Slavoj Žižek, in a recent London Review of Books article, alleges that the capitalist mode of generating wealth has changed. Money can still be made through the production of material goods – but the big bucks are now being made by privatizing everyday life and leasing it back to consumers. So, for example,
“…Microsoft has imposed itself as an almost universal standard, practically monopolising the field [of computational technology], as one embodiment of what Marx called the ‘general intellect’, by which he meant collective knowledge in all its forms”
This example evinces what we can usefully think of as the capitalization in part of Wittgensteinian ‘forms of life’. A ‘form of life’ is a useful heuristic for capturing a community’s shared biological and cultural background, in terms of traditional and entrenched patterns of behaviour, in a single phrase. Žižek’s point is that these patterns of behaviour, which form the ‘general intellect’, are being exapted: parts are being adopted, built upon, and changed to create a new pattern of behaviour, which are then rented out or sold to consumers.
Continue reading “Are We Turning into Commodities?”
In a recent interview for the Guardian, Slavoj Zizek rubbished a large part of his own oeuvre, declaring, “All the talk and the writing about politics, this is not where my heart is. No. I have been sidetracked. I really mean this.”
Zizek also admitted to not having watched James Cameron’s blockbuster film Avatar when he wrote his interpretation of it: “I had not even seen the film, but I am a good Hegelian. If you have a good theory, forget about the reality.” Continue reading “A Ticklish Subject”
People who are not too familiar with contemporary philosophy sometimes get the impression that Slavoj Zizek is widely respected among philosophers. This isn’t the case. The comments underneath this Crooked Timber post contain some of the reasons why not. Zizek’s style of philosophy — if “philosophy” is the right name for what Zizek does — is pretty far from the mainstream, and I believe that even those who like the kind of thing Zizek does will admit that Zizek is mainly known as a provocateur, not a particularly careful or serious thinker. Which isn’t to say that he can’t be entertaining and thought-provoking. His Pervert’s Guide to Cinema is fun.
Anyway, what I really want to do in this post is nitpick something John Holbo says in the comments to that CT post: Continue reading “The ethics of beating up on Slavoj Zizek”