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A potpourri. A delicious little dandelion seed

Mad World: War, Movies, Sex
Forfatter: Slavoj Žižek
Forlag: OR Books (USA)
ŽIŽEK / Mad World is basically 'Pandemic-3: The Aftermath'. Slavoj Žižek wrote many chronicles, commentaries and film reviews during the covid-19 pandemic. This is his third collection of texts.


It looks dark. The philosopher Slavoj Žižek believes that we will go under in the tidal wave, and it will be our own fault. It seems that this is what the psycho-sexy philosopher claims in his new collection of articles, essays and columns – Mad World. But who can say against him?

Žižek is horrified by the oceanic waves of techno-populists coming our way – washing up on our beaches like plastic tampon applicators that should never have been flushed down the toilet. A "reminder of what men choose to forget", as TS Eliot said of the "strong brown god". I once saw such a wash ashore of applicators on the shores of various islands in Boston Harbor, where Scorsese's insane thriller Shutter Island was filmed.

Žižek believes that a techno-populism which resulted in alt-right clowns appearing in Congress on January 6 as Bolshevik Tea Party applicators, "is a sign of the fragility of the entire system." According to him, “this coincidence of opposites [technological manipulation and populism] is based on the exclusion of a third; the liberal and 'free' man who decides after a rational deliberation. So yes, we are lost."

Socrates has to walk the plank again. As if realizing that all sorrow and misery can affect book sales, Žižek adds a 'yes, but': "There is no clear solution, but we must always remember that global capitalism is even more lost, it is approaching its apocalyptic downfall. Hopelessness does not lie with us when we are at the mercy of an unbeatable global capitalist machine, hopelessnessone is at the very heart of this machine.”

Timeless meditations

This is how Žižek's book begins with timeless meditations. I need travel sickness tablets already.

The last time I came across Žižek, he delved into grief and misery with his incomparable counter-intuitiveness in a book about pandemic, with the subtitle "Covid-19 Shakes the World". You would add, or you guessed he meant, "like a madman shaking a dead geranium." He worried about Sci-Tech, which revealed itself in the sea of ​​fog like an oracle to answer questions we were never meant to ask.

In the sequel book about the pandemic, pandemic 2, Žižek begins to become prescient and slippery, eschewing Lacanian metaphysics in favor of free associations and explorations of open-water free will. Suddenly Žižek is frightening. In his previous book, he was in fancy dress, but in Pandemic-2 has he suddenly got his pants on. Free will. He does it his way, with the church and Immanuel Kant as guest artists. He writes:

“It may seem that, at a time like this, when a virus threatens our lives, our dominant attitude will be a 'will to know': to understand how the virus works, in order to successfully control and eliminate it. What we can increasingly witness, however, is a version of the will not to know too much about it, to the extent that this knowledge may limit our ordinary way of life.”

The free will not to know. The will to impotence. THE Pandemic-2 Žižek is way ahead of the pack when he refers to – two years before anyone else has seen the light – Elon Musk and the Neuralink revolution. Neuralink is brain-computer interface (BCI) technology that will bring us closer to a largely unexplored coexistence with computers – the blind will see, the lame will surf the web, and if Musk and his ilk have their way, we are going to use BCI in a new world of 'telepathy', where everyone communicates without speaking, only by thinking. It will give new life and stir Twitter/X, I think.

Mad World is in principle Pandemic-3: The Aftermath. Žižek wrote many chronicles, commentaries and film reviews under it covid-19 pandemic. And Mad World is his third text collection.

Slavoj Zizek

Crazy patchwork chapter

Mad World has three parts dealing with war, film and Fri, depending on covid-19. As for the theme war, Žižek basically means what is happening in Ukraine. And, given what is happening in Palestine, Žižek's comparison of Ukraine to the World Bank is instructive and probably has a kernel of truth. The second war he addresses is the seemingly inevitable war with China, which also ends the book. And that can end it all for us all.

In "The War of Lumpen-Bourgeoisie", Žižek flirts with Trotsky and Lenin via the philosopher Boris Buden to make a point about the rats that took over after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Žižek lar Putin get reviewed in this section – he hates the little shit. He is particularly offended by Putin's crude, rude and lewd reference to a song lyric that seemed to imply that Ukraine was just a Pimper's Paradise (Bob Marley). He mentions a February 2022 press conference in which Putin stated: "Like it or not, it's your duty, my dear." Žižek's hermeneutics is in full readiness, and he interprets this deftly:
"Putin appeared to be quoting from 'Sleeping Beauty in a Coffin' by the Soviet punk rock group Red Mold: 'Tornerosa in a coffin, I crawled up and fucked her. Like it or hate it, sleep, my beauty.'"

As a reader, I was blown away. At least I think it was bullshit. It also made me remember that at the beginning of the invasion it was said that Ukrainian women lured Russian soldiers with dating apps and invited them to a little Kathy Bates Misery- action.

It's kind of a crazy patchwork chapter. Žižek is vintage peripatetic, i.e. everywhere, he associates freely and addresses the reader politely. There is talk of denazification in Ukraine. Decolonization.

The endless interweaving with Europe's needs and values, and undersea gas pipelines. He assesses the causal factors of the Russian invasion as follows:
"We should [...] consider the economic motives behind the Ukraine war. The Russian demand that the country's olje and gas must be paid in rubles, is a coordinated effort with China to oust the US dollar and euro as global currencies and replace them with the Chinese yen.”

It's scratch and bite, actually.

Israel, Ukraine and Russia

In "Ukraine Is Like the West Bank, Not Like Israel", Žižek describes the complicated relationship between Israel, Ukraine and Russia. In 2020, elected President Volodomyr Zelensky to withdraw from the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP), a body tasked with supporting Palestinian rights. Zelenskyj noted that he had compassion for the Israeli people, as he knew what it was like to be "under brutal attack from a neighbor." But Žižek says 'nice'. He writes:
"The comparison between Israel and Ukraine is out of place. If there is a parallel, it is between Ukrainians and the Palestinians in the West Bank. In the same way that the Russians treat the Ukrainians, Israel denies that Palestine is a nation; they are dismissed as part of the Arabs.”

So syllogistically, Ukrainians are Arabs, right?

The vulgar postcard

Žižek movie reviews is a revelation and well worth reading. For example tar (2022, directed by Todd Field starring Cate Blanchett). The Slovenian brought in Hegel and Lacan, and all sorts of other things, and gushed wonderfully and succinctly about Tár's parallax point of view:

"In the 1960s and 1970s it was possible to buy soft porn postcards with a woman in a bikini or wearing a proper dress, and when you moved the postcard or looked at it from a slightly different perspective, the dress would magically disappear, and you could see the woman's naked body. That's how it is with the movie tar: The heroine's sublime beauty and her monstrous brutality are closely linked, as in the vulgar postcard. A slight shift in our point of view makes her sinister nature visible, as her artistic passion is rooted in her monstrosity.”

The vulgar postcard. Brilliant. Like the scratch-and-smell cards distributed before the screening of John Waters' film Polyester.

Much of the book is quite entertaining and eclectic. Mad World is a tightly packed little case. A cornucopia. A potpourri. A delicious little dandelion seed that has blown across the great sarcastic sea.

Translated by Iril Kolle.

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