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What the Onion is up against these days

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zizek

If I were to make a Borat-style mockumentary about the absurdities of the modern university, its star would be a critical theorist from some central European country with a name featuring several diacritical marks who gets paid vast sums by various institutions to churn out obscurantist arcana featuring many citations to Lacan etc. while making it clear to his adoring acolytes that he hates them even more than he hates humanity in general.

Also, he would have a cat on his lap during interviews, like Dr. Evil.

And he would say things like this:

“I hate giving classes,” Zizek said, citing office hours and grading papers as his two biggest peeves.

“I did teach a class here [at the University of Cincinnati] and all of the grading was pure bluff,” he continues. “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.

But it’s office hours that are the main reason he does not want to teach.

“I can’t imagine a worse experience than some idiot comes there and starts to ask you questions, which is still tolerable. The problem is that here in the United States students tend to be so open that sooner or later, if you’re kind to them, they even start to ask you personal questions [about] private problems… What should I tell them?”

“I don’t care,” he continued. “Kill yourself. It’s not my problem.”

(I don’t know anything about Zizek, who may well be a world-transforming genius of a thinker for all I know, but as Ezra Pound said of Finnegans Wake, “Nothing so far as I can make out, nothing short of divine vision or a new cure for the clapp can possibly be worth all that circumambient peripherization.”)

via taxprof

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  • Monday Night Froteeur

    I know that all sorts of people love Slavoj Žižek and he’s a superstar Marxist professor and all, but when I’ve watched his lectures, his comments seem predictable and inane. The production value is superb; maybe that’s what people are reacting to? I doubt it’s what he’s saying.

  • I’ll believe the European left has moved beyond its early 21st century intellectual bankruptcy when Zizek is completely ignored.

    • Steve LaBonne

      +100

    • Slocum

      You’ll believe something about the European left once you learn something about it.

  • elm

    Zizek is taking some bog-standard professorial complaints (grading can be annoying and is nearly everyone’s least favorite part of the job and students do often over-share) and magnifying them to jackass and unprofessional proportions.

    That said, do you really think you’re going to make your case that Zizek’s is doing himself a disservice in saying these things by comparing him to Joyce and suggesting that, like Joyce, he’s not worth reading? Because I suspect to many people, including Zizek, that comparison would be eminently flattering and would be a recommendation to read him further.

    • Lee Rudolph

      I think that there’s a better rhetorical case for “circumambient peripherization” as an element of literature-as-art than there is for it as an element of literature-as-scholarly-writing, and a much better dialectical case that literature-as-scholarly-writing should avoid “circumambient peripherization” even when (or if) it serves rhetorical purposes.

      But that’s my inner rationalist speaking, and I suppose Comrade Zizek and his fans would disagree. (My inner obscurantist is all in favor of circumambient peripherization, so much so that he even made me ditch the quotation marks this time!)

    • Paul Campos

      I’m actually a huge Joyce fan (as was Pound). Ulysses is one of my all-time favorite books.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      I just figured Paul thought that borrowing the Pound wisecrack was appropriate to this guy

    • Tom Servo

      It’s like when he says he likes authoritarians and has a portrait of Stalin in his home to get a rise out of people. It’s performance art. I don’t think he believes half the shit he says, but he knows that the role he plays is worth some money and fame.

    • Henry

      Hey, Joyce is awesome though. I’m no Zizek fan, but since when did comprehensibility become a prerequisite for genius?

  • Karen

    Zizek says things that indicate he is a horrible person and a a horrible teacher. But, he obviously likes Persian cats. Anyone who likes Persian cats is a good person whose opinions are valuable. Therefore, Zizek’s opinions are valuable.

    Would he give me an A for this?

    • MAJeff

      Only if you don’t turn it in.

      • rea

        I’ve got to start psoting more quickly.

        • Steve LaBonne

          Posting, even.

    • rea

      Would he give me an A for this?

      Not if you turned it in.

      I guess I’m puzzled–if he hates being a teacher, why is he holding a job as a teacher? Does he need the money?

      • Lee Rudolph

        He holds a job as a professor.

        • rea

          “professor” means “teacher”

          • jim, some guy in iowa

            I think Lee means zizek talks more than he actually educates

            (this will be interesting, to see if I really got his point)

            • Lee Rudolph

              You did. (But also, “professor”ships exist in various forms, some of which most definitely do not involve teaching classes per se.)

              • r

                I would venture that a great many professors–particularly the famous ones–see their research as their contribution to the world, as opposed to seeing their teaching as just something they have to do.

          • GiT

            You don’t need to teach to be a professor. You can just profess things.

        • N__B

          You say that and everyone nods. 18-year-old N__B says that and gets hauled in front of a disciplinary hearing.

      • KmCO

        I would guess that he only considers life worth living if he’s actively miserable.

      • MAJeff

        Even the one-year superstar visiting scholar gigs require some kind of teaching and/or seminars.

        On too of it, he’s probably complaining about graduate students, as nobody puts these folks in Intro classrooms.

      • JL

        I assume it’s because he’s in a scholarly discipline that nobody in industry or government, where he wouldn’t have to teach, is likely to pay him to do.

        Once my grad student friend in electrical engineering who hates teaching finishes her PhD, she can go get a job with a government contractor or biotech/synth bio company where she can work in her discipline while never having to worry about teaching again. But who outside of academia will pay Zizek to do philosophy and critical theory? This is not meant as a knock on either of those disciplines, being an academic in them is a worthwhile pursuit, but AFAIK you have to be an academic in them to be employed in them.

      • Tom Servo

        I don’t know if you can really take anything he says at face value. He has a portrait of Stalin in his home, he claims to want authoritarianism. I think a lot of his personality is highly calculated performance art. Without saying the ridiculous shit he says he’s just another bearded academic.

    • Monday Night Froteeur

      Perhaps he loathes them but keeps them around to antagonize himself?

      • Karen

        Considering what he said about his job, that is not an unreasonable conclusion.

    • ichininosan

      “Anyone who likes Persian cats is a good person whose opinions are valuable.”

      Unless he’s a Jopling:

      http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2014/03/wes-anderson-is-killing-cats-now-too.html

    • Peter Hovde

      When Dr. Zizek gets angry, Mr. Bigglesworth gets upset, and when Mr. Bigglesworth gets upset, people die.

  • Halloween Jack

    Academia has its own Soup Nazi.

    • Ghoul

      Worse, because nothing you do will stop him giving you his ideas.

  • Todd

    I saw a documentary about Zizek that mostly comprised him talking to various groups (and the camera in interviews), and I really struggled to understand what his philosophical program even comprised. The rehabilitation of Stalin through psychoanalyzing media and culture?

    • Monty

      He’s trying to psychoanalyze recent history via symbolic forms; media and culture are definitely a part of it. Even after multiple attemps at various of his essays/books, I have only the vaguest idea what Lacan’s theories describe or what Zizek is trying to accomplish with them.

      I find his content interesting but I think he’s a bit of a jerkoff and that his “arguments” (narratives?) bounce around too much to retain much continguous coherence. But the kidz seem to like him.

      • Dupednontraditional

        First time I ever heard of Zizek was when I saw his documentary on “Children of Men.” He spooged all over that movie, and I have to admit I thought it was good movie as well.

        However, I couldn’t understand a damn thing he was saying, or why anyone would care what his thoughts are. I fully admit I’m no ubermensch, but still…if no one can understand (or care) about what you say, do you make a sound?

        Now, he is the poster-child for what is wrong with academia today. Worse that law schools, if that is even possible.

    • williamockham

      The dynamic of this, the rehabilitation of Stalin, the complete incomprehensibility, is that I’m smart, my friends are smart and we can’t understand him so he must be really smart. It also serves the needs of a third tier regional university seeking out for gravitas.

    • Tom Servo

      That’s what I got. I only ever get the general gist of what he’s saying. But I loved the documentary. I just find his highly self-conscious performance entertaining. I love watching movies and documentaries and lectures about eccentric (even if it’s a calculated eccentricity as I suspect is the case here) people.

  • Megalon

    Say what ever you want about this guy, I can’t dislike somebody who likes fluffy white cats. Especially when he has one on his lap.

    • David Hunt

      You’ll never get your “Double O” rating.

      • Autonomous Coward

        That’s what she said?

  • Ronnie Pudding

    So Zizek basically understands that, in the US, it’s more important to be a star professor than to properly educate the students. Seems like a bright guy.

  • AcademicLurker

    The shear longevity of the Zizek phenomenon* is impressive. He’s been successfully working essentially the same schtick since the mid 90s.

    *Meaning Zizek as a public figure/academic superstar, independent of his actual writings.

    • Camille Paglia is probably jealous.

      • AcademicLurker

        Ha! That’s true, he has outlasted her.

        Although I suppose that “more relevant than Camille Paglia” is setting the bar pretty low at this point…

      • Hogan

        Sexual Personae was published in 1990, and was based on a dissertation she handed in in 1974. She’s been writing and publishing for quite a while, although she came late to profoundly grating annoyingness.

        There’s a local storyteller who used to march in the Mummers Parade as the Vatican-American String Band, dressed in assorted Knights of Columbus regalia. When he got to the University of the Arts at Broad and Pine he would start beating out a rhythm on a five-gallon water jug and chant, “Camille! Come out! I want to dance with you! Camille! Come out! I want to dance with you!”

    • herr doktor bimler

      The shear longevity

      Well, the sheep are still lining up to be shorn.

  • KmCO

    It just goes to show that no matter how much of a raging asshole you are, if you’re sufficiently “quirky” and say smart-sounding things, you’ll get star attention and people will love you.

    • Origami Isopod, Commisar [sic] of Ideology for the Bolsheviks

      Also factor in self-promotion.

  • Law Prof kudos

    No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.

    • twbb

      Well, the European public. He’s a lot more popular over there than here.

  • He needs a monocle to go with the white Persian cat.

    Even cooler – the cat should wear a monocle.

    • Lee Rudolph

      La monocle de mon oncle est sur la chatte de ma tante!

      • wjts

        My favorite movie title mash-up of all time remains Hiroshima, Mon Oncle, just edging out I Spit on Your Grave of the Fireflies.

        • the nezt Prescott Niles

          Zabriskie Business

      • gross!

      • ajay

        Le chat, I think you mean. “Chatte” is something quite different.

  • JustinV

    I don’t know a lot of people from my (very left-wing, like “liberal” is an epithet) Ph.D. program who are fans of his. He’s a bit of a joke/oddity to the current crop of new scholars on the left. He has some pellucid bon mots, and the occasional useful insight (largely from his ’90s writing), but I don’t know anyone personally who cites him as an influence.

    • gmack

      Agreed. I’ve spent a decent amount of time with literary theory types, and I do a decent amount of reading of people often (wrongly) associated with Zizek (so much French theory…). And yeah, I don’t know a single grad student or professor who has described him as anything other than as a joke. Really, I have no idea who the people are who consider him a “star.”

      Though I am by no means an expert on his work, I have read a couple of his books, and my view is that his reputation as a joke is pretty well earned. There are a few ideas that seem interesting, though usually they collapse under much inspection. Most of the rest of it is completely forgettable.

      In short, though this term gets thrown around way too often, Zizek is pretty much just a troll who has figured out how to exploit certain features of the academy and mass media to make his intelligence and his popularity look far more significant than they are.

      • Tom Servo

        To paraphrase the late IOZ (now Jacob Bacharach): “Never begrudge a man his successful scam.”

    • wormphd

      I think on the whole the notion of the ‘theory superstar’ is passe; at least it was in my PhD department. Zizek my be the last of them….although I guess Gayatri Spivak’s still around.

      • JustinV

        Spivak, I think, has a stronger claim as a scholar than Zizek on the merits. There are still supestars, but I think they live in smaller niches now; and, no, there aren’t really any theory superstars anymore. Not in the continental philosophy sense. Judith Butler remains, but she is also a legitimately great scholar.

      • AcademicLurker

        In a way I think Zizek’s gift to American academia is to have made the “theory superstar” figure so absurd that the phenomenon isn’t taken seriously anymore.

        • JustinV

          I like this a lot.

          • gmack

            Yeah, one thing I’d really like us theory-types to think more about is why there is so much tendency to keep setting up some new theory “it-girl” (who is, of course, usually a white male) every few years. Foucault! Derrida! Zizek (for some, I guess)! Agamben! Rancière! and so on ad infinitum. It’s not that I dislike all of these scholars; aside from Zizek, I think they all have something interesting to contribute. But the faddishness becomes tiresome.

      • Actually Spivak compared to Zizek is very humble in her public presentations. She also doesn’t come across as a buffoon and somebody trying just to be provocative for the sake of getting reactions. I saw her speak here a couple of months ago and while I wouldn’t say it was the best academic talk I have ever seen, it was worthwhile. It contained some ideas that were new to me as somebody who is not an expert on Indian history.

        http://jpohl.blogspot.com/2014/03/gayatri-chakravoty-spivak-at-university.html

  • Whiskers

    University of Cincinnati? The New School? Perhaps if this guy’s academic work was more highly regarded he could get a position at a better school where he wouldn’t have to deal with idiots asking him stupid questions? But he doesn’t realize that he’s idiot caliber himself. That’s what he’s qualified to do- teach idiots.

    • JustinV

      Well, a) he’s an opportunist who goes where they offer the most money and schools with mid-tier reputations and misguided administrations do that to celebrity profs for prestige value; and b) these are both reasonably good schools with otherwise fine academic reputations educating very bright students whose administrations hired a celebrity lecturer for a year – as they will.

      Your shitty comment evinces an ignorance of higher education that is ironic given your snobbish pose. Perhaps if you yourself were better educated you would not make such embarrassing mistakes in your comments.

      • Whiskers

        I am better educated. And yes, U. Cincinnati and New School are better than some schools, and way, way worse than others. Unless you think everyone who goes to college is special.

        • JustinV

          Well, you don’t seem to have taken to your education very well because you keep embarrassing yourself with ignorant comments about matters you clearly don’t understand. I don’t think everyone who goes to college is special, but you seem to think that you can determine the worth of a student by their institution, which is both the converse of the position you attribute to me (and thus equally logically flawed) and a silly and childish thing to think. You obviously can’t understand this, but your contempt for students puts you on the same footing as Zizek, not in opposition to him. You are aping him because of your projected insecurities about education (which is a bummer because it is making us all feel sad for you and whatever must have happened to you). You should maybe have a bit of a rest so you don’t keep making yourself sound so foolish. I hope you feel better after your rest.

          • r

            Although Whiskers is being fairly crass, I think it would be going too far in the other direction to pretend that student bodies don’t vary from institution to institution, or that this doesn’t inform the experience of teaching at those places, or that this isn’t a factor professors take into account when considering offers.

            Undergraduates at elite schools will, statistically on the whole, arrive to the classroom with more motivation, fewer other demands on them (like side jobs and family support), and having already mastered more relevant skills. They are just an easier population to teach. Having an easier teaching population can be pretty nice if you really see your job as research and teaching as a necessary evil. On the other hand, it might not be your cup of tea if what you’re really interested in is working with and helping people who may not have already had every advantage.

            The point is not to single out one kind of job as the right one, or one type of institution as more laudatory. It’s just to say–yeah, it makes a difference how your teaching goes whether it’s at Princeton or at College of Northwest Nowhere and Salad Bar.

            • JustinV

              This is all uncontroversial, I agree that you are making sense. But Whiskers’s position (and, apparently, Zizek’s) is that students at Cincinnati and the New School are in general “turkeys” and “idiots,” which is plainly false. Besides that, his other position is that were Zizek a better scholar he would get visiting appointments at better schools. This is also dumb. Zizek (who I do not care for as a scholar) has had visiting positions at Princeton, Columbia, Chicago, Michigan, etc. Whiskers also relies on ranking – which he does not himself cite or even bother to specify which ranking list! – to determine the relative quality of different colleges which is also relatively silly if the argument is general university quality rather than trying to get a picture of relative departmental competences and/or reputational cache. All of this is couched in a rhetorical pose of snobbery and erudition (again, not unlike Zizek – am I being tolled by the master himself?!)

              • Whiskers

                Zizek’s visiting professorships are pretty much meaningless. His home institution is in Slovenia. It isn’t particularly impressive.

                • JustinV

                  A) He’s from Slovenia! Why not keep his home there? B) You are the one who made his visiting professorships the basis of your argument against him. You aren’t shifting the goal posts, you are forgetting that you are on the field!

                • Whiskers

                  He’s from Slovenia, yes. Nobody’s ever moved for an academic career, right.

                • JustinV

                  Why should he emigrate when he can find a job at home? People are often fond of their homes for sentimental reasons and would prefer to remain attached to them in some way, in my experience anyway.

                • Whiskers

                  Zizek strikes me as the sort of pretentious turd who would move to be associated with a more prestigious institution if a more prestigious institution wanted him, but most of them recognize that he’s a joke.

              • r

                This all seems fair.

                I would also add that: although academics everywhere get jollies by making fun of the undergraduates, there is a level (and seriousness) you can take it to where it stops being light fun and instead becomes clear that you’re Not A Great Person.

                • JustinV

                  Right. Zizek is, by all accounts, either a self-serious jerk or trolling the world. Either way, he’s unprofessional and, IMHO, a lackluster theorist who is not taken very seriously by most of his colleagues.

                • KmCO

                  Yeah, I would say that Zizek bounded past that line when he offered 18-22-year-olds the advice of killing themselves. Not even in “jest” can one who has been appointed an authority over young people say such a thing and not be a pustulent asshole.

                • Bill Murray

                  although academics everywhere get jollies by making fun of the undergraduates,

                  wait, I thought we were supposed to make fun of inferior programs not the students. Now I’m going to have to change my schtick, dagnabit

              • Some of the New School’s programs were well-regarded at Vassar.

                But I guess “Hurr, dumb people” trolling makes a change from “Hurr, elitest people” trolling.

          • So there!

            • Whiskers

              Who are you talking to?

    • JL

      Wow, way to insult a bunch of students with no basis.

      • Whiskers

        I have a basis. College rankings.

        • JustinV

          Oh, so you don’t know very much about college at all.

        • NonyNony

          US News and World Report rankings?

          Rankings that are based on a combination of “how much money your alumni give you” and “how your university is perceived by other university administrators”? Combined via some formula that USN&WR refuses to explain to anyone?

          Yeah .. those rankings suck. The only people who put stock in them are gullible grad students lining up to be fleeced and university administrator’s whose contracts have clauses where they received bonuses based on whether or not they move up in the rankings.

          (Seriously – the top 20 schools in any program are basically the top 20 schools that anyone in a particular field would rattle off. Their relative placement tends to be “top 5 are all interchangable”, “next 5 are all interchangable”, “bottom 10 are all interchangable”, but they’re the schools you’d think of with programs. Anything after that is pointless jostling of a combination of name recognition and how generous their alumni are. It’s a giant popularity contest that disguises itself as a metric because numbers are used in some way.)

          • Whiskers

            The guy complains that the students he has to deal with are idiots. He’s taught at U. Cincinnati and the New School.

            Do the Professors at Harvard and Stanford, etc., complain that their students are idiots? No. If he wants to soar with eagles instead of walk with turkeys, he can work at one of those schools. But they don’t want him. Because he’s not good enough.

            • JustinV

              See, you are making yourself look foolish again. He’s been a visiting professor at Columbia, Princeton, New York University, and the University of Michigan. You can’t even work Google. It’s terrible.

              Also, professors at Harvard and Stanford do complain about their students. (Though not as publicly, because most people are more professional than Zizek). You would know this if you had even the most basic familiarity with the academic environment.

              For real, just take a nap or something.

              • KmCO

                Ignorant or trolling, I daresay.

                • Whiskers

                  Yes, anyone unimpressed by the University of Cincinnati and the New School must be a troll. Because we’re all special and we all get a trophy!

                • JustinV

                  Totally trolling.

              • Your logic and facts are underwhelming.

            • r

              Rankings can vary tremendously from area to area, and the best schools in a particular subfield may not be the ones everyone recognizes. For instance, NYU (#1) and Rutgers (#3) both have stronger programs in analytic philosophy than Harvard (#5), Stanford (#7), and Yale (#9) do.

              That being said, I have no idea whether Cincinnati and the New School have great continental programs, not being ‘part of that world’ (cue Ariel). Browsing their names, the New School has Crichtley, who is influential enough to get himself a job as the philosophy editor at the NYT at least, and both have reasonably sized faculties (10-15ish) which indicates enough administrative investment that they are probably not just the pitts. So maybe? As I said, I don’t know.

              • Whiskers

                I’m well aware of that, having been taught by philosophy faculty with degrees from Rutgers and NYU.

                • JustinV

                  So, not NYU and Rutgers yourself, just taught by faculty with degrees from there (which is unremarkable, faculty often have degrees from top schools, they are a self sorting lot)?

                • Whiskers

                  I didn’t claim it was remarkable. Just that it gave me a basis for the knowledge that r shared with us. And no, I didn’t attend Rutgers or NYU. Thankfully.

                • JustinV

                  Then why bring up NYU and Rutgers as reputational boosters? If you are contemptuous (thankfully!) of those schools, why trade on their reputations for educating your educators, if you are confident in your own assessment of reputation (outside of specific fields? inside?) why not check your assumptions against your own metrics? It’s like you can’t be bothered to make a cogent argument about the cognitive skills of the people you are belittling!

                • Whiskers

                  I didn’t bring them up as reputational boosters, I brought them up as a basis for agreement with and understanding of r’s point about departmental rankings and reputations. You, being a budding academic, are the one who is obsessed with reputation boosting, and the middling reputation of the school you attend which will allow you to have a career consisting of two adjunct positions at community colleges followed by a life stacking shelves at Barnes and Noble while acting pretentious towards customers who mispronounce an author’s name.

                • JustinV

                  You are projecting a lot, bro. I am the one saying that reputational rankings are not useful metrics for educational quality – contra your initial position on Zizek and the merits of the U of Cincinnati. Plus, I mispronounce things all the time and B&N wouldn’t have me because of it. Welp, the cleaning lady is here, so I will talk to you later, alligator. Peace.

            • djw

              Do the Professors at Harvard and Stanford, etc., complain that their students are idiots? No.

              For the record, this isn’t true.

              • swearyanthony

                Well no. But most professors don’t publicly whine about it

            • JL

              Do the Professors at Harvard and Stanford, etc., complain that their students are idiots?

              You’ve never been around profs at top-ranked universities, have you? I went to MIT for undergrad, and while I had many wonderful profs who were delighted to share their knowledge with students, I also heard some snippets of conversation from profs, say, talking to each other behind me in the food truck line at lunchtime, that weren’t much better than what Zizek said.

              Also at one point during my undergrad career there was a prof who got removed from teaching a required undergrad class for a couple of years after he mass-emailed the class after the final telling them (paraphrased) that it wasn’t his fault that so many of them were so dumb as to fail. This was the year after I took his class, and while I did adequately in his class, I remember what a jerk he was to some of my friends who were struggling to pass and went to him to try to get help.

              • There is a sub-set of professors in many places to do this, but there are a whole lot of professors everywhere, including myself, who find this attitude revolting.

                Also, my students are actually pretty amazing in a lot of ways. I think much of this attitude stems from professors not realizing that they were nerds when they were 21 as well. The average student in 1970 and the average student in 2014 might have somewhat different skill sets, but they aren’t fundamentally any different.

                • gmack

                  Indeed. I teach at a music school, so if I ever feel inclined to indulge in the idiot-professorial tendency to belittle my students’ ability to write political theory, I just pick up a violin and try to play it.

                  In any case, Whiskers’ comments here irritate me because I absolutely loathe all forms of intellectual snobbery.

                • I mean, just from an ability to handle machines, they have incredible skills. No doubt they roll their eyes at their idiot professor trying to make the AV run correctly. Not to mention visual skills and an understanding of their own world. If they need help still with critical reading and writing, well, who among us does not? And were my reading and writing skills so amazing at 21? No.

                • r

                  I find it helpful (and cringe-inducing) when tempted to heap abuse upon the undergrads to first look back at some of the essays I wrote as an undergrad–especially as an underclassman, in classes outside of my eventual major, and so on.

                • JL

                  I think much of this attitude stems from professors not realizing that they were nerds when they were 21 as well.

                  Yes, this.

                  Genuinely struggling to get by in undergrad did a lot to kick that looking-down-on-the-normal-people attitude out of me. Despite the amount of pain that struggling caused me, I think that was a really beneficial effect, and one of the reasons that I’m glad I went to a place like MIT. I definitely think it gives me more empathy for my students as a TA (and hopefully, in the future, as a prof).

          • Whiskers

            Any rankings. U. Cincinnati and New School are not top tier institutions where the professors get to work with students who will grow into their intellectual peers. Just saying.

            • JustinV

              You don’t even know which ranking are which do you? Quick, what does NRC stand for in this context?

              • Whiskers

                Why are you so butthurt?

                • JustinV

                  Whatever happened, I want you to know that it wasn’t your fault and we are here to help you rebuild. (Also, nice homophobic remark!)

                • Whiskers

                  I didn’t know it was a homophobic remark, but since you say so, ok.

                • KmCO

                  When finding himself in a hole. Whiskers resorts to digging himself deeper via twelve-year-old style insults.

                • JustinV
                • Whiskers

                  You can never be in a hole when arguing the position that U. Cincinnati and the New School are mediocre schools. Prove me wrong, people, prove me wrong.

                  JustinV is a bitter student in a comparably ranked phd program who convinced himself that he’ll probably be able to get an academic job and is slowly beginning to see the writing on the wall.

                • JustinV

                  Oddly, the NRC thinks my Ph.D. program is rather well-regarded and we just hired some celebrity academics!

                • Whiskers

                  Celebrity academics are usually not a credit to the department. They do impress lesser minds such as yours though.

                • KmCO

                  Whisky, your argumentation style does nothing to bolster your steadfast apparent belief that you are the smartest person in this room. For all of your insecure “i am SO smarter than those U. of Cincinnati poopyheads!” tantruming, I remain unconvinced that you are not in fact Zizek himself writing under an assumed name.

                  And as I do not take you seriously enough to prove you wrong, prove you wrong, I will simply sit back and enjoy my popcorn. Do carry on, Slavoj.

                • JustinV

                  Agreed on celebrity academics. I was employing “irony” which I “learned” in my “Ph.D.” “program.” I am treating you ironically because I am contemptuous of your opinions and do not regard you a serious interlocutor.

                • djw

                  JustinV is a bitter student in a comparably ranked phd program who convinced himself that he’ll probably be able to get an academic job and is slowly beginning to see the writing on the wall.

                  Jesus, arguments about college rankings weren’t pathetic and dreary enough the “invent insulting biography” move.

              • Whiskers

                Its the national research council, where Cincinnati and New School are unspectacular.

                • JustinV

                  See, you can Google if you try! No try googling the CVs of the faculty at those schools so that you can measure them by your own metric (after all, if you were taught by teachers from top schools, then your are smart).

                • Whiskers

                  I don’t need to google their cv’s. I can go by this shorthand notion known as a reputation. They both have mediocre reputations.

                • JL

                  That does not actually mean that their students are, by and large, “idiots” or in any way contemptible.

                • Seldom does ignorance and vehemence come in such a potent combination.

                • N__B

                  Seldom does ignorance and vehemence come in such a potent combination.

                  I’m engaging in casual stereotyping, but I’d have thought you run across that combo regularly in your line of work.

            • Whiskers

              Kmco, you can refer to twelve year old insults all you want. None of this changes the fact that U. Cincinnati and the New School are mediocre schools, whose graduates, for the most part, do not populate highly regarded academic departments.

              • ChrisTS

                You are a remarkably unpleasant person.

                • Whiskers

                  You disappoint me, ChrisTS, you used to like just about every single one of my posts at Volokh before they sold out to WaPo.

                  You’ve changed. Although its possible that I’ve changed (and not for the better). None of that changes the fact that U. Cincinnati and the New School don’t have top flight programs attracting the best students. Just doesn’t.

          • Scott Lemieux

            Ah, reputational rankings. I remember when PS conducted a survey of the best public law programs in PoliSci, and ended up with 2 in the top 10 that did not currently have a scholar in the field.

            • ChrisTS

              I heard something on the radio the other day about leaders at various schools giving a high ranking to a program at a well-known university – which did not have a program in that area.

              • Hogan

                Yes, Princeton is frequently ranked as one of the top law schools.

            • ajay

              I remember when PS conducted a survey of the best public law programs in PoliSci, and ended up with 2 in the top 10 that did not currently have a scholar in the field.

              I think there’s a robust argument to be made that some public law programs are actually worse in their effects on the student (and on the world in general) than the alternative of just leaving the student alone for four years.

        • Scott Lemieux

          I have a basis. College rankings.

          Hahahahahahahahahaha! Oh mercy.

          • Whiskers

            I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that U. Cincinnati and the New School were secretly top institutions instead of bastions of mediocrity.

            • Scott Lemieux

              If you can’t see how many begged questions lurk in these assertions, you apparently needed a less mediocre education.

              • Whiskers

                Tell me, by what measures are the New School and U. Cincinnati top flight institutions attracting the best students in any of their programs?

                Are rankings flawed and stupid? Yes, but that doesn’t mean there’s an alternative world where every school or program with a good reputation got it undeservedly, and every school with a mediocre reputation is a hidden gem.

    • Morbo

      VISITING LECTURER POSITIONS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY! GOOD NIGHT!

      • g

        Thank you.

    • brad

      Wow, is this ignorant.

      • Hogan

        I don’t want to lose track of this gem here:

        Perhaps if this guy’s academic work was more highly regarded

  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    Žižek’s aversion to grading — and willingness to actively discourage students from writing papers for him — is legendary. He was a visiting prof at my grad institution in the 1990s (I didn’t take his seminar, but I had friends who did) and his shtik was totally doing everything to discourage students giving him work. Even people who liked the guy’s work thought that this was ridiculous. But since he’s always in visiting gigs in this country, he can more or less get away with it.

    As for his work, he’s a clever enough guy with a good sense of humor (of the academic / theory variety), who is actually able to translate Lacan into something resembling human, which is no mean feat (though one can certainly disagree on the value of this trick). But the more I’ve read or heard him, the more I’m convinced that his stuff is infinitely more sizzle than steak.

    As for the Bond villain look: I’m sure it’s 100% intentional on Žižek’s part. Guy is rather movie / pop culture obsessed.

    • r

      It is remarkable to me that even a star professor can get away with that, let alone discuss it publicly, without attracting the ire of the administration. I assume he must be talking about grad classes at least, because I cannot imagine they let him get away with zero-paper auto-A undergrad courses.

      • Incontinentia Buttocks

        As I said, the key is that he’s a visiting faculty member. All the standard accountability systems in universities are geared toward evaluating regular faculty. Star visitors fly totally above the radar.

        Also: in our current educational environment, very few people are going to lodge complaints if everyone is being given an A (sad to say).

        • r

          I think it varies place to place. There are definitely administrators who will start to get in your face if you’re giving out too few assignments and too many As–and rightly so, because there are plenty of unscrupulous faculty who would love to do as Zizek has here and just assign nothing.

          I suppose it makes sense that there is much less to threaten you with if you’re visiting, though–especially since they may not discover your misconduct until the semester’s almost over anyway.

        • Scott Lemieux

          As I said, the key is that he’s a visiting faculty member. All the standard accountability systems in universities are geared toward evaluating regular faculty. Star visitors fly totally above the radar.

          Not that accountability at R1s has anything to do with teaching.

          • JustinV

            Word.

            • r

              Eh, they still need to move a certain number of students through the system. And they can’t entirely let anyone off the hook for doing their part (even the brilliant-but-crazies) because otherwise everyone would try to get out of it. I’m a (lowly) grad student at an R1, and I know brilliant-but-crazies who are so incompetent that their undergraduate classes are a flaming disaster every time, but they still have to offer them every time it’s their turn, and they still have to assign and grade and etc.

              • JustinV

                This seems to buttress Scott’s point that they are not meaningfully evaluated based on their teaching, or else they would suffer some (certainly minor) disparagement for their flaming-wreck classes. Most professors, even the brilliant but crazies, tend to retain some professionalism and at least attempt teaching. But failing to do it well will have few if any negative consequences for them. R1s, especially, tend to focus on grants and prizes for their faculty over teaching acumen. Which is frustrating, but logical in some way. It’s a problem, though, when they solve the problem by farming out the actual teaching to grad students and adjuncts. Zizek is a bit of an irrational blind spot for me because (in this, too, it turns out) he represents to me so much of what is bad about academia.

                • MAJeff

                  Even Brooks required two papers from each student.

                • r

                  I should say: it’s true they aren’t evaluated on how GOOD their teaching is. But are still usually made to DO their teaching (even if they do it so very badly), because the incentive that would be introduced if the university / department said ‘okay, you’re officially incompetent and crazy enough that you’re released from all teaching duties’ would be so perverse.

                • JustinV

                  Agreed.

          • Incontinentia Buttocks

            Not that accountability at R1s has anything to do with teaching.

            I know this is the stereotype, but as an R1 faculty member, I can say it’s not true. What is true is that the method of evaluating teaching is usually extremely crude: student evaluations. What this means is that faculty who students see as grading too tough often get negative evaluations and, on occasion, will be told not to grade less harshly by their departments. This especially happens to junior faculty. But a faculty member who hands out all A’s is almost never criticized by students for his or her grading methods and, thus, is rarely questioned by his or her review committee.

            There are some systems in place to vet course requirements, both at the departmental and university level. For example, the Gen Ed committee on my campus has, of late, gotten serious about writing and won’t approve any syllabus that doesn’t have a certain minimum amount of it required. But any course approved for gen ed credit in the past continues to get gen ed credit, so there are plenty of old work guts in the course catalog.

            I can think of one circumstance at my institution in which a pattern of far too many A’s in a course required of all undergrads (second semester composition) became an object of criticism from the administration. They were told to get tougher. They claimed they had. The percentage of A’s went down from something like 70% to something like 67%. Eventually the English Department stonewalled its way to not reforming (the course is taught be English grad students and provides a key means of financial support for them).

            I say all this not to claim that we can’t do better evaluating teaching. I absolutely think we can. But the stereotype that nobody cares about teaching, and especially undergraduate teaching, at R1 schools is simply wrong. It’s yet another example of the hostility toward teachers that marks educational “reform” these days (in fact, the same thing is said about K-12 teachers: they’re not held to account and they just care about goldbricking). The real problems involve how one evaluates teaching. The default method for the last half century or so — student evaluations — is a terrible way to do it, especially if they aren’t part of a larger system of evaluation. And the current mania for “outcome-based” approaches from the new and usually overstaffed offices that are responsible for “teaching excellence” these days is, I think, an enormous dead-end that undervalues a lot of things we should want in undergraduate education, especially in the humanities and qualitative social sciences.

            • Incontinentia Buttocks

              Ooops: “will be told not to grade less harshly by their departments”

        • g

          Exactly. It’s a pretty good racket, as long as you can keep getting invited.

    • Nick

      I infer that Žižek is just profoundly opposed to students turning their papers over to the authorities.

  • Whiskers

    A professor who discourages students from giving him work is stealing, right? I mean, he’s taking his salary, right? He’s devaluing the school’s transcripts, right? Stealing.

    • calling all toasters

      Perhaps it’s only metastealing, or an allegory of stealing, or something something reality.

  • m_no

    I just finished a ph.d. in the type of field where Zizek is supposedly most influential. Some of his writings from the 90s and a few more recent are taught in courses on Marxist or psychoanalytic theory but otherwise he’s regarded with a lot of skepticism. I was told to remove one of his books on film theory from my prelim exam list.

    • Yeah, some of the early work was neat, in a portentous kinda way, but then he became the stand-up comedian of lit theory, as it were.

  • Dang, that’s a lot of Zizek-hate.

    I think he’s delightful. I certainly don’t always agree with him, and not all of his writings are great. I loved Looking Awry. That was the most I ever understood about Lacan.

    Plus, I love that there’s a public intellectual willing to go on Brazillian talk shows and rant about Marx – we need more crazy bloviators moving the Overton window back to the left. Or of whom you can find many YouTube videos, including readings of Kung Fu Panda and whatever. His essay taking down The Matrix is pretty classic.

    Sure, he self-promotes. Would I? Probably not. Am I glad someone does? Absolutely.

    And I find the statement in the OP to show clear signs of hyperbole. You know: rhetoric, for effect?

    • Slocum

      Sorry, both sides do it. Right, RIGHT??

    • calling all toasters

      His essay taking down The Matrix is pretty classic.

      Just for shits and giggles, I looked it up…

      When I saw The Matrix at a local theatre in Slovenia, I had the unique opportunity of sitting close to the ideal spectator of the film – namely, to an idiot. A man in the late 20ies at my right was so immersed in the film that he all the time disturbed other spectators with loud exclamations, like “My God, wow, so there is no reality!”

      Apparently one of Tom Friedman’s cabbies just happened to be on break. What are the odds?

      • Tristan

        The Prime Minister of New Zealand. Must have been some sort of trade delegation or embassy function that week.

        • calling all toasters

          I had to google that. Now MY mind is blown, man.

    • James E. Powell

      I find him entertaining most of the time. Sometimes when I lose track of what he is saying, I think he did too. But I doubt he is moving any Overton Window.

      I am reminded of line (paraphrased) from Terry Eagleton that Marxism, once a political/economy program preached to factory and dock workers has now been reduced to an interesting way to talk about Wuthering Heights.

      • Matt_L

        this, this is exactly right. The big Z is doing pretty much nothing for Marxism or left wing politics more generally.

    • Scott Lemieux

      And I find the statement in the OP to show clear signs of hyperbole.

      Hahahaha, my shitty students can go ahead and kill themselves, better than them expecting anything in exchange for the dumptruck of money they drove up to my house. What a scamp! Delightful!

      • Slocum

        I think you should make sure that you put in timesheets to Campos, just to make sure that you’re not underworked.

        • Scott Lemieux

          You could certainly get a tenure-track job at Non-sequitur University anytime.

          • calling all toasters

            The carrot.

            (my CV is attached)

      • r

        Concurred. Even taken as performance art, this is unlovable to the extreme.

    • djw

      we need more crazy bloviators moving the Overton window back to the left.

      This is like a bad parody of lazy “Overton window” arguments.

      • Scott Lemieux

        If Obama had made Zizek Secretary of Rhetoric we’d have single payer right now.

        • JustinV

          He. Didn’t. Even. Try. To. Use. Lacanian. Psychoanalysis. Or. Althusserian. Marxist. Critique.

    • Nick

      Q: how many Slovenian Lacanians does it take to move the Overton Window in the US?

      A: just one — as long as he appears on Brazilian talk shows.

      • JustinV

        QED

    • I enjoyed that essay on The Matrix.

  • Misha

    [ Are those skulls carved into the ends of his chair’s arm rests? Damn, ie really is Evil. ]

  • Anonymous

    Thats some excellent snake-oil Zizek is selling there. Orwell once remarked that there are some things so stupid that only intellectuals will believe them. I think a necessary corrallary is that some of the best cons are intellectuals and academics for this reason.

    • LeeEsq

      This was me.

      • Slocum

        Thanks for clarifying that. It was bothering me a lot.

        • KmCO

          Not enough Corporate Ca$h!

          • Slocum

            ?

        • Tom Servo

          Keep us updated on your feelings.

  • calling all toasters

    So(according to Wikipedia) he’s a “Marxist philosopher, psychoanalyst and cultural critic”?

    If I were him, I would hate my students too. They’re too young to have been sufficiently indoctrinated with his particular constellation of bullshit, and are therefore useless to his self-aggrandizement. And the New School was probably his best shot, too.

    • Slocum

      Welcome to the bitching in New Criterion around 1994. Have you managed to actually build a time machine that you live in all the time?

      • calling all toasters

        I’m pretty sure it’s fans of Zizek who need a time machine, or have I missed the revival of quacking about Lacan and Hegel that’s occurred over the last 20 years?

        • Slocum

          There’s quite a bit of it, but complaining about it is pathetic. I have no particular use for that kind of work, given my specializations. What’s sad is that Campos is using the weird proclamations of an author to further denigrate leftist thinking. Zizek’s ideas can be criticized very strongly on their own. I doubt Campos would know how to do that, nor Loomis, who chimed in above. They just see some kooky non-American leftist to kick because that’s their ingrained reflex, being good Americans (not bad ones).

          • KmCO

            I won’t pretend to speak for Campos and Loomis, but I suspect that they might be very surprised to learn about this “ingrained reflex.”

          • calling all toasters

            There’s quite a bit of it, but complaining about it is pathetic.

            Well, I’m opposed to killing him just for being a worthless schmuck, but YMMV.

          • Derp.

            • Slocum

              Unless that’s a verb, you have a grammar error there.

          • Scott Lemieux

            Campos is using the weird proclamations of an author to further denigrate leftist thinking.

            [cites omitted]

            • Yes, someone who admires Stalin and his methods is a leftist.

            • Elmer

              Does Ward Churchill ring a bell?

              • calling all toasters

                Does Quasimodo say the WTC was filled with little Eichmanns?

          • ChrisTS

            Campos isn’t criticizing the left or Zizek for being a Marxist. He’s criticizing him for being an asshole about a career that Campos cares about.

  • Gospodin Dangling-Participle

    No matter his other faults, Zizek is inarguably the greatest living writer on the NFL.

    http://www.critical-theory.com/fake-slavoj-zizek-nfl-twitter-greatest/

    • Oh wow, how awesome.

    • N__B

      We can all hope that the bored hard student who produced that goes into professional comedy.

      • N__B

        Um…”grad student.” I have no knowledge of his/her hardness or lack thereof.

  • I have heard his name before today, but I had no idea who he was. Which probably reveals how curious I am about the big names in academia. Still, I can’t help but hope that the Disney corporation turns him into a folk hero. Because “Slavoj Žižek, Slavoj Žižek King of the Ivory Tower” sounds great if sung to the tune of the ‘Davey Crockett’ theme.

    • DAS

      Slavoj Žižek is hardly a big name in academia. There are much bigger names in the academy nowadays: How about Vilayanur S. Ramachandran? Benita S. Katzenellenbogen? Gaetano T. Montelione? Charalampos Kalodimos?

      See … so many more names that are so much bigger than Slavoj Žižek. And that’s just in today’s academy. Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, for instance, is no longer with us.

      • My first adviser in college was Swaminathan Balachandran, which I admit is a much bigger name. I used to work in Portage WI, and there was a person there named Somsak Chotachatathowewong*, also clearly a big name, although I cannot speak to his academic stature.

        *I cannot guarantee that I have spelled that correctly

      • I have never heard of any of these guys. I take it that none of them are historians. But, you are right they do have long names.

        • Thanks for ruining the joke, Otto. Do you have an iota of common sense left in you these days?

      • Bill Murray

        but Slavoj Žižek is much more diacritical than any of those longbig named scholars

  • Matt T. in New Orleans

    If nothing else, he’s more entertaining than Thomas Nagel. A low bar, admittedly, but no one goes into philosophy these days for new ideas, do they?

    • calling all toasters

      no one goes into philosophy these days for new ideas, do they?

      I don’t know. What is it like to be a philosopher?

      • You’ll never be able to know … though believing that means you probably ARE a philosopher. Bad loop! Bad loop!

        • calling all toasters

          I’ve been told I am impossible, but I never thought that was meant literally until now.

  • DAS

    This is absolutely shocking to me as a professor that a fellow member of the professoriate could say such things! I am flabbergasted at Zizek. Can you believe it? Students actually attend office hours?

    • rea

      Students actually attend office hours?

      Sure they do–looking for an empty room in which to have sex . . .

  • Whiskers

    Zizek is lazy. To borrow some phraseology from some of Paul Campos’ other writings, most of us have to work for a living. Work meaning to do a series of unpleasant tasks in exchange for which someone gives us money. For professors, that usually means grading papers. You like the research, you maybe like the teaching, but the trudging through papers and assigning grades, not so much. And that’s why its a job.

    Zizek is just a lazy guy who thinks he’s above that.

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  • Tyro

    The problem is that here in the United States students tend to be so open that sooner or later, if you’re kind to them, they even start to ask you personal questions [about] private problems… What should I tell them?”

    I kind of sympathize with him here. There is a weird aspect of college culture in the US where students go to professors with their personal issues. I get the impression that lots of people go to graduate school in the hopes of becoming professors who have those kinds of relationships with students.

    I can imagine that European professors have less patience for that kind of bullshit.

    • Yes, how dare someone ask a philosophy professor questions about their life? Who do these students think they are, people with problems worth taking seriously?

      • Tyro

        Honestly, I cannot possibly imagine the shame I would feel if I bothered my physics professor during office hours with the details of a breakup I was going through (with a classmate) while I was in her class. Professors are professional, not personal, mentors. And even then, their professional insight tends to be limited to what they know– research and academia.

        I suspect part of it is that Americans are less connected to their families and communities and end up in college in search of the personal connections and parent-figures they lacked at home or looked to their professors as people who could help them “escape” their lives back home. I don’t really know. But my time spent on office hours was always about trying to get a better handle on the material.

        • DAS

          I dunno. I found some of my undergraduate professors to be very supportive about my personal, shall we say, baggage. In some ways they were more constructive and useful than professional counselors were.

          That said, I dunno how comfortable I’d be if a student talked about his/her personal problems with me and needed advice or how helpful I would really be (beyond the level of me referring them to resources — both on campus and off-campus — about which they might not otherwise know).

        • Honestly, I cannot possibly imagine the shame I would feel if I bothered my physics professor during office hours with the details of a breakup I was going through (with a classmate) while I was in her class. Professors are professional, not personal, mentors. And even then, their professional insight tends to be limited to what they know– research and academia.

          Actually, I usually have to do a lot of encouraging to get students to at least acknowledge to me that their personal life might be interfering with their work. If I have some relevant personal experience and they’d like to hear it, I’ll tell them, otherwise, my job is to help them plan how to handle their work giving their life issues and route them to the appropriate support in the university (e.g., DSO, counseling services, sexual harassment office).

          • Also, in the UK, we have clear pastoral roles. Tutors and advisors are there to provide such support.

        • Warren Terra

          The university is in loco parentis, and the professors are often the point of contact with the university; more than that, they’re often people the student respects as being knowledgeable, and thoughtful, and fair.

          None of this makes the behavior appropriate, or obligates the professor to move out of their comfort zone. But it may explain it, somewhat.

    • ChrisTS

      Bullshit? I don’t find my students’ stories of their lives to be bullshit. I like to know them. And, sometimes, knowing what is going wrong in their lives makes it possible for me to help them stay in school or get their work done.

      • Ronan

        Seems to be a different culture though. I would never have thought to speak to a prof about my personal life (and dont think thats specific to me) The relationship def seems to be different.
        Although I agree it’s not bullshit. I think it’s a good attribute for a person to have

    • I don’t’ know about Europe, but it is not uniquely American. Asian and African students also ask faculty for advice on things that are not strictly academic. So maybe it is just Europeans who are the outliers?

  • graefix

    I’m just going to deposit this nugget here (Zizek on toilets and ideology).

    • Ty-D-Bol Man

      Not getting out of the boat.

    • close enough
      • ChrisTS

        That was great.

    • ChrisTS

      Holy Christ.

      Also: what the hell is wrong with his sinuses?

    • DAS

      He sounds, except for having a lisp, like a crazy Romanian scientist I happen to know. I can imagine that scientist giving that same discourse.

      Anyway, he forgot about the rectangular Italian toilets.

  • jake the anti-soshal soshalist

    A lot of sad academic competing here.
    Personally I am skeptical of “public intellectuals” in general.
    I am also of the opinion that a person can get as good an education at someplace like Eastern Illinois University as you can at Harvard or Yale. You would have to do more heavy lifting yourself and it would not have the same cachet. But you could certainly learn as much.
    The greatest advantage “elite” institutions have is they admit mostly proven achievers.

    • Yes, my undergraduate University collected Merit Scholars and students who scored high on the SAT the way Darwin collected beetles.

  • Ronan

    Relatedly, there was a comment at the duck of minerva recently from a former student of Elinor Ostrom that said she used to:

    “listen to me about my peripatetic artist boyfriend. She would ask to see his letters and ask to look over the cards I bought to send him to pick up at some general postal station he would be passing through. She really helped me through difficult and happy times and certainly never got compensated for it. ”

    I wonder who will be better remembered in the future; the blowhhard Zizek or the ground breaking, nobel prize winning ? I wonder who was the more decent human being ?

  • SV Bob

    You shouldn’t take Zizek at face value. His writings on Marx and Marxist theory and the operation of the old East Block states are very good. His analyses of modern culture using Lacan, psychoanalysis, symbology, Freud, etc. are interesting and worth reading, although not necessarily true and probably over-rated. When you look back at what you have read in his analyses of films and literature, you find that you are left with a series of stimulating small observations, but with no larger understanding.

    His public persona – interviews and lectures – are just deliberately provocative street-theater (similar to the fake fascist Laibach movement in Slovenia post-Yugoslavia). He intentionally offends bourgeois, capitalist thinking of any kind, and that includes the pretensions of academia and the university system. Most of what goes on in modern universities is obviously useless rubbish — teaching irrelevant theory to young adults who can’t understand it, simply to pack the classrooms and pay the deans and professors. Zizek is pointing that out to you. YOU buy his books and pretend to read them. YOU hire him, even though it is obvious he hates the traditional duties of a professor and won’t do them. And YOU do it simply so that you can add the prestige of ZIZEK to YOUR own.
    Who is honest, YOU or Zizek?

    • ChrisTS

      Well, I have not hired him, and I would not pay him.

    • Origami Isopod, Commisar [sic] of Ideology for the Bolsheviks

      ITS ALL SOSHUL EXPERIMUNT!!

    • JL

      I don’t have a strong opinion on his work. It’s not my field. The one person I know outside the Internet who’s been in a relevant field thinks that he’s very smart but a huge jerk.

      But, regarding your last paragraph, give me a break. Regardless of how much he or anyone else might try to justify the way he talks about students here as some sort of street theater against bourgeois capitalism, the fact is that he’s trashing people that he has power over – trainees who are younger and less experienced and politically connected than himself, that he has the power to evaluate, people who in some cases are going into tremendous amounts of debt contributing to his salary. In public. What sort of leftism is it that ignores power differentials this way? That thinks that punching down this way is valuable street theater? Not my leftism.

    • herr doktor bimler

      His analyses of modern culture using Lacan, psychoanalysis, symbology, Freud, etc. are interesting and worth reading

      The concept of using various forms of empty waffly word-play to analyse modern culture does not greatly appeal.

      • I think he forgot to add “After you’ve had a couple of bowls of Skywalker.”

  • I first heard of Zizek when I found this article years ago while searching for citations of my publications. Since then I have seen some pretty awful stuff by Zizek including justification of Stalinist violence and overt racism against the Roma. But, my feeling is that particularly in the US that Zizek is not really taken seriously as a scholar by most.

    https://www.academia.edu/211239/Zizeks_phenomenology_of_the_subject_transcendental_or_materialist

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  • herr doktor bimler

    some central European country

    Kudos to Campos for describing Slovenia as “central European”. I will not be having with the widespread habit of regarding perfectly Mitteleuropäische countries as “Eastern Europe”.

  • Craig

    Critical Theory…isn’t that the field for people who want to do philosophy but can’t hack the math?

    • JustinV

      Analytic philosophy…isn’t that the field for people who want to do humanities but do not have the communication skills?

  • mojrim

    Yet again, satire is now dead.

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