April 22, 2005

i was five inches away from the rock star of philosophy

I saw a Zizek documentary last night at the Roxie at Valencia and 16th. After the film, he (the man himself) walked up from the back of the movie theatre and spoke to the audience, followed by a q&a session. It was awesome. Best infusion of thinking and words I've gotten in a while. He is such an incredibly funny, ironic, humble(-sounding) guy. Here are some highlights:

-He insists that he can't and doesn't offer the kind of message or salvation lots of the college students and left-wingers ask him about. "What do we do next?" "How do we start the revolution?" He said, as a philosopher what he hopes to do is not deliver solutions but give people a change of perspective. That's the best he can do. And it's probably the best thing to do. (A revolution? He said it's like a "revolution without the revolution" -- a play on "warfare without the war" -- that people who want a socialist revolution are too comfortable with this material life to ever start one) (Gets me thinking a lot about the kind of adulation/fetishization students have after they discover a role model who seems to offer an identity/"the Truth"). "What do you think about the new pope?" "What do you think about the tsunami?" His reply: "Shit, I don't know!" (I'm not an expert).

-Interesting commentary: taking Kansas as a place and point in history, the right-wing movement today is like what the left-wing movement was like in the 1930s. (The opacity of the barrier between blue and red activities scares me -- it's sort of like how people were afraid of Communists back then, perhaps!)

-On the topic of giving people "the answers" -- he is constantly denigrating his own fame and fandom this way -- he's at the same time an avid performer/speaker, but also wary of the role he plays as someone who (potentially becoming a persona)attracts a large following.

-He has a really cute son. In his lego set, he accumulated a huge collection of small figurines. In the watchtower were two lego women (the rulers of the tiny queendom) -- which Zizek interpreted as two lesbians, and that his son is quite progressive. Also, one time he was playing with him, a toy soldier "died in combat," after which his son said, "Can we make it look like an accident?"

-"The committee tells me what I think." He wanted to emphasize that he's not a crazy philosopher who's holed up in his apartment reading books and watching films all the time. He has a group (collective if you will) of six to eight people who are just as passionate and with whom he talks regularly.

-He is a self-stated card-carrying Lacanian. Blending psychoanalysis with social theory.

-On being direct. In a kind of sleazy late night interview show, he told this anecdote about a father who wants his kid to visit his grandmother, but the kid doesn't want to. He might say,"Visit your grandmother!" commandingly, or "You don't have to visit your grandmother, but she might want to see you ..." but the former is better because it is direct. It's not trying to shroud something. (I never thought that self esteem pop psych could parallel postmodernism).

-States of suicide -- There should be a way to categorize suicides: short-term depression (broke up with girlfriend) to a real metaphysical suicide. (This was really funny the way he said it ... :)

-And so much more!!

Really good documentary. I think these notes really can't at all begin to explain how interesting this man's ideas (and the man himself) are. Too bad I have to go to work tomorrow; otherwise I'd write a way better description!


bruce said...



jean said...

philosophers get hot babes.