Somehow I am always confusing Slavoj Žižek with Andrei Codrescu, but at least the latter is more or less confined to the bergerie of public radio, from which he can opine like some kind of eurotrash-cottonseed Garisson Keillor on the poetical necessity of his dogs eating squirrel turds, or whatever. Žižek, on the other hand, well shit, as Mister Smiff put it: "There's no getting away from the guy." Regular as a prune maker's bowel movements, he . . . appears . . . to crystallize in a nutshell the zeitgeist of the moment's worldview. He is like the party guest who scooped up more than his fair share of the coke and did a little scoot-to-toot off to the bathroom. He returns, eyes glassy, jaws twitching, ever-eager to involve you in a conversation that you neither want to have nor are able to escape. Each thunderous banality is announced with a flash of genealogical lightning. It's all, as Einstein said, relative. No really:
We are talking about the UK riots. Žižek displays that the main consolation of education is that it permits disapproval in the guise of didacticism; he, after all, hasn't got any skin in the game, or shop in the riots so to speak. Mister Smith says, "I've always felt -- ever since the Watts riots of the early 60s -- that the response to such events is a pons asinorum, an infallible indicator of one's fundamental outlook," and while that is finely turned, I think it overcredits our bourgeois interlocutors with having an outlook. Slavoj calls the rioters "worldless"--actually, he paraphrases his compeer Alain Badiou calling our "social space" "worldless"--these people slap neologisms like heavy smokers with a nic patch--and implies that the absence of a published agenda makes the rioters avatars of a "meaningless violence," but you can be fairly certain that even if the boys of Tottenham had airdropped a million copies of a bullet-pointed manifesto on the streets of London, Žižek would be in the pages of the LRB lamenting their dialectical inadequacies. I am sure that Slavoj believes himself to be very ideologically well endowed, but he is in fact exactly what he accuses the rioters of being: a mere aggregation of attitudes; he believes himself to be conducting an autopsy, but he is really just stealing watches.
"We live in cynical times," writes our philosopher--be grateful he doesn't offer a citation here as well. But is there anything more cynical than the insistence that outrage be tempered by pedantry? The world of capitalism which Žižek and Badiou and the rest of the frauds purport to oppose out of some abiding rump marxism has swallowed and digested them; read, in their tut-tutting, the regret, the jealousy of a failed novelist picking up a twenty-something's prizewinner. The universities and literary presses did not lead the proles into the street, ergo the proles had no purpose. He writes like a child who didn't get invited to the birthday party.