Saturday, February 9, 2013

First as Tragedy, Then as Farce-Slavoj Žižek

First as Tragedy, Then as Farce-Slavoj Žižek

the facts
satisfaction: side/down
pages: 157
gender: M
nationality: Slovenia
year: 2009
Non-fiction, political theory

From the tragedy of 9/11 to the farce of the financial meltdown.
Billions of dollars have been hastily poured into the global banking system in a frantic attempt at financial stabilization. So why has it not been possible to bring the same forces to bear in addressing world poverty and environmental crisis?

In this take-no-prisoners analysis, Slavoj Zizek frames the moral failures of the modern world in terms of the epoch-making events of the first decade of this century. What he finds is the old one-two punch of history: the jab of tragedy, the right hook of farce. In the attacks of 9/11 and the global credit crunch, liberalism dies twice: as a political doctrine and as an economic theory.

First as Tragedy, Then as Farce is a call for the Left to reinvent itself in the light of our desperate historical situation. The time for liberal, moralistic blackmail is over.

This book...
I can't even. I'm going ahead and resorting to some gifs.
I'd been reading this book for more than two months and I'd be reading and going 

and I'm totally into it. And then, I don't know, Žižek keeps talking or something and he just ends up shooting himself in the foot or completely undermining what I had been enjoying before so that I just kept making this face

 and then

and even worse it kept going on and on but I kept reading. I soldiered on.
You want an example? Okay, so he's fascinatingly demonstrating how accepting aid from the IMF literally makes people sicker (b/c it promotes budget cuts in public health) and then he meanders out into phenomenology...

Despite all my efforts by the end I ended up not really understanding Žižek's point, thesis, or position in life. So what was he aiming at?
and I really should have abandoned this book much earlier. I got some great points, I've gotten some great arguments from it but I can't tell if I like them because of how Žižek used them or whether I'd actually using them in counterpoint to what he'd say. I've read many other political treatises I've grasped far better than this one. It's not just that Žižek adores Hegel (with whom I've had a fairly ambivalent relationship) but rather that he wins on certain very specific points and then meanders into territory that doesn't even border on his point. It was often like I started the point on Venus and by the end of the page ended up on Mars and ostensibly this was supposed to be the same point I was listening to on Venus.

I guess it also bothered me that there was also no real conclusion, not even an attempt at one. The last chapter is something like 2/3 of the book and so Žižek effectively spends all those 157 pages critiquing the systems currently in place,but he lacks any advice on what should be done instead except for the absurdly abstracted Communist Hypothesis.

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