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“spiritual elitism” and the event

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Eagleton on Zizek this week in the TLS:

Take, for example, his “defence” of Heidegger’s espousal of Nazism in the 1930s, and of Michel Foucault’s championing of the Iranian revolution some forty years later. Both commitments Žižek views as deeply objectionable; but in his view they were at least commitments to the need for revolutionary change, even if both Heidegger and Foucault backed the wrong horse in this respect. Behind this case lies Žižek’s indebtedness to the leading French philosopher Alain Badiou, to whom this book devotes some critically sympathetic pages. For Badiou, the good life, ethically and politically speaking, consists in a tenacious adherence to some “Event” which bursts unpredictably on the historical scene, transforms the very coordinates of human reality and refashions from top to toe the men and women who remain loyal to it. One of the atheistic Badiou’s examples of such an event is the life and death of Christ.
There is a certain rather Gallic formalism about this notion. As with existentialism, the precise content of the redemptive event, as opposed to the miraculous fact of its occurrence, is not always the main point at stake. Žižek agrees with Badiou that it is better to cling disastrously to such a revelation of truth than to remain indifferent to it, which is surely not the case. There is nothing admirable in fidelity for its own sake. Luke-warmness is not the most heinous of crimes. French radical thought has often turned on a contrast between some privileged moment of truth and the bovine inauthenticity of everyday life, and Badiou is no exception in this respect. There is a spiritual elitism about such ethics, which is hard to square with this book’s suggestive reflections on the idea of democracy.

Written by adswithoutproducts

April 27, 2008 at 11:26 pm

Posted in everyday

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