Ljubljana related

11 Oct 2019, 14:37 PM

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

26 Aug 2019, 19:23 PM

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)”.

All our stories on Žižek are here, while a list of 70 quotes for his 70th birthay is here

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.

20 Apr 2019, 20:27 PM

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

20 Mar 2019, 12:30 PM

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!

  1. Without the communist oppression, I am absolutely sure I would now be a local stupid professor of philosophy in Ljubljana.
  2. I do all my work to escape myself. I don't believe in looking into yourself. If you do this, you just discover a lot of shit. I think what we should do is throw ourselves out of ourselves. The truth is not deep in ourselves. The truth is outside.
  3. We Slovenians are even better misers than you Scottish. You know how Scotland began? One of us Slovenians was spending too much money, so we put him on a boat and he landed in Scotland.
  4. Here is an old phrase I like: 'The only way to the universal good is that we all become strangers to ourselves.' You imagine looking at yourself with a foreign gaze, through foreign eyes. I think this is something that could be the greatest thing in humanity. You are never really limited just to your own perspective. I don’t like the false identity politics of multiculturalism which says that you are enclosed in your culture. No, we have all this amazing capacity to be surprised, not by others, but by ourselves seeing how what we are doing is strange.
  5. The fact that a cloud from a minor volcanic eruption in Iceland—a small disturbance in the complex mechanism of life on the Earth—can bring to a standstill the aerial traffic over an entire continent is a reminder of how, with all its power to transform nature, humankind remains just another species on the planet Earth. The socioeconomic impact of such a minor outburst is due to our technological development (air travel)—a century ago, such an eruption would have passed unnoticed. Technological development makes us more independent from nature. At the same time, at a different level, it makes us more dependent on nature’s whims.
  6. When we are shown scenes of starving children in Africa, with a call for us to do something to help them, the underlying ideological message is something like: Don't think, don't politicize, forget about the true causes of their poverty, just act, contribute money, so that you will not have to think! 
  7. What characterizes a really great thinker is that they misrecognize the basic dimension of their own breakthrough.
  8. European civilisation finds it easier to tolerate different ways of life precisely on account of what its critics usually denounce as its weakness and failure, namely the alienation of social life. One of the things alienation means is that distance is woven into the very social texture of everyday life. Even if I live side by side with others, in my normal state I ignore them. I am allowed not to get too close to others. I move in a social space where I interact with others obeying certain external ‘mechanical’ rules, without sharing their inner world. Perhaps the lesson to be learned is that sometimes a dose of alienation is indispensable for peaceful coexistence. Sometimes alienation is not a problem but a solution.
  9. The pressure ‘to do something’ here is like the superstitious compulsion to make some gesture when we are observing a process over which we have no real influence. Are not our acts often such gestures? The old saying ‘Don't just talk, do something!’ is one of the most stupid things one can say, even measured by the low standards of common sense. Perhaps, rather, the problem lately has been that we have been doing too much, such as intervening in nature, destroying the environment, and so forth... Perhaps it is time to step back, think and say the right thing. True, we often talk about something instead of doing it; but sometimes we also do things in order to avoid talking and thinking about them. Such as throwing $700 billion at a problem [the 2008 financial crisis] instead of reflecting on how it arose in the first place.
  10. The problem for us is not are our desires satisfied or not. The problem is how do we know what we desire.
  1. For Lacan, language is a gift as dangerous to humanity as the horse was to the Trojans: it offers itself to our use free of charge, but once we accept it, it colonizes us.
  2. I did teach a class here [at the University of Cincinnati] and all of the grading was pure bluff...I even told students at the New School for example… if you don’t give me any of your shitty papers, you get an A. If you give me a paper I may read it and not like it and you can get a lower grade. [He received no papers that semester]
  3. My eternal fear is that if, for a brief moment, I stopped talking... you know, the whole spectacular appearance would disintegrate; people would think there is nobody and nothing there. This is my fear, as if I am nothing who pretends all the time to be somebody and has to be hyperactive all the time... just to fascinate people enough so that they don't notice that there is nothing.
  4. Beyond the fiction of reality, there is the reality of the fiction. 
  5. The experience that we have of our lives from within, the story we tell ourselves about ourselves in order to account for what we are doing, is fundamentally a lie – the truth lies outside, in what we do.
  6. It's not the same thing: coffee without cream or coffee without milk. What you don't get is part of the identity of what you get.
  7. I think that the task of philosophy is not to provide answers, but to show how the way we perceive a problem can be itself part of a problem.
  8. [T]his readiness to assume the guilt for the threats to our environment is deceptively reassuring: We like to be guilty since, if we are guilty, it all depends on us. We pull the strings of the catastrophe, so we can also save ourselves simply by changing our lives. What is really hard for us (at least in the West) to accept is that we are reduced to the role of a passive observer who sits and watches what our fate will be. To avoid this impotence, we engage in frantic, obsessive activities. We recycle old paper, we buy organic food, we install long-lasting light bulbs—whatever—just so we can be sure that we are doing something. We make our individual contribution like the soccer fan who supports his team in front of a TV screen at home, shouting and jumping from his seat, in the belief that this will somehow influence the game's outcome. 
  9. True love is precisely the […] move of forsaking the promise of Eternity itself for an imperfect individual.
  10. [There is an] old joke about the difference between Soviet-style bureaucratic Socialism and Yugoslav self-management Socialism: in Russia, members of the nomenklatura drive themselves in expensive limousines, while in Yugoslavia, ordinary people themselves ride in limousines through their representatives.
  1. We live in weird times in which we are compelled to behave as if we are free, so that the unsayable is not our freedom but the very fact of our servitude.
  2. Populism is ultimately sustained by the frustrated exasperation of ordinary people, by the cry I don't know what's going on, but I've just had enough of it! It cannot go on! It must stop!
  3. The only choice is that between direct or indirect relations of domination and exploitation, with any alternative dismissed as utopian.
  4. We don't really want to get what we think that we want. I am married to a wife and relationship with her are cold and I have a mistress. And all the time I dream oh my god if my wife were to disappear - I'm not a murderer but let us say- that it will open up a new life with the mistress. Then, for some reason, the wife goes away, you lose the mistress. You thought this is all I want, when you have it there, you turn out it was a much more complex situation. It was not to live with the mistress, but to keep her as a distance as on object of desire about which you dream. This is not an excessive example, I claim this is how things function. We don't really want what we think we desire
  5. I have no physical fitness whatsoever. I don’t like sport. In my country skiing is popular. I find it nonsense. You climb a mountain and you slide down. Why not stay at the bottom and read a good book?
  6. What if eternity is a sterile, impotent, lifeless domain of pure potentialities, which, in order fully to actualise itself, has to pass through temporal existence?
  7. Yeah, because I'm extremely romantic here. You know what is my fear? This postmodern, permissive, pragmatic etiquette towards sex. It's horrible. They claim sex is healthy; it's good for the heart, for blood circulation, it relaxes you. They even go into how kissing is also good because it develops the muscles here – this is horrible, my God! It's no longer that absolute passion. I like this idea of sex as part of love, you know: 'I'm ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever.' There is something nice, transcendent, about it. I remain incurably romantic. 
  8. I have become more aggressive over time. Some say I am more right wing, which I am absolutely not. On the refugee crisis, we should drop the patronising “They are warm people.” No, there are murderers among them in the same way there are among us. The liberal left prohibit writing anything bad about refugees, which results in the anti-immigrant right monopolising.
  9. I’m unable to have one-night stands. In my city, Ljubljana, you can tell exactly which women I’ve slept with, because I married them.
  10. We’re not dreamers. We’re awaking from a dream turning into a nightmare. We’re not destroying anything. We’re watching the system destroy itself.
  1. There is an old story about a worker suspected of stealing: every evening, as he leaves the factory, the wheelbarrow he rolls in front of him is carefully inspected. The guards can find nothing. It is always empty. Finally, the penny drops: what the worker is stealing are the wheelbarrows themselves...
  2. I am a good Hegelian. If you have a good theory, forget about the reality. 
  3. Love is what makes sex more than masturbation. If there is no love even if you are really with a partner you masturbate with a partner.
  4. Words are never 'only words'; they matter because they define the contours of what we can do. 
  5. Writing saved my life. Years ago, because of some private love troubles, I was in a suicidal mood for a couple of weeks. I told myself: “I could kill myself, but I have a text to finish. First I will finish it, then I will kill myself.” Then there was another text, and so on and so on, and here I still am.
  6. Liberals always say about totalitarians that they like humanity, as such, but they have no empathy for concrete people, no? OK, that fits me perfectly. Humanity? Yes, it's OK – some great talks, some great arts. Concrete people? No, 99% are boring idiots.
  7. There is an old joke about socialism as the synthesis of the highest achievements of the whole human history to date: from prehistoric societies it took primitivism; from the Ancient world it took slavery; from medieval society brutal domination; from capitalism exploitation; and from socialism the name.
  8. In an old Yugoslav joke mocking police corruption, a policeman returns home unexpectedly and finds his wife naked in their marital bed, obviously hot and excited. Suspecting that he surprised her with a lover, he starts to look around the room for a hidden man. The wife goes pale when he leans down to look under the bed; but after some brief whispering, the husband rises with a satisfied, smug smile and says ‘Sorry, my love, false alarm. There is no one under the bed!’, while his hand is holding tightly a couple of high denomination banknotes.
  9. Liberal democracy - as you know, in the old days, we were saying we want socialism with a human face. Today's left effectively offers global capitalism with a human face, more tolerance, more rights and so on. So the question is, is this enough or not? Here I remain a Marxist: I think not.
  10. I think boredom is the beginning of every authentic act. (...) Boredom opens up the space, for new engagements. Without boredom, no creativity. If you are not bored, you just stupidly enjoy the situation in which you are.
  1. Reality is for those who cannot face their dream.
  2. There is a multitude of forms of this appearing of un-freedom in the guise of its opposite: in being deprived of universal healthcare, we are told that we are being given a new freedom of choice (to choose our healthcare provider); when we can no longer rely on long-term employment and are compelled to search for a new precarious job every couple of years, we are told that we are being given the opportunity to reinvent ourselves and discover our creative potential; when we have to pay for the education of our children, we are told that we are now able to become ‘entrepreneurs of the self’, acting like a capitalist freely choosing how to invest the resources he possesses (or has borrowed). In education, health, travel we are constantly bombarded by imposed ‘free choices’; forced to make decisions for which we are mostly not qualified (or do not possess enough information), we increasingly experience our freedom as a burden that causes unbearable anxiety.
  3. I think that the task of philosophy is not to provide answers, but to show how the way we perceive a problem can be itself part of a problem.
  4. What makes Berlusconi so interesting as a political phenomenon is the fact that he, as the most powerful politician in his country, acts more and more shamelessly: he not only ignores or neutralizes any legal investigation into the criminal activity that has allegedly supported his private business interests, he also systematically undermines the basic dignity associated with being the head of state.
  5. Strange [that] Christianity, whose most pressing anxiety seems to be that God’s grace might prove to be all too free on this side, that hell, instead of being populated with so many people, might some day prove to be empty!
  6. Who dares to strike today, when having the security of a permanent job is itself becoming a privilege?
  7. Wearing a mask can thus be a strange thing: sometimes, more often than we tend to believe, there is more truth in the mask that in what we assume to be our real self.
  8. Memento mori should be read: don't forget to die.
  9. Although the ruling class disagrees with the populists' moral agenda it tolerates the moral wars as a means of keeping the lower classes in check, that is, it enables the latter to articulate their fury without disturbing the economic status quo.
  10. A critical analysis of the present global constellation -- one which offers no clear solution, no ‘practical advice’ on what to do, and provides no light at the end of the tunnel, since one is well aware that this light might belong to a train crashing towards us -- usually meets with reproach: ‘Do you mean we should do nothing? Just sit and wait?’ One should gather the courage to answer: ‘YES! Precisely that!’ There are situations when the only truly ‘practical’ thing to do is to resist the temptation to engage immediately and to ‘wait and see’ by means of a patient, critical analysis.
  1. Every civilisation that disavows its barbarian potential has already capitulated to barbarism.
  2. Think about the strangeness of today's situation. Thirty, forty years ago, we were still debating about what the future will be: communist, fascist, capitalist, whatever. Today, nobody even debates these issues. We all silently accept global capitalism is here to stay. On the other hand, we are obsessed with cosmic catastrophes: the whole life on Earth disintegrating, because of some virus, because of an asteroid hitting the earth, and so on. So the paradox is, that it's much easier to imagine the end of all life on earth than a much more modest radical change in capitalism.
  3. When the Turkish communist writer Panait Istrati visited the Soviet Union in the mid-1930s, the time of the big purges and show trials, a Soviet apologist trying to convince him about the need for violence against the enemies evoked the proverb ‘You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs,’ to which Istrati tersely replied: ‘All right. I can see the broken eggs. Where’s this omelette of yours?’ We should say the same about the austerity measures imposed by IMF: the Greeks would have the full right to say, ‘OK, we are breaking our eggs for all of Europe, but where’s the omelette you are promising us?’
  4. One does not wait for the 'ripe' objective circumstances to make a revolution, circumstances become 'ripe' through the political struggle itself.
  5. It is the ultimate irony of history that radical individualism serves as the ideological justification of the unconstrained power of what the large majority of individuals experience as a vast anonymous power, which, without any democratic public control, regulates their lives.
  6. My instinct as a philosopher is that we are effectively approaching a multicentric world, which means we need to ask new, and for the traditional left, unpleasant questions.
  7. If we only change reality in order to realise our dreams, and do not change these dreams themselves, sooner or later we regress back to the old reality.
  8. I despise the kind of book which tells you how to live, how to make yourself happy! Philosophers have no good news for you at this level! I believe the first duty of philosophy is making you understand what deep shit you are in!
  9. Our biological body itself is a form of hardware that needs re-programming through tantra like a new spiritual software which can release or unblock its potential.
  10. "An enemy is someone whose story you have not heard". Okay, then maybe if we had listened to Hitler's story he would not be an enemy? No, there are such things as real enemies and we need to fight them.
  1. Ideology is strong exactly because it is no longer experienced as ideology… we feel free because we lack the very language to articulate our unfreedom.
  2. So when the ruling ideology enjoins us to enjoy sex, not to feel guilty about it, since we are not bound by any prohibitions whose violations should make us feel guilty, the price we pay for this absence of guilt is anxiety.
  3. What is the Absolute? Something that appears to us in fleeting experiences – say, through the gentle smile of a beautiful woman, or even through the warm caring smile of a person who may otherwise seem ugly and rude. In such miraculous but extremely fragile moments, another dimension transpires through our reality. As such, the Absolute is easily corroded; it slips all too easily through our fingers and must be handled as carefully as a butterfly 
  4. I like to search for class struggle in strange domains. For example it is clear that in classical Hollywood, the couple of vampires and zombies designates class struggle. Vampires are rich, they live among us. Zombies are the poor, living dead, ugly, stupid, attacking from outside. And it's the same with cats and dogs. Cats are lazy, evil, exploitative, dogs are faithful, they work hard, so if I were to be in government, I would tax having a cat, tax it really heavy.
  5. As soon as we renounce fiction and illusion, we lose reality itself; the moment we subtract fictions from reality, reality itself loses its discursive-logical consistency. 
  6. Surprised at seeing a horse-shoe above the door of [Niels] Bohr’s country house, a fellow scientist exclaimed that he did not share the superstitious belief that horse-shoes kept evil spirits away, to which Bohr snapped back, ‘I don’t believe in it either. I have it there because I was told that it works even when one doesn’t believe in it’. This is indeed how ideology functions today: nobody takes democracy or justice seriously, we are all aware of their corrupted nature, but we participate in them, we display our belief in them, because we assume that they work even if we do not believe in them.
  7. When the subject goes behind the curtain of appearance to search for the hidden essence, he thinks he will discover something that was always there; he does not realise that in passing behind the curtain, he is bringing with him the very thing that he will find.
  8. You cannot change people but you can change the system so that people are not pushed into doing evil things.
  9. Happiness was never important. The problem is that we don't know what we really want. What makes us happy is not to get what we want. But to dream about it. Happiness is for opportunists. So I think that the only life of deep satisfaction is a life of eternal struggle, especially struggle with oneself. If you want to remain happy, just remain stupid. Authentic masters are never happy; happiness is a category of slaves.
  10. Come on. I don't have any problem violating my own insights in practice.
16 Jan 2019, 15:26 PM

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.

13 Jul 2018, 20:28 PM

Is it Čompa?

04 Jun 2018, 22:16 PM

Spoiler – he comes out in favour of Levica.

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