Friday, July 9, 2010


Zizek is a likeable guy and, as this profile from Der Spielgel illustrates, a characiture of everything wrong with philosophers.

Zizek is the kind of guy who "is so full of thoughts that are just waiting to bubble out of him" that he doesn't even need notes to speak to an cosmopolitan audience of 1,000. In science, that might scare you: you come to hear about carefully constructed experiments and tight reasonsing. You expect parimonious explanations you could explain to your grandma. Simplicity is a virtue.

But not in philosophy. At this conference, complexity is a virtue: "the point is not to provide easy or concrete answers." This is a conference of ideas.

Ideas about how "the ontological essense of the Germans, French, and Americans [is based] on their toilet habits and the resulting relationship with their fecal matter." Filled with wry, cutting insights such that "the best, most impressive films about the Holocaust are comedies." Like Schindler's List.

The first, and only, time I read Zizek I found him pontificating about the need for an "aesthetic appreciate of trash." I don't remember why we needed it (something to do with ending global warming), but I'm pretty sure "stupid is as stupid does." And Zizek is stupid.

I felt like that point was shocking enough to deserve bolding. I'm not a dramatic person. I wouldn't bold it--I didn't want to--but it practically bolded itself.

The thing is, the fact that Zizek is a moron will come as a shock to many. Yet anyone who writes 50 books has got to be full of shit. When Zizek started talking about ontologies and shit he stumbled on the Holy Grail of philosophy. He transmuted his high probability of being a moron into a certainty. For a fleeting second I thought he really was brilliant.

He, of course, knows this. He admits he doesn't have deep ideas, or even big ideas most of the time. He just has a big personality, big enough to write an entertaining human interest piece at least.

Part III in the on-going series "Why I hate Philosophers." Part I and Part II, retroactively designated.

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