Noam Chomsky Slams Žižek and Lacan


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“I’m not interested in theory, what I meant is, I’m not interested in posturing–using fancy terms like polysyllables and pretending you have a theory when you have no theory whatsoever.”

“So I’m not interested in that kind of posturing. Žižek is an extreme example of it.”


Posturing? Say whaaat?!!! Chomsky vs Zizek! Let the smackdown begin! Go on… please, entertain me!


David Harvey – in the flesh

I went to this panel discussion about housing and homesteading/squatting at the New School and, whaddoyaknow, the moderator points David Harvey is sitting two seats away from me.

so i was like, 

“yo, you david harvey? i read your book for my soc class last semester,”

and he was like, “word, i wrote that”

and i was like, “i dug it, it put the credit crisis into real perspective, like in a global and historical context, ya feel?”

and he was like, “yee”

and i was like, “i gotta jet, but keep the hustle”

and he was like “keep the hustle”


This didn’t really happen, but i was (unexpectedly) a little star struck.  Thought the best place to rave about it was here.

Have a great week ya’ll!

Judith Butler Talk on Feb 20.


Judith Butler: Dispossess
Gaza after the Bombardment of 2008–9

Wednesday 20 February, 2013
6:30pm, $0

Columbia University, Avery Hall
1172 Amsterdam Avenue, Wood Auditorium

This lecture will focus on images of vacated and suspended life in Gaza after the bombardment of 2008–9 by Swedish photographer and video-maker, Kent Klich. These images of ordinary life in Gaza in the aftermath of the bombardment of 2008–9 document vacated structures and suspended lives. They constitute the visual sequel to war photography, the landscape of architectural ruins of everyday life, uninhabited and uninhabitable. Abandoned and decimated structures still give a sense of vanished ways of life, and those still alive are endlessly waiting for their lives. The temporal and spatial conditions of living on with no life, dying without death are explored through visual images that document the destruction that outlasts war—dispossession.



Let us take the case of neoconservativism: on the level of the signified this ideology offers us a field of meaning structured around the opposition between secular, egalitarian humanism and the values of family, law and order, responsibility, and self-reliance. Within this field, freedom is supposed to be menaced not only by Communism, but also by the welfare state bureaucracy, etc, etc. At the same time, however, this ideology works “between the lines,” on an unspoken level. A whole series of fantasies are in play without which we cannot explain the efficacy of neoconservatism, the fact that it can capture subjects in such a passionate way: sexist fantasies about the menace that unruly “liberated” female sexuality presents for men; the racist fantasy that the WASP is the embodiment of Man qua Man and that beneath every black, yellow, etc., there is a white American longing to emerge; the fantasy that the “other” — the enemy — endeavors to rob us of our enjoyment, that he has access to some hidden enjoyment, inaccessible to us; and so on. Neoconservativism lives on this difference, it relies on fantasies that it cannot put into words, integrate into the field of its ideological signification. The frontier that divides neoconservativism from rightist totalitarianism is trespassed precisely at the moment there is a short circuit between the field of signification and these fantasies, i.e., when fantasies directly invade the field of signification, when they are directly referred to — as, for example, in Nazism, which openly articulates (includes in the field of its ideological meaning) the whole texture of sexual and other fantasies that serve as support of anti-Semitism. Nazi ideology openly states that Jews seduce our innocent daughters, that they are capable of perverse pleasures, etc.; this ideology does not leave it up to the addressee to surmise these “facts.” Herein lies the grain of truth of the common wisdom according to which the difference between the “moderate” and “radical” right consists merely in the fact that the latter says openly what the former thinks without daring to say. Zizek, Looking Awry, 1991, pp.179-80 (note 4)

Elizabeth Grosz/End of Semester Reflection




Origin68 T-shirt

My partner was wearing this shirt the other day and I noticed that on the lower left corner of the shirt, it says Ingredients and the first four ingredients listed were Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Nitrogen.  The shirt looks like a packaging label for a product called “Human Being,” and it made me think about the Elizabeth Grosz reading.  The general outlook is that human beings are live, organic beings, and usually privileged over inanimate matter.  There is life and then there is no-life, but life emerged from things that we classify as no-life.  The most common elements found in living organisms are not considered ‘alive,’ and yet, that is what we’re mostly composed of (of course, in more complex arrangements).

In our last class, the professor mentioned that it might be useful to think about difference, and perhaps be open to move from a difference in kind to one of degrees.  Grosz proposed that we look at the real as chaos, a sort of Deleuzian BwO- a field of immanence.  So what does this have to do with the t-shirt?  The t-shirt categorizes ‘human being’ as a distinct entity, apart from its so-called ingredients.  This is the opposite of chaos.  The shirt gave me a small glimpse to the funny way we order our world, and how seemingly ‘objectively real’ things are.

Anyway, I must say that I definitely learned a lot in this class, but I am exhausted!  Some of the questions and ideas it opened up my mind to are still a bit hazy, but I’m not upset about that.  It takes time to glean a clear insight on complicated things, right? I think this is one of those classes that really exhausted me, not because of anything bad but because of everything being so damned interesting. I feel like I’m still digesting all the readings that we did, and yet as if I wasn’t tortured enough, I started reading Zizek’s Sublime Object of Ideology, just for fun.

Kathy, Kimberly, Mitsue, and Kirsten, thanks for everything ya’ll! Have a wonderful semester break! Christina, thank you for such an engaging class. I really like the selection of readings/theorists and have learned so much. I hope you have a nice break.

Exam 3/Play – Don’t Speak With Your Mouth Full: You Won’t Be Heard


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Scene: At a family dinner with extended relatives.  Foucault (F) and Deleuze (D) are a gay couple and the parents of two adopted children, Fanon (Fan) and Spivak (S).  Spivak is Foucault’s daughter from a previous relationship, and she has kept this knowledge from him.

Foucault and Deleuze are proprietors of this unconventional family, one that breaks down notions of family, couples, and children.  They are attempting to reach a BwO.  They are unaware of their self-privileging and obvious contradiction of the subject/power dynamic.

Fanon, as the Black Adopted Son, is “the Colonized,” who are represented only in terms of the Western world.  The inferiority complex of the colonized that Fanon writes about is reflected in the character’s actions and muffled speech (critique on language).

Spivak in the role of the adopted daughter is the subaltern who cannot speak (or isn’t heard).  Epistemic violence manifests itself physically in her actions, and in her character’s knowledge of her relation to Foucault.

Everyone sits at one long table.  Foucault and Deleuze sit at the center, Fanon and Spivak are at either ends (representing the “center” and the marginalized).

The conversation:

F – Deleuze, I feel that we have embraced ourselves and our role as intellectuals in expressing our sexuality and by having two adopted children whom we have seamlessly woven into our family fabric.

D – Indeed, we have used our intellectualism and our bodies to obliterate subjectifications.  Perhaps the workers’ struggle is beginning to wane.  Don’t you agree, kids?

Fanon considers this, and while chewing on his last bite, takes another big bite of a biscuit.  As he speaks, his voice is muffled and food is flying out of his mouth

Fan – I don’t believe that the familial process has been smooth at all.  Now, I am the adopted Black son of two gay men.  Your adoption of me, as a child and sans my consent I might add, has made me into what you see me as; no longer am I what I was.  My self-identity is definite but not what you define me as.  I may be sitting and speaking at the same table with you, but your conversation is different from mine.  The ease with which you’ve identified yourself as gay, parent, and intellectual, masks me as adopted, son, and other.  The subject has been reinforced.

Spivak becomes visibly frustrated and angry.  She speaks in a loud, violent and aggressive tone.

S – It is just as Fanon says!  Your perceived notion that the role of intellectuals is no longer to create Knowledge is inadequate.  You say there is no place for representation, speaking for someone, or representation, re-presenting someone, but that is exactly what you are doing! Do you understand? Your discussions have taken us, the marginalized, and kept us there! Even at this very table!

She violently stabs a piece of chicken with a fork.

Spivak – I need to tell you something, for a long time now.  Foucault, I am your biological daughter.

Foucault and Deleuze stand up together.  From the perspective of the audience, they look much larger than Fanon and Spivak.

F – Fanon, you don’t speak with your mouth full.  And Spivak, go to the other room!

S exits, Deleuze addresses the rest of the relatives at dinner.

D – I apologize for her behavior.  Her friend committed suicide.  It was horrible for her and she’s been going through some tough times.

F and D sit, and the dinner continues.
The end

Exam 1 “The role of the intellectual”


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Dear Diary,

It seems like every time I meet with my entire family the conversation about my career choice always pops up. Today I used the term “intellectual” and they looked at me like I was crazy. Sometimes I wish I was born in France where intellectuals are appreciated and respected. Here in America it seems like we only care about celebrities! I ended up telling them how important the role of the intellectual is, in part to defend my position and also maybe to enlighten them a bit. Of course Foucault and Deleuze would disagree with them needing to become enlightened. These two intellectuals believe that the masses actually know that their position in society is, and they know they are oppressed. They do not need anyone telling them this.

I think the problems that intellectuals face in society is that they may give off the impression that they know it all and everyone else is oblivious. Foucault and Deleuze thought this was not true. Intellectuals were once a part of capitalism. Producing truths, knowledge, and consciousness that supported the hegemonic ideology. These two realized this position and saw intellectuals as instruments that supported ruling ideology; as a result they decide s to make it clear in their conversation that the role of the intellectual was to struggle against power. By removing themselves from power and into the sphere of the powerless and encouraging others to speak for themselves power was shifting. I find this position to be very empowering. If we just have discourse about our conditions and troubles we are already breaking down the wall that was put in place. In other words, to be an intellectual one has to get on the level of the masses because the intellectual does not theory but they do theory.

My aunt had a difficult time accepting this notion. She thought I would sit in front of my computer trying to come up with a theory that was all encompassing and then try to apply it. She thought intellectual s all sat down and made stuff up to make sense of the world. I told her this was not the case. According to Deleuze and Foucault, theory is practice; you cannot have one without the other. The intellectual thinks of theory as a “box of tools” you pick and choose theories that apply to you and then you apply them to struggle.  The main point that the two men wanted to get across was that power was diffuse. It did not lie in the hands of just one group, but rather many individuals. People are increasingly becoming self-policing agents and by applying theory to practice one can seek to break down some of that power and concentrate it amongst entire groups. Foucault was able to do this for example by giving prisoners a platform for which to speak on. In this way they are actively a part of change and not just subjects for an intellectual.

Intellectuals may produce many complex ideas. Sometimes they are so complex that the average person may not understand them. I believe that this is a problem, if we want to encourage people to exercise their power we should not make it difficult for t hem to do so.

With that being said, I will attempt to clarify Deleuze’s concept of the field of immanence. This was not a fun thing to get my family to grasp but I feel like putting it in writing may help me better sort it out in my head. Here goes…

According to Deleuze, the field of immanence can be viewed as a large empty space with one level. There is nothing outside of this field it contains everything and has no opposite. In it are subject less particles that are freely roaming or flowing like energy. I know these sounds very odd but Deleuze wanted to explain society without actually using individual subjects. He believed that individuals were tainted by symbolic order and meaning. It is essentially a different way of thinking that takes society as we know it out of the subject. In this respect a dog, a continent, God and even a pencil are all on the same level, there is no hierarchy or organization. Because those things are all man made and distract us from true desire. That is why he believes that a masochist for example, can better grasp this idea because they are doing sex in a way that may not make sense but that is the point. Things do not have to be so rigid and confined. They should be like the field of immanence, fluid and boundary-less. In this way we come to produce ourselves as happy individuals. He isn’t saying that we must self-destruct, but that we experiment with ourselves to get closer to this notion.  It is important for an intellectual to think outside the box because not only is he producing new ways of looking at things, but he is also awakening the masses and helping them question life as they know it. Who knows what other ways we can think about life. Not just human life but any life even matter… just some food for thought.