Authors@Google: Slajov Zizek

Uploaded by AtGoogleTalks on 03.10.2008

>> Again, welcome. We're very honored to have with us today a noted sociologist, philosopher,
cultural critic, Slavoj Zizek. Slavoj is a senior research, right, in the Institute of
Sociology at the University of Lubljana in Slovenia, a professor in the European Graduate
School. He has been a visiting professor at several universities including the University
of Chicago, Columbia, Princeton, and many others. And he's currently the international
director of Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck College in the University of London.
The Wikipedian horde has deemed him an intellectual outsider and a confrontational maverick. And
he comes to us today to discuss his recent book "Violence" a book which challenges us
to look deeper in to the topic of violence. To see beyond the ephemeral manifestations
of violence, gunshot and explosion, the clash of metal on metal, blood stains, and to discuss
systemic violence, the violence inherent in our systems of living our way of life. And
in a sense our age is an age--of the age of technological and biological exploration is
an age of philosophical exploration as well. I know that many of us at Google are familiar
with this. And to quote Slavoj himself which I found on the Internet, of course, "The age
of philosophy is in a sense, again, that we are confronted more and more often with philosophical
problems in everyday level. It is not just that you withdraw from daily life into a world
of philosophical contemplation; on the contrary, you cannot find your way around daily life
itself without answering certain philosophical questions is unique time when everyone is
in a way are forced to be some kind of philosopher." So, let's take this opportunity, please, for
everyday philosophy and welcomes Slavoj Zizek to Google
>> ZIZEK: I hope this works, yeah. Thanks very much, I'm really glad of being here,
you know why, because let me begin with a funny association which came on my mind now.
You know of what from my communist youth, this scene here now reminds me. And the communism
when I was young, you'd not only have to work in factories in Slovenia but you get so called
hours of ideological education, you know like, exactly like now, like, during lunch time,
workers has to sit through some boring short talk which ruin your lunch about, I don’t
know, great result of our construction of socialism and so on, and so on. I feel right
back in those times, well, sorry for ruining your lunch. So, in contrast to the kindness
of the good guy who introduced me, I would say, please, don’t let me terrorize you
if your mind is with your computer, go on, go on. I would feel better about it. What--I
was thinking about what to do here, of course, I don’t want to give the resume of a book.
I never was able to be so arrogant, like, I know some guys. Poet and so on who treat
themselves as classics, you know, like, they open their own book, read a paragraph and
say, "Let's now look at what the thinker wanted to say," now, I will--the proper dialectical
way to approach this book is, I think, to do the opposite of the book. To focus not
on violence but on what violence reacts to, usually on the everyday texture of our lives,
everyday ideology. Now, your first reaction probably would [INDISTINCT] here but aren’t
we beyond ideology? I mean, am I an old Marxist from, you know, like, the species which basically
died around 1990 who still believe in big causes and so on. No, I will try to convince
you that ideology is, of course, not in the sense of big world view vision to impose on
society, but ideology in the sense of complicated network of ethical, political, social, whatever
prejudices, which, even if we are unaware of them, still determines the way we function.
It's still something which structures our lives. What is ideology? Maybe some of you
know this but I cannot resist repeating this story because it works perfectly, namely,
do you remember? You must, my God; it was endlessly reproduced on Google. That unfortunate
interview of Donald Rumsfeld some five years ago just before the Gulf War when he wanted
to explain why, where is the danger of Saddam and he used his famous parallel--he basically,
they have a whole theory of knowledge claiming that there are--you remember, known knowns,
things we know that we know. Then, like, we know that Saddam is the boss of Iraq. Then
he went on--there are, there are known unknowns. There are things we know that we don’t know.
Like, for example, I don’t know--I know there are some cars in front of this building
but I don’t know how many they are. But I know that I don’t know this, you know.
Then he went on, there are unknown unknowns. In the sense of things that we even don’t
know that we don’t know then. Like, his ideas was--the known unknown was how many
and where Saddam has his weapons of mass destruction, like, we don’t know but we know that we
don’t know. But then his paranoia was what if there are unknown unknowns, some secret
weapons that we don’t even know what they are, yet, they're more radically unknown.
Now, my claim is that--okay, there goes this idea, my claim, my joke here is that if you
have a little bit of a sense for structural analysis thinking, you’ll see immediately
that something is missing here, a fourth term, known knowns, we know what we know. Known
unknowns, we know what we don’t know, or then, unknown unknowns, the totally other,
like, we don’t even know what we don’t know. Something is missing the most interesting
category, not the unknown, not the known unknowns, but the un-unknown knowns, not think we know
that we don’t know, but think we don’t know that we know, that’s the unconscious
[INDISTINCT] ideologically. Although silent prejudices, which determine how we act, how
we react, and we, in a way, there are so much the texture in to which we are embedded, that
we literally don’t even know that we know them. And I think this was why you were in
such trouble in Iraq. Not so much that you, there was some mystery that you didn’t know.
The U.S. Army and administration basically didn’t know what they already know. All
the unconscious political military prejudices as it where which determined their activity,
which is why I don’t know if some of you know it or not. To give you another example,
I'm sorry of repeating myself; I hope you are a new public here. The analysis--because
of which and again it was mocked endlessly in Google. It brought me some negative thing
but I still think it works perfectly. Or these unknown knowns are the structure of toilets
in our Western civilization. It's ideology at its purest. Now, will you say, am I crazy?
Where is ideology? Did you notice something, I simplified the analysis but I know I simplified
but basically it's called cycling [ph]. What do we get? We get three basic types of toilets.
The French one, where, sorry for relative vulgarity, where the hole is in the back of
the toilet so that shit falls directly into the hole and disappears--I mean, not the hole,
I mean, not just the bowl but the hole where it then, you know, get in. Then we have the
German type where the hole, where the shit disappears is in front so that the shit is
somehow displayed there. You know Germans have all this ritual of, I'm not kidding,
around 50 percent of toilets, check it up, if you go to Germany are still structured
like this that the shit is displayed there and they have this old ritual, every morning
you should smell your shit, check it for traces of, I mean, Erica Yong, in her Fear of Flying
makes wonderful a comment, she said, she writes, “A nation which get such toilets, they--no
wonder, they imagine Auschwitz and all the horrors.” Okay. Then, you have the Anglo-Saxon,
American and so on, toilets which are mixed its--not doesn’t matter where the hole is
because it's all full of water so that the shit floats freely there. Now, I was always
intrigued by this, I asked my friend’s architects in one of the other country, "Why this?" And
they try to give me utilitarian answers, like, Germans said; isn’t it natural to inspect
your shit? French said, if shit smells, let's get rid of it. Americans and English men said,
let's be practical, it should float in water so that it doesn’t smell and so on. But
obviously, it's not purely a utilitarian level. Then I asked myself a simple question, "Where
did they already hear, this trinity?" Let's call it a French-German-English-Anglo-Saxon
civilization. Do you know that already 200 years ago, there was around Hegel’s in French
evolution time. There was this popular idea among philosophers and so on about so called
European trinity, claiming that the spiritual backbone or fundamental structure of Europe
is composed of these three nations. Each of the three stands for a certain political principle
and for a certain sphere of society. Germans are politically conservative and instead of
society privilege there is--the Germans said, a nation of poets, thinkers and so on, culture.
France is a revolutionary and the preferred political sphere is politics. Anglo-Saxon
universe is more, how do you call it, liberal centrist, utilitarian, the political sphere
is economy. And then I got it. That’s it, that's the key. French revolutionary, shit
disappears; liquidate it as soon as possible. You Anglo-Saxon, more pragmatic, float it
there, let's see how it is, utilitarian approach. Germans, metaphysical and poets, reflect on
it and so on, you know, conserve it. And then I spoke with architects and they admitted
it, crazy as it may sound. That’s the only way to ultimately account for a totally vulgar
object like the concrete structure of a toilet. You see now my point which is slightly more
serious--not only a tasteless joke—that even to account for the most elementary, vulgar
object how it is structured--the goal, I wouldn’t say worldview but basic attitude towards civilization
and so on, it’s not just a utilitarian object-—this is what interests me, this type of ideology.
Ideology which is, all this set of cultural and so on prejudices which structure our daily
lives and you don’t even have to be fully aware of them, especially today in our so
called “cynical era” where very interesting things are happening. How do we deal with
ideology today?--Maybe you know it, it’s also endlessly in Google—-the wonderful
anecdote about Niels Bhor, you know Copenhagen, the quantum physics guy. The story is a wonderful
one. The story is that, once a friend visited him in Demark, in the countryside where he
had a house—for, go there on weekend, whatever--and the friend, also a scientist saw above the
entrance a horseshoe—-I don’t know how it is here but in Europe, horse shoe above
the entrance door is a superstitious item destined to prevent evil spirits to enter
the house-—So, the shocked friend ask him, “Wait a minute. Are you crazy? Why do you
have this here, do you believe in it? Aren’t you a scientist?” Niels Bhor answered him,
“My God! I’m not crazy, I’m a scientist. Of course I don’t believe in this thing.”
Then the friend asked him, “If you don’t believe in it, why do you have it there?”
Ahh, he gave a wonderful answer--Niels Bhor—he said, “Of course I don’t believe in it
but I have it there because I was told that it works even if you don’t believe in it.”
That’s how ideology functions today, we are all cynics—-who will believes what and
so on but we somehow rely on it that it will work even if you don’t believe in it [INDISTINCT].
We, in this sense, we live in a cynical era, not cynical in the usual sense, bad people
manipulating, but in a much more refined way. We practice beliefs without believing in them
as it were. And this is what fascinates me in ideology. Especially today, the old image
of ideology was, you have some explicit beliefs and then privately you let it know, “Oh,
I’m not crazy as that,” and so on. Today, it’s the opposite, what was most private
is now public and vice versa-—privately, we like to play that we are not crazy to believe
in some stupid ideology we just--what is ideology today, explicitly? I think some kind of vaguely
Dalai Lama spiritualized hedonism, no? It’s no longer, do this, sacrifice yourself—-inspite
of what Republicans are saying they—-just react to it, basically ideology today is some
kind of a vague injunction, be truly yourself, realize your potentials or whatever and so
on and so on. But I claim we believe much more than we appear to believe. We obey or
whichever way you put it much more than we appear to do. And this again, is what all
these tension between, let me call it, explicit beliefs or absence of beliefs and this cobweb
of-—to put it in the terms of your great philosopher, Donald Rumsfeld—-of the unknown
knowns, this is the crucial dimension. At the end—-I hope I would have time, I would
really like to mention briefly even the whole Sarah Palin phenomenon, I think is--you cannot
understand it without, not toilets, let’s forget that but--sorry. Okay, let me go a
little bit further here, did you noticed another extremely interesting phenomenon about which
I’ve written and which points in the same direction. What my friend, Austrian philosopher,
Robert Pfaller—-you can Google him to be tasteless, you know, I will endlessly repeat
this joke being here. At least on the German Google, you find him. He proposed a wonderful
category of Interpassivity. The idea is, that it’s not only that, we like in what we philosophers
call, Coming of Reason, that we like to manipulate others. So, you see in the back others are
active for you. Robert Pfaller drew attention to a much more mysterious phenomenon, opposite
one, of what he calls Interpassivity where we transpose onto the other our passive reaction,
others are passive for us. The most elementary phenomenon and I love it, this, I think this
is arguably the greatest contribution of American civilization to world cultural heritage—-Canned
laughter on TV. You know, when this-—just think about it, it’s a much more mysterious
phenomenon than it may appear. It’s not, as some wrong Pavlovian psychologist think,
the function of you hearing the laughter there as part of the soundtrack is not automatically
to trigger your laughter. No, it works so that literally the TV set laughs for you-—at
least that’s how it works with me. Really the same thing as--remember those, I always
like them, in Tibetan Buddhism those praying wheels or mills and so on where you write
down the prayer, you turn it around or even better you let the wind turn it around and
then you can masturbate, whatever, it doesn’t matter-—objectively you pray. You pray to—-here
it’s the same, it laughs for you-—that’s my experience, you know, in the evening you
arrive home, dead tired, you put on some stupid show with canned laughter on TV, Cheers, Friends,
whatever and you don’t even laugh—-the mystery is admitted at the end of the show,
you feel relief as if you have laughed, that’s the mystery, how it works. In my thesis—-back
to Donald Rumsfeld topic—-is that it’s the same with beliefs, it’s not so much
that we believe, we need as it where another one to believe for us. From—-this is how
our ritual functions, for example, take Santa Clause, I mean, of course nobody believes,
I mean, parents, if you ask parents they said, “No. We are not crazy. We pretend to believe
not to disappoint our children,” but I can guarantee if you ask then the children they
said, “No. I’m not crazy. We pretend to believe not to disappoint our parents and
to get presents and so on...” You got the point, nobody has to believe only if every
individual actually existing presupposes another agency to believe then, belief functions—-the
whole system of believe functions. The first to use this structure consciously, politically,
you know, the old Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, who when asked, “Do you believe in
God?” Of course she didn’t, I mean, that’s the irony. Israel who makes this claim of
the West Bank like, “God gave us this land” and I like it for that, about the misunderstanding,
is the most atheist country in the world. According to statistic that I read there,
between 60 and 70 percent of the Israeli Jews don’t believe in God. And the irony is that--so,
Golda Meir was asks this, her answer was, “No. I don’t believe in God,” No, she
did not, she just answered, “I believe in Jewish people and Jewish people believe in
God.” But the point is that, there are no individual Jews who have really to believe
in God. Everybody just has to evoke this specter, and so, the most terrifying experience is
when you learn not that you don’t believe but that the other which was in a way the
guarantor of your belief doesn’t believe. If you know a little bit of literature, that’s
so shocking. You remember Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton—-at the end, the guy-—okay,
I speak in cinema terms—-Daniel Day Lewis is told by his son that Winona Ryder, his
dead wife, knew all the time about his affair with Michelle Pfeiffer but pretended not to
know. When he learns--everything gets ruined. That’s I think our much more fundamental
need than directly to believe, to have another one as protected innocence. So let me go on
a little bit here after we return to ideology, to explicit ideology—-how do these prejudices
function, they are something much more complex than the way they appear. Recently, three
months or two ago, I gave a talk at Harvard, at the end of the talk we were invited--you
know, this is the most boring part of academic meetings, where we have an official dinner,
where, you know, people who are really bored by each other, you have to pretend and so
on—-So, the older professor who was coordinating dinner, 10 of us said, “Okay. Since, we
don’t know each other well, please, can everybody here present him or herself. State
your name, position, state you work, field of interest and your sexual orientation.”
Now, this shocked me a little bit. For my European sensitivity, like my idea was almost,
you know, like what’s--none of your business, no. But now, I don’t want to play the vulgar
anti-America, American bashing because, you know, this bar of discretion is less different
in Europe. Immediately, I remember how a friend of mine visited me the previous summer in
Europe and we went to the Slovene coast where-—Slovenia, you know, we where already under communism,
sexually, culturally, a very liberal country so, as in most of Europe in the last 20 years.
Most of the women were simply with naked breasts, no bra on the beach, it’s considered totally
normal nobody even notices it. Here, I’m told it’s not so normal like I was told
you can even get arrested or what. And typically that friend of mine leftist, liberal, whatever
you want—-self oppressed, almost harassed, aggressed, and totally traumatized. So, here
we have a nice difference and again, I think that the formula which is closer to me, I
don't think discretion means oppression, the proper attitude is the one maybe, you know,
the anecdote Gore Vidal, your writer gave the best formula of discretion, he’s a well
known bisexual. He was asked in a TV interview some years ago, “Was your first sexual experience
with a man or with a woman?” You know what was his answer? I was too polite to ask. That
attitude is for me the proper one. Let me go on a little bit to show you why I am hated
in some, not only rightist but even more maybe leftist circles. I think that today when different cultures
are thrown together in what we call globalization, I think we should break the spell of this
liberal multi-culturalist injunction, “understand each other, we should understand more each
other”, and so on. First, it’s impossible to fully understand each other because I claim
we don't even understand ourselves like, you know, it’s not that we are separate entities
who fully know what we are and then we should open, no liberals always slide this endless
task, “Oh, there is still something that eludes me in that culture,” and so on. I
think quite the opposite. I don't want to understand all other stupid cultures; I can
be stupid for them. I think we need precisely a code of discretion. We need a code which
tells us how to politely, politely, sincerely politely ignore each other. I don't want--if
I live in a building here in a big condominium where for example, where, you know, all races
are there, I don't want to understand everybody. I want to be treated nicely in a non racist
way by others and I want to treat others like that. I think this sense of proper distance
is very important. And I don't think we miss--now I go even a step further. I don't think we
miss anything deep in this way. Let's say do I really understand you? Well, first as
a psychoanalyst a counter question would be, “But do you realty understand yourselves?”
I claim that another post-modern multicultural myth is that we are the stories we are telling
ourselves about ourselves. That's the moment of truth which is by the great liberal motto
is articulated among others by the philosopher Richard Rorty. The basic freedom is the freedom
to tell your story, your side of your story. The best expression of this attitude is the
well known motto which sounds very deep. I hate it, I think it’s wrong. The motto of
tolerance which is an enemy is somebody whose story we didn't yet hear. It sound so deep,
you know like, if you are just a foreigner for me, I see you as evil, impenetrable enemy,
then I hear all your boring details which I don't care about, your dreams, your fears
and all of a sudden I see, “Oh, you are a human person like me,” and so on and so
on. This is getting as boring as--and this is ideology at its purest as Batman and all
these movies, did you notice how in the last installments of this heroic sagas, Batman,
Superman, Spiderman, what everybody emphasizes is how they are no longer flat cartoon heroes.
We see also the anxieties, fears of the--as if this makes them somehow deeper these films.
No, this is ideology at the purest, why? Now, it sounds very nice, this, and even in Europe
we can be worse in political correctness than you, we practice a so called living libraries
maybe it’s going--that is to say in some countries I know about Iceland, and United
Kingdom where some local communities do again this living libraries which means the authorities
pay members of sexual religious race minorities, just to visit the majority families, spend
the evening with them and tell them about their lives, their fears and so on. The idea
is precisely this one, when you get to know a guy, his inner life, you no longer can,
and he no longer could be your enemy. Of course at a certain level, this works and I’m fully
for it. But there is a limit, the limit is, let’s just do something. Let’s replace
this generality with a concrete name. Would you al say, “Oh my God, Hitler was our enemy
because we were not ready to hear his side of the story or whatever”. No, Hitler really,
and others, really was an enemy. And he was telling him a story about himself, and that
story was a lie. And that's my point. That's a very interesting and tragic, difficult to
accept insight of psychoanalysis. It’s basically, what I ironically refer to as the X files
insight. Truth is out there, truth is not in your story, in what you are telling yourself
about yourself. What we are telling yourself about yourself is basically a lie that you
construct in order to cope with usually some horrible dimension, and so on, and so on.
It’s wonderful to look at all these worst nations, worst in the sense of maybe in an
unjust way. Identify it with horrible crimes and to look what stories they were telling
ourselves to justify their position, attitude, because, again a very radical conclusion.
Let me give you two extreme examples here, one, so that I will be balanced, one from
Europe, one from the Far East. Europe, if there is a book that you should read I think;
it’s a very interesting book. Shattering, its—Aldous Huxley, yes, the guy of The Brave
New World, who wrote a book called Eminence Grise, The Grey Eminence. It’s a biography
of a guy, a priest called Pere Joseph; father Joseph, who was basically the State Department
foreign ministry guy of Cardinal Richelieu during the 30 years war in Europe. Now, this
guy in his politics was a monster, the worst you can imagine. He saved France by ruining
Europe, in what sense? In this 30 years war between Protestant and Catholics, he concluded
a pact with. Protestant Sweden against Catholic Hapsburg Austria to prevent unification of
Germany. Ruthless, torturing, poisoning, whatever you want. So, even if we play this stupid
game of who was ultimately responsible for the rise of Hitler? This guy is maybe the
best candidate because we all know that what laid the foundation for Marxism, the ultimate
cause was the so called delay of Germany in becoming a united nation state. And this delay
was decided again, at the end of the 30 years war so, a bad guy. Now, what intrigued Huxley
is that every evening after finishing his dirty drop of poisoning, plotting and so on
this same guy Pere Joseph wrote wonderful mystical meditations. He had regular correspondents
with some feminine convent and exchange mystical notes with sisters there. The mystery is that,
no way to avoid the conclusion this is gold, authentic stuff. You know, you cannot dismiss
it as, “Oh, the guy was cheating and so on and so on,” sorry, it’s the level of
who would be the top of guys. Saint Theresa, John of the Cross. It’s the real thing.
So, that's what bothered so terribly Huxley. How is it possible to have both in the same
person, a ruthless, manipulator and undoubtedly authentic, mystic with the deepest imaginable
spiritual experience. Huxley’s answer was to blame Christianity in the sense of there
is something in our Christian fixation on the way of the cross, Christ suffering which
opens up a door for this kind of political manipulation, so he turned towards the east.
“Oh, is there any better there?” My favorite book on that topic, I advise you to read it.
Brian Victoria, himself that Buddhist priest, Zen At War. This guy did something very simple,
he simply made a research into how did the Japanese Zen community relate to the Japanese
military expansion and invasion of China and all that stuff in the late, throughout the
30’s and early 40’s. And the discovery was shocking, except, with the exception of
literally three, four, five decedents. They not only, fully supported it, they even provided
justification for it. The true color is to read the works from that time of a guy who
some of you and I see there are who are like me and unfortunately old enough to be around.
Who was very popular here in the hippy time, 60’s early 70’s, D. T. Daisetsu Teitaro
Suzuki. You know, the big model of introducing Buddhist tradition here. Were in the 30’s
he was writing slightly different texts. For example, he wrote a text where he celebrated
Chinese, Japanese Invasion of China as he put it the work of love and the Chinese people
should learn that the spark which is killing them is a spirit of love but what's more important
is that the same Suzuki provided a wonderful argumentation on how an ordinary soldier should
train himself psychologically to be able to kill without having traumas. And he gives
a wonderful description of how this Buddhist attitude of overcoming your false self helps
you. He said, “When you are still identified with your false self and think you are the
substantial agent, then of course it’s traumatic.” The only way to put it is I have a sword and
I’d stuck it into you. But he says, if you go through, Buddhist enlightenment, then the
whole perspective changes. You are just an observer. You see your sword
moving in the air and you see the enemy somehow getting stuck on it and so on. It's depersonalized.
He even went so far, Suzuki, I should say that for ordinary people who don’t have
time to do meditation--don't--the military discipline is the easiest way to achieve enlightenment
in the sense of overcoming your false self. He says, when you learn that--when the officer
says, "Shoot," you shoot without a moment’s reflection, you are above your false self,
and so on, and son on. Now, what's the conclusion here? Let me be very clear--again, to avoid
the misunderstanding. I'm not saying, "Oh, you see all this Japanese Buddhist stuff is
just a mask of militarism." No, the truly difficult thing is to accept that, like Pere
Joseph, that Suzuki's meditations are absolutely authentic. It's the real gem, the real stuff,
but this doesn’t prevent you from legitimizing with it or doing quite horrible things, and
so on, and so on. So, you see my point here? My point is that our truth is not the inner
life, mystical stories we are telling or whatever. I'm even tempted to claim in a more radical
psychoanalytic way that what we deal is our inner life, stories we are telling ourselves,
the narrative we construct to face what we are doing is always a zero level ideology,
a kind of a protective screen. So now, let me go a step further. All these rules of discretion,
unwritten rules, how do they function? Here, we are in for some surprises considering,
for example, censorship. Let me take the genre which you will maybe agree, it's the most
popular I think--or your only competition, more people than Google, more people probably
look for hard core porn. That's your only competitor. So, if you have the misfortune
of looking at some of the hardcore porno, but especially full-featured fillers. Did
you--where is censorship there? You will say, "But there is no censorship,” my god, you
can see everything. What can be more uncensored that's going to--there is nowhere. If you
get a full feature one hour, one hour and a half of hard core film, of course, you cannot
show just sex, there must be a minimal narrative which somehow justifies it narratively, I
mean, you know. And did you notice how absolutely ridiculously stupid and self-mocking these
narratives always are? Like, I remember how it's embarrassing even now for me to think.
When I was young, you know, the usual story. Housewife is alone at home, a plumber comes,
fixes the hole in the kitchen and then the housewife said, "But I have another hole to
fix. Can you--or maybe..." I mean, you are embarrassed. I claim this is not that they're
so stupid. There is a precise function of censorship here, which is you cannot have
it both ways. You can see it all. But the price you pay is to sabotage emotional involvement
in the sense of having an engaging story, and so on, and so on. No wonder that the French
cinema director, Kathrin Brea Romans [ph], who tries to do precisely this both; emotionally
engaging serious drama, plus, full sex. It cannot somehow really penetrate the big market.
Now, you're telling me--as many critics made fun of me. They told me, "Man, but you are
crazy. Where do you live? This kind of plumber or housewives stories they are 40 years old."
And I ask him, "Okay, what's in today?" And what they told me I think it's even worse.
It's so-called Gonzo sex, which is wrong. It's like embedded journalism. It's that the
camera is part of the action in the sense that they don't even pretend that it's a story.
They make fun of it. You know, in Gonzo sex, you see the camera man, the camera man tells
to be actors, move like that. A woman, who is being screwed smiles to the camera. Am
I okay like this? They make fun. I think this is the high point of censorship. They're afraid
of even a minimum of narrative. At this level, we find rules of--we find rules of discretion
and all that. Okay. So then, time is up--well, unfortunately, there are many other things,
nonetheless. What's the basic constellation that I want to develop here? That whenever
we are dealing with, if you give me another five to ten minutes, what always fascinated
me in ideology is the following thing; it's this tension which is always here between
what is explicitly said and what is understood. You are supposed to know it, but it's prohibited
to publicly state it. This is the mystery of customs and it's crucial for out social
co-existence, and it's here that ideology inscribes itself. What do I mean by this?
Did you notice that whenever you want to penetrate a certain social circle, you have to know
the rules from nation to company like Google to at class or whatever. But did you notice
that there is always something mysterious with the rules. It's not enough to know the
rules. You must know as it were meta-rules which tells you how to deal with the rules.
That is to say, isn't it that always I claim? There are rules which prohibit you something,
but if you follow them, you are an idiot. Between the lines, they call you to, like,
do it silently, and so on and so on. Like, I didn't claim, I don’t know. In my own
country, ex-socialist, I'm not saying that you are any better, but it was more open there.
And in all communist systems, like, or--what you call it, corruption and all that was like
that. Corruption was prohibited officially, which meant you just had to know and it was
exactly codified, you know. For example, I remember, for a doctor, you have a quick examinations
so that you didn't have to wait two, three months so much at that point make the prices
for bribery in German marks. It was 200 marks and so on. But--again--so, we have--especially
sexual prohibition such as like this. No, don't do it means--if you are a man, do it
but discreetly, and so on. So, we have prohibitions which are effectively functions as something
to be violated, and even much more interesting. This is my favorite point. We have statements
which allow you, even solicit you to use a freedom, to do--they give you freedom on condition
that you don't choose it. They are much more around than between. For example, I remember,
when I was in Japan, French told me that, usually, in their work contracts, you have
guaranteed 40 days per year holiday. But they told me it's considered very impolite. You
are not basically allowed to use more than 20 days. Then I ask him, then why don't you
write 20 days? They told me--and they were quite justified. You are a total idiot. You
don't understand it. And they were right. In what sense? Because in this way, by giving
you an offer which then is supposed to be rejected. Like, I give you 40 on condition
that you use only 20. This is the basic link. In this way, a link is created between people.
Through this politeness and debt, don't we have many daily rituals like this? Like, for
example, I don’t know how it is with you, but in my country, let's say--which is not
true, "I am rich. One of you is poor. I invite you to lunch." Isn't it clear that I will
pay? But even in this country I think, you have this ritual that when the bill arise,
you have to insist just a little bit, not too match that I will pay, I will pay. And
we both know it's a fake. But it's in a way a sincere fake or I don't know, with apologies
with my--maybe you know it. You can Google her, she is my theoretical enemy, personally
good friend, Judith Butler, Gender Travel and so on. Once I behaved very rudely towards
her, in a friendly way but I use vulgar words. Like, I--I wanted to ask her if a friend of
her is also a lesbian like her and I put it and I'm ashamed. I said something like, "Is
she also a degenerate stinking bitch like you?" Okay, it wasn't nice. So, I wonder why
she felt hurt. So, afterwards, I called her by the phone and told her, "Listen, Judie,
my god, I don’t know what it was. It's my extremely bad taste. I really apologize."
She was very nice. And she told me, "Listen, Slavoj, I know you. No problem. We are friends.
Let's be serious. No apology is needed." But did you get the paradox of this situation?
She was able to say, "No apology is needed," only after I did apologize. That's the normal
logic. If I were not to apologize, she would have been offended. And I would have been
probably a little bit offended if she were to say, "Good, I deserve the apology. Don't
do this again." You see the paradox? I made an offer of apology; she said it's not necessary.
But in this way, that's how it functions normally. This level of ideology fascinated me. This--how
should I put it? It's not only to put it in ultimate terms. It's not only that something
is prohibited. It's that prohibition itself is prohibited to stay--to be stated publicly.
That is the mystery why so many of my books I deal extensionally with Stalinism. Stalinism
is a very mysterious phenomenon. On the one hand, it's very a ruthless regime killing
millions. On the other hand, it's extremely sensitive to maintaining appearances. What
do you mean by this? Let's imagine a crazy scene. My dream, at least--we are Moscow 37,
Central Committee, I'm Stalin. I give a speech, you applause, we know that's life. Okay. Then,
one of you does a crazy thing. Stands up and says, "Comrade Stalin, I don’t agree with
you. I think you are totally wrong, blah, blah, blah.” Okay. We know. No mystery here.
If you would be the guy, the next day the big question will be who has seen you last
alive? Okay. But let's imagine something else that after--sorry to personalize. If there's
somebody has to be blamed, that's life. After you stand up and tell to him, "Are you crazy?
We don't talk to Comrade Stalin like this in our country. We don't attack him," and
so on. Like, this is--you will even have to disappear even earlier. Sorry, don't take
it personally. That's life. Now, what I mean to say, you know, it wasn't only prohibited
to criticize Stalin. It was even more prohibited to announce this prohibition publicly. It
was a prohibition which worked only on condition that it's not publicly proclaimed or whatever.
Now, slowly to draw to the end--if you allow me, at least, I talk too much; at least, you
will learn why my friends called me Fidel, not for my communist leanings, but, you know,
like, Fidel Castro, you know, comrades like ten minutes and seven hours. It's not my--okay,
did you see a good, naive, but I like naively. Hollywood Film; The Best of the Hollywood
Left, They Live, by John Carpenter from 1988 with that wonderful totally naive paranoiac
idea, it's a story of an ordinary guy who stumbles upon some mysterious sunglasses and
when he puts them on, what he sees is what? What he sees is, as it were the true ideological
message. Like, the guy walks along the street, sees a big publicity poster, “Visit Kavai
[ph], you’ll have the holiday of your lifetime, blah, blah, honeymoon.” Then, he puts the
glasses on the wonderful colored picture, disappears, all he sees is the order; reproduce,
obey, enjoy, don't think, consume or something like this. Like, almost a Marxist dream, you
know, the glasses which tell you directly the social order. What's--I think that what
is--maybe even more interesting, the dysfunctioning which is actual today, because today as we
all know, we are addressed not only by publicity but even by ideology at the level of not do
your duty but enjoy, have a full spiritual life and so on, and so on. You must have noticed
this how--to put it in very simple terms, there were three big stages of publicity.
The original one is--let's call it, naively utilitarian publicity. You are solicited to
buy something because you need it and because of its quality. It's like you need a Land
Rover. Okay, publicity says it's the best car, it's the strongest, greatest space; it
doesn't spend a lot of gasoline, whatever. Then, we get this more consumerist publicity
which is keeping up with the Jones' status symbol. There they refer to what status we
give to you owning a Land Rover. It's not--you don't by because you really need it, you buy
to signal your social status. But that’s not all, I claim today precisely after 68,
we have different mode of publicity which is neither utilitarian, these are good qualities,
nor symbolic status but this typical “me” generation. They refer to your--the--to yourself,
to your potentials. The idea is buy Land Rover and you will realize your potentials, you
will feel free, you will feel authentic and so on. It's--as we all know, the experience.
And unfortunately, although, I'm very much for green topic, unfortunately, I claim that
even, that even with organic food and so on, let's be frank, it's mostly dead. Why do you
buy those rotten two times more expensive so called organic apples than the normal chemically
produced perfectly red or whatever apples. I don't think you really believe that it's
so much better for your health. I also don't think that it's a big, like, you don't boast
around, you see I have these staples. I think basically it's to make you feel good, you
know, and not just a stupid consumer or if it's endangered, I do something, I'm more
authentic, and so on, and so on. So, then, in these conditions the ideological injunction
is hidden, but often we have the opposite. And this--I'm sorry, I don't have time. I
will conclude. Don't be afraid. Who is the boss? I don't know him. Three minutes. We
have the opposite where what you see is the explicit order, and then what you--what you
are able to see if you were to put these glasses on is as it were the bribery, like, what the
ideological text offers you between the lines, the obscene enjoyment and so on. For example,
let's imagine Nazi Germany, you look at it without glasses, the message is; sacrifice
yourself for your country, enough of decadence, of promiscuity, of Jewish immorality, do something
for your country, or use your terms, my country first and all that stuff. What do you get
when you put the glasses on? It says, "Do this, pretend to do this and we can have some
fun. We can beat the Jews. We can blah, blah, blah," you know, all the dirty obscene sights.
Wouldn't it be the same, let's say in the--in some nice small--nice, ironically, of course--town
in the American South, in the 20 surveys, the official message is Christian values and
so on, our country. Then, you put the glasses on and you see, "Do this and we in Ku Klux
Klan, you know, on weekend evening we can have some fun, raping some black girls, lynching
some guys and so on and so on." That's what always fascinated me. How beneath the official
message of sacrifice, duty for your nation or whatever, ideology always offers you, how
should I put it, some bribery in this sense, some obscene--actually, I don't have time
to go into how this affects today's nationalism, since I do have to slowly come to the end.
Now, I would also say that another procedure of these two levels is--let me be frank, what
were to happen if upon seeing this on TV advertisement or in a newspaper, an ad saying, you know,
this disgusting manipulation like in Starbucks coffee, you know, like, you see a child star
with wasted lips and then this message of, are you aware with the cup of one cappuccino--with
the price of cappuccino or whatever, you can save this kid's life, and so on, and so on.
What's the message if you put the glasses on? If you asked me something like, don't
think, don't politicized, forget about the true causes of their poverty, contribute a
little bit money and you can buy your consciousness. I think, the reason we do it is to make us
feel good. You know, we know people are starving there but F three points off, I did my duty.
I send my $5 per month there, I can live--so basically, I think, we don't pay really to
help them, we pay to feel well and especially to keep them at a distance there. A lot can
be said here even about charity; why is charity such a big thing today. But let me conclude
now very, very briefly with Sarah Palin and generally, what I can say as a naive external
observer, you know, like Montesquieu, who, in order to analyze France wrote his famous
Persian letters, no? I know--okay, not an envoy from Armadinajab, but let's say Persian
view upon United States. A couple of things, I think that it's crucial, not in any kind
of deep psychological analysis. I think it's already in the message. What is the true message
of a republican country that's--partly, that's how I really--of message to their voters,
this change, change, change. Then, of course, it's easy to say what Obama and his camp are
repeating all the time. What change? Let's look at your politics. If you are basically
saying is less taxes, less state power against Washington, stronger foreign policy and so
on and so on. But wait a minute, the Republican Party is saying this for the last 20 years.
So, where is the change? But I think that's the message is, the message is, you know,
that French proverb [SPEAKS FOREIGN LANGUAGE] the message is let's do some changes which
will guarantee that things basically stay the same or how should I put it, or another
much more ominous duality that I think. You know, they play Republicans on this populace
motif. Look, Sarah Palin, ordinary girl from there, I mean, this giving voice to the rage
of the ordinary people. We don't know what goes on. Washington corrupted, and so on,
and so on just, the message is what, it's--I think it's a much more refined message between
the lines. The true message would be to put it in complicated terms. I think something
like that. You are furious. We are also. But we all know very well that, I mean, you cannot
run a country with this populace, with less money here, more there. The message is I think,
we guarantee to you that, how should I put it, let's pretend that we guarantee that discreetly
we will keep our experts who will do it and so on. They're basically--the message is I
think we are playing a game here. We will have backroom boys who will know how to do
it. And it's the same as we'd, for example, you know, when people tell me Bush, I claim,
okay, Karl Rove impresses me, this backroom boys who do the manipulation. So, my question
to McCain would have been, "Okay. I don't care if you are sincere or not. Just tell
me who is your Karl Rove or how should I put it, no? Who will be the backroom boys who
will be doing the job?" Another thing where Democrats were failing. So, again, my point
is that we shouldn't be naive to get the Republican message and maybe with Democratic, it's similar.
I'm not entering to go there. To get the Republican message, you should definitely not take it
literally, I’m not engaged here in any dark plot like what dark--no, it's in the message
itself that is it’s redoubled by another much more pragmatic message, and so on, and
so on. Okay, I'm not going to details now. Just another thing where I think Republicans
succeeded. Did you notice that Sarah Palin, there is something new about her from what
I can judge? When until now we get feminine women politicians who really made it, they--I'm
now using--not using the terms in a precise way but very vaguely, metaphorically. They
were phallic women. They try to imitate and be stronger than men. You know, like, Indira
Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher, and so on. Here we have something, I think, maybe new. Here
we have a woman who can be sarcastic, aggressive, even, if I may use this horrible term which
is not quite appropriate in the strict sacramentic [ph] sense, maybe even castrating, castrating
in the sense of revealing your fake, your impotence without in anyway renouncing femininity.
Sarah Palin does not play the game of, as a woman I am more men than men. No, see, even
in a magical way, unites three dimensions of femininity. What's her image; a, mother;
b, teacher? It's clear with this glasses and hair. And she is the obvious sex object because
that's the dream, you know, prim teacher and so on, but wait a minute, after she indeed
move--puts the glasses off and unwraps her hair and so on. So, she combines this in a
masterful way with this sarcastic assertiveness. Like, I think, it was really masterful the
way it functioned, not at the level of argument but as a discursive strategy that making fun
of community organizer and so on, and so on. It was feminine sarcasm, feminine making fun
at masculine phallic authority at its best. And I don't think Democrats had found a way
how truly to answer this because--okay, now, this is cheap psychology, I know. But things,
unfortunately, function in this level. It brings, I think, they gently, softly evoke
something which I'm afraid to say publicly, but it's clear. The way Barack Obama is skinny
and big ears and so on, there is something of a slightly emaciated weak guy in him, and
I think all this is subtly referring to death. But again, this is a problem for feminists,
I claim today. How--this is the sad thing because the Democratic, like, is so much caught
in this politically correct feminism, and so on, and so on, they didn’t even notice
that what they were dreaming of, to have a woman who wants power, but not by playing
a weak, not by renouncing her femininity but by violently asserting it, that if were Republicans
beat Democrats at their own terrain that it’s almost--it's a very interesting paradox. And,
you know, it would be wonderful to go into this logic of how there are certain things
which the left should have done, but only a conservative can do it starting with, you
know, only Nixon could have recognized China and so on, all that, all that stuff. So, again,
of course, these all is fake, fake, in the sense that, no, I don't believe she really
is all that. Like yesterday, I also saw her interview when she was talking about that
war with Russia problem. And there, you could have seen for a brief moment--I mean, the
girl doesn’t know what she's talking about, but it doesn’t matter. We should not underestimate
this--again, this ideology. You know, this is where maybe Democrats are a little bit
too naïve when they repeat this mantra. Let's talk about real causes and real issues, and
so on, and so on. So, you should see--not--again, my point is not a cheap psychoanalysis in
the sense of let’s look into some deep Oedipal complex. But just--let's look into the message
which is the old McLuhan [ph] phrase, which is embodied in the--embodied in the annunciation,
in the statement itself. You never say only what you say. The mystery is that what you
say, the way you say it, the style and so on can give a different message, can undermine
that message and so on. That's for example for me, the problem with so-called religious
fundamentalists. Not that they are too fundamentalists, but they are fake; they’re not fundamentalists
at all, my most beloved one for example, beloved in the sense of when I see him. Remember the
good old Jimmy Swaggart, the Southern cause. I had the misfortune of seeing one of his
shows. My god, the official guy's message is, you know, Christianity, repent for your
sins against ego, hedonism, but his show is one big ego-trip. The way he delivers his
messages undermines the message. But he doesn't necessarily undermine you, it can also sustain
you. I was too long, I know. Thanks very much for your patience. I'm just sad we don't have
more time. Thanks very much. Is this a limit, do we still have time for democracy or no
democracy? >> [INDISTINCT].
>> ZIZEK: Okay. >> Yeah, we have the good fortune of having
the room for the next extra half hours, so I think we can take two or three question.
>> ZIZEK: Okay. >> Please use the mics for the question.
>> ZIZEK: I'm sorry. >> Thanks for coming today and speaking to
us. I have a question. I guess, from my perspective, I grow up in America. I went through the public
school system in America. And I really didn’t get any background or even introduction to
philosophy until I went to college. And I don't know if it's similar in Europe, but
I'm just kind of curious of why you think there are certain subjects that are stressed
more to younger individuals as they're going up. And, you know, something like philosophy
that seems very important to me, and what do you think if anything can be done about
that? >> ZIZEK: Oh, my god. This is a big question
because my first reaction is that you know that in the last years, unfortunately, because
I think this is a good thing in Europe. The key, I think, is--one good thing about Europe--you
in the United States you have elementary school and you come out, is it nine or ten years?
And then you have this college, two years or whatever and you go to university, but
in Europe, this two years expand into four, we call it, lyceum, gymnasium, high school.
High school is not just a short passage. High school is where you get serious education,
all sciences are covered, and there, we get philosophy. Unfortunately, Europe is now becoming
more like United States. But the reason, I'm an optimist here is that I think that what--when
I was interviewed, as it was kindly pointed out, I really think that now we need more
and more philosophy in the sense of delinquent problems, which if you want it or not are
philosophical, even the self problems that everybody of us confront. For example, problems
like abortion, brain biogenetics and so on, my god, to get an opinion on that, it's not
just an abstract question of ethics. You have implicitly to decide, "Are we free beings?
Are we free at all?" And here, again, the analysis that I made through that glasses,
it brings out some very funny results. For example, I was always perplexed by the standard
Catholic answer, which is don't mess biogenetically with brain because if you do it, you diminish
man to a biological animal, but we have immortal soul, blah, blah. My god, my problem here
was--wait a minute, if you believe we have an immortal soul, what's then the problem
with messing with brain? I mean I cannot touch the soul. So I think the true message in between
lines of this Catholic anti--anti-biogenetic brain sciences experiment is a different one.
It's a--let's--it's better not to know some things. Let’s avoid knowing that because
knowing too much there may deprive us of our dignity, may diminish our freedom and so on
and so on. So, again, it's not only this. It's other prob--where I think effectively
that we are at such a crucial moment, now, truly, not in the religious sense of a catastrophe
but in a sense of apocalyptic moment that we have to make decisions which are much more
radical. >> Thank you for coming today. I had a question
about how you normally respond to claims that Marxism and radicalism is dead?
>> ZIZEK: I mean, no, mystery here and the mystery is rather this one to put--I will
be very short. Why do I consider myself still some kind of a Marxist without any illusions
and so on. Look, the question we have today is that--the only serious question is this
one. Is Fukuyama Francis, right or not? Even most of today's left, isn’t did there are
Fukuyamaists as it were? They basically adapt liberal democracy, some kind of capitalism
as if not the best at least the least worst, the least bad system, and yet, the idea is
just--you know, when I was young we’ll have a saying, we want socialism with a human face.
What even the left today basically offers is global capitalism with the human face.
Make it a little bit better as Bill Gates would put it, create this capitalism. You
can have your cake and it eat it, you can have profit and help the poor, whatever, to
make it more. So my question is, is this all? Is this our ultimate horizons? Or are there
crises, antagonisms on the horizon? Which for which in the long term--and by long term,
I don't mean this 200 years, but 10, 15 years, 20, global capitalism will not be enough to
solve them. I think there are from biogenetics, even Francis Fukuyama, you know, his next
book on human freedom or whatever, he explicitly says that this biogenetic possibilities undermine
his vision of global capitalism, that one. Then ecology, I claim and so on, so I think
if you want to know my argument in detail, now, I will do an unfair thing and refer to
an another book of mine, In Defense of Lost Causes, in the last chapter, I try precisely
to argue where I see and only in this sense, I'm a Marxist. I claim, let's not be so sure,
this liberal democratic capitalism, maybe is not the ultimate horizon. We should just
keep our mind open. I'm not now saying of course, oh, will there be--that there will
be a new Leninist party or whatever, no, that is over. But we should, that's the limit of
my Marxism. I even don't see a solution because, you know, all Marxist--always have this satisfaction
the train of history is on my side or should I put it, you know, like we are just realizing
historical necessity, no, I don't think. I'm only saying I see ominous signs here and there,
and I want that if global capitalism will be able to cope with it in the long terms.
One of the problem, I see purely economic is the one with which you are dealing a lot,
you again, as Googlers, namely, the problem of intellectual property. I think that more
and more it's exploding as a problem because I think that intellectual property if you
pardon me the expression is in its nature closer to communism than to capitalism. You
have to force it. It's very difficult to contain it within the limits of private property,
which is why you get all these paradoxes. If you allow too strong logic of private property
to determine the domain of knowledge, intellectual achievements, then you get somebody like Bill
Gates. I have nothing against him; I'm just saying that if you have a guy who in 30 years
becomes from a nobody, tinkering in his garage, to the richest man on the earth. Doesn’t
this show that market mechanism, you cannot in any way say that, his wealth reflect his
achievement or how should I put it, you know, it's just market cannot reflect it properly.
So that would be my answer, but read the book, I talk too much. Now, aha, you want it balanced,
left, right, left, right, okay, right again. Okay.
>> I've enjoyed your talk very much; I came a little bit late, so I didn’t hear whether
you said anything about it, but I was wondering if you've used the toilets here at Google?
We have an optical sensor in our toilets. >> ZIZEK: What do they--does it do?
>> Well, when you stand up, it flushes. >> ZIZEK: Yeah, I'm used to them from the
airport and here. >> You get up and you don’t have to touch
anything and I was wondering if--to me it seems that we have some sort of ideology here
that technology will address even the most fundamental human problems and will sort of
transform us and I was wondering… >> ZIZEK: No, no, no, what my answer here
would just have been--no, maybe I am too naïve, utilitarian, but my--I always thought that
they come up with this, because people care about bacteria with that and the point is
rather I think, how to prevent you touching something. Wasn’t this the origin was to
keep you--so it's a--but on the other hand, I agree with you and I've seen even--no, this
is, I mean there it's to go on and on, for example, in Japan, I was told, you know, that
it's also a nice cultural detail that in many public toilets, so I was told, there is music
while you are shitting on the toilet, why? Because people are so sensitive and embarrassed
by potential sounds you make while you are shitting and so on. So the idea is the only
way to make it tolerable is to have a background of music enough, and so on, and so on. So,
I totally—how should I put it--maybe even more than eating, shitting is a measure of
civilization. In the sense of, if you want to see the basic of a civilization, it's not
look at how people eat, look at how people shit. The true color for me would have been
in--and I read somewhere, there are already, the plans which are even worse that--sorry
for vulgarity, you will not even have to do that the--sorry, obscene gestures to press
the shit out. That there is some kind of vacuums stuff, you know and so, it will just be done
for you, totally, how that would we know. That will be pretty terrible, I mean, no?
But again, yes--again, I love details like this, because I think that through them, you
get that ideology, which is like for example in my books, I love another detail. Did you
notice for example, if you know a little bit about history of totalitarianism and how,
if you look at Hitler when he speaks or a Fascist leader, people applaud; Hitler accepts
the applause. Look at the communist leaders speaking, people applause, what does the communist
do? Stands up and joins the applause. This tells everything, it's totally different logic,
Stalin is dictator, is not a master, it's a perfect servant of the people. It's always,
I'm not thinking myself, I'm only you, and it points out a totally different logic, which
can be substantiated by the other claims. For example, I write in a book on Upper Bamum
Gulag, that every year on Stalin's birthday, all the arrested in Gulag, all the people
imprisoned there where collected, even in the darkest years of Stalinism, were assembled
and have to sign a telegram, wishing Comrade Stalin all the best for birthday, and wishing
him greater, even success in building socialism and so on. Now think about it, you cannot
even imagine the same thing in Fascism. Well, together all the Jews in Auschwitz and make
them, all the best wishes telegram to Hitler and so on. You see, I love these details,
like your electronic toilet, or whatever, which, you know, a small meaningless feature,
but like crystal, it shows, it condenses a fundamental difference. You know, sorry to…
>> So, you give a great example about how the TV is a proxy for our laughter, so I'm
going to ask an obvious question, what do you--what is God essentially a proxy for or
do you use Him or Her for? >> ZIZEK: God?
>> Yes. >> ZIZEK: It all depends on what we--on, I
mean, first I don’t think there is one God, I mean, I'm an atheist, so, sorry. So, if
we talk about God, of course, it's about how God functions, as an idea, representation
and so on and so on. I think God is many things, but I think, what God is--it's a very nice
question that you ask, because I think that God is at its most fundamental and radical,
not so much a determinant proxy, but the very structure of having a proxy. God is the original
proxy, I don’t know, but He knows for me. I don’t but He does in Christ. I'm not compassionate
enough, you know, God is this very formal structure, it is by alone anything. I don’t
think we can get over God as simple as that. There is in the very structure of language
not that shit about, is there a gene for emotions of God? But more in a purely semantic way;
the moment we are in language, there is a divine dimension that we presuppose it, that
we practice it in a way. So, again, I would say, God is originally this very dimension
of having a proxy, or how should I put it. And it’s original, this dimension. I don’t
think there ever was originally, a humanity which fully lost itself. No, it's from the
beginning that we have these gaps. What do I mean by this? Let's take a little--let's
say we are half-French, I see you, I stumble on you tomorrow on the street here and we
say can’t--and I tell you, nice to meet you, how are you? We both know that probably,
I'm in a way, lying. First, I don’t really care how are you, if I were really to give
a full right to tell me to F... off. It's none of your business how I am. Or--but you
know what I mean, we--it's a lie, but it's a sincere lie. It's wrong to say hypocrisy.
So I don’t think that we have to presuppose that there was an original, phenomenal, logical
moment when--when people said, "How are you?" They really meant it, authentically. No, the
gap is--from the very beginning here, others--others believe for you, others feel for you and God
would have been--God is this very other dimension, there has to be what Jacques Lacan calls--Jacques
Lacan precisely calls this dimension the Big Upper. The one for whom we have to maintain
appearances and so on and so on. So, yes, it's a very nice question and I love to dwell
on this, all these, thanks very much. >> Thank you so much for coming it's been
fascinating. Google famously has an informal motto, "Don't be Evil," as the next tunnel
observer, what do you think our unknown knowns are?
>> ZIZEK: No, I'm not saying that the true message is--it’s not simply like, oh, in
a Freudian way, you know, when you say, this woman is not my mother then Freud said, ha,
ha, ha, the negation, blah, blah. So I'm not saying that you are fundamentally evil. But
what does interest me is what is the model of evil which is presupposed in it, nonetheless
the inherent logic is that, you know, because why warn them precisely against this? What
is the model of evil here? What is--why the need to react against this? I think it's not--these
kinds of injunctions are never general injunctions. Like of course, nobody should be evil. No,
but which is evil is there? It is--I don’t know, you leave the perception, but you, being
the most powerful search machine and so on, are open to the temptation of manipulation,
I don’t know. The question to be asks would have been, what dimension of evil? On the
other hand, generally, I think that in a way evil is good. No, no, I'm not part of some
crazy, pseudo-dialectic. What I'm saying is that, what is evil? Evil is something which
as it were brutally interrupts the normal run of things. Evil is a cut and so on, which
is right, for example, for traditional pagan religions, Jesus Christ is evil embodied and
in a way, they are right. Because the message of Christianity is--it's over with that karma,
everything circulates and so on; it’s a cut. So I claim that this, "Don’t be Evil,"
it's more like, we are doing something terribly great, let's not do it too fast or whatever.
And I totally, accept this, I think. I totally accept this, what you are doing is evil, which
means, it shakes things the way they were. I mean, something, you are doing something
which is in a way crazy. You also are changing what means being human. I mean, you know,
how it changes our perception that basically, if we are not a total idiot, I'm close to
it, but hope not totally total, like, you know, it's no longer that by bibliography,
whatever, you get everything. This life in a permanent presence as it were, no? So, I
would say that it's a negative recognition that there is a radical dimension to what
you are doing. It affects the normal community life, and so on, and so on. And my conclusion
is that, in order to say don’t be evil, you must already dwell in that space of evil
and I congratulate you for it. Thank you very much.