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All that is Solid for Glenn Rikowski All that is Solid … is a radical blog that seeks to promote a future beyond capital's social universe. Like this: Like Loading Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:. Email required Address never made public. Name required. A teacher, for instance, makes sense of their actual social position by imagining how this relates to the social world as a whole.

The point that Althusser makes is that even though our subjectivity is institutionally produced, we feel as though we are free. By this he means an ideology that makes us feel as though the social world is there for us to express ourselves, rather than us being mere functionaries for the system. In this second sense, ideology can never be overcome since it plays an important role in how we understand our place in the world. In the third theorisation, instead of understanding ideology as a problem of knowledge or the imaginary, ideology is thought to involve our beliefs and fantasies.

Zizek and Media Studies

Ideology attempts to assemble a coherent account of the social world by focusing on one aspect of things and taking this as an account of the whole. This partial construction works as an object of fantasy, and displaces the real conditions of social inequality. Ideology today has thus become cynical. The capitalist system has become the grounds for the expression of pleasure and enjoyment.

Part of the purchase price for a Starbucks coffee, for instance, is donated to help poor children. Along with the product, buying a Starbucks coffee thus involves doing good, and makes the consumer feel that their purchasing produces positive benefits for others, in this case poor children. The point in this instance is that ideology works by investing consumption with enjoyment, and even though we know that people suffer and that there is exploitation in the world, the very system that produces this suffering remains unchallenged.

At the same time, objectively , it by-passes the essence of the evolution of society and fails to pinpoint it and express it adequately. In a classless society ideology is the relay whereby, and the element in which, the relation between men and their condition of existence is lived to the profit of all men For Marx , London: Verso, What they do not know is that their social reality itself, their activity, is guided by an illusion, by a fetishistic inversion.


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What they overlook, what they misrecognize, is not the reality but the illusion which is structuring their reality, their real social activity. They know very well how things really are, but still they are doing it as if they did not know. Kay , by contrast, characterises Zizek as a philosopher of the Real.

Žižek and media studies : a reader - sähkökirjat Žižek, Slavoj Mass media - Terkko Navigator

In many respects we could say virtually the opposite: Zizek does not elevate the Real into an absolute horizon of impossibility about which we can do nothing. His position is rather one that may be said to reflect an explicit ethical commitment the power of the miracle. Zizek's central point is that fundamental change can and does occur but that this means crucially assuming rather than avoiding the traumatic encounter with the Real itself Zizek, b: For Zizek it is one of the great tragedies of our age that the miracle, and especially the political miracle, is not presently part of our Western imagination.

Moreover this has created the very space in which today's forms of ideological cynicism and its more recent cousin, new age obscurantism, continue to thrive. This chapter focuses on what I take to be the main coordinates of Zizek's perspective. It then moves to a consideration of what is at stake in central ongoing debates with postmodern and postmarxist positions. Finally it looks at the consequences of Zizek's thought for a more radical approach to politics; a politics of the Real. All too inhuman Following Kant, modern philosophical endeavour has tended to become less concerned with the "object" and more with the latter's conditions of possibility.

With Kant it is not so much the particular questions that are important - what is the nature of the soul? Simplifying, the general problem for Kant is not so much what is the world but rather how do we arrive at such a notion as "world" as an entity that can disclose information to us; on what type of transcendental a priori structure does it depend?

This, of course, introduces the dimension of subjectivity to the world of objects and, in particular, the question of subjective engagement with that world. From this point onwards what is rendered thematic in German idealism is an essential lack of fit between the human being and the world.

We do not belong to any positive or predetermined order of Being and consequently our orientations are radically undecidable. We are thus compelled to ask impossible questions of ourselves in relation to the world precisely because of a fundamental asymmetry, an absence of any ecology of Being. This means that the positivisation of Being is something that can take place only through a transcendental logic of negativity. Thus what Kant speculatively refers to as diabolical evil - i. This self-relating negativity is made even more explicit in Hegel and his notion of the human being as an entity constituted in and through a transcendent "night of the world": "The human being is this night, this empty nothing, that contains everything in its simplicity - an unending wealth of many representations, images, of which none belongs to him - or which are not present" Hegel, Jenaer Realphilosophie , cited in Zizek, Zizek affirms that psychoanalysis is the direct descendant of German idealism and that it articulates this dimension of self-relating negativity in terms of the idea of death drive Zizek, Death drive is the existential consequence of the very gap in the order of Being identified in German idealism.

It is neither a cancellation nor any kind of physical death but is rather a certain excessive impulse that persists beyond mere existence or biological life. As Zizek argues: "Human life is never just life, it is always sustained by an excess of life" Zizek, b: The human being is precisely that entity that is sustained by a "more than human". It is this "inhuman" excess - born of a fundamental alienation - which is the death drive and which is constitutive of humanity as such.

In this context - and against the grain of standard postmodern thinking - Zizek insists on the validity of the notion of subject Zizek, The subject is neither a positive entity nor an identifiable locus but is thoroughly de-substantialised - it is precisely "this empty nothing" of which Hegel speaks. In the earlier works of Zizek, the subject is presented in terms of an inherent point of failure the limit in all forms of subjectivity - the bone stuck in the throat of signification - that shows the ontological gap of Being.

Subject and subjectivity exist in a symbiotic and dynamic relationship. Subjectivity will be more or less stable according to context. Under the impact of a traumatic experience, however, we experience a certain "night of the world" where coherence and cohesion become radically undermined: that is, the condition of subject.

In later works, Zizek gives an added twist to the notion of subject. As in Russell's paradoxical set of sets, the subject also functions as an excluded particularity that nonetheless generates the frame of universality as such. The frame of subjectivity is not constituted against an external force the elimination of which would yield true subjectivity but through an inherent blockage which is the subject Zizek, In this sense, the subject marks the site where an irresolvable economy of lack and excess are played out.

This economy is perhaps best illustrated by the relationship between subject and its objects a objets petit a - objects small Other. Lacan's object a refers to the object-cause of desire: that which is in the object more than the object and which makes us desire it in the first place. It alludes to the originally lost object the missing element that would resolve drive and "restore" fulfilment and, at the same time, functions as an embodiment of lack; as a loss positivised Zizek, 81; Zizek, Object a bears witness to an empty structure of desire - a structure that can never be filled out.

Desire is always elsewhere and alludes to an absence whose central reference is a fundamental void around which drive constantly circulates and constantly misses its target. It is in this sense that Zizek refers to object a in terms of a Kantian "negative magnitude": something that acts as a stand-in for Nothingness Zizek, There exists a metonymy of lack whereby any empirical object can act as this stand-in.

A well known e-mail circular is illustrative. A mock audit of staff morale is sent as an attachment in which the final exercise is one where you are asked to "click here" if you want a bigger salary, better conditions and so on.


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  6. Of course, when you move your cursor to the relevant box, the "click here" simply moves and pops up somewhere else on the screen no matter how quickly or stealthily you try to approach it. The subject strives for a fullness in the object that it lacks. This accounts for the passionate attachment to certain objects and toward which people may risk everything. Tarantino's film, Pulp Fiction , is illustrative.

    Zizek and the Media

    In the boxer's story, the Bruce Willis character refuses to take a dive in a fixed fight and as a result falls foul of a local gangster. Instead of leaving town immediately, however, Bruce returns to his apartment to pick up his dead father's watch - thereby risking his life. Why do this? The answer is that this particular watch represents object a : a partial embodiment of the lost parent-child unity. It is this watch, and no other, that holds the promise of an ultimate reconciliation to restore "lost" unity and, at the same time underscores the fact that such reconciliation is always lacking; always a "click" away.


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    5. It is here that both lack subject and excess identifications - every "pathological" gesture to positivise void - may be said to coincide Zizek, The "many" identifications and forms of collective objective life are made possible through the persistence of the "one" of radical negativity. The infinitude of signification is the result ultimately of the one true signified For Zizek this is the starting point of a new approach to politics We are political animals not in the sense of Aristotle who understood by this a certain capacity to recognise a pre-existing order of the good, but the opposite.

      It is precisely because there is no pre-existing order that we are "condemned" to be political animals. Without an ecology of Being, we are confronted with what Zizek, in his discussion of Schelling , calls an unbridgeable abyss of freedom; an abyss that is simultaneously the source of universal rights and ethnic cleansing. The Touch of the Real The persistence of radical negativity is what the later Lacan generically characterised as the Real: the ultimate "signified" around which all signification is constituted and simultaneously finds its limitation and inexorable failure.

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      As is well documented elsewhere e. Fink, , the Real is inextricably linked with the registers of the Symbolic and the Imaginary and together these form a basic triadic structure for all human Being. In general terms, both the Symbolic and the Imaginary may be said to belong to the order of signification. While the Symbolic refers to the potentially infinite uses of signification through language and symbols, the Imaginary refers to the particular ways in which signification becomes arrested around certain fundamental images of ourselves that offer a sense of coherence and place in the world.

      The Real, on the other hand, not only does not belong directly to the order of signification but crucially represents its negation.

      Zizek and Media Studies A Reader

      The Real is rather the transcendental and constitutive dimension of resistance in every process of signification.