Slavoj Zizek: I Am Not the World’s Hippest Philosopher!
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But my apartment has to be clean; I am a control freak. That is why I was disappointed when I did my military service. It wasn’t that I was a confused philosopher and I couldn’t handle the discipline. My shock was that the old Yugoslav army was, beneath the surface of order and discipline, a chaotic society where nothing functioned. I was deeply, deeply disappointed with the army for being too chaotic.
My ideal would be to live in a monastery.
Let’s run with that. You have said before: “I am a philosopher, not a prophet.” And yet, your followers are remarkably pious; many worship you as a prophet. Why?
Well, I’m ambiguous on this. On the one hand, I return to a more classical Marxism. Like: ‘It cannot last! This is all crazy! The hour of reckoning will come, blah blah blah.’
Also, I really hate all of this politically correct, cultural studies bullshit. If you mention the phrase “postcolonialism,” I say, “Fuck it!” Postcolonialism is the invention of some rich guys from India who saw that they could make a good career in top Western universities by playing on the guilt of white liberals.
So you offer respite to the 20-something who wants to escape the fruits of postmodernism: political correctness, gender studies, etc.?
Yes, yes! That’s good!
But here I also have a bit of megalomania. I almost conceive of myself as a Christ figure. OK! Kill me! I’m ready to sacrifice myself. But the cause will remain! And so on…
But, paradoxically, I despise public appearances. This is why I almost stopped teaching entirely. The worst thing for me is contact with students. I like universities without students. And I especially hate American students. They think you owe them something. They come to you … Office hours!
How very European.
Yes, here I’m totally for Europe — and specifically for the German authoritarian tradition. England is already corrupted. In England, students think they can simply stop you and ask you a question. I find this repulsive.
That said, I quite admire the United States and Canada. In some ways, they are better than Europe now. France and Germany, for instance, are currently in a very low state intellectually — especially Germany. Nothing interesting is happening there. Yet it surprises me how intellectually alive The United States and Canada are. Let me give you an example: Hegelian studies. If Europeans want to understand Hegel, they go to Toronto or Chicago or Pittsburgh.
What would Hegel think of your popularity?
He wouldn’t have any problems with it. He even wrote — I think at the end of “ Phenomenology“ — that if, as a philosopher, you really articulate the spirit of the time, the result is popularity … even if people don’t really understand you. They somehow feel it. It’s a beautiful dialectical question: How do the people feel it?
You’re a devout Lacanian. Would it be awkward for you if [psychoanalyst and psychologist Jacques] Lacan were alive today?
Definitely! Because he was such an opportunist. And he would not have liked my direction. Theoretically, he was completely anti-Hegelian. But I try to prove that, without being aware of it, he was actually a Hegelian.
Prohibited! I never ask this question. I don’t care. Another prohibition is that I never analyze myself. The idea of doing psychoanalysis on myself is disgusting. Here, I’m sort of a conservative Catholic pessimist. I think that if we look deep into ourselves, we discover a lot of shit. It is best not to know.