Slavoj žIžEk, Rockstar Philosopher
Žižek has become a rockstar of thought, an intellectual that gathers crowds and harvests applause.To think, analyze and invent, he (Pierre Menard) also wrote to me, are not anomalous acts, but the normal respiration of the intelligence. –Borges, “Pierre Menard, Author of Don Quixote”
In the history of philosophy, few characters have become famous inside the closed up circle of intellectual rings, placing themselves successfully in the public eye. This position is also reinforced by the upheld opinions that go against the status quo and general conventions.
Maybe that is why Slavoj Žižek’s figure (Ljubljana, Slovenia, 1949) stands out so importantly in today’s thinking panorama. Polemical, awkward, critic, but also approachable and close to the most urgent matters of our current reality, Žižek and his work will hardly fit in just one field of knowledge or a specific area within the political specter of our times.
Psychoanalysis, philosophy and social theory are the disciplines he excels at, but not the only ones he masters: he is constantly alluding to literature, music and films, in all of their registries, be them from the so-called high-culture, or blatantly pop: Wagner, Hitchcock, Science Fiction authors, the most recent blockbusters, etc.
This apparently indiscriminate content-mixture is the reason why, when Žižek started to gain fame the Western world, he was accused of “trivializing” such important theoretical developments as Lacan’s psychoanalysis, Hegelian or Marxist traditions, by reducing their alleged conceptual complexity into examples taken out of Hollywood films or highly recognizable pop references.
This resource, however, and one of his most characteristic features, is inscribed in a certain contemporary sensibility that some identify as postmodern, as well as with a sort of irreverent, iconoclastic spirit that is always relevant within Philosophy and similar disciplines ––one that tries to make available any kind of knowledge meant for the freedom of conscience.
Thus, Žižek has become a rockstar of thought, an intellectual that gathers crowds and harvests standing ovations; that is chased for his autograph and picture, but also for his opinion and answers.
Is this for the good of philosophy? Most likely. For, among all the praises that Žižek’s work could receive, the most relevant one is that his presence never leaves anyone feeling indifferent: whether in favor or against his arguments, in disagreement with his solutions or agreeing with his questions, Žižek skillfully spreads the impulse to evaluate, argument, disagree: he never stops thinking.
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