On sexual violence: please watch & recommend

“Widows, victims of war, victims of peace.” on @guardianwitness https://witness.theguardian.com/assignment/538604a4e4b0f6774a4ff2c3/1006928

“Violence is not an East/West Issue…..” on @guardianwitness https://witness.theguardian.com/assignment/538604a4e4b0f6774a4ff2c3/1004176

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Dont Be A Leveler.

Nietzche: In all the countries of Europe and in America now as well, there is something that abuses this name, a very narrow, imprisoned, enchained type of spirit who wants just about the opposite of what accords with our intentions and instincts—not to mention that they must assuredly be closed windows and bolted doors to these new philosophers who are coming up. They belong, briefly and sadly, among the levelers, these falsely named “free spirits”—being eloquent and prolifically scribbling slaves of the democratic taste and its “modern ideas”: they are all human beings without solitude, without their own solitude, clumsy well-behaved fellows whom one should not deny either courage or respectable decency, it’s just that they are unfree and ridiculously superficial, above all in their basic inclination to see, roughly, the cause of all human misery and failure in the forms of the old society as it has existed so far: which is a way of standing truth happily upon its head! What they would like to strive for with all their powers is the universal green-pasture happiness of the herd, with security, lack of danger, comfort, and an easier life for everyone; the two songs and doctrines which they repeat most often are “equality of rights” and “sympathy for all that suffers”—and suffering itself they take for something that must be abolished.

 

Rebecca Don’t Be A Leveler.

 

Narcissus encountered his own image and fell in love with it, but never realized it was the image he fell in love with it. Rebecca seems to be more about preserving the image rather than letting it go.  This seems to be the case in the ongoing dispute between Rebecca Schuman (Slate.com), myself and her attacks and Slavoj Zizek and me.  The following are a few notes.  If you’ve just joined the conversation, here is the original article to keep you up to speed!

 

A few direct critiques [not personal attacks].

 

(1)    When you use sex as some form of power you do nothing less than align yourself with the very eroticized images in the media that promote the already distant gender divide. You seem to present yourself as someone who is a feminist, yet, the whole way you define it is, in reality, defined by the gaze of patriarchal masculinity. This is nothing short of the conservative Sarah Palin who totes her shotgun over her shoulder and shouts loudly saying nothing of substance, all the while being the victim of masculinity. How so? By defining the way in which she responds through masculine patriarchy. You have done nothing but the same here and have championed the masculine gaze. You have done damage to the movement toward a more feminine turn and equality. In this sense, you’re endorsing masculinity over femininity and the perversion of that gaze. A practical question then is: are you a woman or a man?

 

(2)    Several of your attacks, albeit, in your words are, digressions. However this passive-aggressive behaviour only belies the very power you are attempting to assert through this false humility. I, too wear my feelings on my sleeve (and there are risks involved, you already know this, playing coy doesn’t help your case any), but to use your feelings as some form of defense to attack others and then retract through passive-aggressive barbs is really akin to someone who abuses someone else and then blames that person for receiving your abuse. It doesn’t make sense.  You are not a victim, don’t act like it.

 

This appeal to affect shouldn’t be used as something to stand behind after making a direct character attack on me (i.e., Zizekophant) and on Zizek (calling him a jerk and etc.). This is one thing most of the academy lacks, hell, the whole of western reality and the celebrity culture lacks – they could learn from us  – namely in the sense that we need to share our hearts on or sleeve. We need more discourse. We need more heated debate. Most academic colleagues I know think the best response is either silence or no response. Where does that get us? Nowhere. We need more fighting and disagreements, obviously with some semblance of mutual respect, and not because we’re academics, but because we’re trying to be human. It’s also very odd here that in this passivity you say you want to be open and exposed and then in another moment make this digressive attacks. This asymmetry in your subjectivity is demonstrative of someone who desires to control her image as well as those around her. Question that. Live with that. As Shaun T. from Insanity says: Dig Deeper.

 

(3)    Your appeal to a PH.D (and the conversation we had outside of social media where you request that I address as Dr. or Rebecca tells me you have an image issue. You care too much what people think. Although, I appreciate your kindness, I am declining your offer to write something on your blog, mainly due to the fact that in our conversation there was no sense of remorse, no sense of catharsis. The very appeal is itself the very power issue in academia today. That we have come to a place in our human experience where the value of knowledge and paper has combined to supercede the value of the human, as if to mystify knowledge or certain types of knowledge as some esoteric rite of passage.  As if value itself is no longer something that is ontological stable with something else to define it.

 

(4)    Read Zizek. I have most of his books. There are places to get them, free even. Don’t go and make attacks on Slavoj Zizek just because you can. I personally am not fanboy, let’s make this clear. You’re using the term in a pejorative sense. I am not a disciple of Zizek. I respect him and most of his work. But that does not mean I agree with everything he says and does. (The following is going to upset his most avid of followers, I get that, but for the sake of proving your once-again caricature of me as a myopic fanboy, I want to be honest). For example, he hopes for some communist utopia (i.e., the third utopia) to take the place of democracy. As we all know, democracy is one of the reasons why the academy is in the mess its in. This liberal utopian American dream that promises to fill the void but only makes It wider. Utopia is what will destroy any hope for progress. Think about it, if equality exists and everything is perfect, then desire is unnecessary.  Although, I am a communist anarchist, I differ in this need to believe in some totalitarian system that might make emerge. I also believe in self-mobilization, he even said in the interview he does not. But these differences should be celebrated. Why attack his followers?  Why the need to distance yourself from him so vehemently? That’s a better question.

 

(5)    We are both in ideology. We are western educators who have been entrenched in darkness too long. We have to think about certain lines of flight. We can’t afford to simply be libertarian in our approach to institutional subjectivity. The Apostle Paul once made the point that the systems are the enemy not you and I. This is a waste of time. The in-fighting needs to stop. In fact it’s not even in-fighting, that’s too political. I am not even a leftist. Leftist ideology is just as obscene as the Right. These convenient binaries are in the way of doing anything of actual worth.

(6)    Lighten up. A joke is a joke. But jokes themselves are quite the fuel we need to systematically  undercut the superficial conviviality found in universities today. Political correctness is not going to save us from the problems so prevalent within the academy today. Namely, but not restricted to: Identity politics, power/prestige, economic disparity, educational curriculum,  a degree as a rite of passage into the marketplace. We need this dark humor to wake us up to these issues. We have gotten too comfortable. We cant afford comfort when people are starving because of their Ph’d’s.

(7)    Education should be about developing new forms of consciousness (radical subjectivity) that then allows for the subject to alter the very fabric of reality. This is not some teleological  desire for some utopian framework for education. I think now is the time for post-structuralism to be taken seriously as an interlocutor which develops new forms of education that resist the hegemony of history and economic monism. There are movements now that are helping shape these new forms that lie beyond the mundane binary categorizations that we have for far too long relied upon. The Unschooling movement is one such movement.

 

 

Source:

 

Zizek on Paul:  http://www.newstatesman.com/religion/2010/04/god-order-wisdom-paul-love

 

 

Response number two to Rebecca Schuman vs Zizek vs Me

So, in light of the “Zizek Show” (the social media feud and Slate.com) – A few reflections:

(1) Is there a time for name-calling? Yes, there is a time for everything under the sun. Name-calling can be the very wake-up call one needs to be alerted to certain destructive behaviours or actions that harm themselves or others. Even some of our holy men used it. Jesus at one time called Herod a ‘puppet-king’ (it was a lot more derogatory then it is now). Sometimes name-calling is beneficial. But an eye for an eye is not, another holy man, Ghandi made the point that if we keep poking each others eyes out, then the whole world will be blind.

With that being said, I apoogize publicly for mirroring Rebecca’s initial vitriol, who has since the article apologized. (Was it beneficial to defend against Rebecca’s name-calling, partially, I would say, only if to wake her up to the fact that her name-calling does not help the fight against something bigger than this little playground skirmish). That of the plight of capitalist saturation of reality.

(2) We must keep the fighting focused on the very elements that distract us naturally from its presence, and though many may disagree with my assessment – we live in an era where the death of the institution (not just educational) is nigh. Almost, imminent. We have to prepare for this. But not, to create new ones. But in bated breath anticipate the newness that can come from the future. Answers should not be embraced so easily, we should sleep with one eye open so to keep one eye on the horizons ahead. Back to this notion of presence, an essentialist term, one we have become to comfortable with – the presence I speak of, is that of the substance of education. We have become too comfortable to define and defend its parameters. Maybe that’s the problem, we have spent too much time on defining the corners and foundations that we have forgot the most important point of dialogical discovery, the ‘what’ – maybe a child-like return to that kind of discourse can be the very conversation that immobilzes the appearence of necessity to defend our own ideological kingdoms. Dont’ simply push this simplification away, think about the implications of such a ‘what’ that has been mise an abyme and rather than try to bring this secluded query out of the abyss, we must all venture there together. Beyond the ego. Beyond the illusion of the individual.

(3) Freud once tritely said: A Cigar is not just a Cigar. Rightly so, in this context, we need that reminder. This conversation is not just Leftist in-fighting but a distraction, a negation, a puncture, a hole, a wound and a tear into the fabric of a future waiting to occur. No, I don’t believe in Utopia nor do I think that metaphysical ideology is helpful in any sense of the idea. But conversation, dialogue, inter-relationality is a place to start. To work toward something better that lies beyond heaven, which is the here and now. This conversation is a signifier pointing to the master signifier, which in this context would be that of the university, that of the student, and how the university has disemboweled any space for a new kind of relationship between the student and teacher. Paulo Freire is so important here with the claim that dialogue must replace curriculum. This is where Zizek gets it right, we need vulnerability, even the point of personal insult. This defense against political correctness or the need to ‘watch what we say’ (or joke about) is nothing short of localized (personal) paranoia and the insistence that the fable of the ‘individual’ is real. We can’t afford this any longer. We have to be tenacious and fight together rather than with another. NOTE: this is not an apology for the content dealt with (i.e., the end of academia and etc.) – but for my behaviour.

Going to apologize to Rebecca right now

Rebecca Schuman vs Slavoj Zizek vs Academia: Time to Grow Up

Slavoj Zizek

“[T]he more radical the person is, the more fully he or she enters into reality so that, knowing it better, he or she can transform it. This individual is not afraid to confront, to listen, to see the world unveiled. This person is not afraid to meet the people or to enter into a dialogue with them. This person does not consider himself or herself the proprietor of history or of all people, or the liberator of the oppressed; but he or she does commit himself or herself, within history, to fight at their side.”  – Paulo Freire
I recently interviewed, Slavoj Zizek at the Zizek Conference  in Ohio. An article emerged from the general interest publication Slate dot com that was a direct attack on myself and Zizek.

The following is my response. You can watch the interview here.

Schuman is right about one thing, “The academy is in crisis”. But not  because Slavoj Zizek made an ironic joke about American students and their demanding need for attention. Hell, this is how most American students are. Open. Honest. They talk too much. So what if the caricature was right? It was funny, and it was a joke.

I would laugh again.

The academy is in crisis because the academy itself is a structure that demands myopic allegiance to its historical presence. Once someone like Slavoj Zizek puts the academy in question, all hell breaks loose. For me, this is the point of his joke here, that the academy negates any space for real relationship between a student and her professor. That the very mediation is what defines the parameters of the
relationship between student and teacher to the point that there is no student or teacher present, simply cogs in a wheel.

Schuman has become one such cog.

The fact that Schuman doesn’t get that a joke is itself an unconscious critique of something material, tells me that she would rather embrace the fantasy of accepting her £18,000 servitude to a dead institution. Institutions like the European Graduate School and the  Global Centre For Advanced Studies are attempting to develop new forms of dialogical pro-relational anti-institutional responses to the archaic out-moded hollow spaces we now refer to as the Academy.

We need this kind of critique that wakes us up from our slumber. We cant afford to be in debt to a dying system. Zizek is a necessary component to helping develop a new kind of student discourse. One that resists the comfortable allure of political correctness. We need more philosophers like him. Feelings get hurt all of the time. We learn how to respond to them in healthy ways. That’s up to us. One of the stupidest things to ever enter into the western television are these banal talk shows that interview people who were called a name on their school playground when they were ten and they spend their whole life being defined by this very thing. Maybe this is why Schuman wrote the article. Maybe its catharsis.

I have been following Schuman’s responses on Twitter, mainly to see if she has even put her attack into question, this is usually a sign of someone willing to learn, grow and develop, but it does not seem the case.  The nature of education from preschool to adulthood as it stands only stands as a model of stagnant cognitive sedition or simply put its meant to provide a space for radical thinking but demands zombies.   Or as Paulo Freire once said: “Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.”

What this demonstrates in a much wider sense –  is that of contextualization. What Schuman lacks is not academic rigor, what she lacks is understanding. Comprehension. She doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Is this also not the plight of education today? Namely, that students are leaving institutions by the thousands, impregnated with abstract forms of knowledge but no outlets from which to develop and practice that knowledge.  Academia has become the fertile cultivating ground for the over-saturation of: nothing.The abstract critiques of people she personally does not know based on social symbolizations (myths and fantasies) is indicative of the counter-intuitive nature of the promise of freedom when one gets a degree (to do anything they want) but does not know what do with it.   These abstract judgements are based upon her caricatures of Zizek, not anything material, hence why these linguistic hallucinations only encase her deeper into the much wider context that she seems wholly unaware of.. Has she had a drink with the man like myself? No. She is dealing with the ghosts of her own making.

Her assumptions  are in a direct sense pedestrian  obfuscations against her very critique of both Zizek and myself. That in her attacks the same attacks are leveled against herself. Moreso, in the fact that she agrees that Zizek might be an important voice for the academy today but only wants Zizek without the caffeine. She is a control-freak in simple terms, she wants to define what she gets rather than learn from what is and could be. Let’s be clear, Schuman is playing her role, in this we should not blame her. She is victim of a much bigger issue. Which is the the death of the  academy trying to hold on too tightly to a future it no longer owns. But enough digression, why don’t we hear from one of Zizeks students on the matter, which represents the very antithesis of Schuman’s assumptions:

Agon Hamza, a serious student  and philosopher of Zizek states the following:

“.. being his student for some time now (and the most recent bashing has todo with his comments on students/universities, etc), I have to say that he is an incredible supervisor. He has always read everything I have sent him and took his time to comment on my work, etc etc. (let alone responding to my queries, demands for texts, or other stuff). Third, before you engage in the now-too-boring-Zizek-bashing, *please* read his work first!”

One of Zizek’s former Teaching Assistants has this to say about Slavoj:

“Everybody is all of a sudden giving a shit about Zizek’s comments about how much he hates his students. I can’t help but notice that many of the people who are calling him out on this ritualistically mock and belittle their own students. As a former TA of Zizek’s, I can say with all honesty – he *treats* his students quite well.”

Clearly Schuman needs to do a bit more investigation before she makes some judgement calls.

That Slate would allow this piece to be published without first recognizing Schuman’s rhetorical shortfalls is in and of itself  telling of the caliber of journalism and investigation that goes on at Slate.com.  I contacted Slate asking for the opportunity to respond as well as Rebecca through social media and to my lack of surprise, there was no response. Both are not interested in dialogue, only in a one-sided diatribe that itself lacks substance. This is yet another metaphor for the sad state of the academic curriculum, that it exists to just yell and rant but never to listen, never to be changed. I hope this is a wake up call to Schuman and to the insititutional academy, that things are in dire straits and we need to mobilize a revolution that no longer allows zombies to defend its existence.

I  think it’s time to move on and grow up.