30 July 2006

Zizek Cul-de-Sac

Fell into a reading hole that I can't seem to pull myself out of. Zizek seems important to moving past this Larsen/Berman ChickenLittleism. But how? Zizek is one tricky muthah. Like below, where he is extremely insightful, hitting the nail on the head about western buddhism and its relationship to capitalism...

...and yet he's sloppy enough to conflate buddhism and taoism throughout the essay.

From Self-Deceptions: On Being Tolerant and Smug, by Slavoj Zizek, 2001.

the attitude of total immersion into the self-less "now" of the instant Enlightenment, in which all reflexive distance is lost and "I am what I do," as C.S.Lewis put it, in short: in which absolute discipline coincides with total spontaneity, perfectly legitimizes one subordination to the militaristic social machine. Or, to put it in somewhat simplified terms (which, however, just repeat the central ethical lesson of Bhagavadgita): if the external reality is ultimately just an ephemeral appearance, even the most horrifying crimes eventually DO NOT MATTER.

Zizek's point here is that our late-capitalist phase is stressful on the individual, and that one can either deny that stress or adopt a fetish that mitigates the full impact of that stress. The Western Buddhist or Taoist can fully take on the lifestyle of the late capitalist while at the same time being able to remain distant.

See now, taoism has a political history that is interesting and relevant here, and I am off to go refresh my memory (alas, still sofabound). If anyone who has studied Zizek wants to chime in, that would rule. I love this man's writing but don't quite get his pov yet.

Oh, and this could be a great response to ANGB.


Blogger gypsy_kat said...

I don't know about Zizek, but from what i remember of the Bhagavad-Gita (i read an abridged version of the mahabarata years ago, which the BG is a part of) that is a really odd take on the song of God.

30 July, 2006 16:04  
Blogger fisher6000 said...

Not sure... it's been awhile since I read the BG myself, but ultimately Arjuna goes to fight, right? This rings true to me. Krishna spends a lot of time convincing Arjuna that the world is ephemeral, so it doesn't matter what he does as long as he's down with the Krishna Consciousness... I may be flattening my memory of it, but this is what I remember.

More research in order?

30 July, 2006 17:33  

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