*Incontinence of the Void*

by on September 9, 2017 at 12:51 am in Books, Philosophy, Uncategorized | Permalink

That is the new, forthcoming Žižek book, here is one brief excerpt:

Peter Sloterdijk endorses Badiou’s thesis, from his Le siecle, that the defining feature of the twentieth century was “the passion for the real,” the gravitational pull toward the real basis of our lives (economic base, libido, will, etc.).  What we witness is the reversal of the traditional relation between public theology and occult materialism preached in elite circles — today, materialism is public while gnostic theology grows in the underground…Passion for the Real is not just a realist-cynical stance of reducing ideological chimeras to their “actual base” (“it’s all really about the economy, power, sex”), it is also sustained by a messianic logic of extermination: the cobweb of (religious, moral, etc.) illusions has to be ruthlessly erased, and it has to be done now.  The twentieth century was a time of extremis, of passage a’ l’acte, not of hope for some future.  Sloterdijk, of course, for this very reason sees the twentieth century as the age of extremism and ethical catastrophes, from Nazism to Stalinism.

I have several other of his books in my pile to read; this latest one focuses much of its energy on Lacan and also the Slovenian theorist Alenka Zupančič.  It turns out Žižek also is a big fan of Liu Cixin and The Three-Body Problem.

1 stephan September 9, 2017 at 1:01 am

This is from the Amazon abstract:

” He proceeds from the universal dimension of philosophy to the particular dimension of sexuality to the singular dimension of the critique of political economy. The passage from one dimension to another is immanent: the ontological void is accessible only through the impasses of sexuation and the ongoing prospect of the abolition of sexuality, which is itself opened up by the technoscientific progress of global capitalism, in turn leading to the critique of political economy.”

Is this profound or just masquerading nonsense a la Sokal . Someone please explain ?

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2 Ray Lopez September 9, 2017 at 1:18 am

…or ala “Jacques Derrida” Like our spammer friend in the comments that posts random nonsense.

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3 anonymous September 9, 2017 at 1:43 am

“the more a person lives for others the more freer and joyful is their life”. Tolstoysays

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4 Jason September 9, 2017 at 7:07 pm

Tolstoy might have tried living his ideas instead of being a monster to his wife and his serfs.

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5 anonymous reply to Jason September 11, 2017 at 9:25 pm

I agree. When he was a small child he would have been devastated to know that he would one day be an old man who had been so unkind to so many. The fact that he said things that are worth quoting for their truth does not diminish the tragedy of his unkind actions. Let’s pray for him. He has certainly repented by now, one hopes, and has, one again hopes, been through the desperate trial, which is hard to wish on anyone, of fully realizing how selfish one has been.

6 Ray Lopez September 9, 2017 at 1:15 am

Incontinence does not sound like a good book cover title. You have fecal incontinence, verbal incontinence, urinary incontinence, and, my favorite, emotional incontinence where people laugh or cry hysterically for no good reason, usually from a brain injury.

Then this: “Liu Cixin and The Three-Body Problem.” – ha x three. From the Wikipedia summary (Spoiler Alert)… apparently an advanced alien civilization is so advanced but yet they cannot figure out where earth is in the universe if you fail to give them your coordinates properly. Absurd.

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7 JWatts September 9, 2017 at 1:33 am

“Liu Cixin and The Three-Body Problem.”

I thought that book and the sequel was over rated.

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8 subdee September 9, 2017 at 7:08 pm

It’s not about the actual science in the book (at one point Cixin says the moon rises upside-down). It’s about the author’s veneration of scientists and support for basic science research. As a physics major in a former lifetime, I found his attitude really refreshing.

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9 subdee September 9, 2017 at 7:08 pm

Also, SPOILERS!

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10 kiti September 9, 2017 at 2:11 am

Gul and Pesendorfer defend that in order to do properly economic analysis you have to restrain yourself within the price and quantity dimensions in order to reveal the economic’s subjects preferences. And out of conventional Marginalism it is, of course, the Zizek’s and friends non sense.

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11 Sid September 9, 2017 at 3:33 am

Tyler, I ask this you honestly: How can you possibly tolerate the drivel that Žižek puts out? You, who hired Robin Hanson? You, who idolizes Plato and Hume? You, who speaks admiringly of Gladwell (whatever his faults, he writes with almost alarming clarity)?

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12 The Cuckmeister-General September 9, 2017 at 8:51 am

Robin Hanson is a cuck. Gladwell is a cuck.

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13 peri September 9, 2017 at 10:58 am

The phrase “occult materialism” I was unfamiliar with, so a google led me to this page: https://socialecologies.wordpress.com/2014/11/04/absolute-recoil-slavoj-zizek-and-the-foundations-of-dialectical-materialism/

… which did not clear it up even a little. But I learned the phrase “bio-cosmism” and I’ll carry that much away like a pebble in my pocket.

Zizek has been described as a joker-like figure interested in everything, incontinently one might say. It is not surprising – indeed, perhaps a little clue – that Tyler has a pile of Zisek’s books unread: there is surely a kind of chaos, or at least a pointlessness, when the man interested in absolutely everything encounters the other man interested in absolutely everything.

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14 Steve Sailer September 9, 2017 at 6:09 am

“the cobweb of (religious, moral, etc.) illusions has to be ruthlessly erased, and it has to be done now.”

It seems like we live in an era when we are supposed to endorse the cobweb of illusions if we know what’s good for us.

Zizek always seems on the verge of saying something interesting but then chickens out.

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15 Roy LC September 9, 2017 at 6:25 am

I suspect the Three Body Problem doesn’t admire Zizek.

As to Badiou, he makes Zizek look profound. He is fatuous and tracks his tiny little world’s zeitgeist like a bloodhound. And though his work shows an utter indifferenceto mundane truth and regularly tells outright falsehoods, he is so impressively lazy that even with these handicaps his work is utterly impervious to logic.

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16 Thor September 9, 2017 at 9:50 am

He is also a humorless Communist, while Zizek is at least a humorous egomaniac.

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17 Dan September 11, 2017 at 1:35 pm

You really gotta hand it to em. Also mesmerizingly incontinent nostrils.

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18 subdee September 9, 2017 at 7:17 pm

I kind of admire Badiou’s commitment to a world where plays, operas, books and poetry are the cultural touchstones and basis for a philosophical understanding of the world. Like the Quaran, it’s a self-contained world that has more class and clarity than mine.

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19 Rambling Idiot September 9, 2017 at 6:26 am

Please forgive my meanderings around my very first, very preliminary, impressions of the book. I claim no special expertise. For me, modern continental philosophy really gets started with WWII, or perhaps a little earlier with Nietzsche’s ‘God is Dead’. The trend in nihilism was seen as creating a void filled by extreme political ideologies. Existentialism was one of the first responses to the void, though of course had been around much earlier (e.g. Kierkegaard.) Existentialism argued we can choose to create our own purpose. Camus was a skeptic. (In at least one interview he said he didn’t understand why people said he was an existentialist as he had only written one brief piece on it, against it.) Camus argued, brutally even, that we have to confront the void, not imagine it away. (In ‘An Absurd Reasoning’, now online.) (Digression: In the more modern sense we might say Camus saw human nature as rich and complex and existentialism in general fell into the pattern of utopian blank-slatism, the perfectability of human nature as being some easy task accomplished through magical wish-fulfillment.) Camus wrote The Rebel as an exploration of ways in the past people have confronted the absurd (‘without sound’, or sense.) One was Don Juanism. (Perhaps that was the 1960’s?) Zizek is writing from a tradition where Freud figures heavily, so the unconscious and oedipal sexuality are inevitable themes, but the sexuality aspect mentioned in the Amazon review strike me as the Don Juanism (or Donna Juanita-ism.) After sex comes babies, usually, in most times and places in the world. And the need for greater and greater material resources for raising babies. (And it certainly doesn’t hurt for older men to have more material resources when courting.) And so perhaps in the usual course of things Don Juanism (1960’s) leads to Wall Street (1980’s.) Materialism of course is another way of trying to fill the void of the meaninglessness of an indifferent universe. The book title includes the word incontinence. What that conjurs up for me is that the universe isn’t just indifferent, it’s p-ssing it’s indifference on humanity every moment of every day, though most people convince themselves it’s only rain. It seems Camusian in the sense that the void isn’t going to be ignored, not very successfully in the long run. The ‘void’ also works in the title in that conveys not just nihilism, the absurd, but also the feeling of emptiness that goes along with that. Wny is this an important book? Perhaps to the extent we can grasp the implications of responses to philosophical nihilism we can somehow avoid the extreme political philosophies of the WWII era.

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20 Bill September 9, 2017 at 9:22 am

What a title:.

The Incontinence of the Void

I thought it was a book about

The bowel problems of a Celestial Deity.

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21 Affe September 9, 2017 at 9:37 am

There’s that Nietzsche quote you can have some fun with here about voids and gazing but I haven’t had my morning coffee yet.

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22 Thor September 9, 2017 at 10:05 am

I suspect emotional incontinence is the crux. Zizek resents our complacent shallowness in holding on to bourgeois values, when there is no “scientific” (cf void talk) for doing so.

On the one hand we are just dim witted sheeple, but agitation in favour of the revolution has got to have agents (more correctly dupes) — I.e. someone has got to hate capitalism enough to overcome their complacency and physically start smashing stuff — so on the other hand we are necessary sheeple.

Socialism always ends up with the rulers ruling on our behalf because “we know not what we do” while the rulers DO know what is best for us. It is thus always going to be anti democratic. Petty nationalism will not do either: a Tito is needed to maintain pan national order, and guard against counter revolutionary complacency.

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23 Chuck September 9, 2017 at 12:31 pm

That the great ideological contest of the 20th century was between two versions of materialism is indicative of how thoroughly materialism has triumphed.

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24 derek September 9, 2017 at 10:25 am

Isn’t what we’ve seen since last summer an Incontinence of the Void? Some political acolyte shows up, with little of anything except the ability to recognize a huge mass of people without representation and steam rolls the whole complacent, fat and self interested political establishment. As marginal as Trump may be, the reaction to Charlottesville was nothing except incontinence, an out of control emanation of everything from encouragement of black clad masked thugs to the rejection of due process, freedom of speech, the desire to use the power of data collection to drive people out of jobs. It was a hysteria of the over educated.

And more incontinence of the Void from the loser producing another book blaming her loss on everyone and everything except her stupidity and her tendency to surround herself with people less competent than herself.

Essentially anyone who embraces radical feminism, intersectionality, the fluidity of gender, all these right and proper ways of thinking, cannot be trusted or entrusted with anything of import because with determination and purpose they have detached themselves from reality.

I think the age is summed up by people purporting to fight evil by throwing urine.

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25 Thor September 9, 2017 at 1:14 pm

I tend to agree, but would add that our age might be summed up by the academy colonizing the larger world rather than the other way around: instead of mocking normals for seeing a red under every bed, the academic left is encouraging us to see evil everywhere. We can call it … evil inflation.

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26 anonymous reply to Thor September 11, 2017 at 8:51 pm

I don’t get outraged about it but I do think it is weird. It is as if the liberal academics of the world, and all of Hollywood, were channeling an inner Joe McCarthy. I guess that is human nature, and my surprise is probably simply because I had so much respect for the fairness of academics and Hollywood, at one point in my life, and I did not foresee a future where, say, most Democratic Senators are incapable of not sounding like Joe McCarthy for more than 48 hours at a time, at least when the Senate is in session. The poor sad phonies! The weirdness of the academy surprises me less – American Slavic scholars were almost evenly split between pro-Soviet factions and decent human beings as long ago as the 50s, and it has not gotten all that much better for all that long since then.

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27 rayward September 9, 2017 at 10:58 am

A simpler explanation is abandonment of bourgeois values. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/09/can-an-embrace-of-bourgeois-values-revive-america.html Simple explanations are easier to understand than complex philosophical explanations.

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28 kiti September 9, 2017 at 12:00 pm

Is it capitalism really made of bourgeois values? Did the Greeks Believe in Their Myths?

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29 Thor September 9, 2017 at 1:17 pm

Interesting… That’s the title of a Paul Veyne book that I have not read. (Veyne was s genius who wrote on Bread and Circuses — the distraction of the masses by populist entertainment — and notwithstanding his friendship with French postmodern charlatans, was genuinely insightful.

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30 kiti September 9, 2017 at 11:37 am

it’s interesting the Hegelian he is in his methodology (in this case reversing a duality of public – private believes in order to explain something). He always’ve declared himself an old fashioned philosopher. I used to like his old youtube conferences, like the one at Princeton with Cornell West (https://youtu.be/LBvASueefk4) about the structure of believe.
Anyway, I would never recommend his books.

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31 Roger Sweeny September 9, 2017 at 1:08 pm

FWIW: Liu Cixin has two stories in the anthology Invisible Planets: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation, which Tyler spoke well of a few months ago. I just read it. It was pretty good.

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32 Rich Berger September 9, 2017 at 2:16 pm

If you are voided, no incontinence.

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