When it comes to famous Slovenians it’s fair to say that Melania most likely tops the list, even if not everyone who knows her name and face could say where she was born. After that there’s a considerable gap, but then let’s put the young basketball sensation Luka Dončić in current second place, and then perhaps some way further down Jan Oblak, four-time winner of the Ricardo Zamora Trophy for the best goalkeeper in Spain’s La Liga.
But only one Slovenian has their own adjective, at least four full-length documentaries on their work, and a warm welcome in TV studios and newspapers around the world – the perennial enfant terrible, “rock star philosopher” and man about Ljubljana, Slavoj Žižek.
Related: 70 Quotes for Žižek’s 70th Birthday
Whether familiar or not with the man you’re in for a treat with the following documentary, released in 2005 in the first flush of his wider fame and a good introduction to his personality, history and work. A figure who manages to cross both high and low cultures, having published in the most prestigious journals as well as the catalogue for Abercrombie & Fitch (Back to School 2003 – The Sex Ed Issue NSFW, pdf), he’s comfortable aiming his considerable intellect at anything and everything from Hegel to Kinder Eggs, the crisis of contemporary capitalism to the hermeneutics of toilets, with something to delight and offend everyone in between. So if you enjoy the movie, just search the name on YouTube and follow Slavoj down the rabbit hole. Enjoy it!
The Guardian reports that Slavoj Žižek and Miha Mazzini are among those writers less than impressed with Peter Handke winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, due to his support for Slobodan Milošević during the Balkan War, joining names such as Salman Rushdie and Hari Kunzru in their condemnation of the Austrian author, who has Slovenian roots on his maternal side.
Žižek, the “rock star philosopher” and most famous Slovenian cultural figure on the international scene told the British publication:
In 2014, Handke called for the Nobel to be abolished, saying it was a ‘false canonisation’ of literature. The fact that he got it now proves that he was right. This is Sweden today: an apologist of war crimes gets a Nobel prize while the country fully participated in the character assassination of the true hero of our times, Julian Assange. Our reaction should be: not the literature Nobel prize for Handke but the Nobel peace prize for Assange.
The story also quotes the Slovenian author Miha Mazzini as follows:
Some artists sold their human souls for ideologies (Hamsun and Nazism), some for hate (Celine and his rabid antisemitism), some for money and power (Kusturica) but the one that offended me the most was Handke with his naivety for the Milošević regime. And it’s personal. I will never forget the cold winter when Yugoslavia was falling apart and there was nothing on the shelves of the stores. We were a young family and my daughter was a toddler and it was bitterly cold. I’d spent the whole day in the queue for the heating oil and in the evening, almost frozen, I started reading Handke’s essay about Yugoslavia. He wrote of how he envied me: while those Austrians and Germans, those westerners, had fallen for consumerism, we, Yugoslavs, had to queue and fight for everything. Oh, how close to the nature we were! How less materialistic and more spiritualised we were! Even at the time, I found him cruel and totally self-absorbed in his naivety.
You can read the complete article here.
Related: 70 Quotes for Žižek’s 70th Birthday
August 26, 2019
A summer school of philosophy titled “Fail better!” began this Monday with a week of lectures from Slovenia’s most prominent thinkers, also known as the “Ljubljana school of psychoanalysis”. In t week that follows, Mladen Dolar, Alenka Zupančič and Slavoj Žižek will present their views on the foundations of their thought as well as their current work to a maximum of 120 participants from 17 countries, most of whom are coming from Denmark and Germany. The three will meet to give lectures at their Alma Mater, the Faculty of Arts of the University of Ljubljana, and the working language of all the events will be English.
Žižek will present a series of lectures titled “Hegel with Neuralink”, which take as their entry point “Neuralink, an American neuro-technological company, founded by Elon Musk and eight others, dedicated to developing a mind-machine interface (MMI)”.
Alenka Zupančič’s lectures are titled “The Real and Its Passions”, which as their “starting and focal point take the concept of the Real that emerged in psychoanalytic theory (Freud, Lacan)”.
Mladen Dolar will be speaking in a series called “What, If Anything, Is the Other?”, which “will attempt to explore the psychoanalytic notion of the big Other, given the paradox that on the one hand it is absolutely necessary and on the other, according to Lacan, it is lacking – how can it be both at the same time?.”
The University of Ljubljana is currently marking it’s 100 anniversary of existence which is being celebrated with 100 various events throughout the year. The summer school of philosophy is perhaps one of the most significant of events due to the global prominence of the authors who are going to present their thoughts together at the place of the beginning of their studies.
For details click here.
STA, 20 April 2019 - Slavoj Žižek, the internationally acclaimed Slovenian philosopher, and Canadian bestselling author and psychologist Jordan Peterson, faced off their views on capitalism vs Marxism in a packed auditorium in Toronto last night.
The long-awaited debate at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts opened with an introduction by moderator Stephen Blackwood, who pointed out how unusual it was to see "the country's largest theatre packed for an intellectual debate".
According to the newspaper Dnevnik, Peterson admitted that capitalism produces inequality, but added that it also created wealth for the poor, while all other systems produced only inequality. "The poor are not getting poorer under capitalism; the poor are getting richer under capitalism," he said.
He criticised Marx for being uncritical about his own ideas when writing the Communist Manifesto. He does not agree with the focus on the economic class struggle, arguing that biological differences were are more important and that is where hierarchies emerge.
Peterson also defended the motive of profit as a reward for good work, what enabled growth and showed what the demand was for. There is no surprise then that Peterson will keep the profit form ticket sales, while Žižek will give it away for charity.
Žižek acknowledged deficiencies of communism and communist regimes, offering the example of China and its rise since it added the capitalist system to authoritarianism, asking the audience whether the Chinese were happier now than they were under communism.
He said that the stories about the disintegration of traditional values and the refugee crisis were false ideological stories made up by people in order to find the justification for their actions, in this case to conceal the problems of capitalism as such.
He believes that capitalism today is also being corroded inside by the threat of climate change and depletion of natural resources because of the logic of expanding production.
He pointed out the paradox of an increasingly linked but at the same time divided world, and the willingness to mitigate the consequences but not to deal with the root causes of global problems. He does not think solving these is a utopia, but rather that it is a utopia to expect the problems would not need to be solved.
Žižek sees equality as an opportunity for an individual to pursue creative and personal aspirations instead of just trying to satisfy basic conditions for survival.
He reproached Peterson for being active in society because he was aware it was not enough to advise an individual to get their lives sorted out, as this was really possible only when made possible by the society's structure and its system.
Peterson, who expressed surprise that he was not taking to a hard-line communist, partly agreed with Žižek, but also insisted that individuals had to take on the responsibility to solve their own problems to be able to take on bigger, even social problems.
The Žižek-Peterson debate, themed Happiness: Capitalism vs Marxism, was one of the most eagerly awaited events in the academic world, featuring two ideologically completely different thinkers.
The initiative for the debate was made by Peterson in November last year as he visited Ljubljana to promote his book d 12 Rules for Life. The 3,200 tickets for the Toronto debate sold out quickly, with resellers charging exorbitant fees - as much as $950 for a seat. The debate was made available online at a cost of $14.95.
All our stories on Žižek are here
March 21, 1949, is the birthdate of the man who – until the arrival of Melania Trump – was arguably the most famous living Slovene, the “rock star philosopher” and Ljubljana-native Slavoj Žižek, who can still be seen walking the streets of the city when not holed up in his apartment writing or travelling to one of his many lectures, debates, interviews or other public appearances around the world. So in honour of the 70th birthday of man who’s done so much to put his hometown and country on the international intellectual map, we present 70 quotes on various topics and in no particular order to make you think, smile, frown or throw your electronic device across the room in frustration. Vse najboljše, Mr Žižek, and for the rest of you – enjoy your symptoms!
While Marie Kondo may be the reigning queen of household order, Slovenia's own Slavoj Žižek is not without his own radical approach to storage and home decor, as seen in this clip from the documentary Žižek! (2005) in which he gives a brief tour of his Ljubljana apartment.