And by a prudent flight and cunning save A life which valour could not, from the grave. A better buckler I can soon regain, But who can get another life again? Archilochus
Sunday, August 28, 2022
Thursday, August 25, 2022
The great obsession of the nineteenth century was, as we know, history: with its themes of development and of suspension, of crisis, and cycle, themes of the ever-accumulating past, with its great preponderance of dead men and the menacing glaciation of the world. The nineteenth century found its essential mythological resources in the second principle of thermal dynamics. The present epoch will perhaps be above all the epoch of space. We are in the epoch of simultaneity: we are in the epoch of juxtaposition, the epoch of the near and far, of the side-by-side, of the dispersed. We are at a moment. I believe, when our experience of the world is less that of a long life developing through time than that of a network that connects points and intersects with its own skein. One could perhaps say that certain ideological conﬂicts animating present-day polemics oppose the pious descendants of time and the determined inhabitants of space. Structuralism, or at least which is grouped under this slightly too general name, is the effort to establish, between elements that could have been connected on a temporal axis, an ensemble of relations that makes them appear as juxtaposed, set off against one another, implicated by each other—that makes them appear, in short, as a sort of conﬁguration. Actually, structuralism does not entail denial of time; it does involve a certain manner of dealing with what we call time and what we call history.
Yet it is necessary to notice that the space which today appears to form the horizon of our concerns, our theory, our systems, is not an innovation; space itself has a history in Western experience, and it is not possible to disregard the fatal intersection of time with space. One could say, by way of retracing this history of space very roughly, that in the Middle Ages there was a hierarchic ensemble of places: sacred places and profane plates: protected places and open, exposed places: urban places and rural places (all these concern the real life of men). In cosmological theory, there were the super-celestial places as opposed to the celestial, and the celestial place was in its turn opposed to the terrestrial place. There were places where things had been put because they had been violently displaced, and then on the contrary places where things found their natural ground and stability. It was this complete hierarchy, this opposition, this intersection of places that constituted what could very roughly be called medieval space: the space of emplacement.
This space of emplacement was opened up by Galileo. For the real scandal of Galileo’s work lay not so much in his discovery, or rediscovery, that the earth revolved around the sun, but in his constitution of an inﬁnite, and inﬁnitely open space. In such a space the place of the Middle Ages turned out to be dissolved. as it were; a thing’s place was no longer anything but a point in its movement, just as the stability of a thing was only its movement indeﬁnitely slowed down. In other words, starting with Galileo and the seventeenth century, extension was substituted for localization.
Today the site has been substituted for extension which itself had replaced emplacement. The site is deﬁned by relations of proximity between points or elements; formally, we can describe these relations as series, trees, or grids. Moreover, the importance of the site as a problem in contemporary technical work is well known: the storage of data or of the intermediate results of a calculation in the memory of a machine, the circulation of discrete elements with a random output (automobile trafﬁc is a simple case, or indeed the sounds on a telephone line); the identiﬁcation of marked or coded elements inside a set that may be randomly distributed, or may be arranged according to single or to multiple classiﬁcations.
In a still more concrete manner, the problem of siting or placement arises for mankind in terms of demography. This problem of the human site or living space is not simply that of knowing whether there will be enough space for men in the world —a problem that is certainly quite important — but also that of knowing what relations of propinquity, what type of storage, circulation, marking, and classiﬁcation of human elements should be adopted in a given situation in order to achieve a given end. Our epoch is one in which space takes for us the form of relations among sites.
In any case I believe that the anxiety of our era has to do fundamentally with space, no doubt a great deal more than with time. Time probably appears to us only as one of the various distributive operations that are possible for the elements that are spread out in space,
Now, despite all the techniques for appropriating space, despite the whole network of knowledge that enables us to delimit or to formalize it, contemporary space is perhaps still not entirely desanctiﬁed (apparently unlike time, it would seem, which was detached from the sacred in the nineteenth century). To be sure a certain theoretical desanctiﬁcation of space (the one signaled by Galileo’s work) has occurred, but we may still not have reached the point of a practical desanctiﬁcation of space. And perhaps our life is still governed by a certain number of oppositions that remain inviolable, that our institutions and practices have not yet dared to break down. These are oppositions that we regard as simple givens: for example between private space and public space, between family space and social space, between cultural space and useful space, between the space of leisure and that of work. All these are still nurtured by the hidden presence of the sacred.
Bachelard’s monumental work and the descriptions of phenomenologists have taught us that we do not live in a homogeneous and empty space, but on the contrary in a space thoroughly imbued with quantities and perhaps thoroughly fantasmatic as well. The space of our primary perception, the space of our dreams and that of our passions hold within themselves qualities that seem intrinsic: there is a light, ethereal, transparent space, or again a dark, rough, encumbered space; a space from above, of summits, or on the contrary a space from below of mud; or again a space that can be ﬂowing like sparkling water, or space that is ﬁxed, congealed, like stone or crystal. Yet these analyses, while fundamental for reﬂection in our time, primarily concern internal space. I should like to speak now of external space.
The space in which we live, which draws us out of ourselves, in which the erosion of our lives. our time and our history occurs, the space that claws and gnaws at us, is also, in itself, a heterogeneous space. In other words, we do not live in a kind of void, inside of which we could place individuals and things. We do not live inside a void that could be colored with diverse shades of light, we live inside a set of relations that delineates sites which are irreducible to one another and absolutely not superimposable on one another.
Of course one might attempt to describe these different sites by looking for the set of relations by which a given site can be deﬁned. For example, describing the set of relations that deﬁne the sites of transportation, streets, trains (a train is an extraordinary bundle of relations because it is something through which one goes, it is also something by means of which one can go from one point to another, and then it is also something that goes by). One could describe, via the cluster of relations that allows them to be deﬁned, the sites of temporary relaxation —cafes, cinemas, beaches. Likewise one could describe, via its network of relations, the closed or semi-closed sites of rest — the house, the bedroom, the bed, el cetera. But among all these sites, I am interested in certain ones that have the curious property of being in relation with all the other sites, but in such a way as to suspect, neutralize, or invert the set of relations that they happen to designate, mirror, or reﬂect. These spaces, as it were, which are linked with all the others, which however contradict all the other sites, are of two main types.
First there are the utopias. Utopias are sites with no real place. They are sites that have a general relation of direct or inverted analogy with the real space of Society. They present society itself in a perfected form, or else society turned upside down, but in any case these utopias are fundamentally unreal spaces.
There are also, probably in every culture, in every civilization, real places — places that do exist and that are formed in the very founding of society — which are something like counter-sites, a kind of effectively enacted utopia in which the real sites, all the other real sites that can be found within the culture, are simultaneously represented, contested, and inverted. Places of this kind are outside of all places, even though it may be possible to indicate their location in reality. Because these places are absolutely different from all the sites that they reﬂect and speak about, I shall call them, by way of contrast to utopias, heterotopias. I believe that between utopias and these quite other sites, these heterotopias, there might be a sort of mixed, joint experience, which would be the mirror. The mirror is, after all, a utopia, since it is a placeless place. In the mirror, I see myself there where I am not, in an unreal, virtual space that opens up behind the surface; I am over there, there where I am not, a sort of shadow that gives my own visibility to myself, that enables me to see myself there where I am absent: such is the utopia of the mirror. But it is also a heterotopia in so far as the mirror does exist in reality, where it exerts a sort of counteraction on the position that I occupy. From the standpoint of the mirror I discover my absence from the place where I am since I see myself over there. Starting from this gaze that is, as it were, directed toward me, from the ground of this virtual space that is on the other side of the glass, I come back toward myself; I begin again to direct my eyes toward myself and to reconstitute myself there where I am. The mirror functions as a heterotopia in this respect: it makes this place that I occupy at the moment when I look at myself in the glass at once absolutely real, connected with all the space that surrounds it, and absolutely unreal, since in order to be perceived it has to pass through this virtual point which is over there.
As for the heterotopias as such, how can they be described? What meaning do they have? We might imagine a sort of systematic description — I do not say a science because the term is too galvanized now —that would, in a given society, take as its object the study, analysis, description, and “reading” (as some like to say nowadays) of these different spaces, of these other places. As a sort of simultaneously mythic and real contestation of the space in which we live, this description could be called heterotopology.
Its ﬁrst principle is that there is probably not a single culture in the world that fails to constitute heterotopias. That is a constant of every human group. But the heterotopias obviously take quite varied forms, and perhaps no one absolutely universal form of heterotopia would be found. We can however class them in two main categories.
In the so-called primitive societies, there is a certain form of heterotopia that I would call crisis heterotopias, i.e., there are privileged or sacred or forbidden places, reserved for individuals who are, in relation to society and to the human environment in which they live, in a state of crisis: adolescents, menstruating women, pregnant women. the elderly, etc. In out society, these crisis heterotopias are persistently disappearing, though a few remnants can still be found. For example, the boarding school, in its nineteenth-century form, or military service for young men, have certainly played such a role, as the ﬁrst manifestations of sexual virility were in fact supposed to take place “elsewhere” than at home. For girls, there was, until the middle of the twentieth century, a tradition called the “honeymoon trip” which was an ancestral theme. The young woman’s deﬂowering could take place “nowhere” and, at the moment of its occurrence the train or honeymoon hotel was indeed the place of this nowhere, this heterotopia without geographical markers.
But these heterotopias of crisis are disappearing today and are being replaced, I believe, by what we might call heterotopias of deviation: those in which individuals whose behavior is deviant in relation to the required mean or norm are placed. Cases of this are rest homes and psychiatric hospitals, and of course prisons, and one should perhaps add retirement homes that are, as it were, on the borderline between the heterotopia of crisis and the heterotopia of deviation since, after all, old age is a crisis, but is also a deviation since in our society where leisure is the rule, idleness is a sort of deviation.
The second principle of this description of heterotopias is that a society, as its history unfolds, can make an existing heterotopia function in a very different fashion; for each heterotopia has a precise and determined function within a society and the same heterotopia can, according to the synchrony of the culture in which it occurs, have one function or another.
As an example I shall take the strange heterotopia of the cemetery. The cemetery is certainly a place unlike ordinary cultural spaces. It is a space that is however connected with all the sites of the city, state or society or village, etc., since each individual, each family has relatives in the cemetery. In western culture the cemetery has practically always existed. But it has undergone important changes. Until the end of the eighteenth century, the cemetery was placed at the heart of the city, next to the church. In it there was a hierarchy of possible tombs. There was the charnel house in which bodies lost the last traces of individuality, there were a few individual tombs and then there were the tombs inside the church. These latter tombs were themselves of two types, either simply tombstones with an inscription, or mausoleums with statues. This cemetery housed inside the sacred space of the church has taken on a quite different cast in modern civilizations, and curiously, it is in a time when civilization has become “atheistic,” as one says very crudely, that western culture has established what is termed the cult of the dead.
Basically it was quite natural that, in a time of real belief in the resurrection of bodies and the immortality of the soul, overriding importance was not accorded to the body’s remains. On the contrary, from the moment when people are no longer sure that they have a soul or that the body will regain life, it is perhaps necessary to give much more attention to the dead body, which is ultimately the only trace of our existence in the world and in language. In any case, it is from the beginning of the nineteenth century that everyone has a right to her or his own little box for her or his own little personal decay, but on the other hand, it is only from that start of the nineteenth century that cemeteries began to be located at the outside border of cities. In correlation with the individualization of death and the bourgeois appropriation of the cemetery, there arises an obsession with death as an “illness.” The dead, it is supposed, bring illnesses to the living, and it is the presence and proximity of the dead right beside the houses, next to the church, almost in the middle of the street, it is this proximity that propagates death itself. This major theme of illness spread by the contagion in the cemeteries persisted until the end of the eighteenth century, until, during the nineteenth century, the shift of cemeteries toward the suburbs was initiated. The cemeteries then came to constitute, no longer the sacred and immortal heart of the city, but the other city, where each family possesses its dark resting place.
Third principle. The heterotopia is capable of juxtaposing in a single real place several spaces, several sites that are in themselves incompatible. Thus it is that the theater brings onto the rectangle of the stage, one after the other, a whole series of places that are foreign to one another; thus it is that the cinema is a very odd rectangular room, at the end of which, on a two-dimensional screen, one sees the projection of a three-dimensional space, but perhaps the oldest example of these heterotopias that take the form of contradictory sites is the garden. We must not forget that in the Orient the garden, an astonishing creation that is now a thousand years old, had very deep and seemingly superimposed meanings. The traditional garden of the Persians was a sacred space that was supposed to bring together inside its rectangle four parts representing the four parts of the world, with a space still more sacred than the others that were like an umbilicus, the navel of the world at its center (the basin and water fountain were there); and all the vegetation of the garden was supposed to come together in this space, in this sort of microcosm. As for carpets, they were originally reproductions of gardens (the garden is a rug onto which the whole world comes to enact its symbolic perfection, and the rug is a sort of garden that can move across space). The garden is the smallest parcel of the world and then it is the totality of the world. The garden has been a sort of happy, universalizing heterotopia since the beginnings of antiquity (our modern zoological gardens spring from that source).
Fourth principle. Heterotopias are most often linked to slices in time — which is to say that they open onto what might be termed, for the sake of symmetry, heterochronies. The heterotopia begins to function at full capacity when men arrive at a sort of absolute break with their traditional time. This situation shows us that the cemetery is indeed a highly heterotopic place since, for the individual, the cemetery begins with this strange heterochrony, the loss of life, and with this quasi-eternity in which her permanent lot is dissolution and disappearance.
From a general standpoint, in a society like ours heterotopias and heterochronies are structured and distributed in a relatively complex fashion. First of all, there are heterotopias of indeﬁnitely accumulating time, for example museums and libraries, Museums and libraries have become heterotopias in which time never stops building up and topping its own summit, whereas in the seventeenth century, even at the end of the century, museums and libraries were the expression of an individual choice. By contrast, the idea of accumulating everything, of establishing a sort of general archive, the will to enclose in one place all times, all epochs, all forms, all tastes, the idea of constituting a place of all times that is itself outside of time and inaccessible to its ravages, the project of organizing in this way a sort of perpetual and indeﬁnite accumulation of time in an immobile place, this whole idea belongs to our modernity. The museum and the library are heterotopias that are proper to western culture of the nineteenth century.
Opposite these heterotopias that are linked to the accumulation of time, there are those linked, on the contrary, to time in its most ﬂowing, transitory, precarious aspect, to time in the mode of the festival. These heterotopias are not oriented toward the eternal, they are rather absolutely temporal [chroniques]. Such, for example, are the fairgrounds, these “marvelous empty sites on the outskirts of cities” that teem once or twice a year with stands, displays, heteroclite objects, wrestlers, snakewomen, fortune-tellers, and so forth. Quite recently, a new kind of temporal heterotopia has been invented: vacation villages, such as those Polynesian villages that offer a compact three weeks of primitive and eternal nudity to the inhabitants of the cities. You see, moreover, that through the two forms of heterotopias that come together here, the heterotopia of the festival and that of the eternity of accumulating time, the huts of Djerba are in a sense relatives of libraries and museums. for the rediscovery of Polynesian life abolishes time; yet the experience is just as much the,, rediscovery of time, it is as if the entire history of humanity reaching back to its origin were accessible in a sort of immediate knowledge,
Fifth principle. Heterotopias always presuppose a system of opening and closing that both isolates them and makes them penetrable. In general, the heterotopic site is not freely accessible like a public place. Either the entry is compulsory, as in the case of entering a barracks or a prison, or else the individual has to submit to rites and puriﬁcations. To get in one must have a certain permission and make certain gestures. Moreover, there are even heterotopias that are entirely consecrated to these activities of puriﬁcation —puriﬁcation that is partly religious and partly hygienic, such as the hammin of the Moslems, or else puriﬁcation that appears to be purely hygienic, as in Scandinavian saunas.
There are others, on the contrary, that seem to be pure and simple openings, but that generally hide curious exclusions. Everyone can enter into the heterotopic sites, but in fact that is only an illusion— we think we enter where we are, by the very fact that we enter, excluded. I am thinking for example, of the famous bedrooms that existed on the great farms of Brazil and elsewhere in South America. The entry door did not lead into the central room where the family lived, and every individual or traveler who came by had the right to ope this door, to enter into the bedroom and to sleep there for a night. Now these bedrooms were such that the individual who went into them never had access to the family’s quarter the visitor was absolutely the guest in transit, was not really the invited guest. This type of heterotopia, which has practically disappeared from our civilizations, could perhaps be found in the famous American motel rooms where a man goes with his car and his mistress and where illicit sex is both absolutely sheltered and absolutely hidden, kept isolated without however being allowed out in the open.
Sixth principle. The last trait of heterotopias is that they have a function in relation to all the space that remains. This function unfolds between two extreme poles. Either their role is to create a space of illusion that exposes every real space, all the sites inside of which human life is partitioned, as still more illusory (perhaps that is the role that was played by those famous brothels of which we are now deprived). Or else, on the contrary, their role is to create a space that is other, another real space, as perfect, as meticulous, as well arranged as ours is messy, ill constructed, and jumbled. This latter type would be the heterotopia, not of illusion, but of compensation, and I wonder if certain colonies have not functioned somewhat in this manner. In certain cases, they have played, on the level of the general organization of terrestrial space, the role of heterotopias. I am thinking, for example, of the ﬁrst wave of colonization in the seventeenth century, of the Puritan societies that the English had founded in America and that were absolutely perfect other places. I am also thinking of those extraordinary Jesuit colonies that were founded in South America: marvelous, absolutely regulated colonies in which human perfection was effectively achieved. The Jesuits of Paraguay established colonies in which existence was regulated at every turn. The village was laid out according to a rigorous plan around a rectangular place at the foot of which was the church; on one side, there was the school; on the other, the cemetery, and then, in front of the church, an avenue set out that another crossed at ﬁght angles; each family had its little cabin along these two axes and thus the sign of Christ was exactly reproduced. Christianity marked the space and geography of the American world with its fundamental sign.
The daily life of individuals was regulated, not by the whistle, but by the bell. Everyone was awakened at the same time, everyone began work at the same time; meals were at noon and ﬁve o’clock, then came bedtime, and at midnight came what was called the marital wake-up, that is, at the chime of the churchbell, each person carried out her/his duty.
Brothels and colonies are two extreme types of heterotopia, and if we think, after all, that the boat is a ﬂoating piece of space, a place without a place, that exists by itself, that is closed in on itself and at the same time is given over to the inﬁnity of the sea and that, from port to port, from tack to tack, from brothel to brothel, it goes as far as the colonies in search of the most precious treasures they conceal in their gardens, you will understand why the boat has not only been for our civilization, from the sixteenth century until the present, the great instrument of economic development (I have not been speaking of that today), but has been simultaneously the greatest reserve of the imagination. The ship is the heterotopia par excellence. In civilizations without boats, dreams dry up, espionage takes the place of adventure, and the police take the place of pirates.
Tuesday, August 23, 2022
Sunday, August 21, 2022
Saturday, August 20, 2022
Friday, August 19, 2022
Wednesday, August 17, 2022
SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK, "Degeneracy, Depravity, and the New Right"
While Kremlin propagandists and the the West's pro-Russian alt-right present themselves as the embodiment of traditional Christian values, their words and actions countenance genocide and glorify sexual violence. By embracing the obscene, they offer an attractive package for chauvinists of all stripes.
LJUBLJANA – A recent crisis in northern Kosovo came and went quickly, because nobody wanted an escalation. But it will return, because Russia is maneuvering in the Balkan shadows to stoke the tensions that gave rise to it. The mundane origin of the crisis shows how easily a spark can be fanned into a conflagration.
The Kosovo government had announced a measure requiring Serbs living in northern Kosovo to apply for local license plates, replacing their Serbian plates. But Serbs staged protests (with reports of gunfire) and road blockades at two border crossings, pushing Kosovo authorities to delay the measure for a month while they discuss next steps.
Serbia has long had a similar rule for Kosovar license-plate holders on its territory, and Kosovo was merely trying to apply the same standard. The problem, of course, is that Serbia doesn’t recognize Kosovo as an independent state, even though the United States and around 100 other countries do.
This would be a purely local story were it not implicated in the geopolitical dynamic triggered by Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine. But as Vladimir Đukanović, an MP from the ruling Serbian Progressive Party, channeling Russia’s rationale for invading Ukraine, recently mused, “Serbia might be forced to engage in the ‘denazification’ of the Balkans.” Even the expression “forced to engage” echoes the Kremlin’s farcical line about being provoked by NATO aggression to invade Ukraine.
Moreover, Đukanović’s reference to “the Balkans” follows the same logic as the Russian line, which implies that all of Europe, caught in the vortex of self-destructive degeneracy (LGBTQ+, same-sex marriage, no clear gender distinctions, and so forth), ultimately will have to be “denazified.” As Aleksandr Dugin, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s court philosopher, explains, “We are fighting the absolute evil, embodied in Western civilization, its liberal-totalitarian hegemony, in Ukrainian Nazism…”
According to this new conservativism, Nazism, Communism, and woke hedonism all amount to the same thing. But this corralling of opposites really is too much even for a hardline Hegelian. It reveals the glaring inconsistency not just of Kremlin propagandists but also of the pro-Russian US and European alt-right, which claim to embody traditional Christian values even as their words and actions countenance genocide and glorify sexual violence.
As a leading player in this culture war, the Kremlin has been intervening through its proxies not only in Kosovo but also in Bosnia, which it has warned against NATO membership. Unfortunately, the Western leftists and pacifists have chosen simply to ignore the geopolitical dimension of Putin’s “denazification” project. As Jeremy Corbyn, the former British Labour Party leader, recently complained, “Pouring arms in [to Ukraine] isn’t going to bring about a solution, it’s only going to prolong and exaggerate this war. We might be in for years and years of a war in Ukraine.”
Implicit in this position is that Western governments should simply let Russia occupy Ukraine. Yet it is an odd “pacifism” that applies pressure on the victim (which must not defend itself too vigorously) and its supporters (which must not help the aggressor’s target too much), rather than on the attacker.
Western “pacifists” insist that we “de-demonize” Putin. There will have to be some kind of negotiation sooner or later, so we should treat him as a future partner. In fact, we should do the exact opposite: the attack on Ukraine compels us to re-demonize Putin, not personally but as an exponent of a dangerous geopolitical and ideological project.
There is mounting evidence that Russia is changing into something that is radically foreign to denizens of today’s Western democracies, but all too familiar to students of European history. Consider the Russian Liberal Democratic Party’s recent proposal to replace the term “president” with “pravitel” (“ruler”). The former, according to the party, has “always embarrassed us,” because it was first used in the US, spreading to the rest of the world only “much later.”
While the new right’s main ideological target is Western “degeneracy,” its fascination with strongman rule is permeated with obscenity. In a recent campaign appearance, Kari Lake, the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Arizona, gushed that her fellow Republicans Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis have “big dick energy.”
This is a necessary, rather than contingent, feature of the new right’s defense of Christianity. To attract enough followers, its leaders must provide the surplus enjoyment (“the pure surplus of enjoyment over standard satisfactions”) of the obscene. An ideology that allows its adherents to act on their worst impulses can mobilize millions.
To take another example, is Russia’s “peacemaking military intervention” in Ukraine not like the “legitimate rape” that US Representative Todd Akin, then the Republican Senate nominee from Missouri, defined in 2012? According to Akin, abortion should be banned outright, because if a woman suffers “legitimate rape,” her body will somehow know not to get pregnant.
Facing outrage at the remark, Akin claimed that he had “misspoken.” What he meant was that there are “legitimate cases of rape” that police refer to “when they’re doing an investigation or whatever.” But his basic message remained: if a woman gets pregnant from rape, she must have secretly wanted it, because otherwise her body’s “stress” response would have prevented it.
It is telling that Putin has referred to Ukraine in the same way. At a press conference on February 7, he mocked the Ukraine government’s objections to the Minsk agreements, adding, “Like it or not, it’s your duty, my beauty.” The sexual connotations of that line are well known for Russians and Ukrainians from “Sleeping Beauty in a Coffin,” by the Soviet-era punk rock group Red Mold: “Sleeping beauty in a coffin, I crept up and fucked her. Like it, or dislike it, sleep my beauty.”
The implication is that the rape of a country sometimes is justified. The victim was asking for it. As with rape, what motivates the New Right is not love, but domination.
Tuesday, August 9, 2022
Thursday, August 4, 2022
Slavoj Žižek, "What the "Woke" Left and the Alt-Right Share"
The Canadian psychologist and alt-right media fixture Jordan Peterson recently stumbled onto an important insight. In a podcast episode titled "Russia vs. Ukraine or Civil War in the West?," he recognised a link between the war in Europe and the conflict between the liberal mainstream and the new populist right in North America and Europe.
Although Peterson initially condemns Russian President Vladimir Putin's war of aggression, his stance gradually morphs into a kind of metaphysical defence of Russia. Referencing Dostoevsky's Diaries, he suggests that Western European hedonist individualism is far inferior to Russian collective spirituality, before duly endorsing the Kremlin's designation of contemporary Western liberal civilisation as "degenerate." He describes postmodernism as a transformation of Marxism that seeks to destroy the foundations of Christian civilisation. Viewed in this light, the war in Ukraine is a contest between traditional Christian values and a new form of communist degeneracy.
This language will be familiar to anyone familiar with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's regime, or with the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol. As CNN's John Blake put it, that day "marked the first time many Americans realised the US is facing a burgeoning White Christian nationalist movement," which "uses Christian language to cloak sexism and hostility to Black people and non-White immigrants in its quest to create a White Christian America." This worldview has now "infiltrated the religious mainstream so thoroughly that virtually any conservative Christian pastor who tries to challenge its ideology risks their career."
The fact that Peterson has assumed a pro-Russian, anti-communist position is indicative of a broader trend. In the United States, many Republican Party lawmakers have refused to support Ukraine. JD Vance, a Donald Trump-backed Republican Senate candidate from Ohio, finds it "insulting and strategically stupid to devote billions of resources to Ukraine while ignoring the problems in our own country." And Matt Gaetz, a Republican member of the House of Representatives from Florida, is committed to ending US support for Ukraine if his party wins control of the chamber this November.
But does accepting Peterson's premise that Russia's war and the alt-right in the US are platoons of the same global movement mean that leftists should simply take the opposite side? Here, the situation gets more complicated. Although Peterson claims to oppose communism, he is attacking a major consequence of global capitalism. As Marx and Engels wrote more than 150 years ago in the first chapter of The Communist Manifesto:
"The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. …All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.
This observation is studiously ignored by leftist cultural theorists who still focus their critique on patriarchal ideology and practice. Yet surely the critique of patriarchy has reached its apotheosis at precisely the historical moment when patriarchy has lost its hegemonic role – that is, when market individualism has swept it away. After all, what becomes of patriarchal family values when a child can sue her parents for neglect and abuse (implying that parenthood is just another temporary and dissolvable contract between utility-maximising individuals)?
Of course, such "leftists" are sheep in wolves' clothing, telling themselves that they are radical revolutionaries as they defend the reigning establishment. Today, the melting away of pre-modern social relations and forms has already gone much further than Marx could have imagined. All facets of human identity are now becoming a matter of choice; nature is becoming more and more an object of technological manipulation.
The "civil war" that Peterson sees in the developed West is thus a chimera, a conflict between two versions of the same global capitalist system: unrestrained liberal individualism versus neo-fascist conservativism, which seeks to unite capitalist dynamism with traditional values and hierarchies.
There is a double paradox here. Western political correctness ("wokeness") has displaced class struggle, producing a liberal elite that claims to protect threatened racial and sexual minorities in order to divert attention from its members' own economic and political power. At the same time, this lie allows alt-right populists to present themselves as defenders of "real" people against corporate and "deep state" elites, even though they, too, occupy positions at the commanding heights of economic and political power.
Ultimately, both sides are fighting over the spoils of a system in which they are wholly complicit. Neither side really stands up for the exploited or has any interest in working-class solidarity. The implication is not that "left" and "right" are outdated notions – as one often hears – but rather that culture wars have displaced class struggle as the engine of politics.
Where does that leave Europe? The Guardian's Simon Tisdall paints a bleak but accurate picture:
"Putin's aim is the immiseration of Europe. By weaponising energy, food, refugees and information, Russia's leader spreads the economic and political pain, creating wartime conditions for all. A long, cold, calamity-filled European winter of power shortages and turmoil looms. …Freezing pensioners, hungry children, empty supermarket shelves, unaffordable cost of living increases, devalued wages, strikes and street protests point to Sri Lanka-style meltdowns. An exaggeration? Not really."
To prevent a total collapse into disorder, the state apparatus, in close coordination with other states and relying on local mobilisations of people, will have to regulate the distribution of energy and food, perhaps resorting to administration by the armed forces. Europe thus has a unique chance to leave behind its charmed life of isolated welfare, a bubble in which gas and electricity prices were the biggest worries. As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky recently told Vogue, "Just try to imagine what I'm talking about happening to your home, to your country. Would you still be thinking about gas prices or electricity prices?"
He's right. Europe is under attack, and it needs to mobilise, not just militarily but socially and economically as well. We should use the crisis to change our way of life, adopting values that will spare us from an ecological catastrophe in the coming decades. This may be our only chance.
Tuesday, August 2, 2022
Guy Debord Quotes (1931-1994)
The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images.
The more powerful the class, the more it claims not to exist.
In our society now, we prefer to see ourselves living than living.
The spectacle is nothing more than the common language of this separation. What binds the spectators together is no more than an irreversible relation at the very center which maintains their isolation. The spectacle reunites the separate, but reunites it as separate.
Just as early industrial capitalism moved the focus of existence from being to having, post-industrial culture has moved that focus from having to appearing.
With the destruction of history, contemporary events themselves retreat into a remote and fabulous realm of unverifiable stories, uncheckable statistics, unlikely explanations and untenable reasoning.
When art becomes independent and paints its world in dazzling colours, a moment of life has grown old. Such a moment cannot be rejuvenated by dazzling colours, it can only be evoked in memory. The greatness of art only emerges at the dusk of life.
Behind the mask of total choice, different forms of the same alienation confront each other.
Conversely, real life is materially invaded by the contemplation of the spectacle, and ends up absorbing it and aligning itself with it.
Work is only justified by leisure time. To admit the emptiness of leisure time is to admit the impossibility of life.
Spectacle is the sun that never sets over the empire of modern passivity.
The advertisements during intermission are the truest reflection of an intermission from life.
Here, in order to remain human, men must remain the same.
Monday, August 1, 2022
Slavoj Žižek, "The Great Other: the guilty, the assurance of meaning, the threat to arbitrariness, the zawahiri to be saved" (Google translated from Turkish)
We don't just run away from guilt, we can run away from guilt, we can take refuge in guilt. To grasp this paradox, let us look at the relationship of subjective guilt to the inconsistency of the great Other (symbolic order), that is, to the fact that the great Other is "all-already dead."
This is how we should interpret Freud's dream of a "father who doesn't know he's dead": the father figure resists and remains consistent, until you tell him the truth. This is where the typical obsessional compulsion comes from: I must at all costs prevent the Other from learning (that he is dead, that he is helpless); I'd better die than know that terrible truth...
In sum, the subject assumes the crime himself: as long as the subject takes the blame and sacrifices himself, he frees the Other from destructive knowledge: the Other will remain ignorant of his own inconsistency, impotence, and absence. Who does not pass through this circle with the people with whom he has a relationship of transmission: Instead of the stupidity, helplessness, etc. of the other (the father, the beloved woman), I better take the blame immediately; this is what readily distinguishes lovers, the loving man is ready to be the scapegoat .
What more closely determines the relation of this logic of guilt to the inconsistency of the greater Other is the contradictory nature of the concept of the greater Other: the perpetrator of the Great Other takes place in two discrete modes in ideological discourse.
The "Great Other" first appears in the guise of a hidden perpetrator who "pulls the strings", that is, manages the spectacle on stage with the plots it turns backstage: Divine Providence, Hegelian "cunning of reason" (or rather its popular version) in Christian ideology, "the invisible hand of the market" in commodity economy, "objective logic of history" in Marxism-Leninism, "Jewish conspiracy" in the Nazis, etc.
In sum, the distance between what we want to achieve and the results of our activity, the excess that the subject imposes on the subject because the results of his actions do not match his original intention, is embodied in another agent, which is a higher subject (God, Reason, History, Jew). This reference to the Great Other certainly contains a deep-rooted ambivalence: it can also give a sense of security that soothes and strengthens man (the pious trusting in the will of God; The Stalinist believed that it served the historical imperative), but on the contrary, it could also be a paranoid perpetrator (just as Nazi ideologues identified the same hidden Jewish hand behind the economic crisis, national humiliation, moral degradation, and everything else).
The psychoanalyst figure combines these two contradictory aspects under the "supposedly known subject" (Lacan): in the psychoanalytic deva, the presence of the analyst is left hostage, as if it were a guarantee that all the inconsistently stringed "free associations" will make sense in the future. The presence of the analyst also embodies a threat to the arbitrariness of the analyst, it is felt that the analyst can plunder his arbitrariness by eroding his signs/symptoms; When the analytical panacea approaches its final stage, it often leads to a paranoid fear in the analyst, as if the analyst had laid eyes on the analysis's most secret treasure, as if he had set his eyes on the secret of the core of arbitrariness.
These two sides, which make you feel safe and threaten, are not, as you will immediately perceive, symmetrical tendencies: the assurance that the assumed subject provides to the analyst is based on meaning, and the threat is directed at his arbitrariness. In fact, in the anti-Semitic Jewish figure, these two sides are found together, it is both the guarantee of meaning – if we accept the thesis of the Jewish conspiracy, events suddenly become "clear" and we can identify the unique pattern behind the appearance of economic and moral turmoil – and it is an enemy that deprives us of the arbitrariness to which we are entitled.
The most important point that should not be overlooked is that the ideological "great Other" has assumed another function opposite to the hidden perpetrator pulling the strings: the activity of pure images, though it consists of images, is essential, that is, it must be saved at all costs. In "real socialism", which takes the logic of the necessity of these images to extremes, the sole purpose of the whole system was to maintain the image that "Our people, united under the support of the Party, are building Socialism with enthusiasm"; There was no one who "really believed" in the constantly renewed and repeated ritualistic demonstrations, and everyone knew this, but the Party bureaucrats were still terribly afraid of the possibility of the disintegration of the image of faith. According to their perception, such a disintegration would be a total disaster, and the entire social order would melt away.
The question here is simple: If there was no one who "really believed" and everyone knew this, then to which perpetrator was the evil eye addressed by the staged demonstration of faith? It is at this point that we encounter the purest form of the "great Other" function. The everyday reality of life can be awful and boring, but as long as we hide all this from the eyes of the "great Other," things are still on track.
The show "our happy and enthusiastic people, our people" should be staged once again every time for this evil eye. If the first meaning of the "great Other" is the function of "the subject who is supposed to know", then here on the contrary it assumes the function of "subject presumed not to know", it is necessary to hide from that perpetrator the arrogance of everyday reality . In summary, if we recall once again Freud's dream of a "father who does not know that he is dead", the only thing that needs to be hidden from the great Other (embodied in the eyes of leadership) is that he is dead.
 We must add to the standard psychoanalytic interpretation that explains the son's guilt before the father through the return of the repressed desire for fatherly murder in the guise of guilt: one of the most traumatic moments for the son is when his father is forced to admit that he is "dead" (an incapable person who covers his own helplessness with a mask of authority); then the son assumes guilt so that the father, who represents the Law, can keep his dream pure. In other words, the desire for fatherly murder is actually a bait aimed at concealing the weakness of the father.
 One of the forms taken by the "supposedly unfamiliar subject" in ideology is the myth of the "noble savage" that lives in a world undisturbed by our rotten civilization. In this context, the enlightened West respects the typical obsessional economy: the "noble savage" must remain ignorant at all costs, it is imperative that we prevent his life from being undermined by accessing our degenerate knowledge. Aldous Huxley Jesting Pilate touched on this ambiguity in his book Jesting Pilate: The English, who greatly admired the wisdom of the Indians who resisted the pressure of our way of life and preserved their own ancient traditions, were ready to confess that unfathomable indigenous spiritual depth beyond the reach of vulgar materialists and utilitarians like us, but an unbearable unease in the face of a Indian who was more commanded of our knowledge and technology than we were. and he told me that they were resisting... In sum, everyone is ready to admit the "deep-rooted otherness" of the Indian; What really creates panic is that he looks too much like us, the moment when he "looks more like us than we do."Enjoy Your Symptom (refurbished edition)
Turkish: Işık Barış FidanerFidaner Notes:
Another great burden The other
magic is the other:1) you will grow!
2) You will be fascinated!
Seeking Identity through "Images/Appearance" (last part of video, above)
If la Ciccolina can now be elected to the Italian parliament, this is precisely because the transsexual and the trans-political have combined with the same ironic indifference. This performance, unthinkable just a few short years ago, testifies to the fact that it is not just sexual culture, but the whole of political culture that has now come beneath the banner of transvestitism.
This strategy for exercising the body by means of the signs of sex, for conjuring away desire through the overkill of its staging, is a good deal more efficient than good old repression founded on taboo. But where this new system really differs from the old is that one cannot see at all who stands to gain from it, for everyone suffers from it equally.
The rule of transvestitism has become the very basis of our behavior even in our search for identity and difference. We no longer have time to search for an identity for ourselves in the archives in a memory, in a project, or a future. Instead we are supposed to have an instant memory to which we can plug in directly for immediate access to a kind of public relations identity. What is sought today is not so much health, which is an organic equilibrium, as an ephemeral hygienic and promotional radiance from the body, much more a performance than an ideal state.
In terms of fashion and appearances, what we seek is less beauty or attractiveness than the right "look." Everyone seeks their look. Since it is no longer possible to base any claim on one's own existence, there is nothing for it but to perform an appearing act, without concerning oneself with being, or even with being seen. So it is not, "I exist. I am here." But rather, "I am visible. I am an image. Look, look." This is not even narcissism, merely an extroversion without depth. A sort of self-promoting ingenuousness, whereby everyone becomes the manager of their own appearance.
"The look" is a sort of minimal low definition image, like a video image, or what Mcluhan would call a tactile image. An image which draws neither attention, nor admiration, as fashion still does, but is no more than a special effect with no particular significance. "The look" is no longer a function of fashion, it is a form of fashion that has been overtaken. It no longer even appeals to a logic of distinction. It is no longer founded on an interplay of differences. It plays at difference, without believing in it. It is, in fact, indifference. Being oneself has become a transient performance with no sequel. A disabused mannerism in a world without manners.
The triumph of the transsexual and of transvestitism casts a strange light retrospectively upon the sexual liberation espoused by an earlier generation. It now appears that this liberation, which according to its own discourse, meant the bursting forth of the body's full erotic force, a process especially favorable to the principles of femininity and of sexual pleasure, may actually have been no more than an intermediate phase on the way to the confusion of categories that we have been discussing. The sexual revolution may thus turn out to have been just a stage in the genesis of transsexuality.
What is it issue here fundamentally, is the problematic fate of all revolutions. The cybernetic revolution, in view of the equivalence of brain and computer, places humanity before the crucial question, "Am I a man, or a machine?" The genetic revolution, that is taking place at the moment, raises the question, "Am I a man, or just a potential clone?" The sexual revolution, by liberating all the potentialities of desire, raises another fundamental question, "Am I a man, or a woman?"
If it has done nothing else, psychoanalysis has certainly added its weight to this principle of sexual uncertainty. As for the political and social revolution, the prototype for all others, it will turn out to have led man by an implacable logic, having offered him his own freedom, his own free will, to ask himself where his own will lies, what he wants in his heart of hearts, and what he's entitled to expect from himself. To these questions there are no answers. Such as the paradoxical outcome of every revolution.
Revolution opens the door to indeterminacy, anxiety, and confusion. Once the orgy was over, liberation was seen to have left everyone looking for their generic and sexual identity. And with fewer and fewer answers available in view of the traffic, and signs, and the multiplicity of pleasures on offer.
That is how we became transsexuals just as we became trans-politicals. In other words, politically indifferent and undifferentiated beings, androgynous and hermaphroditic. For by this time we had embraced, digested, and rejected the most contradictory ideologies, and were left wearing only their masks. We had become in our own heads and perhaps unbeknownst to ourselves, transvestites of the political realm.
-Jean Baudrillard, "Transsexuality" (excerpt)
A Star Is Porn: Whatever Became Of Italy’s Cicciolina?
This week's election in Italy has featured a carnival atmosphere – including the rise of a comic named Beppe Grillo, the possible return of the clownish Silvio Berlusconi and the potential for a political stalemate that could be disastrous for the country’s economic recovery.
However, one must wonder … whatever happened to one of the most compelling, bizarre and entertaining Italian politicians of recent years … the former porno actress known as La Cicciolina?
As it turns out, the now 61-year-old Hungarian-born Anna Ilona Staller – who catapulted to dubious fame in the 1980s when she was elected to the Italian Parliament (while still appearing in hard-core pornographic films) -- is alive and well.
In fact, according to reports, just last year, she and her partner, a criminal defense attorney named Luca di Carlo, formed a political organization called the Democrazia, Natura e Amore Partito (Democracy, Nature and Love Party), or DNA. Among other things, DNA seeks to legalize gay marriage, establish a guaranteed minimum wage for youths, guarantee a fair judicial system, take power away from entrenched interests and, oh yes, reopen the brothels.
According to results from Italy’s Interior Ministry, DNA did not appear to have gained any votes in the current election.
During her heyday in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Cicciolina was an international sensation, guaranteeing screaming headlines almost every step of the way.
‘Dying Light 2’: How To Unlock The Grappling Hook
Her wildly improbable tale included such unforgettable incidents as offering to have sex with Saddam Hussein in exchange for a cessation of military hostilities and peace in Iraq and Kuwait (she later made the same offer to Osama bin Laden more than a decade later, but alas, both entreaties were apparently rejected by those gentlemen). She was also notorious for delivering speeches partially nude, not to mention her vast catalogue of soft- and hard-core celluloid endeavors.
During her term in the Italian Chamber of Deputies, she first represented the Partito Radicale (Radical Party) and then Partito dell'Amore (Love Party) for the constituency of Lazio, outside of Rome.
The Radicals, which Cicciolinia joined in 1985 after flirting with the original Green party of Italy, espoused some serious causes, including opposition to nuclear energy and NATO and the support of human rights.
Under the Radicals, she was elected to parliament on the strength of some 20,000 votes. She failed to be re-elected in 1991.
The Love Party, which Cicciolina joined in either 1991 or 1992, had the dubious distinction of having not one, but two, porno starlets, as its founders – Cicciolina and Moanna Pozzi. The party, which was actually run by Ricardo Schicchi, an Italian pornographer and Cicciolina’s manager, advocated for the legalization of brothels and improved sex education in the school system.
In 1992, Pozzi gained about 22,000 votes for a parliamentary seat, but lost. The following year she ran for mayor of Rome and again failed.
After the turn of the century, Cicciolina continued in vain to seek political power, even including an attempt in her native Hungary, but never got anywhere in her efforts.
Her 15 minutes of fame appeared to have expired – until late 2011 when it was revealed that, as a former parliamentarian, the one-time X-rated starlet was qualified to receive an annual pension of some 39,000 euros (about $51,000 in 2011 terms), causing some outrage among the public.
In typical bravado style, she declared, "I earned it and I'm proud of it."
Amidst all the chaos of her public life, Cicciolina also found time to record a number of CDs and marry the American artist Jeff Koons – with whom she had a child named Ludwig Maximillian. Although Koons won custody of the boy after their divorce, Ludwig remains in Italy with his mother.
Italian media reported that Cicciolina recently appeared on a TV show called “Sunday Live” with her son, who is now 20 years old. They discussed the bitter custody battle with Koons.
“Social workers did not allow me to speak to the court in which I wanted to say that I wanted to stay with my mother," the boy told host Barbara D’Urso.
"I have always been proud of my mother."
And, in keeping with the endless soap opera of their lives, Ludwig also denied charges that he was a drug dealer.