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Slavoj Zizek: I Am Not the World’s Hippest Philosopher!

The coolest and most influential leftist in Europe tells Salon he battles depression -- and those who worship him

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In “Zizek!” I was very careful that all the clues about my personality are misleading.

Why bother? For fun? 

Because they are idiots! I hate journalists! Filmmakers! I think there is something obscene about it. Of course, now you catch me again: Because if I’m really indifferent, then why do I bother to lie? Yes, there is a problem there…

You know, when I got married in Argentina, I was very embarrassed. People thought I orchestrated the leak of my  wedding photographs. It’s not true!

I’ve seen those photos. For someone who describes love as violent and unnecessary, you seem to have pulled off quite the affair. Your wife [Argentinian model Analia Hounie] wore a long white dress and held a bouquet. How traditional! 

Yes, but did you notice something? If you look at the photos, you can see that I am not happy. Even my eyes are closed. It’s a psychotic escape.  This is not happening. I’m not really here.

I planted some jokes in my wedding. Like, the organizers asked me to select music. So when I approached wife at the ceremony, they played the second movement from Shostakovich’s 10th Symphony, which is usually known as the “portrait of Stalin.” And then when we embraced, the music that they played was Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden.” I enjoyed this in a childish way! But marriage was all a nightmare and so on and so on.

So you did it for your wife, this big wedding?

Yes, she was dreaming about it.

You know what book I really didn’t like from this perspective? Laura Kipnis’ “ Against Love.” Her idea is that the last defense of the bourgeois order is ‘No sex outside love!’ It’s the  Judith Butler stuff: reconstruction, identity,  blah, blah, blah.

I claim it’s just the opposite. Today, passionate engagement is considered almost pathological. I think there is something subversive in saying: This is the man or woman with whom I want to stake everything.

This is why I was never able to do so-called one-night stands. It has to at least have a perspective of eternity.

You seem to hold up [feminist philosopher] Judith Butler as a kind of antithesis. You’ve mentioned her several times already. She’s your straw woman!

Yes, but personally we have great relations! Judith once told me: “Slavoj, you must think I’m a mean woman.” I said: “No, when somebody likes Hegel like you, you cannot be a total idiot!”

Are there historical figures that you relate to?

Robespierre. Maybe a bit of Lenin.

Really? Not Trotsky?

In 1918-19, Trotsky was much harsher than Stalin. And I do like this in him. But I will never forgive him for how he screwed it up in the mid-’20s. He was so stupid and arrogant. You know what he would do? He would come to party meetings carrying French classics like Flaubert, Stendhal, to signal to others: “Fuck you, I am civilized!”

You write that we need to think more and act less. But in the end you identify with Lenin: a famed man of action.

Yes, but wait a minute! Lenin was the right guy. When everything went wrong in 1914, what did he do? He moved to Switzerland and started reading Hegel.

 
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