This jeu d’esprit from John & Belle Have a Blog (via Making Light) had me laughing helplessly:

Zizek’s critical writings are the academic equivalent of Nigerian scam spam. (Think about it: the urgency; the dangled carrot of impossible utopian returns; the diddling stick of bold, risky, radical ALL CAPS action to be taken NOW; the exceeding verbal awkwardness due to greedily flailing, failing grasp of English; notable vagueness concerning just those salient points one would think most in need of clear explanation and exposition.)

Imagine a world in which you didn’t have to subscribe to certain top literary studies journals. What if their contents just showed up in your in-box every day? (Spam-guards would give you warnings like: ‘this mail looks like it would be publishable in Critical Inquiry. Delete now?)



I am erratically to be pleasuring you from behind this urgent proposal, affective immediately, irrespective of that I make entirely no argument in person or out, nor determining validity of hereafter to follow hermeneutical proposal.

Self-control and domination converge in the distinction between THREE elements: the author of the spam, the recipient who (has to) obey the spam, AND the spam’s EXECUTION/EXECUTOR – the one who mass-mails the spam and in whom Lacan discerns the contours of the Sadean executioner/torturer. The problem is not the identity of the spam’s author and recipient: they effectively ARE the same, the emailed subject effectively IS autonomous in the sense of obeying his/her OWN spam.

In your already accepting of this unprecedented intervention, this “fundamental fantasy”. Is this not Deleuzian-Lacanian? The exemplary case of this sphincter-loosening is, anti-essentially, you leaping of faith into confidence in the roots of our misapprehension of all your ideological accounts eternally in time.

Kierkegaardian teleological suspension of the ethics of fiduciary-Kantian duties: only impossible returns is worth the risk! No mercy, teaches St. Paul! Together we recover this profit of Lenin’s teachings.

As Frederik Jameson has masterfully demonstrated; as Foucault interrogated, Jesus Christ crucified, Lenin attempted and Heidegger may have had some glimmer: for you to transfer largely, generously, rhizomatically, for to impersonally avoid needlessly hegemonic interpenetrations of irrelevant authorities.

Pleasure to transmit your affects and perceptions impersonally to my account, to follow imminently.

Hoping this finds you a cyborg,

Slavoj Zizek


  1. I’ve always thought his name looked vaguely palindromic, so if he’s got a few other things mixed up as well, that’s ok.
    In Zizek’s defence, I don’t find him quite as dense or as annoying as Homi Bhabha or Jacques Derrida…
    but this is like praising a frog by saying he is not a toad.

  2. A decades-long friendship of mine ended, in some part because I told my friend that after reading Zizek’s book, I still had no idea what his point was supposed to be.
    For the record, when I chose my own pseudonym, I had no idea that Zizek existed. My choice was driven by my enthusiasm for blind heretic generals who revolutionize warfare and thus defeat the Holy Roman Empire over and over again.
    But to avoid confusion, given the choice I would have chosen a different blind heretic general who had revolutionized warfare and defeated the Holy Roman Empire over and over again.

  3. Sorry, but that sounds nothing like Zizek (which, incidentally, is written with a little hat – I can’t remember the technical term right now, dammit – over both zs, as it is pronounced Zhizhek). Slavoj likes italics, quoting Wagner, and talking in rhetorical questions – something like:
    But is not the question of the subject’s desire another form of the radical cogito in which the ineradicable stain that constitutes the anamorphical objet petit a finds itself always-already imbricated? Is not the yearning for the nonexistent Woman yet another lure which conceals the ultimate impossibility of the sexual relation? The irony of it is that, in attempting to elude the dilemma of sexuation, Parsifal finds himself, through his consecutive reidentification with Brunhilde, reenacting precisely that which had been foreclosed by his very demand.
    Nevertheless, I occasionally find interesting bits in the Zizekian corpus (God. Zizekian! Has anybody used the term seriously already, I wonder?) The first books are rather sober compared to the more recent verbal pyrotechnics.

  4. I’m really glad you said that. Not only because it’s funny as hell, but because it removes a lingering doubt I had about the origin of your moniker. I didn’t think you were a Slavojphile, but you never know…
    (In case anybody’s wondering, this is the blind heretic general who had revolutionized warfare and defeated the Holy Roman Empire over and over again to whom M. zizek is referring.)

  5. M. Zizka, if you please.
    Based on my reading, the big villain in postmodernism isn’t Foucault or Derrida but Lacan. I have found quite a bit of Foucault’s stuff interesting, and a little bit of Derrida’s early stuff, but I suspect that most of Lacan’s stuff is pure charlatanry at the Lyndon LaRouche / L. Ron Hubbard level. (If there’s a higher level, don’t tell me about it). Lacan figures heavily in the Sokol hoax stuff I think, quite deservedly IMHO.
    Zizka is a very common Czech and Czech-American name, but I out-Google all of them.

  6. Damn — sorry, I obviously had gospod Zizek on the brain! And my “I’m really glad you said that” was aimed at you; aa snuck in before I posted.
    aa: Well, it’s intended to sound like Zizek reincarnated as a Nigerian spammer; still, thank you for the ur-Zizekian version!

  7. If Lacan’s the bathwater, Kristeva is the ‘erratic affective baby’ we can throw out with him 🙂

  8. commonbeauty says

    Easy on the Nigerians by the way. I’m one.

  9. Although I have not (as yet) read anything by Zizek, I very much liked what he had to say in a recent interview with Doug Henwood. He seemed to be a pretty clear and thoughtful speaker.

  10. Thanks for the link, languagehat. I must respond to aa’s allegation that my production is insufficiently resembling. It is, in fact, substantially plagiarized. I have updated the original post to include the original Zizek text – selected quite at random – on which I worked, madlib fashion.
    But I think aa is actually right that parts of it sort of slip, stylistically. Ah, well. Did my best.

  11. Check out this photo-stopped picture of Slavoj (wearing Stalin bib and not much else) from Slovenia. It pretty much sums the guy up.

  12. I find Zizek very clear and extremely entertaining (and this piece doesn’t sound anything like Zizek, in truth).
    This is how Zizek would write it:
    “Therefore, is it not the case that the true recipient of the spam email is not the user who recieves it in their inbox, but rather the sender, who – recalling Michel Pecheux’s formula of ideological (mis)recognition – receives his own message back in inverted form? It is easy to recognise in this feature a strict correlation to the Lacanian reading of the Purloined Letter – suffice it to recall his final sentence: ‘A letter always arrives at its destination’.”
    We shouldn’t be having a go at authors who write ‘densely’, rather those journalistic authors who are extremely clear but, in truth, have nothing to say.
    Also, Zizek is not a Stalinist (nor, in truth, a Leninist), but a Hegelian Marxist Lacanian (and I speak as a Zizekian Hegelian Marxist Lacanian!!!)

  13. thantos33 says

    It seems no matter how hard anyone has tried they have failed to imitate the style of Zizek. This is quite satisfying somehow.
    I wonder if, in this context, Zizek himself could even produce a convincing representation of his own style? Maybe there is such a thing as content after all…perhaps not.

  14. See now the Infinite Conversation:

    A never-ending conversation between Bavarian director Werner Herzog and Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek. When you open this website, you are taken to a random point in the dialogue. Every day a new segment of the conversation is added. New segments can be generated at a faster speed than what it takes to listen to them. In theory, this conversation could continue until the end of time.

    (It’s great, but the one thing that takes you out of it is that the AI can’t pronounce the French and German phrases that turn up.)

  15. Stu Clayton says

    Well kiss my foot, I thought Herzog had been gathered to his fathers.

    It appears that he doesn’t talk with Žižek only, but internationally too:

    # Herzog ist international für sein besonderes Englisch bekannt, das auf der einen Seite einen reichen Wortschatz und die Wahl bedeutungsschwerer Worte aufweist, auf der anderen Seite aber einen harten, deutschen Akzent. Aufgrund dessen hatte er schon eine Vielzahl von Gastauftritten als Synchronsprecher für englischsprachige Produktionen. Den Simpsons lieh er im englischen Original dreimal seine Stimme … #

  16. David Eddyshaw says

    My sole encounters with Žižek have been in pieces of his in the Guardian. Too ignorant* to know that he was a Certified Public Intellectual ©, I was mystified as to why his terminally self-indulgent twaddle had been commissioned in the first place. Now I know.

    * I’m not as well up on Great Lacanian Thinkers of Our Time as I might be. Non omnia possumus omnes.

  17. PlasticPaddy says

    You have to admire his labour-saving approach to film criticism. From a review ot “Matrix Resurrections”:
    ‘Every reader has for sure noticed that, in my description of the movie, I heavily rely on a multitude of reviews which I extensively quote. The reason is now clear: in spite of its occasional brilliance, the film is ultimately not worth seeing – which is why I also wrote this review without seeing it. ”

  18. David Eddyshaw says

    Therein resides the true libidinal enigma of this dispositif: why does the Matrix need human energy? That this is to solve the energy problem is, of course, meaningless: the Matrix could have easily found another, more reliable source of energy which would have not demanded the extremely complex arrangement of a virtual reality coordinated for millions of human units. The only consistent answer is: the Matrix feeds on the human’s jouissance. So we are here back at the fundamental Lacanian thesis that the big Other itself, far from being an anonymous machine, needs the constant influx of jouissance.

    At first blush this looks like self-aware self-parody, but the rest makes it clear that there is no actual self-awareness behind it. In fact, this dovetails neatly with

    It is clear that we are dealing with the compositions of a zizech. It is possible that we always were

  19. John Cowan says

    A minor correction to the original text (I’m surprised Hat missed it): for fantasy read phantasy.

  20. Huh? Not only is “fantasy” in the original text, it is in the philosophico-psychoanalytical cliché the text always-already represents, e.g. (via Google Books):

    I will be arguing that fantasy—or the configuration that often goes by the name “fundamental fantasy”—is actually a particular way in which language and resistances to signification get mixed together, creating a junctive and disjunctive situation for a subject.


    But first, what is a fundamental fantasy and how is it different from a fantasy? Lacan defined fantasy as “an image set to work in the signifying structure” (1961/2006a, p. 637).


    How are we to understand the fundamental fantasy as the locus in which the subject emerges as a consequence of the knotting together of the three orders of the Symbolic, the Imaginary, and the Real?


    As Žižek (1998, p. 5) notes, what is isolated in the fundamental fantasy as such involves “that which cannot ever be ‘subjectivized,’ that which is forever cut off from the subject.”

    I would quote more but I can feel my brain starting to sputter and throw off sparks.

  21. John Cowan says

    I’m surprised: psychoanalysts usually spell it phantasy.

  22. I’m surprised

    Now vee may perhaps to begin.

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