These early philosophical writings underpinned the Chinese revolutions, and Mao’s clarion call to insurrection has lost none of its ability to stir the blood and stimulate the mind. Drawing on a dizzying array of references from contemporary culture and politics, Slavoj Žižek’s introduction reaches unsettling conclusions about the place of Mao’s thought in the revolutionary canon.


“Communism is not love. Communism is a hammer, which we use to crush the enemy.”
— Mao

‘The Relevance of the Communist Manifesto’ by Slavoj Žižek

Published by Polity Press in April 2019. Download link updated on 27th July 2021.

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No other Marxist text has come close to achieving the fame and influence of The Communist Manifesto. Translated into over 100 languages, this clarion call to the workers of the world radically shaped the events of the twentieth century. But what relevance does it have for us today?

In this slim book Slavoj Žižek argues that, while exploitation no longer occurs the way Marx described it, it has by no means disappeared; on the contrary, the profit once generated through the exploitation of workers has been transformed into rent appropriated through the privatization of the ‘general intellect’. Entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg have become extremely wealthy not because they are exploiting their workers but because they are appropriating the rent for allowing millions of people to participate in the new form of the ‘general intellect’ that they own and control. But, even if Marx’s analysis can no longer be applied to our contemporary world of global capitalism without significant revision, the fundamental problem with which he was concerned, the problem of the commons in all its dimensions – the commons of nature, the cultural commons, and the commons as the universal space of humanity from which no one should be excluded – remains as relevant as ever.

This timely reflection on the enduring relevance of The Communist Manifesto will be of great value to everyone interested in the key questions of radical politics today.

‘Heaven in Disorder’ by Slavoj Žižek

OR Books, 2021

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“ There is great disorder under heaven; the situation is excellent. ”
—Mao Zedong


One of the most innovative and exciting contemporary thinkers of the left.
—Times Literary Supplement


The thinker of choice for Europe’s young intellectual vanguard.
—Observer


Never ceases to dazzle.
—Daily Telegraph


Few thinkers illustrate the contradictions of contemporary capitalism better than Slavoj Žižek.
—New York Review of Books


Žižek leaves no social or cultural phenomenon untheorized, and is master of the counterintuitive observation.
—The New Yorker


The most dangerous philosopher in the West.”
—Adam Kirsch, The New Republic



As we emerge (though perhaps only temporarily) from the pandemic, other crises move center stage: outrageous inequality, climate disaster, desperate refugees, mounting tensions of a new cold war. The abiding motif of our time is relentless chaos.

Acknowledging the possibilities for new beginnings at such moments, Mao Zedong famously proclaimed “There is great disorder under heaven; the situation is excellent.” The contemporary relevance of Mao’s observation depends on whether today’s catastrophes can be a catalyst for progress or have passed over into something terrible and irretrievable. Perhaps the disorder is no longer under, but in heaven itself.

Characteristically rich in paradoxes and reversals that entertain as well as illuminate, Slavoj Žižek’s new book treats with equal analytical depth the lessons of Rammstein and Corbyn, Morales and Orwell, Lenin and Christ. It excavates universal truths from local political sites across Palestine and Chile, France and Kurdistan, and beyond.

Heaven In Disorder looks with fervid dispassion at the fracturing of the Left, the empty promises of liberal democracy, and the tepid compromises offered by the powerful. From the ashes of these failures, Žižek asserts the need for international solidarity, economic transformation, and—above all—an urgent, “wartime” communism.


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 Ister’ (2004) by David Barison & Daniel Ross

The film had its premiere at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2004.

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The Ister is a 3000km journey to the heart of Europe, from the mouth of the Danube river at the Black Sea, to its source in the German Black Forest. The film is based on the work of the most influential and controversial philosopher of the 20th century, Martin Heidegger, who swore allegiance to the National Socialists in 1933, in particular the 1942 lecture course he delivered, Hölderlins Hymne «Der Ister», concerning a poem, Der Ister, by the German poet Friedrich Hölderlin. By marrying a vast philosophical narrative with an epic voyage up Europe’s greatest waterway, the film invites the viewer to unravel the extraordinary past and future of ‘the West.’

The Ister features extensive interviews with the French philosophers Bernard Stiegler, Jean-Luc Nancy, and Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, as well as with the German film director Hans-Jürgen Syberberg. Other interviews are conducted with a bridge engineer (Nemanja Calic), an amateur botanist (Tobias Maier), and a Romanian archaeologist (Alexandru Suceveanu).

‘Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus: Centenary Edition’ by Ludwig Wittgenstein

Published by Anthem Press in 2021.

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This renewed edition of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, exactly a century after Wittgenstein’s release, presents the text in a hierarchical manner, “which is the way in which the book was composed and in which Wittgenstein arranged (selected and supplemented) the best of the philosophical remarks that he had been writing since 1913” (Peter Hacker). That tree-like reading is recommended by Wittgenstein himself in the sole footnote of his book, in which he suggests that the inner logical structure of the text is set by the decimal numbers of its propositions. “They alone – the Author will add – give the book perspicuity and clearness, and without this numbering it would be an incomprehensible jumble”. Indeed, the compact and intricate sequence of the traditional presentation is only a rigorous logical bet, but only a logical machine or a robot can unravel the tangle: for an ordinary human understanding that does not exploit its numbering, the book remains “an incomprehensible jumble”.

In the present disposition, instead, all horizontal and vertical references become directly manifest and any reader can enjoy the fine architecture and the elegant reasoning of Wittgenstein’s work. Every page is an actual reading unit, perfectly coherent and complete. The Tractatus becomes comprehensible also to unskilled readers, of course at more or less deep levels, while a scholar or a more practised reader can detect suggestions and meanings that had remained, until now, completely hidden. A historical note shows in which manner the new structural perspective sheds new light also in the compositional manuscript we have, which “writing units” are very similar, actually, to the pages of the present edition. Besides, this allows to rebuild the list of “Supplements” (here in the Appendix) that Wittgenstein gathered after he roughly finished his manuscript, but that he used very little in the final book.

Printing the Tractatus following Wittgenstein’s decimal prescriptions required meticulous philological care and some discretional conventions: for instance, at the top of each page the commented-upon proposition is printed again, to make the sight complete and self-sufficient. On the other hand, some forcing of the text by the translators in their sequential reading could be eliminated, restoring a more literal translation. Also the famous and intriguing picture of the eye and its visual field (5.6331) has been restored as Wittgenstein drafted it, making the entire page perfectly understandable and coherent. This documented and editorial work on one of the most referenced books of the last century was conceived to obtain, and in fact gained, a perspicuous and crystal clear text, philologically faithful and relaxingly readable at the same time.

A Autobiografia do Pensamento: A Ciência da Lógica de Hegel / The Autobiography of Thought: Hegel’s Science of Logic

Fundaçao Fenix, 2020

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Se a Ciência da Lógica deve ser lida como o lugar de uma inigualável exposição crítica das categorias da metafísica ocidental desde Parmênides, como um discurso ontológico do ser sobre si mesmo na sua totalidade, imanente ao mundo natural e ao mundo histórico, então a decisão do título do Colóquio (A Autobiografia do Pensamento) dá voz à sugestão de que a lógica, como teoria conceptual do pensamento, é inevitavelmente uma ciência reflexiva, ou especulativa, na terminologia hegeliana. Assim como numa autobiografia o tema da narrativa é também o seu autor, a Lógica hegeliana é o pensamento acerca de si próprio, onde objeto e sujeito da narrativa coincidem, num processo de auto-explicação do puro pensar. A vida do pensar que a Ciência da Lógica procura apreender em pensamentos não é apenas uma pura categoria sem história, tampouco um horizonte de problemas restritos ao espírito do tempo de Hegel. A vida em questão inclui a sobrevivência ou continuidade de vida que essa obra experimenta enquanto possibilidade aberta de recriação por parte das gerações posteriores até o presente.


D. Ferrer, F. Orsini, M. Bordignon, A. Bavaresco, C. Iber, Klaus Vieweg, Leonardo Alves Vieira, Federico Orsini, Adilson Felicio Feiler, Márcia Zebina Araújo da Silva, María del Carmen Paredes-Martín, Arif Yildiz, Stephen Houlgate, Dario Sacchi, Joris Spigt, Jodi Guazzini, Agemir Bavaresco, Mattia Filippo Orsatti, Michela Bordignon, Diogo Ferrer, Emmanuel Chaput, Kaveh Boveiri, Ricardo Pereira Tassinari

‘Das Denken der Freiheit: Hegels Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts’ von Klaus Vieweg

Fink Wilhelm GmbH + Co.KG, 2012

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Ein großer Mann verdammt die Menschen dazu, ihn zu explizieren. G. W. F. Hegel Hegels Rechtsphilosophie gehört keineswegs auf den »Friedhof der vergessenen Bücher«, sondern liefert einen der entscheidenden Beiträge zum Verständnis der heutigen Zeit, den theoretisch gehaltvollsten Entwurf einer Philosophie des freien Handelns. Das Denken der Freiheit gibt die erste umfassende Interpretation des wirkungsmächtigsten und zugleich meistgeschmähten Hegel’schen Werkes – der Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts – und leistet damit einen Beitrag zur Hegel-Renaissance, zum anstehenden hegelian turn in der Philosophie. Das Buch zeigt den aktuellen Kern dieser praktischen Philosophie unter dem Blickwinkel ihrer logischen Tiefenstruktur.

‘The Idealism of Freedom: For a Hegelian Turn in Philosophy’ by Klaus Vieweg

Published by Brill in 2020.

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In The Idealism of Freedom, Klaus Vieweg argues for a Hegelian turn in philosophy. Hegel’s idealism of freedom contains a number of epoch-making ideas that articulate a new understanding of freedom, which still shape contemporary philosophy. Hegel establishes a modern logic, as well as the idea of a social state. With his distinction between civil society and the state he makes an innovative contribution to political philosophy. Hegel defends the idea of freedom for all in a modern society and is a sharp critic of every nationalism and racism. Vieweg’s study introduces these ideas into perspectives on freedom in contemporary philosophy.

‘Jacques Lacan: Psychoanalysis and the Subject of Literature’ by Jean-Michel Rabaté

Published by Red Globe Press in 2001.

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The French theorist Lacan has always been called a ‘literary’ theoretician. Here is, for the first time, a complete study of his literary analyses and examples, with an account of the importance of literature in the building of his highly original system of thought. Rabate offers a systematic genealogy of Lacan’s theory of literature, reconstructing a doctrine based upon Freudian insights, and revitalised through close readings of authors as diverse as Poe, Gide, Shakespeare, Plato, Claudel, Genet, Duras and Joyce. Not simply an essay about Lacan’s influences or style, this book shows how the emergence of key terms like the ‘letter’ and the ‘symptom’ would not have been possible without innovative readings of literary texts.


… Highly readable, packed with helpful background information, this book is sure to become a required text in literature and Lacan courses.

—Joan Copjec, Director, Center for the Study of Psychoanalysis and Culture, University of Buffalo

In his reading of Lacan (Rabaté) brings to bear a deep knowledge of the philosophical and psychological traditions within – and against – which Lacan worked, and an impressive intimacy with the literary texts, ranging form Sophocles’ Antigone to Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, which inspired so much of his discourse. To read this book is at once to be schooled in the wily iconoclasm of Lacan’s cultural engagements and stimulated into fresh thought about the force and function of literature.

—Professor Derek Attridge, University of York


Jean-Michel Rabaté is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania.

Karl Marx: Philosoph der Befreiung oder Theoretiker des Kapitals – zur Kritik der „neuen Marx-Lektüre“ von Karl Reitter

Mandelbaum Verlag eG, 2015

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Der Ausdruck „neue Marx-Lektüre“ wird von ihren ProtagonistInnen als positive Selbstbezeichnung verwendet. Vorgeblich soll es sich dabei um jene Marx-Rezeption handeln, die vorhergehende Irrtümer und Unzulänglichkeiten überwindet und den heutigen Standard einer niveauvollen Beschäftigung mit Marx darstellt.

Im vorliegenden Band wird dieser Anspruch methodisch und inhaltlich in Frage gestellt. Der Klassengegensatz wird in der „neuen Marx-Lektüre“ zugunsten eines klassenübergreifenden Strukturzusammenhangs des automatischen Subjekts Kapital relativiert. Dass im Marxschen Kapital eine „Theorie des Drängens gegen die Herrschaft“ vorliegt, so John Holloway in seinem Beitrag, wird zugunsten einer bloßen Beschreibung der Verhältnisse, die sich zumeist an den Phänomenen der Oberfläche der Zirkulation orientiert, aufgegeben. Kritik ist aber nur ein Aspekt der hier publizierten Texte, sie wird um positive Bestimmungen des Kapitalverhältnisses, nicht zuletzt hinsichtlich der Möglichkeit seiner Überwindung, erweitert und ergänzt.

Mit Beiträgen von: Jürgen Albohn, Johnny Anders, Roland Atzmüller, Tobias Brugger, Andreas Exner, Christoph Henning, John Holloway, Georg Klauda, Christoph Lieber, Gabriele Michalitsch, Fritz Reheis, Karl Reitter.


Karl Reitter unterrichtet Philosophie an der Universität Wien und Klagenfurt. Er hat sich mit einer Arbeit zu Marx und Spinoza habilitiert, ist langjähriger Redakteur der Zeitschrift grundrisse und lebt in Wien.

‘A Crack In Everything: On Paradox’ by Slavoj Žižek, Sophie Allen & Hilary Lawson

Video recording of a discussion between Slavoj Žižek, Sophie Allen & Hilary Lawson titled Crack In Everything: On Paradox held at the British Institute of Art and Ideas’ annual philosophy and music festival HowTheLightGetsIn on 25th November 2019 hosted by Shahidha Bari.


Once we assumed that reason and rationality would gradually uncover the truth. But from quantum mechanics to set theory, positivism to deconstruction, philosophical realism to philosophical relativism, it seems that paradox lies at the heart of our most revered theories and at the cornerstones of our thought. Are these paradoxes evidence that our theories are wrong and is it essential that they are overcome? Will we one day find our way out of the hall of mirrors if we reason hard enough? Or should we accept that paradox is an unavoidable consequence of the limits of human thought, and a hint of the greater world that lies beyond the limitations of human understanding?


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.

Sophie Allen is a metaphysician at Oxford.

Hilary Lawson is a post-realist philosopher and author of Reflexivity: the postmodern predicament.

‘Philosophy for Cynical Times’ An interview with Slavoj Žižek

Video recording of an interview with Slavoj Žižek recorded on 5th July 2021 at the British Institute of Art and Ideas, on topics from emancipation from ideology, to why liberals should be involved in anti-capitalist work, to navigating the most intensely political moment of our lifetime.


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.

‘Return of the Living Dead’ by Slavoj Žižek

As published in the British Institute of Art and Ideas News Issue 82, 28th October 2019.

Let us begin with Antigone who, according to Lacan, irradiates a sublime beauty from the very moment she enters the domain between two deaths, between her symbolic and her actual death. What characterizes her innermost posture is precisely her insistence on a certain unconditional demand on which she is not prepared to give way: a proper burial for her brother. It is the same with the ghost of Hamlet’s father, who returns from his grave with the demand that Hamlet revenge his infamous death. This connection between drive as an unconditional demand and the domain between the two deaths is also visible in popular culture.

In the film The Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a cyborg who returns to contemporary Los Angeles from the future, with the intention of killing the mother of a future leader. The horror of this figure consists precisely in the fact that it functions as a programmed automaton who, even when all that remains of him is a metallic, legless skeleton, persists in his demand and pursues his victim with no trace of compromise or hesitation. The terminator is the embodiment of the drive, devoid of desire. In two other films, we encounter two versions of the same motive, one comical, the other pathetic-tragic.

In George Romero’s omnibus Creepshow (screenplay by Stephen King), a family is gathered around the dinner table to celebrate the anniversary of their father’s death. Years earlier, his sister had killed him at his birthday party by hitting him on the head in response to his endlessly repeated demand, “Daddy wants his cake!” Suddenly, a strange noise is heard from the family cemetery behind the house; the dead father climbs from his grave, kills his murderous sister, cuts off the head of his wife, puts it on the tray, smears it with cream, decorates it with candles and mumbles contentedly: “Daddy got his cake!”—a demand that has persisted beyond the grave until satisfied. The cult film Robocop, a futuristic story about a policeman shot to death and then revived after all parts of his body have been replaced by artificial substitutes, introduces a more tragic note: the hero who finds himself literally “between two deaths”—clinically dead and at the same time provided with a new, mechanical body—starts to remember fragments of his previous, “human” life and thus undergoes a process of resubjectivation, changing gradually back from pure incarnated drive to a being of desire.

The ease with which examples from popular culture can be found should come as no surprise: if there is a phenomenon that fully deserves to be called the “fundamental fantasy of contemporary mass culture,” it is this fantasy of the return of the living dead: the fantasy of a person who does not want to stay dead but returns again and again to pose a threat to the living. The unattained archetype of a long series—from the psychotic killer in Halloween to Jason in Friday the Thirteenth—is still George Romero’s The Night of the Living Dead, where the “undead” are not portrayed as embodiments of pure evil, of a simple drive to kill or revenge, but as sufferers, pursuing their victims with an awkward persistence, colored by a kind of infinite sadness (as in Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu, in which the vampire is not a simple machinery of evil with a cynical smile on his lips, but a melancholic sufferer longing for salvation).

Apropos of this phenomenon, let us then ask a naïve and elementary question: why do the dead return? The answer offered by Lacan is the same as that found in popular culture: because they were not properly, buried, i.e., because something went wrong with their obsequies. The return of the dead is sign of a disturbance in the symbolic rite, in the process of symbolization; the dead return as collectors of some unpaid symbolic debt. This is the basic lesson drawn by Lacan from Antigone and Hamlet. The plots of both plays involve improper funeral rites, and the “living dead”—Antigone and the ghost of Hamlet’s father—return to settle symbolic accounts. The return of the living dead, then, materializes a certain symbolic debt persisting beyond physical expiration.

It is commonplace to state that symbolization as such equates to symbolic murder: when we speak about a thing, we suspend, place in parentheses, its reality. It is precisely for this reason that the funeral rite exemplifies symbolization at its purest: through it, the dead are inscribed in the text of symbolic tradition, they are assured that, in spite of their death, they will “continue to live” in the memory of the community. The “return of the living dead” is, on the other hand, the reverse of the proper funeral rite. While the latter implies a certain reconciliation, an acceptance of loss, the return of the dead signifies that they cannot find their proper place in the text of tradition.

The two great traumatic events of the holocaust and the gulag are, of course, exemplary cases of the return of the dead in the twentieth century. The shadows of their victims will continue to chase us as “living dead” until we give them a decent burial, until we integrate the trauma of their death into our historical memory. The same may be said of the “primordial crime” that founded history itself, the murder of the ”primal father” (re)constructed by Freud in Totem and Taboo: the murder of the father is integrated into the symbolic universe insofar as the dead father begins to reign as the symbolic agency of the Name-of-the-Father. This transformation, this integration, however, is never brought about without remainder; there is always a certain leftover that returns in the form of the obscene and revengeful figure of the Father-of-Enjoyment, of this figure split between cruel revenge and crazy laughter, as, for example, the famous Freddie from Nightmare on Elm Street.


This article is an extract from Slavoj Žižek’s book Looking Awry: An Introduction to Jacques Lacan hrough Popular Culture published by MIT Press (October Books) in 1991.

‘Hegel with Neuralink: Will our Immersion into Singularity Save Us from the Fall?’ by Slavoj Žižek

Video recording of a paper delivered by Žižek at the Film and Television Studies Program at University of Vermont, United States on 16th April 2019.


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 Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination’ by Sheera Frenkel & Cecilia Kang

Published by Harper in July 2021

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“The ultimate takedown.” – New York Times Book Review

Award-winning New York Times reporters Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang unveil the tech story of our times in a riveting, behind-the-scenes exposé that offers the definitive account of Facebook’s fall from grace.

Frenkel and Kang take readers inside the complex court politics, alliances and rivalries within the company to shine a light on the fatal cracks in the architecture of the tech behemoth. Their explosive, exclusive reporting led them to a shocking conclusion: The missteps of the last five years were not an anomaly but an inevitability—this is how Facebook was built to perform.

Once one of Silicon Valley’s greatest success stories, Facebook has been under constant fire for the past five years, roiled by controversies and crises. It turns out that while the tech giant was connecting the world, they were also mishandling users’ data, spreading fake news, and amplifying dangerous, polarizing hate speech.

The company, many said, had simply lost its way. But the truth is far more complex. Leadership decisions enabled, and then attempted to deflect attention from, the crises. Time after time, Facebook’s engineers were instructed to create tools that encouraged people to spend as much time on the platform as possible, even as those same tools boosted inflammatory rhetoric, conspiracy theories, and partisan filter bubbles. And while consumers and lawmakers focused their outrage on privacy breaches and misinformation, Facebook solidified its role as the world’s most voracious data-mining machine, posting record profits, and shoring up its dominance via aggressive lobbying efforts.

Drawing on their unrivaled sources, Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang take readers inside the complex court politics, alliances and rivalries within the company to shine a light on the fatal cracks in the architecture of the tech behemoth. Their explosive, exclusive reporting led them to a shocking conclusion: The missteps of the last five years were not an anomaly but an inevitability—this is how Facebook was built to perform. In a period of great upheaval, growth has remained the one constant under the leadership of Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg. Both have been held up as archetypes of uniquely 21st century executives—he the tech “boy genius” turned billionaire, she the ultimate woman in business, an inspiration to millions through her books and speeches. But sealed off in tight circles of advisers and hobbled by their own ambition and hubris, each has stood by as their technology is coopted by hate-mongers, criminals and corrupt political regimes across the globe, with devastating consequences. In An Ugly Truth, they are at last held accountable.


Table of Contents:

Authors’ Note
Prologue: At Any Cost
Chapter 1: Don’t Poke the Bear
Chapter 2: The Next Big Thing
Chapter 3: What Business Are We In?
Chapter 4: The Rat Catcher
Chapter 5: The Warrant Canary
Chapter 6: A Pretty Crazy Idea
Chapter 7: Company over Country
Chapter 8: Delete Facebook
Chapter 9: Think Before You Share
Chapter 10: The Wartime Leader
Chapter 11: Coalition of the Willing
Chapter 12: Existential Threat
Chapter 13: The Oval Interference
Chapter 14: Good for the World
Epilogue: The Long Game

‘Subjects in the Ancient and Modern World: On Hegel’s Theory of Subjectivity’ by Allegra de Laurentiis

Published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2005.

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Being a subject and being conscious of being one are different realities. According to Hegel, the difference is not only conceptual, but also influences people’s experience of the world and of one another. This book aims to explain some basic aspects of Hegel’s conception of subjectivity with particular regard to the difference he saw in ancient and modern ways of thinking about and acting as individuals, persons and moral subjects.


Allegra de Laurentiis is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She has been teaching and writing on the history of Western philosophy for the past twenty years.

‘Hegel’s Anthropology: Life, Psyche, and Second Nature’ by Allegra de Laurentiis

Published by Northwestern University Press in 2021

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This book provides a critical analysis of Hegel’s Anthropology, a long-neglected treatise dedicated to the psyche, or “soul,” that bridges Hegel’s philosophy of organic nature with his philosophy of subjective spirit. Allegra de Laurentiis recuperates this overlooked text, guiding readers through its   essential arguments and ideas. She shows how Hegel conceives of the “sublation” of natural motion, first into animal sentience and then into the felt presentiment of selfhood, all the way to the threshold of self-reflexive thinking.

She discusses the Anthropology in the context of Hegel’s mature system of philosophy (the Encyclopaedia) while also exposing some of the scientific and philosophical sources of his conceptions of unconscious states, psychosomatism, mental pathologies, skill formation, memorization, bodily habituation, and the self-conditioning capacities of our species. This treatise on the becoming of anthropos, she argues, displays the power and limitations of Hegel’s idealistic “philosophy of the real” in connecting such phenomena as erect posture, a discriminating hand, and the forward gaze to the emergence of the human ego, or the structural disintegration of the social world to the derangement of the individual mind.

A groundbreaking contribution to scholarship on Hegel and nineteenth-century philosophy, this book shows that the Anthropology is essential to understanding Hegel’s concept of spirit, not only in its connection with nature but also in its more sophisticated realizations as objective and absolute spirit. Future scholarship on this subject will recount—and build upon—de Laurentiis’s innovative study.


Allegra de Laurentiis is a professor of philosophy at Stony Brook University. She is the author of Subjects in the Ancient and Modern World: On Hegel’s Theory of Subjectivity, the editor of Hegel and Metaphysics: On Logic and Ontology in the System, and the coeditor of The Bloomsbury Companion to Hegel.

‘The Legacy of the French Revolution’ by Slavoj Žižek

Philosopher Slavoj Žižek joined The Jacobin Show hosted by Jen Pan, Ariella Thornhill, and Paul Prescod of the British Jacobin Magazine on Bastille Day (14th July 2021) to discuss why the French Revolution still matters and how the Left today can embrace the the radical spirit of the Enlightenment.


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.

‘Marxism and Modernism: An Historical Study of Lukács, Brecht, Benjamin, and Adorno’ by Eugene Lunn

Published by University of California Press in 1982.

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“At a time when modernism and Marxism are both under attack as outmoded, Eugene Lunn’s rich and detailed study of the years of their most creative interaction reminds us of the still potent energies unleashed by each. We could ask for no more reliable and judicious guide through the complicated debates generated by the struggle to define a viable Marxist aesthetics in the era of the avant-garde. Lukács, Brecht, Benjamin and Adorno, four masters of the tradition of Marxist cultural theory and practice, are themselves well-served by a contemporary master of intellectual history.”

—Martin Jay, University of California, Berkeley

“Lunn examines the relations between Marxism and modernism as they appear in the careers of four figures who were representative of diverse orientations and possibilities within each …. Their debates and confrontations, both actual and implied, reveal many facets of the modernist movement, and of Marxism as it has developed in the twentieth century. Lunn provides an excellent and valuable account of this important and compelling subject. His book is solidly informed, insightful, imaginative, and thought-provoking.”

—Jerrold Seigel, American Historical Review

“Lunn expertly constructs the major part of his book around two axes, the so-called Brecht-Lukacs debate and the Adorno-Benjamin debate. Even here, however, Lunn manages to compare each member of these two dyads with each of the others, so that a subtle, many sided discussion of contrasts and similarities results. . . All in all, this is an excellent work–to my mind the best condensed treatment of the confrontation between Marxism and modernism that exists in any language.”

—David Gross, Telos

“Unerringly intelligent and judicious, the book provides economical accounts of the careers and theories of its chosen critics, places them in historical context, and prefaces them with brief but cogent surveys of Marx’s own fragmentary aesthetics and of artistic modernism. . . . Marxism and Modernism offers a splendidly well researched and amenable study of the most fertile developments in Marxist aesthetics.”

—Terry Eagleton, Journal of Modern History


Eugene Lunn (1941-1990) was Professor of History at the University of California Davis.

‘The Philosophical Stage: Drama and Dialectic in Classical Athens’ by Joshua Billings

Published by Princeton University Press in 2021.

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The Philosophical Stage offers an innovative approach to ancient Greek literature and thought that places drama at the heart of intellectual history. Drawing on evidence from tragedy and comedy, Joshua Billings shines new light on the development of early Greek philosophy, arguing that drama is our best source for understanding the intellectual culture of classical Athens.

In this incisive book, Billings recasts classical Greek intellectual history as a conversation across discourses and demonstrates the significance of dramatic reflections on widely shared theoretical questions. He argues that neither “literature” nor “philosophy” was a defined category in the fifth century BCE, and develops a method of reading dramatic form as a structured investigation of issues at the heart of the emerging discipline of philosophy.

A breathtaking work of intellectual history by one of today’s most original classical scholars, The Philosophical Stage presents a novel approach to ancient drama and sets a path for a renewed understanding of early Greek thought.


Joshua Billings is professor of classics at Princeton University. He is the author of Genealogy of the Tragic: Greek Tragedy and German Philosophy (Princeton), which won the 2015 Society for Classical Studies Charles J. Goodwin Award of Merit.

‘The Shock of the Same: An Anti-Philosophy of Clichés’ by Tom Grimwood

Published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2021.

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Since the birth of modernity, Western thought has been at war with clichés. The association of philosophical and cultural integrity with originality, and the corresponding need for invention and novelty, has been a distinct concern of a whole spectrum of ideas and movements, from Nietzsche’s polemics against the ‘herd’, the ‘shock of the new’ of the artistic avant-garde, the Frankfurt School’s critique of mass culture, to Orwell’s defence of political dialogue from ‘dying metaphors’.

This book is the first examination of the cliché as a philosophical concept. Challenging the idea that clichés are lazy or spurious opposites to genuine thinking, it instead locates them as a dynamic and contestable boundary between ‘thought’ and ‘non-thought’. The book unpacks the constituent phenomena of clichés – repetition, circulation, the readymade, same-ness – through readings of ‘anti-philosophical’ thinkers such as Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Paulhan, de Certeau, Derrida, Sloterdijk, Badiou and Groys. In doing so, the book critically articulates the techniques and technologies through which the boundary between ‘thought’ and ‘non-thought’ is formed in modern Western philosophy.

Rejecting the idea that clichés should be dismissed out of hand on normative frameworks of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ thinking, or ‘new’ and ‘old’ ideas, it instead interrogates the material, cultural and archival ground on which these frameworks are built.


Tom Grimwood is senior research fellow at the University of Cumbria. He has published on a broad range of topics within the field of cultural hermeneutics, from Nietzschean misogyny to medieval anorexia, and his research has a particular focus on representations of ambiguity within the act of interpretation. He is the author of two books: Irony, Misogyny and Interpretation, and Key Debates in Social Work and Philosophy.

‘Acts of Literature’ by Jacques Derrida

Published by Routledge in 1991.

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Jacques Derrida (1930—2004) was one of the most influential figures in literary theory in the English-speaking world, yet much of his writing on literary texts and on the question of literature is not easily available in translation.

Acts of Literature brings together for the first time a number of these works—on French, German, and English literary texts and figures—including Rousseau, Mallarme, Joyce, Shakespeare, and Kafka. Also included is a substantial interview with Derrida on questions of literature, deconstruction, politics, feminism, and history. For those unfamiliar with Derrida’s writing, editor Derek Attridge provides an introductory essay on deconstruction and the question of literature, as well as suggestions for further reading.

Acts of Literature will serve as an excellent introduction to Derrida’s remarkable contribution to literary studies, and will help refocus attention on the importance of literature, an on such topics as singularity, responsibility, and affirmation, in his work as a philosopher and critic of institutions.

‘Love and Its Place in Nature: A Philosophical Interpretation of Freudian Psychoanalysis’ by Jonathan Lear

Published by The Noonday Press in 1991.

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In this brilliant book, Jonathan Lear argues that Freud posits love as a basic force in nature, one that makes individuation―the condition for psychological health and development―possible. Love is active not just in the development of the individual but also in individual analysis and indeed in the development of psychoanalysis itself, says Lear. Expanding on philosophical conceptions of love, nature, and mind, Lear shows that love can cure because it is the force that makes us human.


Jonathan Lear is John U. Nef Distinguished Service Professor and a member of the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. He is a graduate of the Western New England Institute for Psychoanalysis and was trained in philosophy at the University of Cambridge and Rockefeller University. Before going to Chicago, he taught at Yale University and the University of Cambridge, where he was a fellow and director of Studies in Philosophy at Clare College. He is also the author of Open Minded: Working Out the Logic of the Soul, Aristotle: The Desire to Understand, and Aristotle and Logical Theory.

‘The Guillotine and the Terror’ by Daniel Arasse

Published by Penguin in 1989.

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The guillotine is the ultimate expression of Law, and its flame is vengeance; it is not neutral, nor does it allow us to remain neutral. He who sees it shudders with an inexplicable dismay. All social questions achieve their finality around that blade. The scaffold is an image. It is not merely a lifeless mechanism of wood, iron and rope. It is as though it were a being having its own dark purpose, as though the framework saw, the machine listened, the mechanism understood; as though that arrangement of wood and iron and rope expressed a will. In the hideous picture which its presence evokes it seems to be most terribly a part of what it does. It is a kind of monster created by the judge and the craftsman; a spectre seeming to live an awful life born of the death it deals.

—Victor Hugo


This book sets out to answer an apparently simple question: Why does the guillotine inspire such fear? What makes it so abhorrent?

This fascinating essay takes us directly into the historical moment when the guillotine asserted its theatrical hold on the revolutionary stage: the Jacobin Terror of the 1790s. In addition to the story of the guillotine’s progress – from Joseph Ignace Guillotin’s modest proposal for a medically efficient, humanitarian execution machine to its democratic consecration in January 1793 as the instrument for killing a king – The Guillotine and the Terror offers a tour de force of the issues that conspired to transform this most rational of machines into a production-line of peremptory justice.

A mirror of the Revolution and its contradictions the guillotine can be seen as the begetter of a new philosophy of the headless body politic, and its rich iconography as the source for a new kind of criminal portraiture. The final invention of the industrious Enlightenment, the guillotine was above all a spectacular perversion of the medical art, revealing its true nature as an art – and industry – of dying.

‘Take a Closer Look’ by Daniel Arasse

Published by Princeton University Press in 2013.

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What happens when we look at a painting? What do we think about? What do we imagine? How can we explain, even to ourselves, what we see or think we see? And how can art historians interpret with any seriousness what they observe? In six engaging, short narrative “fictions,” each richly illustrated in color, Daniel Arasse, one of the most brilliant art historians of our time, cleverly and gracefully guides readers through a variety of adventures in seeing, from Velázquez to Titian, Bruegel to Tintoretto.

By demonstrating that we don’t really see what these paintings are trying to show us, Arasse makes it clear that we need to take a closer look. In chapters that each have a different form, including a letter, an interview, and an animated conversation with a colleague, the book explores how these pictures teach us about ways of seeing across the centuries. In the process, Arasse freshly lays bare the dazzling power of painting. Fast-paced and full of humor as well as insight, this is a book for anyone who cares about really looking at, seeing, and understanding paintings.


Daniel Arasse (1944-2003) was professor of art history at the Sorbonne, director of the French Institute in Florence, and director of studies at l’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales. His many books include VermeerBotticelli, and Anselm Kiefer.

‘The Return and Other Stories’ by Andrey Platonov

Published by Random House in 2016.

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Reading Platonov, one gets a sense of the relentless, implacable absurdity built into the language and with each…utterance, that absurdity deepens” —Joseph Brodsky


People are on the move in all ten stories in this collection, coming home as in “The Return“, leaving home as in “Rubbish Wind“, travelling far away from their country as in “The Locks of Epiphan“, trying to improve their lives and those of others, running away, searching, fleeing. Their journeys are accompanied by two motives which characterize the writing of Andrey Platonov: optimism and faith in the goodness of humanity, and abject despair at the cruelty, randomness, and apparent senselessness of our existence. The protagonists are torn between these poles and sometimes a synthesis shines through the mists of the apparent naivety of faith and the blackness of despair: the hope against hope that a better life is still possible.

Though Russian readers and critics have come to look on Platonov as among their greatest prose writers of this century, he has yet to enjoy a parallel international reputation – mainly because much of his best writing was suppressed for more than 60 years. Combining a realism inspired by his work as an engineer with poetic vision and the deceptively simple language of folk tales, Platonov sets his stories alight by using language in a way that renders it unfamiliar, makes the ordinary seem unusual and the extraordinary logical. This translation is the first to present the full range of Platonov’s gift as a short story writer to an English-language readership, showing why it is that Joseph Brodsky regarded Platonov as the equal of Joyce, Kafka and Proust.


…strange, almost abrupt, a hallucinatory, nightmarish parable of hysterical laughter and terrifying silences.

—Eileen Battersby, Irish Times (reference to The Foundation Pit)

‘Soul and Other Stories’ by Andrey Platonov

Published by Vintage Classics in 2013.

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For the mind, everything is in the future’ Platonov once wrote; ‘for the heart, everything is in the past’. The protagonist of Soul is a young man torn between these opposing desires, sent as a kind of missionary to bring the values of modern Russia to his childhood home town in Central Asia. In this strange, haunting novella, as well as in the seven stories that accompany it, a rediscovered master of twentieth century Russian literature is shown at his wisest and most humane.

‘The Foundation Pit’ by Andrey Platonov

Download includes three different editions and translations from Russian into English.

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Platonov’s dystopian novel describes the lives of a group of Soviet workers who believe they are laying the foundations for a radiant future. As they work harder and dig deeper, their optimism turns to violence and it becomes clear that what is being dug is not a foundation pit but an immense grave.


Andrey Platonovich Platonov (1899–1951) was the son of a railway worker. The eldest of eleven children, he began work at the age of thirteen, eventually becoming an engine driver’s assistant. He began publishing poems and articles in 1918, while studying engineering. Throughout much of the Twenties Platonov worked as a land reclamation expert, draining swamps, digging wells, and also building three small power stations. Between 1927 and 1932 he wrote his most politically controversial works, some of them first published in the Soviet Union only in the late 1980s. Other stories were published but subjected to vicious criticism. Stalin is reputed to have written “scum” in the margin of the story For Future Use, and to have said to Alexander Fadeyev (later Secretary of the Writers’ Union), “Give him a good belting—for future use!” During the Thirties Platonov made several public confessions of error, but went on writing stories only marginally more acceptable to the authorities. His son was sent to the Gulag in 1938, aged fifteen; he was released three years later, only to die of the tuberculosis he had contracted there. From September 1942, after being recommended to the chief editor of Red Star by his friend Vasily Grossman, Platonov worked as a war correspondent and managed to publish several volumes of stories; after the war, however, he was again almost unable to publish. He died in 1951, of tuberculosis caught from his son. Happy Moscow, one of his finest short novels, was first published in 1991; a complete text of Soul was first published only in 1999; letters, notebook entries, and unfinished stories continue to appear.

‘Reason and Revolution: Hegel and the Rise of Social Theory’ by Herbert Marcuse

Published by Woolf Haus Publishing in 2020.

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Reason and Revolution: Hegel and the Rise of Social Theory is the philosopher Herbert Marcuse’s first major work in English – a masterful interpretation of Hegel’s philosophy and the influence it has had on European political thought from the French Revolution to the present day.

Reason & Revolution, written in 1941, was the first Hegelian Marxist text to appear in English, the first systematic study of Hegel by a Marxist, and the first work in English to discuss the young Marx seriously. It introduced introduced Hegelian and Marxist concepts such as alienation, subjectivity, negativity, and the Frankfurt School’s critique of positivism to a wide international audience.

Acclaimed for its profound and undistorted reading of Hegel’s social and political theory, the appreciation of Reason and Revolution has remained high, more relevant now than ever before. There is no better guide than Marcuse to where we have been and to what we might expect.


In my books, I have tried to make a critique of society — and not only of capitalist society — in terms that avoid all ideology, even the socialist ideology. I have tried to show that contemporary society is a repressive society in all its aspects, that even the comfort, the prosperity, the alleged political and moral freedom, are utilised for oppressive ends.

—Herbert Marcuse, The New York Times Magazine


Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979) was a philosopher, sociologist, and political theorist. He studied at the University of Berlin and the University of Freiburg, and became a crucial figure at the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research, and of the Frankfurt School of social theory. He was forced to leave Germany in 1933, eventually settling in the United States, where he would spend much of his life and taught at many of the country’s greatest schools and universities.

A Hegelian-Freudian-Marxist, Marcuse highlighted the cultural forms of repression and the role of technology and the expansion of the production of consumer goods in the maintenance of the stability of capitalism. His classic studies of capitalist society were important influences on the New Left of the 1960s and 1970s and his libertarian socialism remains an important intellectual resource.

Philosophical speculation seldom attracts headlines, let alone threats of death. Yet such was the fate that overtook Herbert Marcuse in the late 1960s, when he was catapulted into international controversy as a prophet of the revolutionary student movement. Among his major writings are Reason and RevolutionOne-Dimensional Man, and Eros and Civilization.

‘Studies in Critical Philosophy’ by Herbert Marcuse

Published by Beacon Press in 1973.

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This collection of essays first appeared as ‘Neue Quellen zur Grundlegung des Historischen Materialismus’ in Die Gesellschaft (Berlin) in 1932, as a review of Marx’s newly published Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844.


Table of Contents

Translator’s Note
1. The Foundation of Historical Materialism (1932)
2. A Study on Authority (1936)
Introduction
I. Luther and Calvin
II. Kant
III. Hegel
IV. Counter-Revolution and Restoration
V. Marx
VI. The Transformation of the Bourgeois Theory of Authority into the Theory of the Totalitarian State (Sorel and Pareto)
3. Sartre’s Existentialism (1948)
4. Karl Popper and the Problem of Historical Laws (1959)
5. Freedom and the Historical Imperative (1969)

‘Parallax: The Dialectics of Mind and World’ edited by Dominik Finkelde, Slavoj Žižek & Christoph Menke


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Parallax, or the change in the position of an object viewed along two different lines of sight and more precisely, the assumption that this adjustment is not only due to a change of focus, but a change in that object’s ontological status has been a key philosophical concept throughout history.

Building upon Slavoj Žižek’s The Parallax View, this volume shows how parallax is used as a figure of thought that proves how the incompatibility between the physical and the theoretical touches not only upon the ontological, but also politics and aesthetics. With articles written by internationally renowned philosophers such as Frank Ruda, Graham Harman, Paul Livingston and Žižek himself, this book shows how modes of parallax remain in numerous modern theoretical disciplines, such as the Marxian parallax in the critique of political economy and politics; and the Hegelian parallax in the concept of the work of art, while also being important to debates surrounding speculative realism and dialectical materialism. Spanning philosophy, parallax is then a rich and fruitful concept that can illuminate the studies of those working in epistemology, ontology, German Idealism, political philosophy and critical theory.

We Have to Talk About the Protests in Colombia

This clip is an excerpt from the DVD of Žižek! by Astra Taylor (2005).

After we’ve posted an online copy of the recent Open Letter to the Public About the Situation in Colombia here on theoryreader.org, a letter that was signed among many other international public intellectuals by Žižek himself, we (Simon Gros & Daniel Mesa) have decided to produce a cooperative longer political research paper on the topic of censorship today, both (1) in the more general abstract philosophical sense of the term, and (2) especially regarding the specific ongoing political situation in Colombia, both (a) how censorship is working inside the country in efforts to cover up the continuous unrests and protests, and (b) also the way reports on the protests there are themselves being censored in very refined ways across the entire Europe, making people who otherwise tend to report on such issues (media, leftist political parties, activists, etc.) completely unaware of the struggles there.

This post is just a brief announcement of the ongoing project of the forthcoming research paper, currently under the working title of ‘Silence as a Form of Censorship from Europe to Colombia’, which is planned to appear shortly and in trilingual form: English, Spanish and Slovene, although it’s not currently known where it will eventually be published, except of course on theoryreader.org itself.

If anyone would like to contribute to our project in any way, you can contact us at simon.gros.1990@gmail.com (Simon) or daniel.mesab@udea.edu.co (Daniel). If not, you can still help financially by donating to theoryreader.org itself.


Daniel Mesa is an undergraduate student of History at University of Antioquia, Colombia.

Simon Gros is an independent researcher in Maribor, Slovenia and sole editor of theoryreader.org

‘Event: A Philosophical Journey Through A Concept’ by Slavoj Žižek

Recorded 23 September, 2014 at the Free Library of Philadelphia and published online on 19 June, 2019.

Slavoj Žižek is the author of dozens of books and articles and the subject of a score of interviews and documentaries, considered to be a leading public intellectual of the 21st century, and a towering figure in Marxist ideology critique, Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, and Hegelian philosophy. Adopting a radical style in his newspaper op-eds and academic works has earned him an international following and relevancy.

In this talk he discusses various notions such as violence, fundamentalism, ideology, political correctness, freedom, etc. His book previously published under the same title as this paper presentation, Event: A Philosophical Journey Through A Concept asks fundamental questions about what is really happening when an event occurs, whether events are interconnected, and if we are really agents of our own fates.

‘Reality as Materialized Ideology’ by Slavoj Žižek

Video recording of a paper delivered by Žižek for the occasion of 10th anniversary edition of the DigitalFUTURES series hosted by Tongji University, Shanghai on 12th June 2021. The presentation mostly includes various points developed by Žižek which should already be well known to the followers of his work done throughout the past decade, and mainly focuses on the specific Hegelian dialectical idea of how the notion of reality is a kind of an incomplete, imperfect material manifestation of the general predominant social ideology. For more information see their official website at digitalfutures.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.

‘Contingency, Hegemony, Universality: Contemporary Dialogues on the Left’ by Judith Butler, Ernesto Laclau & Slavoj Žižek

Published by Verso in 2000. Download link updated on 8. July 2021.

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What is the contemporary legacy of Gramsci’s notion of Hegemony? How can universality be reformulated now that its spurious versions have been so thoroughly criticized?

In this unusual, but ground-breaking project, Judith Butler, Ernesto Laclau and Slavoj Žižek engaged in a dialogue on central questions of contemporary philosophy and politics. Their essays, organized as separate contributions that respond to one another, range over the Hegelian legacy in contemporary critical theory, the theoretical dilemmas of multiculturalism, the universalism-versus-particularism debate, the strategies of the Left in a globalized economy, and the relative merits of post-structuralism and Lacanian psychoanalysis for a critical social theory.

While the rigor and intelligence with which these writers approach their work is formidable, Contingency, Hegemony, Universality benefits additionally from their clear sense of energy and enjoyment in a revealing and often unpredictable exchange.


Judith Butler is an American post-structuralist and feminist philosopher who has contributed to the fields of feminism, political philosophy and ethics. She is currently a professor in the Rhetoric and Comparative Literature departments at the University of California, Berkeley. Butler received her Ph.D. in philosophy from Yale University in 1984, for a dissertation subsequently published as Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth-Century France. In the late-1980s she held several teaching and research appointments, and was involved in “post-structuralist” efforts within Western feminist theory to question the “presuppositional terms” of feminism. Her research ranges from literary theory, modern philosophical fiction, feminist and sexuality studies, to 19th- and 20th-century European literature and philosophy, Kafka and loss, and mourning and war. Her most recent work focuses on Jewish philosophy and exploring pre- and post-Zionist criticisms of state violence.

Ernesto Laclau was an Argentine political theorist often described as post-Marxist. He was a professor at the University of Essex where he held a chair in Political Theory and was for many years director of the doctoral Programme in Ideology and Discourse Analysis. He has lectured extensively in many universities in North America, South America, Western Europe, Australia, and South Africa.

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.

‘New Reflections on the Revolution of Our Time’ by Ernesto Laclau

Published by Verso in 1990. Download link updated on 8. July 2021.

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New Reflections on the Revolution of Our Time continues the innovative exploration of major issues concerning democracy and socialism which was staked out in Hegemony and Socialist Strategy. Examining the meanings of social struggle in the context of late capitalism, Laclau situates the re-making of political identities within a framework of democratic revolution. The critical method is one which describes major structural changes in the contemporary world-system at the same time as it theorizes a coherent and radical interpretative form. This marriage of politics and theory allows the book to embrace topics ranging from the relationship between Marxism and psychoanalysis to the historical significance of May 1968 and forms of political struggle in the third world. In a final section of illuminating interviews the author expounds his most recent thought on politics and philosophy.

Open Letter to the Public About the Situation in Colombia


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COLOMBIA—June 21, 2021

Academics and intellectuals from several countries express our rejection and condemnation of the ongoing violations of human rights in Colombia in the context of the 2021 National Strike and its massive protests.

Since April 28th, different social sectors of the Colombian population took to the streets to demonstrate against a Tax Reform proposed by the National Government that severely affected the middle class and the most impoverished groups, and in turn favored large private companies and the ruling classes. Thousands of citizens flooded the streets and public squares of large cities and small villages throughout the country to peacefully express their discontent. The protagonists of these historical events are protesters, among whom the unemployed youths and those with few employment opportunities—people who do not see a good future for themselves in this country—stand out.

After one month of mobilizations, a social movement has emerged that gathers the voices of many Colombian citizens—whose motives and demands transcend the original ones— overcoming the opposition to the Tax Reform, and pointing to structural problems and social inequality exacerbated by the pandemic. These protests are the social outbreak of a generalized indignation, already evident since the previous National Strike of 2019. Such indignation—amplified by the historical debt of the government with those marginalized and impoverished social sectors—is the actual trigger of the current situation in the country. This is why—despite the withdrawal of the Tax Reform and other unpopular measures such as the Health Reform—the demonstrations continue. In response to the protests, the Government of President Iván Duque Márquez has deployed the Police forces, Mobile Anti-Riot Squadron (known in Spanish as ESMAD) and the Military Forces throughout the country, causing an alarming number of violent situations involving human rights violations. The government holds that the use of force aims at safeguarding citizens’ right to mobility and their private and public property from what it calls organized structures of “vandals” and “terrorists”, thus stigmatizing social protesters.

Videos and Images of these events have flooded social networks, allowing international media to report on the repression and violations of human rights happening in Colombia. These images, that come from all around the country, are the result of the desperation of thousands of Colombians who, faced with the misinformation and false statements of traditional mass media, find no other choice but to denounce themselves with their own means the police cruelty, censorship, electrical network shutdowns, and suspension of the internet service that are taking place. At the present time, some of the international media have been available in the country registering directly many of such human rights violations.

To this day, Colombian President Iván Duque and his cabinet insist that these events are isolated cases and do not constitute a systematic practice, despite the fact that several NGOs have documented more than a couple thousand cases of excess police force: thousands of reported arbitrary arrests and victims of physical violence, hundreds cases of fire arm use by the police and unknown civilians against protesters—collusion of the State with groups of private security to carry out actions that are exclusive to the public force—dozens of deaths, cases of sexual violence at the hands of armed forces, and eye injuries. In addition, other concrete forms of violence perpetrated by the State stand out, like displacement and persecution for racial reasons, harassment and attacks against the medical missions and journalists, illegal raids, and threats against social leaders.

Furthermore, some spokesmen of Iván Duque’s government—since the beginning of his mandate—have reiteratively stigmatized and criminalized human rights defenders, activists, environmentalists, young people, and former FARC-EP members who demobilized as part of the negotiations of the 2016 Peace Agreement. Thus, in a similar way, they have also accused current National Strike’s protesters of belonging to groups outside the law, such as drug trafficking mafias and leftist guerrillas, thus promoting and validating the use of excessive public force against them. It is striking how this stigmatization and criminalization, which also comes from prominent public figures, evolved into a call for civilians to take up arms against protesters giving them free license to make use of deadly paramilitary strategies with impunity.

The government’s militaristic approach reveals its alienation from, and disregard for those citizens who have legitimately taken the streets. Understanding the ongoing protests in Colombia requires recognizing that the current discontent is the result of decades of accumulation of profound and unresolved social problems—the result of current and past claims long contained through the emphasis in the historical armed conflict and State repression—which have finally exploded.

Although the national government has provided some spaces for dialogue with certain groups, they have been unsuccessful. On the one hand, the government’s staunch rejection of the blockades has hindered reaching consensus, for it neglects the brutal impacts of its repressive response—which it deems justifiable, proportionate and non-negotiable, as long as blockades exist—and also the centrality of the crucial economic, social and political problems that afflict a large sector of the country’s population. On the other hand, the so-called Coalition of Hope and the National Strike Committee have failed to articulate the various demands of the social majorities that call for a space to be heard.

The negative of the government to acknowledge its disproportionate use of repression, along with the representativeness crisis and the evident lack of real spaces for dialogue, are the main reasons that haven’t allowed the different interlocutors to find action paths to solve the main issues that fuel the protests. At the present moment, repression from police and other kinds of institutional violence intensify throughout the country, concretely due to president Ivan Duque’s non negotiable decree of “Military Assistance”1

Furthermore, the Colombian people have unsuccessfully raised to the Colombian government the legitimate demand to de-escalate State violence against protesters, cease the criminalization of the social protests and generate the public debates necessary to address the social, economic and political transformations that the country seeks.

We then urge the Colombian Government and President Iván Duque to comply with the demands for an end to the institutional violence against protesters and civilians in general. Additionally, we recommend promoting and guaranteeing spaces for public and concerted dialogue with all the sectors of society that are part of the current demonstrations, particularly those that are not represented in the few meetings that the Government has had with some organizations.

We also urge the Colombian Government and civil society to advance in the search for alternatives to this vicious circle of repression and structural violence. We encourage them to devise alternatives that help to transform daily life and to build new forms of peaceful coexistence, in the same way that many forms of solidarity have spontaneously taken place in these demonstrations.

Finally, efforts must be made to enable and guarantee the continuity of citizens’ political participation, in its call for demanding respect for fundamental human rights, both at local and national levels. Such efforts require transparent mechanisms that include citizen oversight, and the demand of an adequate and timely visibility of such participation by national and international mass media.

Sincerely,

Ada Acevedo Alonso, Northern Michigan University (USA) and National University of Colombia, Colombia

Adrian Johnston,  Distinguished Professor and Chair, Department of Philosophy, University of New Mexico, United States

Agon Hamza, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at ISSHS, Prishtina, Kosovo

Aldo Agunin, Licentiate, Argentina

Alenka Zupančič, Institute of Philosophy,  Scientific Research Center of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Alex Taek-Gwang Lee, Kyung Hee University, South Korea

Aman Zutshi, Central University of Jammu, India

Andy Blunden, Writer and Philosopher, Australia

Anselm Jappe, Philosopher, Germany

Avital Ronell, New York University, Jacques Derrida Professor of Media & Philosophy, European Graduate School; United States

Camilo Pérez-Bustillo, Institute of Geography for Peace (Cd. Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico); Witness at the Border/Testigos en la Frontera (USA/Mexico); International Tribunal of Conscience of Peoples in Movement (ITCPM) (Mexico City-Tenochtitlan), Mexico

Carlo Ginzburg, UCLA (USA) /Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa (Italy), Professor Emeritus

Carlos Antonio Aguirre Rojas, Historian, Mexico

Carlos Eduardo Maldonado Castañeda, Full Professor, University of El Bosque, Colombia

Carlos Pérez Soto, ARCIS University, Chile 

Catherine Malabou, Professor of European Studies and Languages and of Comparative Literature, UC Irvine, USA

Cecil Winter, Writer and Activist, France

César Sánchez Avella, Professor, Department of Cultural Studies, Pontifical Xavierian University, Colombia

Chantal Jaquet, University of Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne, France

Costas Douzinas, School of Law – Birkbeck, University of London, UK

Costas Lapavitsas, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK

Daniel Mesa Betancur, University of Antioquia, Colombia

David Higuita Olaya, Latin American Autonomous University (UNAULA), M.A. Constitutional Law University of Sevilla (Spain), Colombia

David Parra, Academic, Chile

David Pavón Cuéllar, Michoacan University of Saint Nicholas of Hidalgo (UMSNH), Mexico 

Diego Andrés González Cardona, Research Professor, PhD. in Social Sciences, Autonomous University of Mexico State, Mexico

Dorothea von Hantelmann, Bard College Berlin, Germany

Drucilla Cornell, Emeritus Professor, Rutgers University, USA

Edgar Barrero, Executive Director of the Cátedra Libre Martín Baró, Colombia

Eduardo Mendieta, Penn State University, USA

Enrique Dussel, Professor Emeritus of the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Iztapalapa, Mexico

Enzo Traverso, Historian, Cornell University, USA

Eric Fassin, Sociologist, Université Paris 8, France 

Erica Burman, Professor of Education, Manchester Institute of Education, School of Environment, Education and Development, The University of Manchester, UK

Étienne Balibar, Anniversary Chair of Modern European Philosophy, Kingston University London, UK

Etienne Turpin, Philosopher, Anexact office (Germany)

Francisco Cortés Rodas, University of Antioquia, Colombia

François Dosse, Professor Emeritus of the University Paris 12 (France)

Frank Ruda, University of Dundee (UK)

Fredric Jameson, Duke University (USA)

Gabriel Salazar Vergara, University of Chile

Gayatri Spivak, Columbia University (USA)

Geoff P. N. Bradley, Teikyo University, Japan

George Ciccariello-Maher, Vassar College (USA)

Gerardo Ávalos-Tenorio, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (UAM), Mexico

Gina Paola Barón González, Licentiate and M.A. in Philosophy, Colombia

Giovanni Levi, Professor Emeritus in Early Modern History, University Ca’ Foscari of Venice, Italy

Göran Therborn, Professor Emeritus, University of Cambridge, UK

Guillaume Sibertin-Blanc, University Paris 8 (France)

Harold A. Ortíz Calero, Universidad Libre de Colombia, Cali Sectional, Colombia

Heather Davis, Eugene Lang College, The New School (USA)

Henry Giroux, Scholar and Cultural Critic

Ian Parker, Emeritus Professor of Management, University of Leicester, UK 

Ivonne Suárez Pinzón, Universidad Industrial de Santander, Colombia

Jaime Torres Buelvas, Professor, Faculty of Law, Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia

Jairo Gallo Acosta, Psychoanalyst, Full-Time Professor, Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia

Jairo Rodríguez, Pontifical Xavierian University, Colombia

Jan De Vos, School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University, UK

Jason Read, University of Southern Maine, USA

Jason W. Moore, Binghamton University, USA

Jodi Dean, Hobart and William Smith Colleges (USA) 

John D. Hernández Rey, Licentiate in Humanities – CECAR, Educative Research and Innovation Specialist – CECAR, Colombia

Jorge Alemán, Writer and Psychoanalyst

José A. Gutiérrez, Saint Thomas University of Medellin, Associate Researcher of the Institute for International Conflict Resolution and Reconstruction del Dublin City University

José Fernando Patiño Torres, Research Professor of the Faculty of Psychology – Federal University of Tocantins, Brasil

José Miguel Pereira, Colombian Association of Communication Researchers (Asociación Colombiana de Investigadores en Comunicación) – ACICOM, Colombia

Juan Esteban Villegas Restrepo, Research Professor of Literature

Judith Butler, University of California, Berkeley (USA)

Julián Camilo Riaño Moreno, Physician – El Bosque University and Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia, Colombia

Julián Casanova, Department of History, University of Zaragoza (Spain)

Kojin Karatani, Philosopher, Japan

Laurent de Sutter, Vrije University Brussels (Belgium)

Lorenzo Chiesa, Philosopher

Luis Eslava, Kent Law School, University of Kent (UK)

Manuel Preciado, PhD (c) Philosophy, University of the Andes, Colombia

Marcello Musto, Professor of Sociology, York University, Canada

María del Rosario Acosta López, Professor, Department of Hispanic Studies, University of California, Riverside (USA)

Mark Coeckelbergh, University of Vienna (Austria)

Martin E. Jay, University of California Berkeley (USA)

Matthieu de Nanteuil, Professor of Sociology, Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium)

Michael Hardt, Philosopher, USA

Michael Löwy, Emerit Research Director, CNRS, Paris (France) 

Mike Davis, University of California Riverside (USA)

Miran Božovič, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

Mladen Dolar, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

Mónica Muñoz Gallego, Doctor of Social Sciences, National University of La Plata (UNLP) (Argentina)

Nancy Fraser, The New School for Social Research (USA) 

Nick Srnicek, King’s College London (UK)

Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor (Emeritus) MIT, Laureate Professor University of Arizona (USA)

Óscar Barroso Fernández, Titular Professor of Philosophy, University of Granada (Spain)

Óscar Carpintero, University of Valladolid (Spain)

Óscar Guardiola-Rivera, Professor of Political Philosophy and Human Rights, Birkbeck College, University of London, Fellow of the RSA (UK)

Oxana Timofeeva, Sc.D., Professor at the European University at St. Petersburg, Russia

Pablo “Manolo” Rodríguez, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina

Paola Gandolfi, University of Bergamo (Italy)

Peter Burke, Emmanuel College Cambridge (UK)

Peter Hallward, Professor of Philosophy, Kingston University (UK)

Peter McLaren, Chapman University (USA)

Pierre Dardot, Philosopher, France

Renán Vega Cantor, Professor, Universidad Pedagógica Nacional (Bogotá), Colombia

Ricardo Espinoza Lolas, Cathedratic of History of Contemporary Philosophy, Institute of Philosophy, Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso, Chile

Robert Pfaller, Philosopher

Rogelio Acevedo Oquendo, Philosopher, National University of Colombia, M.A. in Latin American Philosophy 

Roger Bartra Murià, Sociologist and Anthropologist, Mexico

Samo Tomšič, Philosopher, Slovenia

Sandino Nuñez, Philosopher, Uruguay

Santiago Patarroyo Rengifo, Philosopher and Universitary Professor, Colombia

Santiago Zabala, ICREA Research Professor, Pompeu Fabra University (Spain)

Sara Mazuera, Social Anthropology MA Candidate, FLACSO – Argentina, Colombia

Saskia Sassen, Columbia University, New York (USA)

Sebastián Hincapié Rojas, University of Antioquia, Colombia

Sergio Andrés Rueda, Translator, Colombia

Shlomo Sand, History Department, Tel Aviv University (Israel)

Silvia Federici, Philosopher (Italy/USA)

Slavoj Žižek, Philosopher, Slovenia

Soledad Platero Puig, Journalist and Literary Critic, Uruguay

Susan Buck-Morss, Professor of Political Science, CUNY Graduate Center (USA)

Tariq Ali, Writer (UK)

Tulio Elí Chinchilla Herera, Full Professor of Constitutional Law, Faculty of Law and Political Sciences, University of Antioquia, Colombia

Vanessa Donneys Valencia, Psychologist – University of Valle, M.A. in Intervention on Disability and Dependency – Universidade da Coruña (Spain), Colombia

Vladimir Safatle, University of São Paulo (Brazil)

Yannis Stavrakakis, Political Theorist (Greece/UK)

Yuli Angélica Pinzón Rico, National University of Colombia


Notes

[1] The Decree 575 of may 28th, 2021, whose objective was to restore public order through the use of the Public Force in Valle del Cauca and 7 other departments of Colombia. This decree has already been considered by numerous experts as unconstitutional. Additionally, the government carried out a modification to Decree 003/2021, which had arisen in response to ruling STC-7641-2020 of September 22, 2020, in which the Supreme Court of Justice ordered the Government to take measures to guarantee the right to social protest and also offer apologies for the abuses of the ESMAD (Anti-Riot Mobile Squadron of Police). In turn, this ruling of the Supreme Court of Justice arose in response to a tutela action (constitutional injunction) instituted by organizations and attorneys-in-fact for victims of police violence in the 2019 National Strike. The recent amendment of the Colombian government to Decree 003/2021 establishes that any type of deliberate road or infrastructure blockage, with a temporal or permanent character, does not constitute a legitimate form of peaceful demonstration by the protesters, thus limiting the right to social protest, criminalizing said forms, and endorsing the use of the Public Force to dissolve them. These recent modifications to Decree 003/2021 seem to legitimize, strengthen and justify Decree 575/2021, in such a way that the militarization of the entire country ends up being explicitly based on the alleged illegal and illegitimate nature of the forms of social protest that emerged already from the 2019 National Strike, and it becomes, ironically, the legitimation of the already habitual excesses of state violence, and a deepening of the limitation of the right to social protest.

‘Rage, Rebellion, New Power’ by Slavoj Žižek

Aufzeichnung vom 27.10.2016 in der Humboldt-Universität.

Das Verhältnis von Wut, Rebellion und neuer Macht bildet eine Art dialektische Triade des revolutionären Prozesses. Am Anfang stehen die mehr oder weniger chaotischen Ausbrüche von Wut, die Unzufriedenheit der Menschen, die sie mehr oder weniger gewaltsam demonstrieren, unorganisiert allerdings und ohne ein klares Ziel. Organisiert sich dieses Wutpotential so entsteht daraus, mit einem Minimum an Organisation, ein mehr oder weniger bewusstes Feindbild und eine Vorstellung davon, was sich zu ändern hätte.

Wenn am Ende die Rebellion erfolgreich war, so sind die neuen Machthaber mit der gewaltigen Aufgabe kon-frontiert, die neue Gesellschaft zu organisieren – man denke an die Anekdote, die vom Gedankenaustausch zwischen Lenin und Trotzki am Vorabend der Oktoberrevolution erzählt wird. Lenin sagt: »Was passiert mit uns, wenn wir scheitern?« Darauf Trotzki: »Und was passiert mit uns, wenn wir erfolgreich sind?«

Das Problem ist, dass wir die Triade von Wut, Rebellion und neuer Macht kaum jemals in die Ordnung eines logisch-schlüssigen Voranschreitens bringen können. Die chaotische Wut breitet sich beliebig und diffus aus oder sie schlägt um in den Populismus der Rechten; die erfolgreiche Rebellion verliert an Kraft und verliert sich in mancherlei Kompromissen. Wenn dies so ist, so müssen wir feststellen, dass die Wut nicht nur am Anfang, sondern auch am Ende so manchen emanzipatorischen Projekts steht, das am Ende scheitert.

Slavoj Žižek: What Julian Assange has Started is the Greatest Challenge to Everything that is False with Western Notions of Freedom

Video of an interview with Slavoj Žižek on Russia Today (RT) conducted on 5th July 2021. That day the cities of New York and London have seen hundreds gathered to celebrate Julian Assange’s 50th birthday as the WikiLeaks founder has spent the last three years in Belmarsh, a British maximum-security prison comparable to the horrors of United States’s Guantanamo Bay. Žižek concludes the interview by saying “What Assange started is the greatest challenge to everything that is false with Western notions of freedom”.


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.

Alain Badiou par Alain Badiou

Puf, 2021

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Né d’une rencontre avec une classe de lycéens belges, ce livre incarne l’accomplissement d’un défi : celui qui consiste, pour un philosophe célèbre pour l’ambition et la richesse de son travail, à en proposer une introduction qui n’en perde pourtant jamais la pointe.

C’est ce défi qu’a relevé Alain Badiou dans ce petit livre, mêlant entretiens et textes inédits, qui parcourt avec autant d’allégresse que de pédagogie plus de soixante années de publications, et traverse la totalité des domaines dans lesquels sa pensée s’est illustrée : ontologie fondamentale, mathématiques, politique, poésie ou amour – non sans multiplier les digressions en direction des grandes figures de l’histoire de la philosophie.

À l’heure où l’œuvre d’Alain Badiou est enseignée et commentée dans les universités et les grandes écoles du monde entier, il était temps qu’on dispose d’une boussole fiable afin de s’orienter dans son fantastique foisonnement. On la tient entre les mains.


Alain Badiou est l’un des philosophes français les plus reconnus sur le  plan international, l’un des plus traduits, avec une oeuvre considérable dans  plusieurs registres comme celui de l’ontologie des mathématiques, mais aussi  de la politique et du théâtre. Il croit encore à la possibilité de modifier notre  destin, même s’il a abandonné l’illusion des lendemains qui chantent. Parmi  ses derniers ouvrages parus : La République de Platon et Pornographie du temps  présent (Fayard) et Le fini et l’infini (Bayard, Petites conférences).

‘Hegel & Freud: Les intermittences du sens’ par Claire Pagès

CNRS Philosophie, 2015

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Quoi de commun entre une philosophie idéaliste qui fait de l’inconscience un moment de la conscience, qui est une philosophie de la liberté, un travail de synthèse, qui exhibe les déterminations universelles de l’action des hommes, d’une part, et, d’autre part, une théorie psychanalytique, matérialiste et assez déterministe, qui pose l’existence d’un inconscient en soi, dispositif d’analyse, œuvrant à dégager les mobiles psychologiques individuels profonds des actes ? Ces deux grandes pensées ne partageraient-elles pas une certaine entente de la négation comme négativité ?

Alors que leurs critiques respectives les plus sérieuses en font des instruments de pensées où tout fait sens, où le sens y serait toujours plein, un et mien, Claire Pagès, relisant et confrontant les textes, esquisse et déploie une autre approche. C’est en faisant droit et place à tout ce qui ne fonctionne pas (dyfonction), à ce qui diffère (dis-fonction) et à ce qui marche tout seul (automatisme) que se découvre une certaine communauté entre ces deux penseurs. Une relecture des textes hégéliens et freudiens qui invite à découvrir ce qui en eux donne à penser les « intermittences du sens ».


Claire Pagès est directrice de programme au Collège International de Philosophie et chercheuse rattachée au Sophiapol (Université Paris Ouest).

‘The Last Days of Sylvia Plath’ by Carl Rollyson

Published by University Press of Mississippi in 2020.

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In her last days, Sylvia Plath struggled to break out from the control of the towering figure of her husband Ted Hughes. In the antique mythology of his retinue, she had become the gorgon threatening to bring down the House of Hughes. Drawing on recently available court records, archives, and interviews, and reevaluating the memoirs of the formidable Hughes contingent who treated Plath as a female hysteric, Carl Rollyson rehabilitates the image of a woman too often viewed solely within the confines of what Hughes and his collaborators wanted to be written.

Rollyson is the first biographer to gain access to the papers of Ruth Tiffany Barnhouse at Smith College, a key figure in the poet’s final days. Barnhouse was a therapist who may have been the only person to whom Plath believed she could reveal her whole self. Barnhouse went beyond the protocols of her profession, serving more as Plath’s ally, seeking a way out of the imprisoning charisma of Ted Hughes and friends he counted on to support a regime of antipathy against her.

The Last Days of Sylvia Plath focuses on the train of events that plagued Plath’s last seven months when she tried to recover her own life in the midst of Hughes’s alternating threats and reassurances. In a siege-like atmosphere a tormented Plath continued to write, reach out to friends, and care for her two children. Why Barnhouse seemed, in Hughes’s malign view, his wife’s undoing, and how biographers, Hughes, and his cohort parsed the events that led to the poet’s death, form the charged and contentious story this book has to tell.

‘Das Problem des Absoluten in der Philosophie Hegels’ von Rafael Aragüés

Willhelm Fink, 2018

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Rafael Aragüés dringt mit diesem Buch in den Kern des Hegelschen Idealismus ein. Dabei eröffnet seine Auslegung frische Perspektiven. Denn nicht das All-Eine, sondern Vernunft und Freiheit sind das große Thema der Philosophie Hegels. Ein Buch, das den Hegel-Kenner nicht unberührt lassen wird.Die Mehrheit der aktuellen Hegel-Forschung versteht die Hegelsche Philosophie als eine Philosophie des Absoluten. Doch was ist dieses Absolute, dieses All-Eine, diese ursprüngliche Einheit von allem? Hegel entwickelt in seiner Wissenschaft der Logik diesen Gedanken wie kaum ein anderer Denker. Die vorliegende Untersuchung befasst sich hinsichtlich dieser Frage mit umfangreichen Passagen der Logik sowie mit früheren Werken aus Hegels Frankfurter und Jenaer Zeit.

‘Introducción a la Lógica de Hegel’ por Rafael Aragüés

Herder, 2021

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La Ciencia de la lógica es un auténtico hito de la historia del pensamiento occidental. Con esta obra, G.W.F Hegel funda una lógica que va más allá de la convencional, que se adentra en las entrañas del pensar. Así concebida, la Lógica se convierte en una novedosa metafísica: pone las bases de una filosofía idealista articulada sistemáticamente, que entiende que solo en la razón universal se encuentra lo sustancial y verdadero.

En este libro, Rafael Aragüés nos ofrece una introducción clara y accesible a la obra cumbre de Hegel, a la que presenta como una filosofía primera que fundamenta todo un sistema basado en la razón y la libertad. Porque la convicción última del idealismo hegeliano es que la verdad reside en el conocimiento de la razón sobre sí misma, de manera que lo racional y lo libre son, en el fondo, los dos únicos y grandes temas de la filosofía.

‘Francis Bacon: Revelations’ by Mark Stevens & Annalyn Swan

Published by HarperCollins Publishers in 2020.

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A book decade in the making, from the Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan: the first comprehensive look at the life and art of Francis Bacon, one of the iconic painters of the twentieth century.

Bacon concealed many important aspects of his life. He described himself as an asthmatic child in Ireland with foxhunting parents and a tyrannical father, but he was also rescued by a series of formidable women – women who in this biography emerge in their own right. He was never just a dissolute young man but was also a passionate reader, largely self-taught. Early on, influenced by Eileen Gray, he became a hard-working and ambitious designer, a brief career explored here in detail for the first time. He dreamed of remaking the modern room.

Bacon worked no less hard or ambitiously as a painter, at first with little success. Throughout the 1930s and early ’40s he suffered ongoing failures, growing isolated and often ill. His health issues throughout his life were far more significant than he revealed. Then came his astonishing breakthrough in 1944, with Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion. In the following decades, he emerged as one of the great iconoclasts and bon vivants of his time, a Wildean figure whom one friend called ‘a terrific grandee.’ Bacon was typically celebrated as a sexual adventurer who liked rough trade, but he never stopped longing for a serious committed relationship, however painful. He continued to make disturbing images of the strangeness within, but developed into a more varied artist than has been recognised, creating in particular an extraordinary series of self-portraits. He was an artist who believed in chance and paradox: the iconoclast eventually became an icon.

This is a story, deeply researched and masterfully told, of a sickly boy who became one of the great figures of his time. The twentieth century does not know itself without Bacon.

Message from Slavoj Žižek on Julian Assange’s 50th birthday


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.

‘Hegels Logik’ von Klaus Hartmann

De Gruyter, 1999

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Dieses Buch ist in kritischer Abgrenzung zu anderen Bemühungen um Hegels System der bislang entschiedenste Versuch, diese Philosophie als eine ontologische Option aus nicht-metaphysischer Sicht zu interpretieren. Hegels Wissenschaft der Logik wird gedeutet als dialektische Entwicklung jener Kategorien des Denkens, die zugleich Seinskategorien sind. Der Autor versteht die Hegelsche Logik als eine Theorie, die die Wahrheitsfähigkeit des Denkens nachweisen will, sofern dieses Anspruch auf Wirklichkeitserkenntnis erhebt.

Hartmann interpretiert Hegels Logik als eine Strukturdeutung des Denkens, das sich der Apriorizität seiner kategorialen Inhalte versichert und sich auf diesem Wege zur transparenten Erkenntnis seiner selbst als Rechtfertigungsinstanz für alle Wahrheitsansprüche erhebt. Hartmann darf die Erarbeitung dieses unmetaphysischen, kategorialen Hegelverständnisses als seinen unverwechselbaren Beitrag zur Hegelforschung reklamieren.

Hartmanns opus posthumum bietet darüber hinaus einen konstitutiv-kritischen Kommentar zu einem der schwierigsten und bis heute nicht vollständig erschlossenen Werk der Philosophie.

‘Kommentar zu Hegels ‘Logik’ in seiner ‘Enzyklopädie’ von 1830’ von Bernhard Lakebrink

Verlag Alber Karl, 1979

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Im Jahre 1929 schrieb Theodor Haering den Satz: „Es ist ein öffentliches Geheimnis, daß fast alle bisherigen Darstellungen Hegels oder Einführungen in ihn den Leser, der sich daraufhin an die Lektüre Hegels selbst machen will, gänzlich im Stiche lassen; ja, daß von diesen Darstellern Hegels wohl wenige im Stande wären, eine Seite der Hegelschen Werke selbst restlos in ihrem Wortlaut zu erklären.“ Inzwischen ist gewiß manches geschehen, um diesem Ubelstand abzuhelfen. Vor allem haben sich die neueren Herausgeber von Hegels Werken, wie Hermann Glöckner, sodann Friedhelm Nicolin und Otto Pöggeler, auch durch zahlreiche Einzeluntersuchungen bleibende Verdienste um eine gründlichere Kenntnis des Hegelschen Systems erworben…

‘Philosophy & Modernism’ by Bloomsbury Academic | 11 Volume Collection

The aim of each volume in Understanding Philosophy, Understanding Modernism is to understand a philosophical thinker more fully through literary and cultural modernism and consequently to understand literary modernism better through a key philosophical figure.

In this way, the series also rethinks the limits of modernism, calling attention to lacunae in modernist studies and sometimes in the philosophical work under examination. The unique structure of the volumes allows the term “understanding” to describe an introductory knowledge of a field and a figure for advanced students and scholars new to the subject, while at the same time describing the evolving “understanding” scholars in a field gain with the publication of a new body of work by leading experts.

This multi-level understanding emerges from a three-part division of each volume. The first part conceptualizes the volume’s key figure by offering close readings of their central philosophical texts. The second section on aesthetics resembles a more traditional edited collection by bringing together new research by diverse international scholars aimed at mapping relationships between the thought of a key philosophical figure and the literary work of a variety of modernist texts. The final section of each volume is an extended glossary of the philosopher’s key terms. In a departure from conventional glossaries, however, the entries are mini-essays in themselves, allowing a real engagement with the many, sometimes contradictory, ways the figure has applied the terms. Each definition has its own expert contributor.

Includes volumes on Jacques Rancière, Friedrich Nietzsche, Maurice Blanchot, Theodor Adorno, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, William James, Karl Marx, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Henri Bergson & Gilles Deleuze. The volumes on Merleau-Ponty, Vilém Flusser & Stanley Cavell are not yet available.


Volume I: Jacques Rancière



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The contemporary philosopher Jacques Rancière has become over the last two decades one of the most influential voices in philosophy, political theory, and literary, art historical, and film criticism. His work reexamines the divisions that have defined our understanding of modernity, such as art and politics, representation and abstraction, and literature and philosophy. Working across these divisions, he engages the historical roots of modernism at the end of the eighteenth century, uncovering forgotten texts in the archive that trouble our notions of intellectual history.

The contributors to this volume engage with the multiplicity of Rancière’s thought through close readings of his texts, through comparative readings with other philosophers, and through an engagement with modernist works of art and literature. The final section of the volume includes an extended glossary of the most important terms used by Rancière, which will be a valuable resource for experts and students alike.


Volume II: Friedrich Nietzsche



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Friedrich Nietzsche believed his own work represented the dawning of a new historical era, and, despite the fact that he lived most of his sane life suffering in obscurity, it is not an exaggeration to say that his vision helped lay the foundations for modernism in style, substance and attitude. Nietzsche was himself devoted to the modern, for he reinterpreted every philosophy, every historical figure and event, every movement that came before him. This reconceptualization of the past through new, modern eyes opened up Nietzsche’s thinking to exploring daring possibilities for the future. This prophetic boldness, which is so unique to his style, seduced the modernist generation across the spectrum. He was read by early Zionists as well as by Nazi racial theorists; by Thomas Mann and as well as by Salvador Dali. His influence stretched from psychoanalysis to anarchist politics.

This volume traces the effect of Nietzsche’s thinking upon a diverse set of problems: from ontology, to politics, to musical and literary aesthetics. The first section of the volume is a series of essays, each exploring a major work of Nietzsche’s, explaining its significance while contributing new interpretations of the text. The middle portion connects Nietzsche’s thought to the various strands of modernism in which it reveals itself. The final section is a glossary of key terms that Nietzsche uses throughout his works. An excellent resource for any scholar attempting to conceptualize the foundations of modernism or the historical importance of Nietzsche, this volume seeks to outline the philosopher’s works and their reception amongst the generations that immediately followed his passing.


Volume III: Maurice Blanchot



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Maurice Blanchot occupies a central though still-overlooked position in the Anglo-American reception of 20th-century continental philosophy and literary criticism. On the one hand, his rigorous yet always-playful exchanges with the most challenging figures of the philosophical and literary canons of modernity have led thinkers such as Georges Bataille, Emmanuel Levinas, Jacques Derrida, and Michel Foucault to acknowledge Blanchot as a major influence on the development of literary and philosophical culture after World War II.

On the other hand, Blanchot’s reputation for frustrating readers with his difficult style of thought and writing has resulted in a missed opportunity for leveraging Blanchot in advancing the most essential discussions and debates going on today in the comparative study of literature, philosophy, politics, history, ethics, and art. Blanchot’s voice is simply too profound, too erudite, and too illuminating of what is at stake at the intersections of these disciplines not to be exercising more of an influence than it has in only a minority of intellectual circles.

This volume brings together an international cast of leading and emergent scholars in making the case for precisely what contemporary modernist studies stands to gain from close inspection of Blanchot’s provocative post-war writings.


Volume IV: Theodor Adorno



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Having studied philosophy at a time when its traditions were being seriously uprooted by the atrocities of World War II, Theodor Adorno had an enormous impact on thinking about aesthetics at a transitional historical moment when the philosophy of science and leftist politics were looking for new ground. Moreover, with his focus on the rise of commercial culture and its effects on identity-construction, Adorno can be said to have reinvigorated modernist concerns by introducing the prevailing terms in our contemporary versions of cultural politics and cultural studies.

This volume traces Adorno’s social and aesthetic ideas as they appear and reappear in his corpus. As per other volumes in the series, this book is divided into three parts. The first, “Adorno’s Keywords,” is organized by the aesthetic terms around which Adorno’s philosophy circulates. The second section is devoted to “Adorno and Aesthetics.” While Adorno’s philosophical viewpoints influenced modernism’s evolution into the 21st century, the history of modernist aesthetics also shaped his philosophical approaches. The third and final part, “Adorno’s Constellations,” discusses how aesthetic form in Adorno’s thinking underlies the terms of his social analysis.


Volume V: Jacques Derrida



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This volume makes a significant contribution to both the study of Derrida and of modernist studies. The contributors argue, first, that deconstruction is not “modern”; neither is it “postmodern” nor simply “modernist.” They also posit that deconstruction is intimately connected with literature, not because deconstruction would be a literary way of doing philosophy, but because literature stands out as a “modern” notion. The contributors investigate the nature and depth of Derrida’s affinities with writers such as Joyce, Kafka, Antonin Artaud, Georges Bataille, Paul Celan, Maurice Blanchot, Theodor Adorno, Samuel Beckett, and Walter Benjamin, among others.

With its strong connection between philosophy and literary modernism, this highly original volume advances modernist literary study and the relationship of literature and philosophy.


Volume VI: Michel Foucault



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Michel Foucault continues to be regarded as one of the most essential thinkers of the twentieth century. A brilliantly evocative writer and conceptual creator, his influence is clearly discernible today across nearly every discipline-philosophy and history, certainly, as well as literary and critical theory, religious and social studies, and the arts. This volume exploits Foucault’s insistent blurring of the self-imposed limits formed by the disciplines, with each author in this volume discovering in Foucault’s work a model useful for challenging not only these divisions but developing a more fundamental interrogation of modernism. Foucault himself saw the calling into question of modernism to be the permanent task of his life’s work, thereby opening a path for rethinking the social.

This volume shows, on the one hand, that literature and the arts play a fundamental structural role in Foucault’s works, while, on the other hand, it shifts to the foreground what it presumes to be motivating Foucault: the interrogation of the problem of modernism. To that end, even his most explicitly historical or strictly epistemological and methodological enquiries directly engage the problem of modernism through the works of writers and artists from de Sade, Mallarmé, Baudelaire to Artaud, Manet, Borges, Roussel, and Bataille. This volume, therefore, adopts a transdisciplinary approach, as a way to establish connections between Foucault’s thought and the aesthetic problems that emerge out of those specific literary and artistic works, methods, and styles designated “modern.”

The aim of this volume is to provide a resource for students and scholars not only in the fields of literature and philosophy, but as well those interested in the intersections of art and intellectual history, religious studies, and critical theory.


Volume VII: William James



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Psychologist, philosopher, teacher, writer-William James stood closer than any other thinker to the center of the confluence of intellectual and artistic forces that defined the culture of modernism. The outstanding feature of this volume lies in its intent to investigate James’s influence on both American and International Modernism. It provides, on the one hand, a multifaceted introduction to students of history, philosophy, and culture, and on the other, a compendium of some of the most up-to-date thinking on this central figure.

James’s first book, Principles of Psychology (1890) immediately established James as the leading psychologist of his time, at a moment in history when psychology seemed to offer the promise of finding some definitive answers to eternal philosophical conundra. James’s innovations would register a clear effect on much modernist art, most evidently in the stylistic prose experiments of James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and their imitators. James’s tentative skepticism concerning the concept of consciousness as such, and the post-Cartesian ego that was its foundation, also anticipates the questioning of the subject that would be the theme of much modern, and indeed postmodern thought.

The contributors to this volume explore James’s most essential texts as well as his influence on contemporary writers, artists, and thinkers. The final section is a glossary of James’s key terms, with entries written by leading experts.


Volume VIII: Karl Marx



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A concentrated study of the relationships between modernism and transformative left utopianism, this volume provides an introduction to Marx and Marxism for modernists, and an introduction to modernism for Marxists. Its guiding hypothesis is that Marx’s writing absorbed the lessons of artistic and cultural modernity as much as his legacy concretely shaped modernism across multiple media.


Volume IX: Ludwig Wittgenstein



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In the last half-century Ludwig Wittgenstein’s relevance beyond analytic philosophy, to continental philosophy, to cultural studies, and to the arts has been widely acknowledged.

Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus was published in 1922 – the annus mirabilis of modernism – alongside Joyce’s Ulysses, Eliot’s The Waste Land, Mansfield’s The Garden Party and Woolf’s Jacob’s Room. Bertolt Brecht’s first play to be produced, Drums in the Night, was first staged in 1922, as was Jean Cocteau’s Antigone, with settings by Pablo Picasso and music by Arthur Honegger. In different ways, all these modernist landmarks dealt with the crisis of representation and the demise of eternal metaphysical and ethical truths. Wittgenstein’s Tractatus can be read as defining, expressing and reacting to this crisis. In his later philosophy, Wittgenstein adopted a novel philosophical attitude, sensitive to the ordinary uses of language as well as to the unnoticed dogmas they may betray. If the gist of modernism is self-reflection and attention to the way form expresses content, then Wittgenstein’s later ideas – in their fragmented form as well as their “ear-opening” contents – deliver it most precisely.

This volume shows Wittgenstein’s work, both early and late, to be closely linked to the modernist Geist that prevailed during his lifetime. Yet it would be wrong to argue that Wittgenstein was a modernist tout court. For Wittgenstein, as well as for modernist art, understanding is not gained by such straightforward statements. It needs time, hesitation, a variety of articulations, the refusal of tempting solutions, and perhaps even a sense of defeat. It is such a vision of the linkage between Wittgenstein and modernism that guides the present volume.


Volume X: Henri Bergson



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Henri Bergson is frequently cited amongst the holy trinity of major influences on Modernism-literary and otherwise-alongside Sigmund Freud and William James. Gilles Deleuze’s Bergsonism has re-popularized Bergson for the 21st century, so much so that, perhaps, our Bergson is Deleuze’s Bergson.

Despite renewed interest in Bergson, his influence remains understudied and consequently undervalued. While books examining the impact of Freud and James on Modernism abound, Bergson’s impact, though widely acknowledged, has been closely examined much more rarely. This volume remedies this deficiency in three ways. First, it offers close readings and critiques of six pivotal texts. Second, it reassesses Bergson’s impact on Modernism while also tracing his continuing importance to literature, media, and philosophy throughout the twentieth and into the 21st century. In its final section it provides an extended glossary of Bergsonian terms, complete with extensive examples and citations of their use across his texts. The glossary also maps the influence of Bergson’s work by including entries on related writers, all of whom Bergson either corresponded with or critiqued.


Volume XI: Gilles Deleuze



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This volume explores the multi-faceted and formative impact of Gilles Deleuze on the development and our understanding of modernist thought in its philosophical, literary, and more broadly cultural manifestations.

Gilles Deleuze himself rethought philosophical history with a series of books and essays on individual philosophers such as Kant, Spinoza, Leibniz, Nietzsche, and Bergson and authors such as Proust, Kafka, Beckett and Woolf, on the one hand, and Bacon, Messiaen, and Pollock, among others, in other arts. This volume acknowledges Deleuze’s profound impact on a century of art and thought and the origin of that impact in his own understanding of modernism.

This book begins by “conceptualizing” Deleuze by offering close readings of some of his most important works. The contributors offer new readings that illuminate the context of Deleuze’s work, either by reading one of Deleuze’s texts against or in the context of his entire body of work or by challenging Deleuze’s readings of other philosophers. A central section on Deleuze and his aesthetics maps the relationships between Deleuze’s thought and modernist literature. The volume’s final section features an extended glossary of Deleuze’s key terms, with each definition having its own expert contributor.

Henri Bergson: Key Writings

Published by Continuum in 2002.

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The twentieth century – with its unprecedented advances in technology and scientific understanding – saw the birth of a distinctively new and ‘modern’ age. Henri Bergson stood as one of the most important philosophical voices of that tumultuous time.

An intellectual celebrity in his own life time, his work was widely discussed by such thinkers as William James, Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell, as well as having a profound influence on modernist writers such as Wallace Stevens, Willa Cather and Wyndham Lewis and later thinkers, most notably Gilles Deleuze.

Key Writings brings together Bergson’s most essential writings in a single volume, including crucial passages from such major work as Time and Free WillMatter and MemoryCreative EvolutionMind-EnergyThe Creative MindThe Two Sources of Morality and Religion and Laughter. The book also includes Bergson’s correspondences with William James and a chronology of his life and work.

Interpreting Bergson: Critical Essays

Published by Cambridge University Press in 2019.

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Bergson was a pre-eminent European philosopher of the early twentieth century and his work covers all major branches of philosophy. This volume of essays is the first collection in twenty years in English to address the whole of Bergson’s philosophy, including his metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of science, philosophy of life, aesthetics, ethics, social and political thought, and religion.

The essays explore Bergson’s influence on a number of different fields, and also extend his thought to pressing issues of our time, including philosophy as a way of life, inclusion and exclusion in politics, ecology, the philosophy of race and discrimination, and religion and its enduring appeal. The volume will be valuable for all who are interested in this important thinker and his continuing relevance.