The New Statesman is a ‘British political and cultural magazine’ – it’s mostly a place for budding writers to attempt journalism, or sarcastic British public intellectuals to write editorials. It’s the kind of place where articles begin with a tid-bit of academic general knowledge, a theoretical curio, which is immediately dispensed with when the underequipped authors drop their crow-bars. Though if they’re ambitions enough, they’ll pick them back up for the conclusion, to give the piece the illusion that it’s a coherent whole.
However clichéd, such sandboxes are vital places for writers to practice in public, a journalistic busking to save our revered stages from accidental dissonance. It must then be very intimidating when attempting a review of Zizek to have him pop-up with a reply. And especially here when there is no alternative: every review of Zizek is an attempt. It would be a rather mean thing for an A-List singer to walk past a street performance of their song and set-up opposite to prove that the performer has it all wrong.
Nevertheless Zizek occasionally writes for the New Statesman, and we might read some calculation into a dismissive review of his books published there (‘perhaps if I sing terribly outside his house, he might come out!’).
I’m not going to be too critical of the reviewer however, he’s done nothing wrong in his misreading. Zizek knows very well how mischievous he is: with a deliberate relish (enjoyment, perhaps?) he produces statements designed to be misread.
Yes yes, we shouldn’t be idiots. We should be good readers of the text and understand what he meant – the Zizek religion is of course Jewish: the text has to be interrogated, not quoted verbatim!
We, however, either need to incorporate some eye-rolling into our reading of his replies like this; or Zizek needs to be more honest. Like a theoretical Loki, he’ll just keep on going: “oh Nazism Good? I never said that! I said it was GOoD!”; “Violence? Why never of course! Only vIolencE!”…
No doubt he sees himself as a Lacanian figure, kissing the cheek of culture at the right moment so as to disturb its psychical neuroses – each polemical world a calculated cure. From the other side however, it feels very much like an old man has spit all over our faces. And when we decide to avoid the next session, he’ll call us to remind us that this moist therapy is essential.
Well, Yes, OK, Zizek: I’ll smack my son at his bar ziztka when he reads too much into Less than Nothing when you stop setting drool-ful traps for the teenage mind.