capitalist machinery … is the impersonal compulsion to engage in the endless circular movement of expanded self-reproduction. The capitalist drive thus belongs to no definite individual – it is rather that those individuals who act as direct “agents” of capital (capitalists themselves, top managers) have to practice it. We enter the mode of the drive when (as Marx put it) the circulation of money as capital becomes “an end in itself, for the expansion of value takes place only within this constantly renewed movement. The circulation of capital has therefore no limits.” One should bear in mind here Lacan’s well-known distinction between the aim and the goal of drive: while the goal is the object around which drive circulates, its (true) aim is the endless continuation of this circulation as such.

– Slavoj Zizek

At the immediate level of addressing individuals, capitalism of course interpellates them as consumers, as subjects of desires, soliciting in them ever new perverse and excessive desires (for which it offers products to satisfy them); furthermore, it obviously also manipulates the “desire to desire,” celebrating the very desire to desire ever new objects and modes of pleasure. However, even if if already manipulates desire in a way that takes into account the fact that the most elementary desire is the desire to reproduce itself as desire (and not to find satisfaction), at this level, we do not yet reach the drive. The drive inheres to capitalism at a more fundamental, systemic level: drive propels the entire capitalist machinery; it is the impersonal compulsion to engage in the endless circular movement of expanded self-reproduction. The capitalist drive thus belongs to no definite individual – it is rather that those individuals who act as direct “agents” of capital (capitalists themselves, top managers) have to practice it. We enter the mode of the drive when (as Marx put it) the circulation of money as capital becomes “an end in itself, for the expansion of value takes place only within this constantly renewed movement. The circulation of capital has therefore no limits.

– Slavoj Zizek

Symbolization is a process which mortifies, drains off, empties, carves the fulness of the real of the living body. But the real is at the same time the product, remainder, left-over, scraps of this process of symbolization, the remnants, the excess which escapes symbolization and which is as such produced by symbolization itself.

– Slavoj Zizek

why forbid something which is already in itself impossible? – …(it’s impossible, i.e., [because] it doesn’t exist. …While…jouissance is forbidden because of its [existing] properties). – Slavoj Zizek

lack is spatial, designating a void WITHIN a space, while hole is more radical, it designates the point at which this spatial order itself breaks down

in the shift from desire to drive, we pass from the lost object to loss itself as an object. That is to say, the weird movement called “drive” is not driven by the “impossible” quest for the lost object; it is a push to directly enact the “loss” – the gap, cut, distance – itself. There is thus a DOUBLE distinction to be drawn here: not only between objet a in its fantasmatic and post-fantasmatic status, but also, within this post-fantasmatic domain itself, between the lost object-cause of desire and the object-loss of drive.

– Slavoj Žižek [on making loss one’s objective and object in all activities]

the ‘infinite’ … aim … and true end [in itself] … achieves itself by … its … failure to achieve the ‘finite’ … goal; in the very failure to achieve our intended goal, the true aim is always already achieved.

The subject is interior to the … Other insofar as it is … an obstruction in the Other, with the impossibility of achieving its identity by means of self-closure.

The object here neither conceals nor fills the hole in the Other…: the object is ‘abolished’, … it loses its fascinating aura. That which at first dazzles us with its charm is exposed as a sticky … remainder’.

– Slavoj Zizek

The new femme fatale subverts the male fantasy precisely by way of directly and brutally realizing it, acting it out in “real life.” It is thus not only that she realizes the male hallucination; she is fully aware … that directly giving them what they hallucinate about is the most effective way to undermine their domination. … By … destroying the spectral aura of “feminine mystery,” by acting as a cold manipulating subject interested only in raw sex, reducing her partner to a partial object, … does she not also violently destroy what is “for him more than himself”?

her enigma persists. Here we encounter the paradox already discerned by Hegel – sometimes, total self-exposure … i.e. the awareness that there is no hidden content, makes the subject even more enigmatic. …

he desperately clings to the conviction that, behind the cold manipulative surface, there must be a heart of gold to be saved, a person of warm human feeling, and that her cold manipulative approach is just a kind of defensive strategy.

-Slavoj Zizek

in Corinthians 13. Paul oscillates between two versions, and the key point I think is to read them together. The first one is a kind of radical affirmation of love’s priority, in the sense of “even if I got to know everything, and have all the power, without love I would be nothing, etc.”

But then two paragraphs later, he says ‹as if since now we don’t know everything‹ all that we have is love.

it’s not God sitting up there and was a good enough guy to come to us… what we have to think, in a way, is the self-limitation of divinity itself.

– Slavoj Zizek

The big Other is somewhat the same as God according to Lacan (God is not dead today. He was dead from the very beginning, except He didn’t know it…): it never existed in the first place, i.e., the “big Other’s” inexistence is ultimately equivalent to Its being the symbolic order, the order of symbolic fictions which operate at a level different from direct material causality.

In short, the “inexistence of the big Other” is strictly correlative to the notion of belief, of … taking what other’s say “at their word’s value.”

– Slavoj Zizek

I fully assume the uttermost contingency of my being. The subject becomes ‘cause of itself’ in the sense of no longer looking for a guarantee of his or her existence in another’s desire. The “subjective destitution” changes the register from desire to drive. Desire is historical and subjectivized, always unsatisfied, metonymical, shifting from one object to another, since I do not actually desire what I want. What I actually desire is to sustain desire itself, to postpone the dreaded moment of its satisfaction. Drive, on the other hand, involves a kind of inert satisfaction which always finds its way.

– Slavoj Zizek

The Foucauldian answer [to Kant] would be that Kant is ultimately the victim of a perspective illusion which leads him to perceive the radical immanence of ethical norms as its exact opposite: as a radical transcendence, presupposing the existence of an inscrutable transcendent Other which terrorizes us with its unconditional injunction, simultaneously prohibiting us access to it – we are under a compulsion to do our Duty, but forever prevented from clearly knowing what this Duty is.

- Slavoj Zizek (lacan.com)
Repetition is always connected to a lost object – it is an attempt to refind the lost object yet, in so doing, to miss it. And what is that lost object? It is illustrated in analytic theory by the mother as the fundamental primary object which, through the operation of the Name-of-the-Father, is always forbidden and lost. Lacan says that the mother is the fundamental Ding, the thing that is always lost and that repetition tries to recover and yet always misses. Lacan speaks of the real as always connected with a mistake and an impossible encounter. (53) And where do we meet this real? What we have in the discovery of psychoanalysis is an encounter, an essential encounter, an appointment to which we are always summoned with a real that eludes us. It is an appointment with some thing that is never there at the meeting place. Consider the importance of appointments, meetings, and dates in the realm of love; there can be no love story with the real because you try to make a date, and repeatedly reschedule the date, but something else appears. This is the encounter with the real that is beyond automaton, the return or insistence of signs. The real is that which lies behind automaton. That is where Lacan introduces repetition. It is not repetition that is important, but what is missed. Thus you can see that there is a homologous relationship between Lacan’s discussion of repetition and his presentation of the unconscious as subject. It is always a question of what is missed, and what in this mistake, lies or appears. I will present the third point, transference, very briefly as we are running out of time.
– Slavoj Zizek (lacan.com)

the prohibition is much stronger when one allows torture in principle—in this case, the principled “yes” is never allowed to realize itself, while in the other case, the principled “no” is exceptionally allowed to realize itself . . . Insofar as the “God who enjoins us to kill” is one of the names of the apocalyptic Thing, the strategy of the Talmud scholar is a way of practicing what Dupuy calls “enlightened catastrophism”: one accepts the final catastrophe-the obscenity of people killing their neighbors as a form of justice—as inevitable, written into our destiny, and then one engages in postponing it for as long as possible, hopefully indefinitely.
the apocalyptic time is precisely the time of this indefinite postponement, the time of freeze in between the two deaths: in some sense, we are already dead, since the catastrophe is already here, casting its shadow from the future—after Hiroshima, we cannot any longer play the simple humanist game of the choice we have (“it depends on us whether we follow the path of self-destruction or the path of gradual healing”) . Once the catastrophe has happened, we lose the innocence of such a position, we can only (indefinitely, maybe) postpone its happening again. (In a homologous way, the danger of nano-technology is not only that scientists will design a monster which will develop out of (our) control: when we try to create a new life, it is our direct aim to bring about an uncontrollable self-organizing and self-expanding entity (43).

we publicly tend to profess our skeptical, hedonistic, relaxed attitude while privately we remain haunted by beliefs and severe prohibitions.

the Politically Correct anti-harassment …that the only good neighbor is a dead neighbor…for a “tolerant” subject trying to avoid any harassment. By definition, a corpse …a dead body does not enjoy, so the disturbing threat of the other’s excess-enjoyment is eliminated.
- Slavoj Zizek

propaganda against radical emancipatory politics is by definition cynical – not in the simple sense of not believing its own words, but at a much more basic level: it is cynical precisely insofar as it does believe its own words, since its message is a resigned conviction that the world we live in, if not the best of all possible worlds, is the least bad one, so that any radical change can only make it worse.
- Slavoj Zizek

Is this parallax gap, this extreme coincidence of opposites (pure form and the contingent material excess which gives body to it, wave and particle in quantum physics, universality and full partisan engagement, etc., up to and including fidelity to a universal Cause and intimate love), the dead-point of the “dialectic in suspense” (as Benjamin put it), a case of pure “contradiction” (or, rather, antinomy) which no dialectical mediation or reconciliation can overcome? The parallax gap is, on the contrary, the very form of the “reconciliation” of opposites: one simply has to recognize the gap. Universality is “reconciled” with partisan political engagement in the guise of the engagement which stands for universality (then proletarian emancipatory engagement); pure form is “reconciled” with its content in the guise of the formless excess of content which stands for form as such; or, in Hegel’s political vision, the universal Rational State is “reconciled” with particular content in the guise of the Monarch, whose legitimization is simultaneously purely symbolic (his title) and “irrational” (biological: his birth alone justifies his being a monarch). We should reject here the common-sense view according to which, by dispelling all mystifications and illusions, psychoanalysis makes us aware of what we truly are, what we really want, and thus leaves us at the threshold of a truly free decision no longer dependent on self-delusion.
- Slavoj Zizek

every act involves a decision grounded only in itself, a decision which is, as such and in the most elementary sense, political. Freud himself is here too hasty: he opposes artificial crowds (the church, the army) and “regressive” primary crowds, like a wild mob engaged in passionate collective violence (lynching, pogroms). Furthermore, from his liberal perspective, the reactionary lynch mob and the leftist revolutionary crowd are treated as libidinally identical, involving the same unleashing of the destructive or unbinding death drive.3 It appears as though, for Freud, the “regressive” primary crowd, exemplarily operative in the destructive violence of a mob, is the zero-level of the unbinding of a social link, the social “death drive” at its purest. The theological implications of this violence are unexpectedly far-reaching: what if the ultimate addressee of the biblical commandment “Do not kill” is God (Jehovah) himself, and we fragile humans are his neighbors exposed to divine rage? How often, in the Old Testament, do we encounter God as a dark stranger who brutally intrudes into human lives and sows destruction?
When Levinas wrote that our first reaction to a neighbor is to kill him, was he not implying that this originally refers to God’s relationship to humans, so that the commandment “Do not kill” is an appeal to God to control his rage? Insofar as the Jewish solution is a dead God, a God who survives only in the “dead letter” of the sacred book, of the Law to be interpreted, what dies with the death of God is precisely the God of the Real, of destructive fury and revenge. That often stated claim―God died in Auschwitz―thus has to be inverted: God came alive in Auschwitz.
- Slavoj Zizek

the opposition of meaning and enjoyment is also overcome in their “synthesis,” that of jouis-sens (enjoy-meant, enjoying the sense): the subject is not reduced to an idiotic autistic enjoyment, s/he continues to speak, but his/her talk now functions as a play with semblances, as an empty blah-blah-blah which generates enjoyment. This would be Lacan’s version of eppur si muove: even after we have seen through imaginary and symbolic semblances, the game goes on in the guise of the circulation of jouis-sens, the subject is not dissolved in the abyss of the Real.
- Slavoj Zizek

Miller has fearlessly spelt out the political implications of this insistence on the uniqueness of the subject’s mode of enjoyment: psychoanalysis “reveals social ideals in their nature of semblances, and we can add, of semblances with regard to a real which is the real of enjoyment. This is the cynical position, which resides in saying that enjoyment is the only thing that is true.”9 What this means is that a psychoanalyst occupies the position of an ironist who takes care not to intervene into the political field. He acts so that semblances remain at their places while making sure that the subjects under his care do not take them as real … one should somehow bring oneself to remain taken in by them (fooled by them). Lacan could say that “those who are not taken in err”: if one doesn’t act as if semblances are real, if one doesn’t leave their efficacy undisturbed, things take a turn for the worse. Those who think that all signs of power are mere semblances and rely on the arbitrariness of the discourse of the master are the bad boys: they are even more alienated.10 In relation to politics then, a psychoanalyst thus “doesn’t propose projects, he cannot propose them, he can only mock the projects of others, which limits the scope of his statements. The ironist has no great design, he waits for the other to speak first and then brings about his fall as fast as possible … Let us say this is political wisdom, nothing more.”11 The axiom of this “wisdom” is that one should protect the semblances of power for the good reason that one should be able to continue to enjoy. The point is not to attach oneself to the semblances of the existing power, but to consider them necessary. “This defines a cynicism in the mode of Voltaire who let it be understood that God is our invention which is necessary to maintain people in a proper decorum.” Society is kept together only by semblances, “which means: there is no society without repression, without identification, and above all without routine. Routine is essential.”12 The result is thus a kind of cynical liberal conservatism: in order to maintain stability, one has to respect and follow routines established by a choice which is always arbitrary and authoritarian. “There is no progressivism which holds,” but rather a particular kind of hedonism called “liberalism of enjoyment.” One has to maintain intact the routine of the cité, its laws and traditions, and accept that a kind of obscurantism is necessary in order to maintain social order. “There are questions one shouldn’t ask. If you turn the social turtle on its back, you will never succeed in turning it back onto its paws.”

Ideology does not reside primarily in taking seriously the network of symbolic semblances which encircle the hard core of jouissance; at a more fundamental level, ideology is the cynical dismissal of these semblances as “mere semblances” with regard to the Real of jouissance.

the true illusion consists not in taking symbolic semblances as real, but in substantializing the Real itself, in taking the Real as a substantial In-itself and reducing the symbolic to a mere texture of semblances.

cynics …dismiss the symbolic texture as a mere semblance and are blind to …to the way we can intervene into the Real through the symbolic.

what the law ultimately hides is that there is nothing to hide, that there is no terrifying mystery

the law is grounded only in its own tautology.
– Slavoj Zizek

the Religious is the return of the Aesthetic within the domain of the Ethical: the Religious is non‐non‐Aesthetic. Similarly, in Lacan’s triad of imaginary‐symbolic‐Real, or in Freud’s of ego‐superego‐Id, when we focus on one term, the other two get condensed into one (under the hegemony of one of them). If we focus on the imaginary, the Real and the symbolic get contracted into the imaginary’s opposite under the domination of the symbolic; if we focus on R, I and S get contracted under the domination of S. What Lacan is struggling with here is how to formulate or formalize an impossible/Real object which keeps the two sexes apart and, simultaneously, is the only thing, a third thing, which indirectly connects the two. Insofar as this object is an obstacle to the identity of each sex, this means that every sex is grounded by its immanent impossibility. The inadequacy of the Borromean metaphor is that it makes it appear as if, when the third circle is cut off, the two other circles (the two sexes) simply wander off, each going its own way—as if the two sexes have some kind of consistency outside of their constitutive difference. How can we think this dependence of the two sexes outside differentiality? In short, the non‐relationship—which had the ambition to affirm the absence of relationship—loses its support. There is no “thing” to support such a … concept … To conclude, the non‐relationship did not find its object, and remains an affirmation which can only be related to its enunciation. But is then every object which gives body to non‐relationship a fetish?

– Slavoj Zizek

Dennett claims that, in order to “save phe­nomena,” one would have to introduce the “bizarre category of the ob­ jectively subjective—the way things actually, objectively seem to you even if they don’t seem that way to you.” 30 That is to say, one would have to distinguish between our actual phenomenal (self-)experience (which is a fragmentary and inconsistent mixture of perceptions, judg­ ments, etc.) and the true phenomenal self-experience, which, precisely, is never given to us in direct experience. While Dennett thus evokes this hypothesis of the “objectively subjective” only to reject it as a sense­

– Slavoj Zizek

enjoyment can be gained only against the background of a fundamental loss. The link between this loss and lamella is clearly indicated in the passage which opened this essay: the myth of lamella presents the fantasmatic entity that gives body to what a living being loses when it enters the (symbolically regulated) regime of sexual difference. Since one of the Freudian names of this loss is “castration,” one can also say that lamella is a kind of positive obverse of castration: the non-castrated remainder, the indestructible partial object cut off from the living body caught in sexual difference.

– Slavoj Zizek

Kant called the “Thing-in-itself,” reality the way it is out there, independently of us, prior to being distorted by our perceptions

– Slavoj Zizek

The dream’s first part, Freud’s confrontation with Irma, ends with Freud looking deep into Irma’s throat. What he sees there renders the Real in the guise of the primordial flesh, the palpitation of the life substance as the Thing itself, in its disgusting dimension of a cancerous outgrowth. The dream’s second part, the comic conversation among the three doctors, Freud’s friends, who offer different excuses for the failure of the treatment, ends up with a chemical formula (of trimethylamine) writ large. Each part thus concludes with a figuration of the Real: first, the Real of lamella, of the terrifying formless Thing; second, the scientific Real, the Real of a formula which renders the meaningless functioning of nature

– Slavoj Zizek

he still has to cling to an “impersonal” God (God is for him, ultimately, the name for the Law itself that enjoins me to love my neighbor), while Kierkegaard, because he asserts the gap between my direct responsibility to God and my love for (human) neighbors (the gap which becomes palpable in the case of Abraham and Isaac), has to endorse the Christian dogma of Incarnation, of positing God Himself as identical to a man like others (Christ).

- Slavoj Zizek

“You can, therefore
you must!” is its reversal: You cannot, because you should not! The ethical problems
of cloning seem to point in this direction

The underlying fear that gains
expression in this prohibition, of course, is that the order of reason is actually
inverted, that is, that the ontological impossibility is grounded in ethics: we
should claim that we cannot do it, because otherwise we may well do it, with
catastrophic ethical consequences.

– Slavoj Zizek

Hysteria is the subject’s way of
resisting the prevailing…form
of…symbolic identification.
– Slavoj Zizek

psychosis (is) the maintenance of an
external distance from the
symbolic order

– Slavoj Zizek

What Deleuze and Guattari fail to take into account is that the greatest antiOedipus is Oedipus itself, its obscene reverse:
the Oedipal father … as the agency of the symbolic Law … can exert its authority only by relying on the super-ego figure of the Father-Enjoyment.

dependence of the Oedipal father – the agency of symbolic Law guaranteeing order and reconciliation – on the perverse figure of Father-Enjoyment … explains why Lacan prefers to write “perversion” as “pere-version,” i.e. the version of the father.

Far from acting only as symbolic agency, restraining preOedipal “polymorphous perversity,” subjugating it to the genital Law, the most radical perversion is the “version of the father” itself. In this respect, Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, perhaps the definitive novel about the “return of the living dead,” … presents a kind of inversion of the motif of the dead father returning as the obscene ghost-figure.

Louis Creed, a young physician, together with his wife Rachel, two small kids, six-year-old Ellie and two-year-old Gage, and the cat Church, move to a small town in Maine where he will manage the university infirmary. They rent a big, comfortable house near a highway, along which trucks continually rush. Soon after their arrival, Jud Crandall, their elderly neighbour, takes them to visit the “Pet Sematary” in the woods behind their house, a cemetery for the dogs and cats run over by the trucks on the highway. On Creed’s first day at work, a student dies in his arms. Even though already dead, the student suddenly awakes, rises, and tells Louis in a clear voice: “Don’t go beyond, no matter how much you feel you need to. The barrier was not made to be broken.” The place designated by this warning is precisely the place “between the two deaths,” the forbidden domain of the Thing.

– Slavoj Zizek

The paternal metaphor is an “X” in the sense that it opens up the space of virtual meaning, it stands for all possible future meanings. As to this virtual character that pertains to the symbolic order, the parallel to the capitalist financial system is most instructive. As we know from Keynes onwards, the capitalist economy is “virtual” in a very precise sense. Keynes’ favorite maxim was that in the longterm we are all dead–the paradox of the capitalist economics is that our borrowing from the (virtual) future, i. e., our 44 printing of money “uncovered” in “real” values, can bring about real effects (growth). Herein lies the crucial difference between Keynes and economic “fundamentalists” who favor the actual “settling of accounts” (reimbursing the credits, abolishing the “borrowing from the future”).
- Slavoj Zizek

the pervert’s ultimate fantasy is to be a perfect servant of his other’s (partner’s) fantasies, to offer himself as an instrument of the other’s Will-to-Enjoy (like Don Giovanni, for example, who seduces women by enacting one by one the specific fantasy of each of them: Lacan was quite right in pointing out that Don Giovanni is a feminine myth). The entire difference between the pervert and the analyst hinges on a certain invisible limit
– Slavoj Zizek

anxiety is this absolute uncertainty as to what I am: “I do not know what I am (for the Other, since I am what I am only for the Other)”. …And the position of the masochist pervert is ultimately an attempt to elude this uncertainty…: the pervert knows what he is for the Other, since he posits himself as the object-instrument of the Other’s jouissance. – Slavoj Zizek

A modernist work of art is by definition ‘incompre­hensible’; it functions as a shock, as the irruption of a trauma which undermines the complacency of our daily routine and resists being integrated into the symbolic universe of the prevailing ideology; thereupon, after this first encounter, interpretation enters the stage and enables us to integrate this shock – it informs us, say, that this trauma registers and points towards the shocking depravity of our very ‘normal’ everyday lives In this sense, interpretation is the conclusive moment of the very act of reception The McGuffin is clearly the objet petit a, a gap in the centre of the symbolic order — the lack, the void of the Real setting in motion the symbolic movement of interpretation, a pure semblance of the Mystery to be explained, interpreted…

– Slavoj Zizek


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