Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Slavoj Zizek has a new essay up at In These Times. Typically, it recycles portions of his previous published essays to further extend his critique of the Bush Administration.

What Rumsfeld Doesn’t Know That He Knows About Abu Ghraib

Does anyone still remember the unfortunate Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf? As Saddam’s information minister, he heroically would deny the most evident facts and stick to the Iraqi line. Even as U.S. tanks were hundreds of yards from his office, al-Sahaf continued to claim that the television shots of the tanks on Baghdad streets were Hollywood special effects. Once, however, he did strike a strange truth. When told that the U.S. military already controlled parts of Baghdad, he snapped back: “They are not in control of anything—they don’t even control themselves!” When the scandalous news broke about the weird things going on in Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison, we got a glimpse of this very dimension of themselves that Americans do not control.


Adam Kotsko said...

I think that his political commentary is generally pretty good -- the recycling aspect reminds me of the winner of that reality show last summer, Last Comic Standing, who calculated his routine based on laughs-per-gimmick (complete with graphs, etc.). His final routine, which was presumably viewed by people who had seen the show before, contained a lot of his previous greatest hits, and he still won.

We do live in a nation where people watch reruns of Seinfeld that they've seen a million times -- I just wish that Zizek's jokes were, you know, funnier. They're funnier than most academic prose, of course, but sometimes he honestly seems to be trying too hard. A general tone of levity or excitement, with the occasional humorous aside, may be more effective than a balls-out attempt at an official joke. At least in today's postmodern context.

Joseph said...

It's interesting . . . I've never seen any papers or essays that address this aspect of his work (other than asides on blogs) but it clearly seems integral to his project. He must know what he'd doing. Is it a repetition compulsion? I think in "On Belief" there is even two or three paragraphs repeated within a hundred page span.