The Sublime Object of Absurdity

Slavoj Zizek is a charlatan. So is the dude from whom he has ripped off most of his inane gibberish, i.e. Jacques Lacan.


A charlatan is, as per the dictionary definition, a person who pretends to be knowledgeable. This allows charlatans to gain others' trust and praise, which, in turn, allows them to peddle whatever they're dealing, be it goods, services, or themselves --when what they crave is the spotlight.


That was Lacan's case. To a dot. I mean, you do not get to be called "The Shrink from Hell" for nothing. When he botched his chance to be a respectable neurologist, he went into psychoanalysis, ripped off and ruined a woman's life, and continued his journey to stardom from thereon. Despite being a self-professed Freudian, and Freud fixing the minimum length of a consultation to 50 minutes, Lacan reduced them to 10 minutes (for the same fee!) and lied his teeth to medically justify his money making scheme, which eventually got him expelled from the International Psychoanalytical Association in the early 1960s. So he set his own kingdom, the French School of Psychoanalysis, and it is well known that he often conducted his tiny sessions while having a suit tailored or a haircut. Once he had a cult, followers, and a name, the "fruits" of his effort paid off handsomely in terms of cash and patient suicides. How the Shrink from Hell managed to sell his quackery to an army of gullible suckers is hinted by Sokal and Bricmont in their fascinating "Fashionable Nonsense". Like postmodernists today, he used terms from fields alien to him and milked disparate scientific concepts in order to elevate the complexity of his writing, adding neologisms and tons of jargon to create a phenomenon akin to the emperor walking around town with invisible clothes.


So, this is the quack worshipped and continuously ripped off by Zizek. What he does is to drag a plethora of Lacanian concepts into social theory and use them in a way which wasn't the intended one. Add to that mix a complete disregard for historical facts and plenty other concepts from fields which he doesn't get, and a chaotic style of argumentation in roundabouts, and you get Zizek. And the more bombastic and chaotic he gets, the more his fans love him. And it is not difficult to see why. When one confuses verbosity and big words with depth, it is tremendously embarrassing to be honest and say "I do not understand". Also, if one's identity has been built around a band of groupies, becoming the outcast for telling everyone that the emperor is wearing no clothes can be tremendously painful.


In a nutshell, Zizek is a really, really bad imitation of a continental Marxist. Ripping off Lacanian psychoanalysis and borrowing from quantum physics (which I bet my tail he knows little about), the showman says that the real is not real but it is always in the process of becoming, leaving an empty space where the real is present by means of its absence. Chew on that for a bit. And from there he goes into binaries, trying to sound pretty deep by putting contradictions one in front of the other. Because, as you very well know by now, Neomarxism, deconstruction and all that jazz is about that: interpreting over and over again on the basis of binaries, to unearth the contradictions of the Western liberal tradition. Pure anti-Enlightenment comedy, mind you.


So, beware of charlatans. If something cannot be explained in one or two phrases, simply and succinctly, and without the use of polysyllabic jargon, then it is very possible that your mind (and resources) are about to be taken for a ride.