‘Slavoj Žižek and Dialectical Materialism’ edited by Agon Hamza & Frank Ruda

Published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2015.

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This book is the first volume to bring together the most prominent scholars who work on Slavoj Žižek philosophy, examining and interrogating his understanding of dialectical materialism. It deserves to be thoroughly and systematically elaborated because it attempts to propose a new foundation for dialectical materialism.

Slavoj Žižek has been widely described as one of the most important and influential contemporary thinkers, philosophers, and cultural critics. However, despite the often critical attention and reviews his work garners in scholarly journal articles and books, systematic philosophical engagements with Žižek’s thought remain a surprisingly rare phenomenon. Counteracting this dearth of substantive interaction, the contributors to this volume engage with crucial and fundamental aspects of Žižek’s thought.

The book follows a Hegelian motivation that is itself dear to Žižek, tracing the concept of dialectical materialism in his more recent work. It takes as its concrete starting point the most current, systematic elaborations of Žižek’s thought, namely Absolute Recoil: Towards A New Foundation Of Dialectical Materialism as well as his magnum opus Less Than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism. The contributors provide concrete elaborations of arguments developed within these two works, giving voice to their universal implications. The book also features an afterword by Žižek himself, in which he critically examines the work of Levi Bryant as well as the tradition of object-oriented-ontology on the whole.


Contents:

1. Introduction: The Absolute Revisited—Slavoj Žižek and Dialectical Materialism by Agon Hamza and Frank Ruda
2. Materialism without Materialism: Slavoj Žižek and the Disappearance of Matter by Adrian Johnston
3. The Althusserian Battlegrounds by Robert Pfaller
4. The Necessity of an Absolute Misunderstanding: Why Hegel Has So Many Misreaders by Todd McGowan
5. From Hegel to Kant: The Thing-of-Itself German Idealism by Jan Voelker
6. Politics of Negativity in Slavoj Žižek: Actualizing Some Hegelian Themes by Vladimir Safatle
7. Dialectic at Its Impurest: Žižek’s Materialism of Less Than Nothing by Simon Hajdini
8. Natural Worlds, Historical Worlds, and Dialectical Materialism by Ed Pluth
9. Positing the Presuppositions—Dialectical Biology and the Minimal Structure of Life by Victor Marques
10. Transferential Materialism: Toward a Theory of Formal Otherness by Gabriel Tupinambá
11. Dialectical Materialism and the Dangers of Aristotelianism by Frank Ruda
12. Going to One’s Ground: Žižek’s Dialectical Materialism by Agon Hamza
13. Afterword: Objects, Objects Everywhere by Slavoj Žižek

‘Janez Janša and Beyond’

Published by Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana in 2018.

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Janez Janša® is a trademark owned by Janez Janša, Janez Janša and Janez Janša, registered at the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) on February 17, 2017 under the trademark number 016384364.


In the summer of 2007 three artists from Slovenia legally changed their names to “Janez Janša,” the name of the right-wing Prime Minister at that time. Since then, the artists have presented their works as performances, exhibitions and a film documentary, and have continued with their investigation of “What’s in a name?”

Starting from this famous Shakespearian question, four eminent European philosophers – Austrian Robert Pfaller and Slovenians Mladen Dolar, Jela Krečič and Slavoj Žižek – confront the implications of the Janšas’ name change and its consequences in four essays. Ten years of artistic and real life activity, here illustrated by a photographic insert, presents an opportunity for them to discuss the symbolic power of the name, the ways it affects the subject and subjectivity, and how playing with names can lead to a radical critique of our late capitalist civilization.

‘A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis’ by Sigmund Freud


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This series of 28 lectures was given by Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), the founder of psychoanalysis, during the First World War and first published in English in 1920.

The purpose of this general introduction was to present his work and ideas – as they had matured at that point – to a general public; and even though there was to be considerable development and change over the ensuing years, these talks still offer a valuable and remarkably approachable entry point to his revolutionary concepts.

The talks are divided into three parts: ‘The Psychology of Errors’ (which later became known as ‘Freudian Slips’), ‘The Dream’ (his broad views on interpretation) and ‘General Theory of Neuroses’. Within these sections appear many of his concepts which have found their way into the wider consciousness of modern man – the key role of sex in forming our thoughts and behavior, the Oedipus complex, the libido, sublimation, fixation, regression and suppression and the unconscious. He was determined to show how psychoanalysis could help reveal the causes of neuroses and lead to clarity for the patient – as opposed to the approach taken by psychiatrists.

Freud refers to his early use of hypnotism, which he later discarded, and many more steps which led him to his conclusions that the powerful part played by sexual impulses, often dating back to childhood, pursued individuals into adulthood.

Translation by G. Stanley Hall.

‘A Theology of Failure: Žižek against Christian Innocence’ by Marika Rose

Published by Fordham University Press in 2019.

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Everyone agrees that theology has failed; but the question of how to understand and respond to this failure is complex and contested. Against both the radical orthodox attempt to return to a time before the theology’s failure and the deconstructive theological attempt to open theology up to the hope of a future beyond failure, Rose proposes an account of Christian identity as constituted by, not despite, failure. Understanding failure as central to theology opens up new possibilities for confronting Christianity’s violent and kyriarchal history and abandoning the attempt to discover a pure Christ outside of the grotesque materiality of the church.

The Christian mystical tradition begins with Dionysius the Areopagite’s uncomfortable but productive conjunction of Christian theology and Neoplatonism. The tensions generated by this are central to Dionysius’s legacy, visible not only in subsequent theological thought but also in much twentieth century continental philosophy as it seeks to disentangle itself from its Christian ancestry. A Theology of Failure shows how the work of Slavoj Žižek represents an attempt to repeat the original move of Christian mystical theology, bringing together the themes of language, desire, and transcendence not with Neoplatonism but with a materialist account of the world. Tracing these themes through the work of Dionysius and Derrida and through contemporary debates about the gift, violence, and revolution, this book offers a critical theological engagement with Žižek’s account of social and political transformation, showing how Žižek’s work makes possible a materialist reading of apophatic theology and Christian identity.


Marika Rose is Lecturer in Philosophical Theology at the University of Winchester.

Slavoj Žižek @ Oxford Political Review

Slavoj Žižek is a Slovenian philosopher, based at the University of Ljubljana Faculty of Arts, and the international director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities of the University of London. A self-described ‘radical leftist’, he is amongst the most renowned contemporary philosophers in the world today.

Brian Wong, OPR Editor-in-Chief, conducted the interview.

Lenin Reloaded: Toward a Politics of Truth [SIC 7]

Published by Duke University Press in 2007.

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Today marks the anniversary of the Russian Revolution of 1917, when the working class of Russia, organized through soviets and led by the Bolsheviks, made history by taking power.

Lenin Reloaded is a rallying call by some of the world’s leading Marxist intellectuals for renewed attention to the significance of Vladimir Lenin. The volume’s editors explain that it was Lenin who made Karl Marx’s thought explicitly political, who extended it beyond the confines of Europe, who put it into practice. They contend that a focus on Lenin is urgently needed now, when global capitalism appears to be the only game in town, the liberal-democratic system seems to have been settled on as the optimal political organization of society, and it has become easier to imagine the end of the world than a modest change in the mode of production. Lenin retooled Marx’s thought for specific historical conditions in 1914, and Lenin Reloaded urges a reinvention of the revolutionary project for the present. Such a project would be Leninist in its commitment to action based on truth and its acceptance of the consequences that follow from action.

These essays bring Lenin face-to-face with the problems of today, including war, imperialism, the imperative to build an intelligentsia of wage earners, the need to embrace the achievements of bourgeois society and modernity, and the widespread failure of social democracy. Lenin Reloaded demonstrates that truth and partisanship are not mutually exclusive as is often suggested. Quite the opposite—in the present, truth can be articulated only from a thoroughly partisan position.

Contributors: Kevin B. Anderson, Alain Badiou, Etienne Balibar, Daniel Bensaïd, Sebastian Budgen, Alex Callinicos, Terry Eagleton, Fredric Jameson, Stathis Kouvelakis, Georges Labica, Sylvain Lazarus, Jean-Jacques Lecercle, Lars T. Lih, Domenico Losurdo, Savas Michael-Matsas, Antonio Negri, Alan Shandro, Slavoj Žižek

‘Revolution at the Gates: A Selection of Writings from February to October 1917’ by V. I. Lenin & edited by Slavoj Žižek

First published by Verso in 2002.

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Today marks the anniversary of the Russian Revolution of 1917, when the working class of Russia, organized through soviets and led by the Bolsheviks, made history by taking power.

The idea of a Lenin renaissance might well provoke an outburst of sarcastic laughter. Marx is OK, but Lenin? Doesn’t he stand for the big catastrophe which left its mark on the entire twentieth-century?

Lenin, however, deserves wider consideration than this, and his writings of 1917 are testament to a formidable political figure. They reveal his ability to grasp the significance of an extraordinary moment in history. Everything is here, from Lenin-the-ingenious-revolutionary-strategist to Lenin-of-the-enacted-utopia. To use Kierkegaard’s phrase, what we can glimpse in these writings is Lenin-in-becoming: not yet Lenin-the-Soviet-institution, but Lenin thrown into an open, contingent situation.

In Revolution at the Gates, Slavoj Žižek locates the 1917 writings in their historical context, while his afterword tackles the key question of whether Lenin can be reinvented in our era of “cultural capitalism.” Žižek is convinced that, whatever the discussion—the forthcoming crisis of capitalism, the possibility of a redemptive violence, the falsity of liberal tolerance—Lenin’s time has come again.

‘Beyond Satire: The Political Comedy of the Present and the Paradoxes of Authority’ by Aaron Schuster

A staging of The Balcony.

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An extended reading of Jean Genet’s play The Balcony, arguing for its contemporary relevance, and highlighting two of its most historically significant readings–those of Jacques Lacan (on the nature of enjoyment and its relation to the symbolic order) and Lucien Goldmann (concerning the impact of modern capitalism on traditional structures of authority). Particular attention is given to Genet’s vehement argument against satire. The essay puts The Balcony into dialogue with other political comedies (Lubitsch and JG Ballard) and films in sketching a broader understanding of how the theatricality of authority works today.

‘Lacan: The Silent Partners’ by Slavoj Žižek

Published by Verso in 2006.

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Jacques Lacan is the foremost psychoanalytic theorist after Freud. Revolutionising the study of social relations, his work has been a major influence on political theory, philosophy, literature and the arts, but his thought has so far been studied without a serious investigation of its foundations. Just what are the influences on his thinking, so crucial to its proper understanding?

In Lacan: The Silent Partners Slavoj Žižek, the maverick theorist and pre-eminent Lacan scholar, has marshalled some of the greatest thinkers of our age in support of a dazzling re-evaluation of Lacan’s work. Focussing on Lacan’s ‘silent partners’, those who are the hidden inspiration to Lacanian theory, they discuss his work in relation to the Pre-Socratics, Diderot, Hegel, Nietzsche, Schelling, Hölderlin, Wagner, Turgenev, Kafka, Henry James and Artaud.

‘The Puppet and the Dwarf: The Perverse Core of Christianity’ by Slavoj Žižek

Published by The MIT Press in 2003.

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In The Puppet and the Dwarf he offers a close reading of today’s religious constellation from the viewpoint of Lacanian psychoanalysis. He critically confronts both predominant versions of today’s spirituality—New Age gnosticism and deconstructionist-Levinasian Judaism—and then tries to redeem the “materialist” kernel of Christianity. His reading of Christianity is explicitly political, discerning in the Pauline community of believers the first version of a revolutionary collective. Since today even advocates of Enlightenment like Jurgen Habermas acknowledge that a religious vision is needed to ground our ethical and political stance in a “postsecular” age, this book—with a stance that is clearly materialist and at the same time indebted to the core of the Christian legacy—is certain to stir controversy.