Devotional Thoughts With Rev. Zizek

Cynical distance is just one way … to blind ourselves to the structural power of ideological fantasy: even if we do not take things seriously, even if we keep an ironical distance, we are still doing them. The Sublime Object of Ideology

Today’s devotional is brought to you by Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek. The following reading comes from First as Tragedy, Then as Farce:

Our most elementary experience of subjectivity is that of the “richness of my inner life”: this is what I “really am,” in contrast to the symbolic determinations and responsibilities I assume in public life (as father, professor, etc). The first lesson of psychoanalysis here is that this “richness of inner life” is fundamentally fake: it is a screen, a false distance, whose function is, as it were, to save my appearance, to render palpable (accessible to my imaginary narcissism) my true social-symbolic identity. One of the ways to practise the critique of ideology is therefore to invent strategies for unmasking this hypocrisy of the “inner life” and its “sincere” emotions. The experience we have of our lives from within, the story we tell ourselves about ourselves in order to account for what we are doing, is thus a lie — the truth lies rather outside, in what we do. … “Stories we tell ourselves about ourselves” serve to obfuscate the true ethical dimension of our acts.


Be well.

3 thoughts on “Devotional Thoughts With Rev. Zizek

  1. Would this quote, then, prevent Zizek from giving any sort of ontological existence to suffering, joy, etc? Isn’t the distinction between the ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ a sort of dialectic process, where the manifest image we use to understand ourselves on the inside is learned and constructed from the outside (society etc)–to paraphrase, that the inner life is structured like a language–but doesn’t Zizek ignore then that the actions we perform on the outside are then judged by the affect they have on people’s inner lives (being mean to people can be bad because it is hurtful, causes psychological damage an so on, not solely because it would prevent the recipient from further acting in the world).

    (Also, you once asked me to update you if I found anything synthesizing Derrida and Deleuze, and I’ve made some minor steps towards this: first, I was surprised to find that in an interview Derrida said that him and Deleuze were friends, talked a lot, and even accepted the majority of the other’s work (Derrida said he could accept everything in Deleuze except for maybe the idea of philosophy as ‘the creation of concepts’). They were even going to write a book together about how they thought their philosophies related but Deleuze died before they started. Supposedly D&D where the two major influences of Laruelle, and his work maybe brings them together, but I haven’t read any of it)

  2. Thinking about this further, I’m pretty sure that our ‘most elementary experience of subjectivity’ often includes at least aspects of our symbolic identities–subjectivity seems like its a necessarily symbolic experience. And to repeat myself here using Zizek’s examples, could one really understand the “symbolic determinations and responsibilities [one assumes] in public life (as father, professor, etc)” without understanding the (admittedly constructed) subjective experience of being a father, professor etc? Have you read The Parallax View? Even though he explicitly comes down against the inner life, I felt like he was almost defending it in some ways, maybe I should reread those parts…

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