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63

Andante ma non troppo e molto cantabile:

‘A BLOOD-DIMMED TIDE IS LOOSED’

9
terms
8
notes

Žižek, S. (2009). Andante ma non troppo e molto cantabile:. In Žižek, S. Violence. Profile Books, pp. 63-88

64

[...] The fact that there was no programme behind the burning Paris suburbs is thus itself a fact to be interpreted. It tells us a great deal about our ideologico-political predicament. What kind of universe is it that we inhabit, which can celebrate itself as a society of choice, but in which the only option available to enforced democratic consensus is a blind acting out? The sad fact that opposition to the system cannot articulate itself in the guise of a realistic alternative, or at least a meaningful utopian project, but only take the shape of a meaningless outburst, is a grave illustration of our predicament. What does our celebrated freedom of choice serve, when the only choice is between playing by the rules and (self-)destructive violence? [...]

What needs to be resisted when faced with the shocking reports and images of the burning Paris suburbs is what I call the hermeneutic temptation: the search for some deeper meaning or message hidden in these outbursts. What is most difficult to accept is precisely the riots’ meaninglessness: more than a form of protest, they are what Lacan called a passage a l’acte – an impulsive movement into action which can’t be translated into speech or thought and carries with it an intolerable weight of frustration. This bears witness not only to the impotence of the perpetrators, but, even more, to the lack of what cultural analyst Fredric Jameson has called ‘cognitive mapping’, an inability to locate the experience of their situation within a meaningful whole.

The Paris outbursts were thus not rooted in any kind of concrete socio-economic protest [...] The riots were simply a direct effort to gain visibility. A social group which, although part of France and composed of French citizens, saw itself as excluded from the political and social space proper wanted to render its presence palpable to the general public. Their actions spoke for them: like it or not, we’re here, no matter how much you pretend not to see us. Commentators failed to notice the crucial fact that the protesters did not claim any special status for themselves as members of a religious or ethnic community striving for its self-enclosed way of life. On the contrary, their main premise was that they wanted to be and were French citizens, but were not fully recognised as such.

on the vision-less riots in Paris in 2005

—p.64 by Slavoj Žižek 2 years, 10 months ago

[...] The fact that there was no programme behind the burning Paris suburbs is thus itself a fact to be interpreted. It tells us a great deal about our ideologico-political predicament. What kind of universe is it that we inhabit, which can celebrate itself as a society of choice, but in which the only option available to enforced democratic consensus is a blind acting out? The sad fact that opposition to the system cannot articulate itself in the guise of a realistic alternative, or at least a meaningful utopian project, but only take the shape of a meaningless outburst, is a grave illustration of our predicament. What does our celebrated freedom of choice serve, when the only choice is between playing by the rules and (self-)destructive violence? [...]

What needs to be resisted when faced with the shocking reports and images of the burning Paris suburbs is what I call the hermeneutic temptation: the search for some deeper meaning or message hidden in these outbursts. What is most difficult to accept is precisely the riots’ meaninglessness: more than a form of protest, they are what Lacan called a passage a l’acte – an impulsive movement into action which can’t be translated into speech or thought and carries with it an intolerable weight of frustration. This bears witness not only to the impotence of the perpetrators, but, even more, to the lack of what cultural analyst Fredric Jameson has called ‘cognitive mapping’, an inability to locate the experience of their situation within a meaningful whole.

The Paris outbursts were thus not rooted in any kind of concrete socio-economic protest [...] The riots were simply a direct effort to gain visibility. A social group which, although part of France and composed of French citizens, saw itself as excluded from the political and social space proper wanted to render its presence palpable to the general public. Their actions spoke for them: like it or not, we’re here, no matter how much you pretend not to see us. Commentators failed to notice the crucial fact that the protesters did not claim any special status for themselves as members of a religious or ethnic community striving for its self-enclosed way of life. On the contrary, their main premise was that they wanted to be and were French citizens, but were not fully recognised as such.

on the vision-less riots in Paris in 2005

—p.64 by Slavoj Žižek 2 years, 10 months ago

the theory and methodology of interpretation, especially the interpretation of biblical texts, wisdom literature, and philosophical texts

65

What needs to be resisted when faced with the shocking reports and images of the burning Paris suburbs is what I call the hermeneutic temptation: the search for some deeper meaning or message hidden in these outbursts.

—p.65 by Slavoj Žižek
notable
2 years, 10 months ago

What needs to be resisted when faced with the shocking reports and images of the burning Paris suburbs is what I call the hermeneutic temptation: the search for some deeper meaning or message hidden in these outbursts.

—p.65 by Slavoj Žižek
notable
2 years, 10 months ago

(psychology) Impulsive acting out; term used by Lacan

65

What is most difficult to accept is precisely the riots’ meaninglessness: more than a form of protest, they are what Lacan called a passage à l'acte – an impulsive movement into action which can’t be translated into speech or thought and carries with it an intolerable weight of frustration.

—p.65 by Slavoj Žižek
notable
2 years, 10 months ago

What is most difficult to accept is precisely the riots’ meaninglessness: more than a form of protest, they are what Lacan called a passage à l'acte – an impulsive movement into action which can’t be translated into speech or thought and carries with it an intolerable weight of frustration.

—p.65 by Slavoj Žižek
notable
2 years, 10 months ago

(adjective) of, relating to, or being speech used for social or emotive purposes rather than for communicating information

66

In the golden era of structuralism, Roman Jakobson deployed the notion of ‘phatic’ function, which he derived from Malinowski’s concept of phatic communion, the use of language to maintain a social relation through ritualised formulas such as greetings, chit-chat about the weather, and related formal niceties of social communication.

—p.66 by Slavoj Žižek
notable
2 years, 10 months ago

In the golden era of structuralism, Roman Jakobson deployed the notion of ‘phatic’ function, which he derived from Malinowski’s concept of phatic communion, the use of language to maintain a social relation through ritualised formulas such as greetings, chit-chat about the weather, and related formal niceties of social communication.

—p.66 by Slavoj Žižek
notable
2 years, 10 months ago
67

Alain Badiou has reflected that we live in a social space which is progressively experienced as ‘worldless’. In such a space, the only form protest can take is ‘meaningless’ violence. Even Nazi anti-Semitism, however ghastly it was, opened up a world: it described its present critical situation by positing an enemy which was a ‘Jewish conspiracy’; it named a goal and the means of achieving it. Nazism disclosed reality in a way which allowed its subjects to acquire a global ‘cognitive mapping’, which included a space for their meaningful engagement. Perhaps, it is here that one of the main dangers of capitalism should be located: although it is global and encompasses the whole world, it sustains a stricto sensu ‘worldless’ ideological constellation, depriving the large majority of people of any meaningful cognitive mapping. Capitalism is the first socioeconomic order which detotalises meaning: it is not global at the level of meaning (there is no global ‘capitalist worldview’ no ‘capitalist civilisation’ proper – the fundamental lesson of globalisation is precisely that capitalism can accommodate itself to all civilisations, from Christian to Hindu or Buddhist, from West to East); its global dimension can only be formulated at the level of truth-without-meaning, as the ‘Real’ of the global market mechanism.

—p.67 by Slavoj Žižek 2 years, 10 months ago

Alain Badiou has reflected that we live in a social space which is progressively experienced as ‘worldless’. In such a space, the only form protest can take is ‘meaningless’ violence. Even Nazi anti-Semitism, however ghastly it was, opened up a world: it described its present critical situation by positing an enemy which was a ‘Jewish conspiracy’; it named a goal and the means of achieving it. Nazism disclosed reality in a way which allowed its subjects to acquire a global ‘cognitive mapping’, which included a space for their meaningful engagement. Perhaps, it is here that one of the main dangers of capitalism should be located: although it is global and encompasses the whole world, it sustains a stricto sensu ‘worldless’ ideological constellation, depriving the large majority of people of any meaningful cognitive mapping. Capitalism is the first socioeconomic order which detotalises meaning: it is not global at the level of meaning (there is no global ‘capitalist worldview’ no ‘capitalist civilisation’ proper – the fundamental lesson of globalisation is precisely that capitalism can accommodate itself to all civilisations, from Christian to Hindu or Buddhist, from West to East); its global dimension can only be formulated at the level of truth-without-meaning, as the ‘Real’ of the global market mechanism.

—p.67 by Slavoj Žižek 2 years, 10 months ago

atone for (guilt or sin)

67

if mythic violence brings at once guilt and retribution, divine power only expiates

quoting from the end of Critique of Violence

—p.67 by Walter Benjamin
notable
2 years, 10 months ago

if mythic violence brings at once guilt and retribution, divine power only expiates

quoting from the end of Critique of Violence

—p.67 by Walter Benjamin
notable
2 years, 10 months ago

(verb) to gain or regain the favor or goodwill of; appease

67

The emptiness of contact thus has a propitious technical function as a test of the system itself

—p.67 by Slavoj Žižek
notable
2 years, 10 months ago

The emptiness of contact thus has a propitious technical function as a test of the system itself

—p.67 by Slavoj Žižek
notable
2 years, 10 months ago

ethical component of the personality and provides the moral standards by which the ego operates (acc to Sigmund Freud)

70

‘fundamentalism’, that psychotic-delirious-incestuous reassertion of religion as direct insight into the divine Real, with all the terrifying consequences that such a reassertion entails, and including the return with a vengeance of the obscene superego divinity demanding sacrifices

—p.70 by Slavoj Žižek
notable
2 years, 10 months ago

‘fundamentalism’, that psychotic-delirious-incestuous reassertion of religion as direct insight into the divine Real, with all the terrifying consequences that such a reassertion entails, and including the return with a vengeance of the obscene superego divinity demanding sacrifices

—p.70 by Slavoj Žižek
notable
2 years, 10 months ago
72

However, are the terrorist fundamentalists, be they Christian or Muslim, really fundamentalists in the authentic sense of the term? Do they really believe? What they lack is a feature that is easy to discern in all authentic fundamentalists, from Tibetan Buddhists to the Amish in the US: the absence of resentment and envy, the deep indifference towards the nonbelievers’ way of life. If today’s so-called fundamentalists really believe they have found their way to truth, why should they feel threatened by non-believers, why should they envy them? When a Buddhist encounters a Western hedonist, he hardly condemns him. He just benevolently notes that the hedonist’s search for happiness is self-defeating. In contrast to true fundamentalists, the terrorist pseudo-fundamentalists are deeply bothered, intrigued, fascinated, by the sinful life of the non-believers. One can feel that, in fighting the sinful Other, they are fighting their own temptation. These so-called Christian or Muslim fundamentalists are a disgrace to true fundamentalism.

[...] How fragile the belief of a Muslim must be, if he feels threatened by a stupid caricature in a low-circulation Danish newspaper. The fundamentalist Islamic terror is not grounded in the terrorists’ conviction of their superiority and in their desire to safeguard their cultural-religious identity from the onslaught of global consumerist civilisation. The problem with fundamentalists is not that we consider them inferior to us, but, rather, that they themselves secretly consider themselves inferior. This is why our condescending politically correct assurances that we feel no superiority towards them only makes them more furious and feeds their resentment. The problem is not cultural difference (their effort to preserve their identity), but the opposite fact that the fundamentalists are already like us, that, secretly, they have already internalised our standards and measure themselves by them. (This clearly goes for the Dalai Lama, who justifies Tibetan Buddhism in Western terms of the pursuit of happiness and the avoidance of pain.) Paradoxically, what the fundamentalists really lack is precisely a dose of that true ‘racist’ conviction of one’s own superiority.

—p.72 by Slavoj Žižek 2 years, 10 months ago

However, are the terrorist fundamentalists, be they Christian or Muslim, really fundamentalists in the authentic sense of the term? Do they really believe? What they lack is a feature that is easy to discern in all authentic fundamentalists, from Tibetan Buddhists to the Amish in the US: the absence of resentment and envy, the deep indifference towards the nonbelievers’ way of life. If today’s so-called fundamentalists really believe they have found their way to truth, why should they feel threatened by non-believers, why should they envy them? When a Buddhist encounters a Western hedonist, he hardly condemns him. He just benevolently notes that the hedonist’s search for happiness is self-defeating. In contrast to true fundamentalists, the terrorist pseudo-fundamentalists are deeply bothered, intrigued, fascinated, by the sinful life of the non-believers. One can feel that, in fighting the sinful Other, they are fighting their own temptation. These so-called Christian or Muslim fundamentalists are a disgrace to true fundamentalism.

[...] How fragile the belief of a Muslim must be, if he feels threatened by a stupid caricature in a low-circulation Danish newspaper. The fundamentalist Islamic terror is not grounded in the terrorists’ conviction of their superiority and in their desire to safeguard their cultural-religious identity from the onslaught of global consumerist civilisation. The problem with fundamentalists is not that we consider them inferior to us, but, rather, that they themselves secretly consider themselves inferior. This is why our condescending politically correct assurances that we feel no superiority towards them only makes them more furious and feeds their resentment. The problem is not cultural difference (their effort to preserve their identity), but the opposite fact that the fundamentalists are already like us, that, secretly, they have already internalised our standards and measure themselves by them. (This clearly goes for the Dalai Lama, who justifies Tibetan Buddhism in Western terms of the pursuit of happiness and the avoidance of pain.) Paradoxically, what the fundamentalists really lack is precisely a dose of that true ‘racist’ conviction of one’s own superiority.

—p.72 by Slavoj Žižek 2 years, 10 months ago
76

Friedrich Hayek knew that it was much easier to accept inequalities if one can claim that they result from an impersonal blind force: the good thing about the ‘irrationality’ of the market and success or failure in capitalism is that it allows me precisely to perceive my failure or success as ‘undeserved’, contingent. Remember the old motif of the market as the modern version of an imponderable fate. The fact that capitalism is not ‘just’ is thus a key feature of what makes it acceptable to the majority. I can live with my failure much more easily if I know that it is not due to my inferior qualities, but to chance.

very relevant to the idea of market justice being just another god, one that allows you to abdicate all responsibility, though from a slightly different perspective

—p.76 by Slavoj Žižek 2 years, 10 months ago

Friedrich Hayek knew that it was much easier to accept inequalities if one can claim that they result from an impersonal blind force: the good thing about the ‘irrationality’ of the market and success or failure in capitalism is that it allows me precisely to perceive my failure or success as ‘undeserved’, contingent. Remember the old motif of the market as the modern version of an imponderable fate. The fact that capitalism is not ‘just’ is thus a key feature of what makes it acceptable to the majority. I can live with my failure much more easily if I know that it is not due to my inferior qualities, but to chance.

very relevant to the idea of market justice being just another god, one that allows you to abdicate all responsibility, though from a slightly different perspective

—p.76 by Slavoj Žižek 2 years, 10 months ago

(noun) the practice of severe self-discipline, typically for religious reasons

76

The demand for justice is thus ultimately the demand that the excessive enjoyment of the Other should be curtailed so that everyone’s access to jouissance is equal. The necessary outcome of this demand, of course, is asceticism.

—p.76 by Slavoj Žižek
notable
2 years, 10 months ago

The demand for justice is thus ultimately the demand that the excessive enjoyment of the Other should be curtailed so that everyone’s access to jouissance is equal. The necessary outcome of this demand, of course, is asceticism.

—p.76 by Slavoj Žižek
notable
2 years, 10 months ago
78

An evil person is thus not an egotist, ‘thinking only about his own interests’. A true egotist is too busy taking care of his own good to have time to cause misfortune to others. The primary vice of a bad person is precisely that he is more preoccupied with others than with himself. [...]

drawing on Rousseau's distinction between amour-de-soi (good) and amour-propre (bad; engenders envy and schadenfreude)

—p.78 by Slavoj Žižek 2 years, 10 months ago

An evil person is thus not an egotist, ‘thinking only about his own interests’. A true egotist is too busy taking care of his own good to have time to cause misfortune to others. The primary vice of a bad person is precisely that he is more preoccupied with others than with himself. [...]

drawing on Rousseau's distinction between amour-de-soi (good) and amour-propre (bad; engenders envy and schadenfreude)

—p.78 by Slavoj Žižek 2 years, 10 months ago

(adjective) gray or white with or as if with age / (adjective) extremely old; ancient

79

whether earthquake or electricity failure or the hoary Millennium Bug

—p.79 by Slavoj Žižek
notable
2 years, 10 months ago

whether earthquake or electricity failure or the hoary Millennium Bug

—p.79 by Slavoj Žižek
notable
2 years, 10 months ago
81

How are we to read this social breakdown? The first reaction is the standard conservative one. The events in New Orleans confirm yet again how fragile social order is, how we need strict law enforcement and ethical pressure to prevent the explosion of violent passions. Human nature is naturally evil, descent into social chaos is a permanent threat … This argument can also be given a racist twist: those who exploded into violence were almost exclusively black, so here we have new proof of how blacks are not really civilised. Natural catastrophes bring to light the scum which is barely kept hidden and under check in normal times.

Of course, the obvious answer to this line of argument is that the New Orleans descent into chaos rendered visible the persisting racial divide in the US. New Orleans was 68 per cent black. The blacks are the poor and the underprivileged. They had no means by which to flee the city in time. They were left behind, starving and uncared for. No wonder they exploded. Their violent reaction should be seen as echoing the Rodney King riots in LA, or even the Detroit and Newark outbursts in the late 1960s.

on Katrina

—p.81 by Slavoj Žižek 2 years, 10 months ago

How are we to read this social breakdown? The first reaction is the standard conservative one. The events in New Orleans confirm yet again how fragile social order is, how we need strict law enforcement and ethical pressure to prevent the explosion of violent passions. Human nature is naturally evil, descent into social chaos is a permanent threat … This argument can also be given a racist twist: those who exploded into violence were almost exclusively black, so here we have new proof of how blacks are not really civilised. Natural catastrophes bring to light the scum which is barely kept hidden and under check in normal times.

Of course, the obvious answer to this line of argument is that the New Orleans descent into chaos rendered visible the persisting racial divide in the US. New Orleans was 68 per cent black. The blacks are the poor and the underprivileged. They had no means by which to flee the city in time. They were left behind, starving and uncared for. No wonder they exploded. Their violent reaction should be seen as echoing the Rodney King riots in LA, or even the Detroit and Newark outbursts in the late 1960s.

on Katrina

—p.81 by Slavoj Žižek 2 years, 10 months ago
84

[...] Jacques Lacan claimed that, even if the patient’s wife really is sleeping around with other men, the patient’s jealousy is still to be treated as a pathological condition. In a homologous way, even if rich Jews in the Germany of the early 1930s ‘really’ exploited German workers, seduced their daughters, dominated the popular press, and so on, Nazi anti-Semitism was still emphatically ‘untrue’, a pathological ideological condition. Why? What made it pathological was the disavowed libidinal investment into the figure of the Jew. The cause of all social antagonisms was projected into the ‘Jew’, the object of a perverted lovehatred, the spectral figure of mixed fascination and disgust. Exactly the same applies to the looting in New Orleans: even if ALL reports of violence and rape were to be proved factually true, the stories circulating about them would still be ‘pathological’ and racist, since what motivated these stories was not facts, but racist prejudices, the satisfaction felt by those who would be able to say: ‘You see, blacks are really like that, violent barbarians under the thin layer of civilisation!’ In other words, we would be dealing with what one can call lying in the guise of truth: even if what I am saying is factually true, the motives that make me say it are false.

So what about the obvious rightist-populist counter-argument: if telling factual truth involves a subjective lie – the racist attitude – does this mean that, out of political correctness, we are not allowed to tell the simple facts when blacks commit a crime? The answer is clear: the obligation is not to lie, to falsify or ignore facts, on behalf of some higher political truth, but – and this is a much more difficult thing to do – to change one’s subjective position so that telling the factual truth will not involve the lie of the subjective position of enunciation. Therein resides the limitation of standard political correctness: instead of changing the subjective position from which we speak, it imposes on us a set of rules with regard to content. Don’t point out that blacks committed crimes. Don’t mention how lesbian couples mistreat their children. Don’t dwell on how underprivileged minorities brutalise women and children … But all these rules on content effectively leave our subjective position untouched.

—p.84 by Slavoj Žižek 2 years, 10 months ago

[...] Jacques Lacan claimed that, even if the patient’s wife really is sleeping around with other men, the patient’s jealousy is still to be treated as a pathological condition. In a homologous way, even if rich Jews in the Germany of the early 1930s ‘really’ exploited German workers, seduced their daughters, dominated the popular press, and so on, Nazi anti-Semitism was still emphatically ‘untrue’, a pathological ideological condition. Why? What made it pathological was the disavowed libidinal investment into the figure of the Jew. The cause of all social antagonisms was projected into the ‘Jew’, the object of a perverted lovehatred, the spectral figure of mixed fascination and disgust. Exactly the same applies to the looting in New Orleans: even if ALL reports of violence and rape were to be proved factually true, the stories circulating about them would still be ‘pathological’ and racist, since what motivated these stories was not facts, but racist prejudices, the satisfaction felt by those who would be able to say: ‘You see, blacks are really like that, violent barbarians under the thin layer of civilisation!’ In other words, we would be dealing with what one can call lying in the guise of truth: even if what I am saying is factually true, the motives that make me say it are false.

So what about the obvious rightist-populist counter-argument: if telling factual truth involves a subjective lie – the racist attitude – does this mean that, out of political correctness, we are not allowed to tell the simple facts when blacks commit a crime? The answer is clear: the obligation is not to lie, to falsify or ignore facts, on behalf of some higher political truth, but – and this is a much more difficult thing to do – to change one’s subjective position so that telling the factual truth will not involve the lie of the subjective position of enunciation. Therein resides the limitation of standard political correctness: instead of changing the subjective position from which we speak, it imposes on us a set of rules with regard to content. Don’t point out that blacks committed crimes. Don’t mention how lesbian couples mistreat their children. Don’t dwell on how underprivileged minorities brutalise women and children … But all these rules on content effectively leave our subjective position untouched.

—p.84 by Slavoj Žižek 2 years, 10 months ago

a discourse between two or more people holding different points of view about a subject but wishing to establish the truth through reasoned arguments

87

We are not dealing now with ‘globalisation’ as an unfinished project’ but with a true ‘dialectics of globalisation’: the segregation of the people is the reality of economic globalisation.

on refugees in Europe

—p.87 by Slavoj Žižek
notable
2 years, 10 months ago

We are not dealing now with ‘globalisation’ as an unfinished project’ but with a true ‘dialectics of globalisation’: the segregation of the people is the reality of economic globalisation.

on refugees in Europe

—p.87 by Slavoj Žižek
notable
2 years, 10 months ago
88

[...] If one were to open the borders, the first to rebel would be the local working classes. It is thus becoming clear that the solution is not ‘tear down the walls and let them all in’, the easy empty demand of soft-hearted liberal ‘radicals’. The only true solution is to tear down the true wall, not the Immigration Department one, but the socio-economic one: to change society so that people will no longer desperately try to escape their own world.

this is A+

—p.88 by Slavoj Žižek 2 years, 10 months ago

[...] If one were to open the borders, the first to rebel would be the local working classes. It is thus becoming clear that the solution is not ‘tear down the walls and let them all in’, the easy empty demand of soft-hearted liberal ‘radicals’. The only true solution is to tear down the true wall, not the Immigration Department one, but the socio-economic one: to change society so that people will no longer desperately try to escape their own world.

this is A+

—p.88 by Slavoj Žižek 2 years, 10 months ago